Monday, July 24, 2017

A Reliable Rule

Here is a quick and generally reliable rule to follow.  It people have always said it, it is probably true; it is the distilled wisdom of the ages.  If people have not always said it, but everybody is saying it now, it is probably a lie; it is the concentrated madness of the moment.

Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, pg.22

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Incompetent Federal Government

If your uncle gives you a magnificent Rolls-Royce, and a year later he wants to see how you have done with it, and you show him a tangled mess of metal and rubber, caused not by a freak accident but by your habitual misuse, he will naturally conclude that you are incompetent to own a Rolls-Royce.  We were given a republic that guaranteed a wide berth for liberty and for local matters, with the central government reserved only for matters that were truly national.  We now have what every single one of the founders, federalists and anti-federalists both, would have considered tyrannical.  It is a tangled mess.

Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, pg.11

Saturday, July 22, 2017

An Incompetent Culture

Unmarried men who shack up with women tend to be irresponsible, unproductive, and aggressive; unmarried women who shack up with men tend to be selfish and prodigal and want Big Daddy the government to take the same care of them that fathers and husbands used to take.  But those who do marry no longer seem to know what it is that they are doing.  Is it for keeps, or not?  What happens when children start arriving?  What’s a husband supposed to do?  What’s a wife supposed to do?

We are incompetent in the ordinary things of life.  We divorce more readily than we sell houses, yet for some reason we believe that we possess great wisdom as regards men and women that our benighted ancestors did not possess.  We raise sons who are not weaned at age twenty-five, yet for some reason we have contempt for the old institutions that used to turn boys into men.  We raise daughters who emulate well-paid whores, but who do not actually make the money that the whores make, and yet we persist in believing that only in our time has a girl had half a chance to live a decent life.  We are in debt over the eyeballs, we cannot make ends meet even on two incomes, and yet we hug ourselves for being “liberated,” looking with pity on a grandmother who in a single day did fifty skillful things for people she loved, rather than spending eight hours fielding telephone calls in an office or scraping plaque off the teeth of strangers, while wearing goggles and a face mask to guard against dreadful infections from their blood and spittle.

Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, pg.9-10

Friday, July 21, 2017

Pleasures Need Boundaries

Apart from a moral framework, pleasure is a sure path to sensual bankruptcy.   [T]he Christian who enjoys legitimate pleasure within God’s boundaries experiences life as a perpetual novelty.  The boundary-less life of sensual pleasure is a field of landmines, fraught with the real risk that even the very possibility of pleasure might be blown away.

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg.82

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Evolution?

Given a starting point of primordial slime, one is forced to live apart from a moral law, with no meaning, no real understanding of love, and no hope.

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg.79

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What About the Children?

The ultimate test of any civilization is what we do with our children, and our children are not doing very well.  From abortion to child pornography, atheistic philosophy is having its way with our children.

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 72

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What About Tradition?

If tradition is the handing on of cultural and artisanal knowledge, and if we have taught ourselves in our smugness that we can dispense with it, then we will become cultural and artisanal incompetents.  Your grandfather might be a repository of many generations of know-how -- and I am not speaking principally of technological know-how.  If you will not learn from him, from whom will you learn what he knows -- from the pimply teenager next door?  Inane actors on television?  Teachers whose credentials are mainly in the new and improved Methods for Teaching but who do not know the subject they are supposed to teach?  Newspapers? Advertisements on the walls of a bus?  Politicians? Bubble gum cards?

Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, pg.9

Monday, July 17, 2017

Denying the Truth

In the last several years, the West has accepted ideas that are wholly incompatible with the most basic truths about the natural male-and-female sex dichotomy. Individuals are encouraged to choose their own gender, while all others are expected to fully accept these choices and to defer to other’s “preferred pronouns.” Of all things, bathroom access has become the next great “civil rights” struggle; women are supposed to welcome men, and vice versa, into their restrooms. They are labeled as excluding others if they have any misgivings about the imposed arrangement.

The character of these demands should not be underestimated. One is not simply witnessing a decay of morals among a small minority, and an increase in libertinism and lasciviousness. With gender ideology, what one sees is a fanatical minority attempting to compel the majority to conform to false teachings. Falsity is, as Aristotle put it, “to say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is”—and that is exactly what the gender ideologues want all others to do. These individuals want everyone to participate in a great offense against truth.

Writing in the early 1990s, Russell Kirk observed that the contemporary “sophists,” as he called them, “have created in the murky caves of the intellect an Underworld; and they endeavor to convince us all that there exists no sun.” In fact…the gender ideologues are trying to convince themselves that there is no sun, by trying to eradicate the evidence that contradicts their faulty first principles.

Lovers of truth, now more than ever, must resist falsehood and proclaim the truth.

Gerald T. Mundy, Hiding From the Sun: Gender Ideology’s Attack on Truth

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Whom Would You Rather Have Govern?

Isn’t it ironic that when Islam is in a position of power, Islamic beliefs are forced on everyone, and that when atheism has the upper hand, atheistic beliefs are enforced on everyone?  Only in Christianity is the privilege given both to believe and to disbelieve without any enforcement.

