Wednesday 27th July 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Are Atheism And Conservatism Compatible?

March 19, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

It was no surprise that there was considerable give-and-take in the comments section that followed Charles C.W. Cooke’s column in the online edition of National Review on February 26. Cooke, a graduate of Oxford and staff writer at National Review, argued that Brent Bozell, the director of the conservative watchdog group the Media Research Center, was gravely wrong when he criticized the Conservative Political Action Conference for inviting a group called the American Atheists to participate in its annual gathering in Washington in March.
Bozell had written that the invitation to the atheist group was “an attack on conservative principles” and “an attack on God Himself. American Atheists is an organization devoted to hatred of God.”
Cooke rejected Bozell’s position in no uncertain terms, using himself — along with George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto, and television commentator S.E. Cupp — as examples of prominent conservatives who openly admit to being atheists.
I don’t know if this charge about Will, Krauthammer, and the others is entirely fair. I have heard them refer to themselves as “nonreligious,” but suspect they mean by that some form of agnosticism rather than full-blown atheism. But that is neither here nor there for the topic at hand. Cooke is an atheist who calls himself a conservative. He is not alone. I suspect that most readers of this column know individuals who take the same position as Cooke. Cooke argues he should not be “excommunicated from the Right” because of his atheism.
He insists that he does not harbor any “dislike” or lack of respect for those who believe in God. He does not think believers “any less intelligent” than himself. Beyond that, he concedes that religion “plays a vital and welcome role in civil society” and “has provided a number of indispensable insights into the human condition” and “acts as a remarkably effective and necessary check on the ambitions of government and central social-planners.”
He concedes that “it is Progressivism and not conservatism that is eternally hostile to variation and to individual belief, and, while we are constantly told that the opposite is the case, it is those who pride themselves on being secular who seem more likely and more keen to abridge my liberties than those who pride themselves on being religious.”
Cooke knows that there are those who will ask if he understands the implications of his position. He writes of how he is often asked, “If you don’t consider that human beings are entitled to ‘God-given’ liberties, don’t you believe that the unalienable rights that you spend your days defending are merely the product of ancient legal accidents or the one-time whims of transient majorities?”
He has an answer: “God or no God, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence are all built upon centuries of English law, human experience, and British and European philosophy, and the natural law case for them stands nicely on its own.”
He insists that a belief in human rights rooted in the work of “Locke and Newton and Cicero and Bacon and, ultimately, upon one’s own reason” can stand “without having an answer as to what created the world.”
The question, of course, is whether this line of thinking holds. Is it true that one need not believe in God to believe in the rights of the individual and a free society, such as that which developed in Western Europe and the United States?
Well, empirically, Cooke is correct. He is an example of just such an individual. That said, I would ask Cooke to consider what Edmund Burke meant by the phrase “unbought grace of life.” Burke used the term to admonish the 18th-century Enlightenment intellectuals who attacked the Europe of Altar and Throne and the traditional values of the Christian West in the name of liberty, equality, and the dignity of the individual citizen.
Burke pointed out that it was no accident that the idealists who championed these views were people who lived in the Christian West they were seeking to overthrow. In the passage that follows, Burke is reacting to the beheading of the Queen of France by the reformers parading under the banners of liberty, equality, and fraternity:
“Little did I dream . . . that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone.”
Precisely. Atheists, who profess their belief in individual rights, representative government, and the belief that it is healthy for a society to enshrine in its customs and laws what Cooke describes as “remarkably effective and necessary checks on the ambitions of government and central social-planners,” owe it to themselves to ask why these beliefs developed in the Christian West — and not under Asian and Arab potentates and Polynesian and sub-Saharan despots justifying their oppressive rule with animist mumbo-jumbo.
Cooke and the atheists who agree with him believe in human rights and the dignity of the individual not because of conclusions they reached through an application of unaided human reason. They believe in those things because they live in a society shaped by the values of the Christian West. It is no accident that Cooke has found that “it is Progressivism and not conservatism that is eternally hostile to variation and to individual belief, and, while we are constantly told that the opposite is the case, it is those who pride themselves on being secular who seem more likely and more keen to abridge my liberties than those who pride themselves on being religious.”
Take away the heritage of the Christian West and that is what you get.
I hesitate to speak favorably of the History Channel’s production The Vikings. It contains levels of violence and sexuality that many will find unpalatable. That said, the series features an intriguing exploration of the clash between the Christian values of a captured British monk and the pagan view of life of “Bjorn,” the young, firstborn son of the Viking leader. As the series unfolds, viewers experience the decency and kindness of Bjorn being overwhelmed by the brutal understanding of masculinity of his Viking elders. We see him developing a bloodlust shocking to see in a young and angelic-looking boy.
The point: The values enshrined by our society matter. They shape us. They form our sense of decency and shame. Charles C.W. Cooke should keep that in mind. His respect for human rights and individual freedom is not something he was born with. It came from the unbought grace of living and maturing intellectually and spiritually in a society that remains buttressed by strong elements of the heritage of the Christian West, in spite of the best efforts of the secular left to undermine them.
He should also keep in mind what happens to a once-Christian society when that heritage loses its power to ennoble its citizenry. We have examples: France during the Reign of Terror, Germany under the Nazis, Russia under the Bolsheviks.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Anti-abortion duo behind Planned Parenthood videos cleared

