I hate being right all the time

Long ago, I wrote:

Every July, Americans hold the Secular Feast of St. Thomas Jefferson and take a little time out to renew their baptismal vows of citizenship in the American Experiment. As part of that rite, Americans take a small amount of time (between the sacred meals of fried chicken and spare ribs and the lighting of the sacred fireworks) to contemplate the American creed summed up in the Declaration of Independence.

Some readers may think I am being sacrilegious by speaking of the Fourth of July in religious terms, but I’m not. G.K. Chesterton (no blasphemer he) once remarked that America was “a nation with the soul of a Church” and said that it was the only country founded on a creed. I think he is dead on. We show our religious roots in every way, from our evangelistic zeal to export “the American way” to our anti-Christian zeal to press down upon the heads of every person in the world the claptrap chicanery of Hollywood and the pro-abortion fanaticism of the self-appointed “population planners.” Americans always act as though they felt they were a City on a Hill, just as much as the Puritans did, even when they are pursuing the destruction of all that is holy.

Peter Berger once remarked that if India is the most religious country in the world and Sweden is the most secularized, then America could best be described as a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. I think this is exactly right (and that it is the faith of the vast “Indian” population of America that keeps us in such sanity as we still possess.) For to put it bluntly, the Swedes who run things wish that God was dead and they pursue the agenda of killing him with missionary zeal. They sneer at the “superstition” of the religious. They mock anything that cannot be accounted for by science and materialistic philosophy. They reject Christianity as “mystical” and fancy themselves hard-nosed empiricists.

Yet at the same time, they chatter incessantly about something called “equality.” They point us to the founding documents of the nation and intone, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Now honestly. Take a good hard look at that statement. What is it but a piece of pure, unadulterated Christian mysticism as unverifiable by scientific experiment as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? What could be less self-evident (empirically speaking) than that “all men are created equal.” To the naked eye, people are vastly different: smarter, dumber, faster, slower, stronger, and weaker than one another. And yet, by a sort of dead inertia, our cultural elites go on talking about “equality” as though it were something you could see and measure with a scale or an electroencephalogram. No one (yet) has alerted them to the fact that they are in fact mouthing a piece of utterly mystical Christian doctrine as rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition (and in nothing else) as the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. No one has pointed out to them that when we confess “all men are created equal” we mean, and can only mean, that all people are equally precious to God and are creatures made in his image.

So far, we have coasted along on custom in continuing to talk as though our culture still is founded on that mystical Christian faith in human equality. I fear, however, that sooner or later, it will occur to somebody to get rid of this mystical Christian belief in equality as they have gotten rid of so much of the rest of the Christian tradition.

Either that, or we will have to repent of getting rid of the Christian tradition.

But we can’t coast forever.

And now, here come the post-Christian blood and soil pagans at Occam’s Razor and related sites (just check their blogroll) prattling about “human biodiversity” (by which they mean “white supremacy vs ‘low-IQ Third World hordes’“.

To be clear, I hold no brief for Intelligent Design arguments. But that’s because I think there are better arguments for theism and better arguments for equal human dignity in the sight of God. Intelligent Design seems to me to be essentially God of the Gaps argumentation. Here are exceptions to the laws of entropy we can’t explain, therefore God did it. St. Thomas doesn’t argue from exceptions to the rules. He argues that the existence of rules at all is the most foundational mystery pointing us to God. To be sure, I think God reveals himself through miracles and so what we call exceptions to normal rules do happen: men don’t normally rise from the dead. But it is the rules, not the exceptions, that Thomas recommends for our contemplation in his Five Ways.

That said, the ID guys are quite right to note that once you make materialism the basis for your ethos, there is no particular reason you can’t–as the racist tools at Occam’s Razor and related sites do–say, “I don’t see anything particularly equal about human beings and so I will embrace a blood and soil racism and treat large segments of the human race with racist contempt.” All the buttercup-twirling babble about a happy return to pre-Christian paganism at one with Nature that we’ve heard in growing chorus over the past 40 years forgets that frank and open racist tribalism is the norm, not the exception, for man in his natural fallen state. Look for a lot more of this stuff as our culture de-christianizes.

  • http://peace Puck

    Fortunately you’re a long way from having to worry about that.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Wait, wha…oh, the title! Good one!

      Now try reading the rest of the entry. You can do it!

  • Julie

    Do you ever actually post about Catholicism or just complain about what everyone else does? I’ve visited this blog several times now and every post is a rant about what other religions or nonreligions do and say. Why are you so negative? Getting a new Pope after one resigned for the first time in 600 years isn’t exciting enough for you? For God’s sakes, your blog is called Catholic and Enjoying It… but what do you enjoy? You seem miserable and bitter all the time!

