Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Using Science to Promote Morality

Chesterton wrote in 1905 about addressing the problems of impurity and terrorism. 100 years later his writing is more pertinent than ever.

A young man may keep himself from vice by continually thinking of disease. He may keep himself from it also by continually thinking of the Virgin Mary. There may be question about which method is the more reasonable, or even about which is the more efficient. But surely there can be no question about which is the more wholesome.


It is quite certain the realists ... do in one sense promote morality ­­­­­­­­— they promote it in the sense in which the hangman promotes it, in the sense in which the devil promotes it. But they only affect that small minority which will accept any virtue as long as we do not ask them for the virtue of courage. Most healthy people dismiss these moral dangers as they dismiss the possibility of bombs or microbes. Modern realists are indeed Terrorists, like the dynamiters; and they fail just as much in their effort to create a thrill. Both realists and dynamiters are well-meaning people engaged in the task, so obviously ultimately hopeless, of using science to promote morality.

[G.K. Chesterton. Heretics, Ch.2]

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