To say that a man is an idealist is merely to say that he is a man; but, nevertheless, it might be possible to effect some valid distinction between one kind of idealist and another. One possible distinction, for instance, could be effected by saying that humanity is divided into conscious idealists and unconscious idealists. In a similar way, humanity is divided into conscious ritualists and. unconscious ritualists. The curious thing is, in that example as in others, that it is the conscious ritualism which is comparatively simple, the unconscious ritual which is really heavy and complicated. The ritual which is comparatively rude and straightforward is the ritual which people call "ritualistic." It consists of plain things like bread and wine and fire, and men falling on their faces. But the ritual which is really complex, and many coloured, and elaborate, and needlessly formal, is the ritual which people enact without knowing it.
The Oxford English Dictionary
a person believing in or practising religious heresy.
a person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.
Heretics is by G.K. Chesterton's own admission, a work that merely serves to point out the 'heresies' contained within the popular veins of thought surrounding him in society. It seems odd that such a word as 'heretic' could be applied to what is popular, when it is known that heresy normally tends to be the opinion against popular opinion (in this case Chesterton). However, the manner in which Chesterton addresses these thinkers reveals that they hold deep flaws within their own belief systems and as such hold heretical views against themselves.
Where other authors would be inclined to scoff or mock the fallacies of other famous 'artists', thinkers and general scholars, Chesterton however does not lower himself to any such inelegant pursuit but rather aims to show these fallacies and expose them. He himself admits that he lacks precise answers to these questions. However his other work, Orthodoxy, itself, serves to explain his answer to such questions as found in the Orthodox Christian faith.
Considering that Chesterton's book is well over a century old it is incredible how applicable it is to today's society. And this is because Chesterton as a writer discusses the general paradoxes of human living - like how seriousness and humour are assumed to be at opposites, when one can be funny and yet still very much serious in discussing a topic; or how one can dismiss ritual as 'silly' and yet stick to daily social rituals habitually. He also addresses the fallacies of life. And speaking of fallacies I was thinking of one today that I wish to discuss. The fallacy of the burden of proof.
Now this fallacy is the fallacy in which one can say 'the burden of proof falls upon you to prove God exists.' And of course it is then a fallacy to say 'well you must prove he doesn't'. I say this is a fallacy in that what this response ends up sounding like is 'prove he does not'. It is not a rational response because one must be capable of ultimate knowledge - of knowing everything in order to know that God does not exist. Which does mean that one is equally likely to be correct whether taking a position that God exists or does not due to the possibilities of grasping hold of the information as to his existence or non-existence. What I believe about this is that it comes down to whoever is making the claim as to the existence to provide proof for their reasoning. Here is where I spy the problem: I tell you that my reasoning as to why God exists is a)answers to prayer and miracles, b)the signs around me in nature and life, c)the philosophy to do with the world and d)general faith. You listen to me explaining my reasoning and then you tell me that you don't think that my evidence is necessarily rational or scientific. Of course to me for someone not to accept those reasons is fine, so long as they accept those reasons on a subjective level also. For I do not believe it is the job of science or mere rationality to necessarily answer questions about morality, spirituality, psychology, philosophy or ethics - they may provide part of the pathways to the answers but I do not see them as providing the answer. For how can the rational be used to prove what is spiritual or emotional? It is these kinds of questions which Chesterton deals with in his essays.
Whether you like to read about spirituality and faith I recommend Chesterton wholeheartedly. The man has a way of penning phrases exceptionally eloquently, never writing clumsily or in a rushed manner. In fact, Chesterton's writing is for everyone as he also writes about literature, issues of the family and all manner of ideas that touch society at the core. He wrote over a century ago, but he still reaches through the pages of today and touches the hearts and minds of tomorrow.