Without Heaven There is Only Hell on Earth
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Christianity were alien to its true spirit which was taken to be disciplinary and organizational. (There is a big debt to both Foucault and Ivan Illichhere.)
Yet in the early modern period it became clear that such an attitude was far better expressed by a revived Stoicism; its Christian character istherefore highly debatable.
Moreover, he also conrms my thesis that without a realist belief in
a transcendent God and heaven, the ontological ground for hope for atransformed human future is removed. This is shown in the fact that theconsequence of removing the
character of Orthodox Christian-ity—whereby one
proceeds from cross to resurrection, from sorrow
to joy, from tragedy to resolution, from death to life—is that the signi
cance of human historicity is abolished also. Hence Žižek in his own way
proclaims an Hegelian “end of history” by saying that the hell of humanhistory cannot be transformed, but can nevertheless be seen from an alto-gether different and “rosier” perspective which does not remove, entirely
overlaps with, and yet does not touch, its crucied aspect.This means, as Žižek now nearly admits, that what the materialist
offers is a mode of religious consolation, an opiate for the masses, andno hope of real striving for human transformation. His Hegelianism is
not Marxism and is symptomatic of a new twenty-rst-century situation
in which atheism (and scientism) tend to
the left and ensure itspessimistic, misanthropic and essentially conservative character in ourtimes. The Catholic Christian will refuse this mode of pietism, whichis the reverse of everything that the boundlessly mirthful and optimisticChesterton ever stood for.
This new dening secularity of the left (from liberal left to far-left) alsotends to abandon philosophically agnostic nitism of a Kantian variety.The innite can now be known, but the innite is material, as Žižek
suggests, following Quentin Meillassoux.
But the idea that all religious
thinkers are still stuck in the twentieth-century nitist moment is false:
Ratzinger’s Regensburg address was
an attempt to escape the merely
agnostic piety of the nite. He suggests there that we can have faith thatreason, through the exercise of faith, can reach the innite, which is itself innitely rational (the second person of the Trinity, the divine
).Obviously the materialist will respond that we can dispense with faith.But to this the theologian will respond in turn that, without religious faith,the materialist must in the end deny the reality of reason—or else theprimacy of matter. For he faces an aporetic fork: if being is prior to reason,then reason, in knowing being, loses itself as epiphenomenal (Laruelle),
1. Charles Taylor,
A Secular Age
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).2. Quentin Meillassoux,
Après la Finitude
(Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2006).