“What is man, that thou art mindful of him: or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels: thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, and hast set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast subjected all things under his feet”—Heb 2:5-7
The War for man’s soul today is a war between creation, grace, and animality(*). Everywhere we look in our time, whether in postmodern philosophical works, high school textbooks, television programs, advertising, documentaries or in the propaganda of the radical ecological movement, we see posited the teaching that man is a mere animal, a primate, happily but precariously perched atop a meaningless food chain.
Increasingly, this consequence of Darwin’s imaginative evolutionary theorizing and corrupted philosophical thinking is held to be self-evident, something to be accepted a priori, framing all ensuing discussions where man is concerned. Indeed it is precisely this totalistic immersion of the human person in nature which makes it difficult for Catholics and other Christians who take their Faith seriously to send their children to public schools today. The implications of this reduction of man to a sophisticated beast with a highly developed nervous system and brain are so vast, so profound, so essential, as to make “dialogue” and collaboration with such views difficult in the extreme.
What is often required is, rather, determined rejection and confrontation. It is precisely this radical diminution of human beings which underlies and accounts for the “culture of death” we see all around us today and which spawns errors like pinworms. Such a culture can only be honestly admonished, or, in many cases, decidedly rejected; not because we do not care for others, but precisely because we do! There can be no deep cooperation where philosophical and religious differences are so profound, so comprehensive.
Culture of Death
Whether we consider abortion, euthanasia, sexual perversions of all kinds, the collapse of the moral law in general or the exponential increase in anti-philosophies today, we will find at bottom of it all, the presupposed reduction of man to the level of animalism1. “Scientists”(2) who see only the similarities between man and, say, lower-form bipeds, and who pass over the profound and critical differences as mere detail, are clearly blinded to what was always seen as obvious, until recently that is: that the difference between man and animals is qualitative, not merely quantitative, and this difference is decisively essential.
Fruits of Despair
The failure to see and understand the ramifications of this profound difference is also what accounts for so much of the despair we see everywhere today; a despair which is hardly masked by addictions, by media immersion and violence. If a person is convinced that he has no immortal soul, that there is no real difference between himself and the “road-kill” he saw on the way to work this morning, then we should not be surprised to find him drinking, drugging, sexing and “losing” himself in all kinds of addictions or even deciding that life is not worth living. The root cause of these is despair, not guilt, as the therapeutic community disingenuously contends.
St. Thomas Aquinas, with Holy Scripture, speaks for the Church when he indicates that there is an essential difference between man and animal, even if in terms of mere corporeality there are shared features. He says:
“Man’s excellence consists in the fact that God made him to His own image by giving him an intellectual soul, which raises him above the beasts of the field.” (3)
Animals, then, do not have “an intellectual soul”. The Thomist Walter Farrell suggests that even man’s body is a metaphor for this essential difference. He says:
“Freedom” from Createdness
“Man stands erect while the other animals normally go about on all fours; and for very good reasons. His senses are ordered primarily to intellectual delights, not to the search for sense delights; he should not have his face to the ground as though concentrating on sense things, but rather high up where he can get a broad view of the sense world, seeing it from all angles. To give his interior powers full play, it is right that his brain be placed above all the other parts of his body, that nothing might weight heavy upon it and interfere with its operation. . .the plants have their superior part (the roots) pointed to the earth; the animals occupy a neutral position; while man points towards heaven.”4
Having rejected the revelation of God, however, which is entrusted to the guardianship of Christ’s ekklesia, modern man has opted for a “freedom” from createdness; a freedom which demands his own undoing. Like the dog which sniffs and scratches its way from sensation to sensation, its face low to the ground, and then dies, so modern man, out of logical necessity (given his philosophical presuppositions) has taken to the barn yard, even as he boasts of “progress”, “development”, and “Enlightenment”.
Of the nature and end of animals, Holy Scripture is unambiguous. They are:
“irrational . . .created by nature for capture and destruction” (2 Peter 2:12).
Unlike man who, in his created transcendence, is aware of his existence, its marvel and contingency— and even aware of his awareness—the animal knows only what it is seeking each moment. This is what the Scriptures mean by “irrational”. And this is why man is allowed to “capture” and even “destroy” beasts when necessary (without cruelty which, alas, in today mass slaughter house industry cannot be taken for granted); because they have no self-transcending awareness, no immortal soul. That Our Lord ate fish or lamb scandalizes only those who have escaped from common sense.
