Appendix I: Science, reason, and God

Science, reason, and God

"Most believers", we are told in a recent study, "will agree that their belief is not a scientific one, and many are attracted to the idea that science and religion give complementary accounts of the universe, describing the same ultimate reality from different sides, as it were. However, this still does not explain how religious statements can give knowledge of one particular aspect of reality, unless they are testable by some sort of experience. This remains one of the most basic philosophical problems about religious claims" [1].

An overly quick reading of this passage might miss the transition it makes from the empirical realm to the philosophical - a transition as unjustified as it is common. Whoever reflects seriously about life (which the philosopher, among others, is supposed to do) quickly realizes that human knowledge cannot be reduced to what is verifiable by empirical testing or direct personal experience. Otherwise, one would have to maintain that historical statements are not scientific, and go on to deny to history itself the status of "knowledge". Legal science progresses by means of rationally thought-out arguments and conclusions, without these being subject to empirical proof. Reliable knowledge of life, and credible answers to the questions life poses, must derive from clear reasoning. But only those who are unaccustomed to thinking clearly, or to the whole process of rational debate, will wish to limit knowledge to what can be empirically verified.

Thoughtful believers will probably agree that their belief is not scientific, within the terms of the empirical sciences. But that is in no way to say that it is not rational, or that a question such as the existence of God cannot be rationally dealt with. Nor would the thoughtful believer readily accept that physical science can examine and explain "the same ultimate reality" as does religion, simply from a different angle. Science just does not reach or try to explain ultimate reality; and I know of no scientist who claims that it does. The approach characteristic of science is, rather, to hold that, in the process of clarifying the nature of things, more can always be investigated and, hopefully, discovered.

Logical positivists prefer to exclude investigation into the question of "ultimate reality", holding that there is simply no answer to it. Yet the truly rational person is not content with this arbitrary limiting of the scope of reason and rational investigation. The search for "ultimate reality" or "ultimate explanations" touches the very heart of all human reflection. We have seen that man does not explain himself, that anthropology leads "beyond" anthropology and points to something beyond its own proper field. Physical science itself would be adopting an "a priori" or dogmatic approach if it were to exclude the possibility that its investigation into the nature or explanation of things could open up horizons which transcend its own domain. Just as anthropology points to transcendence, so physics leads on to metaphysics.

"Meta-physical" (beyond physics) does not mean "meta-rational" (beyond reason). One's mind is capable of reaching much farther than the world one sees and touches with the physical senses. Further, it is not true that metaphysical reasoning, being non-empirical, is "a priori", and therefore ideological, prejudiced, or irrational. There is nothing irrational or "a priori" about refusing to shelve the question of "ultimate reality", or about wanting an adequate explanation of the world. Perhaps the explanation finally given cannot be verified by empirical methods (is it possible even to conceive an empirical test that could be "scientifically" applied to an ultimate reality?), but it can be a strictly rational conclusion, as being the only reasonably adequate answer to the question posed.

Certainly, not all problems or questions have to be posed, nor do all those posed have to be answered. Yet, to anyone who takes life seriously, the problem of the world and of human life - their origin and ultimate purpose - is not an insignificant or optional question. It occurs, pressingly, to every reflective person as the key question in the most important and definitive area of investigation facing mankind, and can only be shelved by those who are unthinking or do not wish to think.

Human reason is there to investigate reality. This is the true scientific endeavor. It is evident that reality itself is not limited to the physical or tangible-visible world. Otherwise one would have to deny the reality of the whole of mathematical science, for mathematics is neither tangible nor visible. Whether a mathematical theorem holds true or not has to be examined rationally, but it allows of no empirical demonstration. The teacher who puts his theorem on the blackboard is not following an empirical method; he is not offering a tangible or visible proof of his thesis but is simply, at most, facilitating the application of pure reason to the question of whether it makes sense or not. The whole scientific method in mathematics is rational, but not empirical.

