G. K. Chesterton believed that materialism caused human beings to lose contact with their own common sense and everyday experience as material and spiritual beings. He saw materialism as a species of madness. A madman may think himself a goat, although the differences between a man and a goat are obvious. The materialist trys to reduce all human thought to chemical reactions in the brain. This does not explain, however, man’s keen desire to understand the meaning and purpose of life beyond fulfilling his basic needs. A man’s life cannot be reduced to a few simple causes and effects. According to Dr. Benjamin Wiker:
We have a strange prejudice nowadays—perhaps it is really a superstition—that truth is a function of time, i.e., that being later in time and truer are more or less identical, as if the best way to avoid error is to hold off being born as long as possible. . . .
Both insanity and materialism suffer a fateful contraction of reality, and both share “the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness,” to wit, the “combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction.” That combination is a perfect expression of many of the most eminent of our modern secular theories: their rejection of God and the soul allows them to posit that everything can be reduced to a few simple, physical causes.
Against this, Chesterton wisely declared that, “As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of a madman’s argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out”. . . .
The key to living sanely, Chesterton says, is to realize that we live in a world that is larger than our grasp, a far grander cosmos than we can ever fully understand, one given to us by a God who is wiser and far more benevolent than we can comprehend. Against the notion that we understand everything, if we are honest, we find that our everyday lives are shot full of mystery. . . . For Chesterton, we must humbly and gratefully take things as we find them and accept the mysteries as gifts from God, rather than try to deny them by some entirely lucid but simplistic theory.
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