See the opening of today’s series here: “What Is the Future of Religion?” by Frank J. Fleming
Science is a good thing. It’s given us things like vaccines, cars and incubators.
I live in Southern California and was born a premie, with Apgar tests so low that the doctors advised my parents to institutionalize me. That means all of these innovations are near and dear to my heart. I have a more than healthy respect for science.
The thing is, though, science isn’t enough to keep a society going, at least not one we’d want to live in. What’s gotten humanity to this point is religion, specifically, the Judeo-Christian religion and its moral precepts that allow the freedom of Western civilization.
Three aspects of Judeo-Christian philosophy have helped define the free world: equality under the law, a firm grasp that we cannot build heaven on earth, and an objective for morality.
The dual, complementing nature of Judaism and Christianity, cannot be understated, especially as the Bible discusses equality. Many might think that the followers of Christ departed from their Jewish brethren but Christ himself reminds us in Matthew 5:17 that he “ha[d] not come to abolish [the Torah laws] but to fulfill them.” Thus he carried forward the truths given to Moses.
The first of these truths was the Jewish revelation of a single deity who created all of mankind and laid down laws establishing our fundamental equality.
When Gandhi engaged in some pseudo-deep drivel about an eye for an eye leaving everyone blind, he ignored the fact that this law was actually a command that punishment be proportional to the crime. Gandhi also suggested that Jews accept Nazi abuse, so it’s little wonder that he got other things wrong too.
Indeed, for all of the secularist focus on the wrath of the Old Testament God, the Torah serves more as a reminder to His children of their fundamental equality. After all, Leviticus 19:15 warns that “[y]e shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”
So the rich don’t get any special favors and, in a blow to the Occupy folks, neither do the poor.
Holy crap, that’s equality. And God laid it down.
Christ walked the earth and fulfilled that law of equality. That law led William Wilberforce to inspire the greatest power of his age – Imperial Britain – to war against slavery. That same law led the descendants of slaves, with the Rev. Martin Luther King, to claim their seat at the table.
The Judeo-Christian ethic teaches us the importance of respecting the individual and his liberties.
Judeo Christianity also teaches us to accept the world we live in.
Stalin’s Soviet Union. Mao’s China. Pol Pot’s killing fields.
These were all the secular attempts at utopia. Again, the blood of millions soaked the earth in these failed experiments.
Along with equality, the Judeo-Christian philosophy teaches us a simple truth: As fallen humans, we cannot build a utopia in this world. Perfection is beyond us and attempting to rush it along is a fatal conceit.
This holds true even in the personal life.
There is nothing more human than wanting to create the perfect life for you and your family. Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife is a perfect example of this. She strives to be the perfect mother, wife and lawyer. And on the surface, she looks successful, rich. She is the captain of her own ship.
Alicia is also an avowed atheist who finds her success to be of little comfort when her one-time lover, Will, is killed in a courtroom shooting. Thus mother must turn to daughter, whom the show portrays fairly respectfully as coming to faith, in order to try to find comfort.
Alicia was smart but she was not wise and hers was a utopia of tears.
One thing that assists in avoiding the siren song of utopianism is maintaining a constant moral lodestone, as laid out in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.
PJ Lifestyle contributor Walter Hudson wrote how “Atheists Can Be Moral Too.” However, in arguing that the natural world provides guideposts for human behavior, he disproves his own argument. After all, the natural world is the strong preying upon the weak. This is the morality of the dictatorship.
Indeed, Nazism and Communism saw themselves as the pinnacle of social evolution. Their inferiors, whether Jews or kulaks, were subhuman and thus fair game.
This is the morality of a world without a true north. The compass spins out of control and we follow a path to chaos. The great irony is that by no matter what glorious end those without transcendent morality attempt to serve, they can never find it.
Who was to tell these technologically advanced barbarians they were wrong, if there was no definition of wrong that transcended society? After all, Hitler won an election. The Communists inspired fellow travelers throughout the world.
It is telling that the troika of Ronald Regan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II who defeated Communism in the 1980s came from strong traditions of faith.
Indeed, they showed that the three gifts of Judeo-Christian philosophy served as legs for a stool we call wisdom.
That wisdom is the reason religion serves a more fundamental role for society than science.
The Nazis and Soviets were capable of immense scientific accomplishments. They then put those accomplishments towards slaughter of unspeakable scale.
The Tuskegee experiments surely developed scientific data, but only through a monstrous experimentation on unknowing innocents.
Even now, we play with artificial intelligence which luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk warn could destroy humanity. Fertility experts toy with the creation of children with the genetic material of three people, a technology that could redefine families in a way that not even advocates of same sex marriage could dream.
Science, without the moral foundations of religion to constrain it, could mean the end of society as we know it or even the extinction of our specials
It was science that told my parents I should be put in an institution.
It was wisdom that kept me from such a fate. Although since I turned out to be a divorce lawyer, some people might think the doctor was right.
Please join the discussion on Twitter. The essay above is the tenth in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle
- Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek
- Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
- Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
- David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
- Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
- Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
- Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
- Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
- Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:
2014 – Starting the Discussion…
- Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
- David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
- Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
- Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
- Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
- Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
- David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
- Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
- Kathy Shaidle on November 25, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part One)
- Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
- Kathy Shaidle on December 3, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)
- Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
- Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose
January 2015 – Volume I
- Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
- Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
- Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
- Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
- Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
- Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
- Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
- Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
- Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
- Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
- Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
- Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
- Mark Ellis on January 21, 2015: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?
- Aaron C. Smith on January 29, 2015: Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law
- David Solway on February 2, 2015: For a Song To Be Good, Must It Tell The Truth?
- Mark Ellis on February 6, 2015: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism
- David Solway on February 6, 2015: ‘Imagine’ a World Without the Brotherhood
- Kathy Shaidle on February 9, 2015: Was Rod McKuen the Secret Godfather of Punk Rock?
- Aaron C. Smith on February 10, 2015: Kick NBC While It’s Down: Use The Williams Scandal to Set the Terms of the 2016 Debates
- Spencer Klavan on February 12, 2015: How to Apologize for Your Thought Crimes
- Kathy Shaidle on February 16, 2015: David Byrne: Creepy Liberal Hypocrite
- David P. Goldman on February 18, 2015: Understanding This Bloody Truth About the Bible Will Save Your Life
- Lisa De Pasquale on February 20, 2015: Why American Sniper Is a Much Better Love Story Than Fifty Shades of Grey
- Spencer Klavan on February 24, 2015: How Bad Ideology Destroys Good TV: Why Glee Crashed and Burned