    • Scott W.

      You need to read the blog more than several times.

    • Jacob

      Mark very often is negative, sometimes ugly even. But you should read some of his articles for the national catholic register before you dust off your feet and never come back. His books are worth a look too.

    • Beadgirl

      Apparently you missed the 14 positive, excited, or silly (in a good way) posts about our new Pope (just as an example).

  • Joseph

    Julie,

    Did he touch a nerve?

  • Wills

    Joseph: Unfortunately I think Julie has a point. I like Mark’s blog well enough and his insights are wuite good—but lately there has been a great deal of negativity and some of it has been downright detraction in the way its been written. Its possible to make a point without being so sarcastic. And there is an awful lot to be joyful about!

    • The Deuce

      I didn’t see anything sarcastic about this post. He just pointed out a very real, very unsettling, and very predictable trend that we should all be aware of.

  • http://peace Puck

    It’s just that arrogance is an unpleasant shortcoming. I’m sure he didn’t mean it but Mark’s title “I hate being right all the time” is sort of asking for it. It’s the kind of thing I expect from the Left – but not a Leftist who is serious about his Christian faith.

    • jeremy dobbs

      Puck, is this the first time on his blog? Those who know him realize he’s being tongue and cheek. And a leftist? He doesn’t beat the drum that America is a sacred nation. Is that what makes him a leftist? Does God come first or Caesar? Read this: http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13teste.htm

      • http://peace Puck

        No it isn’t. I suggested his orientation was Left because of arrogance. Conservatives know they are fallible – Leftists don’t. In any case I didn’t mean it absolutely.

        • Mark Shea

          Good to know Ayn Rand, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich aren’t arrogant or anything.

    • Mike

      Agree. Mark sometimes reminds me too much of what I don’t like about the Left and why I turned my back on it.

    • Mark Shea

      Eyeroll. It’s a joking reference to Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park. He mutters that line when the Tyrannosaur comes stomping out of his paddock. To be super-clear for the humor-impaired, I’m not actually right all the time. Nor am I a leftist. I am serious about the Faith. Sheesh.

      • Julia

        So , you’re against using genetic engineering to bring dinosaurs back to the modern world?

        I am sad to think I trusted your judgement.

  • Subsistent

    Altho equality in *individual* human natures has hardly ever been seriously asserted, I submit that human equality in *specific* human nature is indeed “self-evident” in the sense that it’s a truth accessible to mature and educated common sense. Thus the pre-Christian Greek Alcidamas said that all men are equally free, and that nature itself has made no man a slave; and the pre-Christian Hippias said that all men are naturally fellow-citizens.
    And the American Declaration of Independence is just agreeing with Aquinas when it asserts that the Creator’s existence is evident to human reason.

  • Mark (not Mark Shea)
    • Mark Shea

      Meh. Idiots gonna id.

  • Claude

    Democratic republics are in peril because Christian civilization is in peril because evolutionists (or at least one at Occam’s Razor and some at “related sites”) are racists! When the fascists come for you don’t say Mark Shea didn’t warn you.

    Of course the slaveholder Jefferson’s phrase “all men are created equal” was rhetorical. And Hobbes, who developed the forerunner that all men are more or less equal, was often accused of being an atheist because of his unorthodox religious views.

  • Seamus

    Ha!
    ***Of course, if you’re main objective is to appeal to the low-IQ Third World hordes (which seems to be the game plan of many Christians) then, I guess, peddle Intelligent Design quackery and continue on with your war against scientific reality.***

    He misspells “your” in a sentence containing “low-IQ.” Is that onic or ironic?

    • Allan

      There may or may not be IQ differences, but if there are, it doesn’t mean they are genetic. Education, diet, upbringing, and a host of other advantages the first world has over the third-world could account for the differences. There was a time some of those third-world cultures were far advanced over European ones. So if your assumption in describing human beings as “low-IQ third-world hordes”, then of course you’ll be called racist, and deservedly so. It was Christianity that lifted the West above what are now third-world cultures, not racial superiority.

      As for your remarks that Christianity, for its own sake, needs to stop caring about the poor, and presumably should also get rid of those annoying sexual morals everyone keeps complaining about, well now you’re showing yourself as low-IQ. Why say that you can see the value of religion to a society (cohesivess, stability, etc.), then recommend a religion strip away its core teachings? It’s safe to say, most Christians would rather take their teachings from the founder of their faith (God, by the way, who founded everything else as well) than from a guy on the internet. If you would have stuck purely to the issue of Intelligent Design, your post had merit.

