Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why Game is Just the Beginning, Part 2


This is my second essay explaining why the popular Human Bio-Diversity (HBD) movement is incompatible with the ideals of The Mustard Seed and a rational civilization. For Part One, click here.

To quote Lawrence Auster from his original essay, Is HBD the Next Conservative Movement?, “Insofar as HBD is materialist reductionist it is a disaster for mankind, for our civilization, and for conservatism.”

Dennis Mangan rebutted Mr. Auster’s assertion on his own website.

Since then, I’ve been defending Auster by debating some of Mr. Mangan’s commenters.

For highlights, see below…

Cornelius Troost wrote...

A society fully accepting Darwinism and atheist to the core, like most of Europe, could, if it retained its Christian values, have a bright future if it held tightly to a biocon perspective reinforced by a strong sense of nationhood. Alas, the success of flaccid egalitarianism with its rabid tolerance will likely end Europe's democratic moment. Surely the mix of Darwinian reality with religious values imposed synergistically upon our moral instinct could result in creative, peace-loving countries. Whether such a model emerges is at present questionable.

I replied…

With all due respect, Sir, I think that's wishful thinking. Think about it: How could "a society fully accepting Darwinism and atheist to the core" retain "Christian values" as you advocate when Darwinian values ("survival of the fittest") are the TOTAL OPPOSITE of the Christian ethic that all souls are equal in the eyes of our Creator? Seriously, dude, there's a major contradiction there!

Also, in the interest of being factual, I wouldn't describe Europe as being "atheist" or "Darwinist." A majority of Europeans profess belief in God, and while they may say they believe in "evolution," it is almost certainly the intellectually-sloppy "theistic evolution" that many scientists and Christians are trying to propagate as a "compromise."

As I wrote in my essay, Ideas Have Consequences: "If the day should come when a critical mass of Americans believe… 1) We are nothing more than hairless apes, and 2) Free will is an illusion...Then it’s hard to see how freedom can survive more than another 1-2 generations...unless, of course, there's some sort of intellectual renaissance."

Cornelius later told me:

Todd White: It is better that you never read my book on Darwin because it would only confuse you. ID [Intelligent Design] is not science and therefore plays a game of coy philosophy trying to cast doubt on real science.Both The Skeptical Enquirer and Skeptic Magazine have refuted ID over and over. There is no alternative to the modern theory of evolution. I suggest that intelligent ID types, like you, read Jerry Coyne's book called Why Evolution is True. After reading it you will appreciate Dennis Mangan's generally wise comments.


I responded...

Cornelius: Sorry, but I'm not confused. I've read Richard Dawkins' book, The Selfish Gene, Daniel Dennett's book, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, and Francis Crick's book, The Astonishing Hypothesis, among others. The materialist theories they propagate are very convincing UNTIL one chooses to do the necessary research and explore the other side of the debate. Once a person chooses to begin a good faith investigation (nothing more, in many cases, that browsing a few anti-materialist websites) then the conclusion is obvious: The materialist paradigm has been shattered. It will not be rebuilt. And that's a good thing.


Beta Prime wrote…

This thread and the others like it can be summed up as follows:

A bunch of guys who believe in God are trying to convince a bunch of guys who either do or don't of the existence of God and why they are headed for a downfall without an acknowledgment of God. All the while, the bunch of guys who either do or don't believe in God are trying to point out that it doesn't matter if they do or don't, what matters are the unpleasant social realities we find ourselves in at the moment. Meanwhile the bunch of guys who came here to evangelize and speak up for their team take issue with how these same social realities are being characterized rather than how they can be 'annihilized'. One bunch of guys want to figure out the first step and how to take it, and the other bunch want to make sure God's at the top of the ladder. Sad thing is, that ladder may not be around for too much longer.

I replied…

Beta Prime: Unfortunately, from my perspective, you can't divorce these "unpleasant social realities" from the reductionism of contemporary culture. Reductionism is a major catalyst for the problems that concern you. And since your recommendations are also grounded in Reductionism (assuming you're an advocate of HBD), it will only delay the inevitable solution.


The Undiscovered Jew said...