So it is with any scientific examination of the question "Is there a God?" Here the scientific mind has to look for rational evidence. To ask for empirical evidence is to show that one has not even grasped the nature of the investigation. No physical experiments can give empirical proof of the existence - or nonexistence - of God. God is not to be discovered at the end of a telescope, nor does he emerge from a test-tube experiment or a quantum mechanics equation. This is true whether one offers a positive or a negative answer to the question proposed; in other words, neither the existence of God nor his nonexistence can be empirically proved. Hence, the assertion "There is no God" is as unempirical as the assertion "God exists". From the standpoint of empirical science, the first is just as much an act of faith as the second.

When the empirical approach is clearly inadequate to provide an answer to a necessary question, then the human mind will use other rational means in seeking an answer (unless it prefers the ostrich-like reaction of wanting not to think the matter out). One considers possible answers - hypotheses - and one reduces the hypotheses to the most reasonable one, eliminating or rejecting those that are empty, far-fetched, or patently absurd. To refuse to consider any hypothesis, just as to refuse to declare which of the possible hypotheses presented strikes one as more reasonable, is a blind refusal to reason [2].

The Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Metaphysics notes that "metaphysics is far from being a simple empirical discipline", and yet "is strictly intellectual in its development", its insights being "derived from reflection on certain evident facts". Metaphysics, at least christian metaphysics, does not begin with a priori assumptions about God or another life. It starts with the evident fact of the world as we know it, with its mysterious disorders certainly, but especially with its evident order and design. The reasoning is simple and can be illustrated by applying it to any familiar object - say, the table or desk on which I am writing. The table is old and it is wooden; beyond that I know nothing about it. I have no idea where it was bought or how much it cost. But of one thing I am certain: someone made it. Or, perhaps more precisely and to the point, someone designed it and then had it made. Of that I am sure. An argumentative friend may feel entitled to object, "But how can you be so sure? After all, you have no proof. You cannot discount some other possibility: say, that a tree gradually evolved in its natural growth into the exact shape of that table, drawers and legs and all". Sorry; but I can and do discount that "possibility". I cannot take my friend's hypothesis seriously. He is being argumentative, but neither scientific nor rational. Where you see an evident design, the rational thing is to posit a designer. Not to do so is a pose - something proper to a clown or an actor, but not to a thinker.

The question of the origin of the desk thus resolves itself into two hypotheses: one from design, the other from chance. If one has to choose between the two, there can be little question as to which the thinking person will accept. The first is rational, the second is outlandish and absurd.

Let us take away the desk, which does not matter, and put in its place the world - which is the object of our reflection. Following the same metaphysical (rational and hence scientific, although non-empirical) analysis, I conclude, with all the certainty the human mind can attain, that the world came from a designer.

What about Evolution and the "Big Bang"? Well, what about them? The desk also had its evolution; it gradually took shape - by means of someone working on the wood, according to a design. And the tree (from which the wood came), like the Big Bang [3], also had to have its origin in a design, a Designer, for it to have been endowed with the potential for further growth and possibilities.

In carrying our rational investigation to its limit, we can, of course, keep proposing the further alternatives that emerge. Does admitting that the world we know must have materialized from some initial design necessarily imply some original and primary personal intelligence? As we pursue our investigation here we are again left ultimately with a choice between two hypotheses. Either the world, with all its evidence of design, comes from the plan of an original intelligent Designer (in which case it did come by design); or else it has come from a non-intelligent source (in which case it is a work of chance, and we have in fact denied our admission of design). Again we have to decide which hypothesis seems more reasonable.

Of course, the definitive question is about the origin of the first Designer. How did he get there? Either we hold the first Designer to be non-created, that is, a self-existing being - "always there" ... - or else we posit a created Designer. But then who designed him? We are still within a process and have not yet reached an explanation of its origin. There is no rational end to the investigation unless one posits an eternal, self-subsistent, all-powerful, intelligent being, who is at the origin of everything; in other words, unless one accepts the "God hypothesis". Any other hypothesis is inadequate, totally inadequate, and therefore to be discarded by the unprejudiced scientific mind.

