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Does man have a nature?
An essay about the nature of man, literature, and the culture war
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
June 13, 2013

Originally published December 7, 2006

Frances Schaefer once said, "There are not many men in the house." What he meant was there are not many worldviews, and most worldviews are ancient. The youngest worldview I am aware of is two hundred and fifty years old. Half of the extant worldviews were in existence by 400 B.C. There are hundreds of philosophies, but most of them can be categorized under the heading of perhaps eight to ten worldviews.

I have discovered a litmus test question that can put all the worldviews neatly into two categories. Therefore, instead of saying, "There are not many men in the house," I like to say," "There are two houses, and a relatively few men in each house." Amazingly, the "house" one lives in is a powerful predictor about one's attitude towards art and literature, and reveals where he is likely to stand on culture war questions.

Several years ago, I heard Dallas Willard, philosophy professor and Christian writer, speak at a large Veritas conference for college students. He provided me with my litmus test question. Dr. Willard began the discussion section with the question "Does man have a nature?" In other words, is man born with an innate nature, based upon a design, that remains fixed over time and is universal for all mankind? Or does man invent his own nature? Or perhaps do blind impersonal forces shape man? Is man malleable clay to be molded and therefore lacking in an innate design?

If man has a nature, the question "What does it mean to be human?" can have answers, of course, that are either correct or incorrect. If man does not have a nature, the question is meaningless.

Unexpected discoveries

When one asks the litmus test question "Does man have a nature?", one makes several unexpected discoveries:

1) Most people in "House A" (man has a nature) are diametrically opposed to most people in "House B" (man does not have a nature) on culture war issues. Whether one is in "House A" or "House B" is usually determinative for issues like abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, adultery, cloning, and embryonic stem-cell research.

2) The two "houses" usually produce two diametrically opposed views about the arts and literature. It is surprising to find such strong parallels between questions of the arts and literature and morality-based culture war issues.

3) One might suppose determinists would be the first to say man has a nature, but the opposite is generally true. A being determined by external forces has no intrinsic design. If such a soft fluidity of character could actually be brought about, it would be a severe psycho-social disorder. Interestingly, such a pathology does exist, and is called "the borderline personality disorder."

If internal biological programming were determinative, man would be reduced to the level of an automaton. He would act out his impulses and would be immune to social and cultural influence. This too would be a severe psycho-social pathology. It is called the "anti-social personality disorder."

In contrast, personal development according to the design of human nature can fulfill and actualize human nature and make one psychologically mature and healthy. As one develops according to nature, he can overcome the unhealthy bondage of impersonal forces. Nature must be able to break free of the prison of determinism – or man has no effective nature.

I happen to believe that human nature is fallen and requires spiritual grace to break free of bondage and fulfill natural design – but that is a topic for another essay.

4) People who seek a spiritual life can live in either "house," but orthodox believers in the "higher religions" that value truth and morality mostly live in "House A."

5) One must change which "house" he lives in before he can be persuaded to change his mind on issues involving truth and morality. That is why Dr. Willard began his discussion session with the question "Does man have a nature?"

Who am I?

Every child asks the question "Who am I?" The answer the child is seeking goes beyond questions of social identity. He wants to know what kind of creature he is and what is his essential nature.

The search of every youth to find out who he is creates a natural affinity between the seeker-oriented teen years and the great classics of literature. Literary classics endure for centuries because they tell stories that provide some of the answers to the question "Who am I?"

Man has a nature that is emotionally, socially, psychologically, and spiritually deep, complex, and paradoxical. The wise man requires a lifetime to acquire a deep understanding of human nature. Literature can play a role in this learning process.

When one reads a literary classic in his mature years, he is often surprised to discover rich insights that he missed when he read the same classic in his callow youth. A classic has treasures accessible to youth, but deeper treasures for the mature who are seasoned by life.

Why do we read?

In the movie Shadowlands (1993), C. S. Lewis, played by Anthony Hopkins, asked his students, "Why do we read?" One student eventually offered an answer that impressed Lewis, "We read to know we are not alone." That is certainly one reason we read. However, a book cannot become a classic unless it teaches us something about what it means to be human. I think a better answer to Professor Lewis' question is: "We read to know what it means to be human."

