What is Progress?

Written by Joe Dardano

Many in Western Society see changes and evolutions in their culture as signposts for progress. If technology permits ease and comfort in life, many will see that as progress. If machines can do repetitive work that humans could do, to liberate them from boredom, then that can be seen as advancement as well. If certain special interest groups lobby for various privileges that were once denied, the idea of progress is invoked again. This movement to feel that society needs to move forward, to be better, is not new. In fact, I feel it is natural for people to believe that their lives on earth should have some impact for others in order to make things better for the next generation. This offers people purpose and meaning. My question does not dismiss the need for progress; far from it. I ask, in particular, what variables need to change to bring progress about? In other words, how do we define progress? Is it in material gain? Is it in quality of life? Is in in regard to more fulfilling relationships? Is it in more just political systems? More developed human rights? The question is large, but it merits asking because in many parts of Western Society there is a gulf between “liberal” or “progressive” movements and “conservative” ideologies. We can easily eliminate these conflicting perspectives if we can decide on a common path to move forward. One thing is certain that can serve to bridge the divide; that is that any real progress cannot be made by ignoring natural laws. In philosophy, the application of natural law in contemporary thought has been abandoned. It must be a building block for for potentialities to blossom into fruits of progress moving forward. The Bible discusses this concept in Romans 2:14, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.” So by natural law, we define it as laws that are valid and universal regardless where or when you live. These laws, when applied, can guide human behaviour without need of intrusive policing or surveylance. If you look at the Ten Commandments, most of those laws are universal across most traditional or established religions around the world. For example, theft is not an accepted norm in any culture, religion or society that has flourished and moved forward in time. As usual, Jesus Christ can serve as a building block, or “cornerstone” in this endeavor: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2: 14-16) Any roadway to progress should start with Jesus Christ, whose life and death was given to us to bring unity and harmony among all people.

About the author

Joe Dardano

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