Tag Archives: Travel

Andy Bannister and Michael Ruse discuss how atheists find meaning in life

Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!
Two horses fight it out, and may the best horse win!

I’m summarizing the most recent episode of the Unbelievable show.

Details:

Atheist philosopher Michael Ruse joins Justin as we spend a second week looking at Andy Bannister’s new book ‘The atheist who didn’t exist’.

Its amusingly titled chapters include ‘The Peculiar Case of the Postmodern Penguin (or: Why Life without God is Meaningless). Michael and Andy debate whether it’s a problem that atheists can’t have meaning with a ‘capital M’.

Here is a summary of the discussion between Ruse and Bannister, and my comments below the summary.

The MP3 file is here.

Summary:

  • Ruse: ultimate questions are serious questions, and some religions are attempting to provide serious answers to those questions
  • Ruse: there is a psychological element to belief in God but it’s not a complete explanation, but it can apply to non-belief as well
  • Bannister: there are psychological reasons why people would prefer unbelief (quotes Thomas Nagel and Aldous Huxley)
  • Bannister: (to Ruse) what do you think would follow next if you got new information that caused you to believe in God?
  • Ruse: I’d feel scared, I’d think of all the reasons that God would dislike me, rather than any reasons why God would save me
  • Bannister: according to the Bible, God is not so much interested in mere belief, but in active trust in him
  • Ruse: without being smug, I just completed 50 years as a college professor of philosophy, and I have a sense of worth from that
  • Ruse: if God turns up, and says that 50 years of being a professor is not good enough, well, I don’t know God, I’m sorry, I did my best
  • Brierley: Andy, explain to us this story of how a penguin explained to you how he invented a subjective meaning in life for himself?
  • Brierley: (reads the story)
  • Bannister: when it comes to reading a book, the real meaning is the meaning the author intended the book to have
  • Bannister: readers can inject their own meaning into the book that has nothing to do with it, but the author gives the real meaning
  • Bannister: meaning in life is like reading a book – you can make up your own meaning, but the author’s meaning is the real meaning
  • Brierley: (to Ruse) on atheism, is there any objective meaning?
  • Ruse: “obviously, someone like myself cannot have meaning with a capital M in that sense”
  • Ruse: the real question is and atheist can find a sense of self-worth, “I find that I’m happier within myself, I can find meaning”
  • Bannister: what would you say to someone who drinks away the family inheritance and gets the same sense of happiness you have?
  • Bannister: what would you say to all the people who are unable to get “a sense of self-worth” from their career, because of where they are born, sickness, etc.
  • Ruse: I have nothing to offer them, some people are born into such awful situations that they are bound to be bad people
  • Ruse: these unfair accidents of birth, etc.,  fits with atheism better
  • Ruse: what we should do is change society so that more people can build a sense of self-worth through achievements
  • Ruse: that way, they can say to God “I used my talents” so they can create feelings of self-worth and happiness (apart from God)
  • Bannister: meaning in life cannot be answered without answering questions related to identity, value, which are rooted in the overall worldview
  • Bannister: on the Christian worldview, you have an infinite worth, your value isn’t determined by circumstances, earnings, friends, etc.
  • Bannister: your value comes from what Jesus was willing to pay to save you, namely, giving his own life for you
  • Bannister: when I travel to meet other Christians in other parts of the world, they have a happiness that should not be there if they are getting happiness from wealth, fame, achievements, etc.
  • Bannister: but when you come to the West, many people who have wealth, fame, achievement, etc. are unhappy
  • Ruse: well maybe who look after a flock of sheep every day may get a sense of self-worth from that, or from other jobs
  • Ruse: I do take Christianity very seriously, it is a grown-up proposal to answer grown-up questions – it works if it is true
  • Ruse: we don’t have to follow Nietzche’s statement that if there is no God, there is no meaning in life – we can find a middle way, we can achieve meaning in life by using our talents to achieve things
  • Bannister: I disagree with Michael, I don’t think that the meaning you invent for yourself is authentic meaning
  • Bannister: distracting yourself with amusing things and happiness is not an answer to the problem
  • Brierley: (to Ruse) are you saying that you have searched for ultimate meaning, and you are settling for subjective meaning?
  • Ruse: my subjective meaning is not second class to objective meaning, “I feel a real deep sense of achievement, of meaning, of self-worth, of having used my talents properly, and I don’t feel in any sense a sense of regret” (what matters to him is how he feels)
  • Bannister: notice how Michael keeps bringing in value judgments. e.g. – “use my talents well”, that implies that there is a right way and a wrong to use your talents, which assumes an objective scale of right and wrong, which makes no sense in atheism
  • Bannister: an atheist can sit in a sun room and enjoy the feelings of happiness generated by the light and heat of the Sun, without asking whether there is a Sun out there
  • Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, my concern is not whether something makes me happy or makes me feel fulfilled
  • Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, I think there is only one real reason to wrestle with these questions of meaning, and that is to find truth
  • Ruse: sometimes we reach a point where we cannot get to true answers to some questions, sometimes we look for truth, but then give up and confess “I cannot find it” and then move on from there

