Alas, things have got so hectic (to a degree I am now working so hard on my unspeakable new novel so as to be seriously distracted) that I am forced to recycle here an old diatribe from a posting elsewhere entirely out of context just to maintain my curmudgeonly reputation. Oh well, so it goes:
Unsurprisingly I can’t say I agree with the interpretation put forward by some (inside or out) antagonists of the Catholic Church as its being merely a non-dualist “symbolic pantomime” people might go to in order to be amused or soothed into a supine pro-capitalist or algebraic form of scholastic etc etc trance. Plenty of lapsed, Modernist, Leftist, indifferent or hostile ex-Catholics may feel that way, of course, and a number of folk may only attend Mass through force of habit or tradition. Perhaps there are even some priests who actually care little for its transcendental doctrines. It wouldn’t surprise me a great deal. There has never been an age wherein the Church was free of spiritual rot. Nevertheless, I think, for the vast majority, the central question is still this: either the Church is of supernatural origin or it is not.
Anyway, I wouldn’t dismiss theology simply as mere “speculation”. I admit the teachings are not capable of empirical demonstration. I hold, however, that these same teachings delineate the foundational aspects of Catholicism, the very heart of the thing – and express its supernatural dimension.
The Church is a force that has been around for two thousand years. Its core tenets have persisted down through centuries of multiple philosophical and intellectual challenges of the highest order, from within and without. During these centuries its thinkers have shaped Western civilisation.
Take for example, Thomas (of Aquinas – rather than of Detroit). In his Summa Theologica he starts from the premise; “Is there a God? Apparently not.” The problem with modernity is that the likes of Aquinas have been buried and/or forgotten by the secular world. He starts from first principles and does not work backward from the unexamined assumptions our age wishes to find in advance.
So I suppose my point is this: There is absolutely no reason to believe that human insight into the total nature of reality and existence has reached a peak in our times.
Nevertheless, at least the atheists still debate and hold that a vital issue is at stake. I agree with them about that much at least. Either God exists or He does not. I think we can find out the truth if we think deeply enough about it. Probably not via proselytising on an internet message board, though.
Still, if there’s one form of proselytising so prevalent in the modern world that most people have stopped even noticing it, it’s this: the contemporary creed of relativism, wherein all differences of opinion are afforded the same weight and status, informed or otherwise. This creed has tremendous influence – and is perhaps the most powerful tool for generating cynical indifference that has ever existed, as well as being the least capable at arriving at the truth.