Is Christianity Pathological?

Jonathon Van Maren provides several recent examples of language being used to describe Christians and Christianity as inherently pathological. He argues that, if this charge is allowed to stick, then it is a very short step to taking action to forcibly “treat” that illness. He concludes with this chilling warning:

Inch by inch, the Sexual Revolutionaries have backed us up into our churches and our Christian schools and our homes. And they are already trying to find ways to force their new “values” on us there as well.

Because if Christianity is in their eyes a pathology, a mental disorder, a temporary insanity, then there can be no religious freedom. They will not be satisfied as long as religious institutions teach and adhere to Christian beliefs, while churches that cling to orthodoxy still preach timeless truths, and while parents still teach their children that the Sexual Revolution was a bloody, horrific mess. So they will try, as they already are, to push harder and longer.

For all their talk of diversity and toleration, progressives have a fiercely intolerant attitude toward anything Christian. Christianity is the last major bulwark against the rising tide of permissiveness and godlessness sweeping Western culture; consequently, it is under furious assault by elements that wish to eliminate its influence. If they can convince people that belief in traditional Christian morality is a pathology requiring a cure, then they win. And it won’t be long before Christians will be carted off to Re-education Camps to straighten out their thinking. (In fact, it’s already started. Have you ever had to attend a mandatory Diversity Training workshop?)

Christianity, properly understood and applied, is a boon to human flourishing, not a threat. Our task is to defend that proposition with passion, intellect, and humility, and not cede the field to the critics.

Posted in Christianity, Morality, Toleration | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Utopian Mirage of Equality

Stacy McCain, reviewing an earlier essay by Roger Devlin, explains why equality is a flawed goal in political and social policy:

The problem with “equality” is that it requires us forever to feed the crocodile, hoping to be eaten last. Any one of us can look around and see some condition of inequality and say, “That’s unfair.” Once we adopt equality as a moral principle, we will find social injustice everywhere we look. . . .

Equality is a totalitarian doctrine with no rational limit nor any logical stopping point short of the gates of Hell. Human beings are vastly different in their abilities and interests and, therefore, inequality is the natural condition of mankind. Whatever measures we enact this year to advance the cause of equality, you can be sure that next year inequality will continue, so that the advocates of equality will always have an excuse for new interventions in the natural (unequal) order of society. The Armies of Progress are always on the march, inviting us to join them on the Road to the Utopia of Equality.

The problem is that “Utopia” is a word coined by Thomas More from Greek roots meaning “nowhere.” The egalitarian ideal has never existed in history nor can it be brought about by even the most determined government policy, because equality is incompatible with human nature. As Freidrich Hayek observed, “social justice” is a mirage. Progressive advocates of equality are therefore the enemies of mankind, destroying the natural order to pursue an unrealistic ideal that we would not enjoy if it were actually possible, which it is not.

Making equality into a moral principle and a political objective always has the result of  of inflaming irrational resentment.

Which explains why so much of our political and cultural discourse these days is marked by irrational outrage.  If the human race is comprised of a wide range of abilities, talents, skills, and interests, then the inevitable result will always—always—be a wide range of outcomes. Progressives applaud the former (“Celebrate Diversity!”), but refuse to accept the latter (“Inequality Sucks!”). That’s neither logical nor reasonable. When converted into official government policy, this twisted reasoning leads to totalitarianism (“We’ll Decide For You!—Because Fairness!”).

Inequality is not inherently evil. What we choose to do with our status in life is the far greater concern. If I choose not to work hard, save wisely, and treat others with respect, no government program can save me.

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Liberal Parenting Meets Reality

Darlena Cunha labels herself “a diehard, bleeding-heart liberal.” She is also the mother of young twin daughters. Applying her liberal bias (“value equality above all else”) to her parenting techniques taught her a hard-learned lesson in how not to raise children.

I thought my parenting approach would lead to strong, confident girls who are able to assess situations and logically thwart unequal systems. And it probably will, someday. But right now? They’re 6. The lessons I’ve taught them have led to two very dissatisfied girls who don’t know if their mother is their friend, their adversary or their keeper. . . .

I’ve taught the wrong message — that life should be fair and there is no other acceptable option. I did it before the girls had the capacity to understand the meaning of fair. Fair became “what I want right now because I want it.”

I should have stuck to the well-worn, well-tested “life isn’t fair, and I call the shots” route when my girls were babies and toddlers.

Because what isn’t fair is asking children to think and behave like adults before they have the mental ability to do so.

