Quote of the Day: Free Exchange Requires Grappling with Transcendence

 

The wise person possesses “knowledge of the fulfillment of human destiny in the beyond.” Ignorance of this fulfillment is not your ordinary ignorance—nor ordinary stupidity—but foolishness: the state of ignorance about the fundamental human things, which is to say, the transcendent things. To be ignorant of the transcendent is to be foolish regarding the human, and the “rational discussion of order in the existence of man and society is possible only under the condition of knowing about transcendent fulfillment.” When such knowledge is lacking, discussion will be dominated by a kind of ignorant foolishness, evidenced by “a lack of readiness to discuss, the fundamental reason for which is the unwillingness of the interlocutors to be drawn into the problematic of the transcendent.” — R.J. Snell, Free Speech Cannot Save Us, in Public Discourse

Snell’s article is concerned with the state of foolishness at our universities and how it translates, unhappily, into broader society. For many of us of a certain age and few younger people who’ve joined us on the Right, “foolish” is the best descriptor of the woke among us. “Foolish” doesn’t imply unintelligent or even unsuccessful. Barack Obama is neither of those things, but I believe him to be deeply unwise. Why?

We see it in the Left’s tendency to lecture us about “who we are,” as if “who we are” necessitates progressive policies and accepts outright leftist presuppositions: we are cosmic accidents of random mutation destined, ultimately, for complete annihilation, not God-created persons with meaning and purpose intended to share in the Divine Life; indeed, there is no God to whom we will be held to account. 

This is not conducive to exploring ideas together — to conversation. If there is no ultimate meaning to our lives, it comes down to my will versus thine. Without a commonly understood Yardstick by which to measure the good life, my good life is whatever I say it is, and yours is an imposition to be overcome — overpowered. It’s not just a zero-sum outlook economically, it’s zero-sum in the totality of our existence. This is what causes leftists to be prone to fascism, totalitarianism, authoritarianism… lacking God, they live under the delusion they are as gods. It’s the only way to understand “who we are” as a nation that kills nearly a million unique, unrepeatable human beings through abortion every year and be just fine with that. 

Speaking of babies, it’s Christmas day and I’m not intending this post to be a downer. While we may have our religious differences, at least those of us of Jewish and Christian persuasion agree on one thing — we’re not going to save the world. We need a Messiah. For those still waiting expectantly believing, as Christians do, that God keeps his promises — Happy Hanukkah! For those who believe the Messiah was born in Bethlehem this day, Merry Christmas! God bless us, everyone!

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 33 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Whoa! You were writing this when I was writing mine… That’s a fun little Christmas twist!

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The Left assigns political views to individuals based on their classifications with no indication of reluctance or embarrassment. Tell me how exactly that may be done by anyone who is not both racist and sexist.

    • #2
  3. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Percival (View Comment):

    The Left assigns political views to individuals based on their classifications with no indication of reluctance or embarrassment. Tell me how exactly that may be done by anyone who is not both racist and sexist.

    Yes.

    The best definitions I’ve heard of these terms is that they commoditize people based on their race or gender…. who is the guilty party in this regard, I wonder?

    • #3
  4. Vectorman Member
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    Western Chauvinist: This is not conducive to exploring ideas together — to conversation. If there is no ultimate meaning to our lives, it comes down to my will versus thine. Without a commonly understood Yardstick by which to measure the good life, my good life is whatever I say it is, and yours is an imposition to be overcome — overpowered. It’s not just a zero-sum outlook economically, it’s zero-sum in the totality of our existence. This is what causes leftists to be prone to fascism, totalitarianism, authoritarianism…

    You’re correct that leftist want to impose their ideas on us, but the ultimate question is why? I have no desire to go to Portland OR and watch their tomfoolery, so why do Portland leftists want to bully wheat farmers in Kansas? After all, don’t leftists need to eat?


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many open days on the January Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #4
  5. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Western Chauvinist:

    We see it in the Left’s tendency to lecture us about “who we are,” as if “who we are” necessitates progressive policies and accepts outright leftist presuppositions: we are cosmic accidents of random mutation destined, ultimately, for complete annihilation, not God-created persons with meaning and purpose intended to share in the Divine Life; indeed, there is no God to whom we will be held to account.

    Shouldn’t people approach the issue of human beings having evolved from other life forms as an empirical question to be answered by our most advanced science?

    What if our most advanced science determined that the human species is too genetically diverse and the fossil record too extensive for humanity to have descended from two human beings (Adam and Eve)?

    Sure, Adam and Eve could have had more children than the Genesis mentions. But wouldn’t rampant incest eventually result in the extinction of the human species, not its proliferation?

    And than the flood that spared only Noah’s family, 8 people. Can incest really populate a planet without dying out due to birth defects?

    Or perhaps you don’t subscribe to a literal Adam and Eve and don’t subscribe to a literal global flood leaving only 8 human survivors?

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Sure, Adam and Eve could have had more children than the Genesis mentions. But wouldn’t rampant incest eventually result in the extinction of the human species, not its proliferation?

    The incest argument is a tough one, and it always comes up. I’ve heard one argument that there were other people around, but they were not created by God. Instead, they were lumped in with the other animals of Creation.

     

    • #6
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist:

    We see it in the Left’s tendency to lecture us about “who we are,” as if “who we are” necessitates progressive policies and accepts outright leftist presuppositions: we are cosmic accidents of random mutation destined, ultimately, for complete annihilation, not God-created persons with meaning and purpose intended to share in the Divine Life; indeed, there is no God to whom we will be held to account.

    Shouldn’t people approach the issue of human beings having evolved from other life forms as an empirical question to be answered by our most advanced science?

    What if our most advanced science determined that the human species is too genetically diverse and the fossil record too extensive for humanity to have descended from two human beings (Adam and Eve)?

    Sure, Adam and Eve could have had more children than the Genesis mentions. But wouldn’t rampant incest eventually result in the extinction of the human species, not its proliferation?

    And than the flood that spared only Noah’s family, 8 people. Can incest really populate a planet without dying out due to birth defects?

    Or perhaps you don’t subscribe to a literal Adam and Eve and don’t subscribe to a literal global flood leaving only 8 human survivors?

    You’re missing the point. I’m not arguing against the theory of evolution. I’m arguing against meaninglessness. Let’s not descend into mere materialism when the topic is the necessity of a transcendent understanding of what it is to be human in order to even discuss human things.

    • #7
  8. garyinabq Member
    garyinabq
    @garyinabq

    I find the word and concept of transcendence to be an excellent bridge for discussion with secular people. It doesn’t have a religious connotation that turns people off, and even secular folks seem to understand that there is something beyond our everyday lives. My pagan poetry teacher speaks of his poetic consciousness. Almost everyone searches for meaning in their lives and it’s hard to pursue that without a sense of transcendence. When I meet someone on that bridge, I feel they might at least be curious what’s on the other side.

    • #8
  9. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    And only where God is seen does life truly begin.
    Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.
    We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
    Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
    Each of us is willed,
    each of us is loved,
    each of us is necessary.
    There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel,
    by the encounter with Christ.
    There is nothing more beautiful
    than to know Him
    and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. 

    — Pope Benedict XVI

     

    • #9
  10. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Stad (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Sure, Adam and Eve could have had more children than the Genesis mentions. But wouldn’t rampant incest eventually result in the extinction of the human species, not its proliferation?

    The incest argument is a tough one, and it always comes up. I’ve heard one argument that there were other people around, but they were not created by God. Instead, they were lumped in with the other animals of Creation.

     

    Isn’t it obvious it’s not what literally happened, but at some point the last evolutionary step, or steps at least in human terms, must have begun with two near humans. No need for incest, and what actually happened, what ever it was, does not weaken either religion. 

    • #10
  11. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Readings from today’s Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr:

    Acts of the Apostles, 6:8-10; 7:54-59

    Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

    When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

    Now, doesn’t that remind you of the SJWs? They don’t do dialog because they’re infuriated by wisdom, truth. 

     

    • #11
  12. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Gospel reading from the Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr:

    Matthew 10:17-22

    Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” 

    Faith is trusting in a Person Who Is Truth even unto martyrdom — believing in a Being unfathomably greater than yourself to give you the Word(s) when you need them (Him). This is transcending our grubby material existence.

    • #12
  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    A prayer before Mass by Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

    “Here is my body. Take it. Here is my blood. Take it. Here is my soul, my will, my energy, my strength, my property, my wealth — all that I have. It is yours. Take it! Consecrate it! Offer it with yourself to the heavenly Father . . . Consecrate these trials of my life which would go unrewarded unless united with you; transubstantiate me so that like bread which is now your Body and wine which is now your Blood, I too may be wholly yours . . . My station in life, my routine duties, my work, my family — all these are but the species of my life which may remain unchanged; but the substance of my life, my soul, my mind, my will, my heart — transubstantiate them, transform them wholly into your service, so that through me all may know how sweet is the love of Christ. Amen.”

    • #13
  14. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist:

    We see it in the Left’s tendency to lecture us about “who we are,” as if “who we are” necessitates progressive policies and accepts outright leftist presuppositions: we are cosmic accidents of random mutation destined, ultimately, for complete annihilation, not God-created persons with meaning and purpose intended to share in the Divine Life; indeed, there is no God to whom we will be held to account.

