"Le Penseur" ("The Thinker", 1902) by Auguste Rodin (WikiArt.org)
Philosophy? Not for
me, many insist. In fact, all of us have philosophies, whether we
realize it or not, and whether we can describe them or not.
have encountered the words Materialism, Nihilism, and Fatalism in their
reading or television and film viewing. Our natural reaction is to
ignore them as “ivory tower” ideas that college professors debate, but
have no practical effect on day-to-day life.
Fact is, we are
influenced by these ideas every day of our lives, and increasingly so,
in the films and television shows we watch, in the music we listen to,
in the books we read, and in the art we view. Not to mention the impact
of these ideas on the moral state of our modern culture, so we ought to
understand what these ideas, these belief systems, profess.
is more than just an obsession with money and possessions; it’s a
belief about the world and the universe that gives matterthingsthe
primary position and gives the mind (or spirit) a secondary position,
and often none at all.
Nihilism, almost always connected to
atheism, is a disbelief in the possibility of any moral judgments and
the corresponding belief that all moral judgments are arbitrary.
is the belief that we are powerless to do anything other than what we
actually do, that the physical universe, including our own DNA, drives
us to do what we do. Thus, free will is an illusion.
See a pattern here?
God, no fixed moral principles, no free will, no hope for anything
beyond this life. Therefore, it’s up to man to set his own rules.
it to say, there are many capable and eloquent theologians,
philosophers, and even scientists, who have refuted these ideas, but our
culture has largely adopted these philosophies, perhaps because they
claim to “liberate” man to be able to do what he wants to do, and
perhaps because many who espouse these ideas are considered to be the
best and brightest.
We should be aware that many films, books,
television shows, and works of art and music are not merely
entertainment, or art for its own sake, but reflections of the belief
systems of their creators and producers. These ideas can have the
insidious effect of molding the minds and beliefs of those who read,
view, and listen.
Overreaction? How else did abortion go from
being almost universally condemned to what is today a commonly accepted
“procedure”? Look again at the definitions of Materialism, Nihilism, and
Fatalism and you will see the justification for abortion,
contraception, “gay marriage”, sex as mere recreation, and euthanasia woven into
the fabric of these beliefs. How else did visual art go from being
accessible to much of the population to being incomprehensible
andwellmaterialistic or fatalistic?
Wait a minute, many will
say. Not all films, television shows, art, and music reflect these
beliefs. Just so, but it’s also true that for art and scholarship to be
considered “serious” by the aristocracy of our modern culture, it may
not portray Truth, Beauty and the Good as qualities that are anything
more than the opinions of individuals or societies.
As few want to
be known as materialists, nihilists, or fatalists, the people that meet
these definitions prefer the more trendy categories of atheist,
agnostic, realist, rationalist, or empiricist. But if it looks like a
duck and quacks like a duck…well, you know.
It’s tempting to think
that we can assign these beliefs to one social movement. In fact, there
are Democrats, Republicans, communists, libertarians, socialists,
capitalists, labor movements, and even some patriots who subscribe to
America’s Declaration of Independence proclaims
“unalienable rights” that all human beings possess, rights that may not
be abridged. Not so in a world where Materialism, Nihilism, and Fatalism
reign. In such a world, there are no unalienable rights, only rights
“bestowed” by states, commissions, or the will of the majority.
a fish spends its whole life in water, water is “invisible” to the
fish. As our culture is increasingly steeped in Materialism, Nihilism,
and Fatalism, we should not be unaware of the effects and influence of
these beliefs on us, and on society, and we should engage and respond as
our consciencesproperly informed by reason and faithand talents move