“They made a schism with the whole universe”

The whole body of this new scheme of manners, in support of the new scheme of politics, I consider as a strong and decisive proof of determined ambition and systematic hostility.  I defy the most refining ingenuity to invent any other cause for the total departure of the Jacobin Republic from every one of the ideas and usages, religious, legal, moral, or social, of this civilized world, and for her tearing herself from its communion with such studied violence, but from a formed resolution of keeping no terms with that world.  It has not been, as has been falsely and insidiously represented, that these miscreants had only broke with their old government.  They made a schism with the whole universe, and that schism extended to almost everything, great and small.  For one, I wish, since it is gone thus far, that the breach had been so complete as to make all intercourse impracticable…

My ideas and my principles led me, in this contest, to encounter France, not as a state, but as a faction.  The vast territorial extent of that country, its immense population, its riches of production, its riches of commerce and convention, the whole aggregate mass of what in ordinary cases constitutes the force of a state, to me were but objects of secondary consideration.  They might be balanced; and they have been often more than balanced.  Great as these things are, they are not what make the faction formidable.  It is the faction that makes them truly dreadful.  That faction is the evil spirit that possesses the body of France, that informs it as a soul, that stamps upon its ambition, and upon all its pursuits, a characteristic mark, which strongly distinguishes them from the same general passions and the same general views in other men and in other communities.  It is that spirit which inspires into them a new, pernicious, a desolating activity.  Constituted as France was ten years ago, it was not in that France to shake, to shatter, and to overwhelm Europe in the manner that we behold…

As for me, I was always steadily of opinion that this disorder was not in its nature intermittent.  I conceived that the contest, once begun, could not be laid down again, to be resumed at our discretion, but that our first struggle with this evil would also be our last.  I never thought we could make peace with the system; because it was not for the sake of an object we pursued in rivalry with each other, but with the system itself that we were at war.  As I understood the matter, we were at war, not with its conduct, but with its existence–convinced that its existence and its hostility were the same.

The faction is not local or territorial.  It is a general evil.  Where it least appears in action, it is still full of life.  In its sleep it recruits its strength and prepares its exertion.  Its sprit lies deep in the corruptions of our common nature.  The social order which restrains it feeds it.  It exists in every country in Europe, and among all orders of men in every country, who look up to France as to a common head.  The center is there.  The circumference is the world of Europe, wherever the race of Europe may be settled.  Everywhere else the faction is militant; in France it is triumphant.  In France is the bank of deposit and the bank of circulation of all the pernicious principles that are forming in every state.  It will be a folly scarcely deserving of pity, and too mischievous for contempt, to think of restraining it in any other country whilst it is predominant there.  War, instead of being the cause of its force, has suspended its operation.  It has given a reprieve, at least, to the Christian world…

It is a dreadful truth, but it is a truth that cannot be concealed:  in ability, in dexterity, in the distinctness of their views, the Jacobins are our superiors.  They saw the thing right from the very beginning.  Whatever were the first motives to the war among politicians, they saw that in its spirit, and for its objects, it was a civil war; and as such they pursued it.  It is a war between the partisans of the ancient civil, moral, and political order of Europe against a sect of fanatical and ambitious atheists which means to change them all.  It is not France extending a foreign empire over other nations:  it is a sect aiming at universal empire, and beginning with the conquest of France…

– from Letters on a Regicide Peace

Edmund Burke was actually far from the contemptible “slow-and-steady path to surrender” advocate his twentieth-century admirers made him out to be.

Atheism, Agnosticism and Cultural Low Self-esteem

I think … the skeptics are taking over atheism. …I am an agnostic,

because I believe that is the human condition, and I am a skeptic,

because I believe that is the most efficient way to live my life.

A recent comment at the Orthosphere

 Atheism and its twin brother agnosticism are usually descriptions of individuals. But they’re also cultural forces, shaping society and in turn being shaped by the society in which they live and move and have their being.

[For brevity, I shall refer to them both as “atheism,” for they’re essentially identical at the level of day-to day operations.]

