Western morality in the age of ISIS

Guest Post

The world is an interesting place just now. Not in my lifetime has the clash of ideas and beliefs been so intense, the contrast between evil and good thrown in such stark relief – both within people and without.

A religious creed has reared its head in the West that is either medieval or downright satanic, and so many seem unsure how to respond. The values and principles that should inform good decision-making have become so divorced from reality we march into obvious pitfalls (looking at you Germany) and ignore obvious solutions.

A better understanding of the complex relationship between faith and reason is essential if we are to destroy the creed of ISIS (I cannot say ideology because that implies a rational interlocking system of ideas; we are dealing here with a belief system so primitive it holds that everything happens because it is the will of Allah). Dealing with a creed that highlights the ability of pure faith to blend seamlessly into pure evil, it is tempting to conclude the answers must lie absolute rationalism. This is our Western weakness.

I have watched in fascination as many in the West pursue a worldview which attempts to combine rationalism with morality. They cannot bring themselves to believe in a Deity, but – cossetted by a Christian environment – cannot face the brutal world that remains in His absence. So they claim a (usually Christian) morality for themselves, while simultaneously asserting the absolute rights of Darwinian Reason. And being careful not to let the two accidentally touch.

It wasn’t always this way. There have been truly rational atheists in the past, people who recognised that without a God, there can be nothing but a struggle for the supremacy of one’s own blood and kin, no means is too underhand, and the destruction of the weak is merely an act of enlightened reason. 

I have just read Mein Kampf (except the dull bits) for the first time, and there can be no doubt its author was a rational atheist. Sure it is “turgid, verbose and shapeless” – but apply a lens of Darwinist rationalism and it suddenly appears logical and direct. The author believed in no God, and pursued that thought to its logical conclusion: nature contains no morality, no good or bad, only an immutable law of existence – survival of the fittest, by any means possible.

Accordingly, he was determined to see his people survive and dominate.

His bitterness about the Treaty of Versailles was towards his compatriots, not the victorious allies: he thought it their natural imperative to try to subjugate Germany. However he was sure Aryans were the fitter people and Nature’s Law would ultimately see them subjugate all others. Later, when the end came, he was not concerned about the destruction of his people because they had proved themselves a weaker race and so unworthy of existence.

Hitler’s intellect was too limited to perceive that others might be guided by principles less ‘rational’ than the struggle for existence. The Marshall Plan would have left him in blind confusion.

The man is long dead, but among the lessons I see in the smouldering ashes of his ideology is this: pure rationalism, too, blends seamlessly into pure evil.

It is this fact that so complicates the worldview of the progressive left today. Conscience and society demand they recognise Hitler as evil, yet reason insists morality cannot exist – and indeed the Nazis behaved in a rational way.

What to do? The only options are to avoid the uncomfortable subject altogether, or compose a complicated private theory divorcing morality from faith. Many seek sanctuary in the Golden Rule, not asking who created it, or from where it draws its legitimacy. In fact there exists no moral code that, pursued to the finish, does not reveal its roots in a belief higher than mere existence.

Perhaps for many in the West, morality has become nothing more than conscious or unconscious social conformance. If so, that is where our greatest weakness lies, and until we – especially the progressive left – have the courage to pursue real intellectual honesty we will never find answers to the extraordinary evils in our world today.



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