Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Last Superstition, I

[Okay, I know it’s a tough slog through a scarily-sized paragraph for us superior modern readers, but try to make it all the way through. If you’re like-minded with me, you’ll find yourself enjoying it.]

G. K. Chesterton probably never actually said (as he is reputed to have said) that “he who does not believe in God will believe in anything.” But he surely would have said it had he been acquainted with the lunacies one finds peddled by contemporary secularists. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, we find “eliminative materialist” philosophers who deny the very existence of the human mind – a minority view, to be sure, but one which is the logical outcome of the “naturalistic” trend of modern philosophical thinking. We have already mentioned [Peter] Singer’s obscene defense of infanticide, necrophilia, and bestiality. Or to take what is now, alas, a far less exotic example, there is the current push for “same-sex marriage,” a metaphysical absurdity on all fours with round squares that even the ancient pagans would have regarded as a contemptible mark of extreme societal decadence. And then there are the various moralistic causes – environmentalism, “animal rights,” vegetarianism, veganism, and the like – not all inherently mad and not endorsed by all secularists, but often given a ridiculously exaggerated importance and fanatically pursued by them, each associated with its own obsessive-compulsive quasi-sacramental rituals (sorting one’s garbage into various piles for recycling, driving only “hybrid vehicles,” buying only “dolphin safe” tuna, etc). Though he would scarcely have thought it possible, Chesterton would find the New Secularist Man circa 2008 is an even more absurd creature than the incarnation with which he had to deal: A copy of Skeptic magazine ostentatiously tucked under his arm, the Darwin fish on the bumper of his car proudly signals his group identification with other members of the herd of “independent thinkers.” He “knows” that there is no God, and he isn’t sure whether even the thoughts he thinks he’s having are real or not. But he is pretty sure that his “selfish genes” and / or his “memes” in some way manipulate his every action, and quite certain that there’s nothing questionable per se about “marrying” another man, strangling an unwanted disabled infant, or sodomizing a goat or a corpse (if that’s “what you’re into”). Despite his hatred of religion, he thinks global warming is a greater danger than Islamic terrorism, and whether “meat is murder” is a proposition eminently wothy of consideration. Evidently, they don’t make skeptics like they used to.

From The Last Superstition, pages 16-17, by Professor Edward Feser


And there’s 280 more pages that follow.

By the way, Chesterton is the ultimate Christian apologist against “modern” types (Chesterton flourished in the first third of the 20th century). About a dozen years back I went through a brief GKC phase, reading a book of essays, The Man Who Was Thursday, and either Orthodoxy or The Everlasting Man, forget which. I’ll revisit him again one of these days.

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