What Would GK Chesterton Have Thought of the Fashionable Fallacies of Our Age?

June 14, 2024, marks the 88th anniversary of Chesterton’s death, but his wit and wisdom lives on.

G.K. Chesterton in the 1920s
G.K. Chesterton in the 1920s (photo: Herbert Lampert / National Portrait Gallery / Wikimedia Commons)

“When men stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.”

An acquaintance of mine recently took a weekend trip. He mentioned to me a little while later that he’d spent a fair amount of time with a certain gentleman, who’d expressed his own belief that the world is flat, during that trip. My acquaintance didn’t hesitate to laugh while mentioning this to me.

Flat-earthers, as they are labeled, are still uncommon. The spreading of misinformation via social media has helped make them less uncommon in recent years. A few high-profile figures, such as basketball star Kyrie Irving (who’d spent his one year of college at Duke), have publicly expressed their own skepticism about our world’s roundness. And I do wonder about the degree to which such beliefs are fueled by pride, a desperation to “know” that which the bulk of humanity knows not, that a person would readily believe in just about anything in order to have an excuse to consider himself intellectually superior.

The irony of my acquaintance’s ridicule occurred to me a few days later.  

This particular acquaintance’s own political beliefs veer left, well into woke territory. The bulk of his friends share similar political sentiments. He constantly surrounds himself with those who’d oblige a man who prefers to be referred to as “she/her,” or perhaps “they/them,” and would apologize profusely in the event of any “misgendering” slip-ups which that delusional man would object to. The kicker is that most all of these friends of his are well-educated, if having degrees from prestigious colleges is considered the measure of education, and many of them are technologically well-versed enough to work in computer-related fields. 

Today’s gender ideology is at least as ridiculous as flat-earth theory. And yet we live in an age in which those who refuse to acknowledge the differences between men and women feel as though they’re licensed to ridicule those who refuse to acknowledge the shape of the globe over the latter’s “stupidity.” This was an observation that caused me to immediately wonder what an article by G.K. Chesterton, if he were alive today, would have had to say about it. 

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

“It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own.”

“It is a good rule of philosophy when regarding an end to refer to the beginning.”

Most of us, even as little children, understood that there were boys and girls, and that those of the opposite sex surely must have been the source of cooties, before we learned that the shape of the world doesn’t resemble that of a pancake. A man who takes bucketloads of hormones, or who would elect to be surgically mutilated, still has the Y chromosome. A young woman, whose preferred pronouns happen to be “he/him” or “they/them,” can still get pregnant. And even the cavemen figured out that there were exclusively two sexes long before the ancient Greeks were chasing evidence.

We live in a world inching closer to witnessing the technological marvels portrayed in the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, and yet the common sense of cavemen is fading away. 

Contrary to the insistence of so many of our woke neighbors, who love flaunting the language of “compassion,” there’s no real compassion in indulging delusions that ruin lives. Considering the high suicide rates of those who are immersed in that particular delusion, such “compassion” seems to be a masked cruelty. It’s far more compassionate to speak the truth, regardless of any person’s “hurt feelings,” in the long run. 

“The God of the aristocrats is not tradition, but fashion, which is the opposite of tradition.”

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of the Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

“That is my political theory: that we should make England worth copying instead of telling everyone to copy her.”

The gay-rights movement, having preached “tolerance” and “acceptance” during the 1990s, went on to win the legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” by every state of our country in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, and then swiftly proceeded to demand yet more. Those demands became increasingly aggressive and bizarre. The “LGBT” acronym has continued adding letters, numbers, and even a plus-sign at this point, that only the most propagandized of us would expect others to commit whatever the heck it happens to be today to memory. It’s a movement which, having been given a hand, proceeded to demand the entire arm, that the celebration of perversion and delusion is now culturally forced upon us all, most especially during the month of June. 

