“What caused the cause?” is a common question asked by problem solvers and there is a relating concept in problem solving theory known as Toyota’s Five Whys. The “five” in the name represents how far one may need to dig to get to the root of a matter, although it’s not always five.
My car won’t start…
Why? – The battery is dead (1st why)
Why? – The alternator is not functioning (2nd why)
Why? – The alternator belt is broken (3rd why)
Why? – The alternator belt was worn beyond its limits (4th why)
Why? – The vehicle was not maintained per the service schedule (5th why—root cause)
An average mechanic might stop after answering the 3rd why and then take action. Once a broken belt is observed, it can be replaced and you’re back on the road. An exceptional mechanic, however, will ask more questions. Why did the belt break? Was it the wrong kind of belt? Was it the right belt, but installed incorrectly? Did other parts of the vehicle, like the alternator pulley, cause the belt to wear prematurely? What other belts are about to break on this car?
Of course, we can continue to ask why beyond the root cause noted above. Why wasn’t the vehicle maintained according to the service schedule? Are parts not readily available? Is it too expensive to maintain for the customer? Is the customer just lazy? These are all good questions, but not for the mechanic to answer. The maintenance questions should be directed to the customer or maybe the design team.
In terms of our Catholic faith, we can talk about dissent from Catholic teaching as a general problem, but more specifically, the bulk of the rebellion involves something to do with human sexuality. Abortion (infanticide), homosexuality, pornography, contraception, women’s ordination, fornication, marriage confusion, divorce and remarriage all have some aspect of sexuality about them.
The year 1960 might as well be marked as the official kick-off for “the cause”, since this is when the FDA approved the first birth control pill and the sexual revolution began, or at least gained a lot of speed. The sexual revolution greatly increased dissent from Church teaching, but this article from “The Catholic Thing” gets into “What caused the cause?” by citing some specifics about a broader revolution that occurred before 1960.
The article suggests that rejecting God as our moral authority and replacing Him with ourselves is the venom that festers behind the sexual revolution. Now, rejecting God is nothing new in the history of mankind, but moral relativism picked-up steam in decades before 1960 with people like Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead promoting a kind of secular “doctrine” that says morality is a human social construct.
Per the article, many college professors of anthropology or sociology would assign books by Benedict and Mead as required reading. A young college crowd, particularly interested in justifying sexual freedom, would provide fertile ground for an idea like cultural relativism to take root. And we can push the idea further still. Why stop at rejecting God as the source of our moral authority when we can reject the surrounding culture as well.
Today, absolute autonomy is a key “dogma” which has slithered its way into modern thinking. This relates to the belief that no deity, church, person or society can tell you what is right or wrong (for you); you need to figure that out for yourself, and thus make your own meaning to life, and thus be your own god. Live your truth, or follow your conscience as some might say…not knowing what a well-formed conscience would even be like.
“… the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know good and evil.” (Gen 3:4-5)