Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Broader Threat of Theocracy

An interesting comment was posted to my TOS blog piece, The GOP's Religious Albatross. In that piece, I covered a Republican senate candidate's comment that a rape-induced pregnancy is "something that God intended to happen." Burgess Laughlin wrote:

   Candidate Mourdock refers, indirectly, to a rape leading to pregnancy as something God intended to happen, as a "gift from God."
   The notion that everything that happens was intended so by God is a common one among Christian, Jewish, and Islamic theologians and their followers. Especially frightening, however, is the idea that everything we have and experience is a "gift" from God. We are obligated to return the favor -- in the form of worship and obedience.
   Also, if everything we have, even our very being, comes from God, then there is no room for the secular.
   Such a claim of God's omnipotence and omnipresence is a rationale for theocracy, wherein God, through his dominions, rules life on earth. One movement that has advocated abolishing the idea of "secular" -- thus leaving the door open to theocracy -- is the Radical Orthodoxy movement: http://reasonversusmysticism.b...

The link to the Radical Orthodoxy piece addresses the inherently unstable modern Enlightenment Doctrine of the compatibility of reason and faith. Reason and faith are not compatible, and ultimately civilization will have to choose between them--and to survive, civilization must choose reason. The article highlights the Dark Age forces that are gathering behind faith. Her are the opening lines of that article:

 In 1990, British university professor and Christian theologian John Milbank published his first book, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason. In it, Milbank rejects the Enlightenment idea of secularity. It is, he says, a myth produced by intellectuals who pretend to rely on religiously neutral reason but who are actually pagans. Thus the "secularists" are religious but in a way contrary to Christian teachings. Christian theologians, who have been trying to adapt their theology to the conclusions reached by supposedly neutral secular scholars, should instead, Milbank says, reject the "secular" sciences and insist that all the sciences be based on Christian theology, the queen of the sciences. (n. 1)

Milbank went further. He proposed a new Christian theology. Initially he called his views "postmodern critical Augustinianism." ([11], p. 1) His new theology is critical in the sense that it challenges traditional ideas and their underlying assumptions. Milbank's theology is largely Augustinian because Milbank thinks Augustine (354-430 CE) was a genius in developing Christian theology and philosophy; Augustine faced opponents whose religion was paganism (as Milbank believed in the 1990s he himself was doing); and Augustine believed that reason and the sciences it produces are invalid unless based on Christian theology. ([1], p. 47) Last, Milbank's views arepostmodern in using some of the terminology and methods of French postmodernist philosophers while attacking their nihilism. ([1], pp. 42-43) Milbank's antidote for nihilism? Christianity.

So the false choice; nihilism or faith. The article took a pot shot at the great Thomas Aquinas for his "steps toward a split of the sacred and the secular, thus making the secularizing Enlightenment possible ([1] p. 47 n. 56). Worse, Aquinas developed 'natural theology,' which is the 'science of God' formed through observation of and thinking about nature (the effect) rather than revelation from God (the cause)." 

This all brings to mind Leonard Peikoff's warning that, to save America, we must choose reason and reject faith:

It is time to tell people the unvarnished truth: to stand up for man's mind and this earth, and against any version of mysticism or religion. It is time to tell people: "You must choose between unreason and America. You cannot have both. Take your pick."
If there is to be any chance for the future, this is the only chance there is.

1 comment:

Steve D said...

‘Such a claim of God's omnipotence and omnipresence is a rationale for theocracy, wherein God, through his dominions, rules life on earth.’

This is the reason why monotheism has been historically so much more dangerous and intractable than polytheism or animism and why Christianity originally a small community-type mystery cult eventually took over the Roman Empire and then introduced a theocracy. Another example of this was how quickly Islam spread. Polytheism along with secularism faded in the age extolling composite and/or omnipotent deities.

In a choice between nihilism and faith if people do not see an alternative they will eventually chose faith as Leonard Peikoff suggests in his book ‘The DIM Hypothesis’. Nihilism is pure destruction to the extent that in any society base on its pure form, humans would not be able to survive.

Also, supernaturalism in general seems to be some sort of ‘fall back’ position for humans whether or not they justify it philosophically.