Reason, no less than faith, finds it harder to believe in nothingness than to believe in God. Absolute annihilation is simply an untenable scientific hypothesis for a physicist; so too is the emergence of something from nothing. What is cannot lapse into nothing; similarly, what is cannot come from nothing.

Evident design posits an intelligent designer. The contra argument, that the presence of disorder shows the absence of a designer, is a non sequitur. Disorder and apparent chaos do exist, as do evident order and design. Disorder also requires an explanation (and many hypotheses can be advanced to explain it). But its continued existence, even if mysterious and unexplained, in no way takes from the absolute rationality and the common-sense power of the argument that where there is clear evidence of design, one can be certain in positing an intelligent designer. The room or the house in which I work may be in a chaotic state, not having been cleaned or put in order for months. But if I look at the desk on which I work and the house in which I work, all of that disorder does not prevent me from concluding that someone designed them, and that they were then elaborated (perhaps by other agents, and through a long process) until they took shape according to the original conception.

If we pass from disorder to evil, the same applies. The statement, "The existence of evil proves that there is no God", is a non-argument. The existence of evil tends to originate difficulties in understanding God's ways of acting, if he exists. But it is no proof of his nonexistence. That God and evil cannot coexist is neither evident nor verifiable.

But, in order to be logical, must we not then admit that the proposition "The existence of the world proves that there is a God", is equally a non sequitur? If it were presented as an empirical proof ("It is established that there is a world; hence it is demonstrated that there is a God"), this would indeed be an inadequate argument. But if we abandon the empirical approach (as we should) in favor of rational argumentation and ask, "Can the existence of the world be explained without positing a God?", then any true scientific method calls for pursuit and solution (if possible) of the issue by means of reasoning: taking reasoning, pure reasoning, to the limits where it can rationally lead us. This is what we have just done, through the comparison and elimination of hypotheses. This is to act reasonably and scientifically. Any other procedure is dogmatism or the choice simply not to think, i.e. the rejection of reason.

Let us note in passing that some people not only believe there is no God, but choose to take their disbelief as their presupposition and starting point in any consideration of the matter. There is something bizarre as well as unscientific about this. If one sets out to investigate the possibility that an infinitely good, wise, powerful, and loving Being exists, the logical human approach is the hope of positive discovery (the hope that the possibility can be verified), with the feeling, What a pity if it cannot! That was the spirit of the great explorers whose discoveries enriched the life of mankind. Each of us has an explorer inside who wants to discover the infinite. If he cannot, his horizons remain narrower, his life poorer, and he has to live and die with the disappointment. Of course, death may reveal to him that he was wrong.

Atheism: freedom and joy, or deadend and nausea?

The atheist can, in a sense, be self-sufficient - at the cost of living in a meaningless world. Self-sufficient non-transcendence has always been the most fundamental and the most hollow temptation for mankind [4]. If the intellect, for all its power, is unable to penetrate the shadows that surround the mystery of life and death and to reach the promise of a personal "hereafter", it cannot free man from the sense of ultimate futility.

A well-known study of Renaissance civilization pictures the leading men and women of that historical period freed by their "powerful natures" and independent minds from the "constraining christian myths" of heaven and hell, and from notions such as sin, repentance, and salvation (however much these notions still flourished among the uneducated), letting themselves be captivated by "the new liberal ideas of a future life" which hark back to the Greco-Roman ideal of a "pagan heaven", a sort of "transfigured hereafter for great men, pervaded by the harmony of the spheres" [5].

But is the progress of a powerful nature really shown, or an independent mind really achieved, by the reduction of an individuals' personal life to nothing more than a passing anecdote which, once told, leaves behind - for others - the memory of a "greatness" (or what one trusts will be considered such) "in harmony with the spheres"?

