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Tips for Knowing that What you Know is True and Real: Preamble

Many disagreements on issues come down to a fundamental difference on how people arrive at what they consider to be ‘true’ and the different weighting they give to different kinds of knowledge claims.  It is even worse when people are unaware of how they are arriving at their conclusions and have given no thought whatsoever to whether or not these methods are sound, or appropriate to the categories they are applying those methods to.  I have given thought to this, indeed, you could even say I wrote the book on epistemology.  😉 There have been many occasions where I thought it would be helpful to my interlocutor to understand my approach to knowledge, but recently, one of my sons asked me how to determine if something is ‘fake news.’

Well, that’s a deep question to fall into!  My full answer would require another book, but in interests of giving some insight to my son, and perhaps some debate partners on the way, I will summarize it.

A proper treatment of the question would first of all examine the axiomatic nature of it.  The assumption is that it is preferable to have knowledge than to not have it.  But why is that the case?  Second of all, we have to recognize the basic mystery of knowledge.  We ‘know’ that 2+2=4, and this is corroborated by, for example, putting 2 baseballs with 2 baseballs and noting that every time we do, we have 4 baseballs.  But why not 3, 5, or 500?  Why is it that our logic correlates with the universe?  We don’t strictly know it, but the assumption seems to hold true, so we call it knowledge, and not without good reason.

Nonetheless, its good to be able to tell the difference between things we assume and things we know, and even better if we can admit it to ourselves and others.

A full treatment of the question would also entail a discussion of what I call ‘the golden rule of epistemology.’  (That’s what my book was about.)  Its very easy:  if our ‘knowledge’ leads us to a conclusion which requires that we declare it impossible to know anything (including our knowledge that it is impossible to know anything), we must reject that which we considered to be ‘knowledge’ out of hand.  Sawing off the limb you are standing on works in cartoons, but creates devastation in the real world; Chesterton had this idea in mind when he attacked ‘the thought that ends all thought.’  There are a great number of viewpoints that are out there that are self-defeating, with the adherents being none the wiser.  Post-modernism, relativism, Darwinism, would be examples.  One that many tend to agree on is logical positivism, which took awhile, but eventually even most of its proponents realized it could not be supported by its own weight.  So, the ‘golden rule’ is not an abstraction.  It is very relevant, as it is widely flaunted.  But eventually reality breaks in.

We naturally have to offer a definition of knowledge, too.  Philosophers have argued about this, too!  For my purposes, I will simply say that “knowledge is the personal awareness of information that accurately conforms to reality as it actually is.”  Reality is the baseline for our truth claims, not our perception of it.  On this definition, we can immediately see that there are pitfalls all around.  One might be aware of a state of affairs that conforms to reality, but may arrive at that awareness by flawed methods or approaches.  We’re not going to parse that sort of thing here, but I thought it might be good to at least highlight my view that if what we consider knowledge does not correlate with actual reality, whatever it is we think we ‘know,’ we do not actually ‘know.’

However, one thing I will say is this:  most people don’t actually know a quarter of the things they think they know.  For example, I find that the ‘fallacy of the collective we’ runs rampant in society.  In this fallacy, you will hear someone say something like, “We now know that….” But the person making this statement doesn’t actually know jack.  He is appropriating someone else’s knowledge, and for all he knows, this person is likewise appropriating someone else’s knowledge.  And, at bottom, we might find that the knowledge claim our chain is resting on is held by someone who has a whole host of problems–he may be hopelessly biased, or morally compromised, or on the take, and so on.  Or, an equally plausible possibility, although more charitable, is that the first link in the chain himself doesn’t consider the knowledge claim to be 100% established fact.  If that is the case, then we don’t actually know the the thing that we now know, do we?

People who say “We now know that” are usually arrogant (and ignorant) snobs who read a headline in Time Magazine and then think they know something. Or my favorite, the folks who read a small paragraph in a 9th grade text book and now think they know the end of the matter… because obviously, it wouldn’t be in the text book, or in Time Magazine, if it weren’t real!

It is critical to understand that we don’t ‘know’ all the things we think we ‘know’ and be willing to tell the difference.  We might casually say that we know that Person Y did Action B, but we should be self-aware enough to know that what we really means is, “Article X in Publication Z says that Person Y did Action B.”  So it is that strictly speaking, we don’t know that Person Y did Action B.  We know that’s what we read… but if anyone has knowledge, its the author of Article X, or, even more likely, it is Person Y.    And even Person Y might have an incomplete picture of the action in question.

All these ambiguities and caveats matter a great deal if you hope to navigate life’s many decisions without hurting yourself or others.

Now, before I go through and set out my method for determining what is most likely real, I need to also address another important preliminary issue.  Namely, not all knowledge claims are determined through the same methods.  Sometimes, the nature of the knowledge claim cannot even in principle be determined through a particular method.  This is very important, because you can screw up your entire worldview if you don’t get it right, although here again, reality tends to break in.  That is to say, people might say that they consider one method of gaining knowledge to be preferable, but in their real life, they hardly ever use the method.  Not because they don’t have opportunity, but because even they aren’t that stupid.

One of the best examples of this are the secular humanist atheistic skeptics who elevate the ‘scientific method’ above all else.  Now, to be clear, I’m a big fan of the real scientific method, and I consider it to be a powerful tool.  But, as with anything, one must use the right tool for the job!  So, the scientific method is a great tool for determining, say, if water boils at a particular temperature at a certain pressure.  If, however, you are trying to determine if a woman loves you, and you throw her into a pot and boil her, we can say with great confidence that if she ever loved you, she doesn’t now!

Of course, your average empiricist does not settle questions of the heart by boiling the objects of his affection, or burning them to a crisp and putting the ashes into a test tube and carefully weighing them.  Your average empiricist does not settle 1/100th of the issues he thinks he ‘knows’ via the scientific method, because, as I am saying, reality often breaks in.

(Hint:  if you want to find out if someone loves you, your most reliable guide is what we would call ‘revelation.’  Ie, she reveals it to you.)

The scientific method is nice because when it is the appropriate tool for the job, it can often provide more definitive ‘knowledge.’  But here is where the “fallacy of the collective we” comes tearing in with a vengeance.  Not one of us has performed 1/1000th of the actual experiments that have given us information that we reasonably consider knowledge.  Someone may have performed the experiment, but it wasn’t us.  In point of fact, your most hardened atheist who insists on rock solid empirical demonstration for truth claims actually relies on the revelation of those who actually carried out the empirical demonstration.  It is worse than that: I bet that most of us, myself included, could not name 50 specific individuals who are responsible for the scientific investigations behind some of the things we think we know are true about the physical universe, and yet I bet we believe we know 5,000 things we think are true about it.

I don’t fault anyone for trusting that Scientist K has accurately performed experiment G and learned knowledge J, and then behaving as though J is a legitimate piece of knowledge.  I only fault them for being unaware of how much they depend on revelation in their epistemology.

In our actual experience of reality, it is usually the case that we cannot be as definitive as what we can theoretically be when weighing or boiling things.  On the other hand, as I have argued, the best way to know certain things is sometimes not going to be by weighing or boiling them at all.  That does not mean that we are out of luck.  There are still methods for determining truth which often give us good, reliable results.

The American justice system offers a good example.  In this adversarial system, evidence of various sorts are brought into the courtroom, and subjected to cross-examination and other (hopefully) rigorous tests.  The scientific method provides some of that evidence.  The trustworthiness of revealers is evaluated (ie, ‘witnesses’).  Claims are weighed, deemed significant, or even discarded.  But here again, this is a system that we cannot often avail ourselves of in the ordinary course of business.   Nonetheless, it is a system which allows us to compare propositions against the standard, ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ which is sufficiently robust that if the standard is met, we have been known to execute people.  So, it is not a method to be sneezed at.  And yet it remains that most of us cannot convene a grand jury to ask, say, “Do I know for a fact that drinking coffee every morning will not give me cancer?”

From the foregoing, it should be clear that determining if what we know is something we really know is not an easy task.  There are many pitfalls, caveats, exceptions, all along the way.  For some people, that is an excuse to throw up their hands in despair.  These are usually the same people who in their next breath will say, “You’re wrong.  We now know that…”

The complexity and difficulty of determining what is true and real only means that it is not something we can take for granted.  We must man up to the problem, even if 95% of our fellow citizens are clueless.  With any luck, over time, we can knock that number down a percent or two.  If not, at least you’ll be better off.  Because when reality breaks in, it tends to do so painfully.  The best play is to find out what reality is, and conform ourselves to it.  It’s for our own good.

The next part will come in due time.

 

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Accusations of Sexual Misconduct IN THE MEDIA are Themselves Inappropriate

Updated at the end to include a response to an argument made re: Moore.


Yes, of course, there is the long pattern of claims of rape and other examples of sexual misconduct that have been revealed to be completely untrue and fabricated… the Duke lacrosse team… the Rolling Stone fiasco… Tawana Brawley… almost certainly Anita Hill… but this essay is going to assume, for the sake of argument, that there is an underlying legitimate basis for the claims.  But the false claims are not irrelevant to this post, and the point I will be making, so we will do well to remember the larger context.

We might begin with the Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey allegations, which are noteworthy for a number of reasons.  First of all, there is the fact that as near as I can tell, neither men have denied the accusations.   Secondly, there is the irony that they are said to refer to an ‘open secret’ among a group of people who are constantly berating their fellow Americans for their various moral depravities.  Not to put too fine a point to it, but for example it seems that whatever Donald Trump is accused of doing, most of Hollywood actually has done it, is doing it now, or has been looking the other way on for decades.

As I write, I see reports that Louis C.K. is being accused, as well as Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Roy Moore.  Louis C.K. is not talking and Moore is denying the charges, and given how quickly the liberal drive by media has lodged accusations in the past, only to have them revealed as outright fabrications, we should not be too hasty in accepting them as legitimate.

But let’s assume that all of these accusations through the media are actually legitimate.  In nearly every case that I’m aware of, the incidents occurred years earlier.  Even decades earlier.  Why, then, are we only hearing about them now?

Rape and many other kinds of sexual behaviors are against the law.  These laws are there for the purpose of allowing us to prosecute bad actors.  However, if someone does not avail themselves of the laws, then these prosecutions cannot happen.  There is a serious problem with trotting them out as allegations, shopped to the media.  The criminal procedures offer protections both to victims and to the accused.  However, as we see so often, no such protections exist in the media for the accused.  Indeed, we see over and over again how people are deemed guilty based on allegations alone, largely because we have a grotesque media culture that engorges itself on such situations, calling it ‘news.’

