PHILOSOPHY SUMMER SCHOOL
Our first venture of this kind ran from 25 to 29 January and was taught by Dr David Moltow. I took part myself as a student (it’s such fun to sit in the back row from time to time!) and greatly enjoyed my week. Firstly, because David Moltow was a first-rate lecturer, a man whose love of philosophy was infectious and whose energy as a teacher was inspirational; secondly, because despite lockdowns we had ten in the class. Ten very good people too, all active in discussion, keen to contribute as well as learn.
I found in discussions on our own that David and I agree on the need for such independent short schools as this: the mainstream universities do not fully meet the needs of many who love learning. Jordan Peterson would put that much more strongly!
I am hoping that we shall run the school again next year, as well as a continuation programme for those who did this school and want to come back for more. I am also interested in broadening the work of the Dawson Centre further by offering similar educational courses to enhance our appreciation of the Christian intellectual tradition. David Moltow put his hand up and came to us as a volunteer. Perhaps there are others?
Those of us who stand up for the worth of Western Civilisation, whose roots are intertwined with Christianity, sometimes find our allies in unlikely places.
One of my favourites is Brendan O’Neill, a libertarian atheist of distinctly leftish leanings, whose free newsletter Spiked is always full of good things. He is a man who would go to the barricades for our rights as Christians to proclaim our beliefs freely.
I risk losing readers for saying so, but I admire much about Prof Peter Singer (his Wikipedia entry seems fair). I disagree with his opinions on the value of human life, but I applaud his logic: effectively he debunks the facile notion that life only begins at birth. On his logic abortion is infanticide, tout court. His view that infanticide is sometimes justifiable is anathema to us, but his logic actually aids us in our opposition to abortion, for it sweeps aside as irrelevant much of the debate about such things as viability, the duration of pregnancy, and the age at which pain can be experienced. In passing I understand that Singer’s personal integrity is unimpeachable, and that he donates most of his large Princeton salary to charities.
Richard Dawkins may not be on anyone’s list of favourite theologians, but you’ve got to admire him for straight talking. Here’s a good specimen: ‘Is there a school of thought so empty, so vacuous, so pretentious, so wantonly obscurantist, so stupefyingly boring that even a full-frontal attack on it cannot be read without an exasperated yawn? Yes. It is called postmodernism…If you have better uses for your neurons and your time, stick to science. It’s the real deal.’
Finally, journalist Andrew Bolt, avowedly not a Christian, probably did more than any other individual to argue for the absurdity of the charges levelled against Cardinal Pell.
It sometimes feels as if the whole world is against us, and that fashionable fads of the Emperor’s New Clothes variety are squeezing the life out of intelligence-based opinions. But beyond the inanities of Twitter and Facebook (and sometimes banned by them) are bold and intelligent human beings who stand up for free speech, including the free speech of many they do not agree with.
And let us not forget our friends, people and organisations that share our views as well as defend them. Mercatornet, the IPA Western Civilisation Program, Quillette, the Australian Chesterton Society, the New Oxford Review, and the Sydney Institute are examples of groups actively involved in defending our cause. Thank God there are many others.
With best wishes always,
FOR YOUR DIARY
Our annual conference originally scheduled for 2020 has been postponed to 25–26 June 2021. The theme will be secondary education, with a particular focus on the development of the spiritual and religious dimension of human nature. Most of those who originally offered papers have confirmed that they are still available after our year-long hibernation with Covid! So we’re set to go and I shall shortly send out a save-the-date notice and booking form.