While it has long been common in Fairy Tales to posit depths of feelings, and even wisdom in animals, people close to nature and children always knew that such stories were tales. But today, alas, common sense is increasingly rejected as people take flight from reason and think they can create their own “realities”. It is not unusual today to find many Eco-Gaia (5) devotees projecting wildly romantic notions onto the animal world. This is doubtless the result of residual religious, animistic projections. (6) For these, the whale is more of an endangered species, and therefore more worth saving, than many human beings who are said to ruin the earth with their alleged over breeding. Thus the logic of abortion, euthanasia…
Today, so-called Eco-theologians, like Matthew Fox, Thomas Berry, Sr. Miriam McGillis and a host of others, are heard calling for an “end to anthropocentrism”. Human beings, they urge, should no longer consider themselves as the center of creation, having “dominion” over the animal world because Genesis, wherein this natural hierarchy is first declared, is said to be outdated, fit only for demythologization.
Moreover they press their views urgently, suggesting that Holy Mother the Planet will “die” if the new course is not taken. And because their views are essentially the fruit of religious apostasy and philosophical confusions, they will brook no opposition. They have replaced God the Father with the morally indifferent Earth-Mother. All that matters to this new goddess is that she become efficiently organized.
Under the pretext of doing precisely that, new modalities of power are being put in place worldwide. These powers are generally one-world-globalist in orientation and seek to unite the peoples of the world under one religion —or agreed upon religious principles, “spirituality”— and one “world government”. The Popes were warning about this pantheistic one-worldism at the very beginning of this century, as witness Pius X’s Apostolic letter to the Sillon in France.
Obviously when the Scripture’s creation-based, antropocentric revelation is rejected, and an evolutionary animal continuum (from amoeba to man) is presupposed as the only reality, then human beings begin taking their cues for behavior from the animal world. This rationalization has reached tragically absurd levels today as witness postmodernist writer Steven Shaviro’s longing for the sexual autonomy of bacteria. He speaks longingly of the “fluid promiscuity” of bacteria, “the earths most primordial inhabitants” which are “free from any concerns about origins, any metaphysical nostalgia”. Most importantly for Shaviro, bacteria indulge in a guilt-free “perpetual orgy” where there is no “clear distinction between copulation and infection”. . .and where there is no linkage between sexuality and reproduction.(7) Shaviro suggests that bacterial and insect models are “nature’s” antidote to culture. He is far from alone in this kind of reductionism.
One can hardly watch the “nature” shows on television without being inundated with this incessant propaganda. Thus the “freedom” of the ape is coveted. Nature is romanticized; and the dark side of the jungle (predator / prey) is jauntily rationalized as if it were all just fine.
Only the spiritually blind can suppress the existential horror which this picture should evoke in man, precisely because he is rational. Such horror, if modern man had his wits about him, would be viewed as teleological, i.e., pointing to the truth and goal (Telos) of human existence. If man were a mere animal or the moral equivalent of bacteria he should not fear death. If his death were as “natural” as an autumn leave falling he would hardly consider death an existential shock as he always does. Unlike the animals,(8) however, which are “irrational…created by nature for capture and destruction” (2 Peter 2:12), man is oriented to another Telos, to the God Who is man’s Freedom and Life who is the Alpha and Omega of existence.
The sad truth is that “The Light has come into the world, yet men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil” (John 3:19). It is not a question of disinterestedly choosing from among world views. Man will either yield to and accept God’s grace, which will then become a “Lamp for his darkness and a Light unto his path”, or he will love and prefer the darkness of his own self-will, the logic of spiritual death and sin.
In France, the late Post-Modern philosopher, Michel Foucault, referred to his philosophy of radical autonomy as a “philosophy of transgression”; as “the will not to be governed”. Precisely.
We must have great compassion for (post)modern man. But we cannot compromise where such fundamental differences are concerned. Especially in the area of education.
These principles are absolutely irreconcilable. We must pray and offer our sufferings in such a time for those who are caught in this (anti) philosophical mesh, even as Christ offered His suffering for the world, that they may return to the sanity of Creation. We must weep even more for the apostate Catholic professors who knowingly, driven by their own lusts(9), inculcate such views without shame. There is, according to Scripture, a tragic correlation between apostasy and animality: the “dog returns to its own vomit”; these are the frightening words of Holy Scripture(10) . As was said of Judas, perhaps it were better that apostate teachers such as these had not been born. For God is not mocked. To the contrary; Scripture says “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). We must pray earnestly for all mankind in this most difficult Hour.