This is a horrible way to run a society.

That’s why the Weinstein-Spacey allegations are somewhat unique.  By not defending themselves at all, they essentially conceded the charges made against them.  This, I think, is telling.  First of all, I think it means that they are unconcerned about any long term fallout.  I suspect they figure that their Hollywood friends, many, if not most of whom, are already engaged in the same kind of behavior or worse, are going to eventually ease up on them.  I suspect they understand that for normal people, being crucified in the media is a fate nearly as bad as enduring the criminal justice system, but since they are not normal people, it is far better to drink the cup of media agony than put up a fight and end up in court.

It is one thing for people guilty of the charges to make such calculations, but for innocent people, there is little recourse if one is falsely accused by the media.  It’s called the ‘drive by media’ for a reason.  At least in a court trial, evidence is heard and evaluated, and verdict is rendered.  If someone is innocent, they may very well be able to prove this in court.  But if they are convicted in the court of ‘public opinion’ there is no way to get one’s reputation back.

A further advantage to trial by media:  there are certain ‘victims’ who would prefer not to be cross-examined in such a way that their false statements could get them sent to jail.

The bottom line is that if you are sexually assaulted, it is not commendable to wait 40 years before bringing out your allegations, and it is not commendable to bring out those allegations to the media.  And society should not tolerate it.  If someone is sexually assaulted, they should promptly report it to the authorities so that the scum bag can be put in jail and deterred from committing similar acts against other people.   On top of that, its a little silly to think that we can root out such behavior in our society if we allow it to unfold over many decades; I mean, the proposition is absurd on its face.  Obviously if you want the behavior brought under control, it must be dealt with quickly and effectively as soon as it manifests.

However, this spate of allegations has an entirely different feel about it.  The claims smell spurious, and the media’s participation in spreading them smacks of something despicable in itself.  I began by assuming that the claims in many of these cases are legitimate, but one does not end someone’s reputation on claims alone.  If the whole purpose appears to be to bring someone down in the media, it calls into question whether or not the cases are legitimate at all.  If someone doesn’t want to be disbelieved when they make their accusations, then perhaps they ought to level them before it seems obvious that they get something out of it.

On the way things are proceeding, any American could be destroyed merely by someone saying that they were sexually assaulted.   No evidence required, or even desired.

Its easy to see how this could eventually backfire on the people who most revel in it. It is easy to see how it might then be too late.


Updated:

Everyone is fixated on the Moore thing, but my blog post is NOT a response to Moore…. because I am not a tool.  My post is focused on a broader, more dangerous pattern.  To that end, I recently made these comments to a friend:

I am aware that you said you didn’t know if he was guilty or not. That’s not what I said. What I said is YOU DON’T CARE if he is guilty or not. And that’s a real problem.

For example, you expressed doubt that Hannity appropriately grilled Moore. I suppose you want Hannity to really go after Moore, taking bits of flesh out with every question. You want Moore subjected to vicious interrogation and cross-examination, as befitting a pedophile. Very good, then! Let’s run pedophiles into the ground! Ah, but what if Moore is innocent? Well, then you will have subjected to him to punishment that he never deserved in the first place.

And you don’t care.

My interest in this is not limited to Moore. See #3 on my blog priority list.

We’re talking about a trend that is facilitating several very dangerous currents in our society.

1. Delaying prosecution of sex offenders has the obvious effect of allowing these people to inflict more harm over the ensuing years, creating a climate where the offender draws the obvious implication that if no one is bothered by his behavior, it must not be all that bad. Not pressing charges on a rapist obviously leaves the rapist to rape more women, which he will be inclined to do, and if it is ‘lesser’ offenses, such as exposing oneself and so on, he will be even more inclined.

2. I’ve only been following it moderately but it seems that in all these cases, the behavior was an ‘open secret.’ (Moore again seems to be an exception, in that there was no hint of anything until just this week, FWIW). This means that not only the perpetrators, but the many people around them, allowed bad conduct to persist for years. Yes, this meant more people victimized, but ponder as well the kind of culture we’re talking about where these things fester. Now picture yourself or loved ones possibly coming into contact with that culture, and think about what might happen to them. You were oh so concerned that no one would come to your defense if you were falsely accused, but you exhibit an utter lack of concern when the same thing is already true for countless others, past, present, and as I warn, future.

3. It must mean something that in some of these cases, the people did not deny the charges, allowing themselves to be flayed by the media. While it does help us bystanders determine whether or not there was something to the charges, it suggests that these people (Weinstein, Spacey, and now CK) believe it is in their best interest to accede to the charges rather than put up a fight. My hunch is expressed on the blog: they know that media storms will likely pass, but jail time is far from ideal. Actually innocent people would prefer the trial in a court of law to the media storm, because they at least can clear their name.

4. While all this is going on, there is a widespread pattern of false accusations that are proved later to be false, but which were gleefully accepted on their face by, yes, a largely liberal population, who rarely come across a ‘victim’ they won’t adopt as their own. Here there are at least 2 categories, 1., the trial by media vs 2., the trial by a criminal court. In America, people are innocent until proven guilty, at least in the eyes of the law. This is not an accident. It was put in there because of a long pattern of abuses by the British and other European powers who, like you, thought it fine to treat someone as a criminal even before it was proved he was a criminal. Our system, while imperfect, attempts to balance the rights of the accused with the rights of the accuser.

Here, the cases of Weiner and Cosby are noteworthy, as, for better or worse, they were actually given a chance to defend themselves because, unlike in pop culture, the criminal justice system is not allowed to treat someone like a criminal until they are actually shown to be a criminal. The media by trial dispenses with all of that, and this dangerous trend is facilitated further when the media drops the chum in the water, and the unprincipled sharks gather to join in the mauling.

5. This is the climate that my children will be coming of age in. My sons are going to have to find women to marry in an era of microaggressions and false accusations; My sons and my daughter might be sexually molested by people who are known already to have a long history of sexual misconduct. My sons will grow up in a culture that thinks it is a wonderful idea to wait 40 years or more before lodging an accusation.

I have already instructed them that they will have to be on their guard throughout, that the Billy Graham rule must be taken seriously, and so on. Some of this advice is warranted at all times. But some of the advice is unique to our age, where people are destroyed for no other reason then the fact that the media makes money destroying people because people enjoy watching people be destroyed. Do they know if the people being destroyed are guilty or innocent?

Why, they don’t even care.

How is that going to end well?

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The Skubala Missives: Letter 3

To the Most Eminent Secretary Kugelpuss:

Well, that escalated quickly.

You misunderstand my gentle council as veiled threats, which if ever there were any doubt that you were new to office politics, that doubt is now removed.  I am an underling just like you, Kugelpuss!  I mean only to help, devil to devil. And really, invoking the name of Gakjab as if I had slighted him was really unnecessary.  Gakjab was there with Screwtape when the present policy was designed and implemented.  They worked together in dark concert, and were rewarded together with appointments to our Master’s cabinet.

Moreover, who is it, do you think, that tasked me to reach out to you in the first place?

Let that question sink in.

But let us not descend into pedestrian squabbles.  You asked some good questions, which I will (if only in obedience to my superiors) render my best answers to.

The reason for our new policy, breaking with our patterns for thousands of years, is simply because this policy was not even possible until relatively recently.  When Hobbes imagined his Leviathan, there were no grounds for thinking that it would exist anywhere except his imagination.  While I have not inspected his file, I would be willing to bet that the whole scheme was encouraged merely as a mechanism through which to win his soul, since there was not even the slightest reason to think that an overarching organization such as the one he proposed was on the horizon.

But today we live in the cold glow of Taylor’s maxim, “In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first.”

Several centuries of human history have led us to a place where much of the infrastructure for Leviathan’s rule has been laid, and, more than that, more humans than ever are primed to submit to such a scheme.  Some of this has been carefully inflamed by our Master in Hell, some has been the natural response of the little scumbags to their own bloody history, and some has been good fortune.  In all of this, it seems that very little has been going the Enemy’s way, and a great deal of the credit for that goes to the workers in your department who have fully embraced our policy.

How so?  One of our great tasks has always been to conceal to them what is obvious to us–and obvious to any observer.  In this context, it means carefully obscuring the fact that the ‘system’ is still managed by Man.  It is their goal to escape the excesses of humanity, the greed, the lust, the envy, the bloodthirsty quest for power.  How stupid of them to think that they are free from such things if you have a State sufficiently empowered!  But they believe it!  The reason they believe it is because our master tempters prompt them to forget that there is no power exerted by the ‘State’ that is not guided and directed and implemented by their fellows, who are no less human than they are.

What this does for us is exquisite.   In the old days, we had to take care in raising up a great devil of a man.  He was hard to protect, for a man’s deeds were more clearly evident to his fellow man.  Remember the Berkman-Frick affair, and never forget it!  Nowadays, you couldn’t get anywhere near one of our agents, not only because of the many intermediate layers of bureaucracy with its increasingly impenetrable security, but because in most cases their names are not even known.  By day, they plunder their fellow man, gorging themselves on their succulent self-satisfaction even as they facilitate mass murder, always, of course, doing so while lining their own pocket books.  By night, they amuse themselves at restaurants and theaters, walking the street in perfect anonymity.  In a bygone day, they would be slain in the street.  In our modern creation, nobody has any idea what horrors on our behalf they have wrought, so they are left quite alone, getting plumper every day that passes.

There is a beautiful irony to this, which does not escape our calculations.  Just as the victims do not know the names of their victimizers, the victimizers do not know the names of the victims.  The whole scheme is flush with the Impersonal.  And there is, you will agree, nothing we detest more than persons, the personal, or The Person.

Yet there is even more to be said than this.

You will be aware of the fact that our Enemy possesses certain unfair advantages when it comes to the technology he employs.  Our Experimental Department has been hard at work over the centuries attempting to duplicate some of these advantages.  There was one technological innovation that we greatly desired but feared would never attain, which is embodied in that grotesque phrase, ‘the body of Christ.’

As an experienced tempter, you know all about this bizarre aspect of the Enemy’s relation to humanity.  It is clear from his conduct towards them that he really wishes to regard them as persons, even as he unites them with each other, and him.  Phrases like ‘one flesh’ or ‘buried with him in baptism’ are not, as the humans suppose, mere dogma, but actual realities which serve to make our work extraordinarily difficult.  There is safety in numbers, and it is even worse when they are not only joined in cause, but also joined ‘organically.’

