Nothing to fear, they’re nihilists

"Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it was an ethos."  That was Walter Sobchek of the Big Lebowski.  One finds a similar thought in a recent discussion:*

Say what you will about the prosperity gospel and the cult of the God Within and the other theologies I criticize in Bad Religion, but at least they have a metaphysically coherent picture of the universe to justify their claims. Whereas much of today’s liberalism expects me to respect its moral fervor even as it denies the revelation that once justified that fervor in the first place. It insists that it is a purely secular and scientific enterprise even as it grounds its politics in metaphysical claims.

That's Ross Douthat, New York Times' pious columnist.  For a discussion of the Euthyphro Problem-denying angles to this, see John Holbo at Crooked Timber (my source for the passage above). 

My quibble would be that "secular" and "scientific" enterprises cannot have "methaphysical" claims.  Seems that insofar as they make claims about what sorts of things are real, or not, they do.

*edited this sentence to make it clear I'm not going Godwin on Douthat.

4 thoughts on “Nothing to fear, they’re nihilists”

  1. I don't quite see the reference to national socialism.  I admit I haven't read the Douthat article, but I would hesitate before calling him such.  (I'm not sure if that's what you're doing….It could just be that I'm overly sensitive or that I just haven't been reading your blog enough to know a joke when I see one.)

  2. Hi Pierre,

    Thanks for commenting.  The reference is to the Big Lebowski, as the Douthat sentence has nearly the same form: "say what you will about x, at least it's a y!".  So yes, a joke (there's even a link to the IMDB page).  The title as refers to the Big L, and the tags include that. 

    Having said that, I probably could make that clearer.

  3. Thanks for the clarification.  I did click on the link, but didn't understand the Big Lebowski reference (I had heard of the movie, but never seen it).

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