Briefly noted

Cultures of Death and of Decadence


Rod Dreher writes: “The decadence represented by Charlie Hebdo is probably a greater threat to Western civilization than anything the Islamists can dream up, and it’s important to keep that straight even as we defend the right to free expression and a free press. It destroys everything for the sake of … what, exactly? Charlie Hebdo was straightforward about its far-left agenda of driving all religion out of society. Houellebecq, who is not a religious believer, asks: what are people supposed to live by, then? Man cannot thrive without religion, he believes — and he believes this as a matter of sociology, not theology. … I don’t know what’s coming. Nobody wants to live under hard Islamism. The Islamists have nowhere built a society capable of thriving. But at the same time, the society the West has built and is building without God or any kind of sacred values other than the Self cannot be said to be thriving either. … We are morally compelled to defend artists and journalists against those who would kill them for what they draw or say. But we should be clear that we are defending one culture of death from another one.”


Pigliucci’s Exhortation to Skeptics, Atheists, and Secularists


No matter their cause, every group falls short of its aspirations. Amongst skeptics, atheists, and secularists, some less fêted voices like Michael Ruse and Julian Baggini have lamented the rise of a cavalry of imperious and hostile firebrands that have become the face of atheism. More recently, Massimo Pigliucci, a member in good standing of said community, echoes their concerns. He calls upon his cohorts to reject scientism, anti-intellectualism and a number of vogue theories and instead embrace classic epistemic virtues like charity, respect, and civility. Notably, he draws particular attention to the irony that it is the so-called “community of reason” that is so often hostile to the discipline of reason: philosophy.