The Erosion of Meaning

foundationNo great, inspiring culture of the future can be built upon the moral principle of relativism. For at its bottom such a culture holds that nothing is better than anything else, and that all things are in themselves equally meaningless. Except for the fragments of faith (in progress, in compassion, in conscience, in hope) to which it still clings, illegitimately, such a culture teaches every one of its children that life is a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.  –Michael Novak

The Closing of the American Mind Revisited

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Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind . . . was a real sensation and a surprise bestseller.

. . . He said out loud what liberal elite culture could only regard as heresy: The supposed idealism of the 1960s was, in fact, a new barbarism. Whatever moral and spiritual seriousness the long tradition of American pragmatism had left intact in university life, the anti-culture of the left destroyed…

The result? Higher education has become, argued Bloom, the professional training of clever and sybaritic animals, who drink, vomit, and fornicate in the dorms by night while they posture critically and ironically by day. Bloom identified moral relativism as dogma that blessed what he called “the civilized reanimalization of man.” He saw a troubling, dangerous, and soulless apathy that pleasured itself prudently with passing satisfactions (“Always use condoms!” says the sign by the dispenser in the bathroom) but was moved by no desire to know good or evil, truth or falsehood, beauty or ugliness.

. . . students could master material with amazing speed. They could discuss brilliantly. They could write effective, well-researched papers. But they possessed an amazing ability to understand without being moved, to experience without judging, to self-consciously put forward their own convictions as mere opinions. On the whole, they seemed to have interior lives of Jell-O…

[It is] difficult to induce students to take a passionate and rational interest in fundamental questions. Students are either soulless creatures, or they recuse their souls from any contact with reason and argument. This phenomenon was what troubled Allan Bloom, and this is why he wrote The Closing of the American Mind.

–R. R. Reno,
http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2007/02/the-closing-of-the-american-mi

 

No Goal Posts?

37745472-stadiumA professor said to his students: “Young men, play the game of life.” A student spoke up and said: “Sir, but there are no goal posts, there is nothing to shoot at.” Are there no goal posts? Nothing fixed in this moral and spiritual universe? No goal posts that are our guide posts? It is unthinkable. A meaningless universe would be a mean universe. And the god behind it would be a mean god, which would mean: no god.

–E. Stanley Jones

Moral relativism is unlivable

10-commandmentsWe typically don’t have to be told that murder, stealing, theft is immoral because it is self evident. God has written a transcendent moral law on our hearts so that we know that an objective moral standard exists. Without an objective standard, how can we truly measure whether an action is morally good or evil with objectivity? Some declare that morals are merely subjective and dependent on the individual person or society. However, when someone steals their car they’ll be the first complaining about how immoral stealing is. Just remind them, ‘that person must believe stealing is morally permissible so you really shouldn’t be upset’. Moral relativism is truly unlivable.

http://worldviewofjesus.com/2014/12/13/does-atheism-solve-the-problem-of-evil/

Post-modernity and rat poison

William Lane CraigMost people don’t for a minute think that there are no objective standards of truth, rationality, and logic. . . [A] post-modern culture is an impossibility; it would be utterly unlivable. Nobody is a post-modernist when it comes to reading the labels on a medicine bottle versus a box of rat poison.

–William Lane Craig

Racism, rights and phobias

Ravi Zach[T]he defender of sexual freedom sees a parallel between what is seen as anti-gay prejudice today and racial prejudice as it was practiced at its lowest point decades ago. Here, a word game has entered the vocabulary. Relativist convictions are supposedly prejudice-free, while absolute convictions are branded as phobias. Any stigma can lick a good dogma, it is said. With that verbal deconstruction of a worldview, all questioning of sexual freedom is castigated as a phobia. Quite amazing that atheists are not called “theophobes” or that those against Christians are not called “christophobes.” Pejoratively, the counter positions have been appended with phobias till we may have a whole new polyphobic dictionary.

But that is the lesser problem. I contend that equating race with sexuality is actually a false premise and an unfortunate analogy.‎ In the matter of race it simply doesn’t matter how I feel about it; my ethnicity transcends my preferences or inclinations… Why is this analogy unfortunate? Because it moves the debate from what is right to what are one’s rights. Ironically, the political party now most aligned with arguing for rights was once the same party that argued against the emancipation of slaves because of the slave-owners’ “rights.” In that case, those rights were overruled by what was right. Interesting that a new word wasn’t coined then to describe those who made moral arguments against the slave-owners’ rights as “slaveophobes.” Thankfully, essential human worth and moral reason trumped existential and pragmatic preferences and by God’s grace, what was right was deemed to be right and the slave was freed.

–Ravi Zacharias,
How Wide the Divide: Sexuality at the Forefront,
Culture at the Crossroads