Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Dark Age

posted by David Klinghoffer

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).

I was just haggling with my wise editor at the Forward over my use in an op-ed piece — about the Biblical commandment of counting the Omer — of the term Dark Age to describe our own times of secular ascendancy. This is one thing that good editors are for — catching writers in the act of being needlessly hyperbolic or pugilistic — so I conceded the point and we went with “secular ascendancy.” But I will share with you that I still think Dark Ages aptly characterizes what we’re now living through. The British medical writer James Le Fanu has another term that’s equally or more apt. He thinks we’re living in the Age of Counter-Enlightenment.

The point is to challenge the assumption that Dark always = religious and Enlightened always = secular. On the contrary, to turn away from half of reality, the spiritual side of it, is the opposite of being enlightened and it darkens the mind!
Your thoughts?


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Steve

posted April 15, 2009 at 3:03 pm


David wrote: “But I will share with you that I still think Dark Ages aptly characterizes what we’re now living through. The British medical writer James Le Fanu has another term that’s equally or more apt. He thinks we’re living in the Age of Counter-Enlightenment.
“The point is to challenge the assumption that Dark always = religious and Enlightened always = secular. On the contrary, to turn away from half of reality, the spiritual side of it, is the opposite of being enlightened and it darkens the mind!”
I don’t know what you mean. What do you mean by “the spiritual side?” I think it’s very likely that there are no Gods. And if it likely that there are no God, then this should weigh in favor of its being good for people to believe that there are no Gods. Knowledge and justified beliefs are ends in themselves. For instance, someone’s belief that he has been abducted by aliens might help him avoid being clinically depressed. But there still would be something problematic about his believing that he has been abducted by aliens.
Now if it were likely that there are one or more Gods, than this should weigh in favor of its being good for people to believe that there are one or more Gods. But I think it is very likely that there aren’t any Gods.
Moreover, for whatever it’s worth, my believing that there are no Gods doesn’t make my life worse. I’m a good person. I have good relationships. And I enjoy many things. And I function at a good level. I find that this is true of the vast majority of people I know who believe that there aren’t any Gods.



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Tom

posted April 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm


“…But there still would be something problematic about his believing that he has been abducted by aliens.”
Unless he actually was abducted by aliens that is. From this believers perspective, we are in the midst of a living encounter with our benevolent creator. For nonbelievers this is an abstract concept and one I’m afraid words won’t adequately convey. It isn’t necessarily about which is better, believing or not; it’s about living in accordance with the reality as our creator has seen fit to reveal to us, for ourselves and generations to come. Naturally nonbelievers see nothing wrong with secularism, ie it is a form of liberation from ‘nonfactual’ superstition passed down from generation unto generation. David is writing (I presume) with a nonsecular audience in mind, though I’m sure he welcomes the input of nonbelievers as well.



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Steve

posted April 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm


Tom wrote: “Unless he actually was abducted by aliens that is.”
If someone is capable of knowing that he has been abducted by aliens (for instance, he is aware of certain evidence), then his being capable of knowing this would count in favor of it being GOOD for him to believe that he has been abducted by aliens. As I said, knowledge and justified beliefs are ends in themselves. However, they are not the ONLY ends in themselves. For instance, let’s say that some people know that person X was abducted by aliens. But let’s say that if X were to know that he was abducted by aliens, it would cause him to be so depressed that he would commit suicide. In this case, it might be better for him NOT to know that he had been abducted by aliens.
But in my example in my first post in this thread, I’m assuming that the person hadn’t been abducted by aliens. And he BELIEVES that he had been abducted, even though he hadn’t been. Although his belief keeps him from being clinically depressed, there is still something problematic about his believing that he had been abducted. And I used this example to highlight that knowledge and justified beliefs are ends in themselves
Tom wrote: “From this believers perspective, we are in the midst of a living encounter with our benevolent creator.”
That’s what they believe. But I think they are mistaken.
“For nonbelievers this is an abstract concept and one I’m afraid words won’t adequately convey.”
I’m not sure I see your point. I understand the claim “we are in the midst of a living encounter with our benevolent creator.” I just think that the claim is false.
“It isn’t necessarily about which is better, believing or not; it’s about living in accordance with the reality as our creator has seen fit to reveal to us, for ourselves and generations to come.”
I think it’s very likely that there is no God. And if it is very likely that there is no God, then this likelihood counts in favor of it being better to believe that there is no God than to believe that there is a God. Consider, for example, the example I used in my first post.
However, knowledge and justified belief are not the ONLY ends. So even if it is very likely that there is no God, it may be good for a given a person to believe that there is a God. For example, maybe his believing that there is a God will keep him from being so depressed that he is unable to function.
“Naturally nonbelievers see nothing wrong with secularism, ie it is a form of liberation from ‘nonfactual’ superstition passed down from generation unto generation.”
As I said, knowledge and justified beliefs are ends in themselves. And I believe that it is very likely that there is no God. However, even if it is very likely that there is no God, it might be better for a given person to believe that there is a God than to believe that there is no God. For example, maybe the person’s belief keeps the person from being so depressed that he or she is unable to function.
“David is writing (I presume) with a nonsecular audience in mind, though I’m sure he welcomes the input of nonbelievers as well.”
That one is writing from a certain perspective is not important to whether one’s claims are warranted or know to be true. For instance, someone might be writing from the perspective of a biblical literalist and claim that the known universe is about 6,000. And I’m sure it’s not.



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