"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Faith and utilitarianism

Mel's latest carries her usual themes: insipid secularism has created a culture of self-centred hedonism that is too flabby to repel the Muslim hoards sweeping across Europe. She advocates a national discipline strategy based on press-ups. Well, actually, she advocates the re-Christianization of Europe:
"[T]he collapse of Christianity in Britain and Europe and its steady replacement by secularisation is so catastrophic for the defence of the west. The useful idiots who believe that only a secular society can hold off the forces of irrational belief at the heart of the Islamic jihad have got this diametrically the wrong way round. Secularisation produces cultural enfeeblement, because the pursuit of personal happiness trumps absolutely everything else. The here and now is all that matters. Dying for a cause, however noble, becomes an absolute no-no. It's better to be dhimmi than dead - the view that has now effectively prevailed in Britain and Europe.
[...]
And that is why I, a British Jew, argue that it is vital that Britain and Europe re-Christianise if they are to have any chance of defending western values."
I'm getting really fed up with apologias for religion based on this sort of disutility argument: for Melanie Phillips and her ilk, the decline in religious faith has produced a cultural catastrophe of family breakdown, crime, cowardly sensualism, plagues of locusts etc.

Secularists of the world unite in argument - we spend too much time taking issue with the dodgy history and sociology that people like Melanie Phillips use. But this distracts from a more obvious and immediate problem with her argument. It is that people don't become believers for this sort of reason. People convert for the salvation of their own souls, not because they think thereby they'll be instrumental in strengthening the nuclear family and reducing crime.

So if Melanie Phillips wants Europe to re-Christianize, her energies would be better spent trying to make converts by preaching the Gospel.

But she can't - because she doesn't believe in it herself.

You see the problem.

Anyway, what would happen if the 're-Christianization of Europe' produced not people willing to fight for the causes she advocates, in the way she prescribes, but instead people disposed to loving their enemies and turning the other cheek? Mel doesn't say.

Update: See also Norm, Chris and David T. on the same topic.

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