The truth that makes men free is for the most part
the truth which men prefer not to hear.
A Time for Greatness
We say not lightly but very literally, that the truth has made us free. They say that it makes us so free that it cannot be the truth. To them it is like believing in fairyland to believe in such freedom as we enjoy. It is like believing in men with wings to entertain the fancy of men with wills. It is like accepting a fable about a squirrel in conversation with a mountain to believe in a man who is free to ask or a God who is free to answer. This is a manly and a rational negation for which I for one shall always show respect. But I decline to show any respect for those who first of all clip the wings and cage the squirrel, rivet the chains and refuse the freedom, close all the doors of the cosmic prison on us with a clang of eternal iron, tell us that our emancipation is a dream and our dungeon a necessity; and then calmly turn round and tell us they have a freer thought and a more liberal theology.
The Escape from Paganism,
The Everlasting Man
I defy my honored opponents to give me the name of a single man imprisoned in the United States, Great Britain, or West Germany for being an atheist. But in former communist countries, millions of our Christian brothers and sisters in faith have passed through jails or been killed. Who has fought for freedom and obtained it — atheists or Christians?
A Romanian Christian minister who
suffered imprisonment and torture for his beliefs.
How exhilarating to throw off the yoke of belief in God! No one to answer to, no one to impose rules on you, no one to cramp your style. You are free! Nobody is going to stand in your way. You can do what you want. What a great way to live!
Or is it?
If you attempted to play a piano with that idea of freedom, the resulting noise would be horrendous. It you approached flying an airplane with that mindset, be prepared to meet your Maker. If you drove a car in such a manner, your driving days will be short-lived.
Freedom on a piano involves subjection to the laws of music. Freedom in flying requires applying the principles of aerodynamics. Freedom in driving necessitates respect for the rules of the road. Freedom flourishes inside of boundaries. It self destructs without them.
To live life with the notion of absolute freedom is absolute folly. One quickly becomes a slave of his own self-centeredness, winds up in jail, or ends up dead.
We need something higher than ourselves to steer our life by. We need boundaries to be free. We need God.
Even the atheist who rejects God finds himself forced to hang on to some smattering of Christian morality,
If he didn’t—nobody would put up with him. Nor could he live with himself.
He would be absolutely free.
And absolutely obnoxious.
I will say that the cross of materialism is that it never quite succeeds in believing what it preaches, in thinking its own thought. This may sound complicated, but is in fact simple: the materialist says, for example, that we are not free, though he is convinced, of course, that he asserts this freely, that no one is forcing him to state this view of the matter — neither parents, not social milieu, nor biological inheritance. He says that we are wholly determined by our history, but he never stops urging us to free ourselves, to change our destiny, to revolt where possible! He says that we must love the world as it is, turning our backs on past and future so as to live in the present, but he never stops trying, like you or me, when the present weighs upon us, to change it in hope of a better world. In brief, the materialist sets forth philosophical these that are profound, but always for you and me, never for himself. Always, he reintroduces transcendence — liberty, a vision for society, the ideal — because in truth he cannot not believe himself to be free, and therefore answerable to values higher than nature and history.
― Luc Ferry,
A Brief History of Thought:
A Philosophical Guide to Living