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 63

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Objective Moral Values Require God

When you assert that there is such a thing as evil, you must assume there is such a thing as good.
When you say there is such a thing as good, you must assume there is a moral law by which to distinguish between good and evil.  There must be some standard by which to determine what is good and what is evil.
When you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral lawgiver -- the source of the moral law.   …

[A] moral affirmation cannot remain an abstraction.  The person who moralizes assumes intrinsic worth in himself or herself and transfers intrinsic worth to the life of another, and thus he or she considers that life worth of protection (as in the illustrations [Sam] Harris gives, namely, rape, torture, murder, and natural catastrophes).   Transcending value must come from a person of  transcending.  But in a world in which matter alone exists there can be no intrinsic worth.  Let me put it in philosophical terms:

*Objective moral values exist only if God exists.
*Objective moral values do exist (a point Harris concedes…).
*Therefore God exists.

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 55-56

Friday, July 14, 2017

Pointlessness of Atheism

At least Voltaire, Sartre, and Nietzsche were honest and consistent in their views.  They admitted the ridiculousness of life, the pointlessness of everything in an atheistic world.  Contemporary atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, however, are so blind to the conceit of their own minds that they try to present this view of life as some sort of triumphal liberation.  Sartre, as atheistic intellectual elites know but are embarrassed to acknowledge, denounced atheism on his deathbed as philosophically unlivable.

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 43

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Endless Pleasure?

The greatest disappointment (and resulting pain) you can feel is when you have just experienced that which you thought would bring you the ultimate in pleasure--and it has let you down.  Pleasure without boundaries produces a life without purpose.  That is real pain.  No death, no tragedy, no atrocity--nothing really matters.  Life is sheer hollowness, with no purpose.

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg. 41

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Government Programs Are Slavery

Government programs didn’t arise because the people demanded them or because the free market was unable to provide needed services.  They arose because the politicians found them to be a convenient way to buy votes with other people’s money, a convenient way to enlarge their own power, a convenient way to reward their political cronies, and a convenient way to keep people dependent on government.

Harry Browne

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Meaningless Life?

If non-moral, non-reasoning matter is all there was in the beginning, the result can only be what non-moral, non-reasoning matter produces. . . .
If life is random, then the inescapable consequence, first and foremost, is that there can be no ultimate meaning and purpose to existence.

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pgs. 38, 39

Monday, July 10, 2017

Evolution Is Impossible

Donald Page of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Science has calculated the odds against our universe randomly taking a form suitable for life as one out of 10,000,000,000 to 124th power -- a number that exceeds all imagination. Astronomers Fred Hoyle and N.C. Wickramasinghe found that the odds of the random formation of a single enzyme from amino acids anywhere on our planet’s surface are one in 10 to 20th power. Furthermore, they observe, “The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes and the chance of obtaining them all n a random trial is only one part in [10 to 40,000th power], an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.” And this is just one step in the formation of life. Nothing has yet been said about DNA and where it came from, or of the transcription of DNA to RNA, which scientists admit cannot even be numerically computed. Nor has anything been said of mitosis or meiosis. One would have to conclude that the chance of the random ordering of organic molecules is not essentially different from a big fat zero. Perhaps that’s why they call it a singularity, because it is without definition or empirical explanation. 

Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason, pg.35

Sunday, July 9, 2017

America Founded on Christian Principles

The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite.... And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.

John Adams, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A New Utopianism?

A new and intolerant utopianism seeks to drive the remaining traces of Christianity from the laws and constitutions of Europe and North America.  This time, it does so mainly in the cause of personal liberation, born in the 1960s cultural revolution, and now inflamed into special rage by any suggestion that the sexual urge should be restrained by moral limits or that it should have any necessary connection with procreation.  This utopianism relies for human goodness on doctrines of human rights derived from human desires and — like all such codes — full of conflicts between the differing rights of different groups.  These must then be policed by an ever more powerful state.  A new elite, wealthy and comfortable beyond the fantasies of any previous generation, abandons penal codes (especially against the possession of narcotics) and abolishes marital fidelity so as to license its own comfortable, padded indulgence, and it therefore permits the same freedoms to the poor, who suffer far more from this dangerous liberty than do the rich.  Inevitably, it is the Christian churches who are the last strongholds of resistance to their change.

Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God, pg.213

Friday, July 7, 2017

"Separation of Church and State" is a LIE

Make no mistake: the First Amendment secures Americans’ right to the freedom of religion. The notion that it only secures freedom from religion is a novel and dangerous reinterpretation.

