Archive for the ‘Dr. J. Budziszewski’ Tag

Getting stupid to get away from God

I heard Dr. Don Carson use this quote during a recent talk he gave at Mars Hill Church.  I love it…

I have already noted in passing that everything goes wrong without God. This is true even of the good things He has given us, such as our minds. One of the good things I’ve been given is a stronger than average mind. I don’t make the observation to boast.  Human beings are given diverse gifts to serve Him in diverse ways. The problem is that a strong mind that refuses the call to serve God has its own way of going wrong. When some people flee from God they rob and kill. When others flee from God they do a lot of drugs and have a lot of sex. When I fled from God I didn’t do any of those things; my way of fleeing was to get stupid. Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that one must be highly intelligent and educated to achieve. God keeps them in his arsenal to pull down mulish pride, and I discovered them all. That is how I ended up doing a doctoral dissertation to prove that we make up the difference between good and evil and that we aren’t responsible for what we do. I remember now that I even taught these things to students…now that’s sin.

It was also agony. You cannot imagine what a person has to do to himself to go on believing such nonsense.  Paul said that the knowledge of God’s laws is “written on our hearts, our consciences also bearing witness.” The way natural law thinkers put this is to say that they constitute the deep structure of our minds. That means that so long as we have minds, we can’t not know them. Well, I was unusually determined not to know them, therefore, I had to destroy my mind. I resisted the temptation to believe in good with as much energy as some saints resist the temptation to neglect good. For instance, I loved my wife and children, but I was determined to regard this love as merely a subjective preference with no real and objective value. Think what this did to my very capacity to love them. After all, love is a commitment of the will to the true good of another person, and how can one’s will be committed to the true good of another person if he denies the reality of good…denies the reality of persons…denies that his commitments are in any sense in his control?

Visualize a man opening up the access panels of his mind and pulling out all of the components that have God’s image stamped on them. The problem is that they all have God’s image stamped on them, so the man can never stop. No matter how many he pulls out, there’s still more to pull. I was that man. Because I pulled out more and more, there was less and less that I could think about. But because there was less and less that I could think about, I thought I was becoming more and more focused. Because I believed things that filled me with dread, I thought I was smarter and braver than the people who didn’t believe them. I thought I saw an emptiness at the heart of the universe that was hidden from their foolish eyes. But I was the fool.

How then did God bring me back?  I came, over time, to feel a greater and greater horror about myself.  Not exactly a feeling of guilt.  Not exactly a feeling of shame…just horror…an overpowering sense that my condition was terribly wrong.  Finally it occurred to me to wonder why, if there were no difference between the wonderful and the horrible, I should feel horror.  Letting that thought through, my mental sensors blundered.  You see in order to take this sense of horror seriously [and by now I couldn’t help doing it], I had to admit that there was a difference between the wonderful and the horrible after all.

Dr. J. Budziszewski, professor of Government and Philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin.