The silent artillery of time

The greatest danger of secularism is that it steadily undercuts natural law, moral reason, and religion – in the name of privileging personal preference, taste, and selection. It tends first toward moral relativism and then begins sliding toward moral nihilism. There remains little or nothing in the moral arsenal of secularism to slow a cultural tendency toward decadence or to empower a wave of moral awakening. Mesmerized by the glowing attraction of the individual as the central unit of moral analysis—together with the elevation of personal preference over objective reason and the priority of will over intelligence – secularism tends to hold that moral truth cannot be grasped by the human mind. All there is to rely on is personal preference. In matters of social conflict, then, it is inexorable that power must become the ultimate adjudicating force. Power, stripped of appeal to objective reason. 

Although this is the inner logic of secularism, we are saved for a time from its most dire effects by the slow drag of tradition and cultural inhibition. While the road of decline is slippery, total decadence takes time. But the logic does tend to rush onward, meeting ever less resistance, for secularism is no firm basis for democracy. It does not have any moral foundation on which to base democracy. Nor has it sufficient resources to inspire the virtues necessary for the practice of democracy. What Abraham Lincoln called “the silent artillery of time” wears down the strengths secularism has borrowed from the past.

Not to put too fine a point on it, there are few resources in secularism for justifying the claim that all men are born equal – which certainly flies in the face of empirical observation. Few resources for the appeal to fraternity. Few resources for the appeal to human liberty. Few resources for that crucial value of modern progressive liberalism, compassion for the poor and the weak. And on what precise basis does secularism determine the measure of progress, particularly moral progress? Mere preference does not really advance that argument.