What has atheism to do with low cultural self-esteem? Just this: Atheism, especially today’s variety, makes a virtue of not believing. But skepticism weakens a man and a nation, leading ultimately to ruin unless countered by a renewal of belief.

Think of it: What character trait is today nearly-universally held to be the greatest virtue? Which trait is most praised? The absence of which trait is loathed most deeply and punished most harshly?

Tolerance, of course.

It does go by other names: nonjudgmentalism, openness, diversity, anti-racism, etc. But whatever it’s called, the supreme virtue of the modern age is not to believe. Continue reading

Socrates, Techno-Speak, and Similar Issues

I have some new or newish pieces up on the current regime and how to fight it. There’s one just out at Crisis Magazine about how bad ideological pluralism is (for starters, it’s a particular system of social control that obviously can’t be pluralistic). There are also a couple at Catholic World Report about why the Church can’t use modern public language to speak to modern man (it’s a sort of technological Newspeak), and about Socratic questioning as a way to disrupt the flow of sophistical patter. And then there’s a piece published at Crisis Magazine during Lent about how to how to be a bit more Lenten if you happen to be a political ranter.

Ten Things Atheists Suggest Theists Should Bear in Mind

Our doughty and affable atheist commenter Taggard has patiently endured and amiably responded to a lot of attention from Orthospherean theists over the last few days, in long, intense, and – to me, anyway – interesting conversations in the comments of two recent posts. I always learn a lot from participating in such discussions, and these were no exceptions. Taggard provided us with two interesting links, one to a graphic that plots the differences between gnostic atheists and theists on the one hand – who believe they know enough to positively assert the nonexistence or existence of God, respectively – and their agnostic interlocutors, who believe they do not know enough to positively assert anything about the existence of God.

The other was to a list of ten things atheists think theists should bear in mind when they are conversing. This post is a response to that list, which is reproduced below in full. If you plan on reading what follows, it will help first to peruse the graphic Taggard provided:

Agnostic v Gnostic v Atheist v Theist

Makes sense, no? I had never seen it before.

Here then is the list that Taggard linked, with my responses:

Continue reading

Two Articles of Possible Interest

Writer Michael Presley has written about Chinese cinema, under the title “Visions of China: The Nationalist Spirit in Chinese Political Cinema,” at The People of Shambhala. Presley is an impressive and thorough connoisseur of the Chinese motion-picture tradition. I recommend Presley’s article to readers of The Orthosphere. It is here: http://peopleofshambhala.com/visions-of-china-the-nationalist-spirit-in-chinese-political-cinema/

At The Brussels Journal, I review Gregory Copley’s new book Un-Civilization. Copley argues that the world is in the middle stage of a systemic breakdown that is driven by the hypertrophy of cities and will end in their collapse; the whole process will see a drastic shrinkage of the global population.  It is here: http://www.brusselsjournal.com/

Monarchy and the common good

Father Edmund Waldstein has posted some excellent writings explaining the pre-modern (classical and Christian) view of politcs and defending it from its ill-informed liberal detractors.  I particularly recommend them to Orthosphere readers, even though I know by now you’ve all heard plenty of arguments against modern autonomy-worship, because Waldstein bases himself on an understanding of the common good that, although a part of our philosophical patrimony, has been all but forgotten.  To sum it up

the human good is a participation in a higher, divine good. Thus our good exists not principally in our selves, but principally in the divine realm, and secondarily in ourselves. The divine good is more our own good than the good which exists in our own souls.

the community of men reflects God more than an individual man just as the universe reflects Him more perfectly than any one creature. Recall what I said about participation a moment ago: my own good exists more in the divine than in my individual existence; a corollary can now be seen: the common good, the order of the community, is more my good than any private good of mine. The common good of order or peace is common in fullest sense of the word: all the members of the community share it without it being divided or lessened by this sharing. Thus the common good is not merely a useful good; it is not merely the conditions that enable individuals to get what they want, it is the best good that individuals can have, it is that in which they find their happiness.

