Anyhow, the New Religions are suited to the new world; and this is their most damning defect. Each religion is produced by contemporary causes that can be clearly pointed out. Socialism is a reaction against Capitalism. Spiritualism is a reaction against Materialism; it is also in its intensified form merely the trail of the tragedy of the Great War. But there is a somewhat more subtle sense in which the very fitness of the new creeds makes them unfit; their very acceptability makes them inacceptable. Thus they all profess to be progressive because the peculiar boast of their peculiar period was progress; they claim to be democratic because our political system still rather pathetically claims to be democratic. They rushed to a reconciliation with science, which was often only a premature surrender to science. They hastily divested themselves of anything considered dowdy or old-fashioned in the way of vesture or symbol. They claimed to have bright services and cheery sermons; the churches competed with the cinemas; the churches even became cinemas. In its more moderate form the mood was merely one of praising natural pleasures, such as the enjoyment of nature and even the enjoyment of human nature. These are excellent things and this is an excellent liberty; and yet it has its limitations.
We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong. In these current fashions it is not really a question of the religion allowing us liberty; but (at the best) of the liberty allowing us a religion. These people merely take the modern mood, with much in it that is amiable and much that is anarchical and much that is merely dull and obvious, and then require any creed to be cut down to fit that mood. But the mood would exist even without the creed. They say they want a religion to be social, when they would be social without any religion. They say they want a religion to be practical, when they would be practical without any religion. They say they want a religion acceptable to science, when they would accept the science even if they did not accept the religion. They say they want a religion like this because they are like this already. They say they want it, when they mean that they could do without it.
It is a very different matter when a religion, in the real sense of a binding thing, binds men to their morality when it is not identical with their mood. It is very different when some of the saints preached social reconciliation to fierce and raging factions who could hardly bear the sight of each others' faces. It was a very different thing when charity was preached to pagans who really did not believe in it; just as it is a very different thing now, when chastity is preached to new pagans who do not believe in it. It is in those cases that we get the real grapple of religion; and it is in those cases that we get the peculiar and solitary triumph of the Catholic faith. It is not in merely being right when we are right, as in being cheerful or hopeful or humane. It is in having been right when we were wrong, and in the fact coming back upon us afterwards like a boomerang.
—G.K. Chesterton, The Catholic Church and Conversion (1926)
Just Some Guy Thinking About Stuff
13 March 2013
19 February 2013
18 March 2012
I asked my co-workers to put their argument in a nutshell. It was: "Catholics should not be able to force their religion on the rest of society." In other words, the government has decided what would be a good health-care plan for everybody; and most of society is fine with it. Catholics should not be able to throw a monkey-wrench into the whole system because of their eccentric and archaic beliefs...that the rest of society does not share. On the face of it, I can sympathize. For instance, there are some religions that eschew all kinds of medical intervention. Their adherents have been in court for depriving their children access to basic medical care. Perhaps they will object on religious grounds to paying for the medical care of their employees. Should these religious people be allowed to throw a monkey-wrench into the whole system? No; they shouldn't.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
01 April 2010
Under atheist metaphysics, there was no Creator, Designer, or even pantheistic personality such as Mother Nature to give the universe any kind of overarching purpose, design, direction, intent, or outcome.
Is there anything under atheist metaphysics that could have designed or directed the universe—any universe, its properties, its very existence—one way and not another?
If no, is there anything making said universe more than a matter of blind, random, mindless, purposeless chance?
If no, in such a universe, can there be anything of intrinsic value?
If no, then what are the moral and meaningful experiences, feelings, ideas, and habits fashioned in humans through natural selection about?
"Now, it is worthy of remark that [Thomism] is the only working philosophy. Of nearly all other philosophies it is strictly true that their followers work in spite of them, or do not work at all. No sceptics work sceptically; no fatalists work fatalistically; all without exception work on the principle that it is possible to assume what it is not possible to believe. No materialist who thinks his mind was made up for him, by mud and blood and heredity, has any hesitation in making up his mind. No sceptic who believes that truth is subjective has any hesitation about treating it as objective."
27 March 2010
In a recent debate between atheist Dan Barker and Cardinal George Pell, Barker asserted that the retort, "Who caused God?" is a sufficient refutation of the cosmological argument. Does this even address the cosmological argument? The cosmological argument says that everything within the universe is a receiver of existence; it comes into being and, as such, has a cause. Even if the "chain" of cause and effect goes back infinitely, nothing along that chain would ever have existence if there wasn't something which first had existence to give--the Uncaused Cause of all things. A pertinent challenge to this argument might be that an Uncaused Cause is not necessary to explain the chain of cause and effect, or that if any being is uncaused, why not the universe? But to simply retort, "Who caused the Uncaused Cause?" seems to me to miss the matter entirely.
22 January 2010
"Pacifism is a serious subject for sweet adolescents, or a way of life for certain eccentric sects; who, it must be noted, survive because they live among non-eccentric sects who reject pacifism and fight to keep those little sects alive and free. "
. . .