Is this a liberal and progressive outlook? Or could it not rather reflect the narrow vision of the proud man, accompanied by an antique and snobbish contempt for what satisfies the populace? A vision that, not so strangely, is already dated.

Post-Renaissance rationalism, culminating in the philosophy of the Enlightenment, taught that life is not mysterious; that nature is and can be shown to be self-explanatory; that existence is non-transcendental. Ernst Cassirer, a prominent scholar of the Enlightenment, thus describes the principles from which it worked: "What always prevented the human mind from achieving a real conquest of nature and from feeling quite at home there was the unfortunate tendency to ask for a realm beyond. If we set aside this question of transcendence, nature ceases at once to be a mystery". In the Enlightenment view, Cassirer says, "nature is not mysterious and unknowable, but the human mind has enveloped it in artificial darkness. If we remove the mask of words, of arbitrary concepts, of phantastic prejudices from the face of nature, it will reveal itself as it really is, as an organic whole, self-supporting and self-explanatory ... The riddle of nature vanishes for the mind which dares to stand its ground and cope with it" [6].

The thrust and intent of the Enlightenment, and of the rationalist trends that preceded and followed it, was to eliminate all sense of mystery: there is no mystery, everything has its explanation. Before considering if this attempt succeeded, one could well question whether its basic assumption could ever have proved ultimately enriching for human life [7].

All knowledge is good [8]. But a search for knowledge which sets out from the assumption that everything can eventually be explained, in other words, that knowledge itself is finite, is a search for that deadend we have mentioned before - where nothing is left to be investigated or explained, no sense of possible discovery remains to science, and man's horizons have reached their definitive limit. From the viewpoint of "values" which we have been following, this is an impoverishment. Man would then "dominate" the whole of reality; he could look down on everything; but he would have nothing left to look up to. The rejection of mystery is the rejection of wonder. The mind that can explain everything wonders at nothing. It has removed a fundamental element of happiness and fulfillment from its horizons. It has seized the world and closed it in on itself.

But it was self-deception for rationalism to claim that "nature" or the world explains itself. If it had been more clear-thinking (and perhaps more humble), it would have realized that its attempt was bound to fail. If it had been more human, it would never have wished it to succeed. All it could have done was to reason nature and the world back to an original self-existing cause (in itself an inexhaustible mystery and source of wonder for man); but this it did not want to do. It preferred to be convinced that its attempt to explain away all mystery must succeed.

Not coping with the riddle ...

This persuasion of the Enlightenment that a rational explanation of everything had been given, that "the riddle of nature" had been coped with or solved, was congenial enough to the nineteenth century - a period not noted for its depth of philosophical thought. Things were to change during the course of the century that followed.

Somerset Maugham, one of the main British writers of the period between the two World Wars, was a dogged agnostic. He deliberately turned away from the rationalist posture of being able to explain everything. He held, on the contrary, that meaning and explanation are to be rejected; and that the consequence for man will be a new freedom and joy. The following passage from his well-known novel, Of Human Bondage, shows him laboring enthusiastically at this millennial pretense:

"There was no meaning in life, and man by living served no end ... Life was insignificant and death without consequence. Philip exulted ...; it seemed to him that the last burden of responsibility was taken from him; and for the first time he was utterly free. His insignificance was turned to power, and he felt himself suddenly equal with the cruel fate which had seemed to persecute him; for, if life was meaningless, the world was robbed of its cruelty ... Failure was unimportant and success amounted to nothing. He was the most inconsiderable creature in that swarming mass of mankind which for a brief space occupied the surface of the earth; and he was almighty because he had wrenched from chaos the secret of its nothingness. Thoughts came tumbling over one another in Philip's eager fancy, and he took long breaths of joyous satisfaction ... In throwing over the desire for happiness he was casting aside the last of his illusions. His life had seemed horrible when it was measured by its happiness, but now he seemed to gather strength as he realized that it might be measured by something else. Happiness mattered as little as pain ... Philip was happy" [9].

