I was planning to write about my thoughts on the passage by G. K. Chesteron I read last night, but I'm too tired to do so. In any case, it pretty much explains itself. What I would add to it, however, is that there are far too many people today who are guilty of what Chesterton is describing -- both on the left and the right sides of politics (among other matters):
Now what we observe about the whole current culture of journalism and general discussion is that people do not know how to begin to think. Not only is their thinking at third and fourth hand, but it always starts about three-quarts of the way through the process. Men do not know what their own words imply. They come in at the end of every controversy and know nothing of where it began or what it is all about. They are constantly assuming certain absolutes, which, if correctly defined, would strike even themselves as being not absolutes but absurdities. To think thus is to be in a tangle; to go on thinking is to be in more and more of a tangle. And at the back of all there is always something understood; which is really something misunderstood.These days, there is too much Ideology and too little Philosophy -- with the former being what one thinks and the latter being how one should think. To have and ideology without a good sense of philosophy is similar to deciding where to travel without the use of a map. Added to this, one might say that the traveler hasn't even done his own research into discovering just what he would like his destination to be in the first place.
Instead, the traveler asks complete strangers -- who may either be unscrupulous or just plain stupid -- where he should go. When the stranger points a certain way and says, "Over there," there's no further questioning of the stranger. The traveler takes the stranger at his word. The stranger may even offer to give the traveler a ride, at which point the traveler may discover that he has either been kidnapped or has been following a fool all along.
In any case, the traveler will have wasted his own time, which is the equivalent of saying he has wasted a portion of his life.
This is one thing that frustrates me about Atheists (In this case, with a capital 'A'.) They'll often repeat quotes from their copies of The Atheists' Bible which they'll use to argue that God doesn't exist. The problem with this, however, is that their assumptions are usually based upon half-truths that are presented as whole-truths; and whenever this is done, intentionally or not, deception is the result.
Whenever a person unintentionally deceives another, he is guilty of naivety. Whenever a person intentionally deceives another, he is a liar. No matter, however, if the deception was intentional or not, the object of the deception has been wronged.
Here's a common example: "Hitler was a Catholic," is often repeated among Atheists. "He was?" an astonished lister might reply, "Then obviously Catholicism leads to Fascism, therefore, Catholicism is dangerous."
But is this really true? After a lot of "trainspotting" of various Hitler quotes, Cecil Adams says in his column "The Straight Dope" what to me seems to be the best explanation on this matter:
It seems Hitler, like many modern-day politicians, spoke out of both sides of his mouth. And when he didn't, his lackeys did. It may have been political pandering, just like many of our current politicians who invoke God's name to gain support.Adams then goes on to make a point when further demonstrates the absurdity of this particular debate tactic:
Also, it seems probable that Hitler, being the great manipulator, knew that he couldn't fight the Christian churches and their members right off the bat. So he made statements to put the church at ease and may have patronized religion as a way to prevent having to fight the Christian-based church.
As for your chat-room experiences, well, my friend and source David Gehrig noted that Hitler still sets the gold standard for "easiest rhetorical cheap shot." He related a comment from Usenet that there is an empirical law: As a Usenet discussion gets longer, the probability that someone in it will compare someone else in it to Hitler asymptotically approaches 1. In other words, atheists looking for a quick cheap-shot may claim Hitler was a Christian; similarly, Christians looking for a quick shot may claim he was an atheist. Know what? Hitler was a vegetarian! Oooh, those evil vegetarians! He also recommended that parents give their children milk to drink instead of beer and started the first anti-smoking campaign. (So by the "reasoning" used in these types of arguments, if you are truly anti-Hitler, you should smoke heavily and only give your baby beer!) Better watch out, though he was an oxygen-breather, too! In other words, does it really matter whether Hitler was an atheist or a Christian or whatever? Just because somebody may hold a particular worldview (along with other views) doesn't make him a spokesman for that view, or even remotely representative of others who hold that view. No matter how his madness is painted, he was still evil incarnate.
To summerise: Many of today's proponents of Rationalism don't even know how to utilise Reason; so before we buy into their belief systems, we should take those systems for a bit of a test drive to see if they hold up.
And should that vehicle ever break down -- even after twenty years of successfully driving it -- it should be abandoned in hopes of finding a vehicle which will not break down. After all, we all have a destination we wish to reach; and as Chesterton would say, preferably the right one.
Current Mood: hungry