Is it possible to dispense with God’s advice on your decision-making and achieve something that affects a lot of people, or makes people like you, or makes you famous, etc., and then have that please God? “Look, God, I did something I liked that affected a lot of people, and made them feel happy as they were on their way to Hell because they rejected you”. Will rap musicians answer God by pointing to 50 years of leading people away from chastity with godless music? A lot of people went to see the “NWA” movie that celebrated musicians who have an anti-Christian view of women and violence. Can NWA present their “artistic work” to God and claim that God should be pleased with their successful efforts to get rich and famous? Having feelings of achievement doesn’t mean anything to God.

So what is the standard? How you imitate Jesus – self-control, self-denial and self-sacrifice to honor God – that is the standard. If I had to choose between giving up two hours of my life to summarize this discussion for my readers, and all the fame and fortune that people who make godless TV shows, movies and music have, I would choose to make this debate summary. My goal in life is not to have fun, thrills, travel and feel happy in this world. I have a Boss. Doing without fun, thrills, travel and happy feelings in order to put points on the board for my Boss is objectively meaningful. It’s may not seem like much compared to what James Bond does in million-dollar movies, but at least I am wearing the right uniform, and playing for the right team.

I was telling Dina recently, isn’t it remarkable how rarely in our culture that people actually talk about the big questions? If you look out at the culture, everything seems to be about feeling good, having fun, being liked by others. Not much about ultimate questions, and certainly not a truth-based assessment of the alternatives. .

54-year-old feminist angry at dating agency for not finding her a rich husband

Kate Mulvey at age 53 expects that rich men will want to marry her
Kate Mulvey at age 53 expects that rich men will want to marry her

A little while ago, I blogged about a 47-year-old mother of three who sued a dating agency for failing to find her a rich husband. That was pretty bad, but I found something even worse. A 54-year-old woman who spend all her savings on a dating agency. She expected them to find her loads of rich men who want to marry her – despite her never having invested anything in them.

The UK Telegraph reports:

Glass of wine in hand, the man sitting opposite me in the restaurant was in full flow. While he was droning on about his work commitments, I zoned in and out trying to work out how on earth I was going to get to through this first date. I had expected to meet an eligible bachelor, but he had turned out to be so boring that he made me want to stick asparagus up my nostrils.

This memory came flooding back when I read about, Tereza Burki, a City financier who, last week, successfully sued a Knightsbridge-based elite matchmaking service, for the return of her £12,600 annual fee after they failed to find her the man of her dreams.

A couple of years ago, I too joined an expensive matchmaking agency. I had just come out of a seven year relationship, and was on the wrong side of 50.

I soon tired of online dating and receiving messages from over weight baldies who peppered their emails with childish emojis. I hankered to find Mr Right-for-me, a man who was suitably educated and a successful professional.

And so this is how I found myself, throwing money (my entire savings to be precise) to an upmarket matchmaking agency in central London. The agency claimed to filter out the undesirables, the mediocre and give clients the personal touch, so I handed over the hefty sum of £6,000.

