One of the things I enjoy about reading G.K. Chesterton is that it gives a lie to the idea that the 1960’s was some kind of real fault point in thinking and morality when the reality is that the views so exemplified by the sixties were already in full swing for quite a while before. You can read Chesterton as if he was writing today and if if you just replace the names used with people living today it would be as if he was still writing books and columns.
For example I am reading All Things Considered which is a book of essays on various topics. I found one paragraph to be the perfect description of the so-called new atheists.
A man who has lived
and loved falls down dead and the worms eat him. That is Materialism if you like. That is Atheism if you like. If mankind has believed in spite of that, it can believe in spite of
anything. But why our human lot is made any more hopeless because we know the names of all the worms who eat him, or the names of all the parts of him that they eat, is
to a thoughtful mind somewhat difficult to discover. My chief objection to these semi-scientific revolutionists is that they are not at all revolutionary. They are the party of
platitude. They do not shake religion: rather religion seems to shake them.
The sentence "They do not shake religion: rather religion seems to shake them" has to be the perfect description of Hitchens, Dawkins, and others and explains their diatribes much better than simply a defense of atheism.
I also found this line to be pretty funny.
Blessed are they who have not seen and yet
have believed: a passage which some have considered as a prophecy of modern journalism.
I love a good quote!
Yes, great line. Dawkins does seem to be shaken by something. Sadly, his only response (like Hitchens’) is to lash out. BTW, I’m doing a series of posts on The God Delusion. I’d love to get your input as a former athiest.
The anti-theology of these moderns always seems to begin and end with something like derision and scorn. Their writings are far too acid and self-righteous to enjoy even on a secular level.
In my personal life, this type of general dissatisfaction usually surfaces when the person in question is a man who has lost touch with the meaningfulness of his work.
I mean what is Dawkins a professor of nowadays, anyways? It seems he patterns himself as the doctor of the science of telling people what to think of science.
Which means he is not a very good scientist. Or a very dedicated one, to say the least.
On top of that, he fancies himself a philosopher to boot. His credentials? I do not know but whoever taught him I think would be very ashamed because he practices logic backwards, is completely ignorant of the history of science and absolutely in the dark with regards to religion.
His main stock in trade is to deal in hyperbole and overstatement, trying to make absolute that which he *knows* he cannot defend as absolute. Then when he is engaged in debate, he crumples immediately, practically hissing between his teeth as he does so.
There are a number of moments like this in the movie Expelled and they would be funny if they were not so sad.
I am glad to hear you love ATC so much – they are excellent, and if I started quoting my favourites I would have to quote at least half the book.
You may not know that they are all taken from his weekly essay in the Illustrated London News, which he wrote for 32 years, from 1905 until he died in 1936.
When you want more, you will be happy to know that there are some 1500 others which remain for you to read – most of them are in his Collected Works (CW27-35). See here for more details.
That “religion seems to shake them” line is the perfect argument I have in my ongoing online debate with a fellow science high school alumnus who has sadly fallen away from the Faith and has now embraced what Hitchens, Dawkins and company stand for (even invoking their names). Scientists who in their pride hold up science (whatever version of science they use) as the ultimate guide to everything in the universe would do wise to take heed.
“the party of platitude” is also perfect, and can be extended to more “parties” today than yesterday.
Dr. Thursday has already pointed out that the All Things Considered essays are taken from Chesterton’s weekly columns in the Illustrated London News. You can find a number of other excerpts from those columns, and from Chesterton’s other works, at The Hebdomadal Chesterton.
Another great collection of quotable Chesterton is the book “Brave New Family”.
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