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Orthodoxy

11/23/2013
Such an old book, but I wonder why people still read it and find it relevant. The points he makes are so frustratingly bad sometimes, and some ideas are just plain false. I wonder if the naturalists he is responding to really believed that weird stuff. His notes on science and the supernatural are especially telling. 100 years later, there are no areas where supernaturalism is accepted as a likely answer. Scientists are disproportionately atheistic, especially the most respected ones. It puts into context the claims that people make now about science “finally” being open enough to accept the supernatural. The evidence keeps coming in and saying “nope.”
For instance, the cheap anti-democrat of to-day will tell you solemnly that there is no equality in nature. He is right, but he does not see the logical addendum. There is no equality in nature; also there is no inequality in nature. Inequality, as much as equality, implies a standard of value (1492).

Note: Nope.

We may say broadly that free thought is the best of all the safeguards against freedom (1561)
This, therefore, is our first requirement about the ideal towards which progress is directed; it must be fixed (1572).

Note: No

The kinship and competition of all living creatures can be used as a reason for being insanely cruel or insanely sentimental; but not for a healthy love of animals. On the evolutionary basis you may be inhumane, or you may be absurdly humane; but you cannot be human (1634).

Note: Naturalistic fallacy.

Only the Christian Church can offer any rational objection to a complete confidence in the rich. For she has maintained from the beginning that the danger was not in man’s environment, but in man (1734).

Note: What is he smoking?

Suffice it to say here that this triple enigma is as comforting as wine and open as an English fireside; that this thing that bewilders the intellect utterly quiets the heart: but out of the desert, from the dry places and the dreadful suns, come the cruel children of the lonely God; the real Unitarians who with scimitar in hand have laid waste the world. For it is not well for God to be alone (2014).
And Christendom has excelled in the narrative romance exactly because it has insisted on the theological free-will (2037).

Note: What? Romans and pots. Hardening of hearts.

The last chapter has been concerned with the contention that orthodoxy is not only (as is often urged) the only safe guardian of morality or order, but is also the only logical guardian of liberty, innovation and advance (2092).
History says nothing; and legends all say that the earth was kinder in its earliest time. There is no tradition of progress; but the whole human race has a tradition of the Fall (2154).
Thus these three facts of experience, such facts as go to make an agnostic, are, in this view, turned totally round. I am left saying, “Give me an explanation, first, of the towering eccentricity of man among the brutes; second, of the vast human tradition of some ancient happiness; third, of the partial perpetuation of such pagan joy in the countries of the Catholic Church” (2164).
He is a non-believer for a multitude of reasons; but they are untrue reasons. He doubts because the Middle Ages were barbaric, but they weren’t; because Darwinism is demonstrated, but it isn’t; because miracles do not happen, but they do; because monks were lazy, but they were very industrious; because nuns are unhappy, but they are particularly cheerful; because Christian art was sad and pale, but it was picked out in peculiarly bright colours and gay with gold; because modern science is moving away from the supernatural, but it isn’t, it is moving towards the supernatural with the rapidity of a railway train (2230).

Note: Dubious, especially the last science part. Where is that trend now? Even further from supernaturalism.

The open, obvious, democratic thing is to believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a miracle, just as you believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a murder (2254).

Note: Prior probability

science itself admits such things more and more every day. Science will even admit the Ascension if you call it Levitation, and will very likely admit the Resurrection when it has thought of another word for it. I suggest the Regalvanisation (2281).

Note: Nope. Less and less.

A false ghost disproves the reality of ghosts exactly as much as a forged banknote disproves the existence of the Bank of England—if anything, it proves its existence (2287).

Note: False cure for cancer? False immortality?

This, therefore, is, in conclusion, my reason for accepting the religion and not merely the scattered and secular truths out of the religion. I do it because the thing has not merely told this truth or that truth, but has revealed itself as a truth-telling thing. All other philosophies say the things that plainly seem to be true; only this philosophy has again and again said the thing that does not seem to be true, but is true (2349).

Note: This is why I am a naturalist.

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