The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
PROVERBS 9:10 NASB
I like to think I am a smart guy because I read more than the average person, but I have learned over the years that there is a huge difference between being wise and merely being clever. One famous billionaire is clever at getting money, so people flock annually to hear his "wisdom" on every subject under the sun. Most of the time, his wisdom is foolishness except on those occasions when he displays humility and admits that he doesn't know. This usually involves technology. As for morality, he is a large and vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood. I cite this man as illustration because our society today accords wisdom to anyone clever enough to become rich and famous. Yet, why is it that so many of these rich and famous celebrities end up being so stupid? This is because cleverness is not wisdom.
As an atheist, I spent a decade being clever, but I have to admit that I fell under a concept known as the "noetic effects of sin" which is the way that sin erodes the mind and the intellect. Now, I have read many books, and I have learned a great deal on many subjects. But when I first encountered my Catholic wife who has not read as many books as I have, I was struck by how much wiser than she was than me. This is because reading the right books beats the reading of many books. My background at the time was hanging out with a group of atheists who prided themselves on being very clever and "rational." They were a messed up bunch to say the least, so I was struck by my wife's complete common sense in relation to the madness of the people that made it up as they went along. My wife believed in God, and this belief was informed by the Catholic religion which I consider to be the ark of wisdom and truth in this world flooded with darkness and ignorance. This is why I was struck by her wisdom in contrast to my feeling like an imbecile.
I watched a video recently by Father Robert Barron concerning the Garden of Eden where he explained the meaning of the story. Basically, Adam and Eve were given to eat of all the trees in the garden. These trees represent all the fields of human endeavor from the arts to the sciences to engineering to what have you. They were forbidden to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which basically is the tree of your own religion. The results of the Fall are obvious. Humanity is clever at so many things except being decent to one another. We develop the internet to look at porn. We develop nuclear technology to obliterate one another. We develop chemicals to enhance life and then pour them out in the polluted water we drink. The story of humanity is one of cleverness in the many realms of human endeavor but stupidity in the realm of religion, ethics, politics, and morality.
The ironic thing about the Fall is that we are now losing our cleverness. My wife made the remark that she noticed that atheism and mental illness seemed to go hand in hand. You would think that religious people would be the most nutty because they believe in things they can't see, but Christians seem very stable and well adjusted in contrast to the atheists I know. While listening to a well known paranoiac and conspiracy theorist on Coast to Coast AM, I was not surprised when he declared himself an avowed atheist. This guy believes that 9/11 was a government conspiracy, and the same government is slowly poisoning us with chemtrails in the air. But believing in God is for nuts! Now, there are undoubtedly theists who believe the same things about these conspiracies but even they don't sound as loony as the atheist. What we can say firmly is that atheism does not automatically lead to rational thought processes. In fact, I think it is the reverse.
Whenever God is eliminated, madness and chaos and decline are the inevitable results. We see this in all the fields of human endeavor. For instance, there was a time when the practice of the law was informed by the natural law which has its basis in religion, God, and Thomas Aquinas. Basically, there is a law that supersedes all manmade laws, and this law is the law of God. It was on this basis that Nazi war criminals were tried at Nuremberg even though their actions were not actually illegal by German law since these men were the law. In a purely atheist court, these criminals would be exonerated. Similarly, people like Gandhi and MLK are actually criminals since they broke the law. Yet, they were obedient to the natural law and showed the injustice of human laws. Today, atheism and secularism hold sway which is why so many students and practitioners of the law are jaded nihilists admitting that the laws are twisted to suit whatever purpose or agenda exists. The law now subverts justice instead of upholding justice.
There can be no justice without a belief in God. Without God, justice is determined by whoever is in a position of power at that moment. We see this when a rich person skates on crimes that put the rest of us in prison. This perversion of the law also reaches down into personal morality where people routinely break their promises especially in regard to the marriage contract and terms of employment. People want right done to them, but no one wants to do right. This is how you get an adulterer who becomes incensed at discovering his wife's affair, or companies that expect employee loyalty while firing on a whim. We live in a debased culture, and this debasement is a direct consequence of the erosion of religion in private and public spheres.
If the good has been sacrificed, it should be no surprise that beauty has been slaughtered with it. Catholic Europe gave us the most beautiful works of art fashoned by human hands. Those fools and simpletons with their belief in God and hope for things unseen turned out works like this:
But we live in a modern and enlightened age that shuns belief in those medieval fairy tales. Our secular world has moved beyond all that foolish religion and gives us works of art like this:
Guys like Micheangelo were rubes in comparison to the genius of Marcel Duchamps who turned a urinal over and called it art. Art today is no longer about creating works of beauty but works of ugliness and shock where even excrement can be used in the creation of these monstrosities. Since it doesn't take much cleverness to smear feces on a canvas, the cleverness comes in the descriptions and understanding of the subtexts of these works of art. What you are looking at is not the digested remains of last night's dinner but a statement about the power and domination of the patriarchal world system over the feminine and the seething resentment but submission this creates. To put it more simply, the excrement is the non-Christian world flinging hatred at God. This is the real meaning of all this perversion of what is beautiful.
Why does the art world hate beauty now? This is because beauty is Christian. To believe in beauty is to believe in a God who makes beautiful things. So, the modern culture embraces the ugly, the noisy, and the shocking to slap God in the face. In the popular culture, we hear this in the music that is either vapid at its best or pure noise at its worst. Bach has given over to Justin Bieber and Marilyn Manson.
