Most people find man great because he can evolve, because he can change, and most especially, because cause he can progress. By the popular definition, man is great because he is able to grow, to shed the mistakes of the past and progress into the future, and it is when man is more progressive, he is more fully alive. Many will claim that when man is most open-minded and most progressively oriented that he is fully alive. All of these claims are essentially rooted in the principle that man is evolutionary, that our progress as a species is a product of an evolution of sorts, voluntary and involuntary. This idea rests on the notion that as time progresses, humanity constantly gets better, stronger, wiser, more moral, and ultimately more praiseworthy. It supposes that our ancestors were ridiculous, that their antiquities hindered them, and that with each new generation of progeny, humanity will shed the stupidity of the modern era. While is might be true that our ancestors were ridiculous, it is much more ridiculous to assume that we're any less ridiculous then they were.
|Human progress isn't what it used to be.|
Most dangerous of these notions is the notion that progress requires the transcendence of beliefs, the removal of faith and the destruction of bias. In the name of tolerance, we've created the greatest intolerance of all: intolerance of human nature. By the attempt to welcome all ideas, we've rejected all people who ever held an idea. By saying that every belief is equal, we've made every belief valueless. By proclaiming that your views are just as good as mine, we've made your views and mine out to be nothing more serious than the choice between chocolate and vanilla. We are creatures who believe, we live to believe, and if we're not given something worthwhile to believe in, we'll create something to believe in, and when we believe, we desire to believe so fiercely that our belief is the only thing true.
But why listen to me, why not listen to the immortal words of G.K. Chesterton:
|Chesterton dislikes your nonsense.|
We become animalistic when we forget this. When we shun the eternal for the temporal, or eradicate the immaterial for the material, or negate the spiritual because of the physical, we are not discovering our humanity, but destroying it. Every crime of humanity has come at the behest of this: That we saw fit to define humanity apart from his relationship to divinity. Even when we say that man is great in his own right, that humanity is awesome for no other reason than it is human, we have taken the definition of mankind away from a definite, eternal ideal and placed it in the hands of man, making it effectively a non-definition.
Man is great because he is inherently religious. Even he stands at the podium to denounce religion, or if he marches with a mob to burn down churches and bomb mosques, it is because he has religious zeal against those things. Many will say that religion is a catalyst for violence, but in reality, it makes no difference whether religion has a part in it or not. Some of the most violent regimes in the world were irreligious groups, such as the Soviets, the Khmer Rouge, and Maoist China. Men are violent because they are passionate, some about religion, some not. While our values and structures may be sources of violence, so also is our zeal to destroy values and structures (i.e. the French Revolution). The demolition of faith serves no purpose to man. If you leash churches and suppress mosques, man will find another thing worth fighting for, not out of hatred, but out of passion.
A man without religion is a shell of a man. If a man is stripped of something to believe in, an end to seek, a goal to strive for, he will inevitably fall into indifference and angst. Man must believe, he must have a goal, a meaning, a value to orient his life around. Great men are not great in their own right, they are great because they orient themselves to great things. Mankind is spectacular precisely because it has the ability to pursue this greatness, to make concrete the abstract. He can take the spiritual and make it corporal, he is the beautiful collision of finite and infinite, and in that potential, he is magnificent. In that gift, he is infinitely valuable.
|If you think this guy is anything less than awesome,|
I want to say many uncharitable things to you.