Thursday, December 31, 2009

From The Older Religiousness of the South

Given our postmodern age with its outright apostasy and "emerging" churches across America, the following from Richard M. Weaver, written over six decades ago, might prove instructive:

Reverence for the word of God has been a highly important aspect of Southern religious orthodoxy. Modern discussions of fundamentalism have overlooked the fact that belief in revealed knowledge is the essence of religion in its older sense, so that this point perhaps needs special emphasis. The necessity of having some form of knowledge which will stand above the welter of earthly change and bear witness that God is superior to accident led Thomas Aquinas to establish his famous dichotomy, which says, briefly, that whereas some things may be learned through investigation and exercise of the reasoning powers, others must be given or revealed by God. Man cannot live under a settled dispensation if the postulates of his existence must be continually revised in accordance with knowledge furnished by a nature filled with contingencies. Nature is vast and unknown; in the science of nature there are constantly appearing emergents which, if allowed to affect spiritual and moral verities, would destroy them by rendering them dubious, tentative, and conflicting. It is therefore imperative...that man have for guidance in this life a body of knowledge to which the "facts" of natural discovery are either subordinate or irrelevant. This body is the rock of ages, firm in the vast sea of human passion and error. Moral truth is not something which can be altered every time science widens the field of induction. If moral philosophy must wait upon natural philosophy, all moral judgments become temporary, relative, and lacking in those sanctions which alone make them effective. And though probably no people were more ignorant of the Summa Theologica than the inarticulate and little-read rural Southern population, this Thomist dualism lies implicit in their opposition to scientific monism, the most persistent of the South's medieval heritages. Then, as now, it explains their dogged adherence to what is taught "in the Book" and their indifference to empirical disproofs.


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