Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness
by Edward Abbey
New York: Ballantine, 1968, 337 pp., paperback.
To refute the solipsist or metaphysical idealist all that you have to do is take him out and throw a rock at his head. If he ducks he's a liar (122).That displays a wonderful understanding that seems to elude so many in our postmodern world. Abbey could also write poetic prose that captured the beauty of nature:
In the mixture of starlight and cloud-reflected sunlight in which the desert world is now illuminated, each single object stands forth in preternatural though transient brilliance, a final assertion of existence before the coming of the night (124).That takes me back to a night in 1979 when I sat on my truck in the Arizona desert, gazing at the silhouettes of cacti, immersed in the indescribable clarity of the stars. While I was driven to a sense of awe before a magnificent creator, Abbey takes a different approach:
God? I think, quibbling with Balzac; in Newcomb's terms, who the hell is He? There is nothing here, at the moment, but me and the desert. And that's the truth. Why confuse the issue by dragging in a superfluous entity? Occam's razor. Beyond atheism, non-theism. I am not an atheist but an earthiest (231).Distinguishing between "earthiests" and "atheists" might be quite difficult. As a Christian, rather than see God as superfluous, I turn to Colossians 1:16-17, where we read: