Well, I finished Aping Mankind over the weekend. The letdown was anticipated, because I knew in advance that Tallis is all offense and no defense -- literally, in that he demolishes materialism, but when it comes time to proffering a replacement, he's got nothing.
And no one can survive on nothing. Human beings require meaning; even a false religion such as materialism will have more allure than no religion at all. The atheist does not live on bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of godlessness. It's why leftists embrace envy, feminists bitterness, and environmentalists trees.
I was thinking about this while walking the dog yesterday. For us it goes without saying that there is a creative and fruitful tension between faith and reason. Moreover, reason requires faith, while faith is a kind of reason -- not to mention that theology involves reasoning about the data of revelation.
Tallis doesn't seem to understand this, and would no doubt reject it if he did. And yet, he makes a number of unusual points that I've never heard an atheist make, and which sound more like they came from this blog or some other dodgy source.
For example, he insists that human beings "transcend apehood to the same degree by which life transcends mundane chemistry and physics" -- which is to say, infinitely. And yet, he makes nothing of this remarkable fact. He doesn't find it ironic that this is not only what the Judeo-Christian tradition has always taught, but that no one else is teaching: that man's creation is of a different order from everything else in the cosmos.
Of course this is expressed in mythic terms in Genesis, but anyone short of tenure understands that the function of myth is to convey metaphysical truths in a manner assimilable by the multitude. Few people have the time or temperament to be metaphysicians. And even then, left to their own devices, most self-styled metaphysicians will get it wrong.
Again, faith and reason create a fruitful tension, analogous to poetry, in which adherence to a form -- such as a rhyme scheme -- forces one to reach into the unfamiliar in order to reconcile the terms. Analogously, just think of Man and Woman, and how marriage corrals these two into a fruitful tension -- as opposed to feminism, which either denies the tension or renders it toxic.
Speaking of witch, on the same dog walk, after dwelling on the absence of the faith-reason tension in Tallis' thought, it occurred to me that this is true of the left in general. It explains how they are essentially addicted to "revolution" for its own sake. Like Tallis, they tear down every institution, but replace them with nothing. Instead of creating their own left wing versions of the Boys Scouts, or the university, or marriage, they just destroy ours. They create nothing but strife.
In short, Whatever the Left Touches it Ruins, from academia, to art, to sports, to religion, to race and sexual relations, to the Constitution:
The only way to save Western civilization is to convince more people that leftism -- not liberalism -- is a nihilistic force. Quite literally, whatever the left touches it ruins....
The most obvious -- and, therefore, the one more and Americans can resonate with -- is the near destruction of most American universities as places of learning. In the words of Harvard professor Steven Pinker -- an atheist and a liberal -- outside of the natural sciences and a few other disciplines (such as mathematics and business), "universities are becoming laughing stocks of intolerance."
If you send your children to a university, you are endangering both their mind and their character. There is a real chance they will be more intolerant and more foolish after college than they were when they entered college.
When you attend an American university, you are taught to have contempt for America and its founders, to prefer socialism to capitalism, to divide human beings by race and ethnicity. You are taught to shut down those who differ with you, to not debate them. And you are taught to place feelings over reason -- which is a guaranteed route to eventual evil.
Etc. No need to repeat the whole essay. Besides, Davila has many pungent aphorisms that go to just this subject:
The left is made up of individuals who are dissatisfied with what they have and are satisfied with who they are.
In other words, they have the necessary tension between immanence and transcendence backward! A virtuous individual wishes to transcend himself, not compel his neighbor to subsidize his failure to do so. Thus, “Social justice” is the term for claiming anything to which we do not have a right.
When one does not concede to the leftist all that he demands, he proclaims himself the victim of an institutional violence that is licit to repel with physical violence.
Again, the tension is displaced and projected into others; or, the other is involuntarily enlisted into the leftist's psychodrama. The leftist knows (without knowing us) that we are racists (or misogynists, or anti-science), even though we (the only ones with first hand knowledge) know we aren't.
Marxism turns the intelligence that it touches to stone. Stone, because it is rendered lifeless due to the absence of intrapsychic disequilibrium. Thus, The leaden prose of the Marxist offers an irresistible attraction to leaden minds. Like seeks like; progressive man is the mirror of the faux absolute he fashions for himself.
If the leftist is not persecuting, he feels persecuted. Here again, the intrapsychic tension is externalized into political space. This is psychopathology 101.
The left calls a critique of capitalism what is merely a lawsuit for possession. In other words, intellectualized envy. Until envy is transformed into admiration, the psychopolitical illness will continue (think of how the Palestinian terrortories would be utterly transformed by emulating instead of envying Israel; or how urban America would be transformed by emulating Asian Americans instead of discriminating against them with racial quotas).
In order to educate the people, liberalism pampers them until they have been turned into dissolute adults. A liberal education appeases the creative tension by, for example, promoting unearned self-esteem, or awarding trophies to everyone, or via affirmative action or grade inflation.
Again, misplaced tension: The left claims that the guilty party in a conflict is not the one who covets another’s goods but the one who defends his own. The leftist's tension is painfully real, its object a hallucination. The progressive cannot progress until he learns to tolerate, master, and transcend his envy.
Liberals can be divided into those who believe that wickedness is curable and those who deny that it exists. Both stances deny the tension; which is to say, that wickedness exists and is (humanly) incurable. It's why the past is so tense.
It is not enough for the progressive that we respect what he wants to do with his life; he also demands that we respect what he wants to do with our life. He wants to compel away the tension by law -- for example, by forcing Christian bakers to participate in a homosexual marriage, while excusing themselves from involvement with people they deplore.
So many more, but we're out of time...