Friday, July 20, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 161 & Rom 1 reply, 9: Making sense about a world turned upside down as in Isa 5:20 - 21, with help from the well-known UK Journalist, Melanie Phillips

The cover
The well known UK Journalist Melanie Phillips -- yes, double-l -- has published a book a few years ago that is worth taking note of, to make sense of the bizarre twists and turns that seem to have overtaken public policy and intellectual talk and actions in our day. Namely, The World Turned Upside Down. (And yes, that is the Amazon page. The hint is obvious. You won't regret taking it!)

Here is a clip from her blurb:
In what we tell ourselves is an age of reason, we are behaving increasingly irrationally. A loss of religious belief has led the West to replace reason and truth with ideology and prejudice. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down. There is widespread belief in ludicrous conspiracy theories, such as the 9/11 terrorist attack being an American plot.

The basic cause of all this unreason is the erosion of the building blocks of western civilisation. We tell ourselves that religion and reason are incompatible, but in fact the opposite is the case. It was Christianity and the Hebrew Bible that gave us our concepts of reason, progress and an orderly world—the foundations of science and modernity. [--> NB: Cf Nancy Pearcey on this, here.]

The loss of religious belief has meant the West has replaced reason and truth with ideology and prejudice, which it enforces in the manner of a secular inquisition.
The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down. In medieval-style witch-hunts, scientists who are skeptical of global warming are hounded from their posts; Israel is ferociously demonized; and the United States is vilified over the war on terror—all on the basis of falsehoods and propaganda that are believed as truth . . .
 The picture she paints is disturbingly familiar to one acquainted with the Saul Alinski rules for radicals, and I think the book is well worth the buying and reading. And, if she sounds 100% off course or even absurd to you, perhaps you should consider whether you doubly need to read the book.

BTW, I came by this through the back-door of looking at a review online.

That review has some choice snippets from the book and some interesting commentary from of course CMI's Young Earth creationist view: 
Although not a scientist, Phillips makes a commendable effort to understand the arguments marshalled against a belief in God and creation, and exposes them as nothing more than scientific materialism. Unmasking the circular nature of the atheists’ claims, she deftly lays bare their folly: “The fact that science cannot answer questions of ultimate purpose proves to them that there is no such thing as ultimate purpose. The fact that science cannot prove the existence of God proves to them that God does not exist” (p. 78). In reality, as the Oxford University mathematician and philosopher of science Professor John Lennox points out, the assertion that science provides the only means of discovering truth is not itself deduced from science—it is a statement about science for which there is no evidence (p. 79). This blind acceptance of scientism, Phillips opines, has actually led to an astonishing degree of irrationality. Dawkins’ view that matter probably arose from nothing, she considers, is nothing more than a belief in magic, and his view that life on earth may have been seeded by aliens, she describes as a fetish . . . . 

of particular interest to many Christians, is the attitude of many politicians and academics towards the Middle East. Israel, she writes, is portrayed as a bully, hell-bent on oppressing the Palestinians, and is equated with Nazism and apartheid. The reality, she claims, is that Israel is the historic victim of the Arabs, and its behaviour, although not perfect, is generally reasonable, given that it is fighting for its existence. This, she believes, is tragic, as the State of Israel is the free world’s front line defence against the Islamist assault on Western civilisation (p. 408) . . . . 

In the UK, a Christian registrar who refused to carry out gay ‘weddings’ was forced to resign. Grandparents of two children who were given up for adoption to a gay male couple were told that if they didn’t drop their opposition they would never see their grandchildren again (p. 101). The British Association for Adoption and Fostering described people who oppose gay adoption as “retarded homophobes” (p. 102). An elderly evangelical preacher, Harry Hammond, was convicted of an offence because he carried a poster calling for an end to homosexuality, lesbianism and immorality. In fact, he had been the victim of a physical attack, but only he was prosecuted (p. 289). Self-designated ‘victim groups’ have turned right and wrong, victim and aggressor inside out. Their ‘right’ not to be insulted or discriminated against has become the basis for discrimination and injustice against the representatives of majority values . . . . 

Today’s governing assumption, Phillips argues, is that religion and reason are incompatible, and all faiths are no more than superstitious beliefs of a bygone age of myth and bigotry. However, rather than this leading to increased objectivity and freedom, it has resulted in a retreat from reason and suppression of free speech. Truth, logic and objectivity have been replaced by ideology, and any dissent from the ‘correct view’ is confronted with a ‘secular inquisition’ . . . . 

According to Phillips, what is happening in the UK and Europe is nothing less than a deliberate and carefully planned attack, by the intelligentsia and self-styled progressives, on Western civilization . . .  Amongst others, she quotes the Gay Liberation Front who declared in their manifesto, “We must aim at the abolition of the family,” which was founded upon the “archaic and irrational teachings” of Christianity (p. 290 [--> Them's fighting words, cf here and here for starters]). She also cites Dr. Brock Chisholm, the first director of the World Health Organization, who believed that the most persistent barrier to civilized life was the concept of “right and wrong.” Children, he argued, needed to be freed from cultural and religious prejudices forced on them by parents, and sex education should be introduced from the age of nine, eliminating “the ways of the elders—by force if necessary” (p. 291). Daniel Dennett1 is quoted as extolling Darwin’s “dangerous idea” as a “universal acid,” dissolving traditional ideas about religion and morality (p. 308), and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg2 as arguing that “[t]he world needs to wake up to the long nightmare of religious belief … [A]nything we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our greatest contribution to civilization” (p. 318).
Food for thought indeed.  Especially, if one is prepared to reflect on Jesus' warning in the heart of his great, justly famed Sermon on the Mount (cf. commentary here and site here); which should be a part of the mental furniture of any truly educated person:
Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Of course, denizens of the various hate-sites who monitor KF to find points to twist into hateful pretzels are doubtless working themselves into a frenzy by now.  And, their repeated, long sustained bully-boy fascist-like behaviour that seems rooted in conscience-benumbing rage against any who dare differ with their scientism, village corner atheism and materialism, is itself ample demonstration of the force of Ms Phillips' point.

So, let me speak instead to the reasonable onlooker: I find CMI to have some interesting reportage on science and related cultural topics, and I reserve my thoughts on whether or not their YEC views are biblically sound or justifiable. But, regardless of debates over those views, they have some good reporting on science and culture topics that I find can give us a breath of fresh air. Such as in this case where we are plainly beginning to live in a topsy-turvy Romans 1 world.

Oh, yes, Isa 5:

Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
    and wickedness as with cart ropes,
19 to those who say, “Let God hurry,
    let him hasten his work
    so we may see it.
Let it approach,
    let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come,
    so we may know it.”
20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.
[NIV '84]

Perhaps, we need to do some serious re-thinking about the unquestioned conventional wisdoms of our day that are promoted in schools, the media and even in courtrooms? END