Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why Quebec Politicians Need a Course in Logic . . . or How Stupidity Leads to the Dictatorship of Relativism

It really is depressing to read utterly stupid and inane comments like the following one (see last sentence of quotation). Now, if a first year philosophy student said something like this in September, I would be patient, kind and understanding in correcting the obvious howler. But if that same student wrote a statement like this on the final exam in April it would be considered a glaring error and there would be no mercy. Frankly, I would feel like a failure as a professor.

But this comes from an elected official who could potentially (depending on the outcome of the next election) actually be setting public policy on education. And she is echoing the current government of Quebec. So what we have here is a set of ignorant, poorly-educated, arrogant politicians who lack critical thinking skills. It is a travesty, a disaster, an embarassment to the people of Quebec, a real mess.

Listen to Charles Lewis, who writes an excellent column in the National Post entitled: "Public Money is Religious Too" describe the situation:

The argument will soon be made that Montreal’s Loyola High School should not have the right to opt out of a Quebec government-sponsored ethics and religion program, despite a court ruling that said otherwise.

The argument will be made that if the private school takes public money, which it does, then it should follow the public program. Loyola, a Jesuit Catholic school, should have every right to refuse to institute the Quebec program, but only if it stops taking public money. Seem fair on the surface, does it not?

The assumption that many will made is that as a religious school it is somehow outside the public sphere and therefore should be grateful for whatever public support it gets.

On Friday, a court ruled that Loyola had every right to refuse to adopt the program and could teach faith and ethics from a Catholic perspective.

“In these times of respect of fundamental rights, of tolerance, of reasonable accommodations and of multiculturalism, the attitude adopted by the [Education] Department in the current matter is surprising,” Quebec Superior Court Justice Gérard Dugré wrote Friday.

“Canadian democratic society is based on principles recognizing the supremacy of God and the primacy of the law – both of which benefit from constitutional protection.”

Almost immediately, the Quebec government said it would appeal the court’s decision.

Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois, echoing the sentiment of the Liberal government, said: “It is up to parents and the church to transmit faith. Schools must transmit knowledge.

Read it all here.

The curriculum in question, by all accounts, teaches moral and epistemological relativism in a crude and popular form. But Marois thinks this is "knowledge" as opposed to "faith." No it isn't. It is just a form of faith called secularism. To take the leap of faith necessary to dogmatically proclaim the truth of relativism is (1) to take up a faith position, (2) to make a self-contradictory statement and (3) to claim to know that what Christians teach about God is untrue. How exactly does one know that? Is there an empirical experiment that proves it? This is in the same category of vulgar atheism as the USSR cosmonaut radioing back to earth from orbit that there is no God visible in outer space so there, that proves it.

And if everything is relative, then the statement that everything is relative is only relatively true, which means that the statement that some things are not relative is as true as the statement that everything is relative. So to hold this is to hold to a logical contradiction.

To hold that God both exists and does not exist (which is entailed in believing that Buddhism and Christianity are equally true), is to abandon rationality. The government of Quebec has abandoned reason in the name of Science. It makes Monty Python look serious.

Since Quebec has rejected Christianity, the realm of the secular is disappearing in Quebec. The secular is a Christian invention. Christians believe in the secular realm, i.e. that sphere of life in which people of various religious faiths can co-exist and even share some beliefs while being in fundamental disagreement on others.

But "Secularism" is different. That is a non-traditional, modern, religious faith that seeks to base ethics and politics on empirical science and logical reasoning. It is a demonstrably irrational faith because empirical science cannot tell us why we should respect all humans as being of equal value rather than considering one race superior to the other. Science can't tell this because it is not a scientific question; one must look to philosophy and religion for the answers to philosophical and religious questions. Some sort of non-relativistic worldview must underlie any society that wishes to avoid tyranny.

So now the secular is disappearing in Quebec. There is no secular left because without a belief in natural law or some other system of right and wrong, a great void is opening up into which all sorts of irrational philosophies, religions and worldviews are rushing. Secularism (or Scientism) is an irrational faith in which all the historic religions like Christianity and Judaism are considered wrong and untrue - or else redefined in relativistic terms.

What is left is government by whatever elite can grab power and morality determined by polling and sophistic rhetoric. In effect, the will to power is unrestrained by absolute moral truths and the weak just get exploited by the strong. When you see the government imposing by force a relativistic curriculum on Christian schools, you know that you have witnessed the degeneration into tyranny.

If all morality is relative then whatever the government does must be "right" in some sense. Since Hitler was democratically elected and the Holocaust was perfectly legal, then it must be all right. That is where moral relativism leads you and if Pauline Marois and the Charest government can not see that, then they are too poorly educated to be worthy of public office.

Some supposed relativists are really just uninformed folks who are trying to be tolerant so they do allow Christian schools to teach Christian morality. But when the rot of relativism reaches a certain point, tolerance falls by the wayside having served its purpose of undermining the moral order that places limits on the tyranny of the State. Then we have what then Cardinal Ratzinger called at Pope John Paul II's funeral "the dictatorship of relativism." Next comes the raw, unbridled will to power.

To pronounce glibly that relativism is knowledge and that morality is just a matter of faith is so inane and so out of touch with reason that it is unworthy of high school students, let alone the government of 8 million people.

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