Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Intellectuals and Liberalism

The majority of faculty and administrators in our colleges and universities have liberal views and values. The result is that the educated professions such as law, education, and journalism are dominated by liberals. This has significant implications for the future of our society, and as I said in the last post, since liberals have so much influence, we need to ask about their beliefs and goals.

It is not my intent to demonize liberalism or to exagerate the consequences of its ideology. I want take an honest look at what liberals believe and their reasons for doing so. Keep in mind that it is the dominant political philosophy of the most educated among us. If the best and the brightest believe it, there must be some compelling reasons behind it. So what do liberals believe?

The modern left arose from the enlightenment, and shares its basic beliefs and values. The enlightenment was high point of rationalism or faith in the power of unaided human reason. Men like David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, and Anthony Flew (before he became a deist/theist), to name just a few, believed that reason led them to naturalism/anti-supernaturalism. Liberalism, therefore, puts a significant emphasis on secularism which must be interpreted as the removal of religion and religion's influence upon public life. The emphasis upon separation of church and state and all the attempts by progressive organizations such as the ACLU in removing all vestiges of religious (and primarily Christian) experession from public schools, court houses, and public events demonstrate their intentions and the extent of their influence upon American public life.

We have to ask the question, however. In removing religious influence from society, are we improving or harming? The supporters of secularism believe they are eliminating one of the main sources of intolerance and ignorance in the world. In their view, without religion there is no reason to hate the outsider, no reason to believe that certain actions (being gay, having an abortion) are evil, and, of course, no justification for doing harm to evildoers. But, what if this view is a myth? What if religion (and in particular Christianity) forms the very foundation of our agreed upon moral customs and values? What if religion provides the grounds for the development of conscience, tolerance, compassion, honesty, and moral concern?

It is my personal goal to spend the rest of my life speaking to this most important question. My book was written to speak to this question, and I have developed a seminar/lecture series that I call "Why Belief Matters," to answer this important question. I find it interesting that some of the early leaders of the enlightenment in Britain (possibly because of influence of Christianity upon British culture) understood that in eliminating organized religion from society they were facing the danger of moral chaos. Thomas Huxley, for exampled, argued for teaching the Bible in public schools because of the need to provide moral instruction to British children. His son, Julian, recognizing how unpopular Christianity was among enlightenment thinkers, organized the Humanist movement. Julian Huxley was responsible for the first Humanist Manifesto and influenced later versions. He was attempting to provide a secular and rationalistic substitute for the Bible and Judeo/Christian values.

The problem that liberalism faces is that rationalism cannot provide an eternal/universal standard of right and wrong, nor can it compell men to choose against self-interest and personal pleasure. If it weren't for conscience and the deep sense of moral compulsion and conviction within human nature, we would be at the mercy of purely animalistic impulses. Here's the irony, liberalism operates from a deep set of moral convictions (equality, justice, peace now, tolerance) which arise from a realm of human nature that they soundly deny and reject; the human soul. On the basis of pure rationalism, every one of their moral principles can be co-opted and rationalized away. Their convictions do not come from their minds, they come from their hearts. In a very real sense, I can say, "I rest my case."


Maria White said...

Hello Tom,

Are you any relation to Joanne Shetler, author of "And The Word Came With Power"?

Tom said...

Hi Maria,

I am not, but Joanne has spoken at Bethany (where I teach) and we have met. She acutally looks alot like one of my aunts, but there doesn't seem to be direct family connection.

Thanks for asking,