      By the way, regarding your distaste for Christian involvement in “non-white adoption” – white Westerners prefer to murder their children in abortion clinics than let them be adopted, so there really isn’t much choice, is there?

      • Beccolina

        I suppose they would have a dreadful time with my inter-racial marriage, then. They should go read Weston A. Price’s work, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” which squarely places many developmental issues at the door of (modern) lack of nutrition.

        • Katheryn

          Just a side note, I am a total WAPF fan, Beccolina… Nice to meet another in Catholic territory!

          • Beccolina

            I’m new to it, but it’s very interesting, and has helped make this pregnancy go unbelievably smoothly so far. It’s such a paradigm shift after the standard American crud-diet.

            • Katheryn

              It has immeasurably improved my fam’s life and both mental and physical health.

      • Allan

        Whoops, it looks as if I was replying to Seamus, but this was a reply to AWC from the Occam’s Razor site, whose comment is now apparently gone. So wherever I refer to “you”, I don’t mean Seamus, but the author from Occam’s Razor.

  • http://www.christiandemocracymagazine.com/ Jack Quirk

    It is irrefutable: the idea of objective good and evil is incoherent without God.

    • The Deuce

      More than that, the idea of objective truth (including scientific reality) is incompatible with materialism.

  • Seamus

    Mark takes an interesting angle.
    “Evolution created the suffering in Africa; therefore, evolution is racist.”
    “God created Asians who are better at math; therefore God is racist.”
    Both of these statements follow from an unstated notion that it is good to be educated, healthy, good at math, full of food, driving a Prius, etc. For all I know, it might be better to be an old woman, uneducated, in poor health, bad at math, on foot, and throwing two copper coins into a well.

    • Mark Shea

      Mark takes an interesting angle.
      “Evolution created the suffering in Africa; therefore, evolution is racist.”
      “God created Asians who are better at math; therefore God is racist.”

      What?

      • The Deuce

        It’s international “Pretend you’re at the Mad Hatter’s tea party” Day, Mark. Didn’t anyone tell you?

  • Mark (not Mark Shea)

    Mark,
    Looks like “Trad Catholic” (who I bet is not even really a Trad) is teaming up with the pagans to trash you:

    http://occamsrazormag.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/christianity-hbd-and-political-correctness/comment-page-1/#comment-285

    • Stu

      Why do you even go there?

    • Claude

      That site is repellent.

    • Mark Shea

      Trad Catholic is another White Supremacist. Has some theory about “pro-Western Christianity” that boils down to “Christianity is Whites, let’s not screw it up by letting in non-whites.” They will be very happy together.

    • The Deuce

      He’s such a traditional Christian, he’s pre-Christian!

  • http://dododreams.blogspot.com/ John Pieret

    Now honestly. Take a good hard look at that statement. ["We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."] What is it but a piece of pure, unadulterated Christian mysticism as unverifiable by scientific experiment as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? What could be less self-evident (empirically speaking) than that “all men are created equal.”

    Oh, please! Are you trying to say (with a straight face) that the elite of Colonial America who signed the Declaration weren’t aware that individuals have different abilities? What the Declaration aspired to (but notably failed to achieve) was that all people should be equal before the law. It was not “Christian mysticism” (never particularly known for viewing individuals as equal before God … remember “divine right of kings,” supported by Christianity and argued against in the Declaration), it was political theory!

    … once you make materialism the basis for your ethos, there is no particular reason you can’t–as the racist tools at Occam’s Razor and related sites do–say, “I don’t see anything particularly equal about human beings and so I will embrace a blood and soil racism and treat large segments of the human race with racist contempt.”

    So, those loudly Christian activists who demonize Muslims and want to make them unequal under our laws, taking away their right to worship as they want, for example, shows that when you make Christianity the basis for your ethos, there is no particular reason you can’t say “I don’t see anything particularly equal about Muslim human beings”? Those supposedly materialistic people at Occam’s Razor (based on the little I’ve seen) are odious. But I can match any such example with equally odious Christians and other theists.

    After you’ve warmed yourself at the fire of your strawman, maybe you can try to come to grips with the fact that, to the extent we, as a species, have improved at all, it has, to large measure, been the result of our learning how the material universe works. It is not science or scientists or even “materialism” (which are not coextensive) that is the problem.

    As that great philosopher, Pogo, said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    P.S. Do you like being cooped by the Discovery [sic] Institute?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X