The history of this misinterpretation of the First Amendment begins with the construction of a fake legal principle in Everson v. Board of Education in 1947. Faced with a First Amendment designed to accommodate religious communities and to encourage religious expression, Justice Hugo Black reached for a phrase of Thomas Jefferson and claimed that the point of the First Amendment was to build a “wall of separation” between church and state. However, this use of Jefferson’s language is not only a misinterpretation of his intent but also violates policies he routinely pursued such as endorsing the use of federal funds to build churches and supporting Christian missionary work among Native Americans. Interestingly, the factual question in Everson was whether parents of religious school attendees could receive reimbursement for transportation costs to parochial schools. In approving the expenditure of public funds for such a purpose, the Court indicated that the wall had not been breached. Ever since, however, the misleading concept of “the wall” is regularly used by those who seek to purge religion from American society.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Why the LEFT Goes After the Young

Intelligent revolutionaries are always most interested in the young.  They know that the ideas and characters of mature adults are generally fully formed and cannot be easily changed, thought they can be expensively and painfully terrified, suborned, and cajoled into acting against those ideas.  But they also know that, if they can control the schools and the youth movements, they can stamp out unwelcome beliefs in a generation or two.

Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God, pg.200

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Modern Stalinists

Most of the people who would have apologized for Stalin in his day have now found other causes — the cultural and sexual revolution, campaigns to tax the Western poor to provide money for Africa’s rich, and above all, the intolerant and puritan secular fundamentalism that gathers around the belief in man made global warming.  Others are devotees of the idea that the introduction of Western democracy into the Muslim world is possible.  These beliefs allow their supporters to feel superior to others and to pursue a heaven on earth whose righteousness reflects on them.  It is quite dangerous to challenge them, even though it is not dangerous at all to challenge Christianity or faith as a whole.  The danger is not usually melodramatic or fatal, though it sometimes is.  The climate change zealots (for example) issue no Fatwas, order no assassinations, and do not drag filmmakers from their bicycles and stab and behead them.  They simply seek to drive their opponents from public debate by scorn, misrepresentation, and smears.

Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God, pg.169

Monday, July 3, 2017

Where Are We Without Oaths?

Christian societies as a whole are “unnatural,” requiring a host of actions that cannot be based on self-interest, however enlightened, or even on mutual obligation.  Meanwhile, the more civilized a society is, the more power is available within it.  Power cannot be destroyed, only divided and distributed.  It may shatter into an anarchic war of all against all.  Or it may solidify into a tyranny.  Or it may be resolved into a free society governed by universally acknowledged laws.  But on what basis can this be done?  What agency can be used to place law above force?  A law that does not stand above brute force and have some sort of power that can overcome brute force will not survive for long.  How are inconvenient obligations, those of the banker and the messenger and the merchant, to be made binding?  How are the young to be made to accept the authority of parents and teachers, once they are physically strong enough to ignore them, but too inexperienced in life to know the value of peace and learning?

The answer, from a very early stage, is that such contracts were made binding by solemn promises sworn in the name of Almighty God….  These oaths called into every contract an external power—one whose awful vengeance no man could escape if he defied it, and which he would be utterly ashamed to break.  As Sir Thomas More explains in Robert Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons, when a man swears an oath, “He’s holding his own self in his own hands.  Like water.  And if he opens his fingers then—he needn’t hope to find himself again.”

In their utter reverence for oaths, men of More’s era were in my view as superior to us as the builders of shopping malls.  Our ancestors’ undisturbed faith gave them a far closer, healthier relation to the truth—and so to beauty—than we have.  Without a belief in God and the soul, where is the oath?  Without the oath, where is the obligation or the pressure to fulfill it?  Where is the law that even kings must obey?  Where it the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, or the Bill of Rights, all of which arose out of attempts to rule by lawless tyranny?  Where is the lifelong fidelity of husband and wife?  Where is the safety of the innocent child growing in the womb?  Where, in the end, is the safety of any of us from those currently bigger and stronger than we are?

And how striking it is that such oaths were used to make us better, not worse, and that the higher power, the magnetic north of moral truth, found an invariable answer in the urgings of conscience.  These things are far higher than the mutuality and “human solidarity” on which atheists must rely for morality—because they specifically deny the existence of any other origin for it.


Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God, pg.146-147

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Difference is Seen in Art

Mankind’s immense artistic talent is visible in the paintings on the walls of the Cro-Magnon caves of Lascaux.  The sublime heights to which that talent can rise in the midst of a great Christian civilization can be seen in the works of the Italian and Flemish masters.  The debasement of that talent by the rejection of the very springs and origin of civilization can likewise be seen in much of the work of modern artists.

Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God, pg.146

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Is Human Character Natural?

In wars men are repeatedly asked to undertake acts of selfless courage that they will not themselves survive.  Men are expected to be responsible for the women who bear their children, for as long as they live.  Women in return are expected to be faithful to those men.  For economies to develop, men must be trusted to guard valuables that are not their own.  Again and again, for civilization to exist and advance, human creatures are required to do things that they would not do “naturally” as mammals.  Marriage is unnatural.  Building for the future is unnatural.  The practice of medicine is unnatural.  The deferment of immediate gratification for a greater reward is unnatural.  Literacy is unnatural, as is the passing on of lore and history from one generation to another.  The Beaver may be able to build a dam, but it has always been the same dam, and it will always be the same dam.  Only mankind can advance from making huts out of branches to building the Parthenon (and only mankind can fall back from the Parthenon to shacks and caves).

Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God, pg.145-146