Saturday, November 25, 2006

Steyn: Secular Humanism Dooms West

In his fabulous book, "America Alone: The End of the World as we know it", gives him opinion of whether a society based on secular humanism can survive the Islamist virus:
Pre-modern Islam beats post-modern Christianity. In 2006, a dozen intellectuals published a manifesto against Islamism and in defense of "secular values for all." The signatories included Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch parliamentarian; Irshad Manji, the Canadian writer; and Salman Rushdie, the British novelist. All three are brave figures and important allies in the campaign against the Islamist tide. But they're making a mistake: secular humanism is an insufficient rallying cry. As another Canadian, Kathy Shaidle, wrote in response: "It is secularism itself which is part of the problem, not the solution, since secularism is precisely what created the Euro spiritual/moral vacuum into which Islamism has rushed headlong."
This is point is also emphasised by Ravi Zacharias many a time in his numerous lectures and talks:
I'll say this as kindly as I can: the last 22 years of my life have been spent in the West. The equal amount in the beginning was spent in the East. And Western civilisation is being rocked to its foundations because Western man does not know the point of reference for the value system that he wants to espouse right now. See the Middle East still espouses Islam: there is some transcedent leverage to the culture. We in modern times are daring the lines in the West and we actually think we can survive without the espousing of a Moral Law. History cries out against the experiment.
Here's a more abstract contrarian view from Nick Gillespie at Reason:

With the collapse of socialism as a viable alternative social system (as Christopher Hitchens pointed out in a great interview in the November Reason), it only makes sense that conservatives and libertarians would start to line up on different sides of the barricades that surround the battleground of individual choice and autonomy. Why? In part, because the libertarian doesn't fear change or blindly respect "established authority" the way conservatives tend to.

More fundamentally, though, it's because, pace Goldberg, libertarians do believe devoutly in something. They believe, writes Hayek, that "to live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one's concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends. It is for this reason that to the liberal [libertarian] neither moral nor religious ideals are proper objects of coercion, while both conservatives and socialists recognize no such limits."

Goldberg sniffs that such a world leads to--horrors!--"individualized, designer cultures" as opposed to, one presumes, mandated mass cultures that are forced on people whether they like it or not (substitute "religion" for "culture" to get a sense of whether more choice in human affairs is a good thing). He even quotes G.K. Chesterton ripping off Dostoevsky: "Chesterton pointed out that when a man stops believing in God, he won't believe in nothing, he'll believe in anything" and then neatly underscores his own flight from such a rigid, old-style world by adding, "God isn't necessarily the issue here." What a personalized reading of Chesterton.

So which position can assure West's ability to endure and survive? Well, from Gillespie et al. we should infer that, "reason will come riding on a horse" and save the day. The problem is that if Reason is riding the horse, who or what is the horse? Theists such as Steyn, Zacharias and Shaidle (and C.S. Lewis) answer that the horse is the Judeo-Christian God. His Moral Law is, pace Gillespie et al., the brighest light for the post-Christian world.

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Manny Is Here: Steyn: Secular Humanism Dooms West

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Steyn: Secular Humanism Dooms West

In his fabulous book, "America Alone: The End of the World as we know it", gives him opinion of whether a society based on secular humanism can survive the Islamist virus:
Pre-modern Islam beats post-modern Christianity. In 2006, a dozen intellectuals published a manifesto against Islamism and in defense of "secular values for all." The signatories included Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch parliamentarian; Irshad Manji, the Canadian writer; and Salman Rushdie, the British novelist. All three are brave figures and important allies in the campaign against the Islamist tide. But they're making a mistake: secular humanism is an insufficient rallying cry. As another Canadian, Kathy Shaidle, wrote in response: "It is secularism itself which is part of the problem, not the solution, since secularism is precisely what created the Euro spiritual/moral vacuum into which Islamism has rushed headlong."
This is point is also emphasised by Ravi Zacharias many a time in his numerous lectures and talks:
I'll say this as kindly as I can: the last 22 years of my life have been spent in the West. The equal amount in the beginning was spent in the East. And Western civilisation is being rocked to its foundations because Western man does not know the point of reference for the value system that he wants to espouse right now. See the Middle East still espouses Islam: there is some transcedent leverage to the culture. We in modern times are daring the lines in the West and we actually think we can survive without the espousing of a Moral Law. History cries out against the experiment.
Here's a more abstract contrarian view from Nick Gillespie at Reason:

With the collapse of socialism as a viable alternative social system (as Christopher Hitchens pointed out in a great interview in the November Reason), it only makes sense that conservatives and libertarians would start to line up on different sides of the barricades that surround the battleground of individual choice and autonomy. Why? In part, because the libertarian doesn't fear change or blindly respect "established authority" the way conservatives tend to.

More fundamentally, though, it's because, pace Goldberg, libertarians do believe devoutly in something. They believe, writes Hayek, that "to live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one's concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends. It is for this reason that to the liberal [libertarian] neither moral nor religious ideals are proper objects of coercion, while both conservatives and socialists recognize no such limits."

Goldberg sniffs that such a world leads to--horrors!--"individualized, designer cultures" as opposed to, one presumes, mandated mass cultures that are forced on people whether they like it or not (substitute "religion" for "culture" to get a sense of whether more choice in human affairs is a good thing). He even quotes G.K. Chesterton ripping off Dostoevsky: "Chesterton pointed out that when a man stops believing in God, he won't believe in nothing, he'll believe in anything" and then neatly underscores his own flight from such a rigid, old-style world by adding, "God isn't necessarily the issue here." What a personalized reading of Chesterton.

So which position can assure West's ability to endure and survive? Well, from Gillespie et al. we should infer that, "reason will come riding on a horse" and save the day. The problem is that if Reason is riding the horse, who or what is the horse? Theists such as Steyn, Zacharias and Shaidle (and C.S. Lewis) answer that the horse is the Judeo-Christian God. His Moral Law is, pace Gillespie et al., the brighest light for the post-Christian world.

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