Curious confluence of articles

“Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

(Romans 1:20-23)

The NY Times explains it all for you in this piece on the evolution of religion. By this reckoning, the attempt is to say that religion is, of course, not a result of God’s supernatural revelation to human beings, but is purely a product of ultimately mindless natural causes. As such, it can have no more moral value than a yawn, a vomit, or the color of one’s eye’s.

Meanwhile, over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens tries his damnedest to face the reality of evil (and to get his fellow Lefties to do likewise) while still clinging (as a self-professed “anti-theist”) to the naturalist explanations of morality that keep him safely distant from a God of righteousness who grants us free will and in whose universe such uncomfortable realities as “sin” and “the demonic” exist.

The result is a living illustration of Paul’s remarks. The normally lucid Hitchens, his mind darkened by the wilful rejection of the possibility of God, original sin, and demons (most likely before he’s ever bothered to find out what is actually meant by them in the Christian Tradition) talks uncommon gibberish. He is right, of course, to say that evil is real and that only fools blind themselves to that fact. But his old Trotskyite habits defeat him when he tries to account for the origins of evil and, still more, of our sense of justice, decency, etc. He winds up trotting out stupid materialist rhetoric like this: “I myself can’t decide if this inherent conscience is conferred upon us by evolutionary biology—in other words, whether it selects well for socialization and survival and thus comes to us as something possessing evident utility. That thought might be merely as comforting a reflection as a belief in altruism. However, I do know for sure that a certain number of people manage to be born, or perhaps raised, without this constraint. When confronted with the unblinking, conscienceless person we now say that he is a “psychopath,” incapable of conceiving an interest other than his own and perhaps genuinely indifferent to the well-being of others.

This diagnosis is certainly an advance on the idea of demonic possession or original sin.”

To which my reply is: “Why?” For in the evolutionary biology framework that Hitchens is still clinging to irrationally, there is, in the end, no such thing as moral evil, no violation of the love of God, no sin against ultimate Righteousness. There is simply a statistical aberration from the norm. Saddam is not “evil”. He’s just got a large population sample against him. He is a product of mindless forces that made him behave as he does and he cannot be blamed for “sin”. He is in the same moral category as a crocodile. You must kill him, but you can’t be outraged at him. Hitchens has a huge problem which his materialist worldview can never satisfactorily account for. He seethes with moral outrage (and is the more human for it). He is a living example of eupocrisy: a man who is far better than his philosophy can account for.

I do pray that one of these days, Hitchens will, with the honesty that tends to mark him, finally abandon his shallow materialism and take another look at the way in which the Christian worldview, which includes original and actual sin, the demonic, and similar facts, helps explain the world (and his reactions to it) much better than the philosophy he thinks he believes.

He might start by taking up The Atheist Christmas Challenge (also found in Slate) and admitting that he’s never proven the negative he claims to be so certain of. Like all atheists, what he’s really done is latch onto a faith assertion. My hope is that his integrity will be goaded by the Holy Spirit into admitting he’s made a hasty judgment long ago and spent the rest of his life trying to avoid facing that fact. St. Malcolm Muggeridge, pray for Hitchens.