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas judge on Tuesday dismissed the last remaining charge against two California anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. District Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the tampering with…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Islam is ‘fundamentally a form of government’

Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a telephone interview that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.” Speaking with Religion News Service, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that “when they (Muslims) become the majority in any…Continue Reading

Nienstedt: misconduct allegations retribution for opposition to gay marriage

In other words, he’s the real victim here. Marino Eccher of the PiPress says, “John Nienstedt, the former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, said accusations of sexual misconduct against him were part of a false smear campaign in response…Continue Reading

5 faith facts on Mike Pence: A ‘born-again, evangelical Catholic’

(RNS) While an official announcement has not yet been made, IndyStar and other media outlets are reporting that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate. Pence became governor of the Hoosier State in…Continue Reading

Trump In Tatters As Catholic Voters Shift Their Support To Hillary Clinton

A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans as Catholic voters have shifted their support to Hillary Clinton. A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans…Continue Reading

St. Anne Catholic Church prepares for 136th annual novena

There used to be a steady flow of stories, tales of miracle cures. They were covered in the Daily Journal, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, in the early 1900s. The Catholic church in St. Anne, a village of 1,239,…Continue Reading

More deception in the war on Card. Sarah

Speaking at a liturgy conference in London, Card. Sarah, clearly not acting in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a personal appeal to priests to say Mass ad orientem and the world is coming down on his head.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Caffarra on Marriage, Family, Amoris Laetitia, & Confusion in the Church

cardc

Editor’s note: the following is an exclusive interview with Cardinal Carlo Caffara, conducted by OnePeterFive’s Dr. Maike Hickson. Cardinal Caffarra is Archbishop emeritus of Bologna and former member of the Pontifical Council for the Family. It was in a letter to Cardinal…Continue Reading

Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion

LONDON, July 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in London yesterday, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the…Continue Reading

This priest died in a Korean prison camp. Will the Catholic Church beatify him?

Wichita, Kan., Jul 2, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There’s good news in Kansas: former army chaplain Father Emil J. Kapaun has taken a step closer to possible beatification and sainthood. But for Scott Carter, coordinator for the Father…Continue Reading

The Affirmative Argument for Receiving Communion on the Tongue

A recent post at the site Roman Catholic Man has focused a great deal of attention on the manner in which the faithful receive Communion. As any discussion regarding the Eucharist is a discussion about Our Lord Himself, the importance…Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton: “I Will Always Stand With Planned Parenthood,” It Does “Extraordinary Things”

Earlier this month, pro-abortion presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told activists at a Planned Parenthood abortion business rally that she would “always have your back.” She means it. In an op-ed written to bolster support for America’s biggest abortion business, Hillary…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

An eighty-four year old priest brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists during Mass in a Church in Normandy – The seed of hate

2016-07-26 L’Osservatore Romano Paris, 26. Shock and horror at the “absurd violence”, radical condemnation for “every form of hatred” and prayer for the victims. These were the first sentiments expressed by Pope Francis – through the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi – at yet another episode of jihadist terror in Francis, barely two weeks from the attack in Nice of 14 July. Two men armed with knives broke into a…Continue Reading

Catholic priest to Tim Kaine: ‘Don’t show up in my communion line’

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic priest asked that pro-abortion Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine “do us both a favor” and not show up in his Communion line. “I take Canon 915 seriously. It’d be embarrassing for you & for me,” tweeted Dominican Father Thomas Petri, the vice president and academic dean of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.

WaPo: A “Pope Francis Catholic” can have a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, NARAL

Just one example of how the secular media is going to spin, spin, and spin some more in the quest to provide cover for pro-abort, pro-homosexual politicians. UPDATED (9:15pm, Pacific; July 22): Sen. Kaine has been chosen to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate. In the meantime, CWR’s managing editor, Catherine Harmon, reminded me of this interesting story from last year: U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a practicing Catholic and former missionary, had a clear message Wednesday…Continue Reading

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin . . . VP Pick, Tim Kaine, a Catholic?