    Shouldn’t people approach the issue of human beings having evolved from other life forms as an empirical question to be answered by our most advanced science?

    What if our most advanced science determined that the human species is too genetically diverse and the fossil record too extensive for humanity to have descended from two human beings (Adam and Eve)?

    Sure, Adam and Eve could have had more children than the Genesis mentions. But wouldn’t rampant incest eventually result in the extinction of the human species, not its proliferation?

    And than the flood that spared only Noah’s family, 8 people. Can incest really populate a planet without dying out due to birth defects?

    Or perhaps you don’t subscribe to a literal Adam and Eve and don’t subscribe to a literal global flood leaving only 8 human survivors?

    Perhaps having being created by God, with no cosmic (or material) assistance, would have meant people would have been more divine – that phrase probably isn’t the best way to put it, but I think y’all understand what I mean. After all, they were all supposedly living about 10X longer. 

    Stad makes an interesting point too.

    • #14
  15. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist:

    We see it in the Left’s tendency to lecture us about “who we are,” as if “who we are” necessitates progressive policies and accepts outright leftist presuppositions: we are cosmic accidents of random mutation destined, ultimately, for complete annihilation, not God-created persons with meaning and purpose intended to share in the Divine Life; indeed, there is no God to whom we will be held to account.

    Shouldn’t people approach the issue of human beings having evolved from other life forms as an empirical question to be answered by our most advanced science?

    What if our most advanced science determined that the human species is too genetically diverse and the fossil record too extensive for humanity to have descended from two human beings (Adam and Eve)?

    Sure, Adam and Eve could have had more children than the Genesis mentions. But wouldn’t rampant incest eventually result in the extinction of the human species, not its proliferation?

    And than the flood that spared only Noah’s family, 8 people. Can incest really populate a planet without dying out due to birth defects?

    Or perhaps you don’t subscribe to a literal Adam and Eve and don’t subscribe to a literal global flood leaving only 8 human survivors?

    You’re missing the point. I’m not arguing against the theory of evolution. I’m arguing against meaninglessness. Let’s not descend into mere materialism when the topic is the necessity of a transcendent understanding of what it is to be human in order to even discuss human things.

    Yeah. There really isn’t a more absurd line of thinking than to believe that life emerged from a dead universe.

    • #15
  16. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist:

    We see it in the Left’s tendency to lecture us about “who we are,” as if “who we are” necessitates progressive policies and accepts outright leftist presuppositions: we are cosmic accidents of random mutation destined, ultimately, for complete annihilation, not God-created persons with meaning and purpose intended to share in the Divine Life; indeed, there is no God to whom we will be held to account.

    Shouldn’t people approach the issue of human beings having evolved from other life forms as an empirical question to be answered by our most advanced science?

    What if our most advanced science determined that the human species is too genetically diverse and the fossil record too extensive for humanity to have descended from two human beings (Adam and Eve)?

    Sure, Adam and Eve could have had more children than the Genesis mentions. But wouldn’t rampant incest eventually result in the extinction of the human species, not its proliferation?

    And than the flood that spared only Noah’s family, 8 people. Can incest really populate a planet without dying out due to birth defects?

    Or perhaps you don’t subscribe to a literal Adam and Eve and don’t subscribe to a literal global flood leaving only 8 human survivors?

    You’re missing the point. I’m not arguing against the theory of evolution. I’m arguing against meaninglessness. Let’s not descend into mere materialism when the topic is the necessity of a transcendent understanding of what it is to be human in order to even discuss human things.

    Gotcha. It’s just that I have heard some people say that if we don’t take Genesis literally (not just as a literary device to communicate a more abstract point) then, well, there was no need for Jesus to enter this world and be crucified. As Paul writes in Romans 5:12-14

    Therefore as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; so death passed to all men, because all sinned. 13 For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren’t like Adam’s disobedience, who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come.

    Anyway, I agree that SJWs are more interested in silencing other peoples’ opinions rather than engaging other opinions.

     

    • #16
  17. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Or perhaps you don’t subscribe to a literal Adam and Eve and don’t subscribe to a literal global flood leaving only 8 human survivors?

    IMHO Genesis is a bit like Trump: to be taken seriously, but not literally.

    • #17
  18. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Or perhaps you don’t subscribe to a literal Adam and Eve and don’t subscribe to a literal global flood leaving only 8 human survivors?

    IMHO Genesis is a bit like Trump: to be taken seriously, but not literally.

    A pastor of mine (Roman Catholic) once wrapped a sermon around the point that Genesis conveys the who and why of creation, not literally the how and when. The six days of creation strike this engineer as the kind of prose G_d inspired in an ancient scribe after giving that scribe a blink of a vision of the history of the universe.

