"I find in the universe so many forms of order, organization, system, law, and adjustment of means to ends, that I believe in a cosmic intelligence, and I conceive God as the life, mind, order, and law of the world.
I do not understand my God, and I find in nature and history many instances of apparent evil, disorder, cruelty, and aimlessness. But I realize that I see these with a very limited vision, and that they might appear quite otherwise from a cosmic point of view. How can an infinitesimal part of the universe understand the whole? We are drops of water trying to understand the sea."
After reading about his life and listening to Durant's The Story of Philosophy and The Lessons of History, I'm compelled to agree with a lot of what he says.
Oh Will Durant... Renč Descartes would have a bone to pick with him. If you have read his works I suggest you pick up other works as well, especially criticisms of Durant's work and read those as well.
From the link: "How can an infinitesimal part of the universe understand the whole? We are drops of water trying to understand the sea."
Basically, what Durant is stating that the world is far too complex for us to understand the whole damn thing so what's the use in trying. Well, we have made some great strides in understanding our world, which has led to some really really neat shit... Like roads, medical advances, airplanes, indoor plumbing, toilet paper, and ice cream. And we do continue to make advances. However, I may have to agree that we cannot understand the whole as an individual. A quantum physicist doesn't quite understand music theory, and nor does a physical chemist understand astrobiology. We specialize, and that allows us to understand more.
I feel Durant might retort, "But you will reach some point where we can no longer grasp any more, that some level of knowledge will be too high for a single person to grasp." And my response is that scientific advances will allow us to find ways to actually become smarter, and grow in intelligence as we grow in knowledge. This point cannot be refuted because it is all ready happening
Still, it is fun to look at a philosopher and go, "what are you attacking?" Ayn Rand attacked altruism, John Locke attacked political sovereign, and Will Durant is attacking liberal beliefs. This is made clear by the following, "We have too much moral liberty today, due to increasing wealth and diminishing religious belief." Wait, he's making the assertion that we're too immoral because we are diminishing in religious belief and becoming too rich? That's completely batshit insane. Why? Because we don't even know what morality even is. And even making the assertion that God defines ultimate morality is completely silly. Durant says himself we're clear and free thinkers, forcing your religious belief of morality on someone else makes you just as immoral as Hitler or Stalin for forcing their beliefs on other people.
In fact, if it were okay to do so and everyone went around and did it, we'd be in a state of utter chaos with every person trying to shove their beliefs down the other's throat. In the same way that we'd be utter chaos if we all accepted moral relativism (or so argues James Rachels, Chris you might be interested in checking this out, he pretty much crushes cultural relativism). Even Locke disagrees. He went to great lengths to support religious tolerance, despite him thinking we have God-given rights.
For every great philosopher there is an equally great one with his foot up the other's ass.