Mandeville, LA – [Editor’s Note: Malcolm Muggeridge was one of the 20th century’s most prolific authors and media personalities but professed himself agnostic until the early 1960’s. By 1966 and the time of this essay he was a convert to Christianity and by 1981 he and his wife had joined the Catholic Church. Read his biography in our colleague Joseph Pearce’s “Literary Converts”. – MC] “Nor, as far as I am concerned, is there any recompense in the so-called achievements of science. It is true that in my lifetime more progress has been made in unravelling the composition and mechanism of the material universe than previously in the whole of recorded time. This does not at all excite my mind, or even my curiosity. The atom has been split; the universe has been discovered, and will soon be explored. Neither achievement has any bearing on what alone interests me-why life exists, and what is the significance, if any, of my minute and sotransitory part in it. All the world in a grain of sand; all the universe too. If I could understand a grain of sand I should understand everything. Why, then, should going to the moon and Mars, or spending a holiday along the Milky Way, be expected to advance me farther in my quest than going to Manchester and Liverpool, or spending a holiday in Brighton?
Education, the great mumbo-jumbo and fraud of the age, purports to equip us to live, and is prescribed as a universal remedy for everything, from juvenile delinquency to premature senility. For the most part, it only serves to enlarge stupidity, inflate conceit, enhance credulity and put those subjected to it, at the mercy of brain-washers with printing presses, radio and television at their disposal. I have seen pictures of huge, ungainly, prehistoric monsters who developed such a weight of protective shell that they sank under its burden and became extinct. Our civilisation likewise is sinking under the burden of its own wealth, and the necessity to consume it; of its own happiness, and the necessity to provide and sustain the fantasies which embody it; of its own security, and the ever more fabulously destructive nuclear devices considered essential to it. Thus burdened, it, too, may well soon become extinct. As this fact sinks into the collective consciousness, the resort to drugs, dreams, fantasies and other escapist devices, particularly sex, becomes ever more marked.” – Malcolm Muggeridge, What I Believe