As I waited to be matched with someone from their ‘extensive database’, I idly imagined my handsome date, cashmere polo neck, a bit academic and kind. We’d eat steak tartare and swap notes on our latest clever box-set find and favourite novels.

The first indication that all was not as I had expected came when I met personal matchmaker at a Park Lane hotel for ‘tea and an interview’…  told her how I loved folk music, my favourite film was The Deer Hunter, and enjoyed weekends in the countryside.

[…]A few days later she emailed me with the details of W, “a successful entrepreneur who had travelled extensively and also liked folk music”. When I met him at a pub in Richmond, I was shocked. I was expecting a cultured and dynamic man, instead I got a man in a pair of jeans, a moth eaten jumper and the table manners of a modern day Baldrick.

And therein lies the rub. These agencies trade on their exclusivity, yet the men I met were far from the international super elite they promised.

Isn’t this terrible? Clearly the dating agency is to blame. It should be easy for a penniless, feminist hedonist to find rich men who want to spend all their money taking care of a 54-year-old woman who had literally nothing to do with the process by which they earned all that money.

One thing we know about her for sure is that she is impractical. She is 54 years old and has just spent her last savings on a dating agency. From her other comments about the type of men she is looking for, we can infer that she wasted a lot of money on travel, fine dining, and other frivolous experiences designed to produce feelings of sophistication without any practical plan for preparing for the financial demands of old age. What’s the point of having fun “in the moment” if you don’t have any plan to allow sustainable recreation in the future, when you’re too old to work?

I spent some time reading articles by Kate Mulvey, and here is what I was able to determine:

  • she has no useful degrees – she paid for useless degrees in Italian and French, instead of studying something useful, like computer science or nursing or petroleum engineering. Her “writing” is all about fashion, dating and “lifestyles”
  • her opinion on children: “uppity children take your time, emotions and energy” – she sees children as a detriment to her highest priority (her career). She says “I, however, have lived a life of unfettered freedom to take on projects, write books and travel”
  • she had loads of entertaining men “beating a path to [her] door” when she was younger
  • she spend thousands of pounds on plastic surgery
  • she blames her lack of marriage success on her being “brainier” than men
  • she turned down men who wanted to marry her, as late as age 33
  • her book is called “Accidental Singleton” because she thinks that her approach to life – anti-marriage hedonism – has “accidentally” left her single and penniless at age 54 (as if it wasn’t her fault!)

Although she talks a lot about being intelligent, it seems to me that an intelligent woman would have practical degrees, savings and an awareness of what men actually want from a woman – and WHEN they want it. Men want a woman to support them in their most difficult period, just after they graduate and hit the job market. Starting out in a career is hard because the man doesn’t have savings or a resume or references. The support of a young, attractive, virtuous woman means everything during those difficult years. This is when a wife has the most impact on her husband’s ability to earn and save, on his mental health, on his physical health, etc.

Somehow, this narcissist thinks that she can just show up in a man’s life, after he has done all his earning alone, and grab hold of the things that she never helped build. She wasted all her youth and beauty chasing experiences with attractive bad boys, but she thinks that it’s reasonable for a man to invest all his wealth in her. A woman has value to a man at the time when he is attempting to do difficult things, but lacks support.

What exactly is it that a woman like Kate has to offer a man, given her life choices? Does anyone think that this woman has marriage-character? Does anyone think that her life of selfishness and hedonism has prepared her to be a good wife? What kind of conversation about moral obligations could you have with someone who has only ever done what felt good to her in the moment? Has her string of failed relationships with hot bad boys prepared her to be trusting and unselfish? How about to be faithful? Or even to be content? What is it that she thinks that she is offering that would justify the heavy investment that she is asking for, especially in an age of no-fault-divorce and anti-male divorce courts?

