Introduction Evolution itself is simply the process of change over time. When applied to biology, evolution generally refers to changes in life forms over time.
Eliot indisputably was, and remains, in the first rank of poets of any era and any culture. His journal, The Criterion, despite its short lifespan, remains the standard of high modernism.
For this volume is neither an exhaustive, systematic treatment of any one topic, nor an attempt to formulate any program of action to fundamentally restructure society. He seeks to further a conversation he sees as ongoing, attempting to clarify our terms and understandings to make that conversation more fruitful and enlightening.
Thus Eliot seeks not to conclude the debate but to improve it by helping define its terms. And such definition of terms is, at its root, a literary endeavor.
Thus Eliot plays the somewhat disengaged role of critic even at a time when disengagement may be taken as disloyalty. Britain is in fact more a neutral than a Christian society, according to Eliot.
But Eliot, though himself a convert to Anglican Christianity, does not seek to respond by engaging in a project of conversion. He seeks to increase our awareness of the kind of society in which we live, and the kind of life we ourselves are living.
Eliot clearly is engaged in an intellectual pursuit, explaining and defining key terms in our public discourse. But Necessity of atheism and other essays puts him no less, and perhaps more, at odds with contemporary standards of intellectual life than if he were merely seeking converts.
This is not to say that ours has become a pagan society. In saying that ours is a neutral society, Eliot also is pointing out that it remains Christian, though only in vestigial form. As Eliot puts it, Liberalism. It is a movement not so much defined by its end, as by its starting point; away from, rather than towards, something definite.
Our point of departure is more real to us than our destination; and the destination is likely to present a very different picture when arrived at, from the vaguer image formed in imagination.
By destroying traditional social habits of the people, by dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constituents, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified, by fostering a notion of getting on to which the alternative is a hopeless apathy, Liberalism can prepare the way for that which is its own negative: CC, 12 Liberalism is fundamentally negative in its teleology.
Its inherent purpose is to liberate individuals from constraints of tradition, social structure, and cultural context. It can have good effects some structures are, indeed, oppressive but if not checked it will corrode the social framework, producing anarchy and brutal responses to that anarchy.
Here, obviously, Eliot is referring to the rise of totalitarianism, perhaps most obviously in response to the anarchy of post—World War I German society. He also points to the discomfiting fact that Western democracies share significant affinities with totalitarian regimes.
Totalitarian regimes simply have advanced more fully and ironically, more efficiently on the road to paganism, a destination toward which our society continues to move. Few people of sense and goodwill would choose either the totalitarianism or the cultural death naturally succeeding to a neutral society that is not brought back to its religious roots.
But the liberal secular viewpoint has become increasingly untenable due to the difficulty of leading a Christian life in a non-Christian society.
The problem of leading a Christian life in a non-Christian society is now very present to us, and it is a very different problem from that of the accommodation between an Established Church and dissenters.
It is not merely the problem of a minority in a society of individuals holding an alien belief. It is the problem constituted by our implication in a network of institutions from which we cannot dissociate ourselves: And as for the Christian who is not conscious of his dilemma—and he is in the majority—he is becoming more and more de-Christianized by all sorts of unconscious pressure: Nor is it one with any specific set of political or economic structures.
It is a society that promotes a particular way of life—a Christian way of life.
Rather, he begins with the understanding that we mean something when we call a society Christian, something more than that it is simply tolerant of Christian religious beliefs.
What we are seeking is not a programme for a party, but a way of life for a people.
Instead we must choose what kind of life we shall live; what habits and preconceptions we will evince in our daily conduct. Culture, religion, political philosophy, and art all are facets of the way of life. They help define, support, and limit one another in ways that can enrich or impoverish our modes of conduct.Gerry, Thanks much for the great resource!
On that topic, Bo Jinn comments in Illogical Atheism. The Humanist Manifestos were three official sets of atheist credos, drafted and signed separately over the course of exactly seven decades. The Necessity of Atheism [Percy Bysshe Shelley] on urbanagricultureinitiative.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
Unlike one reader who was positively aghast at Joshi's introduction, I on the other hand hail it as forthrightness--even necessity. After all that religion has perpetrated (I would say even evil has benefited from belief--but that is another tale), would a firebrand's antideism .
The Necessity of Atheism Reasons not to believe One More Burning Bush (en español) The argument from reasonable nonbelief Unmoved Mover (στα ελληνικά) Debunking arguments for God.
In "Self-Reliance," philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson argues that polite society has an adverse effect on one's personal growth. Self-sufficiency, he writes, gives one the freedom to discover one'strue self and attain true independence.
On the other hand, if atheism is true, then the ultimate failure of all pro-theistic arguments is the only possible outcome (assuming, of course, that logic does bear some correspondence to reality).