Monday, June 25, 2012

Shirking the Problem of What Is Good

I'm not sure whether it's more remarkable to me that G.K. Chesterton wrote these words from Heretics when he was about 30 years old, or that he wrote them over a century ago:

Every one of the popular modern phrases and ideals is a dodge in order to shirk the problem of what is good. We are fond of talking about "liberty"; that, as we talk of it, is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "progress"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "education"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. 
The modern man says, "Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty." This is, logically rendered, "Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it." He says, "Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress." This, logically stated, means, "Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it." He says, "Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education." This, clearly expressed, means, "We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children." 
(p. 13 in this edition, paragraph break added)

2 comments:

d4v34x said...

Oh you evangelicals always tossing out Lewis and Chesterton quotes don't you know they're heretics and can't be trusted even when they're right about something?

Ben said...

Yeah, guess I'd rather read a serious heretic than an orthodox buffoon.