At least this much can be said about the flat-earthers who happen to be our co-workers: he or she probably has the courtesy not to demand the reprimanding, or firing, of those of us who openly disagree with them. His cause hasn’t been lobbied successfully in Washington, nor had influential advocates in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, nor found all that much corporate sponsorship, and isn’t being taught in public schools today.

To tell students that “that body part wasn’t naturally designed for that particular activity” or even the caveman’s knowledge that “there are two genders” is now enough to get a teacher fired in many school districts throughout our country. 

There are no gathered statistics, to the best of my knowledge, about the rates of sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and substance abuse, mental health struggles and suicide, pedophilia and sexual predation or life expectancy among flat-earthers. We don’t have compelling reasons to suspect that any of those statistics are much worse than that of the general population. And yet we do have a mountain of data, which includes all of those very statistics, far too many correlations for any responsible person to simply dismiss as having no causation, which suggests that what our country celebrates during June is a lifestyle that is reckless and miserable. But if the words “love is love” get repeated often enough, these statistics get overlooked. 

The damage done to a child raised by flat-earthers can easily be undone. He or she might one day take a flight, look out of the airplane window, notice the slight curvature on the horizon, and say: “Oh! I guess that my parents really didn’t know all that much.” 

The damage done to a child given hormones to “correct” their gender, on the other hand, is irreversible. It’s not funny at all. Our country would, in fact, be better off designating an entire month to celebrate debunked geology in place of “Pride Month.” 

“Christianity is always out of fashion because it is always sane; and all fashions are mild insanities.”

“These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.”

In an age in which gender ideologists, who believe that gender is subjective, feel that they are somehow licensed to ridicule flat-earthers for being so “stupid,” the musings of G.K. Chesterton seem as relevant as ever.  

G.K. Chesterton, nicknamed “the Apostle of Common Sense,” died June 14, 1936. He was baptized in an Anglican church 150 years ago, in 1874, at the age of one month, by a particular denomination that has, in recent years, done much to toss away its credibility into the rubbish bin by catering to the fashions of our age.  

Chesterton, who’d never completed his own college degree, still independently learned much about the profound impact of tradition. His respect for the wisdom of those who’d lived before helped him to become rather wise himself. His wit, and ability to observe, earned a large audience for his writings during his life. And after many years of deep thought, he was received into the Catholic Church in 1922, the very year in which the Soviet Union was formally established.

The influence of Communism grew throughout Chesterton’s life, just as the influence of its woke successor is growing today, and that is why his writings warning about the consequences of atheism remain very much relevant, and are even prophetic, in our own day. Our own country, having shared an intense rivalry with the Soviet Union for decades, and having had the upper hand by the end of the Cold War, is today making great strides to become a rather sexually confused version of it. It goes to show that the revolutionary spirit, Luciferian as it is, prepares one’s mind to accept belief in just about any lie sold by peddlers of snake oil. Truth is what protects us from giving in to those lies. 

Truth, of course, remains true even if no one on Earth believes it to be so. The shape of our world is what it is, regardless of any popularity contests. 

Chesterton’s genius was in his genuine search for Truth. He had the humility to accept that the Truth was around long before he was born, that the saints before him had fiercely preserved the teachings of Truth, and that his own greatest task was to continue preserving those true teachings. What was true before he was born remains true for us today. All that it takes to speak prophetically is to insist upon the Truth. 

“The modern world is filled with men who hold dogmas so strongly that they do not even know that they are dogmas.”

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

“Among the many things that leave me doubtful about the modern habit of fixing eyes on the future, none is stronger than this: that all the men in history who have really done anything with the future have had their eyes fixed upon the past.”

It is while the world most intensely insists that we indulge in the insanity of our era that a healthy dose of timeless wisdom and common sense becomes most refreshing, like a cold beer on a hot summer day. Some final words of wisdom from Mr. (not Mrs. or Mx.) Chesterton himself: 

“It is better to speak wisdom foolishly, like the Saints, rather than to speak folly wisely, like the Dons.”

“Faith is always at a disadvantage; it is a perpetually defeated thing which survives all its conquerors.”