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Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Time Event
Christ and Nothing
Below are excerpts from the most clear and powerful statement of the relation of modern, ancient and postmodern philosophy I yet have read. No writer since Chesterton has given me more frequent pause to think (or more frequent pause to fly to my dictionary: the man has a splendid vocabulary, and a nice command of the language).

The essay is called Christ and Nothing and it is by David B. Hart by all means read the whole thing here

As modern men and women--to the degree that we are modern--we believe in nothing. This is not to say, I hasten to add, that we do not believe in anything; I mean, rather, that we hold an unshakable, if often unconscious, faith in the nothing, or in nothingness as such. It is this in which we place our trust, upon which we venture our souls, and onto which we project the values by which we measure the meaningfulness of our lives. Or, to phrase the matter more simply and starkly, our religion is one of very comfortable nihilism.

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Witches and Nothing

I have often repeated the story of my conversion to anyone who cares to hear, but I have never mentioned that first snowflake with started the avalanche.

Back in the happy blindness of my atheist days, one of my innocent pleasures was to sit around with like-minded friends and blaspheme, mocking the foolish Christians and their endlessly foolish God. No jest was too coarse for this pastime. Those of you who cannot comprehend the pleasure involved, it was the pleasure an iconoclast gets from smashing idols. It did not matter whether any real Christians were in earshot or not, because we were not especially mocking them, we were mocking an ever-present idea that was equally open to mockery when we were alone. (It also did not matter because no Christian was so rude as to voice a defense against our slanders and jibes, or even to request common courtesy from us.)

After graduation, one of my blaspheming friends became a neopagan, or, to call things by their right names, a witch. Yes, a sky-clad, tree-hugging athame-wielding  warlock, complete with muttering and peeping and a big purple cloak. When we sat blaspheming, he did not seem to realize that, in my arch-rationalist atheist eyes, his devotion to his make-believe little gods and hocus-pocus make-believe powers was no more worthy of respect than the very beliefs he joined me in mocking.

Once upon a time I asked him, whether, in his religion, he believed in an afterlife or reincarnation. The question caught him by surprise, and he had no answer for it. During the same conversation, I asked him whether he had a metaphysical explanation for ethics, that is, whether his moral code had objective existence due to the divinity of his gods. The conversation was soon tangled in insurmountable confusion. He had never thought about it.

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