The culture produces from its storehouse of beliefs, so it should be no surprise that the culture becomes more debased as the memory of God becomes more distant in the mind of this secular society. I predict that more and deeper depravity is still to come when even child pornography and the snuff film will become accepted modes of expression. Those who express shock and disbelief at this only have to look how far the culture has declined in the last 20 years. The snuff films are already available courtesy of the Islamic State and the Mexican drug cartels who upload regularly to the internet. Child pornography is one Supreme Court ruling away from legalization, and the ACLU is fighting for this on the grounds that the distribution of the materials should be legal even if their production is illegal. I remember when gay marriage was unthinkable, and it is now on the verge of becoming the law of the land.
If you oppose any of this madness and depravity, what terms do they use to describe you? Those would include homophobe, bigot, Nazi, backwards, simpleton, rube, and fool. As the society becomes ever dumber, those who signal the warnings are called idiots. Wisdom is now folly, and folly is now wisdom. Right is now wrong, and wrong is now right.
I remember taking an English class back in college on deconstructionism, and it was the most baffling class I had ever taken. It was the only English class I made a C in, and I was glad to take the C and exit. I had to read stuff by Derrida, Kristeva, Heidegger, Lucan, and others. The gist of deconstructionism is this. Words cannot convey meaning. Naturally, they used a lot of words to tell me this. And to prove it, none of those words made any sense. This was my first deep taste of postmodernism, and I learned then and there that it was a load of crap. Yet, much of academia is devoted to the production of this garbage. It is the literary/philosophical equivalent of Duchamp's urinal. You don't actually have to know what you are writing or saying to become published and recognized by this gang of fools. In 1996, a physics professor named Alan Sokal contributed an essay to a postmodern journal which they published without question. The problem is that Sokal made it up. It was just postmodern sounding gibberish. This became known as the Sokal affair, and you can read about it here. This hoax has become so risible that it lead to the Postmodern Essay Generator. This would have been very handy for me to have for that English class I took.
The Sokal affair was the little kid telling everyone that the emperor was naked as he strutted down the street in his new outfit. What was considered brilliance was shown to be stupidity. Yet, this factory of postmodernism still churns out this nonsense. When it is not completely stupid, it is either shocking or depressing. I quote at random:
The basic metaphor is the naming of relations in nature after social relations. It can be found “at work” in the theory of causality, the centerpiece of any worldview. Authoritarian causality had its uses: it allowed the ordering of experience, and reinforced authoritarian cooperation in production. Worldviews that assume authoritarian causes when none were observed usually invoke invisible spirit authorities as causes. Horatio obeys Hamlet; Hamlet obeys his father’s ghost. Matter is subordinated to spirit. Thus the slave model of social relations became a whole ontology of what is and ever could be.
Here is another random quotation from that English professor who taught me garbage:
This might just seem like a word-game, peculiar to English, an accident of the language. But a quick review of a few modern languages (such as French, German, Spanish, and Hebrew) shows that the connection between the semiotic and the judgmental senses of the word "meaning" in the phrase "the meaning of life" is not restricted to English. It may be that the phrase belongs to modern times. Among ancient writers, Ecclesiastes, a likely one to consult to see if the question was thus phrased in antiquity, does not seem to ask, "What is the meaning of life?"—he asks, in a variety of Hebrew phrases, "What good is it?" "What does it profit?" "What does it do?" Still, even if this question is a modern one, it is one with which we live. I suspect that the ambiguity in the word "meaning" in the phrase "the meaning of life" reflects a very widespread, if not universal, quality about our thinking.
Now, your first response to this is that it is not understandable. You can only come to two conclusions when faced with this. Either this stuff is brilliant and you are the imbecile, or the person who wrote it is an imbecile writing academic sounding nonsense. I will clear things up for you. The writers of this nonsense are the imbeciles.
In today's atheistic academy, the possessor of common sense is at a competitive disadvantage. This is why I stopped at the bachelor's degree because I was one of those common sense people. Fortunately for me, I had other professors possessing common sense, and I learned something other than the idea that words cannot convey meaning. I learned that the words of these pseudo-intellectuals do not convey meaning, and this academic world is little more than a mutual festival of intellectual fellatio.
You might be led to believe that this madness is a right brain phenomenon infecting the arts and humanities, but science also has its share of naked emperors. The most potent example would be the multiverse theory. Physics is the most basic of the sciences, and physics along with astronomy have confirmed the assertion of Aquinas that the universe had a beginning. We know this today as the Big Bang, and it is universally accepted in the science community. The problem is for the atheists who see this as proof of the arguments of Aquinas for the existence of God. Prior to the acceptance of the Big Bang, atheists like David Hume argued for an uncaused universe. Famous atheist Betrand Russell said, "I should say that the universe is just there, and that's all...." We now know that Russell was wrong. So, the atheists now imagine a bigger universe than the one we inhabit, so they can kick the intellectual can into the universe of make believe. This is not science but mythmaking. Unfortunately for them, Christians already believe in a multiverse since this world is not the only we believe to be real.
I can go on and on showing this paradigm in the various fields of endeavor from psychology to economics to politics to history to whatever. When God is eliminated from the thinking, the thinking skews in directions of chaos and disorder. When I lost my faith as a Protestant and a Calvinist, I was flung into this world of madness to try and make sense of things apart from God. It was not pleasant, and I failed. Floundering and not wanting to descend into the madness that atheism creates, my encounter with my wife and her simple yet profound faith was like an oasis for me after crawling through a desert of nihilism. This oasis is the Catholic Church. I discovered what others like G.K. Chesterton discovered before me. This madness of the Catholic religion was actually sanity. Maybe you have to choke on sand for a decade to appreciate the taste of clean water.