The Sophistry in America Today

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Man is never the measure of all things

By J. Jeff Toler for Shenandoah Christian Alliance

“Of all things the measure is Man, of the things that are, that they are, and of the things that are not, that they are not” (Protagoras of Abdera, from Plato’s Dialogs)

  • You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. (Hebrews 2:7-9)

Two astonishing events erupted in March of 2020. First, the entire world was told the greatest pandemic ever to impact the world was already upon us, and the only way to prevent our own deaths was to trust in medical science and government controls.. 

The second most astonishing event was seeing entire populations go collectively crazy.

Four years ago, we were living in a very different world than are now. So much has changed that the more rational among us can only continue to shake our heads while hoping and praying things will one day return to normal. There is problem with that response: not many can tell us what is normal, and so we resign ourselves to the new normal. 

As Barack Obama, prepared to hit the campaign trail to stump for Joe Biden, said, “Your generation can be the one that creates a new normal in America. One that’s fairer, where the system treats everybody equally and gives everybody opportunity, he continued, “We can come out of this moment stronger than before.” []

If there is one thing Mr. Obama had going for him, it was his ability to make statements that sounded strong, persuasive, and compelling—especially to eager and impressionable audiences. But what did he mean by a “new normal?” Does it follow after fundamental transformation? In the end, the effect of his encouraging remarks will never be fully gauged considering the many integrity-bending tactics employed by the corporate news and entertainment industry, and the Democratic Party—which are, for all intents and purposes, one and the same.

In his essay, “Conspiracy Theories and Returning to Normal,” Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire write the following: “When you cater to crazy people, you end up with a crazier country.”

“And you deserve to lose if you decide to cater to the crazy. That’s true on every side of the political aisle. All the American people want is some semblance of normalcy. That’s all they want. They’re begging for it. Some semblance of just being an adult with a normal set of values would be amazing from anyone.”

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“But, instead, we’ve decided we’re going to elevate crazy on pretty much every side of the political aisle. It’s totally wild and insane. We’re tearing ourselves apart by elevating crazy.”

“I think there’s a reason why we are elevating crazy to this extent. And I think the real reason why we’re elevating crazy across the aisle is because we don’t have a centralizing set of values.[]

If Shapiro is correct, and I believe he is, we might well ask, “Just what are America’s centralizing set of values?”

Is it strength in diversity? Will equity make us normal? What does it mean to be inclusive? If there is any way we can answer these questions, it will require us to consider our journey through space and time. We have traveled a long way away from what many, if not most, Americans could have once easily identified as a centralizing set of values. 

Imagine it this way: in one year, Earth travels through space a distance of about 584 million miles. Therefor, America’s values have traveled 137,240,000,000 miles through space since the ratification of her Constitution in 1789. [] Has it come to the point where liberty, justice, truth, freedom, and opportunity have all come to the end of such a long journey to be swallowed up by the sophistry of our day and age? Has it all been a waste of time? There are those whose faith informs them that, with God, there is no such thing as a waste of time. His purposes will not fail.True believers understand the source of our strength and inspiration. Our joy comes from the Lord. “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10b) We will find no profit at all in wasting the joy He gives us with vain imaginings. 

Consider this interesting study—conducted each year—of the “Happiest Countries in the World.” In 2024, America is not even among the top twenty countries evaluated. To determine the world’s happiest country, researchers analyzed comprehensive Gallup polling data from 149 countries for the past three years, specifically monitoring performance in six particular categories: gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make your own life choices, generosity of the general population, and perceptions of internal and external corruption levels. The happiest country in the world is Finland. Yes, that Finland… followed closely by Denmark—which we discussed just last week. []

To know how America has slipped in the categories evaluated only requires seeing how divided we have become, swallowing toxic policies and pandering to political and religious heresies. Go back and take a long look at the categories where the US doesn’t measure up like it once did just two generations past. We are giving them up to be inclusive.

For example, isn’t diversity, after all, dependent on division? Strong social support requires unity to be included in a centralizing set of core values. Likewise, generosity springs from the freedom to choose to be generous with the abundance of what we have. No one shares what’s being taken from him.

The prospects of another very tumultuous, stressful election year are mounting quickly. If anything can keep this election from going off the rails this time around, it can only be in our refusal to put up with the memes, the mantras, and the mockery that our present-day sophists create.

The ancient Greek Sophists held no values other than winning and succeeding. They were not true believers in the myths of the Greeks, but would use references and quotations from the tales for their own purposes. They were secular atheists, relativists, and cynical about religious beliefs and all traditions. They believed and taught that “might makes right”. They were pragmatists trusting in whatever works to bring about the desired end at whatever the cost. They made a business of their own form of education as developing skills in rhetoric and profited from it. []

America has embraced a current form of sophistry, and in doing so, we degrade what has always been a vaunted citadel of strength, virtue, and opportunity. From my perspective, that’s simply crazy. The centralizing set of core values are slipping from our grasp because we are relaxing our grip on them. 

  • “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set,” (Proverbs 22:28 ESV)

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Shenandoah Christian Alliance
Shenandoah Christian Alliance is a Christian organization devoted to the promotion and education of biblical truths, faith, and spiritual equipping. We believe in the sanctity of marriage as defined in God’s revealed word. We oppose the practice of abortion, and respectfully object to its funding and facilitation as currently promoted by our elected leaders. We understand homosexuality to be something that God—whom we worship and honor—does not approve among his creation. Our faith in God as revealed in scripture is not something we are ashamed of, or for which we must apologize.