Love Letter from a Catholic to an Objectivist

“One of the reasons I stay away from your materialist arguments here is I do not know the referents of the arguments. I recognize Christian man, I recognize Buddhist man, generic atheist man, etc, I do not recognize materialist man. Meaning I understand man as the Christians see him, I can grasp that; I do not know what a materialist is saying when he is talking about man. And I do have a enough pride to know that this is not due to a lack on my part – but that what they are talking about is not only not man, it does not even exist. It is more fantastical and arbitrary than they accuse your God of being.”

I agree without reservation. First, I admit my God is fantastical and, technically speaking, He is arbitrary, namely in that He created cosmos from nothingness by fiat. Christians do not believe the universe is inevitable — it was arbitrated into existence. A God who was not fantastical would pretty clearly be a human invention, and not worth admiring, much less worshiping.

Second, much as it might embarrass us both to admit it, a fanatic anti-selfishness Christian and a fanatic anti-selflessness Objectivist still agree on the fundamentals. St. Thomas Aquinas was a student of Aristotle and so was Ayn Rand. We agree that existence exists, that A is A, that life is worth living (a Christian is not a Buddhist, after all) and that there is an objective moral code which reason can discover without which a good and happy life cannot take place. You might scoff at the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity, and you and I both promote the cardinal virtues of Justice, Moderation, Temperance, and Fortitude.

So I am what you might call a “Mystic of the Spirit” — I believe in things I cannot see, I have experienced things more fundamental than a reasoning process. I was not “talked into” believing in God, it was something for which I have no words that changed. I did not change my mind or change my conclusions, something changed me, lifted my blindness, restored my soul, made me a new man, and my change of belief is a side effect, not a cause, or that more foundational change. So this is pure mysticism, and to a rational man like yourself, it must seem insane, or, at least, inane.

But we have a mutual enemy who has nothing in common with Aristotle, or with us. The mutual enemy is nor a person, but an idea. If I may be fanciful, our mutual enemy is the Robin Hood of philosophy, the idea that steals from the rational and serves the irrational. Our enemy is anti-philosophy.

Antiphilosophy takes many forms. It must take many forms, since its leitmotif is formlessness. When confronted or questioned or presented with its own paradoxes, antiphilosophy merely changes the subject, merely attacks the questioner.

The most prevalent and  popular form of antiphilosophy is socialism. Socialism is the religious faith that a sufficiently ruthless centralized state, by shedding enough blood and enforcing enough dictates, can obviate the laws of supply and demand. It is not an economic theory. Economic theories deal with the invariant relations that obtain in human action, especially marketplace intercourse. Socialism is the faith that the conclusions of economic theories can be ignored. Socialism is more akin to paranoia, or a psychological disturbance, than to a theory that is open to proof or disproof. Studying socialism consists of studying a list of excuses used by socialists to explain why it is someone else’s fault that the promises prosperity that was alleged to obtain by ignoring the law of supply and demand have not been fulfilled.

Socialism’s main advocate was Karl Marx, who was a materialist. He held that there is no human nature, no fixed human rules of morality, and no content to thought. Thinking was a by product of economic circumstances. Philosophy is nothing but the ideological superstructure of those in power, a deception meant to cow the underdogs. Marx was indulging in what Freud called projection, and what Christ called hypocrisy.

Socialism is not the only flavor of antiphilosophy for sale in the marketplace of ideas. The other flavors, however, follow the same template. An antiphilosophy merely consists of some excuse as to why one need not live according to the moral rules philosophy discovers.

The basic areas of philosophy are metaphysics, ontology, logic, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and natural philosophy. The basic antiphilosophies are

1. logical positivism, which makes the metaphysical statement that all metaphysical statements are false;
2. subjectivism, which holds that being does not exist in itself, but only insofar as we acknowledge or create it. In other words, subjectivism holds that as a matter of facts there are no facts and nothing matters;
3. polylogism, which holds that the rules of logic are relative either to race, or to economic class, or to the individual. In other words, A is A for you but not for me, especially is I am losing the argument;
4. radical skepticism, which holds the we certainly know that here is no knowledge and no certainty;
5. hedonism or existentialism, which holds that it is evil to call things evil, and that nothing is good save that thinking makes it so;
6. modern art, which holds that the purpose of art is to create shocking ugliness, and to blaspheme all that is good, pure, and holy;
7. sciendolatry, which holds that modern science has proven God is Dead.