The masters of literature were given a gift from God to explore the secrets of the human heart and to weave them into captivating stories about the dilemma of being human. As long as we realize that the human author, however wise, was a fallen man and could be deceived, and that we can test his words using the scriptures, great literature can be a rich source of insight about the ways of man and the nature of life in this world.

Why did we stop reading?

As long as Western man believed he had a nature, the reading of great literature was popular in the West. Western civilization was a society of readers par excellence from the Italian Renaissance until World War I (1400-1914). Western man typically read more books than did the people of other civilizations. The belief that man has a nature led to a commitment to reading, which was a contributing factor in the rise of the West. The book-reading West held cultural and economic supremacy from 1750 to 1914.

The reading of timeless classics fell off in the twentieth century and reached a low point by 2000 A.D. The West has lost its cultural supremacy partly because of the decline of reading. However, the Western technical and economic machine has continued full throttle. If present trends continue, we will be technologically like the Jetsons, but culturally like the Flintstones. We will be rich and pampered, but will live barbarous lives.

It is sometimes very difficult to persuade our young barbarians about the cultivated splendors of reading. A callow young fool will invariably insist that the discoveries of a writer about human nature have no bearing on him. The following dialog typifies what one is in for when confronting a clever college student about reading the classics.

A breakdown in communication

In this dialogue, which typifies the contemporary failure to communicate, "House A" believes that man has a nature and "House B" does not.

House A: "This author has a timeless message of deep meaning."

House B: "Those values are fine for you if you get something out of them, but I have an affinity with different values."

House A: "What values might those be?"

House B: "Oh, values are not things to be defined. They are things to be experienced. Defined values are artificial and inauthentic. I doubt that one's personal subjective feelings can be communicated to another person and be correctly understood."

House A: "I did not ask you about your feelings. I asked you about your values."

House B: "All values are subjective. Therefore, any attempt to separate feelings from values is artificial and therefore invalid."

House A: "What makes you think that all values are subjective?"

House B: "All claims about objective values are attempts by power-seeking groups to establish an external authority for absolute truth so that some people can force their values down other people's throats and thereby take power over them."

House A: What makes you think that a claim to objective, intrinsic values is motivated by a conspiracy to gain power instead of a devotion to truth?"

House B: "What is 'truth'? Whose 'truth'? Your 'truth'?"

House A: "Something that is 'my truth' but not 'your truth' is no truth at all.

From here, the conversation will run in circles without any point of agreement or mutual understanding between House A and House B. The insights of the author originally mentioned by the loquitur of House A has been forgotten and a classic of literature has been pushed aside.

The breakdown of conversation is the death knell of literature. Historical literary revivals are invariably accompanied by the renaissance of the conversation and the sense of community.

No true conversation about man is possible until both parties agree that man has a nature. It is no accident that the art of conversation has gone extinct in many quarters during the twentieth century. The decline of conversation, the decline in community, the decline in the quality of literature, and the decline in the reading of classics are parallel developments. The rise of group-think cliques and politically correct social codes has filled the vacuum left by the disappearance of authentic conversation.

Aesthetic literature divorced from truth

Some serious twentieth century writers and readers who have rejected objective truth and deny that man has a nature have found a stop-gap reason to keep reading. They cherish great literature for the beauty of the words themselves and the aesthetic experiences of the scenes depicted by the writer. While literary aesthetics is a good thing in itself, it is inadequate as the sole reason for reading.

The famous literary critic Harold Bloom is an outstanding example of one who has devoted his life to reading for the aesthetic delight in the words, phrases, and scenes themselves. This is certainly better than not reading at all.

Bloom is right in thinking that beauty in literature is edifying to man and that beauty and harmony can be our teacher. However, Bloom is wrong in thinking that aesthetic experience is a valid substitute for truth, or for learning what it is to be a human being and to live a human life. Aesthetic enchantment brings delight to the journey of discovering human nature, but is no substitute for that journey.

Interestingly, those like Bloom, who deny that man has a nature, invariably think aesthetic enjoyment is purely a matter of personal taste that is unique to the individual. In contrast, those who believe that man has an innate nature generally assume that beauty, harmony, and the sublime are built into the fabric of the world and can be discovered, discussed, and agreed upon by many.

We must be grateful to Bloom for exposing the literary and cultural disaster of postmodernism. Unfortunately, he propagated strange notions about the bitter struggle every good author has in throwing off the influence that earlier writers had upon him so that he may assert himself.