This may be written with a certain style; but does it make sense? Can anyone seriously think that to see life as having no meaning leads to a sensation of power and joy? [10] Why should one exult to discover that failure is unimportant and success amounts to nothing? Why should one be happy to discover that happiness matters as little as pain? If it matters so little, why bother about it - about happiness or pain or meaning or joy? Yet we do bother. Am I to throw over the desire for happiness, precisely so as to feel happy? Maugham's playing with words may have been aimed at fooling himself. I wonder how many of his readers he fooled.

John Galsworthy's epic, The Forsyte Saga, shows the nature and development of upper-middle-class "values" during the period from 1870 to 1930. It presents a rich range of characters and of attitudes, from the more convention-bound and unconsciously hypocritical of the Victorian years to the more spontaneous and frankly "carpe diem" of the post-"Great War" generation. The first are formally "religious"; the latter are openly not. But in the philosophy of life of one and the other there is simply no place for the transcendent.

Fleur Forsyte is prototype of the modern young thing of the 1920s. Calculatingly gay and brightly sensitive, she loves "exciting" beauty - beauty full of movement and change. "I can't bear Greek plays; they're so long. I think beauty's always swift" [11]. Lasting love or beauty which calls for commitment is beyond her comprehension. No commitment can be definitive; there must always be a way out, a chance of deliverance. It is only logical to reject moral laws once they "stand in the way of happiness and progress ... Marriage without a decent chance of relief is only a sort of slave-owning; people oughtn't to own each other. Everybody sees that now" [12]. Commercialism has taken over all interpersonal relations, even marriage. The idea of mutual belonging, in a committed love of reciprocal self-giving, has been lost. One simply owns or is owned. Therefore the only wise thing is not to depend or be made dependent on anything: just hold on to and live for yourself.

Better to "keep" yourself - even if you keep yourself for nothing. So "young Jolyon", the transitional Forsyte, philosophizes about the post-war generation: "The young are tired of us, our gods and our ideals. Off with their heads, they say - smash their idols. And let's get back to - nothing! ... Property, beauty, sentiment - all smoke. We mustn't own anything nowadays, not even our feelings. They stand in the way of - Nothing" [13]. Galsworthy, who possibly had a residue of the religious faith that Maugham made such profession of denying, at least saw the nothingness to which the lack of values of modern times was leading.

Life, in this view, has no objective end or purpose. Along with transcendence, morality too can be dropped [14]. There are no given norms to guide what I do in or with my life. Morality, if there needs to be such a thing, is something I discover or make up for myself. We see it again in Philip Carey, the central figure in Of Human Bondage. He finds the "joyous" freedom of newly found atheism still hampered by the moral baggage inherited from his youth. "He made up his mind therefore to think things out for himself ... He determined to be swayed by no prejudices. He swept away the virtues and the vices, the established laws of good and evil, with the idea of finding out the rule of life for himself. He did not know whether rules were necessary at all. That was one of the things he wanted to discover ... Philip wanted to find out how he ought to behave, and he thought he could prevent himself from being influenced by the opinions that surrounded him. But meanwhile he had to go on living, and, until he formed a theory of conduct, he made himself a provisional rule: 'Follow your inclinations with due regard to the policeman round the corner' ..." [15].

A provisional rule indeed, and flexible enough to permit constant revision. If the prohibitions of 'the law' constitute the maximum limit or risk of morality, then limit can be extended and risk reduced through a progressive 'liberalization' of the law, until it exists simply to sanction whatever anyone wants.

