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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

So much is passing and ephemeral. Spiritual questions remain. I participated in an interesting discussion of sola scriptura over at Protestant Pontifications. Enjoy.

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Mark at Protestant Pontifications notes in a wide-ranging post that postmodernism is just the death gasp of modernity, and that, unlike the true anti-modernism of authentic conservatism, rails against the age without much in the way of alternative:

The notion that religion and politics are two separate spheres is an entirely modern one, post-enlightenment. This is not a defense of theocracy. Theocracy, in a real sense, doesn’t work in a democratic age. But neither does a political philosophy which makes no reference to the transcendent. Modernism is the product of this artificial separation. In the words of Makoto Fujimura, postmodernism isn’t a new phase, but rather the tail end of modernism. It is modernism’s natural conclusion.

What is postmodernism? A simplistic answer might be that it is the rejection of the enlightenment project. This project culminated in the boomer generation following WWII. It is said that bad ideas can only bear the weight of reality for so long, and the children of the boomers are evidence of this. Postmodernism screams a void. It decries failure. It paints emptiness in bold strokes. Secular humanism has failed; it has been tried and found wanting. Postmodernism stares into the Nietzchean abyss and refuses it. But it has nowhere to go.

We see this as an act of confusion, an attempt to make sense of the world that only concludes that failure has occurred but is unequipped to respond. So instead, it is left to merely pointing out our glaring hypocrisies. One can observe this easily in our movies. Films like No Country for Old Men and There Will be Blood don’t have a positive moral teaching. They are exhibitions of virtue in relief.

Our culture has been self-centered for so long, obsessed with the individual for so long, that by the time it realizes it cannot morally hold itself up by the bootstraps it has forgotten how to operate otherwise. We have glared too much into our own false light that we are blind to the glow of natural law.

Modern society stands at a crossroad. The echoes of emptiness bounce off every part of our community, but what or who will fill the void?

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The recent spate of books about atheism are so tired in their false iconoclasm that it’s a wonder they have attracted any attention.  I’ve seen more provocative works in a high school newspaper.  The atheist players–Hitchens and Dawkins most prominently–flatter themselves by smashing the already-destroyed idols of the Middle Ages.  Their false courage should be self-evident; in no world where Christendom were vital would subversive tripe like The Da Vinci Code be as popular as it was.  It is rather the believers who are the insurgents while the atheists are the court intellectuals to the largely agnostic and atheistic elite of the modern world.

Theodore Dalrymple, himself a self-professed agnostic, notes that the new wave of atheist auteurs are really heroes only in their own minds:

Of course, men—that is to say, some men—have denied this truth ever since the Enlightenment, and have sought to find a way of life based entirely on reason. Far as I am from decrying reason, the attempt leads at best to Gradgrind and at worst to Stalin. Reason can never be the absolute dictator of man’s mental or moral economy. . . .

The philosophers Daniel Dennett, A. C. Grayling, Michel Onfray, and Sam Harris, biologist Richard Dawkins, and journalist and critic Christopher Hitchens have all written books roundly condemning religion and its works. Evidently, there is a tide in the affairs, if not of men, at least of authors.

The curious thing about these books is that the authors often appear to think that they are saying something new and brave. They imagine themselves to be like the intrepid explorer Sir Richard Burton, who in 1853 disguised himself as a Muslim merchant, went to Mecca, and then wrote a book about his unprecedented feat. The public appears to agree, for the neo-atheist books have sold by the hundred thousand. Yet with the possible exception of Dennett’s, they advance no argument that I, the village atheist, could not have made by the age of 14 (Saint Anselm’s ontological argument for God’s existence gave me the greatest difficulty, but I had taken Hume to heart on the weakness of the argument from design).

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