“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . . . ”
Man, by nature, is limited by time, space, and biology. I can only be where I am, live for my appointed time, and accomplish what I am physically capable of accomplishing—which, according to the natural order, means, chiefly, having a wife and children and providing for them. I am my father’s son, a product of my family, of the place of my birth, of the contours of the land of my birth. Proper cultivation, culture, inculcates the habit of living in harmony with nature, with the world as God made it. That world is small, and, though marred by the Curse, it remains beautiful.
The Scriptures reflect the natural order and man’s place within it. “All flesh is as grass,” writes Isaiah, and “the grass withereth, and the flower fadeth.” God’s will, on a very basic level, and apart from the greater issue of sin and redemption, is for man to conform to his place. The Decalogue warns us not to imagine ourselves outside of our place—whether by making false gods to worship, or by murdering, or by coveting our neighbor’s wife.
But this is precisely where our Enlightened Age went off the rails. The philosophes wished to be gods, knowing good from evil. They said, together with their master, “I...