I think people really underestimate how much goes into making a good wife. The character she has to develop. The skills that she has to develop. The way she treats her husband, which often comes from carefully cultivating virtues like chastity and sobriety. Her worldview, which affects whether she has practical abilities like love, forgiveness and self-control. Her ability to be good with money. Her ability to nurture others and make social connections consistent with marriage and homemaking. Her ability to bear children, and then nurture them during the critical first 5 years after – not to mention homeschooling, which is increasingly valuable in a time when underperforming government-run schools seek to indoctrinate, rather than educate, children.

Nothing about this woman makes me think that she has any marriage-related character traits or abilities. Any idiot can spend someone else’s money on their own feelings, fun and thrills. But it takes a carefully crafted woman to really do the work of a wife. Marriage isn’t there so that women can be happy. Marriage is an enterprise. Being selfish – doing what is easy, and what feels good moment by moment – doesn’t prepare a woman for the enterprise.

Study: women seeking to have a child should start before age 32

Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com
Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com

Dina sent me this sobering piece of research from the New Scientist which is perfect for all the young feminists who have been taught in college that marriage should be put off, and women can easily get pregnant after age 40.

Excerpt:

It’s a question many people will ask themselves at some point in their lives: when should I start a family? If you know how many children you’d like, and whether or not you would consider, or could afford, IVF, a computer model can suggest when to start trying for your first child.

Happy with just one? The model recommends you get started by age 32 to have a 90 per cent chance of realising your dream without IVF. A brood of three would mean starting by age 23 to have the same chance of success. Wait until 35 and the odds are 50:50 (see “When to get started”).

The suggestions are based on averages pulled from a swathe of data so don’t give a personal prediction. And of course, things aren’t this simple in real life – if only family size and feelings about IVF were the only factors to consider when planning a family. But the idea behind the model is to help people make a decision by condensing all the information out there into an accessible form.

“We have tried to fill a missing link in the decision-making process,” says Dik Habbema at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, one of the creators of the model. “My son is 35 and many of his friends have a problem deciding when to have children because there are so many things they want to do.”

It’s a scenario that will be familiar to many; the age at which people have their first child has been creeping up over the last 40 or so years. For example, the average age at which a woman has her first child is 28 in the UK and has reached 30 in Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In the US, the birth rate for women in their 20s has hit a record low, while the figures for those over 35 have increased over the last few decades.

The decision is more pressing for women thanks to their limited supply of eggs, which steadily drop in quantity and quality with age. Female fertility is thought to start declining at 30, with a more significant fall after the age of 35.

[…]The new model incorporates data from studies that assess how fertility naturally declines with age. The team took information on natural fertility from population data collected over 300 years up to the 1970s, which includes data on 58,000 women.

I have often tried to talk to young women about the need to get their lives in gear. I advise them to work summers during high school, obtain a STEM degree in university, minimize borrowing money by going to community college for the generic prerequisites, don’t have premarital sex, get a job related to their STEM field straight out of college, pay off their debts, move out of their parents’ house, start investing from the first paycheck, marry between age 25-30, and then start having children after the first two “stabilizing” years of marriage. This is sound advice, rooted in my careful reconnaissance of the things that human beings care about and need in their old age. This advice is not bullying, it comes from reading many, many relevant papers. It comes from putting the knowledge gained from reading the papers into practice, and seeing results where appropriate.

I am giving you the numbers. Straight out of a peer-reviewed study. Don’t follow your heart. Don’t listen to your friends. Follow the science. Make your decisions within the boundaries of reality. God will not save you from foolish decisions.

Related posts

54-year-old feminist angry at dating agency for not finding her a rich husband

Kate Mulvey at age 53 expects that rich men will want to marry her
Kate Mulvey at age 53 expects that rich men will want to marry her

A little while ago, I blogged about a 47-year-old mother of three who sued a dating agency for failing to find her a rich husband. That was pretty bad, but I found something even worse. A 54-year-old woman who spend all her savings on a dating agency. She expected them to find her loads of rich men who want to marry her – despite her never having invested anything in them.

The UK Telegraph reports:

Glass of wine in hand, the man sitting opposite me in the restaurant was in full flow. While he was droning on about his work commitments, I zoned in and out trying to work out how on earth I was going to get to through this first date. I had expected to meet an eligible bachelor, but he had turned out to be so boring that he made me want to stick asparagus up my nostrils.