The hollow people

T. S. Eliot, in line after forceful line of his poetry, shows the lonely emptiness of the spirit which so many of his contemporaries, Maugham and Galsworthy among them, presented as natural and liberating. "Remember us - if at all - not as lost violent souls, but only as the hollow men, the stuffed men" [16]. "Without purpose, and without principle of conduct / In flickering intervals of light and darkness / One thinks to escape ... but one is still alone / In an over-crowded desert, jostled by ghosts" [17]. "It takes so many years to learn that one is dead!" [18]. "My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark" [19]. Eliot was understandably impressed by Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, with its depiction of the Jazz age, "herding its inhabitants" - the bright young things of the 1920s - "along a short-cut from nothing to nothing" [20].

Twentieth-century paganism held out heady promises of both freedom and joy, yet those who followed it found a freedom that stirs no admiration and a joy scarcely worth singing about or celebrating. The backdrop to Robert Frost's poem, "Pan with us", is pagan worship enfeebled by Christianity: still offering gratification, but with no power for human fulfillment and with an underlying sense of worthlessness. Pan, the mythological god of fertility, half-man, half-beast, appears as old and saddened. He could keep up the pretense of playing his pipes, but: "Times were changed from what they were: / Such pipes kept less of power to stir ... / They were pipes of pagan mirth, / And the world had found new terms of worth. / He laid him down on sunburned earth / And raveled a flower and looked away. / Play? Play? - What should he play?" [21].

By the middle of the twentieth century, especially after two barbaric World Wars, more reflective minds turned from both hollow rationalism and thoughtless hedonism to an assertive and bitter skepticism lacking in any pretense to happiness or self-satisfaction. Jean-Paul Sartre pushed the philosophy of hollowness to its ultimate conclusion. For him, too, life is meaningless. But while Maugham's Philip Carey sees in this a cause of celebration, Sartre is disgusted by it. Each thing is alone and disconnected, and in consequence valueless. The only relationship he can establish between things is that they are in the way of each other. Things are in the way. He is in the way: "I was in the way for eternity". Life, without purpose or meaning, is indeed absurd. Absurdity: this is his "key to Existence, the key to my Nauseas, to my own life" ... "In fact all that I could grasp beyond that returns to this fundamental absurdity" [22]. Those who hold that life lacks any ultimate value or transcendent purpose or meaning have no answer to offer - if they think things out logically - to Sartre's conclusion that such an outlook makes life absurd and nauseating.

Sartre in effect takes Eliot's comments and erects them into his own philosophy of nihilism: the worthlessness of life compounded by the exasperating presence of others. Life is indeed no more than an "over-crowded desert"; other people, however unsubstantial their ghostlike existence, are in the way - of my purposelessness. And I, ghost that I am, am in their way.

Sartre's philosophy allows him one ultimate self-satisfaction. He is superior to others because he sees, while they fail to see, the worthlessness and absurdity of the lives with which they pretend to be satisfied. He despises them; they disgust him. Other people are contemptible, stupid and altogether hateful - a feeling he expresses in that phrase: "hell is other people" [23], the antithesis of all human and democratic feeling and respect.

Indeed, life with others is a sort of hell for those who cannot stand them, find nothing good in them, nothing to appreciate or to rejoice at. But, more than from others, hell comes from oneself: from an empty, isolated, embittered, and unappreciative self. Sartre could have found a deeper analysis of his own position in these lines from Eliot: "What is hell? Hell is oneself, / Hell is alone, the other figures in it / Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from / And nothing to escape to. One is always alone" [24].

In any case it should be granted that Sartre is more rational than the rationalists; for, to anyone who really thinks, there is greater logical consistency in his conclusion that a senseless world must be a source of disgust rather than of joy. The saints - at least in this: their conviction that life must have some transcendent and glorious purpose to be worth living and loving - are more on Sartre's side than on that of the Enlightenment or its rationalist successors; or, again, than that of the jolly (or the lost) generation of the 1920s, the angry generation of the 1960s, or the self-deadening generation of the 1990s: "If life's purpose were not to give glory to God, how contemptible, how hateful it would be" [25].