Quite to the contrary of Bloom's idea, a writer who is illuminated about something human he learned from a masterful writer of a prior generation is invariably grateful to that writer, and cherishes what he has gained from that writer's influence. Only a writer who thinks he has no nature would resent his thralldom with an earlier writer.

Bloom is an odd character with a foot in both "houses." He denounces writers who bring aesthetic discontinuities to literature and wrote a book called The Western Canon about great indispensable books of the Western literary tradition. Then he spins around and asserts that every good writer is wrestling to throw off the yoke of the masters of literature who have gone before. As one with a foot in House A, he defends literary continuity. As one with a foot in House B, he fights against literary continuity.

Discontinuities in literature

Many modern authors have deliberately distanced themselves from the classics of literature. Some authors, like James Joyce, have invented a new style that is a contradiction of classical norms. This modern conceit is one reason why so much modern literature is of poor quality. Originality is a poor substitute for meaningful form, quality, and content.

Mortimer Adler, editor of The Great Books of the Western World, wrote that a continuity of thought that he called "the great conversation" extended in an unbroken chain from Homer (ninth century B.C.) to the great authors of the 19th century such as Goethe, Jane Austin, Sir Walter Scott, Victor Hugo, Balzac, Dickens, Thackeray, Mark Twain, Eliot, Melville, Hawthorne, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Wilde, Ibsen, Chekov, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. All of these writers were unmistakably original, yet all fit nicely into the unbroken chain of thought of the great conversation.

Unfortunately, the chain was broken in the twentieth century. Adler said the twentieth century brought "discontinuities" to the great conversation. He was concerned that many of the "great ideas" discussed in the great conversation for 2,800 years have been dropped by modern authors. C. S. Lewis would have worried that modern novels no longer tell us that we are not alone. Harold Bloom is worrying about discontinuities in aesthetics. My main concern in this essay is that modern novels no longer tell us what it means to be human.

Nineteenth century man

What qualities were present in nineteenth century culture that enabled authors to write great works of literature? They all believed that man has a nature.

Among the leading lights of nineteenth century culture was John Ruskin (1819-1900) – art critic, literary critic, social critic, essayist, author, poet, and artist. Ruskin was extremely controversial among his peers, but was hugely influential as an essayist and art critic during a large part of his long life. To understand Ruskin is to understand why nineteenth-century man was capable of works of genius, in spite of the cultural fragmentation and emerging decadence of the era.

John Ruskin and the whole man

Ruskin's principles of art were summarized by art historian Kenneth Clark, a Ruskin biographer. These principles of art apply to literature. According to Clark, Ruskin rejected reductionism, such as the claim that art is purely about taste and aesthetics – an idea that Harold Bloom inherited. All the quotes below are from Clark's summary of Ruskin.

"Aesthetic man is as false and dehumanizing as economic man." Ruskin believed that every human experience is intertwined with the whole man and cannot be disassembled. Man is a complex being of many parts that adhere in a unity. Therefore, man has a nature that is revealed in the complexity and unity of great art and literature. Ruskin would have hated twentieth-century reductionism.

"Art . . . involves the whole man. Whether it is making or perceiving a work of art, we bring to bear on it feeling, intellect, morals, knowledge, memory, and every other human capacity, all focused in a flash on a single point." These words put one in mind of a masterpiece by Rembrandt, or memorable passages in A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens.

Ruskin used his critical lash on self-indulgent and formulaic classicists. Formula writing diminishes the humanity of the characters. Ruskin was influenced by the Romantic movement, but criticized undisciplined romantic artists. "Even the most superior mind and the most powerful imagination must found itself on facts, which must be recognized for what they are. The imagination will often reshape them in a way which the prosaic mind cannot understand, but this recreation will be based on facts, not on formulas or illusions."

Ruskin tells the artist to use his imagination, but not to break free from the objective realities and facts of man and nature. When art and literature go into flights of fancy, and stray too far from the realities of human nature, the artist begins to tell lies about man, and thereby to injure his public.

"The greatest artists and schools of art have believed that it their duty to impart vital truths, not only about the facts of vision, but about religion and the conduct of life." Ruskin's criticism of a single-minded obsession with the facts of vision was a rebuke of the French impressionists. His concern that art should convey truth, morality, and religious vision was a rebuke of decadent and bohemian artists.

