Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In fear of destiny

Gary Younge is a British journalist who describes himself as a liberal secularist. On what grounds is he hostile to religion? He tells us:

I have a philosophical problem with submitting my destiny to a higher being.

In a discussion on religion at a website called Pharyngula, a commenter wrote that:

In all things, I have peace, because I know God loves me, and I know He has a plan, a purpose, and a destiny for my life.

The response:

Slaveowners had a plan, purpose and destiny for their "property", and cattlemen have a plan, purpose and destiny for their livestock. Somehow in neither case are the objects of this attention comforted by this. Explain to me again why one should follow the alleged plan of an alleged creator? And do you always do exactly what your mother tells you?

Which shows how difficult it is to marry liberal modernism and religion. Liberal autonomy theory tells people that what really matters is that they are self-determining individuals who author their own lives. This conflicts with the Western religious view in which we are created by God and that by submitting ourselves to God we live according to the essential truth of our being.

It is possible for a vast gulf to open up between liberal secularists and the religious. For the second liberal quoted above the religious view is a degrading one, reducing individuals to slaves and cattle. For the religious it is the secular liberal view which limits the nature and purpose of human life.

It's interesting that Pope Benedict has recognised the significance of this line of division. In a papal homily he has spoken of the temptation of men to think:

that God is a rival who curtails our freedom and that we will be fully human only when we have cast him aside; in brief, that only in this way can we fully achieve our freedom.

The human being lives in the suspicion that God's love creates a dependence and that he must rid himself of this dependency if he is to be fully himself. Man does not want to receive his existence and the fullness of his life from God.

He himself wants to obtain from the tree of knowledge the power to shape the world, to make himself a god, raising himself to God's level, and to overcome death and darkness with his own efforts. He does not want to rely on love that to him seems untrustworthy; he relies solely on his own knowledge since it confers power upon him. Rather than on love, he sets his sights on power, with which he desires to take his own life autonomously in hand. And in doing so, he trusts in deceit rather than in truth and thereby sinks with his life into emptiness, into death.

Love is not dependence but a gift that makes us live. The freedom of a human being is the freedom of a limited being, and therefore is itself limited. We can possess it only as a shared freedom, in the communion of freedom: Only if we live in the right way, with one another and for one another, can freedom develop.

We live in the right way if we live in accordance with the truth of our being, and that is, in accordance with God's will. For God's will is not a law for the human being imposed from the outside and that constrains him, but the intrinsic measure of his nature, a measure that is engraved within him and makes him the image of God, hence, a free creature.


  1. Augustine said that a man has as many masters as he has vices. People think being emancipated from God is true freedom, but we find that they are serving other masters.

  2. Jaz, interesting comment, thanks.

    Whilst on this topic, I've just seen a news item on the behaviour of two European bishops.

    In Holland, a Catholic bishop has suggested Christians should refer to God as Allah to promote better relations with Muslims.

    In Sweden, a Protestant archbishop has allowed an exhibit portraying Jesus as a gay man (and wearing high heels to the last supper) to be shown in the Uppsala cathedral.

  3. Sickening.

    I understand also that the Lutheran church in Denmark had an official presence in their Mardi Gras.

    Also, apparently Prince Charles wants to change the title of the Monarch to "defender of the faiths" [plural].

    How can these people really be that stupid?

    This is so ridiculous, it is easy to start thinking that it's intentional.

  4. Prince Charles "defender of faiths" nonsense was during the multicultural revival of the 1990's. I understand he's backed away from that now.

    Muslims see Christians as cross worshipers, specifically deny the resurrection and the incarnation (although they believe in the virgin birth), and believe that peace will come when the whole world submits to Allah's law. I think it is the height of ignorance to imagine that using an Arabic term for God will alter perceptions Muslims have of Christians - another case of political correctness with semiotics trumping substance.

    As for the Lutherans and the Mardi Gras. The Anglican Church in Australia has the diocese of Perth - run by the uber-liberal Peter Carnley, and then by his successor as the "extreme liberal" Roger Herft - which has had a float in the Perth version of the Gay Mardi Gras for about a decade now. Christians are still seen as "killjoys" and "imposing their views on others", so as a PR stunt, they haven't had much pickup. I think a lot of these people tend to read the Gospel as some sort of social science treatise. They see that Jesus was a friend to the outcasts, and so search for today's outcasts to welcome into their flock. They don't see that morality was upheld in the Gospels. There is surely a distinction between supporting homosexuals and supporting homosexuality. As for accepting people into the fold. Muslims don't want to be accepted into the Christian fold. Referring to God as Allah isn't going to make anyone desert the Mosque for the Church, and definitely won't make extremists (those willing to kill for a cause would normally fit into this category) better disposed to people they regard as polytheists. Just puerile, PC arrogance.

  5. That's why I like what George Cardinal Pell's doing with Catholic schools: telling them enough is enough, time to start 'walking the walk', and stop being Catholic in name only. Of course, a lot of white-ants within the Church are annoyed at this, for obvious reasons, and I'm sure it's put a bat up the lavender mafia's nightgown too. I’ve had enough of ‘turning the other cheek’, bugger that, I want to go to war against those who have been undermining the foundations to our house; if that makes me ‘intolerant,’ so be it.