The Point in the Conspiracy Piece...

...is that no matter who we are, the reasons we have for what we believe are not entirely rational. Whether we believe in evolution or Christianity (and the two are not mutually exclusive), that 9/11 was an inside job, that the world is warming due to human activity, that the War on Terror is a essentially a law-enforcement operation (like John Kerry did in 2004) or a long-term struggle against nation-states (as Dubya did and still does), what we believe is a matter of the heart every bit as much as it is a matter of the head.

That's not to say we cannot marshall evidence to support what we believe - even in my fallacious Delaware theory, I was able to cite accurate information that supported my conclusion. G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis make compelling philosophical cases for the Christian faith in Orthodoxy and Mere Christianity, respectively, but both men, though among the most brilliant who ever lived, became Christians in a moment of revelation (Lewis's happened as he rode in the sidecar of a motorcyle). Their faith was not a matter of mental assent to a self-evident truth - it was a commitment of the heart to the object of their faith, the Creator of the Universe.

One of my favorite Scriptures comes from the book of Ecclesiastes, right after the "To everything, there is a season" passage. It goes, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." I believe that we all possess within us a yearning to experience something bigger than ourselves, and that that yearning was placed there for a reason. It is the impulse that leads us to believe in God, and to seek to understand His nature. It is the desire for transcendance.

I read a report recently that more Gen-Xers are becoming materialistic yuppies, just like their parents. This disheartened me - the defining virtue of our generation has been the rejection of Boomer materialism, and a desire for something genuine in its place - something, dare I say, transcendant (Chuck Klosterman writes a great essay exploring this idea by way of Star Wars in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.). It disheartens me more that, in all honesty, I am one of those yuppies, sitting in a well-appointed living room in a house that is too big for what I need (even if the staircase is imminently suitable for an engineer of my position, being neither too shallow nor too steep.). It's as if we've given up. I wish we could set aside our well-founded cynicism of the world, adopt the position that it can be changed, and as Gandhi said, "be the change we wish to see in the world."

This, in short, is why I want to go into city planning - I have a desire to see more good communities, and that I can help this happen by applying good design, good management practices, and good policy. Of course, unless I know meaning for the word "good," that last sentence ceases to make sense. For philosophers, the "good" is "that for which we aim." Though we all aim for different things, I believe that there are some goods which are transcendant, for we all should aim, and that these goods cannot be discovered solely through practical means. There's a "mojo" factor, a gut feeling, something God places in us that leads us to virtues like goodness, truth, and beauty where pure reason cannot, and to make the tough decision to do the right thing. In other words, "Eternity in our hearts."


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