It is the nature of man to seek truth, have a religious faith, and have a moral code to guide his life. Ruskin was deeply influenced by the Evangelical Anglicanism of his youth.

He suffered upheavals that shook his faith, but he returned to Christ in the end. Through all the storms of life, he retained the idea that religious faith is a normal aspect of being human and that one is incomplete without it. The storm of doubt and the resolution of faith are part of the drama of life and one of the themes of literature and art.

The late British novelist Graham Greene often wrote about the drama and suspense of the Catholic sinner who wonders if he will lose his soul. Greene said, "With the death of [Henry] James, the religious sense was lost in the English novel, and with the religious sense went the sense of the importance of the act." Greene thought that the loss of a religious sensibility in literature flattens the characters and makes them a little less human.

Who better than a Christian understands that man has a nature? The Bible and the creeds and confessions of the church tell him so. During repentance, a spiritual light exposes the innermost secrets of his fallen human nature. Revelations of God and discoveries of the self often happen during the same moment. An appreciation of beauty in art and literature can be awakened by a realization of the divine beauty.

Ruskin believed that both religion and a sense of beauty are essential parts of human nature, but he rejected a single-minded obsession with beauty and insisted upon a holistic definition of beauty. When the form of an organism is "perfectly developed according to their laws of growth," and all the functions are "cohering and cooperating," the result is beauty. Because of an innate design involving functional development and the harmony of the various parts, beauty is possible. The existence of beauty proves that man has a created nature.

Paradoxically, one must sustain faith in God in order to sustain his interest in beauty and to perpetuate his commitment to man. That is why when faith leaves the stage, the floodlights on man slowly begin to fade.

A fatal disbelief in man

The problem with modernist liberal humanists was that they put their faith in man instead of God. However, the problem with postmodern liberals is that they have lost their faith in man without returning to God, leaving a vacuum and a tendency to cynicism and nihilism. When one stops believing in God, eventually he will also stop believing in man.

Distrust in man can be a good thing, because although man was made in marvelous ways, he is fallen and corrupted. However, the postmodern distrust in man has taken a perverse form in the denial that man has a nature.

If man is a pliable lump of clay that can be molded into many forms, how can one have confidence in a shape-shifter? How can one trust a polymorphous creature of no determinate nature? A chameleon might change his colors next week when his promises come due. How can one love a protean phantom? Love must attach itself to a person, but one might not be able to locate the person beneath the surface flux and permutation.

Stream of consciousness

Modern authors who see man as a shape-shifter are infatuated with stream-of-consciousness literature, because consciousness has a flickering evanescent quality.

Stream-of-consciousness works by authors like Virginia Woolf have merit, but in the end, one feels dizzy, drained, and defeated. One is at a loss to assign meaning to the random banquet of experiences and descriptions. Woolf, like Harold Bloom, was devoted to high aesthetics and was an indefatigable reader. The stream-of-consciousness of aesthetic experience was not adequate to fill her emptiness, and she committed suicide. If only she had read Ruskin's critique of "aesthetics for the sake of aesthetics."

Interestingly, Marcel Proust, another flow of consciousness writer, was deeply influenced by Ruskin. Proust does not spare one from the folly of man and the tragedies and futilities of life, and like Woolf, he makes one a little dizzy. However, thanks to Ruskin's influence, his Remembrance of Things Past does not make one feel empty or defeated. Proust guides us through the labyrinth of the human heart in its ramblings, false turnings, illusions, vanities, and deceits, and its chambers receding upon chambers. In the midst of all this pathos and misadventure, Proust invigorates us in our fascination with the mystery of life and with the amazing creature called man.

From mediocrity to nihilism

In contrast to Proust's excellence, many contemporary stream-of-consciousness books and films are mediocre beyond belief. Cabeza de Vaca (1991), a stream-of-consciousness film about a sixteenth century Spanish explorer, was astonishingly boring. A full minute was expended in a close-up of the De Vaca's Adam's apple bobbing up and down as he was being tortured. A shaman healer did a variety of weird things for several minutes before the audience had any idea who he was and what he was trying to do. Although the historical story of de Vaca is very dramatic, the movie did not tell a story and had no plot. This stinker of a film won awards at two film festivals and was nominated at a third. Apparently, the international film community is so enamored with garish, startling, trendy art films that the idea of excellence has disappeared.

