"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Gallimaufry of Galimatias - II

Heather MacDonald:

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.)


James F. Elliott said...

Isn't that just the same principle as the "noble lie" that Hunter has expressed support for?

James F. Elliott said...

"If there is no higher spiritual reality, how can humans have an innate sense higher than the prevailing reality?"

I'm not an expert on terminology, but isn't this a specific type of logical fallacy?

Evanston said...

The exegesis may be fine, just unwelcome.

The latter half of Romans chapter 1 (starting with verse 18) deals with this at length.
Or per 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

Jay D. Homnick said...

Yes, Evanston, I was trying to get at that point by sort of eliminating the other rational possibilities.

And James, I used the noble lie argument to highlight the absurdity of her presentation.

She says:
1) Religion works.
2) I offer no evidence anything else works.
3) I don't like Novak's explanation why it works.
4) Based on that, I say junk the thing that works.

In no other field could someone get away with such a flawed opening.