    • #18
  19. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Or perhaps you don’t subscribe to a literal Adam and Eve and don’t subscribe to a literal global flood leaving only 8 human survivors?

    IMHO Genesis is a bit like Trump: to be taken seriously, but not literally.

    The take-away is that Adam and Eve were our first parents in human nature (not genetically)– in what it means to live in harmony with God in a state of Paradise and what it means to lose faith in God (to believe in oneself “as god”) and be expelled from Paradise. At least, that’s my view of Genesis.

    • #19
  20. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    I Walton (View Comment):
    Isn’t it obvious it’s not what literally happened, but at some point the last evolutionary step, or steps at least in human terms, must have begun with two near humans.

    Indeed there is some scientific evidence pointing toward a mitochondrial Eve, a single woman who lived in Africa some 100,000-200,000 years ago who is an ancestor of all living humans.

    Regardless, if you believe (as I do) that we each have an immortal soul created by God, then at some point in the history of human evolution there must have been a first true human being with a soul, Adam. He may have been born in the usual way from a humanoid mother and father, but his parents were clever animals while he was the first true man — and thus, the first capable of rejecting God and sinning.

    • #20
  21. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    This is a good discussion featuring a non-believer, Dr. Shelly Kagan and believer, Dr. William Lane Craig.

    Grappling with Transcendence

    Not bad, huh?

    • #21
  22. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    From the Original Post.

    we are cosmic accidents of random mutation destined, ultimately, for complete annihilation

    This reminds me of the Woody Allen movie Annie Hall.

    Brooklyn is not expanding.

    At least it isn’t anymore.

    • #22
  23. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    This is a good discussion featuring a non-believer, Dr. Shelly Kagan and believer, Dr. William Lane Craig.

    Dr. Kagen says that we are the sort of beings that are capable of understanding why murder is wrong, but he never actually articulates the reason why murder is wrong.

    • #23
  24. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    This is a good discussion featuring a non-believer, Dr. Shelly Kagan and believer, Dr. William Lane Craig.

    Dr. Kagen says that we are the sort of beings that are capable of understanding why murder is wrong, but he never actually articulates the reason why murder is wrong.

    And we’ve definitely been through periods of “might makes right.” Murder was moral so long as the “right” people were committing it. Sound familiar?

    • #24
  25. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    This guy gets it:

    • #25
  26. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    This is a good discussion featuring a non-believer, Dr. Shelly Kagan and believer, Dr. William Lane Craig.

    Dr. Kagen says that we are the sort of beings that are capable of understanding why murder is wrong, but he never actually articulates the reason why murder is wrong.

    Unfortunately, the clip shown didn’t include Dr. Kagan’s opening statement.

    But Dr. Kagan did mention in that clip that no matter what answer one gives for why murder is wrong, one will always be able to ask the follow up question, “Well, then why is it wrong to . . . . ?”

    If we assert that murder is wrong because God says so and we are made in the image of God, the response can always be “But why should I obey God?” and/or “Why shouldn’t I murder even if humans are made in the image of God?”

    At some point we will reach a point where no further explanation will be possible.

     

    • #26
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    At some point we will reach a point where no further explanation will be possible.

    Or be an atheist and start at that point.

    • #27
  28. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    At some point we will reach a point where no further explanation will be possible.

    Or be an atheist and start at that point.

    Infinite regression is a problem caused by there being no God. 

    Murder is wrong not merely because “God said so,” but because God is the one whose nature is Being itself — “I Am.” Murder does violence to who God is. He is displeased by itA person who loves God (Good) wishes to please Him and will go out of his way to avoid such mortal sins. 

    It always amazes me that atheists can’t see how their personal morality, however it’s rationalized, does not work to make societies good. You just can’t get there from arguing for atheism.

    • #28
  29. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    If we assert that murder is wrong because God says so and we are made in the image of God, the response can always be “But why should I obey God?”

    Indeed, that is another central question that Genesis wrestles with, that is the question the serpent posed to Eve: why obey God? Eat from the Tree of Knowledge and you shall become like God, able to make up your own rules of right and wrong.

    In the theistic worldview a set of divine moral laws exist, and the question each of us must decide for ourselves is whether we will accept and obey those laws or rebel against them and craft our own moral code. Whereas atheism, it seems to me, eliminates the divine lawgiver and thus the divine law. We are left with no other alternative but to create our own moral code.

    • #29
  30. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):
    We are left with no other alternative but to create our own moral code.

    Worse yet, we are left with no alternative but to create our own purpose for life, thus dumbing down the whole notion of purpose.

    • #30