Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lucia Another Libertarian attack on Christianity

In Not PC's latest attack on Christianity, he puts forward the proposition that Christianity is not the base on which Western Civilisation is built.
I'll just say briefly now that if the basis of western civilisation can be described as a focus on reason, individualism and happiness on this earth -- ideas that were a product not of theologians but of Classical Greeks, ideas which were fortunately rediscovered for the west in the Renaissance -- then far from being any sort of foundation for these ideas, [C]hristian religion is at odds with all of them...
However, I think that "reason, individualism and happiness on this earth", are an inadequate basis to describe Western Civilisation.

So does Hilaire Belloc, as shown by this quote from Survivals and New Arrivals: The Old and New Enemies of the Catholic Church:
The form of any society ultimately depends upon its philosophy, upon its way of looking at the universe, upon its judgement of moral values: that is, in the concrete, upon its religion.

For whether it calls its philosophy by the name of "religion" or no, into what is, in practice, a religion of some kind, the philosophy of any society ultimately falls. The ultimate source of social form is the attitude of the mind; and at the heart of every culture is a creed and code of morals: expressed or taken for granted.
PC makes the error of pulling out a few aspects of Western Civilisation of late, that have made a real impact during this current period where civilisation appears to be in decline, while ignoring the society in which such ideas were able to bear fruit. Maybe Christianity is at odds with the ideas he puts forward because it is much larger and runs deeper than the proponents of such ideas would like.

3 comment(s):

Greg said...

Where is the post by PC against:
Hinduism in India.
Sun worship in central America.
Buddhism in Asia.
Islam in the middle east.
Shinto in Japan.
Aminism in Africa.
Postmodernism in the academy.

Could it be that PC is not as well read or opinionated on these areas? Perhaps his choice reflects a narrow culture and historical bias?

Wouldn't the comprehensive rational man be posting on the above combinations as well as Christianity in the West?

David Winter said...

The first, and obvious, point is that Christianity can be the basis of modern society and be absolutely wrong but...

What makes you think that the moral code of western society is a purely christian invention?

Western culture draws it's morality (and it's laws) at least as much from the comparatively humanistic Greek tradition as it does from Moses and Christ.

Greg said...

I think we are all aware that Christianity is enriched by classical and Judaic culture. Do you not think that a religion whose official languages are Greek, Aramaic, and Latin appreciates classical culture??

Explicitly, I think this conversation concerns the rejection of Christian elements and character from Western Civilization.

Christianity is our bridge to the classical world. Without it the classical Greeks and Romans would be Mediterranean curiosities. Christianity transmitted their culture to our time. Reject it, sure, but don’t fail to appreciate it.

You can not reject Christianity by pretending to leap over it back to "pure Hellenism" or "pure Epicureanism" etc. This is the same na├»ve trick that Evangelical Christians attempt to pull by getting back to “pure Christianity”. “Look down the well and you’ll see yourself” as the saying goes.

All you are doing is quixotically finding modern virtues such as rationalism and scientific acumen but neglecting to embrace the con-jointly held superstitions and depravities. You are cherry-picking.

If all else fails make a list! Catholicism gave the following to Western Civilization:
The music notation system, double entry book keeping, champagne, Mendelian genetics, Copernican astronomy, the printing press, the hospital, and the university.

The book A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller is a story appropriate to this issue.

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