A highlight from Episode 10 The Drama of Atheist Humanism Fr. Joseph Fessio S.J., Vivian Dudro, and Joseph Pearce FBC Podcast
Ignatius Press and the Augustine Institute present the Formed Book Club. Catholic book lovers unpacking good books, chapter by chapter. If you like us, please help us by subscribing, and by reviewing us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you might listen. And don't forget to sign up for weekly updates and study questions at formedbookclub .ignatius .com. Welcome again to the Formed Book Club. We continue to discuss Ari de Dubac's extraordinary book here, The Drama of Atheist Humanism. We've done enough now that we can maybe situate where we are as we go forward. You know, the first part, called Atheist Humanism, focused on Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche, with a side note on Kierkegaard, but now part two is Auguste Comte and Christianity. And covered we the first chapter here, the meeting of Comte and Atheism. We're on the second chapter, Christianity and Catholicism. There's four sections, we took antisocial Christianity, where he claims that Christianity is antisocial, because it's basically the soul and God and eternity. Part two is section two is Jesus and St. Paul, where he says St. Paul corrected Jesus and set things straight. Now we're on two interesting parts here, the work of the Catholic priesthood and the Holy Alliance. So we begin again on page 192, section three of chapter two, chapter one of part two. The work of the Catholic priesthood. Joseph, take it away. Well, again, right at the beginning of the first paragraph of this section, towards the top of page 193, it's his weird understanding of history. He seems to believe that Catholicism, strictly speaking, did not come into being until the 11th century, and which by the 13th had already passed into the phase of decadence. So basically the Catholicism didn't even come into being until a thousand years after Christ and only lasted for a couple of hundred years before it basically decayed. So if you're going to begin your understanding of the church with such a warped understanding of history, it's no surprise that all sorts of odd conclusions are going to be the consequence. And the reason why he dates it that way has something to do with what Father said in his introduction. He thought Christianity, in its essence, was something that just had to do with the individual and God. And so if what he wants to worship is the collective, well, that reaches its apex, if you will, in terms of social organization in Christendom, right? So what he thinks is the essence of Christianity are these exterior forms holding together a cohesive society. And that just comes and goes, right? It came and it went, in his view. But if you're looking at worshipping the collective, it makes sense that that's why you would look at it that way. He's mistaking the tree for the fruit, isn't he? I mean, this good thing was a consequence of a thousand years of of inheritance, and it took that long for it to actually mature into the fullness of what you might call the High Middle Ages. But it's obviously a fruit of the thing, which is Catholicism. The thing didn't come into being as some sort of spontaneous combustion, evidently. Yes. I mean, the first quote in that paragraph at the beginning on page 192, where Cope says, since the year 1825, our writings have shown an increasing respect for Catholicism, as he understands it, the immediate and necessary precursor of the religion that has, above all, to consolidate and develop the structure that first took shape in the 12th century. And again, you have this theory of Catholic history that it was just a kind of amorphous movement of Jesus, you know, love and be kind and compassionate. And then after it became a state religion or approved by the state under Constantine in the fourth century, it became hardened in its structure. Oh, but then we have what secular theologians call the Dark Ages. And after the fall of the Roman Empire, there was a lot of confusion, but the church was still present in her God -given form during that period. But he sees, as you said, Vivian, at the end of the Dark Ages, he'll call your Middle Ages, 12th or 15th century, here's where there's a consolidation, and you see the social character of the church in Christendom. By the way, you know, de Lubac writes this during the 40s, his first major work was in the 30s called Catholicism, the social aspects of dogma, in which he made very clear that from the beginning, the Catholic faith has had an intrinsic social connection, which makes sense as a church, after all, we're not an aggregate of individuals who have no relation to each other, except for the fact that we happen to hold the same attitude towards Jesus. Sorry, I'm wandering on there. As Chesterton said in, I think, The Everlasting Man, it could have been orthodoxy, that the church was the only thing that was the bridge that connected the civilization of Rome with the civilization of the High Middle