Wednesday, 13 November 2019

"All is Relative, Except This Statement"

Self Destroying Contradictions

John Gray, in his gem of a book entitled Seven Types of Atheism, has a very clear view of the special pleading that is rife amongst so-called atheists.  The bottom line--as Gray demonstrates repeatedly--is that such atheists always end up engaged in special pleading for someone or something that escapes the mental scythe of atheism.  In other words, they are atheists except for "x" which is above the inevitable nihilistic world-view.  The "x" is the grand exception.  

Gray is honest enough to cite C. S. Lewis, a Christian philosopher/teacher, as an example of a clear-minded critic of atheism who understood that atheism was effectively a smokescreen by which its advocates sought to deny the truth claims of anything and everything, except itself except the particular cocktail of atheism which they were advocating or pushing.

He writes:
If progress means a 'more advanced' version of the human species, how do we know what is more or less advanced?  This question was the subject of The Abolition of Man, a prescient little book by the linguist, theologian, and writer of science fiction C. S. Lewis, first given as a lecture and published in 1943. Lewis argued that progressive thinkers who wanted to reshape society, and eventually the human species itself, had no way of deciding what progress meant. 

For many it involved increasing human power and using it to make Nature serve human ends.  But the power of human kind over Nature, Lewis pointed out,  means in practice the power of some human beings over others.  If society is planned so as to maximize power of Nature, other human valued will be crowded out.  Anyone who cherishes these values will be on the receiving end of power, not exercising it. 

The progressive thinkers of Lewis's day thought little of the average run of human beings.  Like Trotsky, they believed they could design a better version of the human animal.  After all, if most human beings are not just backward but obstacles, what is the point of them?  Surely it would be better to sideline these inferior specimens.  The future belonged to the post-human species.  As Lewis wrote, "Man's final conquest has proved to be the abolition of man."  [Seven Types of Atheism (London: Allen Lane/Penguin, 2018), p. 65f.]

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