Our Experimental Department has been hard at work attempting to duplicate this phenomena, and bring it to bear for our own purposes, but the best we’ve been able to do is create mere ‘organizations.’  But the advent of the System offers us our first real advance towards possibly being able to re-create the same kind of thing.  Under our careful stewardship, our agents fatten themselves up for the slaughter, and what is it that they’ve consumed that made them so fat?  To the degree that it is possible in their realm, they’ve gobbled up the souls of those they trampled upon.

Hence, by consuming them, we enjoy the many flavors of those that they consumed.

Do you see then what we are at the cusp of accomplishing?  Heretofore, whenever we brought someone into our storehouse, there was little hope that we could feast on our harvest without also exhausting it.  There certainly is not enough to go around for you and I and all of our co-laborers! But if we succeed in our efforts here, by creating our own Organism, with its self-sustaining nature, deprived, we hope, of any individuality and the various specializations found in the Enemy’s method of making the many ‘one,’ we will all engorge ourselves–forever.

Yours quite sincerely,

Skubala

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Do babies who don’t believe in Jesus go to hell?

Most of my work in ‘apologetics’ (the defense of the Christian faith) involves fielding stupid questions by arrogant people who know next to nothing about what it is they are objecting to.   The truth is that many of the reasons put forward for not believing in God and Christ are exceedingly lame, and would not be tolerated in any other scenario.  (For example, the 19th century Christian Richard Whately responded to David Hume’s arguments by showing how they equally show that Napoleon  didn’t exist–an absurd proposition.) To top it off, many of the people who object to Christianity are ‘bad faith’ debaters.

In this context, you can well imagine that someone might get tired of dealing with such people, and I freely confess that I am tired.

There are, however, a class of questions which are totally understandable, fully expressed in good faith, and real stumpers.  If there are genuine objections to Christianity, they are usually expressed by people wrestling with what we call the ‘problem of suffering.’  The problem with the ‘problem of suffering’ is that on intellectual grounds, it can be answered (see: Plantinga or Eleonore Stump) but that is hardly the point.  The problem of suffering (and its cousin, the problem of evil) are often raised by people who have suffered profoundly, or been close to those who have, or have been inflicted personally by evil men or circumstances which are out of everyone’s control–except God’s.  Hence the very personal question, where was God when it was all going down?

Well, I can’t know the personal backstories of all who will read this.  Just let it be known that this is being written by someone who has also experienced the death of loved ones and other various tragedies.  While I have not yet experienced the horrors of Job, I myself feel the weight of these questions.

Now to the question, “Do babies who don’t believe in Jesus go to hell?”  A loaded question, if ever there was one.  My ‘bad faith’ debater described above rarely conjures up this question, because to piece it together, you have to have some actual knowledge of the Scriptures, and make some attempt to piece together a logically cogent worldview.  This question usually surfaces on the lips who have attempted to reconcile difficult teachings within Christianity, without pre-judging it.  Which is ironic, because this is a question that is even harder than the one often raised, about why God called upon Israel to destroy the Canaanites, including women and children.

I mention this distinction between the good faith and bad faith debater because the ‘answers,’ as it were, comes from taking the Scriptures even more seriously, not less.  In our modern era, it is common practice to slice and dice the Scriptures up, ejecting the unpleasant parts, or those that frown on behaviors we really don’t want frowned upon, but in my experience, most of the hard questions are addressed by simply taking the Scriptures as they are.  In ejecting an unpleasant part, you may very well chop out the very idea that answers your present concern.  Astute readers will notice several things I use in my answer that are widely repudiated these days, even within Christian circles.  I would maintain that those repudiations make finding an answer to this question even more difficult.

Let’s give it whirl.

The Biblical account of world history goes like this:  In the beginning, God created everything good and perfect.  This included two human beings who possessed what God intended them to have, namely ‘free will.’  They used this will to disobey God, effectively severing the intimate relationship that existed between humanity and God.  The result of this severance was that people would now die.  While God was constrained to allow this to play out (if ‘free will’ was to be a real, not an imagined feature of human existence), it did not mean that he didn’t love us and didn’t want to repair the damage.  He initiated a plan to rescue the human race.

It is essential to understand in this context that the entire human race, with no exceptions, became subject to the reality of death.  On this portrayal, there isn’t a single person who has ever existed–save Jesus himself–who did not warrant punishment, even of the eternal sense.  (Romans 3:9ff pounds home this point).

In this view, the fate of little children and the fate of grown adults are all under the same judgement.  There isn’t a real difference between how we would address the fate of babies and how we address the fate of everyone else who has ever existed.  The difference is in our emotional response.

More on that in a moment.

Yes, this account paints a dire picture of the human race, but if we examine the Scriptures closely we see that God is hard at work in history implementing his plan for redemption.

He made a promise to Abraham, which was stalled for 400 years while his descendants were enslaved in Egypt.  But he rescued them with power.  The Jews were judged again for their disbelief and disobedience (of a particularly obstinate sort, since they were direct witnessed to God’s power!), forced to wander the wilderness for many years, but eventually they entered the promised land.  Even here, the people who were evicted had been given time to repent, and had not.  Later, God showed his affection even for those who were not of Israel by sending Jonah to Nineveh, which was filled to the brim with Israel’s enemies.  In that story there is a profound statement by Jonah:  he does not want to preach repentance to Nineveh because HE KNOWS that God is patient and forgiving, and there was thus a real chance that Nineveh would be saved–a horrible thought in Jonah’s mind.

The nation of Israel now went through a cycle of obedience and disobedience, with constant interventions by God who sent prophets to warn them, and Israel often killed those prophets.  Finally, God allowed the Assyrians and the Babylonians to send them into exile.  But even here, God did not forget them.  Eventually, the Israelites came home and rebuilt Jerusalem.  Then followed a four hundred year period in which the Jews patiently awaited the coming of the Messiah, who was supposed to end this cycle definitively.

Throughout the Scriptures (there was no ‘New Testament’ at this point), God had made it clear that he would send a person to reconcile Man to Him, and gave details of his identity.  For example, as early as Genesis 49:10, God hints that this redeemer would come through the line of Judah.  In Deut. 18:15, Moses alerts the Jews to the fact that a prophet would come like Moses.  Isaiah 11:1 narrows it further, saying this redeemer would come from the ‘stump of Jesse.’  Which Jesse?  The one referred to in the book of Ruth (4:22).   Didn’t you ever wonder why the little book of Ruth was included in the Scriptures?  Now you know.

These passages traverse more than a thousand years (and I could give more), and show that while God was a holy God, not to be trifled with, it also showed at God that was in pursuit of people.  He wanted as many to be saved as could be saved.

When finally the Messiah appeared, it would not be to deal with the relatively minor matter of restoring Israel’s place among the nations, but to provide his over-arching answer to the problem of death itself.  Not only for the Jews, but for everyone.  God’s story of grace unfolds over thousands of years and offers a definitive path to redemption and reconciliation to every person who has ever existed, exists today, and will ever exist.

This is the testimony of the Scriptures, both ‘old’ and ‘new.’  In saving Mankind, God did not minimize our sinful disobedience, but made it abundantly clear just how serious it was–to deal with it required that He himself pay the price.  In saving Mankind, God did not want to obliterate our free will and our free choice.

And now we turn our attention to all of the suffering, and wonder if the suffering is a fair price to secure our free will and free choice.  Well, on this narrative, we don’t even know a tiny fraction of the suffering that has been endured.  For whatever horrors we may have experienced personally, it is a small slice of human history.  God has experienced the suffering of every human who has ever existed, exists today, and will ever exist.  God is not at all indifferent to our suffering.  Through his own suffering and defeat of Death, he intends in the end to bring about an entirely new heaven and new earth, at which point, well… maybe I’ll actually provide the whole verse this time:

Revelation 21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Today we live in a period which is not without precedent in the Scriptures.  God told Adam and Eve that he would reconcile–but they did not live to see it.  God told Noah that a judgement was coming… it took 100 years to come about.  God told Abraham that the land of Israel would belong to his descendants–it took 500 years for this to actually take place, but it did.  Then the Jews were exiled, and upon their return, urged to watch out for the Messiah (Daniel 9), whose arrival they were eagerly anticipating at precisely the time when Jesus came–and launched an entirely ‘new religion’ to which more than 1 billion presently adhere to.  That we would now be in the ‘lull’ between certain promises (eg, Jesus will come again) and the fulfillment of those promises (his actual return) isn’t really surprising, given God’s observed pattern.

And he has his reasons, I suppose:  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

On the face of it, it may seem that I haven’t answered the question about babies.  Not directly, I’ll concede, but I have laid down some very important groundwork.  If we’re going to answer a question like this, we need to place it in the full context of the Scriptures, and use all of the Scriptures to help us understand any passages that may be relevant to the question, but also to help us understand God’s nature.

And for that last point–understanding God’s nature–I am convinced from the Scriptures that God is fully aware of the conundrum regarding little children and their fate, and while I may not know exactly how he reconciles the fact that due to original sin, they warrant death and damnation as much as the rest of us, with his unquenchable grace which seeks the redemption of everyone, I am fully persuaded that HE WILL DO THE RIGHT THING.  In His own time and in His own way, but he WILL reconcile these two aspects of his posture towards the human race.

I don’t personally need to know the ‘how’ in this particular case, because I believe he has given sufficient evidence in the rest of his conduct towards us that he does in fact have a ‘how.’

To bottom line it before I go further:

Though I don’t know exactly the fate of the innocent (from our perspective), I know that whatever He does, and however He does it, he will not minimize the seriousness of the separation between Mankind (including these youngsters) even as he reconciles them and us to Himself, consistent with his wish that we retain our ‘free will.’

Having said all this, the Scriptures give us some hints on God’s approach to the matter.

Before delving into that, we should resist the urge to minimize the ‘original sin’ element, and simply say, “Every innocent person, whether the mentally handicapped, or the unborn, or the newborn child, will go to heaven–God would never punish the likes of them!”

Why?

Well, if this is your view, then it rationally follows that if you wanted to ensure that these people go to heaven (read: live on the ‘new earth’), the best thing you could do for them is KILL THEM before they get old enough to disobey or choose to reject God.  Abortion, instead of a horrific murdering of the unborn innocent on a scale beyond all that Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and Pol Pot ever did, is in fact the best way to stuff heaven with people.

