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What is the mission of First Things? We have a stock answer: To advance a religiously informed philosophy for the ordering of public life. But I want to dig more deeply. When I do, one word keeps coming up: freedom. First Things exists to liberate modern men and women of faith from bondage to secular falsehoods.
One falsehood tells us that we live in a disenchanted era. Modern science has shown the “God hypothesis” to be unnecessary. Material explanations of the human condition are sufficient. The old religious beliefs are outmoded and unsustainable in our age of critical reason.
Falsehood - God - Authority - Source - Oppression
Another falsehood considers God’s authority the supreme source of oppression. It is the opium of the masses, deterring the poor from demanding justice. It demeans women and represses our healthy sexual instincts. Those who truly value the human must throw off the shackles of religious obedience.
Still another falsehood says that religious faith leads to violence and civil strife. Dogmas have no place in the public square. What’s needed is the modest, impartial reign of reason, not the incendiary claims of religious believers who imagine themselves privileged recipients of divine revelation.
Falsehoods - Faith - Impedes - Creativity - Sake
There are other falsehoods. Some say religious faith impedes artistic creativity, or that self-denial for the sake of service to God amounts to a pathological masochism. And so on. And so on.
First Things exists to parry these falsehoods—and thereby to open up space for religious believers to contribute to the political, moral, cultural, and scientific endeavors of our time. The notion of “public reason” is a latter-day myth. Science, properly undertaken, sparks a wonder that faith deepens and encourages. Religious obedience and self-denial concentrate the powers of the soul, strengthening rather than diminishing us.
Impediments - Claims - Roles
But there’s more to freedom than removing impediments and parrying false claims that seek to limit our roles and silence our...
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