Here’s a long rant on liberalism and Leftism, considered as two clusters of traits that I don’t like. This post is a mess. After taking it down a few days ago in the hopes of cleaning it up and shortening it, I realize I’m just not going to have the time to do that, so here it is again, nearly unmodified.
[Here is another of my essays originally posted at Intellectual Conservative and destroyed by leftist hackers. In it, I refer to the evolution in which contemporary atheistic science believes as “Darwinism” or “Darwinian evolution.” This is not the term that most scientists use, but since the word “evolution” has many meanings, and since most scientific enthusiasts of the evolutionary theory originated by Darwin wish to obscure its anti-Christian nature, I have chosen to use a more clear-cut term. Keep in mind also that this essay was written for the general public, not the typical Orthosphere reader.]
Ben Stein’s movie Expelled shines the spotlight on the dispute between Darwinian evolution and its opponents. Although both sides marshal a large array of technical facts, this dispute is really a clash between two fundamentally differing worldviews, that is, basic philosophical systems that people use to interpret all of reality. In fact, the dispute can most accurately be summed up by saying: It’s all about God.
That is, if you can be sure there is no miracle-working God, then something like Darwinian evolution must be correct. But if there is even a chance that such a God exists, then basic intellectual integrity demands that you take seriously the criticisms directed against Darwinism. Continue reading
Do theistic metaphysical systems such as Thomism or Scotism have any stakes in the findings of the empirical sciences? A discussion of formal causes in science and challenges to the principle of causality.
Whose perspective is that of the whole world? Whose comprehension is competent to the whole world?
At the end of my last post, I said:
In the absence of God, both the theories we’ve talked about boil down in the end to “there is no absolutely binding, objective moral truth, but rather only happenstance.” When push comes to shove, then, the only way there can be such a thing as morality is if there is an omniscient, necessary God who knows without possibility of error what is right.
But watch what happens when I make a few substitutions:
In the absence of God, there is no absolutely binding, objective truth, but rather only disparate subjective impressions. When push comes to shove, then, the only way there can be such a thing as truth is if there is an omniscient, necessary God who knows without possibility of error what is true.
Atheism, then, is acosmism.
There are atheist Traditionalists. But apart from an appeal to their own personal preferences, they cannot propose any arguments that support their Traditionalist views. This because if God does not exist, then as Dostoyevsky pointed out, everything is permitted.
Secular rightists are generally indignant at that notion. They’ve got plenty of arguments! Evolution has formed us as moral animals, and that justifies characterizing human moral sentiments as founded in objective reality. I get this argument all the time. Less often, I hear appeals to non-theistic Natural Law. While I appreciate the earnest honesty of their professors, these arguments won’t do. Why?
The fad of tattooing is an expression of the liberal attitude that nothing is objectively out of bounds, nothing forbidden; an attitude which is implicitly atheist. Moral relativism is after all tantamount to atheism: if there are no rules in nature, there can be no God, and vice versa; for either there is a God who, being God, ipso facto conditions everything whatsoever, or else there is nothing at all that thus constrains all that is. But if nothing is really forbidden – if nothing is really bad – then by the same token nothing is really any good, either; or, therefore, worth doing. This includes life itself. Tattooing, then, is an indication of deep spiritual despair, however thoroughly it may be disguised by bravado, sensuality, or glib insouciance.
Our nature – not just our human nature, but our animal nature, indeed our basic creaturely nature – is such that we are inherently ordered to the actualization of truly good things. We are so constituted that we cannot feel authentically good unless we are doing what is truly good, and so being really good. In denying that there is any such thing in objective reality as a real good, atheism eliminates our basic reason to exist. Indeed, that elimination is the mechanism by which atheism makes nothing forbidden. For the things that theism forbids are those that contravene the order of being, and therefore frustrate being as such; so that creation everywhere works to destroy what is disordered, evil or ill. Atheism denies that there is in the first place an order of being to contravene, and denies therefore also that there is any such thing really as disorder, evil or ill; so that, there being no such thing as “misbehavior,” there is no reason not to misbehave.
An atheist friend asked me recently what reason there is to have faith in God.
Now, first, let us properly understand faith (my friend surely didn’t). Faith is, essentially, trust in what reason has revealed as truth and revelation has ratified, and vice-versa. To have faith is not to believe something for no good reason but to believe it for every good reason. Faith may be likened to a man who is deathly afraid of flying, but who nevertheless boards the plane, firmly reminding himself how unlikely it is to crash. He’s right and not irrational to believe the plane probably won’t crash — it’s a perfectly rational belief and he has every reason to believe it. Faith isn’t quite so much the believing but the accepting, the adhering of the will to that truth.
To ask what reason there is to have faith is to ask why reason obliges us to have faith. But if faith is simply the acceptance of truth, then the atheist is really asking (though he doesn’t know it), “Why does reason oblige us to believe that what reason has revealed as truth is truth?” Phrased this way, we see how silly the question is. It couldn’t be otherwise: to have faith just is to be reasonable. One may as well ask why triangles can’t have four sides.
I created and regularly teach the upper-division course on “Science Fiction in Literature and Film” at SUNY Oswego, under the aegis of the English Department. My approach to the genre is that, so to speak, everything one thinks he knows about it is wrong, beginning with the supposition that SF functions as the propaganda arm of established science. On the contrary, the most intellectually developed SF of the twentieth century seems to me to be quite critical of the scientific establishment. Thus, far from being generically “propaganda for science,” SF is one of the prime loci of the critique of scientism. I wrote the following paragraphs for the students in my class, in an attempt to explain the term scientism and to suggest why the authors whom we study in the course address scientism with a cocked eye.
If you haven’t already, check out the story of R. J. Stove, son of the late atheist philosopher David Stove, who killed himself when his life went south. R. J. converted to Roman Catholicism eight years later.
It’s clichéd to ask why more atheists don’t commit suicide. Like most clichés, the question gets near the heart of the issue without properly hitting it. After all, it’s not as if suicide is somehow logically consistent with atheism. For one thing, atheism isn’t a principle: it’s the negation of a principle. And you don’t get something from nothing.
That is the heart of the problem. Atheism doesn’t necessitate a reason to die, but it certainly doesn’t offer a reason to live. It doesn’t offer a reason for choosing between the two options and it couldn’t offer a methodology for choosing between them, anyway. It doesn’t offer anything.
In a recent thread at the Orthosphere, Rusty bravely shared his doubts about the Incarnation – and, ipso facto, Christianity (as distinct from mere theism). Rusty is not hostile to the Faith. On the contrary, he has lost his former faith, misses it terribly, and wishes there were some way he could regain it. His comments are truly heartrending to read.
Rusty, first: Thanks for your candor. I am praying for you.
Second, I would like to address the nub of your difficulty, because it is something I have often seen troubling thoughtful people. You say that even given an omnipotent God – a notion you seem to credit – you cannot help thinking that the Incarnation, and by extension the Redemption of the world, are simply unlikely.