Friday, May 18, 2012

Love of Authority

I think your objection is coming from a love of authority
This is the opening comment in CD Host's response to my last post.  It is interesting because it is more of a psychoanalysis than a logical reply. As such it suffers from the ad hominem fallacy. Not that it is an insult. I don't think it was meant that way. It is however an attempt to dismiss my argument by pointing out an issue with my person. That is not a legitimate line of reasoning. Still the issue with my person is worth thinking about.

Do I have a love of authority? I think all humans have a love/hate relationship with authority. We have a desire to understand ourselves as part of something bigger. It is one of those religious urges that atheists keep complaining about. For some reason they complain to Christians rather than to evolutionary scientists but that is another matter. We want significance. We want our life to make a difference even long after we die.  So we become a part of something that we thing will make that difference.

That explains why so many atheists are so liberal. They see the liberal establishment as their vehicle of significance. That is why so few liberals actually step away from fashionable liberal ideas and think for themselves. The authority of that group is more dogmatic and their excommunications less merciful than with Catholic church. They are anything but free thinkers. Like a teenager who rebels against his parents saying he has to be true to himself and then immediately joins a gang. Often when we seek freedom all we get is freedom from the previous situation. We don't get true freedom. It is just a new form of slavery often worse than before.

If we are humble enough to see ourselves as needing authority then we can make better choices. Jesus saw the crowds as sheep needing a shepherd. We often see the crowds that way. But do we see ourselves as just one more sheep? That is a lot harder. Those masses need a shepherd. I need to think for myself. The truth is we need both. We need an authority that enables thought and does not stifle it.

It occurs to me that our authority needs to be legitimate, limited, and logical. I know the 3 L's makes it sound like a sermon but bear with me. It has to be legitimate in the sense of having better access to the truth than I do. I really want more than that. If I trust an authority and it steers me wrong that can ruin my whole life. I need to be sure that is not going to happen. But it has happened to many good people who followed movements that proved to be very wrong. You really want some sort of infallibility. That is some sort of guarantee that your vehicle of significance is not going to crash and burn.

Then you want something that is limited. This is important if you want to be a free thinker. The authority should not try and define in great detail what you should be thinking. It has to set some boundaries. If it does not then there is no purpose to having it. But when humans have power they tend to abuse it. They tend to use it most strongly precisely when they should not use it at all. For example the strong punishment by liberals of anyone opposing gay marriage. It is an attempt to stifle thought through the use of raw power. It is working. All liberals recite the same lines when discussing this issue. Even Obama must bow down and mouth the new creed. Not because it is intelligent. An intelligent idea would not need such bullying to become popular. It is precisely the stupid ideas where we see this effect most strongly.

Lastly, authority has to be in logical. If you force people to accept truths that are against reason then you make a person irrational. There is something inhuman about making a person irrational. We are not really capable of it. People try and believe something on faith despite it being against reason. The trouble is when you do that you can't consistently accept any conclusion based on any logical argument. Who can live that way? So you decide which logical arguments you will accept and which ones you won't. But it is arbitrary. It is a mess.

So do I desire such an authority? I think we all do. I think when we do we are really desiring God. More precisely we are desiring the Catholic church. It is part of the God-shaped vacuum in our hearts that Pascal talked about. Sometimes it is hard to see. Many have left the church precisely because they seek a legitimate, limited, and logical authority. But it is not to be found anywhere else.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post! I will surely bookmark this one for future purposes! Anyways, thanks for sharing this interesting topic!
    I do agree with all the your insights and hoping for your upcoming post.