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Optimism isn’t appreciated

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Mr. Johnson weaves a fascinating tale of optimism (in his letter from last week). Man has been morally and intellectually evolving over human history. With the accumulation of knowledge and the aid of science, society is on the verge of changing itself for the better. The only problem is that he is over 100 years too late. At the turn of the 20th century, many believed man was on the verge of a brave new world. With the advance of education, growth of knowledge and the miracle of science, they could envision the end of hunger, disease and war. This belief was crushed by the horrors of WWI. Those who held on to that hope were then hammered by the breadth and depth of the inhumanity of WWII. Johnson’s confidence in “technological advances, greater awareness and freer communication.” The reality is that man has not improved one iota over the centuries. Higher education and intellectual genius has not prevented people from the highest echelons of society from destroying their lives with drugs, murdering their spouses, sexually abusing children or assaulting coworkers. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “Education, of itself, seldom makes a better man. It more commonly turns common pick-pockets into far more dangerous white-collar criminals.”

On the other hand, Mr. Johnson dismisses Christianity on the grounds that it is just one of thousands of beliefs. The premise here is that there is no “self-evident” or “absolute truth.” This is a self-defeating argument. To say there is no truth must be true to be relevant. If you believe there is no absolute moral truth, what compels you to write letters to the editor? If your beliefs are just one more added to the thousands of other beliefs, then your ideas must, by your reasoning, also be false. One cannot have it both ways. What is the advantage of a worldview that questions, searches, and discovers when you have already determined that whatever is discovered can’t be true?

Al Onsager


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