Skip to comments.Religion? Phoo-ey: Society has been hurt far more by philosophy
Posted on 09/08/2003 3:05:17 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
I SENSED A KINSHIP with Martin Luther when reading Professor Thomas L. Johnson's comment ["Truly free? Not as long as religion plays a role in government," Aug. 19]. When Luther read Erasmus' diatribes he responded: "Your workstruck me as so worthless and poor that my heart went out to you for having defiled your lovely and brilliant flow of language with such vile stuff.It is like using gold and silver dishes to carry garden rubbish or dung."
Johnson assumes we experience philosophical ideas only in the philosophers' writings. This is erroneous. We meet these ideas in movies, television, and the lyrics of music.
They are in books such as Hillary Clinton's "It Takes a Village." The raising of a child is too important to be left to the parents; it takes a village. This belief is from Plato's "Republic." Movies and television have often portrayed the "anti-hero hero"--the individual who makes his own way and his own laws, and refuses to submit to authority. This is the "superman" of Nietzsche.
Johnson's own polemic on Christian "virtues" betrays the influence of Nietzsche's "Will to Power." These ideas are found in marketing: Get it here and now because here and now is all you have.
One does not have to read the philosophers to encounter the ideas they have promulgated. Even the U.S. Army has kowtowed to philosophy with the slogan "An army of one."
The contemporary church, as well, has been shaped by the philosophers. Rudolf Bultmann turned to the atheistic existential philosophy of Heidegger as the way to interpret the Bible, pushing many into a subjective approach. But perhaps it was Immanuel Kant in his "Critique of Pure Reason" who had the greatest impact on culture and church when he built his wall between the transcendent (God, the self, and essences) and the world as we perceive it. The Christian community abandoned its traditional rational arguments for God and turned to leaps of faith. Thus the church, like the culture, found itself separated from God, the self, and essences, and the answers to the important questions: What is Good, Beautiful and True? We have all bowed the knee to Father Kant and his disciples, even if we have never heard their names.
The history Johnson asserts is more wretched than his views on philosophical effect. In ancient Rome, Christians were executed for not worshiping the emperor. Christians stopped the practice of infanticide. It was the church's opposition that ended the games where people were butchered for the amusement of the mob.
Throughout history Christians have resisted tyranny--at Runnymede and the signing of the Magna Carta, in central Europe when the German Princes opposed Charles V, and in the Dutch war of independence. All these events were carried out by Christians. Parliament's victory over the King in the English Civil War was the work of Christians, as was the American Revolution. The history Johnson offered, of Christians as docile, willing servants of despots, is at its best abject knavery, at its worst odious slander.
The dictatorships of this past century, of which Johnson took little notice, were nearly all anti-religious. These opposed Judeo-Christianity and adopted Karl Marx's creed "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his need." Lenin and Stalin attempted to exterminate religion. Communist China's human disasters ("The Great Leap Forward" and the "Cultural Revolution") were not the result of Christian complicity. These tragedies, along with those perpetrated by the Pol Pot regime and numerous others, lay with proponents of anti-religious, anti-Christian socialism.
Johnson protests that both political parties are making government bigger, and they are. We have only ourselves to blame, having become enthralled with the politics of envy, greed, and guilt, justified by Marx's creed. This is the result of the marriage of agnostic socialism and 19th-century liberal theology, which is not Christian, as J. Gresham Machen so ably pointed out in "Christianity and Liberalism."
Professor Johnson may assert the contrary, but with God banished from, statehouse, schoolhouse, and courtroom, Caesar is now on the throne. Where humans rule rather than the law, tyranny will follow. Big government is the heritage of this exile.
We all suffer from Pascal's dilemma of being able to think of a better existence than we have, but being unable to bring it about. We as a culture have turned to a human institution, government, for our needs and wants. Many are ready to lay covetous hands on the public treasury. This is the legacy of the 19th- and 20th-century socialist movements, which abandoned the orthodox teachings of Judaism and Christianity.