Notice that radical materialism at one stroke accomplishes all or nearly all of these seven steps to antiphilosophy. If you and I are merely meat machines programmed by blind natural forces, not only is the instrument we use to interpret nature, namely, reason, impeached as unreliable, but even the question of whether we are thinking truth or falsehood becomes unasked and unaskable: for the material components of a brain that merely reacts to mechanical inputs and never acts on its own cannot have any symbolic value, cannot represent nor point to anything, cannot stand for anything, and cannot mean anything. A thing that does not mean anything cannot be true or false. Only a statement or an image or something that means something or symbolizes something can be true or false.

You and I, my Objectivist friend, could indeed learn to live together in a commonwealth and obey such laws as are needed to safeguard each other’s rights (you may call them natural rights if I may call them God-given rights) — naturally, we will run into difficulties when I support both taxation and a draft to defend the physical commonwealth, and support laws against pornography and out-of-wedlock sex to defend the spiritual commonwealth, but those difficulties can perhaps be surmounted with a certain amount of begrudging compromise. It won’t be utopia, but it will not be the Socialist Soviet Union of Hell either.

However, if the materialists among us gain the commanding heights of popular philosophy, culture, and thence of law, it will end our civilization and damn our souls, for it will be the abolition of man.

To be sure, in the Brave, New World there are creatures who call themselves men, but they will regard themselves as machines for seeking and satisfying appetites, and regard each other as livestock or animals to be herded or culled as need be or whim incline. They not only will not discuss morality or the meaning of life, they will not have the intellectual vocabulary or the conceptual framework even to imagine such a discussion. They will be Eloi, save for those who are Morlocks.

Christian theory says that man cannot find and should not seek paradise on Earth. Utopia is not an option, as the Libertarians like to say. We do hold that Hell on Earth is possible, or perhaps, absent a miracle, inevitable.

There is a mystery here. I cannot tell if the materialists and the antiphilosophers know and seek this end, or if they are blithely unaware and innocent and idiotic, like children drilling holes in the hull of the Titanic, hoping to strike oil. The mystery is partly lifted for me once I converted to Christianity, because then and only then did I see that not just atheism but a visceral hatred of God and the things of God burns in the souls of many, perhaps most, of the advocates of Hell on Earth.

While in theory one could be a staunch advocate of the sanctity of marriage and of human life, and a defender of the rights of the weak and oppressed, and a believer in human liberty and dignity while at the same time espousing a materialist metaphysics, as a matter of fact, I have never met such a Chimera. The materialists, the socialists, the polylogists always seem to use their metaphysical beliefs solely to undermine one of four fundamental pillars unique to Western civilization: monotheism, monogamy, reason, liberty.

My theory is that the humanists always find themselves on the side of the most inhuman and anti-human of causes not through their own thought or calculation, but only because ideas have consequences. The Dark Lord in Hell hates man because man is the image and likeness of God, and the humanists, inspired by the Dark Lord, are driven to smite God and mar His images, never noticing nor caring that they mar mankind at the same blow. Note, for example, the purely hellish innovation of killing countless unborn babies in the name of humanist enlightenment and female freedom. Whatever demon in the pit came up with the idea of turning women, in the name of womanhood, against their own most lovely and noble instincts of femininity and motherhood, well, he must have gotten a bonus in his paystub. To have humanity kill and cull itself in the name of humanism! It is a brilliant idea. Satanically brilliant.

Despite our differences, we are on the same side of the culture war. We may disagree which direction to point the ship of civilization, but by God’s Wounds, you and I do not want to sink the vessel.