Don’t laugh.  I’ve heard this argument before.  And there is historical precedent for people reasoning like that.   I remember hearing a tale that I cannot presently substantiate, that there was one occasion where the natives were forced across a river, baptized half way across, and then murdered on the beach–thus ensuring their salvation before they could commit another sin.

In other words, while it might seem thoroughly compassionate to merely declare that no ‘innocent’ person will be damned, it could lead to a thoroughly uncompassionate approach, wherein we reconcile ourselves with grave injustices, on the view that “at least they will be in heaven” when we should remain thoroughly outraged.

Not that this view is inevitable, mind you, but it is a rational position based on the premise.  The one who does not want to take that position has the responsibility for shoring up their worldview in a cogent manner so as to preclude that position.

While I cannot provide a definitive hope for the case of all innocents, I believe, as I said, that there are clues that God does have a special place in his heart for them.

Let’s take, for example, Jesus’ words: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14).

That sentiment, uttered by God incarnate, strongly suggests that God does indeed have a way to reconcile his firm stance on sin with his insatiable grace when it comes to young people.

Further evidence comes a little earlier in Matthew (18):

 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, a it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

This being the case, one can imagine God’s response to those who slaughter little ones wantonly–or justify it.

From these two passages alone, it is clear that while we do not know for sure how God resolves the problem of reconciling his own justice with his own compassion, in the case of little children, he surely does have a resolution.

There are further hints as to how God might do it, but they really begin to narrow the problem.

I am thinking in particular of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:

If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

Why does Paul argue this way?

He is referring to the fact that according to God’s plan for man and women, when they have sex, they literally and truly become one flesh.  He has just referred to this principle in  1 Cor. 6, when he warned against sexual immorality.  He makes an argument that I don’t think many people would expect, then and now:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

Yes, Paul is saying that all sexual intercourse unites the people as one flesh.  Uncomfortable implications there!  But note his support:  “The two will become one flesh.”  And where was that written?  All the way back in Genesis 2.

Here, then, you have your most direct example of how cutting out a piece of Scripture ends up harming you later on.  Many people are very willing to dispense with Genesis 2 (and the rest of Genesis, as well, for that matter), but it is based on the logic of Genesis 2 that Paul makes his claim that the children are holy, merely by virtue of being born where one of the persons is a believer, even if the other person is not.

If the ‘children are holy’ this surely provides further basis for having hope that the child of a believing parent is near to God’s grace.  But if you chop out Genesis, you chop out the basis of Paul’s argument, and you therefore undermine your hope that God has a ‘tweaked’ outlook on the ‘innocent.’  So, chop up the Scriptures at your own risk!

But I said that this narrows the problem, which is to say, it doesn’t eliminate it.  This passage only applies to the children of believers, and does not address the children of non-believers.  Thus, while we may have given some tangible hope to believers, we don’t have a similar basis for the millions of children born of non-believers.  Are we right back to where we started?

Perhaps.

However, before I give up on this angle, I wish to address this idea of ‘believing’ as a basis for salvation.  In full disclosure, I should indicate that my outlook is Lutheran.  As such, I already have an expanded basis for understanding the concept of ‘faith’ than a lot of my protestant brothers and sisters.  For example, it is clear in Romans 6 that baptism is an act of God, not of men, wherein God–not men–joins a person into the actual body of Jesus.  By virtue of being (literally) with Jesus when he died, we are with him (literally) when he rises from the dead.  It’s all right there in Romans 6.  (I have a defense of ‘Lutheran’ baptism in this book.) Romans 6 makes no reference whatsoever to the age of the person being acted upon by God.

Many protestants think of ‘believing’ and ‘faith’ as almost purely intellectual acts, acts of the will which give assent to God and his will for us.   I do not exclude such things but I also include the relational element of ‘faith.’  The best way I can briefly describe it is of a child growing up in the household of loving parents.  In the beginning, the child contributes virtually nothing to the arrangement, and certainly never intellectual ‘assents’ to being part of the family.  The child is a part of the family because of the parent’s decisions and actions.  As the child grows up, he observes the patterns of the parents (like I did earlier, observing how God interacts with humanity over the long stretches of history), and if the parents are loving (as I posited), there is a growing intellectual awareness of the nature of being part of that family, but it is grounded on a trust for the parents which was absorbed early on, long before the child has the powers of cognition to put into words. I regard this whole enterprise–the grounding of trust, as well as the intellectual assent–‘faith.’

I believe the passages of 1 Corinthians I mentioned above and Romans 6 (to name just 2) support this expanded understanding of ‘faith’ and gives further hope for the children of those born of believing parents–or also the stillborn.

Which brings me now at last to the narrowed case of those who are not born of believing parents.  What of them?

We have officially returned to my bottom line:

I don’t know exactly the fate of the innocent (from our perspective), [but] I know that whatever He does, and however He does it, he will not minimize the seriousness of the separation between Mankind (including these youngsters) even as he reconciles them and us to Himself, consistent with his wish that we retain our ‘free will.’

I believe this because of my own faith in God, which is not mere intellectual assent, but the trust I have in God which I have acquired by looking at his pattern of behavior over history, and my daily walk with him.

It’s a loose end, but then, my own children do not yet understand all my reasons for doing things, and perhaps they never will.  But hopefully my children know me, and know that whatever I do, I’ll at least try to do it for the best reasons, and the more they come to know me, maybe it is the case that they will understand my actions even more.  But at any rate, I am nothing compared to God, who unlike me (flawed, and inconsistent, and weak), is able to bear all pain and suffering while he awaits the unfolding of his plan to its fullness.

I don’t know the full answers to every question in this class of questions, but I do trust God, my father, who has a long history of being both firm and compassionate.

 

 

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The Skubala Missives: Letter 2

To the Most Eminent Secretary Kugelpuss:

Your willingness to take counsel is commendable, although I concede it is not always easy to know the tone in which something is written.  Due to the great import of our cause, it is essential that we are all on board with the direction we are going, so I will suppress my doubts and carry on in good faith.

Of course I recall some of your earlier conquests, in particular your skillful engineering of the so-called ‘Cult of Reason’ during the French Revolution.  You really did not need to mention it.  Certainly, your deft touch at stoking the fires of white-hot carnage was critical to your assignment to the young Adolf.  Yet there is in that episode the kernel of that process which we have now turned into our modus operandi.  It is, therefore, a useful bridge for explaining our current approach.

You will recall that the bloodshed wrought by those who denounced God was answered by bloodshed wrought by those who did not denounce God.  It would be a wonderful thing if we could sustain such cycles of cacophony indefinitely, but eventually our prey tires of such cycles and, insofar as they are able to do something about it, put a stop to it.  Despite all of the vulnerabilities of our prey which we can exploit, we must not forget what they are and how they were made.  We can prod and stretch them but there always comes a point where they ‘snap’ back, much as a rubber band returns to form once tension is released.

It is certainly true that there is grotesque pleasure for us throughout that entire scheme.  The flavor of souls that have been steeped in the stress of imminent death for several decades is delectable.  The ‘snapping’ back itself usually entails chaos, which is ecstasy to us, because within chaos there are often massacres and other means of harvesting, but, unfortunately, those who are harvested tend to be those in the Enemy’s camp, rather than our own, who are carrying out the harvest.  Eventually, we reap our reward when the bloodthirsty miscreants succumb to death, and ripe morsels they are!  But in the meantime, the spasm of terror we have inflicted will itself have dissipated into some kind of pattern which the humans can themselves tolerate.

It is this state of affairs, which we might roughly call their ‘default’ state, that serves as a stark reminder to us that if left to their own devices, accounting of course for their own inherited slant towards depravity, they will return to the values that our Enemy enmeshed within their very being.  We are once again on His turf at that point, which is very dangerous territory, as you well know.  And that serves as yet another stark reminder that if our efforts do not end in stuffing our own coffers, rather than His, our work was ultimately in vain, despite whatever pleasures we obtained in the process.

Skipping ahead a bit in how we got from ‘there’ to ‘here,’ the point is that we have seen value in taking the opposite tact from what you are used to taking.  While it is true that we do not necessarily get to sip the decrepit remains of those whose lives are cut short with radical dispatch, on our present policy  we still get souls to sip.  In fact, the discovery was this:  our harvest is more secure when we lull our prey into a drunken stupor, setting before them various temptations that are veritable narcotics to their spirits.  Yes, there is vast joy for us by provoking them into rash outbursts of bloodletting, but there is eternal sustenance for us if they carry out their actions, as they perceive it, voluntarily.

To put it more bluntly, when it is more obvious that we are hard at work, our prey’s created defenses eventually kick in and our work becomes harder.  We find that we have to start over, over and over again.  When we let our prey believe they are merely about their own business, they will happily deposit themselves into our nets.  But here is the brilliance and innovation of our department’s stratagem: the trap remains set, even as it is sprung.  It falls to us merely to keep the mechanism going, by greasing the wheels and providing discrete nudges along the way.

It is not as flashy as the work you are used to doing, I will readily grant.  Nonetheless, the building of this Machine and its maintenance is our current policy.  The expansion of its reach is our prime directive.  The signature of our Master himself is on the bottom of the document putting it into force; I have seen it myself.

Here, then, is the rub:  Hell has marshaled its great resources towards soothing its prey into our clutches, while you appear to be hell-bent on arousing their passions–and hence their suspicions.

This is worthy behavior of the direct tempter, but you are an administrator, now.  As the newly appointed chair of the board that matches freshly trained devils with newly identified subjects, it is critical that you issue assignments that are consistent with our official doctrine.  Within that role, it falls upon you to discipline those who leap beyond the accepted parameters, making sure that all who are under you know of our guiding principles, and having stern words with the schools themselves if they continue to turn out candidates with a penchant for ‘slash and burn.’

As one of the champions of that approach, I can only imagine your reluctance to inflict the stern punishments that may be necessary.  You may even perceive that in punishing those who engage in such activities, you are actively repudiating your own line.  There is another way of looking at it:  by curbing the violent ambitious of your underlings, you secure for yourself a permanent place in our records as one of our greatest tempters, without concern that you may be ‘bumped off’ by one of them.

This raises an important point.  As with the vermin that we mercilessly chase, once someone has ascended into the administrative ranks, it is not usually the underlings you need concern yourself with.  Rather, in that rare air, you must watch yourself from those breathing air that is even rarer.

