Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Recently, I was flipping through my latest Time magazine when two letters to the editor caught my eye. I have omitted their names for privacy reasons.
The first one was in regards to a Time article on the Democratic Party and faith. Apparently, there was a poll taken in regards to what religious position most voters prefer their candidates to be. This person was not pleased:

"As a young atheist who was brought up in a Catholic household, I was appalled to see that being atheist was the worst possible position for a presidential candidate. Atheists are not soulless people without morals. One does not need to have faith in order to know right from wrong--it's called common humanity. It seems the only reason our nation looks for faith within ourselves and in our leaders is that we unfortunately have faith in neither."

First of all, if you are "young," then you are not an atheist. Come back when you're eighty years old and have spent 90% of your life searching for God. If you come back empty handed, then you can call yourself an atheist. Right now, you simple do not like the concept of God (some all-powerful so-and-so bossing me around!).
Second of all, this "young atheist" is under two delusions: (1) being religious gives you a soul, and (2) being religious gives you morality. I cannot speak for all religions, but I'm pretty sure that none of the ones that are supposed to be from God say that man gets a soul be being religious. Man has a soul because he is created by God and in His image; God is a soul, therefore His creation would be souls as well. (That's another thing: this person acts like a soul is something you possess. Lewis' quote should suffice here: "You don't have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body.") As to morality being innate (I guess that's what "common humanity" means), he is right...and the Bible says He is right (see Romans 2:14, 15), so what's his problem again? Of course, without God, you have no real answer as to where our morality comes from, nor why we should follow it (again, Lewis' sums it up nicely, but you will have to read the first five chapters of Mere Christianity to get it).
Finally, what the heck is that last sentence supposed to mean? "It seems the only reason our nation looks for faith within ourselves and in our leaders is that we unfortunately have faith in neither." Faith in ourselves? Is he serious? Read Jeremiah 17 for a reality check. Then read Chesterton's Orthodoxy and see that the only people who have themselves as the end all to their lives are the madmen and lunatics in asylums (and speaking of Chesterton, read the part where he says those who try and sound smart are simply too lazy to think).

The second letter was in regards to an essay on Harry Potter. Apparently, the essayist said that because J.K. Rowling left God out of her books, she gave us magic without a source in a secular world without hope. This person disagreed:

"My generation is plugged into iPods, phones and Facebook, yet disconnect from everything but apathy. Harry Potter is a modern reminder that teenagers are capable of more than what our materialistic society tells them they are. In her series, Rowling brings ideals and virtues to Harry's tortured and disillusioned realm. Perhaps by not including religious overtones, Rowling is both reflecting the world's current secularism and transcending it with a simple concept: love."

First of all, this person is right. Our modern generation needs a reminder about something greater than what materialism offers them, and Rowling's injection of morality and ideals is good.
Second of all, this person may be right, but they are only begging the question, the same question that we mentioned before with the first letter: where did those ideals and such come from? Not from the secular world, because they are injections into it. What is their source? If not God, then what? If they come from us, then they do not transcend us anywhere. Also, if they transcend the secular world, than that world ceases to be secular, for secularism is the absence of transcendence. Where do they transcend it to? What (and more importantly, Whose) reality do those things (ideals and morals and virtues) take us to? If there is no God, then what? God is more than our lawgiver; He is our end as well, our one true desire. Without God, all those virtues, morals, and ideals are meaningless because they transcend us into nothing.
Finally, love is not a simple concept. The fact that we think it is shows just how far our "materialistic society" has sapped us of all our understanding of transcendent elements. If you want a look at the true concept of love, then study the doctrines and works on the Trinity (Dante's "Paradiso" in The Divine Comedy would be a nice start). You will never call it a "simple" concept again.