By the way, Waldstein is guided on this subject by the work of early twentieth-century Thomist philosopher Charles De Koninck, whose writings are one of those many Catholic intellectual resources that seem to have been thrown out and forgotten during the post-Vatican II deluge.

Taggard on Atheism

In the discussion thread to my post “Atheism is an Assumption, not a Reasonable Conclusion from the Evidence,” commenter Taggard offered a lengthy criticism of my position. Since my response to his response is also lengthy, I offer it here.

In this writing, Taggard reiterates what I described as the basic error of the atheist: sticking with an initial negative assumption in the face of positive evidence.

I reproduce here the full text of Taggard’s comment. My responses are in bold:

Taggard, 9:45 am:

I would like to reply to this article point by point, for the most part, but before I do, I need to lay down some definitions, a basic assumption, and a few statements:

Definitions: Atheist – one who lacks belief in all gods. [AR: This is too thin a definition.  The existence of God is too important for a man simply to “lack belief.” For example, if someone told you that there was a bomb, or a check for a million dollars, in your car, you would not be content just to “lack belief.” You would want to have good reasons for acting in whatever way you choose to act. Atheists act as if they are confident that there is no God.] Agnostic – one who does not know for sure if gods exist. Evolution – the process by which living organisms have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth. [AR: As defined by the scientific establishment, “evolution” means that the process was entirely naturalistic.] Abiogenesis – the origin of life. Continue reading

What is at the heart of Catholicism?

The question I ask is one of ideology, rather than ecclesiology.  The heart of the Catholic Church is Jesus Christ present to us in the Eucharist.  The heart of the Catholic belief system is a way of understanding this presence.  Catholicism is not just whatever the reigning pope says, or even a mere aggregate of what past popes and councils have said.  If Catholic belief were just a two-millennium long pile of arbitrary bureaucratic memos, there would be no coherence to it, and orthodox Catholics would have no ground for resistance when prelates at the highest level plot to undermine the faith, as they are now doing through the coming Extraordinary Synod for the Normalization of Adultery.  No, the pronouncements of the Church, especially her creeds, are a wonderful witness to the Catholic faith, but the faith they witness precedes them.  It derives from the ecclesial-sacramental system instituted, as we believe, by Christ Himself and as interpreted through a distinct Catholic perspective.  This perspective is unitary, internally consistent, tightly interconnected, and rationally and imaginatively compelling.

What is the essence of this Catholic perspective?  What is distinctive about it?  I’ve just finished an essay trying to explain it in 15 pages, already a feat of condensation if I do say so myself.  Let’s see if I can give the gist of it in one.

Continue reading

Atheism is an Assumption, not a Reasonable Conclusion from the Evidence

I recently listened to a debate between Christian apologist Norman Geisler and Paul Kurtz, one of the heroes of the secular humanist movement.

Several basic points occurred to me while listening. They all have to do with the atheist’s assuming ignorance rather than allowing his mind to go where the evidence (one of his favorite words) points.

The Origin of the Universe

There is overwhelming scientific and philosophical evidence that the physical cosmos (hereafter “cosmos”) has not existed eternally. Therefore there was a time (or perhaps we should speak more generally and say “a domain”) in which there was no cosmos: no matter, energy, space or even time.

Since the cosmos obviously does exist now, it seems obvious that some entity other than the cosmos must have caused it to come into existence. The only alternative is that sheer nothingness somehow “caused” the cosmos, an obvious impossibility.

The typical atheist responds to all this by asserting that we do not know what caused the cosmos, therefore atheism (or at least agnosticism) is the preferred position.

Here’s the basic problem with that: If someone really doesn’t know what caused the cosmos, then the cause could be anything. That’s what “I don’t know” means. Therefore if the skeptic is serious in his claim, he cannot rule out the possibility of God. If the cause is unknown, it could have been God. After all, the cause would have to exist outside of matter, energy, space and time, and would have be unimaginably powerful if not omnipotent, and either unimaginably lucky or else unimaginably wise.  It would have to have these attributes. And these are some of the primary attributes of the God of the Bible, the one true and living God. Continue reading