Yours quite sincerely,

Skubala

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The Skubala Missives, Letter 1

To the Most Eminent Secretary Kugelpuss:

It is of course with the most earnest trepidation that I bring a matter of great importance to your attention.  Your reputation precedes you, but I will be an enigma to you.  Lest you mistake your resume as a warrant for any response you deem appropriate, I must sketch out the details of my own expertise, which of course I invite you to verify.

I arose to my present position from Screwtape’s division, and under his tutelage and by his efforts.  If my name is not enough to arouse within you some terror, then I know, my fellow gentledemon, that the name of Screwtape will do the trick!  You will surmise from this that I have not arrived at my station merely because Screwtape had a fondness for me, but because I delivered.

I know you will point to your glorious conquests in the hunt, conquests which are known throughout the third Hell, and you will make sure to remind me that nobody knows the names of those that I have brought to the table.  Nonetheless, I should like you to ponder how it is that you and I have arrived at equal rank.  It cannot be for no reason!

True, in the capacity of a tempter you gave us Hitler.  Certainly, the feast resulting from that conquest is on-going, and the aroma of his decaying soul continues to linger in the halls and caverns of our abodes.  I dare say the scent is in the very walls, giving us a taste of what the humans reference when they speak of ‘smoking’ and ‘non-smoking’ rooms.  Yes, you turned the man masterfully, and the resulting carnage yielded strong dividends, which we enjoy to the present moment.

Following this, you gave to our cause Pinochet, for which we are most grateful.  It was for this long history that you have been honored with your recent promotion, which I congratulate you for.  Nonetheless, there is a strong rumor that despite being promoted you still dabble in direct tempting; I know, because I receive the complaints filed by lesser tempters who do not appreciate the interference.  Surely, you didn’t think such intrusions went unnoticed?  It is not worthy of your newly acquired station, and not compatible with your appointed role.

I do not dispute the largesse you have delivered to us, but you appear to be completely unaware of the present strategy being employed, and in fact are treading closer and closer to disrupting it.  It has fallen to me to send this friendly letter because I was among those who helped craft the strategy.  You gave us the windfall of the likes of Hitler and Pinochet, I gave you the steady income of unknown or under-estimated brands such as the Osborns, a certain Huxley, and Jaffe.

Importantly, these I delivered to our feasts not by direct temptation–if you must know, I was promoted out of such trivial work long ago, in recognition of my efforts related to Godwin and Malthus–but through a mechanism you seem to be utterly ignorant of:  institutional inertia.  Look into it, and you will see that I was central to the development and diffusion of Taylor’s efficiency movement.  That’s the sort of work that pays in the long-term.

Within a few decades, even the delightful stench of Hitler in our walls will have finally dissipated, but in a century, thanks to me, we will enjoy a perpetual crop of staples that will not merely sustain us, but make each of us plump and well-satisfied.

This was the approach taken by the Esteemed Screwtape, after the pattern of other enlightened Master-Demons who understood that our inclination to immediate gratification was blinding us to the advantages of systematic cultivation, decade over decade, century over century.  It is an approach that has now been formally accepted by the Organization.  As such, by undermining that approach, it is not a mere disciplinary board you must fear, but the Organizer himself.

It would be insulting for me to lay out the details of that strategy, as you are certainly competent enough to do so, and you have your own underlings who can advise you.  It’s all there on Form 350 in section 3 in sub-part A; see also addendum 12.

Suffice it to say that the strategy we have adopted today is more like putting Man into a drunken stupor, distancing him from a life of purpose, and instilling in him a gnawing ache of desperation, which we then help him ‘satisfy’ through various measures which make him even more desperate, distancing him further from having a life of purpose, and, most importantly of all important things, taking him further from the Enemy’s long reach.

Meanwhile, you continue to throw veritable bombs.  The carnage is lovely, don’t misunderstand me, but the whole idea was to have them all smolder.  If you continue to inflame our prey, they will all burn out, and the structure we have spent almost a century building will be consumed right along with them.  I trust you can see that not only is this not in our own collective interest, it is not in yours, either.

Please do advise if I can render any further counsel.

Yours sincerely,

Skubala

Secretary of the Department of Systems

 

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Whatever is true, whatever is noble: Christians are forbidden from being tools

In the post immediately proceeding this one, I shamed people who respond in knee-jerk fashion to whatever the new national outrage is.  It was a general tirade that applied to all who were guilty.  However, some additional thoughts directed to the Christian are in order, for they, more than anyone, should not so easily fall in with the outrage du jour.  As with that post, this one is also not to be read into whatever today’s outrage is, and should be seen as applying to all of them.  The intended audience for this post is specifically Christians.

The Scriptures tell us how to direct our thoughts each day, and it isn’t based on whatever is highlighted on Good Morning America or even the Drudge Report for that matter.  Surely, we’ve all seen how the shape of our day’s thought-life can be shaped by things we see in the media.  The agenda for our mind should not be determined by the world, and all the more when there are agents in our society who have the intentional goal of determining what we think about each day.

As for the Scriptural side of things, we could begin with this passage:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

I don’t suppose I have to work too hard to persuade the reader that most, if not all, of the things we are called upon to think about by the world, are not honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, praiseworthy… and need I say, it is rarely true?

There are some important reasons for Paul’s list here.  Obvious ones include “You are what you (mentally) eat” and “Why are you letting secularists manipulate you as if you are Pavlov’s dog?”  But Paul already gave us the more important guiding principle:

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:17-21)

This world and all it consists of is passing away.  To the extent that there is anything within it that we should give attention to, it should be done very carefully.  We most certainly should not let non-Christians set the terms of engagement.  If something is important to a non-Christian, does that mean it is important to us?  Maybe it isn’t important at all, but because the non-Christian has no other horizon to look to besides this earth’s, it is the best they have?

In our present climate, this is particularly true on the question of ‘justice,’ which they are all abuzz with–and by abuzz I don’t mean bees, but drunkenness.  The best of them are drunk on the idea of ‘social justice’ but neither for reasons that we Christians are interested in justice nor the same measures of what constitutes justice.

On any sane, informed, view, grave injustices have plagued our globe throughout its entire history and plague it now, and will always plague it.  You will never be able to make the world ‘just.’  NEVER.   You may, however, live justly yourself, and possibly bring justice to your own narrow sphere of influence.

But the worldly approach to such issues is not satisfied with such limited aspirations, and in the name of ‘justice’ is quite pleased to inflict as much injustice as they feel necessary “for the common good.”  The Christian is not permitted to harm one person or group in order to help another (ostensibly).  A Christian can, however, ‘harm’ himself for the good of another.

Along these lines, another dynamic that we Christians cannot ally with is the inclination towards ‘statism’ and the feeling that rectifying an injustice must be done at all costs because otherwise a person might not experience a remedy in time for them to benefit from the remedy.   For the statist, after a person is dead, it is too late for them to have justice.  For the Christian, it is understood that 1., At the end of all things, there WILL be justice, but it will be God to enacts it and 2., acting unjustly in the name of justice is still injustice and 3., you’re never going to eradicate injustice anyway, no matter what powers you give to the state, and 4., humans being what they are, if you give the state more power, the state is likely to abuse that power, but your power to curtail the abuse of power is proportionally less.

But for the worldly, the ‘state’ is all there is.

But do not be fooled.  Many of those who say they are trying to bring justice are still being guided by the ‘god of their belly.’  First of all, most obviously, they may be profiting gloriously from their ‘efforts.’  You can often recognize these by the fact that even though they say they are against such and such, all their efforts seem directed to ensuring that such and such continues.  Why? Because if the problem they say the are concerned with is solved, they are no longer needed.  And if they are no longer needed, they will be deprive of their position and of course, their money.  Secondly, less obviously, some people say they care about helping others, but actually, what they care about is the good feeling they get when helping others.  In other words, its not about the people being helped so much as it is the feeling they get in their ‘gut.’  Once again, if they were to actually succeed–eg, if overnight there were no poor people left to feed–they would undermine their own self-importance.

If a Christian wants to help someone, they do it because of the intrinsic worth of that person, not because it makes them ‘feel’ good.

But most worldly ideologies deny that people have intrinsic value.

I have touched on the idea of ‘social justice’ here only to highlight how differently a Christian might engage an issue as opposed to how the worldly person might engage it.  These different mindsets would naturally create different priorities and different things that rise to our attention.  The things the world thinks about each day, and how it thinks about them, are not necessarily what the Christian is supposed to think about, nor is it likely that we are going to think the same way about them.  So, why is it that we let ourselves so easily get sucked into the day’s national outrage?

This world is going to pass away.  In the eyes of much of the world, the people also will pass away.  As Christians, we know that it is not the State that will remain, but rather the people.

When we are told to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’ it was not a devotional platitude.

It was an order, and for good reason.

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Don’t be a Tool, You Child

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Cor. 13:11 [follow up blog post for Christians in particular]

I have been wanting to write this post for months and months, but have delayed doing so because I did not want any readers to think it was the result of any particular ‘national outrage.’  Not surprisingly, it is precisely because the phenomena I’m addressing is a constant, continual kind of thing, a ‘lull’ never came.  Well, it was starting to look like I would never write the post, so I’m just going to break down and do it.

Thus, I must issue this disclaimer:  THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT ANY PARTICULAR EVENT, AND THAT INCLUDES ANY EVENTS THAT MIGHT MEET MY DESCRIPTION THAT MAY BE TAKING PLACE AS I WRITE.

A second disclaimer:  my blog is generally trafficked by an, ahem, somewhat higher order of reader.  There is a chance, then, that if you’re reading this, this post may not apply to you.  In that case, I would suggest that you file this post away, and whenever you see someone transgressing against the principles described in this post, refer them to it.  The people who most need to see this post will not do so, unless you direct them.  The rest of this post is addressed to these people, even though they are unlikely to see it.

—————

One of the things that I’ve learned about politics is that the one who sets the agenda is the one who has the most power.  No money gets spent and no decisions get made unless a matter is first brought into the proper channels for execution.  The people who set the agenda are not often politicians, but bureaucrats.  The village administrator or city manager and any number of un-elected, virtually invisible, individuals, can ensure that the politicians talk about the things they want the politicians to talk about.  It may be something that neither the politicians themselves or 99% of the community has any interest in, one way or the other, but the bureaucrats can force the conversation, and, as you may very well expect, put their thumbs on the scales so that the politicians come to the decision the bureaucrats wanted them to.

This is all true, but its meant as an illustration only.

