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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Yes, freedom from religion – from where else?

"The eighteenth-century theories of the social contract have been exposed to much clumsy criticism in our time; in so far as they meant that there is at the back of all historic government an idea of content and co-operation, they were demonstrably right. But they really were wrong, in so far as they suggested that men had ever aimed at order or ethics directly by a conscious exchange of interests. Morality did not begin by one man saying to another, "I will not hit you if you do not hit me"; there is no trace of such a transaction.

There is a trace of both men having said, "We must not hit each other in the holy place." They gained their morality by guarding their religion.

They did not cultivate courage. They fought for the shrine, and found they had become courageous.

They did not cultivate cleanliness. They purified themselves for the altar, and found that they were clean.

The history of the Jews is the only early document known to most Englishmen, and the facts can be judged sufficiently from that. The Ten Commandments which have been found substantially common to mankind were merely military commands; a code of regimental orders, issued to protect a certain ark across a certain desert. Anarchy was evil because it endangered the sanctity. And only when they made a holy day for God did they find they had made a holiday for men."

Gilbert K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908). 

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