Ages. The church was the connector between the two, the bridge, so it's not as if it just arises out of, as if by magic. And that's what he, he's an everlasting man, where he calls Christ the Pontifex Maximus, the greatest builder of bridges. This Pontifex, pontiff, we have in English, means pawns, bridge, fatre, to make, to build. So it's basically the bridge builder. But he reduces the papacy to being the centralized authority of the church. And, and so he actually wants to replace the pope with himself. But he's actually going to require such total obedience and control, unlike anything the church ever did or ever desired to do. But yes, he talks about on the top of 196, it was by this means, meaning the papacy, that the bonds of society were strengthened. He sees that you can't have the strong bonds of society that he aspires to, you know, a humankind in love with itself without a total authority at the top. Yes, and as we're progressing into the heart of Auguste Pont, you know, Burubak has all these citations that really back up what he's saying about him. I just wonder, he's a brilliant madman. And it kind of like Nietzsche was a brilliant madman, you know. And as we said before, hardly anyone knows that name now. Whereas Nietzsche, Marx, even Feuerbach, those are somewhat household words among the intelligentsia. And we have to ask ourselves a question, we could finish them off. Was he really influential or was it just that he had the thoughts he had ended up being part of the signs of the times and because he, I mean, his life and his writings and his philosophy kind of foreshadow the whole great reset, globalization. Yeah, and some of it sounds very Orwellian in the sense of it also seems to prefigure totalitarianism of the 20th century, you know, where the system, so politics and sociology united in a tyranny. And that seems to be what he's calling for. Obviously, he wanted to be the Fuhrer and that didn't happen. But basically other people became Fuhrers in his wake, so to speak. Well, the reason why his thought is a big part of the air that we breathe is because he wanted to turn all knowledge of everything into a concrete science, including the knowledge of man himself, the knowledge of the universe, everything he wanted to reduce down to a science. We wouldn't have the expression political science if it had not been for Comte. So the whole, in fact, social science, you know, every university has a social science department, as if these things are sciences in the same way that physics and chemistry. Yeah, you hit the nail on the head there, because as we see later on, he actually, he criticizes empirical science. So in other words, he criticizes the hard sciences because the hard sciences should subject themselves to sociology, to society, to an understanding of anthropology. So, you know, so he's actually becomes, he begins by being someone who uses the empirical sciences as a method of beating God. And then when he seeks to establish his own sociological religion, he then attacks the sciences because they are a threat, because they've got to question some of his presumptions and he's not into being questioned. We'll return to the Forum Book Club with Father Joseph Fessio, Vivian Doudreaux, and Joseph Pierce in just a moment. on the Discerning Hearts free app. Did you also know that you can stream Discerning Hearts programming on numerous streaming platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play, iHeart Radio, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and so many more. And did you know that Discerning Hearts also has the YouTube page? Be sure to check out all these different places where you can find Discerning Hearts. Everything is yours. Do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me. Amen. Amen. We now return to the Forum Book Club with Father Joseph Fessio, Vivian Doudreaux, and Joseph Pierce. He's not so much attacking the sciences for the inability to get the truth, but rather, he has what I think is a legitimate criticism. That is to say, the hard sciences progress by specializing more and more and losing often the larger picture. And so he's in need for something synthetic because science takes things apart and makes small and smaller areas where people, I mean, I live with a Jesuit in Germany. They call him Blitzlach because he was so slow. I mean, in his thinking and walking and everything. But he did his doctorate on the heat -sensitive organs in cockroach antennae, but a specific species or variety of cockroach. And in Germany, you have to do a second doctoral thesis called a meditation to be a professor. So he did his second thesis on the moisture -sensitive organs in cockroach antennae. Well, I mean, there's no question about it. This was the world expert on the antennae of these cockroaches. But where does that fit? Big picture thing. And so, you know, Kant would say, look, we have to unify this some way. And therefore, he sees sociology and he's the father of sociology. That's right. As the master of science.