The threat to freedom is not from the community of faith. It is from the culture's desire to have the state meet our desires and free us from accountability. In a family environment this would be called codependency.
The late Vince Lombardi, observing the American scene in 1970, said, "People no longer understand the difference between liberty and license." I see in Professor Johnson's diatribe that lack of understanding.
May I respectfully point out that you DO know the name of the author? ;)
Old Puddleglum was a gloomy but usually correct character in C.S. Lewis's The Silver Chair. It was either that or Eyore (sp)!
I agree there's some leaps in there, but for me it was a good brain tickler making me remember what I knew about these philosophers.
I sometimes think these later philosphers are just the tail wagging the dog; Nietsche lets people feel like their nihilism had a pedigree. I've never ceased to be amazed at people who cite Neitsche and Heiddegar like they were new under the sun, when really most of them are regurgitated heresies from the first few centuries AD.
I have to disagree that God was ever attainable by Reason though, except among the Neo-Platonists. I don't think Jesus would have had to come down to us if we just skip up a ladder of Reason and meet God face to face. At most Reason takes you up to something like God's footprint, but he's still deus absconditus (an analogy errily close to Bigfoot).
Everything that is wrong with philsophy is, "religion," or at least the fundamental principle of religion, mysticism.
When mysticism, (so-called knowledge that has no rational or evidential basis), is embraced, it is superstition. No one calls it superstition, however, they call it faith.
Men so despise the truth and reality, they will do anything rather than give up their superstitions, including corrupting their own philosophy.
|Mankind, generally hates reality, just because mankind does view reality as ruthless, demanding, cruel, and unforgiving. What mankind wishes for is a reality that is pliable, easy-going, kind, and forgiving. At bottom, mankind hates reality, hates the necessity of having to work hard all the time, hates the necessity of having to learn so much, hates never being able to act on whim, or passion, or impulse without consequences, hates knowing they cannot do wrong and get away with it, hates knowing you cannot get something for nothing.
What mankind wants is exemption from consequences and a shortcut to success, wealth, happiness, or whatever else their current whims and fancies convince them they want. Reason does not show them how to have or achieve what they want the way they want it. Reason only enables them to understand the truth that describes reality as it is. They don't want truth, either. The truth just condemns them for their hate of reality. They hate the truth, too.
Here, finally, is the secret, that unrevealed factor, the mystery of why almost all men prefer their superstitions to the truth.
At the heart of all superstitious beliefs, sometimes explicit, but always implicit, is the promise that there is something more than reality, something above reality, something which cancels the requirements of reality, a secret that enables those who know it to rise above mere reality, to defy it and get away with it. Superstition, which is never called superstition, is a magic wand that makes exist what in reality cannot exist, a metaphysical wild card that makes one automatically a winner, the universal "get-out-of-jail-free" card that allows one to escape the consequences of their choices and actions, the flying carpet that defies all of reality to give its owner a free ride to success and happiness.
(Quote is from The Autonomist, "What is Superstition")
To allow human agency, you must have faith. It is the one faith that "statist" will cannot allow themselves because the "state is great" mindset has no faith in the ability of individuals to choose for themselves.
Faith is what individuals who hate the truth settle for. All religions, are at bottom, collectivist in nature. An autonomist has not use for a "state" or superstition, which you call "faith."
Reality is all that is, the way it is. There is nothing but reality. Nothing can be more real than anything else.
That statement has more truth to it than you might like.
All collectivist organizations set rules, regulations, commandments, etc. -- some wise, and some totally arbitrary and ridiculous.
As such, all collectivist organizations present threats to individuals -- and individual freedom.
The belief that, of all things in the Universe, time is not an illusion is a direct opposition to the concept of eternal life, and perhaps that is why so many secularists choke on it.
And still, so many Christians insist that God will appear as an illusion when he is not.
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