Walter Myers III
The Wall Street Journal had an insightful editorial this weekend by Sohrab Ahmari titled Leon Kass: The Meaning of the Gosnell Trial
. What Kass has brilliantly put his finger on is the degradation in our culture that has become disrespectful of dignity and indifferent to degradation. Just think about what you see on the major networks these days. Do you see much that is uplifting, inspiring, and dignified? I would argue no. Most of what you see tawdry, lowbrow, and baseless, all crammed down your throat persistently in an attempt to make you believe if you aren’t with the program that the cultural elites think you should be with you’re backwards and living in the past, when all you’re trying to do is preserve what’s good and dignified about our culture. The piece makes a great point about abortion. The Democratic Party dropped the “safe, legal, and rare” language from its platform (and remember they removed the last reference to God before forcing it back in again against the wishes of the voting delegates). Democrats no longer see children as a gift, but a product of personal reproductive choice. Thus, human choice is now the basis of all value. How sad. Kass argues that even though nascent life prior to birth does not yet display grand and glorious things for which we applaud humanity, it is the dignity of human possibility that is to be found in nascent life and thus we should not treat it less well than it deserves.
When Kass was in graduate school, he spent part of the summer of 1965 doing civil rights work, and noticed that the unschooled black farmer he and his wife lived with who had no toilet or indoor plumbing had more honor, goodness, and decency than he found in his fellow graduate students at Harvard, who were so “enlightened and liberal.” The difference was that his black hosts displayed the dignity of honest work and religion, things that were not highly valued by his peers. How sad. What Kass has discovered, and as I have discovered in my studies over the past few years (which will culminate this May with a Master of Arts in Philosophy of Religion & Ethics), is that all of the high-minded pursuits in the academy that promise us better health, peace of mind, and conquest of nature, contain within them the seeds of our own degradation. The trouble is not so much with science, but with scientism, which is a quasi-religious faith that scientific knowledge is the only knowledge worthy of the name, that scientific knowledge gives you an exhaustive account of the way things are, and that science will transcend all the limitations of our human condition. In doing so, one of its primary goals is to put the final nail in the rule of revealed religion. The academy is made up of secular humanists, and their goal is to crank out secular humanists who place no importance on the special place of the human being, of the importance of the soul, or of inwardness and purposiveness. With this being the direction of our country, do you expect more or less of people with the mentality Gosnell? I would argue you will only get more. And for your consideration, the current President of the United States went out of his way as a state senator to become committee chair and kill the proposed born-alive infant act
, which ends as follows: “A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law.” This same bill went on to become federal law.
The idea that materialism, continues Kass, can cure men of the fear of God and the fear death, is at least as old as ancient Greece. And he is correct. There is nothing new under the sun. The Sophists were arguing the same thing every liberal Democrat is arguing today. Their views failed then to build strong, flourishing societies, have destroyed countless others, but even today people foolishly push these views at the peril of any society that adopts them en masse. He mentions Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, who is highly influential yet teaches ideas that are insidious to human flourishing. I wonder if he knows just how much damage he is causing because I don’t believe he lives in his own life what he teaches. Pinker questions the value of dignity as a moral guide, because he is a pure Darwinian naturalist who believes everything is physical, there is no God, and that human consciousness is just a trick of evolution. We don’t even have free will, according to Pinker and his ilk, because each and every event can be “reduced” to microphysical particulars, properties, relations and laws of physics. Everything we do is completely driven by the antecedent moment going back to the beginning of the universe. To say that the human experience, which includes such a range of love, laughter, sadness, and other great emotions is nothing more than events measured in the brain based on peptide levels in the hypothalamus completely misses what it means to be human. How sad.
Indeed, what I want to demonstrate is that life is rich, thick, and robust because that is reality. It is not materialistic, and cannot be reduced to physics. The physical is not all that exists, and when you have studied philosophy and science as I have, you see over time that science cannot and never will explain human experience because it is beyond what science is capable of discovering. There is more to life than the physical. Our feelings, emotions, and particularly love for others is not physical, and we are not slaves to antecedent events as cognizing agents with the ability to choose right from wrong, or to choose dignity over degradation. If we keep listening to the Sophists at the universities, and their enablers in the Democratic Party, we will surely come to ruin, sooner than later. What they sell you is a utopia. What they deliver is misery because they do not understand human nature. They don’t understand that the reason people are religious is because the divine has been placed inside the heart of every man and woman, and it is their responsibility to respond to the divine or reject it and rebel against it. Like Gosnell and the Brothers Tsarnaev, we see that people do have free will, and that they will be held accountable for their actions because we are still a people who believe in right and wrong, good and bad, and it is not cultural conditioning, but simply a natural condition of the heart. God has placed all of the complexity between our ears that are needed to know that he is real, and you don’t need a Masters degree or a Ph.D. to figure that out. In all my learning, that was the most important thing that I have learned.