Michaelmas' Asteroid ?
- "...are we to find reflections of our inner selves by contemplating
rocks from outer space?"
There is a difference between sweet thoughts and Michael thoughts.
Here is a case in point. There is of course a serious issue here.
But the potency of how to direct ones gaze with the help of
Spiritual Science into the structure of matter, comets, historical
flybys of various astroids and the like, or measuring the reason for
the positions of the orbits of the planets and the making of how our
Solar system is also the structure of our inner being, is so beyond
the sweet intelligence of the brightest of the bright that one has
to ask, why, why in heaven's name would anyone choose to dither
around with anything but Spiritual Science if this is the best they
"Will's column celebrates the Genesis program, whose name signifies
the search for clues from Mars, the planet believed most similar to
Earth, as to the origins of life. As Will puts it, "How did matter,
which is what we are, become conscious, then curious? Not all clues
can be found on Earth."
Will laments "deepening public indifference" to the space program,
which he lyrically calls "government at its best." The Genesis
mission promises no less than an "understanding of how we came to
be.... It is noble to strive to go beyond the book of Genesis and
other poetry, to scientific evidence about our origins, and perhaps
Strange talk from a noted conservative. It's a far cry from the
views of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, or for that matter Edmund
Burke heck, Karl Marx on the role of government in human
affairs. Will also assumes a materialistic philosophy of human
existence itself. "Government at its best" should "go beyond the
Book of Genesis and other poetry."
In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis observed that the modern
schoolboy is conditioned to take one side in a controversy which he
has not learned to recognize as a controversy at all. That is, he is
trained to assume a materialist and Darwinian outlook, without
realizing that materialism and Darwinism have been subject to
thoughtful criticisms from their first appearance.
Will, the son of a distinguished philosopher, should know this. He
seems to have come a long way from his view of "statecraft as
soulcraft." Or maybe not. Maybe the ultimate in "soulcraft" is
explaining away the soul as the product of mere evolving matter. In
any case, he hasn't wavered in his view that old limitations on the
role of the state are passé.
If this view is "conservative," what on earth can the word mean? The
space program is fascinating, all right, but is it really the job of
government? Why? Does the government's role now extend to unlocking
the ultimate mysteries of life, thereby supplanting centuries of
theology and philosophy with samples of rocks and gases from other
If anything is passé, it's this goggle-eyed worship of physical
science. Physical scientists themselves are far from unanimous about
materialism as well as Darwinism. If the public has lost interest in
space exploration, the likely reason is that we sense that its
importance to our lives and particularly to our defense has been
vastly overblown. Will is unusual, not to say eccentric, in
continuing to regard it with a quasi-religious awe.
To expect physical science to crack the secrets of the soul is to
commit what some philosophers would call "a category mistake." Like
Hamlet pondering Yorick's skull, are we to find reflections of our
inner selves by contemplating rocks from outer space?
"Knowledge, tickled from the heavens, is the business of a small
band of explainers," namely, the government scientists of the space
program, Will says lyrically. But this begs some very large
questions. Why not hire government theologians and philosophers to
chip in their two-cents' worth as well? Isn't knowledge
their "business" too?
Presumably theology and philosophy don't count as "knowledge," to
Will's way of thinking, but are mere "poetry," less reliable than
what government-funded physical scientists may tickle out of the
heavens. Implicit in his panegyric to science is the faith of modern
secularism: that "knowledge" doesn't include anything our Creator
may have revealed to us.