"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Friday, July 24, 2015

“I feel like [the arc of history] bends toward chaos"

Ta-Nehisi Coates, to Jon Stewart.

I don't agree with the sentiment, but I wanted to point out it's not just a clever variant on the phrase made famous by Dr. King (and not original to him).  It's also a fine summation of the ancient Greek view of existence.

Nothing wrong with that, either; but it points up a sharp difference between Mr. Coates and Dr. King, probably sharper than Mr. Coates meant.  That difference is Christianity, not to put too fine a point on it.  One of the confessions of Christianity is that the God of Abraham is active in history, and therefore we have hope for the future.

Remove that, and you get a view of history that tends only towards chaos.  It's not an illegitimate view; but it is one predicted by Nietzsche and Sartre, to name two atheists.  If you want to face it that way:  face it.  If you want to argue it that way:  argue it.  Mr. Coates supports it, at least in part, this way:  “And I think the record of history — and human history — is behind me.”

Well, history certainly doesn't show an inexorable movement toward perfection; but towards chaos?

I'm left wondering what history he's talking about; and glad I have at least a different lens through which I see that history.


Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

Ironic that he was the MLK visiting professor at MIT given that statement.

I'm ever more convinced that belief is a result of a choice and not something that is compelled by evidence mounting, reaching a critical mass and automatically causing belief. I think that's why T-Nehisi Coates believes what he does, in the face of everything that points to other possibilities. It is in keeping with the current culture of atheism among the intelligentsia, the reason that part of humanity has turned away from the work of changing things. A view that history moves inevitably towards chaos is to give up the alternative to the worst of the status quo, there is no reason to even try.

4:05 PM  
Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:05 PM  
Blogger ntodd said...

"A view that history moves inevitably towards chaos is to give up the alternative to the worst of the status quo, there is no reason to even try."

I don't think he's suggesting there's no reason to try.

But the universe does tend toward entropy...

4:57 PM  

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