William Buckley Explains Why God Makes Sense
William F. Buckley is sometimes said to have singlehandedly rescued political conservatism from the brink of extinction, with his landmark book, God and Man At Yale, the founding of his periodical, National Review, and his 30 year run on public television’s Firing Line.
His was a fascinating life. He was a Latin mass Catholic until he died, spurning the reformations of Vatican II. He was a member of the honor guard at F.D.R.’s funeral. He was a spy for the C.I.A..
Once, when asked why he adopted his characteristic slouching posture while interviewing such dignitaries as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher on Firing Line, Buckley replied, “It’s too hard to stand up under the weight of all that I know.” He very seldom laughed, but the twinkle in his eye after delivering such lines was unmistakable.
In 2005, three years before his death, Buckley wrote the brief column that can be found at the NPR link above. It was his response to a rising tide of neo-atheism. As was his habit in defense of an idea, it wastes no words, yet strikes unerringly at the weak point the opposing view. Two quotes in particular stand out:
“What is the greater miracle: the raising of the dead man in Lazarus, or the mere existence of the man who died and of the witnesses who swore to his revival?”
“So I believe that it is as likely that there should be a man without a country, as a world without a creator.”
With a capacity for piercing common sense like that, it’s small wonder that in 30 years of interviews and debates, very few people ever came away from a disagreement with William F. Buckley having won the day.