Carl Olson at Ignatius Insight has engaged with Grayling’s thought, and written an excellentcounter argument.
Take time to read this. Carl’s work is thorough, modest, incisive and well written. His article shows why secular atheism–rather than being on the ascendent–is a weary, shallow and ageing creed.
I am not particularly troubled by these graying academics like Dawkins, Grayling and Pullman. What worries me is their offspring. You see, most of these ageing humanist academics have actually been educated within a predominantly Christian culture. What tolerance, urbanity, wit and learning they have is their inheritance from a world view they try to reject.
They have been nurtured within a Christian culture and have benefited from it–even though they deny it. To see if their philosophy is valid we should look at what it has produced. Has forty years of secular, humanistic education produced a generation of enlightened, selfless, ascendent human beings? Has secular, humanistic education produced leaders in the arts and sciences and humanities? Have they produced a culture that values life, love, learning and all the noble aspirations of humanity? Have they produced a breed of ladies and gentlemen who aspire to higher things and exist together in a society of manners, wit, courtesy and nobility?
It doesn’t look that way. Instead I see a culture that kills unborn children, treats the sexual act as animal recreation, obliterates marriage and despises the family. I see a greedy, materialstic and empty culture brewing with rage. The young academics I meet are not urbane secular humanists. They are either hedonistic brutes or nihilistic, self centered pessimists. The other young people I meet are stoned out of their heads, rolling in their alcoholism and despair and committing suicide in record numbers.
This stark choice is nothing new. In the ancient pagan world there were two basic responses to the fact of death: Stoicism and Epicureanism. One said, “We’re going to die. Hang in there and do something noble (whatever that means) with what little time you have. The other said, “We’re going to die. Let’s have a party.”
Christianity came along and said, “Cheer up. There’s some good news. Death has died. We’re going to live forever. Let’s claim this reality by doing something noble, then let’s have a party.”