Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Secular Inquisition

From Chapter 4 in Melanie Phillips, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power:

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What have the issues of anthropogenic global warming, the war in Iraq, Israel and scientism got in common? Not a lot, you might think. But in fact a number of threads link them all. Most fundamentally, they involve the promotion of beliefs that purport to be unchallengeable truths but are in fact ideologies in which evidence is manipulated, twisted and distorted to support or "prove" their governing idea. All are therefore based on false or unsupported beliefs that are presented as axiomatically true. Moreover, because each assumes itself to be proclaiming the sole and exclusive truth, it cannot permit any challenge to itself. It has to maintain at all costs the integrity of the falsehood. So all challenges have to be resisted through coercive means. Knowledge is thus forced to give way to power. Reason is replaced by bullying, intimidation and the suppression of debate.

This makes them all deeply regressive movements of thought, which corrode the most fundamental concept of the Western world. The principle characteristic of Western modernity is freedom of thought and expression and the ability to express dissent. The eighteenth-century Enlightenment ushered in the modern age by breaking the power of the church to control the terms of debate and punish heresy. Church and state were separated, and a space was created for individual freedom and the toleration of differences --- the essence of liberal society.

2 comments:

Debbie said...

"they involve the promotion of beliefs that purport to be unchallengeable truths but are in fact ideologies in which evidence is manipulated, twisted and distorted to support or "prove" their governing idea."

That is so true and those who "believe" are hard core.

Debbie
Right Truth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

Donald Douglas said...

They are hard corps, Debbie.

You should read this book when you get a chance.