Read the whole thing for humorous examples of what happens when you try to promote fairness above all else with a pair of six-year-olds. What a riot.

My comment: If she thinks her mistake is merely one of timing, wait until those twins turn sixteen, or even twenty-six. The real problem here is not timing, but the underlying assumption that fairness is the highest value in life. It’s not, and those who live their lives under that creed will always be disappointed.

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Culture Trumps Politics

Conservatives are cheering the results of this week’s election, in which Republicans have positioned themselves to exert enormous influence over the direction of governance for the next several years. But I’m not cheering. Not because I don’t agree with the need for more conservatism in politics, but because I don’t believe government is where the real battle is being fought. Mark Stein explains the matter in a recent article:

Liberals expend tremendous effort changing the culture. Conservatives expend tremendous effort changing elected officials every other November — and then are surprised that it doesn’t make much difference.

Culture trumps politics — which is why, once the question’s been settled culturally, conservatives are reduced to playing catch-up, twisting themselves into pretzels to explain why gay marriage is really conservative after all, or why 30 million unskilled immigrants with a majority of births out of wedlock are “natural allies” of the Republican Party. . . .

If the culture’s liberal, if the schools are liberal, if the churches are liberal, if the hip, groovy business elite is liberal, if the guys who make the movies and the pop songs are liberal, then electing a guy with an “R” after his name isn’t going to make a lot of difference. . . .

Culture is the long view; politics is the here and now.

Yet in America vast cultural changes occur in nothing flat, while, under our sclerotic political institutions, men elected to two-year terms of office announce ambitious plans to balance the budget a decade after their terms end. Here, again, liberals show a greater understanding of where the action is.

I recall a friend telling me in 1980, following Reagan’s landslide victory over Carter, that that election had finally halted the nation’s descent into madness. I wasn’t convinced, and the events of the next thirty-four years have confirmed my suspicions. Once the agents of cultural power have been subverted to pernicious ends, the politics will inevitably tag along meekly. Occasional fits of electoral pique may slow, but will never overcome, the culture’s march into hell.

If conservatives want to make a real impact, they need to make inroads in the institutions of cultural significance, starting with the family. It’s a much more difficult battle to fight, but there is no other way to address the problems that plague our country.

Posted in Conservatism, Culture, Family, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Feminism and Rape

Mona Charen weighs in on Feminist Lies about Sexual Assault:

You don’t have to believe the one-in-four figure floated by activists to agree that women are experiencing a marked degree of sexual assault and battery in the liberated hook-up world liberalism has created. But this is progressivism chasing its tail.

For centuries, men have lied to women to lure them into bed. Parents warned their daughters about such men. In recent decades, it’s women who’ve been lying to other women. Feminists peddled the notion that women wanted exactly the same things from sex that men did. They rejected modesty and its cousin chivalry with contempt and welcomed the sexual free for all.

They were wrong about human nature — in this case immutable sex differences — but cannot admit it. . . .

Women who lie to other women conceal the facts. For example: The National Institute of Justice reports that among the risk factors for sexual assault on campus is “having numerous sexual partners,” getting “drunk or high” on a regular basis, and attending fraternity parties.

Pointing out these realities is rejected as “slut shaming” or “victim blaming” by feminists.

For all their bold talk about empowerment, feminists seem always to demand that they not be forced to deal with reality. They preach to young women that they’re just like men sexually, and when they find, to their horror, that lots of women are getting raped, they respond that women shouldn’t be cautious about who they get drunk with, men should “be taught not to rape.”

The current uproar in academic and legal circles about the rape epidemic and how to deal with it would be laughable if the consequences were not so tragic. Having repudiated the age-old system of chivalry, modesty, and chastity that—however imperfectly—protected women and their offspring, our culture is now caught in a moral morass of its own making. With the old rules now gone, young people no longer have any idea how to manage the powerful—and different—hormonal urges that are part of our male and female natures. The result is chaos.

Putting all the blame on men while absolving women of any responsibility in this crisis is not a recipe for gender equality but for even more conflict. This will not end well for anyone, including women.

Posted in Chivalry, Feminism, Gender, Modesty | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Antikythera and Design

If you have a passion for archaeology, history, and technology, as I do, you are probably already aware of the mysterious Antikythera Mechanism, a badly corroded relic discovered by sponge divers off the coast of Antikythera island in 1900. Intensive study of the relic’s fragments in recent years has revealed an astonishing story of  ancient technology far surpassing anything we previously knew.