In our society, we find that every few weeks, we the people are called to deliberate on yet another new national outrage.  It is like clockwork:  we are minding our own business and BAM, we suddenly have to form an opinion about something. We have to choose a side.  Naturally, we have to broadcast that opinion.   But how did the national outrage du jour get selected?  The ‘item’ was put on the agenda, and the people obediently took up the matter for deliberation.

Now, seasoned politicians understand the influence that unaccountable bureaucrats can have in directing public policy.  But YOU are so daft, it never occurs to you that you are being manipulated.  YOU are so obtuse, you fall for it Every. Single. Time.

Do you even remember what you were angry about three weeks ago?  Given that goldfish have a longer attention span than the modern American, I am reasonably confident you don’t.  Even if you do, you probably don’t remember the one before that.  You might remember what you were angry about a year ago, but that was only because it was an election year.  Even then, I bet you would have trouble recalling the particulars.

Indeed, since we are now knee-deep in the Twitter age, where we cannot think in terms longer than 140 characters, I have probably lost most of my readers:  oh look!  A squirrel!  Coming soon:  a new website where you are only able to express yourselves in monosyllabic grunts.  You watch, it will become the new platform for our high political discourse overnight.  If I still (just barely) have you, here is a 1:15 minute video summarizing a whole lecture I gave on it a couple of years ago:

Now, the embarrassing part is not that you can’t remember what you were angry about, but that you probably don’t even remember being angry in the first place.  By now, any reasonably sensible person would have noticed how we Americans are regularly getting riled up and put at each other’s throats.   Has it not occurred to you that for this to happen on a constant basis, it has to be intentionally contrivedSomeone is setting the agenda.

More accurately, any number of individuals are competing to set the agenda.  Their goal is to make their own agenda item go ‘viral.’  They often succeed.

When these people make things go ‘viral,’ they aren’t just trying to get ad revenue.  They want to achieve something.  I don’t want to get into specific examples here because inevitably some reader is going to want to discuss them, rather than the underlying principle.  It is enough to say that the public sentiment is used as a rationale for some action that these manipulators wanted to achieve, but which otherwise there was no public interest, one way or another.

And you keep falling for it!

I found your picture on the Internet:

In case you were wondering, you are the one on the left.  And yes, you are so tame, even a child can guide you through the village.

How absurd is it that because Person X, one person out of three hundred million, said comment Y, and suddenly everybody and their mother is shouting at each other, and you right along with them on Facebook?  And just who is Person X?  A veritable nobody.

Dumb.

How silly is it to get all worked up about some event that went down 1,000 miles away from you?  In what sane universe can an event that happened in some far off place, involving people you do not know and will never know, doing things that will never matter to you, become something you need to get angry about?

Surely, these two scenarios alone should remind you of some recent outrages which you blissfully participated in.  I could go on, but again, I don’t want to get into particulars.

Basically, you are a tool.  Someone wants to build something, and they reached into their bag and they pulled out you.  And here is the crazy thing:  as they slam you against your fellow man, you sit back and revel in your own sense of righteousness.  An adult would have figured this out by now.

It might help if you understand that this manipulation is truly intentional and purposeful.  We have been studied.  The technocracy is real, and these elites really believe that they are Pavlov, and you are their dog.   And they don’t believe it for no reason!  They ring the bell, and you start slobbering!

Have you no dignity?  Have you no pride?  Have you no self-respect?  Drool is soaking your shirt, and you are proud of yourself!  You’ve contributed to society!  You got angry at the ‘right’ things at the ‘right’ time!  See Spot run.  See Spot hear a bell.  See Spot spout on Facebook.  Good boy, Spot!

GROW UP.

STOP BEING A TOOL!

Here is what you need to do.

The next time you smell a ‘national outrage’ brewing, deliberately refuse to comment on it via Twitter or Facebook, or Grunt.  Just let it go.  In a few days, it will blow over, anyway.  If you find that you cannot resist posting about it, then the odds are very high that you are a tool.  My guess is you don’t want to be a tool.   I have just given you a strategy for becoming a person, not an instrument.  You’re welcome.

Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t things worthy of comment.  There certainly are!  However, one of the things about ‘national outrages’ is that they often begin before anyone actually has any facts in hand in the first place.  The most important things worthy of comment are complicated things, and in the off chance some event in Wichita actually is worthy of further consideration, its going to take time for the whole story to be told, anyway.  So just wait.

Not to say, either, that I myself haven’t fallen victim to these manipulations.   There are a couple of times where I think I did.  However, as far as I’m concerned, if you’ve waited a good 3-7 days before piling on, that’s not the kind of thing I’m addressing here.

I mentioned above that we have been studied by the technocracy.  If I have pricked your conscience even slightly, I would strongly suggest you begin studying them right back.  I would start with Edward Bernay’s The Engineering of Consent, or even his Propaganda.  Speaking of propaganda, while Ellul’s Technological Society seems to be better known, his book Propaganda shows vividly how mass audiences are studied and deliberately manipulated.  Here is an excerpt on ‘anger’ that I think is about right.  It is long, but worth it.

Let me sum it up:

  1. You lead a trivial, meaningless life, and you know it.
  2. You are powerless to give meaning to your life, because the ‘machine’ is too big and convoluted for any one person to influence, let alone control.
  3. You want to have a purposeful life, so you flail about looking for things that will satisfy your need for purpose.
  4. You have been led (by the nose) to believe that doing things at a level where you might actually accomplish something (ie, in your own household, or your local community) is trite and insignificant.
  5. Hence, you believe that if you don’t accomplish something that is enforced on everyone, you haven’t really done anything.
  6. But, you yourself are powerless to do anything like that anyway.  (See #2)
  7. And, anyway, doing stuff within your own household or your local community can be grueling, exacting work.
  8. But being angry is easy.  Consequently, anger is substituted for actual action.
  9. Your anger, therefore, is how you find your purpose.  It is how you contribute to society.  It’s literally all you got–or, at least, all you’re willing to do.

And that is why people are happy to be tools.  That is why the people who manipulate us via the mass media, etc, know they can continue to get away with it.  We want to be manipulated, because otherwise the meaninglessness of our lives is exposed.

So, BAM BAM BAM — for a hammer, everything is a nail! — there you go to Twitter, Facebook, and Grunt, to spill out your animus, and you think you’ve done your part for society!

Well, there are all sorts of things wrong with this.  The fact that you take offense to this post is proof that you don’t really want to fit the characterizations of this post, which testifies to the fact that, in actuality, you’re not just an animal, subject to the conditioning of the totalitarians.  There is hope for you, yet!  But one of the other reactions to this same phenomena is that sometimes people wake up to the vacuous nature of their own lives and realize that a Tweet is the hollowest measure, so these people channel their anger into actual violence–always in the name of the common good, of course!

No.

Besides growing up, thinking for one’s self, taking the time to actually EDUCATE YOURSELF BEFORE YOU SPEAK, and refraining from being a tool, you should disregard this lie that “all problems are national problems” and turn your efforts to the very places you could actually do something.  That is, your family, or your local community.  Wise up!  You know that ‘national solutions’ are just ways to line the pockets of the elites and further empower them in their position.  They are just using your good intentions!  You know it.

Meaning and purpose really is right around the corner, if you want it.  You may, have to rethink your entire paradigm, however.

I beg you, rethink!

Unless Americans remove themselves from the ‘tool box,’ and soon, I shudder to think we will become.

The ball is in your court, reader.

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Preventing the next Holocaust requires Full Freedom of Speech (Rebel Media)

Rebel Media is an organization that I know almost nothing about, except that it is avowedly not politically correct, but by my limited exposure, is nonetheless not in the slightest affiliated with “Nazi” viewpoints.  And yet, it has been shut down, at about as fundamentally as a site can be shut down:  the domain itself has been pulled.

Speaking as someone who knows a bit about web hosting, let me explain how it works.  A person registers a domain with a registrar; the sole purpose of the registrar is to connect the domain name to a web server, via nameservers.  The web server itself has a numerical identifier for itself and the account, but as people can’t remember a series of numbers very well, the Internet is pleased to have the the registrar convert the numerical identifier into the domain name.

A web server is like a piece of real estate while the actual website is like a renter who has a building on it.  The domain name is, strictly speaking, optional: its like being included in a directory of buildings.  If you are removed from that directory, then the only way to find the website is to EXACTLY know the IP address.

The web server itself is usually indifferent to the the activities of the renter, so long as the renter does not cause it too much trouble.  Most people don’t associate the web server with the domain, just like most people do not blame the landlord for the fault of the renters.  Generally speaking, that is for good reason: that would be stupid.   In a sane universe, it is understood that the landlord does not necessarily endorse the views of the renters.  Similarly, no one looks at a website and thinks to themselves, “Oh, this is registered by GoDaddy.  GoDaddy must agree with the contents of the website.”  If anyone did this, we would rightly consider that person an idiot.  But until now, this has hardly ever, if ever, been done.

Mind you, this isn’t even a web server, ie, a landlord of a piece of real estate.  Certainly they have some discretion in what kinds of businesses operate on their land, since the own the land.  But the directories do nothing except to match names to numbers.  There is zero connection to the nature of the content, which of course is why most of the registrars have no compunction whatsoever with hosting heavy porn and all sorts of other vile behavior.  So much for standards, right?

The US Constitution is pretty clear in stating that we have a right to free speech, but it would be argued that private companies such as Cloudflare or GoDaddy need not comply with that.  That would be correct, but it would also be equivalent of cutting off one’s nose to spite their face.  In the long run, if companies who merely maintain what amounts to match making directories decide that they want to censor content, there will be a huge backlash which will hurt their bottom line.  Naturally, ICAAN will back their play, because the International community is, to be frank, thoroughly proto-fascist, but eventually pressure would build up and even that would break.

But in the meantime, lets consider what would happen if the domain registrars begin taking sites out of their ‘directories.’

This would represent a staggering blow to whomever was using that registrar, but the underlying web server would still be there, serving web pages.  ONLY the people who know the IP addresses of the websites would be able to see the web sites, but after a suitable amount of time, word would eventually spread (there are more ways to communicate than Google, Facebook, and email, after all), and naturally only the people who were most committed to the cause of those sites would once again visit those sites.  This wouldn’t take as long as you think.

Within short order, two things would have been accomplished.  1., only the truest of believers would be associating and 2., no one else would have any clue what they are actually talking about.

