Michael Novak's explication of Christianity's joys and mysteries underscores a powerful truth: that millions of human beings, struck with sometimes inconceivable tragedy, have shown astounding courage and grace in the face of tribulation, thanks to their belief that God loves them. Many other Christians have eased human suffering through their seemingly boundless charity and self-sacrifice. Their good works have uplifted countless lives.
Yet Mr. Novak's exegesis of God's ways persuades me that to create anything like a just, decent society, human beings would do well to run as fast as possible from the divine model of governance and power. Only by following our innate sense of fairness and compassion can we hope to wrench the human world from the arbitrariness and injustice that is its natural state.
These two paragraphs alone are so weaselly and manipulatively fraudulent as to discredit her from a presumption of good faith. The following points should be made.
1) If the record shows that Christianity is producing all this courage and grace, but Michael Novak's exegesis of God's ways is problematic, that proves one thing at most: that Michael Novak is not the best exegete. The evidence from performance far outweighs the concerns raised by one guy's poor debating presentation. Assume that you need to seek out a better teacher.
2) Furthermore, if the performance is good but the exegesis SEEMS weak, why not consider the possibility that you're the one who is a little thick?
3) If the performance is good, then even assuming that Novak's exegesis is 100% accurate in its depiction of the system creating that performance, why would you "run as fast as possible" away from this model? For whatever reason this bad idea produces good results; why run away?
4) If arbitrariness and injustice is the natural state of the world, how can any innate human sense cure that?
5) A variation on that point: If there is no higher spiritual reality, how can humans have an innate sense higher than the prevailing reality?
6) If arbitrariness and injustice is the natural state of the world, and religion is a bad idea on top of that, how can religious people eclipse nature to produce 'seemingly boundless' charity and self-sacrifice?
In fact - and here a surfeit of irony washes over us - the main conclusion emerging from Heather's set of premises is this: religion is false, but since the natural state of life is guided by self-interest and thus arbitrary and unjust, the best strategy for beating the system is to sell people the false message of religion. This creates an illusion of something higher, thus obviating the evolutionary impulse towards arbitrary and antisocial self-interest.
It would be funny if it wasn't tragic.
(To be continued.)