My little youngest brother and I had a brief exchange earlier today on the hopelessness that ensues when seeing that there are still people driving around today with Obama bumper stickers on their vehicles. It boggles the mind that there can still be folks seemingly proud of their support of this President.
That conversation came to mind when I came across this piece by Daniel Schwindt:
Through the Reformation this great shift in self-perception, by which man’s carnal weakness and mental strength both became exaggerated, can be viewed with great clarity. Only within the context of this new, individualistic, rationalized, subjective sort of religiosity could the focus of hamartiology become so obsessed with man’s “total depravity” while, at the very same time, laying on this same “totally depraved” soul the immense responsibility of interpreting scripture and discerning the truth of a thousand years of doctrine all by himself.
Yet we need to go further than just identifying historical transformations. We also need to examine the consequences, the most significant of which, in the case of liberalism, has been the unprecedented empowerment of ignorance as a social force.
When man viewed himself as generally ignorant of most things from the start, which is true of us all, then knowledge was able to maintain a position of authority and to direct the affairs of men. Once ignorance was forgotten—or denied altogether, particularly in regard to our social consciousness of the fact—the power and influence of knowledge began to evaporate. It began to wane, and has not stopped waning since, and it is reasonable to suggest that it may be ignorance, rather than knowledge, that gives direction to politics, economics, and the sciences of our world today.
At this point I should pause to explain what I mean by the term “ignorance.” I do not mean the lack of knowledge plain and simple. That is inevitable, universal, and need not, in itself, do violence to society. On the contrary, if this sort of honest ignorance is acknowledged, it becomes that “Socratic” type of ignorance which is really just the first step on the path toward wisdom.
No, what I’m concerned with is an unacknowledged or denied ignorance, which Augustine called “opinionativeness” and defined as “imagining oneself to know what one does not know.” So when I say that man’s ignorance is on the rise, I mean that the gap between what a man knows and what he imagines himself to know is widening, and is now threatening to displace the Grand Canyon as the widest chasm in America.
There's much more... and it's a great read. What you might be asking, does this have to do with my conversation this morning with my brother? Here's a bit more of a teaser:
Consider again our typical voting citizen:
He thinks he knows what’s going on with global warming, whether the science is valid or not. He thinks that he knows, at any given moment, what sort of effect a tax adjustment would have on the national economy. He thinks he knows how immunizations work. He thinks he knows what “organic” means. He thinks he understands the conflict in the Middle East.
This list could go on and on, from Benghazi to the Big Bang, but I’m sure the point is clear: He cannot possibly have valid opinions about these things. Considered individually, the number of people who fully understand any one of the above points is undeniably very, very small. Considered as a whole and all at once, no one could possibly have reached a level of understanding that could be termed “competent.”
Further, although this alone is enough to achieve institutionalized solipsism, there is an even greater danger: it teaches men that this is how truth is discovered—by polling a mass of Augustinian opinionation and going with the greatest number.
This sort of “democratization of truth” ends by defeating itself. We think we have free thought, but it has been observed that never before was man more a slave to the opinions of others.
Do read the whole thing.
Trust me. It's enlightening.