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Letters to the Editor

September 23, 2009

Anti-intellectualism source can be found in Powell's backyard

To the editor:

Allan Powell's Sept. 4 column on anti-intellectualism in our country ("A second look at anti-intellectualism in America," page A4) is sure proof of the fact that so many lack the ability to think things through.

The problem he attributes to "fundamentalists" who show a "lack of respect of the mind" is in reality the spawn of his favorites from the enlightenment and their offspring.

These secular saints like David Hume, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Vladimir Lenin, Sigmund Freud and the special icon of American public schools, John Dewey, are the root cause. These sources of skepticism, relativism, rationalism, conceptualism, pragmatism, nominalism and materialism jettison all forms of objective truth and therefore make logic and true intelligent discussion impossible - all views (except those that are assigned a "religious" stigma) must be given equal consideration. How can any intellectual work, scientific or philosophical, be done without standards of truth?


The last time we had real pro-intellectualism was when our Western civilization was formed on the works of Aristotle, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the society and science that they encouraged. There was truth, purpose and meaning - all things were "created by weight and measure" and accessible to the mind of man.

A couple of quotes from two current-day enlightenment proponents (listed in "The Last Superstition" by Edward Feser) speak for themselves as to who is confusing the intellectual landscape.

First, from atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel - "fear of religion" has had "large and often pernicious consequences for modern intellectual life.

"I speak from experience, being subject strongly to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that ... My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind (From "The Last Word," Oxford University Press, 1997).

Second, from atheist biologist Richard Lewontin - "Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to the understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism ... It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our prior adherence to the material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door (From the New York Review of Books, Jan. 9, 1997).

Then, there is the final comments by Richard Dawkins in the documentary "Expelled" featuring Ben Stein. After castigating religion and intelligent design, he tells the interviewer that he cannot explain the origin of our universe. He then suggests that it might have been planted by some intelligent alien race that had evolved someplace else.

This seems to explain where Mr. Powell can find the source of anti-intellectualism - right in his own backyard.

Richard Giovanoni


Some suggestions to improve Hagerstown

To the editor:

In the past several years, the city of Hagerstown has spent a large sum of money to encourage both businesses and residents to move to downtown. Common sense says businesses will come if the residents are there.

With the construction of a new hospital at Robinwood, a whole lot of opportunities arise for the downtown area plus help for our senior citizens.

Here are some suggestions.

1. Use the money just allocated ($9.88 million) for seniors and rehab the current hospital and Pangborn Hall as a new residential living facility. It has offices, meeting rooms and a cafeteria already there.

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