Amanda Witt has a poignant Christmas observation about people who don't seem to be enjoying the season -- in Seattle no less!
What was wrong with everyone? On the ferry home, studying our miserable fellows, I put that question to Jonathan.
He shrugged. “Their ideology is finally seeping into their souls.”
This is what he meant: If you believe that man is nothing but a random collection of atoms, geared only toward self-preservation and bound by no moral imperatives, there comes a point when all your loud demands for justice and equality begin to ring hollow in the void of the universe. Why should you care if women are beaten by their husbands, if salmon die, if Iraqi children fall? Even if, irrationally, you do care, why should you expect anyone else to care? There can be no rights—and no wrongs—in a world inherently constructed around the survival of the fittest. All our caring is but pretense, masking the meaninglessness of life and the inescapable selfishness of our own lives.
Having lost our wits, we now are losing our wit. When there is nothing to smile about, no one smiles.
But what if all those miserable people are mistaken? Perhaps the world is a sensible place, shining with meaning and morality that is, blessedly, not dependent upon us. Perhaps after all there is something to smile about.
This is quite right, and pointing out the final end of secular philosophy is generally sufficient to stop any debate. Sure, the most strident will affirm that their beliefs imply that the universe is random and meaningless and insist that such a conclusion does nothing to invalidate the premise -- which is logically coherent -- but how many of the rest of us are comfortable with such a perspective? Comfort, they will correctly insist, has nothing whatsoever to do with Truth, but most of us will choose comfort over truth any day of the week, and twice on Sunday (heh).
That's not to say I don't believe what I claim, but most people don't put much effort in to examining their beliefs no matter what they happen to be. Both religious and irreligious people alike tend to be rationally ignorant about many of the details of their belief systems. Lest any irreligious readers think that religion is all about comfort, consider that most irreligious people prefer secularism because it allows them to indulge in every vice without fear of judgement. Secularism sells itself on immediate comfort, whereas Christianity sells itself on future comfort -- recall the innumerable martyrs upon whose bodies Christianity was founded. Either way, most people pick based on an unconscious and flawed cost/benefit analysis rather than a real investigation into Truth.
(HT: Bill Hobbs.)