Excellence is the fruit of a man realizing his human nature in the harmony of its faculties through his mastery of a field that suits his cluster of talents. In contrast, the cultural denial that man has a nature leads to the triumph of mediocrity. Western civilization can bump along for a time wallowing in cultural mediocrity. Indeed, bad European art films have been made for fifty years and many are worse than de Vaca. Bad paintings have been praised by the art establishment for eighty-five years. If film makers and artists assume that man has no nature, they will feel it is unreasonable to demand depth of meaning and quality of performance out of such an indeterminate being as man.

Unfortunately, the process of decay does not necessarily stop with mediocrity, but can crumble to worse things. Mediocrity and intellectual shallowness can be the halfway point in the journey to nihilism – which is the presumption that nothing has authentic existence and the things we suppose have substance are illusions.

When C. S. Lewis wrote The Abolition of Man, he warned of the dangers of cultural nihilism. Lewis said that man's final conquest of nature will be the conquest by man of man himself. This conquest, unfortunately, must involve the evisceration of human nature and the reduction of man to something less than human. If man has no nature, he can be molded. But if he does have a nature, the attempt by social engineers to mold him will injure him, or as Lewis feared, will abolish his humanity.

In a prior essay about cultural suicide in Europe, I discussed the fatal spread of nihilism. A civilization poisoned by too heavy a dose of nihilism must collapse. The social engineering of the socialist states of Europe has carried the project of abolishing human nature to such a degree that Europe is committing suicide. The nihilistic men are refusing to face the threat of Muslim radicalism in Europe and the nihilistic women are refusing to have children.

My thesis in this essay is that when men stop believing they have a nature and persist in that disbelief for a long time, they must eventually become nihilists and destroy themselves and their society.

Four routes to nihilism

The various routes to nihilism all start with a false idea that contradicts the principle that man has a nature. Here are four common routes to nihilism:

1) Self-creation contradicts the idea that man is created and has a nature. Self-creation is the most popular poison of choice in the rollicking world of America because it begins with a robust optimism. Like the fictional character Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, Americans tend to be enthusiasts and generally prefer the cockeyed optimist's road to self-destruction. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby, admitted that Gatsby was really a story about himself. Fitzgerald understood, as Gatsby did not, that his enthusiastic self-deceptions must lead to his own ruin.

Americans, like Gatsby, the prototypical American, believe they can reinvent themselves, and that their dreams, no matter how unrealistic, can come true.

How can a dream be wrong? A dream that does not correspond to a person's unique nature, design, talents, and motivations inevitably leads one to frustration and disillusionment. Why do so many people dream the wrong dreams? Young Americans tend to believe they can become anything they choose, because they falsely assume that man is a self-made creature. Man is highly developmental, but is not self-created.

The cult of self-creation invariably includes the fatal notion that there are no limits to the possibilities. The denial of limits is a cruel delusion. Each individual is created with a built-in design, and every design presupposes limits and boundaries. Therefore, the attempt to transcend limits is the road to ruin.

At the end of the road of false dreams and living beyond boundaries is bitterness, despair, and nihilism. "If I can't have my dreams, life has cheated me." No sir. Your foolish "dreams" have cheated the design that could have been your destiny.

2) Idealism, which comes from German philosophy, is the belief that nothing exists unless someone is there to acknowledge it. Therefore, existence is in the hands of man, and the world has no independent reality in itself. Idealism substitutes a fantasy for reality. When man lives in fantasy, he destroys himself.

If man is holding the world in existence, like Atlas holding up the sky, he lives in a precarious world. Such a world teeters on the brink of extinction. When a mood of futility and despair comes upon an idealist, it is easy to persuade him that nothing exists.

3) Existentialism comes from French philosophy. It is the search for authenticity through a mode of living based upon radically free choices that are untainted with "artificial" or "inauthentic" agendas such as cultural norms and social conformism. In other words, only those who rend the social fabric and defy the community are "authentic." Unfortunately, such an anti-social way of life is inhuman, because the nature of man is to have social connections and to live in social harmony.

The obsession with how one makes choices and a preoccupation with one's chosen lifestyle is reductionistic and dehumanizing. Devoting a life to the whims of the unfettered will lead to a soul-crushing willfulness, narrowness, and arbitrary pettiness.

