January 10, 2016 6 Comments
We all make sense of this world as we can according to what is given to us to do that with. One of the pieces of foolishness which twentieth century politicians and thinkers adopted was the notion that man was a wholly rational animal, and that if one could only ‘explain’ everything, then we would all see things the same, and we could move to some sort of one world government. To those who are children of the idea of Rousseau, who believed that ‘man was born free and is everywhere in chains’, politics was the art of removing those chains and freeing him up to realise his full potential. This ignored the idea of original sin. Marx and Engels, disciples of Rousseau, assumed that whatever was bad in our species was the result of the distortions of bad rule, and that if that went, all would be well. The twentieth century provided a scathing commentary on this academic idea. In the name of ‘the people’ more people have been killed than ever in human history. Vanguardists, freed up from the moral restraints of Christianity, have felt able and willing to destroy millions, all in the cause of creating a utopia; those utopias have been places that men and women have fled from whenever they could do so.
The obvious conclusions continue to evade so many of our rulers because to come to them would require some big changes of assumptions on their part. Take the hot issue of gun control. To liberals it is logical that if you remove them, no one will shoot anyone. To conservatives it is logical that what will actually happen is that criminals will continue to be able to acquire guns and will feel free to use them because they will not risk being shot at by armed citizens. It is people who kill people, if they don’t use guns, they will use knives, and if you can remove all the knives, they will use their hands – perhaps move to the Sharia principle and chop off hands next?
Christianity has worked so long in our civilization because it speaks to a truth we wish to avoid admitting, that, left to ourselves, we too often choose the bad over the good, or, that in identifying what we think may be good for us, we tend to ride rough-shod over others, which creates situations out of which conflict arises. If being here is all our lives are about, then it makes sense that we should band with others to seize as much of the things which make life comfortable as we can for ourselves, and the devil can take the hindermost.
What Christianity does is to explain that this is the result of the Fall, that however we explain it, our true natures have been warped by sin so we tend to the bad even when we will the good; only through receiving Christ can we escape this endless cycle of sin. If there is another way, it would be good to know what it might be. Our history suggests that Christianity has a civilizing effect on us, so, as it recedes from the public sphere, it ought to worry us. Rousseau was an optimist – man may be born free, but he is quite capable of slapping all sorts of chains on himself. Liberalism offers no solution, conservatism thinks there isn’t one, Christianity says otherwise to both.