In theory, you could go to the website of a dissenter, read what you see there, and either opine directly with them, or if illegal and dangerous behavior was being discussed, you could report them to authorities.  But if you are not privy to the actual IP address, you will never be able to do either of these things.  They could plan a full out revolution and no one would be the wiser.  And, as true believers, feeling (rightly) targeted, they’re not going to be inclined to compromise.

Up until the time that ICAAN finally breaks, and the registrars are brought to heel (they are, after all, supposed to serve the PUBLIC, which includes people we don’t agree with and even often find vile), some seriously bad actors could carry out some seriously bad things.

Not that I’m saying that Rebel Media are these bad actors.  Not at all.  I’m not knowledgeable enough about them to know.   What I’m saying is that what is happening to Rebel Media is a precedent that can only lead to seriously bad things happening, as the principles are extended to even more domains.  The people who frequent those domains will eventually find a way to re-connect.  Even if you get rid of the web servers themselves, a web server can be erected off of any person’s laptop, and at this point, with knowledge of the websites only being passed along by word of mouth, there is literally nothing you could do to stop them from interacting.  And to so say that these people will be P-Oed, perpetually, is an underestimate, to put it mildly.

But that’s not where the potential holocaust lies.

For that, you need government sanction with government powers.  It is inevitable that a government empowered with the ability to blacklist whole populations would extend that to any site that threatens its existence.  We’ve already seen this in various ways in other countries.  See, for example, this, this, and this.

Imagine this kind of viewpoint censoring throughout the globe, and imagine what governments would do with that power.  Yes, even your American, Canadian, or British government.  And even if they did not capitalize on that power, try to ponder the ultimate manifestation of the consequences of private companies who merely manage the world’s public directories taking it upon themselves to censor speech, on their own discretion.  For once, for God’s sake, THINK.

It has been said that the answer to bad speech is more free speech.  This is true.  If you send proponents of flawed ideologies underground, there is no opportunity to reason with them, object to them or–ponder this thought for a moment–consider the possibility that maybe it is YOU with the flawed ideology.  You may deny a ‘racist’ a platform, but you have not eradicated his ‘racism.’  You’ve only forced him to channel his efforts into an direction that is less open to public scrutiny and feedback, and frankly, you deserve exactly what you get.

The revoking of websites at the web server level is reasonable, just as owners of real estate have the discretion about what kinds of things happen on their property.  But stripping people of their domain names is the modern equivalent of pure totalitarianism.  It is stupid.  It is dumb.  It is asinine.  It will be found, in time, to be completely counter-productive.  Do you support such things?  Then you are two things at once:  a wanna-be Hitler, and, insofar as you probably think you are opposed to Hitler, and yet virtually identical to him in your mindset, you are properly included among some of the dumbest persons on the planet.

Sorry to stoop so low in my description, but I fear we are rapidly reaching the point where positions are irrevocably hardened, and it will no longer be possible to sort out differences of opinions by dialog or elections, leaving only sheer violence as the mechanism to resolve such things.

And that, my friend, will be on YOU.

Fortunately, in the Twitter generation, the proto-fascists to whom this most applies to will never read this far (I lost them after the first paragraph) or else I would be next on their list.

Trust me, I’m fully prepared for the eventuality.

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Is Boston Antifa Real (Twitter)?

This last week I saw some comments on my Facebook feed about some outrageous tweets put out by Boston Antifa, such as this one:

“No room for capitalists, conservatives, libertarians, “Classical liberals” or supporters of the US constitution in our city. #BostonResist

Eventually, I decided to take a look at the Twitter feed myself, and saw all the things I expected to see out of Antifa.  I did a cursory analysis of whether or not it was real or fake, which you have to do with everything you see on the Internet these days.  It passed the cursory scan, so I documented some of it, and yea, I put it onto my own FB.  Then a friend told me it was fake.  I went and took another look.

The source that is telling us that it is fake, is itself posted anonymously.    The case that link is making seems to be pretty decent, all things considered, but then again it also could be disinformation.  The Boston Antifa Twitter feed also says that people are messing with their credibility.  Which anonymous accusation to believe?  Moreover, the source refers to a Facebook and Youtube account, and not the Twitter account.  Some of the tweets seem to be truly helpful to Antifa and their ilk.  Then, there is the problem that most of the posts are indeed indistinguishable from the things you can find the ‘alt-left’ saying.  For example, this video, posted to the same Twitter account, looks entirely legit.  And this one. Given that leftists really believe this stuff, the Boston Antifa twitter feed actually seems relatively tame, in comparison.

However, after I scrolled back through their feed several months, I came across other ‘tweets’ that seemed to suggest that even the owners of the twitter account couldn’t contain themselves.  They couldn’t keep a straight face.  For example, this video I found absolutely hilarious, and yet Boston Antifa retweeted it without comment.  No comment?  You’d fully expect outrage and indignation as they sought to defend their cause; on the other hand, therein lies the problem, if one would expect this, and someone is trying to spoof you, then they’ll be sure to include it.  So, the reasoning has diminishing returns.  Anyway, there are more than one cases where Antifa is subtly or outright mocked, and the Twitter account seems to be, metaphorically speaking, smirking.

At this point, I’m 80% confident is a fake.  A really well done fake, but a fake nonetheless.  If someone has actual, verifiable evidence one way or the other, feel free to provide it.

I turned up another Antifa thing that seems to be fake.  It is “The Antifa Manual.”  Here again, the problem is that you can go line by line in this manual and find undeniably genuine examples of almost everyone of those sentiments expressed by this or that leftist.  This Antifa manual, posted to the same source above (“Its going down”) that asserted the Boston Antifa site was fake, plainly states:  “In the U.S., most activists are anarchist, although a few are Maoist or anti-state Marxists” which comports pretty well with the ‘fake’ manual, and Antifa as observed in the wild.  However, there were some things that jumped out at me as warning flags.  The left corners seem very suspicious to me, as if the surface behind it was digitally generated, just like the coffee stains and the top right corners.  The crinkles seem oddly uniform.  I don’t trust it.

I’m 90% confident this one is a fake, too, but 50% of that is simply the ‘smell’ test.  If anyone has real evidence on this, I’d appreciate that, too.

The basic problem I face is twofold.  First of all, there are obviously violent thugs out there advocating for anarchism, Maoism, or ‘anti-state Marxism.’  There is no question that we see people in masks destroying things and beating people up–and oh, by the way, they consider me the enemy.  They must be organizing somehow.  Second of all, I prefer whenever possible to work based off of primary source material.  The more insight I can gain into their outlook, the better.

One of the most difficult parts about modern society is obtaining accurate information.  That problem is only going to get worse.  Trust nothing, verify everything–if you plan on acting on that information.  And by everything, I mean everything.

 

 

 

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The White Supremacy of Aborting Defectives

More than one friend made sure I saw the recent CBS news story with the headline, “”What kind of society do you want to live in?”: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing.”

My daughter was diagnosed in the womb with spina bifida, and yes, the doctor prompted us to consider aborting her, and yes, like in Iceland, we were shown to the genetic counselor immediately afterwards.  At the time, I knew nothing about genetic counseling or its ideological history, and I did not know that we needed to be on our guard.  Per the article:

Quijano asked Stefansson, “What does the 100 percent termination rate, you think, reflect about Icelandic society?”

“It reflects a relatively heavy-handed genetic counseling,” he said. “And I don’t think that heavy-handed genetic counseling is desirable. … You’re having impact on decisions that are not medical, in a way.”

Ironically, and sadly, even, I saw people responding to this article by saying that *this* is nothing like what the Nazis did, because in this case, the people are making the choice, and not the government.  But this statement belies that notion.  First of all, the genetic counselor has the ability to influence a parent’s decision by selecting what information to share.  Second of all, the counselor appears in the role of “The Expert,” and his advice given disproportionate weight.  Third of all, governments are involved in shaping the outlook of genetic counselors and do so through designing the licensing requirements, and so on.  While the connection is not direct, there are indirect ways in which the government CAN be making the choice for the parents, even if it appears on its face that it is the parents making the choice.

I’ll return to this in a moment.

Several folks highlighted the irony of Americans freaking out over what was going on in Charlottesville, while another aspect of the Nazi ideology enjoys broad currency and raises little fuss.

Indeed.  Sad to say, that speaks volumes about the level of outright ignorance that pervades our society, as well as to how easily it is to lead the masses by the nose.  In other words, killing defectives in the womb is thoroughly consistent with the Nazi ideology, and people literally have no idea that this is the case.

If you are reading that and feel that idea is absurd, then if you have any objective bones in your body, take a moment and allow yourself to be educated.

***

1.

The ideological grounds for elimination of the unfit was well established before the Nazis arose to power, as, for example, in the findings of Binding and Hoche, two prominent German thinkers who wrote that it was acceptable for people to commit suicide, or if they are incapacitated, to have their family kill them, or if the family is unwilling (due to emotional attachments, for example) then the State should intervene to do the right thing, which the family won’t.  The State is interested in ending suffering of course, but the State also must think of the economic burdens on society posed by allowing such people to live.  You can get Binding and Hoche’s book, which I publish, on Amazon.

That was Germany, in 1920.  The Nazis were not even yet a glint in their father’s eye.  That is, they didn’t exist yet.  In other words, Binding and Hoche were only reflecting mainstream scholarly thinking.  When the Nazis came to power, one of the first things they did was pass the “The Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.” (1933.) Only a few years later, the T4 project would begin, whereby German doctors would help identify and destroy countless disabled people–including fellow Germans. They would use the technology they devised for mass killing and disposal of remains in their LATER efforts against the Jews.

It is important to note that when they were directing their attention towards defective people, they were NOT acting outside of the thinking of a great many intellectuals, both inside and outside of Germany.  This is proved in any number of ways, but not least of which is the fact that, AGAIN, they eliminated fellow WHITE, blue-eyed, GERMANS, who were mentally ill or physically defective.  And they did this FIRST, fully expecting, and receiving, support from the ‘experts.’

But it wasn’t only in Germany that such scientists and other ‘experts’ were thinking about dealing defective people.

I have been collecting examples of Americans who had the same idea and putting them on my website, eugenics.us.   There are far more than I have had time to list.  (If anyone would like to fund my research and efforts to publicize my findings, I’d much appreciate it!).  But some samples which I have had time to upload:

Dr. G. Frank Lydston of the University of Illinois proposed using “toxic gas in sealed compartments ‘to kill convicted murders and driveling imbeciles.'”  That appears to have been around 1910.

