A User’s Guide to Godless Liberalism, Part I
Secular progressives who reign supreme today over every “elite” institution in the West have a long list of dogmatic beliefs. At the same time and employing the very same brains, they insist that
- Christianity is intrinsically intolerant and dangerous.
Islam is a religion of inclusion and peace.
- Women can serve as front-line combat troops for the United States Marines.
Female Islamist refugees can pose no threat to America.
- It is healthy and good for most people in the world to identify themselves with their racial or ethnic group.
It is profoundly evil and dangerous for Westerners to do the same.
- It is hateful for Americans of European descent to “appropriate” elements of other cultures, for instance by wearing sombreros on Halloween.
It is courageous for a man to identify as a woman, and we must honor “her” identity with access to the Ladies’ Room.
- Marriage is a meaningless social construct that was created to oppress women.
This institution is central to human dignity, and must be extended to all manner of relationships.
- Eating meat is morally problematic.
Abortion up through the ninth month of pregnancy is an absolute human right.
- Human beings are merely the accidental product of ruthless natural selection and selfish DNA, of no more cosmic significance than chimpanzees.
Each of us is a precious, irreplaceable snowflake, whose whims must trump the constraints imposed on us by competition, biology, or the needs of future generations.
- Religion is a futile psychological game that we play with ourselves to fend off the fear of death.
Every religious minority deserves our respect and deference.
- Hierarchy, cruelty, and the exercise of power are ineradicable aspects of the struggle to survive and reproduce.
Inequality is wicked and unnatural, and must be opposed at every turn.
- Suffering is meaningless, an inevitable part of biological life in an empty universe.
The goal of morality is to alleviate suffering and make people’s day to day lives more cheerful and fun.
We could go on for hours, but you get the point: Your secular liberal neighbor’s beliefs are completely incoherent. His mind is a mad scientist’s curiosity shop full of matter and anti-matter, which only avoids imploding into a black hole of gibbering madness because its compartment walls are sturdy, strong, and high. It is full of leftover Christian aspirations and bleakly nihilist assertions, which he mixes and matches according to some standard that seems from the outside quite arbitrary, almost random.
Why would so many people, some of them smarter or better educated than we are, abuse their minds this way? To understand this, we need to make an effort at empathy. We must appreciate the rewards offered by unbelief and unreason.
Believers know the benefits that come with the gift of faith, even on earth. With it, we gain a reliable compass for our actions, a sense that they have meaning even when they seem on the surface to fail, and a solid interpretive grid that makes some sense of the barrage of daily events. Our fears can find reassurance, our sadness consolation, our hopes some chance of fulfillment. We might even find solace in a healthy community of those who share our beliefs. When we strive sincerely to do what is right, we feel some sense of approval from a loving father God, though outside forces and the ill-will of others render our efforts seemingly futile. When our loved ones die, we do not see them as plummeting into a void, but rather as moving forward toward the chance of a happy reward, one in which we hope we might someday join them.
Of course we pay a price. Or rather, we trade for all these good things another set of values — just as an athlete who plans for a marathon sacrifices the time he might have spent watching Netflix while hoovering donuts, and instead puts in the grim, grueling hours of training his body and mind. After long years, a disciplined athlete might not even remember what life was like before, and find it impossible to understand the mind of the couch potato.
But what if couch potatoes were to gain control of the government, and dominate the culture? What if they took over the Food and Drug Administration, the NCAA, the NFL, the NBA, and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports? Imagine the diet and exercise guidelines that schools would transmit to children, who’d wash down smothered nachos with giant Cokes every day in the cafeteria. Think of the games where loping, beer-swilling slackers clashed sluggishly on the field, as corpulent cheerleaders sat in recliners, lazily waving pennants. No officials would bother to call any penalties, or even to keep score. At each game’s end, there would be trophies and championship rings for all, then both teams would go off to Hooters to celebrate their victories.
At the same time, those who adhered to classical standards and objective criteria of health and athletic achievement would find themselves under suspicion. When they ran, or practiced, or exercised, they would attract hostile stares, taunts and abuse, and then investigations by powerful bureaucrats — who warned that their retrograde gyms might be hotbeds of “extremism.” If these “zealots” policed their teams to insist on excellence, or publicly scoffed at Olympic Tetherball, they would find themselves accused of hate speech, of “sizeism” and even “sloth-shaming,” and might get dragged into court. Federal regulations and even laws would soon follow, to impose the “sane,” “mainstream” standards of the sluggards on the diligent.
If all these things started to happen, the athletes would need to do more than scoff, or write off their opponents as lazy fools — when in fact, they showed great energy and cleverness in the cause of sodden sloth. Those with faith in fitness would need to step back and do some thinking, to carefully analyze the motives of the Sedentary Consensus — in part to keep themselves and their families safe, but also in the hope of leading their neighbors back to health. We must do the same today with secular progressives — who began by rejecting faith, and then took slow, inexorable steps to the abandonment of reason, and ended by blankly refusing to face the evidence of their senses.
In Part Two we’ll retrace this degeneration, one step at a time.