From the Facebook page for Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Diocese of Providence. Democratic VP choice, Tim Kaine, has been widely identified as a Roman Catholic. It is also reported that he publicly supports “freedom of choice” for abortion, same-sex marriage, gay adoptions, and the ordination of women as priests. All of these positions are clearly contrary to well-established Catholic teachings; all of them have been opposed by Pope Francis as well. Senator Kaine…Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton Names Pro-Abortion Tim Kaine VP, Says He’s “Catholic” Who “Supports Abortion”

kaine

Abortion activist Hillary Clinton today tapped pro-abortion Virginia Senator Tim Kaine has her vice-presidential running mate. The Virginia politician is on record as trying to have it both ways — saying he is both a “traditional Catholic” and a strong supporter of abortion. Kaine has a pro-abortion record and the potential Clinton running mate is not following anyone. As LifeNews previously reported, Kaine said he is a “strong supporter of Roe v. Wade” despite supposedly…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . The Indissolubility Of Marriage, As Affirmed By The Liturgy

By JAMES MONTI Later this year, as you may have already read, a revised edition of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony is going to be promulgated in the United States, featuring notably a new, more accurate translation of the Latin text revised according to the principles of the Holy See’s 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam. Additionally,…Continue Reading

UN Court Rebuffs China’s Claims To South China Sea

By JOHN J. METLZER UNITED NATIONS — In a major legal setback for Beijing, an international tribunal has rejected and rebuffed many of Mainland China’s claims regarding exclusive sovereignty and rights in the disputed South China Sea. The mid-July landmark ruling in The Hague, by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, stated there was no evidence…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Readings And Meditations For Praying The Rosary

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY How to Pray the Secret Rosary by Frank M. Rega OFS (CreateSpace, 132 pages, Paperback $11.43, ebook $6.30). Available at amazon.com. This slim paperback from Frank Rega gives guidance on how to pray the rosary when you aren’t necessarily able to pray with rosary beads — if you are doing household…Continue Reading

Who Gave Us Justice Ginsburg?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Her mind is shot.” That was the crisp diagnosis of Donald Trump on hearing the opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the possibility he might become president. It all began with an interview the past week when the justice was asked for her thoughts on a Trump presidency. Ginsburg went…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Second Time Around: The Future Of Euthanasia In Holland”

By BRIAN CLOWES “There will be casualties” — Australian euthanasia activist Dr. Philip Nitschke. + + + The Final Step: Accepting And Accommodating Evil After decades of struggling with the euthanasia issue, it appears that the government of the Netherlands is in the process of accepting reality. It has given up attempting to place any…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Profile Of A “Saturday Vigil Commando”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Meet the Saturday vigil commando: She will go to Mass any day of the week, at practically any time of the day, except Sunday. She is a veritable fixture at the Saturday vigil Mass and will even return to the parish on Sundays faithfully once per month to help count the offertory collection, but will…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church… The Great Catholic Library: The Bible

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 10 “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” said St. Jerome, one of the greatest Bible scholars of all times, who translated the whole Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into Latin in the fourth century — over one thousand years before Martin Luther preached his heresies in Europe. Luther and his followers down…Continue Reading

Liturgical Diversity And Unity

By DON FIER In considering where the liturgy is celebrated, we saw last week that “the worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24) of the New Covenant is not tied exclusively to any place because Christ is the true temple of God” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCCC], n. 244). It is through Him that the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I would like to know where St. Patrick is buried. — M.A., Pennsylvania. A. St. Patrick, who died in AD 461, is thought to be buried next to Down Cathedral in Northern Ireland. Once a former Benedictine monastery that was built in 1163, the church now belongs to the Church of Ireland and is known as the Cathedral Church…Continue Reading

Seek What Is Above

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Eccl. 1:2; 2:21-23 Col. 3:1-5, 9-11 Luke 12:13-21 “Vanity of Vanities, all things are vanity!” What a great line and what profound insight Solomon shows in writing these words. Most everything that the world holds up to be of some importance is nothing but vanity. Unfortunately, it is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Olaf

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Vikings! The word Viking comes from a Scandinavian word vik meaning bay or creek, with the extended word meaning pirate. The images the word brings to mind are amazing ships landing around Europe, even on the northeastern fringes of North America, to raid, pillage, and destroy. Although this did happen to some extent, the Vikings also…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Cassian

By CAROLE BRESLIN Frequently, the lives of the saints demonstrate that God calls us to go in directions that we would never consider unless it became clear that it is God’s will. St. Francis Xavier went to the Far East, St. Damien died in Hawaii on the opposite side of the world from his native Belgium, and St. John Cassian…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading