And the more purely secular liberalism has become, the more it has spent down its Christian inheritance—the more its ideals seem to hang from what Christopher Hitchens’ Calvinist sparring partner Douglas Wilson has called intellectual “skyhooks,” suspended halfway between our earth and the heaven on which many liberals have long since given up. Say what you will about the prosperity gospel and the cult of the God Within and the other theologies I criticize inBad Religion, but at least they have a metaphysically coherent picture of the universe to justify their claims. Whereas much of today’s liberalism expects me to respect its moral fervor even as it denies the revelation that once justified that fervor in the first place. It insists that it is a purely secular and scientific enterprise even as it grounds its politics in metaphysical claims. (You will not find the principle of absolute human equality in evolutionary theory, or universal human rights anywhere in physics.) It complains that Christian teachings on homosexuality do violence to gay people’s equal dignity—but if the world is just matter in motion, whence comes this dignity? What justifies and sustains it? Why should I grant it such intense, almost supernatural respect?
What I’ve always loved about your writing, Will, is your willingness to probe at the places where secular liberalism is running up against just this problem. You’ve written about the struggles liberals have to figure out why, if abortion is licit, killing a 1-week-old baby is not. You’ve dug into the challenges that the study of intelligence could pose to liberal ideas about human equality. Your writings on sex reflect an acute awareness of the ease with which a liberty unconstrained by any principle higher than human desire can turn into libertinism in a hurry. So as you invite me to meditate on whether, in the end, Christianity can’t follow modern liberalism a little further down its current road, I’d invite you to glance back over your shoulder at the worldview that so many liberals have left behind, and to consider the possibility that for all its strange claims and confounding commandments, it might still provide a better home for humankind than whatever destination our civilization is headed for.
Oh so true. There is *no* reason why murder or rape are wrong or that things called “rights” exist if there is no God. It’s all just time and chance acting on matter, and what you think is as (in)valid as what anyone else, say Charles Manson, thinks.