It’s often said that, “It doesn’t really matter what you believe, but it does matter.
Ideas have consequences. As G.K. Chesterton said,
“The modern habit of saying ‘This is my opinion, but I may be wrong,’ is entirely irrational. If I say that it may be wrong, I say that it is not my opinion. The modern habit of saying, ‘Every man has a different philosophy, this is my philosophy and it suits me,’ – the habit of saying this is mere weak-mindedness.”
Does that not almost exactly describe the philosophy of our culture today?
Chesterton also said that,
“A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon.”
Lewis Carroll, wrote something very similar in the great philosophical treatise Alice in Wonderland:
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
This is actually very, very profound. If you don’t care where you end up, take whatever road you want. However, you need to keep in mind that every road that you take has a destination. The same is true for ideas. You can say, “I’m going to believe whatever I want. It doesn’t matter what’s right and wrong. I’m just going to make these things up and choose for myself.” You need to understand that ideas you embrace in life have consequences. They have consequences for you as an individual, and when these ideas are embraced by enough people, they have consequences for the culture.
We live in world where Ahmadinejad counts as a world leader, Perez Hilton counts as news source, Oprah counts as a spiritual guide, and Richard Dawkins counts a philosopher.This is the destination of ideas.
Let me give you a few questions that are significant for our culture and worry me as a dad:
Where do we find truth?
You’d that think in a world with all this information, it’d be easier to find truth. Does Google make it easier to find truth? It depends. If you want to know how to fix your car, you can Google it. If you want to know how to improve your golf swing, you can Google it. What do you do want to know what the meaning of life is? Well, a lot of people just Google it. Then, when you Google something, you only pay attention to the whatever is on the first page of results. So, the good stuff might be buried without ever being found.
How do you find truth in world that’s bombarded with so many competing ideas? Have you ever flipped back in forth between CNN and Fox News? It’s like you’re watching completely different universes. They don’t talk about the same things, and if they do, they don’t talk about in the same way. What does it even mean to find truth in our culture that is so confused?
What is beauty?
There’s a piece of art that was rumored to been part of an art revue as a joke. It’s called The Fountain, and it’s a urinal. People loved it. What happens in a culture when we can’t tell difference between great works of art and urinals? What is it like to live in a culture that can’t tell the difference between beauty and non-beauty? It’s one thing when we’re just talking about something like the arts; it’s something completely different when we talk about what makes humans beautiful. As the dad of three little girls, this deeply bothers me. Girls are being compared to other women who don’t actually exist. Just watch the Dove Evolution ad. You can see that the woman who is on the billboard, whom you are supposed to be compared to, looks nothing like the actual woman who modeled for the photo.
This is what has happened in this Britney Spears culture. I’m not specifically calling her out, since she’s sort of irrelevant now. I’m just using her name because she is the one who drove this pop diva nonsense into our culture and the popular mindset. The worst thing about this whole mindset is not that it set the quality of music back by 35 years, but it convinces an entire generation of young women that their value lies in what they look like on the outside. That absolutely devastating. This is what happens in a world of information where all these ideas of truth, goodness, and beauty are just thrown at us from so many different directions.