This memory came flooding back when I read about, Tereza Burki, a City financier who, last week, successfully sued a Knightsbridge-based elite matchmaking service, for the return of her £12,600 annual fee after they failed to find her the man of her dreams.

A couple of years ago, I too joined an expensive matchmaking agency. I had just come out of a seven year relationship, and was on the wrong side of 50.

I soon tired of online dating and receiving messages from over weight baldies who peppered their emails with childish emojis. I hankered to find Mr Right-for-me, a man who was suitably educated and a successful professional.

And so this is how I found myself, throwing money (my entire savings to be precise) to an upmarket matchmaking agency in central London. The agency claimed to filter out the undesirables, the mediocre and give clients the personal touch, so I handed over the hefty sum of £6,000.

As I waited to be matched with someone from their ‘extensive database’, I idly imagined my handsome date, cashmere polo neck, a bit academic and kind. We’d eat steak tartare and swap notes on our latest clever box-set find and favourite novels.

The first indication that all was not as I had expected came when I met personal matchmaker at a Park Lane hotel for ‘tea and an interview’…  told her how I loved folk music, my favourite film was The Deer Hunter, and enjoyed weekends in the countryside.

[…]A few days later she emailed me with the details of W, “a successful entrepeneur who had travelled extensively and also liked folk music”. When I met him at a pub in Richmond, I was shocked. I was expecting a cultured and dynamic man, instead I got a man in a pair of jeans, a moth eaten jumper and the table manners of a modern day Baldrick.

And therein lies the rub. These agencies trade on their exclusivity, yet the men I met were far from the international super elite they promised.

Isn’t this terrible? Clearly the dating agency is to blame. It should be easy for a penniless, feminist hedonist to find rich men who want to spend all their money taking care of a 54-year-old woman who had literally nothing to do with the process by which they earned all that money.

One thing we know about her for sure is that she is impractical. She is 54 years old and has just spent her last savings on a dating agency. From her other comments about the type of men she is looking for, we can infer that she wasted a lot of money on travel, fine dining, and other frivolous experiences designed to produce feelings of sophistication without any practical plan for preparing for the financial demands of old age. What’s the point of having fun “in the moment” if you don’t have any plan to allow sustainable recreation in the future, when you’re too old to work?

I spent some time reading articles by Kate Mulvey, and here is what I was able to determine:

  • she has no useful degrees – she paid for useless degrees in Italian and French, instead of studying something useful, like computer science or nursing or petroleum engineering. Her “writing” is all about fashion, dating and “lifestyles”
  • her opinion on children: “uppity children take your time, emotions and energy” – she sees children as a detriment to her highest priority (her career). She says “I, however, have lived a life of unfettered freedom to take on projects, write books and travel”
  • she had loads of entertaining men “beating a path to [her] door” when she was younger
  • she spend thousands of pounds on plastic surgery
  • she blames her lack of marriage success on her being “brainier” than men
  • she turned down men who wanted to marry her, as late as age 33
  • her book is called “Accidental Singleton” because her approach to life – anti-marriage hedonism – has accidentally left her single and penniless at age 54

Although she talks a lot about being intelligent, it seems to me that an intelligent woman would have practical degrees, savings and an awareness of what men actually want from a woman – and WHEN they want it. Men want a woman to support them in their most difficult period, just after they graduate and hit the job market. Starting out in a career is hard because the man doesn’t have savings or a resume or references. The support of a young, attractive, virtuous woman means everything during those difficult years. This is when a wife has the most impact on her husband’s ability to earn and save, on his mental health, on his physical health, etc.

Somehow, this narcissist thinks that she can just show up in a man’s life, after he has done all his earning alone, and grab hold of the things that she never helped build. She wasted all her youth and beauty chasing experiences with attractive bad boys, but she thinks that it’s reasonable for a man to invest all his wealth in her. A woman has value to a man at the time when he is attempting to do difficult things, but lacks support.

