Fantastic Piece by Douthat

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I’m really coming to enjoy reading Ross Douthat’s columns. I should have subscribed a long time ago. He’s reasonable and measured, and though (and because) he’s Catholic, we have similar worldviews.

This was just a fantastic—but still measured, not over-the-top—put-down of Jerry Coyne’s crusading materialism.

Douthat helped me take a step further toward a thought that’s been forming in my mind—or, as Coyne and other materialists would put it, toward a slightly new arrangement of atoms in my cranium.

Here’s the thought: only persons can be purposeful. Trees have a purpose in all their activity: grow and reproduce. But trees aren’t being purposeful; they aren’t doing any choosing.

If this is true, then a materialistic universe can have no purpose. It can’t have any oughts, only ises. For history, for the globe, for me to have any meaningful purposes, a Person outside history, the globe, and me has to grant those purposes.

Douthat’s big point is that atheistic materialism seems to (pretty fatuously, I’d add) cover over with bluster its failure to provide any purpose for human existence. And without a telos, it’s impossible to come up with any stable morals. Why bother forming any traffic laws if nobody knows what highways are for?

Anyway, quit reading an obscure blog and read something worthwhile.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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