Les Miserables 43: Absolute Virtue of Prayer

Before we return to the story, I would like to take us back to Victor Hugo’s discussion on prayer.  Here he offers a most vigorous response to the spirit of unbelief which was rife in his age, and in ours as well:

There is, we are aware, a philosophy that denies the infinite.  There is also a philosophy, classified as pathologic, that denies the sun; this philosophy is called blindness.

To set up a theory that lacks a source of truth is an excellent example of blind assurance.

Several years ago Erwin McManus noted that the crisis of our age is not a crisis of truth but a crisis of trust.  Almost everything which we accept as truth comes to us because someone told it to us; the choice for us is whether or not to trust the people who are telling us what they claim to be truth.  The problem in our generation is that people have largely decided that no one and nothing is trustworthy as a source of truth.  This can lead to only one outcome:  blindness and darkness.

Back to Victor Hugo:

And the odd part of it is the haughty air of superiority and compassion assumed toward the philosophy that sees God, by this philosophy that has to grope its way.  It makes one think of a mole exclaiming, “How I pity them with their sun!”

…An admirable thing, too, is the facility of settling everything to one’s satisfaction with words.  A metaphysical school in the North, slightly impregnated with fogs, imagined that it effected a revolution in human understanding by substituting for the word “force” the word “will.”

To say, “The plant wills,” instead of “The plant grows,” would be pregnant with meaning if you were to add, “The universe wills.”  Why?  Because this would flow from it:  The plant wills, so it has a “me”; the universe wills, so it has a God.

As for us, however, who, in direct opposition to this school, reject nothing a priori, a will in the plant, which is accepted by this school, seems more difficult to admit than a will in the universe, which it denies.

To deny the will of the infinite, that is to say God, can be done only on condition of denying the infinite itself.  We have demonstrated that.

Denial of the infinite leads directly to nihilism.  Everything becomes “a conception of the mind.”

With nihilism no argument is possible.  For the logical nihilist doubts the existence of his interlocutor and is not quite sure he exists himself.

From his point of view it is possible that to himself he may be only a “conception of his mind.”

However, he does not notice that everything he has denied he admits wholesale by merely pronouncing the word “mind.”

To sum up, no path is left open for thought by a philosophy that reduces everything to one conclusion, the monosyllable “No.”

To “No,” there is only one reply: “Yes.”

Nihilism has no scope.  There is nothing.  Zero does not exist.  Everything is something.  Nothing is nothing.

Man lives by affirmation even more than he does by bread.