[1] L. Stevenson & D. L. Haberman, Ten Theories of Human Nature, 1998, p. 73.
[2] The Encyclopaedia Britannica under "Principles of Physical Science" says that the scientist's concern in the following of a hypothesis, "is to convince himself and his critical colleagues that a hypothesis has passed enough tests to make it worth accepting until a better one presents itself" (emphasis added). Metaphysical science (applying the "tests" of rational argument), no less than its physical counterpart, does follow this same intellectual procedure.
[3] The Big Bang theory is of course a hypothesis about a major stage in the physical evolution of the universe, not about its ultimate origin. The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes it as a "theory of the evolution of the universe [which makes] it possible to calculate the history of the cosmos after a certain epoch called the Planck time. Scientists have yet to determine what prevailed before Planck time" (emphasis added).
[4] Pride (which Chesterton once described as the "falsification of fact by the introduction of self") can prevent the intelligent person from seeing how empty this temptation of the intellect is. Newman regarded proud self-sufficiency as the main obstacle to faith: "If I must submit my reason to mysteries, it is not much matter whether it is a mystery more or a mystery less; the main difficulty is to believe at all; the main difficulty for an inquirer is firmly to hold that there is a living God, in spite of the darkness which surrounds Him, the Creator, Witness, and Judge of men. When once the mind is broken in, as it must be, to the belief of a Power above it, when once it understands that it is not itself the measure of all things in heaven and earth, it will have little difficulty in going forward. I do not say it will, or can, go on to other truths without conviction; I do not say it ought to believe the Catholic Faith without grounds and motives; but I say that, when once it believes in God, the great obstacle to faith has been taken away, a proud, self-sufficient spirit": Discourses to Mixed Congregations (Disc. 13).
[5] Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, pp. 412-413.
[6] Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, 1951, p. 65.
[7] cf. Albert Einstein's dictum: "The mysterious is the source of all true art and science".
[8] More precisely, all knowledge of good is good. Knowledge of evil (of the absence or negation of good) is good if it facilitates a person's avoiding evil. But if evil is not truly understood as the absence of good, but is rather mistaken for good (which can happen), that is not good. The defect there is either the fallibility of the mind (which mistakes evil for good) or the weakness of the will (which, though rightly informed of what is good, prefers evil).
[9] Somerset Maugham: Of Human Bondage, Ch. 106.
[10] The American sociologist, Philip Rieff, admits that the rejection of transcendent views is grim. But, he adds, "the grimness is relieved by the gaiety of being free from the historic Western compulsion of seeking large and general meanings for small and highly particular lives" (The Triumph of the Therapeutic, p. 59). This ignores the fact that every particular life remains small if no larger meaning can be found for it; and begs the question of what real relief is provided by taking superficial gaiety as a cover for underlying grimness.
[11] The Forsyte Saga, p. 567.
[12] ib. p. 607.
[13] ib. p. 618.
[14] By the late sixties this had become the confident tenet of popular psychology: the true way to self-fulfillment is a life lived within purely earthly dimensions, on one's own terms, and without any bothersome morality. A generation later, it is questionable if most Westerners are convinced that the horizons of their lives have really become broader and richer, or that self-fulfillment flows automatically from a life stripped of a sense of the transcendent and of objective moral demands.
[15] Ch. 53.
[16] The Hollow Men, I.
[17] The Family Reunion, Part I. Sc. 1.
[18] ib. Part II, Sc. 3.
[19] Portrait of a Lady.
[20] The Great Gatsby, ch. 6.
[21] The 'flower people' of the 1960s also raveled many things, and looked away - to what? They too ended up finding little in what they chose to play.
[22] Nausea, New York, 1964, p. 99.
[23] Huis Clos, Scene 5. Sartre brings to mind Satan's proud contempt towards man, so well brought out in Milton's Paradise Lost.
[24] The Cocktail Party. Act 1.
[25] Josemaría Escrivá: The Way, no. 783.