Morality: Materialism and Skepticism vs. Christianity | Chesterton and Orthodoxy


Welcome to Coffee Break Philosophy. I’m
Christian and today we’re talking about materialism, skepticism, and morality.
We’re gonna get a little help from G. K. Chesterton through his work Orthodoxy,
again. We first introduced Chesterton in the last video of this series so be sure
to check it out as well. So grab some brew and let’s talk
about materialism, skepticism, and morality. So Chesterton famously wrote that “there
is a thought which stops all thoughts”, and I like to pull from another part of
Chesterton saying that there is also an act which stops all acts and that act is
suicide. So in a suicide and in the mind of the suicidal man, it isn’t that he’s
not worthy of living; it’s that there’s nothing worth living for. This is the
ultimate insult to the entirety of the world.
Likewise, Chesterton’s quote might imply that there’s a thought which claims that
there’s nothing worth thinking about. Again, an insult to all thought. Our
intellect is capable, according to Chesterton, of destroying itself, and here
he’s speaking in relation to skepticism particularly but also partially to
materialism, which we’ll get into in just a – one moment. Now, skepticism and
materialism are two essentially opposing philosophical camps. They’re not directly
opposing each other, but in a sense – and you’ll see what I mean
there’s – they tend to be opposites Now, the materialists – which is one
philosophical camp – these materialists formulate the world as purely guided by
the clockwork of the natural law as I like to think of it. So what we
understand of physics and mathematics makes up the totality of the world, and
there’s nothing more no spirituality, no god, nothing supernatural; what you see is
what you get with the materialist. Now I thought this implies two interesting
things for morality and materialists can be moral people. Atheists can be more people.
Materialists by – essentially by definition have to be atheists. Now they must assume
that morality is either 1) an objective reality that is built into the natural
world. This means that – this would suggest that we must use scientific tools or
whatever tools we have to observe the nature around us to gather those – that
that morality and find out what the objective morality is.
So it’s either objective or the second option number 2) for the materialist
with regard to morality, is that there is no objective morality. And, of course, this
would devolve into morality is a mere human construction and leads to moral
relativism. So, skepticism is the other philosophical camp that Chesterton spoke
about and in my opinion it is the more dangerous of the two. Skepticists doubt
that reality is true or even real or that we can’t accurately know
reality or experience it because of our own subjectivity. So skepticists doubt
objective; therefore they automatically default to moral relativism. Even if they
admit there could be a – an objective or absolute morality, we cannot know it
because of our own subjective experience. Thus, we’d have to default to moral
relativism: the ultimate in societal decline. Furthermore, besides morality
there’s also no point to reason because there are no objective facts which we
can base our worldview off of. So reason itself is dead in the world of the
skeptic, and Chesterton spoke very harshly of the skeptics in his book Orthodox for
good reason – for these very reasons. His contemporaries generally fell into one
of these two camps, materialists or skeptics, and he tore in my opinion more
into the skeptic than the materialist Skepticism applied to morality is just moral relativism run rampant. We can see this in for example promiscuous behavior,
which has ruined families and marriages for a long time but especially in such high
numbers in the past 50 or so years, and it’s not no small matter that we’re
playing with here. The family is not something you want to mess with, because
the family is essentially the building block of a society It’s not the
individual. By law, yes, it should be the individual. But in actuality,
in the grander scheme, it’s the family that determines the future of society.
The parents are essentially the present of the society, and the
children are the future. Skepticism is a destroyer of reason itself. The church
was mobilized to defend reason even by terrible means. Even when the means
weren’t correct, the motivation was certainly called for, and this is why
Chesterton pictured the Church as a heroic defender of reason and truth.
And, for two thousand years that’s what the Church has been doing. We’ve fought
against dangerous ideas that have wrecked the modern world, especially in
recent times – like I said, the degradation of the family. Now, morality doesn’t
change. In fact, the more unchanging a religion’s morality, the more I find it
convincing. Technology doesn’t change morality. They’re calls for a new
application of morality and in particular instances. It’s what science
and and progress in the sciences calls for is – it opens up new places to apply
morality, and morality should be applied in every place possible for a good and
decent society. But the underlying rules now don’t change. So examples of what the church has defended against are – are you know, terrible things that have destroyed
society, like the tides of communism that wrecked individual freedom and the
innate value of each human person. There was the sexual revolution of the 1960s
that destroyed marriages and families. Then, there were heresies like
determinism that essentially took away our ability to choose – at least in a
philosophical or religious sense. And, then lastly there’s abortion, euthanasia,
and the evils suicide – even state-approved suicide – that is
increasingly growing today that have all resulted in the current culture of death,
and which the church has stood firmly against for all of time. And then many
might suppose that the church and all religion, especially highly organized
religions, have historically resisted the products
of science and reason – the claimed tools of the materialists. But taking
Darwin’s evolution, as an example, even Chesterton recognized in his day that the
physical mundane idea of evolution does not imperil religion nor reason, and in
fact that Christianity has all the science and reason of materialism and
more – it has a defined morality. Evolution, if taken in a purely
philosophical sense – so remove it from its scientific context and interpret it
only philosophically. This is a dangerous way to treat evolution because it
results, as Chesterton wrote, in all things simply flowing from one thing to the
next. And this is essentially an attack on the individuality or the uniqueness
of each human person. So no person is unique if we’re all
flowing from one to the next in an evolutionary sense. And what I find
interesting is that, even in Chesterton’s day, he understood that God was outside
time and that Darwin’s theories weren’t really a danger to Christianity at all, as I
had always suspected and guessed myself, but I thought it was more modern idea
that God was outside time that came along with physicists like Einstein
and general relativity. But that wasn’t so, and that even in Chesterton’s day
before Einstein, he understood this to be true. And I think that everyone even
atheists can agree that religion at the least provides an obvious morality. What
I mean by an obvious morality is one that is blatantly clear to everyone. It’s written
down; it’s set in stone; it doesn’t change, and that everyone within the same
religion generally holds those values. And atheism doesn’t enjoy the same
benefit – even if there is an objective morality that you can derive from
science as we spoke of, each atheist may come to different conclusions about what
those – what those are or the interpretation of
those moralities. So religion provides one fundamental set of morality, a map for
every person no matter their level of education, to follow. That’s it for us
today on materialism, skepticism, and morality with some help from Chesterton
through his book Orthodoxy, which you can check out using the link in the
description below. If you haven’t seen it be sure to check out our previous
episodes on Chesterton in this series; particularly the last episode was
how to understand through the unknown. There’s plenty of genius from Chesterton
to cover in the future episodes, so stay tuned. Thanks for watching. Please
subscribe, like, and leave a comment below with your thoughts, opinions, what you
like, what you don’t like. Thanks you

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