Thursday, February 10, 2005

MH - More on Intolerance

To add to the piece I linked to yesterday from Amy Welborn, there's this quote from last month's First Things which I should have noticed earlier, since, as is so often the case, it says things so much more clearly and eloquently than I do. It's from a review of the book Voltaire in Exile by Ian Davidson, and the quote comes from the reviewer, Algis Valiunas:
Today of course the victory of Enlightenment philosophy is effectively official in the West, and tolerance and compassion are the supreme virtues; indeed, they are fast becoming the only approved virtues, and the remaining adherents of the other virtues now eroded are finding their own tolerance stretched to breaking. So the touted benefits of the Voltairean project are increasingly dubious, as multitudes liberated from superstition worship not the one true god of luminous philosophy but rather themselves or nothing at all; in the name of tolerance, reason itself totters, and as a result the very idea of rational morality is riven from top to bottom.
I like that phrase, "the one true god." It reminds me of the scene in Ben-Hur when Pilate, congratulating Judah on his victory in the chariot race, says to him, "Today, you were the people's one true god." The truly tragic thing about people like Voltaire, and those who have (directly or indirectly) been so influenced by him, is that they point out the truth of Bishop Sheen's statement that man is born with the truth inside him, and spends his life searching for that truth. For Bishop Sheen, the truth was to be found in the love of Christ and His Mother. For these people, so hungry to believe in something but unable to bring themselves to Christ, they latch on to any Enlightenment or New Age idea and worship it, their "one true god."

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