Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ode to "Isms"

I am a scientist chiefly.  I teach, but mostly I teach science.  And, most people who hang around the University very long figure out that we profs are mostly paid to research, and as long as we don't get in trouble with our teaching, we will win kudos for our research.

As I have written before, that often takes young people away from Christianity and towards naturalism or scientism.  It sounds reasonable to young people discovering a way of thinking that produces good results.  Scientific thinking, and the scientific method has led to a lot of useful discoveries.  It is easy for young folk to begin to think that scientism should be applied to every aspect of life.  And that my friends, is stupid, but all too common.

But there are other "isms" that are also of interest.  One www site lists 234 isms.

Aestheticism is the belief that beauty is central to other moral principles.  Not many of those, you say?  It is extremely common in the USA.  How many clothing shops, cosmetics, barber shops, tanning salons, and plastic surgeons are there?  They only stay in business because aestheticism is so common.

Most of us know of agnosticism, the concept that we can know nothing beyond material phenomena.  Some have described agnosticism as atheism without guts.  Others describe it as thoughtful atheism.  It strikes me that to admit we are ignorant is a bit superior to knowing with confidence that no deity exists.

We are more familiar with communism and capitalism, and egalitarianism, and egoism.

We like words that capture large bodies of information, and these words are convenient.

The key issue is that some of these isms are pretty harmless and others are pretty dangerous.  It is important that we be careful about what enters our mind, what we embrace, and where we place our allegiance.

Remember, we cannot serve TWO masters... (Lk 16:13).

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