A Final Thought
In the past one would read of an opinion or thesis, pro and con; there would be time to reflect, and finally to agree or disagree…but today one is flooded with data through technology lending young people the overwhelming impression that a zillion things are being processed by “experts,” well-funded technocrats whose careers depend on the myths, and who judge things to be true, or not. Sweeping conclusions are then simply announced.
St. Paul warned of “signs and lying wonders”. They lie. We saw this first with Darwin. Within a few short decades he became the lens through which all data in the sciences were filtered and sweepingly revised. Hardly had the lens-prop been put before the public eye when poor fools were speaking as though they were confident of what was supposed to have happened many, many, millions of years ago (though they cannot agree on what happened yesterday).
Today the particulars of his theories have been thrown into the furnace, but not the macro-theory, the myth—posited as fact. That the antichristic needs.
The truth is none can process all the data, much less the implications, real or not. Hapless students are expected to uncritically swallow grand narratives which reduce them to mere animals to be herded and managed or eliminated, despite the fact that absent theism and epistemological honesty, every question leads to more questions, as does every theory. And every “scientific” theory breaks down into sub-theories, all of which spawn various—nay, often endless—-schools of thought, each one partisan to a particular “way of seeing” things. And, of course, all genuine knowledge hangs on the “ifs”; and these “ifs”— these contingencies— which might go this way or that, break down into even more complex “ifs” at every critical juncture, endlessly, spawning more theory, ad infinitum. It is a serious problem and has led many to a postmodern despair that anything can be truly “known”. But for the antichristic, this is not a dispensable myth. It is integral to their program, lest man begin acknowledging a Truth higher than the state and the golem.
In light of all this, often one can only say that all errors will ‘out’ in time, to be sure. Error falls of its own weight, though much suffering can be the consequence in the meantime as so many Russians and their neighbors learned. The human person is the only “animal” that can say ‘no’ to his or her passions, and so profoundly care about the feelings of a spouse….. So no trying to immerse the human person into the promiscuity of the bacteria dish and any other part of the sub-human world, thank you. It is the differences which are of absolute, decisive consequence. —- SH
See also, The Mystery That Dwarfs
(*) 1 “Animalism” is the teaching that human being are mere animals; and the doctrine connotes, in particular, the inevitable “sensuality” intrinsic to the conclusion. See the Oxford American Dictionay Avon Books 1980
2 I put the word in quotes because of the wide assumption that Scientists deal with objective, brute facts rather than interpretation; of course, nothing further could be the truth. “Science” is one of the most philosophically loaded concepts in human language today. Everyone respects the “hard” science (eg, applied physics which makes things in our world and economy). But speculative physics which attempt to pronounce on questions which are in the final analysis metaphysical? That’s another thing altogether.
3 Summa Theologica Vol.1 Q. 93 Art. 2 Pt. 1
4 Walter Farrell, A Companion to the Summa, Sheed and Ward, 1941 p.270
5 Gaia: a cosmology championed by many New Agers, “deep” environmentalists and theologians, generally suggesting that the earth is alive, divine, and that human beings amount to the earth reflecting on itself, the consciousness-aspect of the divine. Animals in this cosmology are equal partners in being.
6 (Animism = attribution of living souls to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.) Interestingly though, there are many purely materialist factions ( e.g. the late Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawkings and others) who shun all the quasi-religious dimensions. These are often disconcerted to find that it is hard to immerse man in nature and not expect him to project his religious impulse animistically. The Old testament shows that when people turn away from the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth, they quickly revert into all kinds of idolatry and superstitions.
7 Steven Shaviro Doom Patrols, Ch. 4. Michel Foucault. Internet Book. 1995 (Link from Post Modernism)
8 Animals do, of course, react instinctually to attack, but, being without reason, they cannot conceive death in the abstract nor ponder lifes meaning vis a vis death’s certainty.
9 Cf. 2 Pet. 17-22. Startling words.
—- The Dangerous Mind of Peter Singer
— Scientific Search for the Garden of Eden. The Remarkable Geological and Geographical Accuracy of Genesis 2