Existentialism inevitably leads to the idea that life is absurd. It is impossible to find meaning in life when one is obsessed with modes of choosing and styles of living. "Existential despair" at the absurdity of life is a self-absorbed approach to nihilism.

4) Determinism is the belief that man is shaped by forces outside his control. Determinists think one lives in a "closed system" like a cog in a machine. The most common versions of determinism are materialism, economic determinism, cultural determinism, and biological determinism.

At best, determinism is brutally reductionistic in its view of human nature. At worst, it suggests that we have no more nature than pliable clay to be molded. The idea that man is mere modeling clay leads to nihilism.

Human nature and the culture war

The disagreement about whether man has a nature is the underlying cause of the culture war. This should be the subject of an entire essay. However, two examples can offer the reader a sense of the link between one's views about human nature and one's culture war views:

1) Abortion. If man has no nature, then the life in the mother's womb is an inconvenient lump of meat. If man has a nature, then the life in the womb is a human being, and abortion is murder.

In the Roe vs. Wade decision (1973), the court was confused about whether the babe in the womb has a nature, so it split the difference. A state may not restrict an abortion in the first trimester. A state may only restrict an abortion for heath reasons in the second trimester. A state may restrict abortions in the third trimester as it sees fit. In other words, the baby is a piece of meat in the first trimester, but a human being in the third trimester. During the second trimester the confused court split the difference. But the difference cannot be split.

To think that a fetus has no nature, but acquires a nature through development, is magical thinking. A being with no nature cannot have a developmental process. A nature cannot magically appear in an entity with no nature. A being must start with a nature in order to develop that nature. The desperate intellectual confusion of liberal judges comes from trying to integrate their assumption that man has no innate nature with the facts of reality and the precedents of law.

The judges confused viability with nature. The ability to survive does not impart value to a life. A garden slug and a sea cucumber are viable. It is the nature of being human that imparts value.

Abortion must lead to contempt for children. If children only gradually acquire their human nature with increasing stages of maturity, and thereby are increasingly worthy to live, they are inferior in value to a mature human being. This inevitably leads to notion that children are expendable. Even the Nazis did not go quite this far.

However, if a child is fully a human being and fully invested with a human nature, then his stage of development is irrelevant to the innate value of his life. A child's life is innately precious and his immaturity is only a phase in that precious life.

2) Homosexuality: If man has no nature, then opposition to gay sexual practices is arbitrary. If man has a nature, then gay sexual practices are against nature, and therefore are perverted and destructive.

If man invents himself, he can change his gender or employ any sexual technique he can imagine. If man is born with a nature, he cannot invent himself or change his gender. He can only subvert his nature and pervert his gender.

Some gays claim they were born as a woman in a man's body. This is self-contradictory thinking. If man has no nature, as gays invariably claim, there can be no such thing as a "woman's nature" or any kind of nature in a man's body. In contrast, if man does have a nature, and if a man develops or effects effeminate traits, those traits must be different from the femininity of a woman that is the expression of her feminine nature.

Human nature includes a masculine nature and a feminine nature. A boy may fail to develop his masculine nature and learn feminine traits, but he cannot acquire a feminine nature identical to what a woman possesses by innate design. Homosexuality is at war with human design and must be either a disorder of nature or a perversion of nature.


Man is born with a nature. One either develops that nature to its blessed realization as a human being, or he denies that nature to his injury. The greatest damage that an educator can do to children is to tell them they have no nature.

A nature has a design. This is true of mankind as a whole and true of the individual. The fulfillment of a person's destiny is in discovering his unique design, and developing towards that design so that the inherent possibilities of that nature can be realized. One can greatly bless a person by helping him to discover his design.

Western civilization, which has thrived for many centuries, is now perishing because its cultural leaders are telling the people they have no nature. The result is a rapidly increasing nihilism that is poison to a culture.

Can the decline of the West be turned around? Yes. Precisely because man has a nature, he delights to be told he has a nature. Students secretly hate the professors who tell them they have no nature. Although some students will fight against those who tell them they have a nature, at a certain level of their being where hope is not yet extinguished, they will be secretly pleased to be told that they have a nature.

Dallas Willard wisely started his conversation with the question "Does man have a nature?" One could feel hope welling up in the hearts of many listening students. When one starts with hope, one can awaken the slumbering rational faculties and redirect them from a poisoned cynicism to a search for truth and a discovery of human nature.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison


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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31