This strange object appears to be the remains of a 2,000-year-old device that predicted—with remarkable accuracy—a wide variety of astronomical cycles, including the movement of the sun, moon, and the known planets of its time. The device even accounted for minor fluctuations in these cycles that could only be recognized over a long span of time. It accomplished this feat using a complex system of bronze gears, similar to clock designs that would not be invented for more than a thousand years. Based on their findings, researchers have built reconstructions of this device and confirmed its purpose. (For more details about this object, its function, and its history, see the short video at the end of this post, or the longer Nova episode that follows.)

In reading the body of research devoted to this amazing mechanism, one is struck by the number of times the authors refer to the design that went into the construction of the device. They speculate on the identity of the designer whose amazing grasp of astronomy, metallurgy, and craftsmanship made the construction of the machine possible. This thing did not just ooze up out of the mud; somebody designed it and built it to accomplish a specific purpose.

The Antikythera Mechanism, in other words, is a classic example of intelligent design. Here is a case in which modern man is confronted with an object that shows unmistakable evidence of intentional function and design, and seeks from that evidence—as fragmentary and incomplete as it is—to reconstruct the story of who and why it was made. Whatever the gaps in our knowledge, the evidence is overwhelming that an intelligent being created this thing. Anyone who would posit a theory that it evolved from purely natural processes would be laughed out of the room.

Yet when we encounter evidence for design in the universe—evidence that is infinitely more complex and improbable than Antikythera—the gears suddenly shift and all the “smart” people in the room solemnly agree that it must be the result of random, unguided, accidental, naturalistic processes. It “just happened.”

It is not my purpose here to start a debate on the pros and cons of intelligent design. I’m merely drawing attention to what appears to be a fundamental disconnect from reality on the part of those who argue so passionately against the role of design in the remarkable universe in which we live. If they can see it in Antikythera, they should be able to see it in physics and biology.

Unless, of course, there is an underlying worldview that prevents them from doing so.

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The Religious Fervor of Richard Dawkins

If anyone wears the mantle of leadership in the New Atheist movement, Richard Dawkins is that man. An accomplished author and speaker, Dawkins has done more than anyone to popularize atheism as a valid alternative to religion.

But the manner in which Dawkins attacks religion and promotes his brand of atheism has been an embarrassment to a good many of his fellow atheists, including John Gray, whose review of Dawkins’ recently released memoir, An Appetite for Wonder: The Makings of a Scientist, is quite critical of the champion’s evangelistic certitude.

Gray notes the fatal flaw in Dawkins’ unwavering commitment to scientific rationalism as the ultimate and only answer to all mankind’s problems:

Science may give us the unvarnished truth—or some of it—about our species. Part of that truth may prove to be that humans are not and can never be rational animals. Religion may be an illusion, but that does not mean science can dispel it. On the contrary, science may well show that religion cannot be eradicated from the human mind. Unsurprisingly, this is a possibility that Dawkins never explores.

Gray reaches back over a century to a critique of evolution offered by the British statesman Arthur Balfour. Though an atheist himself, Gray acknowledges the strength of Balfour’s argument:

If the human mind has evolved in obedience to the imperatives of survival, what reason is there for thinking that it can acquire knowledge of reality, when all that is required in order to reproduce the species is that its errors and illusions are not fatal? A purely naturalistic philosophy cannot account for the knowledge that we believe we possess. . . . Balfour’s solution was that naturalism is self-defeating: humans can gain access to the truth only because the human mind has been shaped by a divine mind. . . . One does not need to accept Balfour’s theistic solution to see the force of his argument. A rigorously naturalistic account of the human mind entails a much more skeptical view of human knowledge than is commonly acknowledged.

In other words, the very rationalism by which Dawkins invalidates religion as a legitimate approach to life likewise invalidates Dawkins’ own naturalism. What makes one valid and the other invalid?

The answer: Because Dawkins says so. Which renders him no different from the fundamentalist religionists he so abhors. Gray concludes:

To suppose that science can liberate humankind from ignorance requires considerable credulity. We know how science has been used in the past—not only to alleviate the human lot, but equally to serve tyranny and oppression. The notion that things might be fundamentally different in the future is an act of faith—one as gratuitous as any of the claims of religion, if not more so.

The debate between theism and atheism is welcome and necessary. But both sides need to approach the discussion with a generous dose of humility, recognizing that none of us have all the answers. Dawkins’ pretentiousness does not serve his side well.

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