I think HBDers should simply say nothing about Christianity one way or another. If social conservatives think we are advocating atheism then HBD is going to have to fight liberals and socialcons at the same time. We would have much better chances of getting what we want in terms of policy if we try to keep our differences with socialcons to a minimum, and that may involve simply keeping our mouth's shut about religion, regardless of each individual HBDers belief or non-belief in Christianity. Getting into a fight over materialism vs Christian metaphysics is not going to produce anything productive and will simply make us enemies. Whether Christianity prospers or not is in the hands of macro-social trends we can't control anyway so we might as well say "no comment" when it comes to atheism. Besides, from a Utilitarian viewpoint, if HBD atheists did have the power to get rid of Christianity would they REALLY want to exercise such power? Even Dr. Troost thinks Christianity has beneficial civilizing effects, so why tinker with something that isn't broken?

I replied…

Undiscovered Jew: The way you describe it, HBD's intentions are innocuous, even beneficial. But we - as conservatives - know you can’t judge something by its intentions, you judge them by their RESULTS. The results of accepting HBD as the main tool for public policy would be disasterous. Why? Because it would accelerate the cultural spread of reductionism, nihilism, hedonism, whatever you want to call it. There's no way conservatism can win in such a cultural landscape.

Note: Mr. Auster has kindly recommended my essay, Sex with Blondes and Darwin.

Additionally, I sent Mr. Auster the following email (which hasn't been published)...

Lawrence,

You may already be aware of this, but David Brooks is working on a book that - at least judging by his columns - will be his personal attempt to use materialist science (including the less controversial parts of HBD) to create a larger social/political theory.

See Brooks' column, The End of Philosophy.


What are the political implications of Brooks' "End of Philosophy?"

He described it at the AEI panel, Genes, Neuroscience, and Free Will.
Scroll to the 1 hour, 4 minute mark.

Here’s my rough transcript...

The thing I get from this whole revolution in neuroscience is 2 things: The one: It vindicates – and this is pleasing to conservatives who like Burke – it vindicates epistemological modesty. It says: ‘We don’t know. And a lot we will never know. And we have to understand how little we know about human affairs and how little our ability is to plan human behavior.’ The second thing is more pleasing to liberals in many cases, especially in the policy world. It vindicates Oprah. It vindicates the importance of love; of cushy connections; of social connections; and of emotional contact from one person to another in shaping how our minds are wired. And to me, that leads to a much more communitarian direction in policy. To me, it leads to more childhood public policies, and things like that. But in a gushier, more communitarian direction…We are Burkeans on Oprah at the end of the day.”

In my essay, Doubts Above Dave, I wrote:

This new idea that morality requires mindlessness - literally, the suppression of the mind - and our only moral duty is to "follow our feelings" - has been around for a long time. Indeed, for decades, we've been exposed to the idea that we should "just do it." But never - as far as I know - has anyone tried to use science to prove that "just doing it" is better than "thinking about it rationally!" Yet, if that is the aim of Brooks and scientists such as Michael Gazzaniga, then they are stepping on VERY thin ice.

[END]

2 comments:

Alkibiades said...

Todd,

Please define 'rational civilization.'

Todd White said...

Alkibiades:

A "rational civilization" would need to have only 2 things...

1) A citizenry that believed in the power of reason - i.e., that people have the intellectual and moral capacity to live their own lives with a minimum of outside coercion (whether that coercion came from a government or a religious body or whatever), and

2) A government that operated in a way that enabled its "rational citizens" to flourish (i.e, a government of limited powers that could maintain law and order).

By those standards, which civilizations are "rational?" Not many. The United States, Israel, and the Anglosphere (Britain, Australia, New Zealand). Maybe one or two others.

And obviously, all of those countries are in danger today, because the idea that reason is good for humanity - indeed, the very CONCEPT that reason exists - is under attack.

See my essays, "Ideas Have Consequences" and "What is the Function of Science?"

http://mustardseednovel.blogspot.com/2009/05/what-is-function-of-science.html

http://mustardseednovel.blogspot.com/2009/04/ideas-have-consequences.html