An Honest Look at Contemporary Thought

The book of Wisdom speaks about Truth. It speaks about our need to search for truth. Up until relatively recent history, it was always understood that it was man’s job to go out of himself and search for the truth. The truth is out there; we just have to discover it. Then in the 17th century, a French philosopher by the name of René Descartes sought to obtain absolute knowledge – a knowledge with absolute certainty, without doubt. He begins by questioning the certainty of external realities. He questions the existence of things around him. Unhappy with his results, he basis his philosophy on the one thing he felt could not be questioned, the one thing he did not doubt: his own existence. The very fact that he was able to think, the fact that he was conscious, proved that he, himself, existed. We therefore have the his famous saying: “Cogito, ergo sum,” i.e. “I think therefore I am.” He bases everything on this one certainty and he builds upon this philosophy.

This began the Modern period and perhaps the majority of all the tragedies we are witnessing today. Man now becomes the arbiter of truth. I decide the value of what is external to me. I decide what is real. Truth is no longer an objective reality, but a subjective understanding. Science, which also rose during this period, denied metaphysical realities (i.e. anything beyond the physical) since they could not be subjected to the scrutiny of the human senses, i.e. the scientific method. Therefore, the notion of love, justice, and even God has been undermined according to one’s own subjective view. Is there any wonder why during this period we have the rise of 40,000 interpretations of the Christian God following the Protestant Reformation, as well as the rise of atheistic communism, which flat out denies the existence of God and justice as understood in the classical sense? At least science, with regards to physical realities, still follows the understanding that we must go outside ourselves to discover the truth. In fact, prior to the Enlightenment, science was understood as discovering the fingerprints of God within nature.

What we have today in our Contemporary period is the full maturation that resulted from modern philosophy. We are born into to it. We think in these terms. I determine what is real. The Nazi’s determined that the Jews were not persons. Abortionists determined that fetuses are also not persons in opposition to scientific evidence that supports the contrary (militant atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens, recognized the legitimacy and value of life prior to birth). Even gender is subject to one’s own opinion. I’m not going to be politically correct with regards to objective truths, because frankly, truth is not confined to subjective opinions. As the book of Wisdom implies, the truth, by its very nature cannot be hidden. It is within its nature to be revealed. Spiritual anarchy, hedonism, and lawlessness are all products derived from a rejection of Divine and Natural Law. To reject these laws is to reject God himself.

We are called to discover the truth. This is what separates us from the animals. We are not driven merely by impulse, but by our thirst for knowledge. We delineate from our humanity when we become complacent, like the five foolish virgins from this week’s gospel. In their complacency they fell asleep and failed to prepare themselves for the coming of the bridegroom. They had chosen the convenient path, the lazy path. There are many who choose to remain intellectually and spiritually “asleep” because they refuse to conform themselves to the demands that come with indisputable truths. The rejection of these truths stem from an individualistic approach whereby I determine what is the way, I determine what is true, and I determine the value of life. In so doing, the “way” becomes tyrannical (e.g. communism), the “truth” becomes relativistic (e.g. gender identity), and “life” gets robbed of its dignity (e.g. abortion, euthanasia). This is the natural outcome when the Way, the Truth, and the Life is replaced by my way, my truth, and my life. 

Although we are born into this way of thinking, the good news is, we can choose not to abide by it and seek out Truth for ourselves. Why let someone else’s subjective definition of truth rob me from the Truth that my nature as a human being is rightly entitled to? Do we not have the freedom to think for ourselves? We can choose to be like the five wise virgins who centered their lives on the bridegroom (i.e. Christ), or we can choose to be like the five foolish virgins who centered their lives on themselves and were denied entrance into the kingdom. Beware of being met with the words, “‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

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