What exactly is it that a woman like Kate has to offer a man, given her life choices? Does anyone think that this woman has marriage-character? Does anyone think that her life of selfishness and hedonism has prepared her to be a good wife? What kind of conversation about moral obligations could you have with someone who has only ever done what felt good to her in the moment? Has her string of failed relationships with hot bad boys prepared her to be trusting and unselfish? How about to be faithful? Or even to be content? What is it that she thinks that she is offering that would justify the heavy investment that she is asking for, especially in an age of no-fault-divorce and anti-male divorce courts?

I think people really underestimate how much goes into making a good wife. The character she has to develop. The skills that she has to develop. The way she treats her husband, which often comes from carefully cultivating virtues like chastity and sobriety. Her worldview, which affects whether she has practical abilities like love, forgiveness and self-control. Her ability to be good with money. Her ability to nurture others and make social connections consistent with marriage and homemaking. Her ability to bear children, and then nurture them during the critical first 5 years after – not to mention homeschooling, which is increasingly valuable in a time when underperforming government-run schools seek to indoctrinate, rather than educate, children.

Nothing about this woman makes me think that she has any marriage-related character traits or abilities. Any idiot can spend someone else’s money on their own feelings, fun and thrills. But it takes a carefully crafted woman to really do the work of a wife. Marriage isn’t there so that women can be happy. Marriage is an enterprise. Being selfish – doing what is easy, and what feels good moment by moment – doesn’t prepare a woman for the enterprise.

ISIS murders two thrill-seeking millennials who were cycling across the Middle East

It turns out that the world is a dangerous place after all
It turns out that the world is a dangerous place after all

I saw this interesting article about a man and woman who decided to quit their “boring” public sector “jobs” and cycle through Africa and then through the Middle East. In this post, I want to focus on their worldviews, how people responded to the news of their deaths, and on why women are so attracted to men who don’t lead them, don’t protect them, and don’t provide for them.

PJ Media reports:

On August 7, the New York Times ran a story by Rukmini Callimachi about Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, a young American couple, both graduates of Georgetown University, who decided to quit their humdrum office jobs and go on an epic bike ride and camping trip that would take them all over the world. “I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige,” Austin wrote. “I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned.”

I couldn’t find anywhere that said what their degrees were in, but I expect that they did easy non-STEM degrees and were swimming in debt. Rather than work their way out of it, they decided to quit their jobs and go on an adventure through Africa and the Middle East, to prove to the world that evil was not real, and that all the liberal nonsense they learned in school was true.

More:

They biked through Kyrgyzstan and entered Tajikistan. It was in that country that their journey came to an abrupt end this past July 29, when five ISIS members deliberately plowed their car into the two adventurers, killing them…

The plan they had chosen involved pointless risk-taking:

Austin, a vegan who worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Geoghegan, a vegetarian who worked in a college admissions office, were both 29 years old – old enough, one would think, to have some idea of just how dangerous a route they had mapped out. A number of the countries they passed through are considered either “not free” or “partly free” by Freedom House. In several of them, it’s not uncommon for roving criminal gangs – or, for that matter, police or soldiers or border officials – to rob, rape, or kill innocent travelers without provocation and with total impunity… Other perils include wild carnivores, extreme weather, unsanitary food preparation, and substandard medical care.

Now the first thing that pops out to me about this was “where are the woman’s parents?” and then second “why did this woman choose this man, given that men have a role of protecting women?” But, you see, parents these days are terrified of telling their daughters “NO”, and women like Lauren are very attracted to men who want to take them on “adventures”, instead of marrying them and providing for them and their children. Adventures are desirable because there are no responsibilities or obligations. You get to show off to your boring friends how special you are, and how much fun you’re having.

Let’s take a close look at Austin’s worldview, which Geoghegan found so attractive:

“With…vulnerability,” he wrote, “comes immense generosity: good folks who will recognize your helplessness and recognize that you need assistance in one form or another and offer it in spades.”

