Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Don't fall for the default settings

One of the liberal intelligentsia's greatest successes was to make their principles normative. They somehow suckered the whole world into thinking that the default position of the human mind towards religion should be disbelief. That religion was something outside the ordinary workings of human thought, something that went beyond the boundaries of reason and was, for better or worse, the precinct of a chosen few. It did not belong to the masses but rather it was the minors who went to Mass. Religion in the popular imagination ceased being something to which the human person was naturally disposed; it became an extra, a hobby for the cerebrally challenged.

I suppose the war was waged on many fronts. However, a particularly effective argument today is really the rehashing of the old ideas of the Enlightenment. Or perhaps to put it in more contemporary journalistic jargon 'O, you're one of those. I didn't know.' That ever happen to you?

It seems that the intelligentsia, far from being happy with throwing rocks at the religious edifice, started to throw cream pies at it as well. Not happy to challenge religion on the basis of first principles and the laws of logical demonstration, they chose to challenge religion's right to principles at all. Instead of trying the reasonableness of religion they tried the right of religion to any reasons whatsoever!

Any religious person today is subject to a kind of almost automatic scrutiny of their sanity whenever their beliefs are discovered. Of course the intelligentsia have been quick not to discredit the social phenomenon of religion, after all, what on earth would they publish their books on if they totally discredited it? Rather, what causes such instantaneous perplexity is not that anyone should be interested in the ideas of religion, but that someone would actually do anything about that interest, expect of course buy books.

It happens to most of us at work, parties or on social occasions that when a person discovers that you have the Faith that they look at you sympathetically, as though they should lead you by the hand and sit you down and pour you a stiff drink. The same person who is probably going through a divorce, never sees his children and who thinks that he is living the good life.

Yet just how different are we?

The greatest obstacle to the claims of reasonable religion is not that religion is just a bunch of theories for those who have seen the light, but rather that religon is for those who can't find meaning in anything real and so look for meaing in the meaningless. To be thoroughly religious, and in my case Catholic, requires a real will to reason with humility, not just to rely on the reasons of others. So many people are horrified to think that we could actually follow the teachings of someone, i.e. the Pope. Yet that person would probably not have one opinion that you could not find on the wrapping of his fish and chips on a Friday night.

Of course this is not just to be smug, rather it is the obvious fact that we each have our dogmas and we each have our seats of authority to whom we pay respect. We have simply chosen God and they haven't. Everybody has a Bible, some call it holy some call it the BBC.

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