"The international community is a state of nature--a Hobbesian state of nature--with no universally recognized norms. Anarchy is kept in check not by a bureaucracy on the East River, not by some inchoate expression of world opinion, not by parchment promises adorned with disingenuous signatures--but by the will and the power of the great powers and, most importantly, in our time, by the one super power, namely, the United States.
"One highly revealing analysis of Obama foreign policy, relying on leaks from inside the White House, spoke about how Obama's approach to foreign policy owed much to his experience as a community organizer: the idea of listening, of understanding, or working cooperatively, and seeking common ends. This is all well and good, but a community organizer in Chicago operates within the rubric and under the protection of a very elaborate, very secure, highly regulated, and consensual domestic civil society. What holds civil society together is a supreme central authority, the sanctity of contracts, and the good will, civility, and decency of its individual members. The international arena lacks all of these things. What keeps it from degenerating into a war of all against all is not central authority, not the phony security of treaties, not the best good will among the more civilized nations--what stability we do have is owed to the overwhelming power and deterrent threat of a super power like the United States that defines international stability as a national interest. "
--Charles Krauthammer, The Age of Obama, Anno Domini 2 (The Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture) January 19, 2010.
30 December 2009
For too long, I've been mulling over (and procrastinating) a response to a friend who wants to know how the lack of a deity effects her morals, specifically the values of care and respect. Some questions I'm pondering:
- If there exists no deity and therefore nothing transcendent, then aren't we without any standard outside of evolutionary change by which we can judge evolutionary change?
- Are care and respect "good" merely because a selected group of species on a solitary planet has the collective feeling that they are?
- There was a time before natural selection did its work and we didn't have the collective feeling that care and respect were good. Were they then not?
- If AGW wipes all life off earth (and ipso facto out of the universe), then will the goodness of care and respect have been erased? Presumably, future life forms will have their own collective feeling about ________; and even if that is in opposition to our current, collective feelings about care and respect, will their collective feeling be just as "good" as ours?
- If our collective feeling that care and respect are good makes them good, then did our collective feeling that they weren't good make them not good? By what standard do we measure that, at one time the human race was further away, but now it is closer?
- If there is no transcendent standard outside of evolutionary change, by which we can judge evolutionary change as "closer" or "further away" from some ideal, then aren't we just stuck calling "good" whatever evolutionary change we happen to be going through at the time?
- On what basis does the particular collective feeling that care and respect are good warrant a thumbs up, while the collective feeling that religious piety is good, does not (as the new atheists would have it)?
17 November 2009
I have better morals than half the religious people out there, thank you very much.
15 June 2009
During Eucharistic adoration today, I was daydreaming about the atheist view of love as I heard it from the Atheist Experience television show and podcast. I supposed it would be called a reductionist view, i.e. love is just biology—chemicals, instincts, and the like which Mother Nature has put into us to keep the game going. Yet, according to these atheists, love is still meaningful. I beg to differ. When I experience love, it seems to me to be about something...something real...and its being about something real is precisely what gives it its meaning. Once you say, "Oh, that's just atoms arranging themselves this way and that in obedience to the laws of physics so as to give me this epiphenomenal experience."—all meaning is eviscerated. I regard this atheist/materialistic definition of love is an a priori definition that corrupts the data instead of explaining it. The only definition into which the data fits, I think, is the definition of love as ultimately transcendent. Atheists who believe that love (or anything else) is meaningful are trying to have their cake and eat it too—the joys of transcendent realities with a philosophy that can't account for them. What struck me today, was how this puts them on par with their view of weak-minded religious believers whose beliefs arise from emotions and are about something that's not really there.
11 June 2009
The Left loves euphemisms and one of its favorite is 'tolerance'. 'Tolerance' is code for moral relativism. Those who congratulate themselves for being tolerant are really congratulating themselves for being moral relativists. Those who are scorned as intolerant are really being scorned for being moral absolutists.
There's a reason why the left employs the words 'tolerance' and 'intolerance' instead of 'relativism' and 'absolutism'. Doing so affords them the pretense of moral superiority, which is much easier to foist on the American public than intellectual superority. The Left domineers the opposition by calling it names, because they cannot convince it by giving it arguments. Because they have no arguments. It is precisely because their views are so hollow, that they must push them in the public sphere through the demagoguery of 'political correctness'.
The stripping of Carrie Prejean of her crown is nothing but the discrimination against someone for being a moral absolutist, for merely holding a different metaphysical view when it comes to human morality (a view which happens to be backed up by all the major religions of the world and virtually all of human history). This should put to the lie the idea that we can build a society on unchecked individualism in lieu of the common good.
Prejean was not on a soapbox. Her desire was to keep her opinions to herself, but she was cornered, at which time she courageously stated her belief in the most humble and benign manner possible. Is this how we treat people in America who, when asked to do so, respectfully declare what they believe? I hope this puts to the lie that Liberals are liberal.