[…]But to read Austin’s blog is to see no hint of hesitation, on the part of either of them, to keep on cycling – no sign of fear that their luck might run out at any moment. Their naivete is nothing less than breathtaking. “You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place,” wrote Austin during their trek. “People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted….I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own.”

This was a man who did not have an accurate view of the world. He had enormous confidence in his own opinions, and he didn’t bother informing himself with anything that would have contradicted his optimism. He was reckless and dangerous. And yet his “lack of fear” must have been very attractive to a woman who didn’t want to “waste” her youth on responsibilities and obligations. She preferred his happy sounding words to any real demonstrated ability as a man. He didn’t have a plan for her future. All he had to offer was fun and thrills in the moment, and that’s what she chose. And I’m certain that if things had continued, they would have broken up the relationship the minute that either of them had to fulfill some obligation that they didn’t feel like doing.

And how did this arrogant, reckless optimism work out for him and his girlfriend?

Even before Austin and Geoghegan met their untimely end, they had problems. In Namibia, Geoghegan picked up a stomach virus. (As Austin wrote on his blog: “she curls into the fetal position and rests, eyes closed, fighting chills and nausea and fatigue. There’s little that we can do at the moment. I give her some ibuprofen.” Whereupon they resume biking.) Also in Namibia, they were almost hit by a car while bicycling along a highway. In Botswana, they both got sick. In Zambia, Austin had a serious bike crash that sent him flying and left him bleeding all over. In Malawi, he got malaria. In Tanzania, a man tried to bully him into forking over some money. In Ceuta, a driver tried to run him over, and another rear-ended him. In Spain, Geoghegan got conjunctivitis. In Marseilles, she had to be hospitalized for an ear infection that had rendered her deaf. Given the dangers they braved, indeed, they were fortunate to have made it as far as Tajikistan.

Is this what a man is now? Someone who recklessly risks the life of a woman? Why doesn’t he get a real STEM degree, get a real private sector job, and buy her a real house that she can feel safe in? Because this isn’t what women are looking for today. They want fun and thrills and adventure. They push away men who try to get them to behave responsibly, and they put their trust in men who tell them what they want to hear: that they should follow their heart. And no one has anything to say about it. We tell young women that they are right to value fun and thrills and adventures. We tell young women that they are right to choose irresponsible bad boys who give them all the feelings.

The secular left was very supportive of what Austin did to his girlfriend:

The Times article about Austin and Geoghegan drew hundreds of reader comments. A surprising number were by other people who’d bicycled or backpacked in far-off, dangerous places. Most saw Austin and Geoghegan as “heroic,” “authentic,” “idealistic,” “inspiring,” “a Beautiful example of Purity and Light.” Sample reactions: “Their candle burned brightly before it was extinguished.” And: “Good for them! They followed their dream.” Then there’s this: “I only see the beauty of two people taking steps to live the life they envision….The good experienced in their journey far far outweighs any negative.” Easy to say when you’re not the one in the body bag. “What is more dangerous,” asked yet another reader, “exposing yourself to the world and its dangers, and living a full vivid life, or insulating yourself in a safe box, in front of screens, where the world and its marvels and dangers cannot touch you? Jay and Lauren understood that safety is its own danger. They are awesome people.”

He was a bad leader, and he led her into a disaster. But that’s what she wanted, and everyone is celebrating what a great man he was.

No one is taking responsibility for letting it happen:

Her parents, Robert and Elvira Geoghegan, said in a statement that her trip “was typical of her enthusiastic embrace of life’s opportunities, her openness to new people and places, and her quest for a better understanding of the world.”

[…]Santovasco, Austin’s mother, said her son and his girlfriend were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“For them to be in this one place where they decided to kill people is unfathomable to us,” she said.

These days, it’s very fashionable for people to want to follow their hearts. Many people who believe in God don’t really think about how to deny themselves in order to serve God. They think that it’s God’s job to sort of guarantee that they will be happy if they focus on their own desires. All they have to do is be reckless in their decisions, and have no fear, and God will make them fabulously happy. What the story of Austin and Geoghegan tells us is that hedonism is actually a secular life plan. Christians should not be doing things like that with their lives.