“In general, the sexual culture that contraception has created is a culture that treats the stuff of human life and even life itself as a commodity to be bought, sold, mass produced, experimented upon and kept on ice when necessary.”
In his final installment, Douthat thanked the religiously-skeptical Saletan for his respectful tone. But he critiqued the Slate author's liberal viewpoint, for its unconscious reliance on principles drawn from the faith it rejects.
“When I look at your secular liberalism, I see a system of thought that looks rather like a Christian heresy, and not necessarily a particularly coherent one at that,” Douthat remarked.
He suggested that modern liberalism had drawn its most coherent ideas, such as its narrative of historical progress and its concept of universal human rights, from a “Christian intellectual inheritance.” But liberalism cast off other aspects of the Christian vision that would have kept these goals in balance and perspective.
Today, Douthat said, secular liberalism goes forth with “moral fervor,” while denying “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,” he pointed out, noting that a reader “will not find the principle of absolute human equality in evolutionary theory, or universal human rights anywhere in physics.”
Douthat posed a question to secular critics who believe “that Christian teachings on homosexuality do violence to gay people’s equal dignity.”
“If the world is just matter in motion, whence comes this dignity? What justifies and sustains it? Why should I grant it such intense, almost supernatural respect?”
In his first reply to Saletan, Douthat described “Bad Religion” as a book inviting nonbelievers “to put an ear to the church door, you might say, even if they don’t actually step inside.”
At the series' close, the Catholic columnist reaffirmed his desire to help skeptics take a sympathetic look at Christian orthodoxy.
“I’d invite you to glance back over your shoulder at the worldview that so many liberals have left behind,” he told Saletan, “and to consider the possibility that … it might still provide a better home for humankind than whatever destination our civilization is headed for.”
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