Abortion, Religion, and Science

stack_of_books

“In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don’t know it.” ~G.K. Chesterton

Scene: Sociology 101 at a local community college.

Professor: Today, we will continue our discussion of religion and politics in America. I’m going to make an assertion that might offend some of you, but I will open the floor for discussion. Here it is: the Christian majority in this country has routinely sought to tear down the sacred dividing wall that separates Church and State and impose their religious views on others through the passage of laws. Perhaps the most egregious instance of this is the case of the so-called Pro-life voter and their desire to control women’s bodies.

Student, raising her hand: Professor, may I provide a rebuttal?

Continue reading

“By the Babe Unborn” by G.K. Chesterton

12 WEEK OLD HUMAN FETUS

“By the Babe Unborn”

by G.K. Chesterton

If trees were tall and grasses short,

As in some crazy tale,

If here and there a sea were blue

Beyond the breaking pale,

If a fixed fire hung in the air

To warm me one day through,

If deep green hair grew on great hills,

I know what I should do.

In dark I lie; dreaming that there

Are great eyes cold or kind,

And twisted streets and silent doors,

And living men behind.

Let storm clouds come: better an hour,

And leave to weep and fight,

Than all the ages I have ruled

The empires of the night.

I think that if they gave me leave

Within the world to stand,

I would be good through all the day

I spent in fairyland.

They should not hear a word from me

Of selfishness or scorn,

If only I could find the door,

If only I were born.

“What is Right With the World” by G. K. Chesterton

gk-chesterton-th_orig

“For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important. We tend to forget how huge a part of a man’s life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate, under Nero or St Louis. Daybreak is a never-ending glory, getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance; food and friends will be welcomed; work and strangers must be accepted and endured; birds will go bedwards and children won’t, to the end of the last evening.”

from The Apostle and the Wild Ducks by Gilbert Keith Chesterton 

Chesterton: “The above excellent title is not of my own invention. It was suggested to me by the Editor of this paper (T.P.’s Weekly), and I consented to fill up the bill, partly because of the pleasure I have always had from the paper itself, and partly because it gives me an opportunity of telling an egotistical story, a story which may enlighten the public about the general origin of such titles.

Continue reading

Dostoevsky’s “Rebellion” and the Problem of Evil

Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky (2002) by Manuel Sandoval

 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18

C.S. Lewis wrote that we often say of some instance of human suffering that “no future bliss can make up for it,” but this is only because we cannot see “that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”[1] But what if there are some evils that are so blatantly egregious, so unrestrained in their dehumanizing cruelty that their very existence calls into question the reality of this future glory? In his book The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky offers the reader this powerful formulation of the problem of evil. In a chapter titled “Rebellion,” Ivan Karamazov recounts in excruciating detail incidents where young children were mercilessly tortured for fun. He challenges the idea that God could ever merge such evil with goodness into some sort of glorious, eternal harmony. Ivan even questions the morality of such an arrangement. “Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last,” he asks his brother, “but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature—that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance—and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions?”[2] Ivan will not abide the sufferings of innocent children for, in his estimation, no future glory can make up for them.

Continue reading

Miracles and a Deeper Magic

download

Though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time.[1]

David Hume famously defined a miracle as “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity.”[2] Apart from ensuring his conclusion on the improbability of miracles, Hume’s definition betrays several faulty ways of thinking of miracles. Considering these will lead us to a better understanding of what miracles actually are.

Continue reading

Reason is a Matter of Faith

magdalenquad1

The Quad at Magdalen College, Oxford

 

“Neither reason nor faith will ever die; for men would die if deprived of either.”  – G. K. Chesterton

“It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith,” wrote G.K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy.[1] “Reason is itself a matter of faith,” he continued, “It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”[2] He was assessing the state of modern thought, noting that since the Enlightenment philosophy has begun from a place of unyielding skepticism when it comes to religious faith. Yet, he adds that so far as religious faith goes, reason goes with it because “they are both methods of proof which cannot themselves be proved.”[3] In other words, reason and faith are intertwined in such a way that to reject one means that the other will eventually be questioned, too. The two must exist in tension, or neither will survive. Why then is religious faith still viewed with extreme suspicion? Does the requirement of faith undermine the religious believer’s quest for genuine knowledge? Two extreme positions have emerged from considering these questions: (1) the strong rationalist who believes that reason demands that all faith commitments be avoided versus (2) the fideist who claims that our reasoning on religious matters is so untrustworthy that we must begin from a position of complete commitment and faith before we can think about God. In the middle stands the critical rationalist approach that claims that a certain degree of both faith and reason are needed in order to proceed, or we will be forever frozen between the two. Taking a closer look at these three positions – the strong rationalist, the fideist, and the critical rationalist – and their approach to understanding the Gospel will help us discover which of the three represents “a more excellent way” when it comes to thinking about faith and reason.[4]

Continue reading

“Anti-Religious Thought in the Eighteenth Century” by G.K. Chesterton

mesmerizing-translucent-waves-19th-century-painting-ivan-konstantinovich-aivazovsky-8

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky

“What was called the Age of Reason has vanished as completely as what are called the Ages of Faith.”

Originally a contribution to An Outline of Christianity; the Story of our Civilization.  Vol.  IV.  Christianity and Modern Thought, 1926.  The Waverley Book Co., London

by G.K. Chesterton: THE ECLIPSE of Christian theology during the rationalist advance of the eighteenth century is one of the most interesting of historical episodes.  In order to see it clearly, we must first realize that it was an episode and that it is now historical.  It may be stating it too strongly to say that it is now dead; it is perhaps enough to say that it is now distant and yet distinct; that it is divided from our own time as much as any period of the past.  Neither reason nor faith will ever die; for men would die if deprived of either.  The wildest mystic uses his reason at some stage; if it be only by reasoning against reason.  The most incisive sceptic has dogmas of his own; though when he is a very incisive sceptic, he has often forgotten what they are.  Faith and reason are in this sense co-eternal; but as the words are popularly used, as loose labels for particular periods, the one is now almost as remote as the other.  What was called the Age of Reason has vanished as completely as what are called the Ages of Faith.

Continue reading