Saint Thomas Aquinas

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Logical Consequences of Agnosticism

I was doing some reading online and ran across a Jesuit scholar named Bernard Boedder SJ. The title of his book written in 1902 is 'Natural Theology.' One of the sections of the book deals with the logical consequences of an agnostic mindset. Many in our nation are turning away from Christianity and instead worshiping themselves and the State, thinking falsely that their government will save the planet and make them a utopia. Instead see the decline of morality leading the nation towards a barbaric anti-life mentality. We know the consequences when man makes himself the object of worship, and its not pretty. Just remember the Bolshevik and French Revolutions, where they made themselves and their States "gods". That mentality really worked out well. This section of the book gives a good explanation of what we see happening today in our own country. You can find the entire book here. I have quoted a few things from that chapter (Chapter II Section 5) that I found to be most illuminating.

We maintain that in the great mass of mankind, were agnosticism ever universally accepted, its effects, moral and social, would be most pernicious. Individuals of the average human type cannot lose the belief in an all-seeing and infinitely holy and just God without being exposed to commit many crimes, which they would not have committed if they had persevered in that belief. If God does not exist, no one is able to point out any sufficient principle of morality, which he can prove that man is absolutely bound to abide by. Of course certain actions will be more becoming than others, because more suited to rational nature. If a man is a man of good taste he will so far forth abide by these actions and abstain from their opposites. But suppose he does not care to be a man of taste, what is to oblige him to it? On that supposition, no one has a right to blame his fellow-man for enjoying life as he thinks fit. What is man, if you take God away? What else but a machine made of matter, held together by material forces? What shall oblige me to have more respect for that machine called man, than for another called ox or sheep or monkey, which anatomy proves to be constructed on quite a similar plan and to be made of the same organic elements? Why is it a greater crime to destroy a man-machine than to destroy a monkey-machine? Unless there is an immaterial Divine Spirit, there cannot possibly be an immaterial human soul, and if there is not an immaterial human soul, our so-called freedom of will is an illusion. But if our freedom is an illusion, moral responsibility is an empty name, and if that is an empty name, nobody is to be blamed, however erroneous may be the misdeeds by which, in the opinion of men, he sins against the dignity, as it is called, of man. These and the like are the practical lessons which logically follow from agnosticism. How can they be put into practice without giving free rein to the most revolting vices in the mass of men?

Again, if agnosticism with these moral consequences, which objectively are implied in it, were universally prevalent, all social relations would sooner or later be in hopeless confusion. The good order of a commonwealth rests above all upon a healthy family life. Where domestic relations, domestic authority, domestic virtues are not respected, civil relations will constitute a very frail machinery: civil authority will only rest upon changeable party-passions; civil virtues will degenerate into hypocritical egotism. But if in the family God is not acknowledged, if His fear does not check the impetuosity of vicious cravings, the most sacred bonds of family life will soon be broken. A nation of agnostics soon would suffer from so many evils that, to quote the saying of the Roman historian, Sallust, "neither the evils nor their remedies would be bearable."...
Centuries of recognition of the Christian sanctions of the moral law have bequeathed a strong hereditary bias in favour of morality which will hold out for awhile against the adverse forces. But this bias must abate, if the world continues to drift away from the only sound form of theism, which is Christianity. Mr. Spencer, we know, anticipates a blissful age when the feeling of moral constraint, of the "ought," will die of atrophy, because the path of right and the path of pleasure will, under the influence of more suitable education, have been made to coincide. We can only say that the present outlook, if we go by observation, not by questionable a priori inferences, offers no anticipations of any such eventual coincidence.

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