Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Book Recommendations

Last summer I read Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man by Chesterton. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. Chesterton is the apologetic master par excellance before C. S. Lewis. In fact he is Lewis' master in many respects. The Everlasting Man is must reading for thoughtful Christians for several reasons. Among its many treasures is an excellent discussion of the competing Christian and naturalistic "stories" of man. Along the way, Chesterton demolishes the evolutionistic view of humanity's origins.

Read this description of the evolutionary anthropologist's over-reliance on the fragmentary fossil evidence:

"He can only clutch his fragment of fact, almost as the primitive man clutched his fragment of flint. And indeed he does deal with it in much the same way and for much the same reason. It is his tool and his only tool. It is his weapon and his only weapon. He often wields it with a fanaticism far in excess of anything shown by men of science when they can collect more facts from experience and even add new facts by experiment. Sometimes the professor with his bone becomes almost as dangerous as a dog with his bone. And the dog at least does not deduce a theory from it, proving that mankind is going to the dogs--or that it came from them."

Besides this, The Everlasting Man features an in-depth analysis of paganism, contrasting its mythological and demonic stages with Christianity. Chesterton's thesis is that modern Westerners are so familiar with Christianity (in the sense that familiarity breeds contempt) that they do not appreciate the real uniqueness of it. In fact. Christianity makes extraordinary claims about itself. In the process of showing how the Christian religion is not reducible to generic religion, Chesterton articulates the Lord-Liar-Lunatic conundrum that Lewis later popularized in his classic Mere Christianity.

For a classic short piece by Chesterton you may want to check out "The Diabolist". I will be referring to this piece here at UO in the future. You can count on it.

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