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Brain-dead intellectuals

Back in 2008, when the celebrated playwright David Mamet announced that he had abandoned his lifelong leftism and was no longer a “brain-dead liberal,” it created shock waves throughout the intellectual world.

After all, Mamet was one of their own, a brilliant wordsmith and creative force of the first division.

But they didn’t waste any time with serious inquiry into Mamet’s conversion to conservatism, or engaging in an open, honest exchange of ideas with him, or studiously examining any of the substantive arguments made in his book “The Secret Knowledge.”

Instead, as they always do in such cases, these self-styled intellectuals simply started smearing Mamet. And they haven’t stopped since. Most recently, Buzzfeed branded him “a bigot” for his defense of traditional marriage.

Perhaps Mamet’s declaration would be better said as being no longer a “brain-dead intellectual.” That may sound like an oxymoron, but the truth is it’s precisely the problem we’re dealing with when it comes to the cultural elites in politics, media, entertainment and academia.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” the Bible puts it in Romans 1. Such militant atheism is the core “value” of the modern-day intellectual.

The late Christopher Hitchens, for example, felt that “atheism” was far too genteel and passive a word to describe his antipathy toward religion and his opposition to anything that even smacked of it. Thus, he called himself an anti-theist. He was an avowed activist in a lifelong campaign against God.

And yet, Scripture also tells us, in Psalm 14:1: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’…”

Only a fool, after all, would affirm a philosophy which is intellectually untenable – as atheism is, since it’s impossible to prove a universal negative.

Only a fool would go a step further and devote his entire life to evangelical atheism, actively and venomously opposing something (or, in this case, Someone) you don’t even believe exists!

Only a fool would enthusiastically embrace an ultimately hopeless worldview, and then even celebrate it as somehow preferable to life in a universe created and controlled by a loving God.

There was a time, not that long ago, when atheists were at least still honest enough to admit the truth. They talked about their atheism in terms of “Mozart’s grave,” to borrow the analogy of filmmaker Woody Allen.

“What does it matter to Mozart if there’s a crowd of people around his grave applauding him for all of the great music he produced? He’s still dead,” Allen observed in one interview while discussing the despair that lies at the heart of his godless worldview.

Yet in a recent New York Times piece entitled “The Secular Society,” columnist David Brooks marvels at how much better the world, and life itself, is in an age in which the role of religion has been significantly reduced; when traditional views of God and absolute truth have essentially been abandoned by so much of society.

He writes that “overall, this secular age beats the conformity and stultification of the age of fundamentalism, and it allows for magnificent spiritual achievement.”

No doubt Brooks is a brilliant fellow, but only a fool could believe that “magnificent spiritual achievement” is possible without God, or with a diminished, humanized and therefore totally corrupted version of God. It’s sort of like saying you can have a “magnificent Thanksgiving dinner” without any food.

To be sure, the problem that our elites – and the rest of the unbelieving world – have with God is not an intellectual one. It resides not in the head, but in the heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 declares that the human heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” because of sin. Thus, they willfully reject what they know of God’s existence, His holiness, His sovereign power – or what they could know – in order to wallow in the sin and rebellion that consumes their very souls.

Romans 1 explains that they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” because we are all born with an internal knowledge of God, and we also have the external knowledge through creation. As contemporary Christian artist Carman sings in one song, the sun and moon and stars are like celestial evangelists circling the globe every 24 hours and shouting in every language known to man that “THERE IS A GOD!”

Dennis Prager recently wrote about participating in a conference of scientific inquiry with 30 scholars, from prestigious universities such as Princeton, Harvard and Yale. He summarized their conclusions thus: “It was clear that the scientific consensus was that, at the very least, the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned to allow for the possibility of life. It appears that we live in a ‘Goldilocks universe,’ in which both the arrangement of matter at the cosmic beginning and the values of various physical parameters … are just right for life. And unless one is frightened of the term, it also appears the universe is designed for biogenesis and human life.”

Nevertheless, we live in a time of atheist best-sellers, atheist conferences to plan long-term strategies and atheist ad campaigns in the form of signs adorning buses in America and abroad bearing slogans like “You Can Be Good Without God” and “In the Beginning, Man Created God.”

Christian minister Dr. David Jeremiah interprets these secular life verses, and the overarching message of the secular society itself, most accurately in this exposition on the “bad news” proclaimed by the religiously irreligious: “There’s probably no God, so your life has no ultimate meaning … so you came from sludge and you’re returning to dust … so you can never be forgiven of your sins … so good luck dealing with your problems … so you’ll never see your loved ones in heaven … so live for fun and die in despair … so there’s no hope, no life, no grace and no heaven.”

Only a fool would rejoice in that kind of misery, and then work assiduously to convert others to their miserable cause.