Mark 9:24

Posts Tagged ‘Manichees’

Idols of horsemen

In On Atheism on July 19, 2011 at 5:40 am

Among atheists most follow the pattern Kreeft notes: “If we do not worship God, we will worship idols, for we are by nature worshipers.” I’ve seen intellect, sensation and an abstract subjective happiness. Some, perhaps like men who very shallowly read Asimov, instead have faith in identifying the vague progress of science as a science of universal progress. They transpose the proper utility of science in the material and use it as a weapon, aiming at the immaterial. They ignore the simple fact that we recognize metaphysics because Aristotle knew physics answers only hows and is useless toward whys.

What is founded on the world does not reach very high beyond it, and will shudder with the earth.

Read Asimov a little deeper, though, and we see he realizes that science cannot correct what is wrong with men. It does not take much knowledge of the deterioration of the Spacers, or of the Empire, or even of the Foundation to disassociate Asimov from utopianism. However clever Hari Seldon, his psychohistory fails. As Lewis notes in his explanation of original sin:

That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended — civilizations are built up — excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin.

We also see some elite condescension in atheist circles which, although it has a parallel in certain prelates who disdained drumming in St. Peter’s when the African bishops were scheduled for Rome, has no parallel in the man who said, “the more African, the better.” Some atheists, observably not despairing of anything but Christians, have a kind of pride we find in every heresy — even the Gnostics thought they were bearers of a secret immortal truth available to an elite few, and they believed that the deluded Christians should be dissuaded with absurdities. We see it in the state endorsement of Arianism, in the mockeries of the Manichees and throughout materialist scientism.

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Augustine’s modernity

In Pursue Truth on July 16, 2011 at 6:49 am

Reading for the first time St. Augustine’s Confessions, I come to the startling realization that, despite the tack of modern secularists to reject all knowledge before Descartes — and even then to regard Descartes as something of a funny-smelling befuddled grandfather — people knew things back then anyway, and true things. In the first hundred pages of Confessions we have a forceful denunciation of throwing our lives away on a circus of sophistries, a sharp understanding of what moderns call early childhood development, and a keen insight into the chalk today’s Manichees falsely offer in the name of real food. Replace his contemporaries’ artifice with ours and we at each point have a strong portrait of the human condition today. Demonstrably eternal is the condition of man, and demonstrably great are those who break that cycle.

Augustine was a dramatic influence on fellow Doctor of the Church Thomas Aquinas.

Augustine’s early life is piercingly familiar, and he rings true on so many levels and in so many ways. Speaking from my life, it wasn’t long after hanging around adults that I realized what some call quirks and others vices are no less an influence upon us when we turn 18 years old than they were a decade earlier. In reading this book I found only the latest of many fine examples of occasions when after believing to have finally thought something both true and original I find this prized thought of mine was not only unoriginal but better understood in the fourth century.
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