The Yale, then Wisconsin professor, Leon Cole advances a position that in any other context, devoid of attribution, one would assume was written by the most devout Nazi:

Chatterton-Hill, in a striking simile, has likened the condition of the social organism under these circumstances to that of a biological organism in which catabolism is exceeding anabolism, resulting in autointoxication, the gradual poisoning of the civic body. Death is the normal process of elimination in the social organism, and we might carry the figure a step further and say that in prolonging the lives of defectives we are tampering with the functioning of the social kidneys!

The neurologist Foster Kennedy, writing as a professor at Cornell in 1941, proposed that upon the age of five, every defective child should be “considered under law by a competent medical board” and if it has no hope, “it is a merciful and kindly thing to relieve that defective–often tortured and convulsed, grotesque and absurd, useless and foolish, and entirely undesirable–of the agony of living.”  He writes:

So the place for euthanasia, I believe, is for the completely hopeless defective: nature’s mistake; something we hustle out of sight, which should never have been seen at all. These should be relieved of the burden of living, because for them the burden of living at no time can produce any good thing at all. They can never have the joy of work nor the joy of play and, for many of them–perhaps the defective dystonias–even the placidity of the vegetable world. For us to allow them to continue such a living is sheer sentimentality, and cruel too; we deny them as much solace as we give our stricken horse. Here we may most kindly kill, and have no fear of error.

In England, in 1930, the doctor Richard Berry, defended himself from accusations in an essay called “The Lethal Chamber Proposal” saying,

Until I read your April number I was unaware that even this mild opinion had aroused either support or a ” storm of protest.” Certainly none such appeared in The Times, but in any case I do not share your views as to the ” sanctity of human life ” or ” the almost insuperable legal and practical difficulties ” which a lethal chamber would involve.

He grounds his view on the laws of nature (SCIENCE!):

Every living animal, man included, conforms and must conform, whether he wills it or not, to the two great Laws of Nature-the Law of Self-preservation and the Law of the Reproduction of the Species and Nature takes no risk in her ample provision for both. Sterilization cuts across-in more senses of the word than one-the second of these laws. Segregation appears to interfere with both; whilst a lethal chamber attacks the first of these laws, and incidentally the second as well. If Professor E. W. MacBride be correct-and there can be none familiar with the facts who would differ from him-that unless the birth rate of the mentally defective be restricted, “the British Nation as a virile people, is doomed,” it appears probable that politicians and people will both have to face all three-Sterilization, Segregation, and the Lethal Chamber.

I could go on and on producing examples from AMERICA and from ENGLAND and parts NOT Germany, as they are countless.  (I have posted more, here.  More to come, as I have time and resources.)  But one of the best examples, which shows more clearly the affinity between the Nazi outlook on defectives and American thinking, especially pertaining to the ideological history of genetic counseling, would be the case of CF Dight.

Dight was a leader of the Minnesota Eugenics Society.  Upon his death, he left funds to begin an institute for the training of genetic counselors (at the time, called ‘heredity clinics’ and so on).  Oh, and he saw Hitler as advancing the same idea as he was.  In 1933, Dight sent this letter to Hitler:

The text of the letter:

I inclose [sic] a clipping from the Minneapolis Journal of Minnesota, United States of America, relating to, and praising your plan to stamp out mental inferiority among the German people.

I trust you will accept my sincere wish that your efforst [sic] along that line will be a great success and will advance the eugenics movement in other nations as well as in Germany.

He attached a clipping of his letter to the local newspaper:

The report persistently comes from Berlin that congenital feeble-mindedness, insanity, epilepsy, and some other serious conditions that are inheritable are to be stamped out among the German people.  Adolf Hitler is having broad and scientific plans for this.  If carried out effectively, it will make him the leader in the greatest national movement for human betterment the world has ever seen.  The world’s two great needs are co-operation in industry for social good and biological race betterment through eugenics.

I bolded the ‘scientific plans’ part.  You see, the word ‘Nazi’ has become a weapon used to bludgeon opponents, but few people actually know what the Nazis really believed–or that many of those beliefs are shared in the present day… not by white supremacists.  By you, perhaps.  And you don’t consider yourself a Nazi, do you? You only think you are acting, believing, and advocating, on the basis of science and out of concern for the reduction of suffering.  (What could go wrong?) “Surely there is some overlap here worth reflecting on.”

Now, there is a rest of the story.

2.

After the war, the hordes of American and British ‘experts’ who embraced the eugenic program as science couldn’t very well be out spoken about it anymore, now could they?  The Nazis had soiled a good thing.  How to reclaim it?

There was a need to repackage themselves and re-deploy, as it were.  They did this in a number of different ways, which are all important and worthy of my telling you about, but let me focus on how their retooling was manifested in genetic counseling.

I mentioned Dight, and he is indeed a good place to start.   Not only did he have an institute at a major university which churned out like-minded heredity counselors, he helped pass eugenics legislation that was on the books in Minnesota for decades after that.  But for our purposes, the statement made by his successor, Sheldon Reed, in 1957, helps orient ourselves on how eugenicists were re-framing their efforts:

… there is no important distinction between research in “pure” genetics and the research in “applied” genetics such as eugenics.  Our present day use of the term “human genetics” instead of “eugenics” may be financially and politically expedient but there is no great philosophical difference between them.

Emphasis added.

Not insignificantly, this was in an essay published by the reputable “The American Journal of Human Genetics.”  This journal is still very much in print, and no one considers for a moment that its writers may be advocates of Nazi ideology.  Many of the eugenicists relocated their efforts to organizations such as “The American Society of Human Genetics.” This organization is also alive and well, but people are not at all aware of its origins or current work, and naturally, no one would think of them as advocates for Nazism; no, pure science!   And not, by the by, indifferent to how genetic counselors are licensed.

And yet, the first president of the organization H. J. Muller (Yes, that HJ Muller) in his first address, in 1949, published in the aforementioned AJHG, wrote about “Our Load of Mutations.”  The whole thing is relevant (for reasons the reader may not understand), but gets interesting at the section “The penalty for relaxing natural selection” (pg 34 of the pdf).  Yes, that natural selection. (SCIENCE!) Then comes to a head in the section called “The avoidance of the penalty.” (pg 40 of the pdf)  Muller writes:

In order to fulfill the aim of achieving a form of selection more humane than that resulting from the unalloyed struggle for existence, it would of course be all-important for this purposive control to be carried out, not by means of decrees and orders from authorities, but through the freely exercised volition of the individuals concerned, guided by their recognition of the situation and motivated by their own desire to contribute to human benefit in the ways most effective for them.  This is the only real solution, the only procedure consistent with human happiness, dignity, and security. … But for voluntary adoption by people in general of a course of such wisdom, and so different from that now followed, a deep-seated change in mores would be necessary.  Not least among the requirements for this would be a far more thoroughgoing and widespread education of the public in biological and social essentials.

For Iceland to have reached near 100% elimination of defectives, “a deep-seated change in mores” has surely occurred.  (The article says 67% for America; it is probably much higher, as real records, rather than estimates, are hard to come by.)  But to see the defense of Iceland’s program in American lips, it is evident that the “deep-seated change in mores” has been brought about in America, too.

The purpose of Muller’s work is not to dwell on the actual mechanisms of bringing about that change in mores, but does have an opinion.  He says, for example,

…we must recognize that such far reaching changes in attitudes and practices as are called for in this field will not develop of themselves.  It is the responsibility of those who already have knowledge of the genetic facts to be prime movers in driving home an adequate realization of them among both the lay and medical public, and among all groups concerned with social matters, until appropriate changes are adopted in their daily practices and precepts.

Muller’s purpose is to establish the grave consequences, as he sees it, for not acting.  The third president, University of Michigan geneticist, Lee Dice, spends a bit more time on it in his annual address to the ASHG, in 1951, titled “Heredity Clinics: Their Value for Public Service and for Research.”

The danger of deterioration of the world’s stock of human genes through the accumulation of harmful mutations was forcefully pointed out at the 1949 annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics by our president for that year, H.J. Muller (1950).  The harmful mutations that occur in primitive human populations may be assumed usually to be eliminated in time by natural selection.  In modern societies, however….

You can see where this is going.

One method for preventing the transmission of a harmful trait is to destroy those individuals who exhibit the trait.  This drastic method was in fact employed by the rulers of Nazi Germany, but is utterly repugnant to most persons.

Repugnant then, in 1951, but not so repugnant before the Nazis had done their worst, as suggested by the advocates mentioned in this essay (Berry, Dight, Lydston, etc).  He continues:

Only two practical ways seem to be available for eliminating harmful genes from a modern human population.  Either those persons who carry hereditary defects may be segregated or sterilized by the state, or they may voluntarily refrain from reproduction.

After weighing these options, he settles on the ‘voluntary’ approach. Not to dwell on it too much, because you can read it and investigate for yourself, but he is an example of what I meant when I said that the genetic counselors have the ability to influence a parent’s ‘voluntary’ choice by how the situation is framed:

From my experience in giving advice about heredity to families in all walks of life I can affirm that every parent desires his children to be free from serious handicaps and to be physically and mentally well endowed. If there is known to be high probability of transmitting a serious defect, it would be an abnormal person indeed who would not refrain from having children.

Or aborting the children; remember, in 1951, abortion was only allowed on a state by state basis.  Roe vs. Wade was yet to come.

The strategy by which one convinces a population to implement eugenic principles without knowing they are doing so, and thinking it was one’s own idea all along, was outlined more deliberately by the president of the American Eugenics Society, Frederick Osborn, in 1956:

People will accept the idea of a specific hereditary defect. They will go to a heredity clinic and ask what is the risk of our having a defective child. They balance that risk against the chance of their having a sound child, and they usually come up with a pretty sound decision. But they won’t accept the idea that they are in general second rate. We must rely on other motivation.

Given the right circumstances, people will have children in proportion to their ability to care for them. If they feel financially secure, if they enjoy accepting responsibility, if they have warm affectional responses, if they are physically strong and competent, they are likely to have large families, provided they have a reasonable psychological conditioning to this end. If they are unable to feed the children they have, if they are afraid of responsibility, if their affectional responses are weak, people don’t want many children. If they have effective means of family planning, they won’t have many. Our studies have shown this to be true all over the world. On such a base it is surely possible to build a system of voluntary unconscious selection. But the reasons advanced must be generally acceptable reasons. Let’s stop telling anyone that they have a generally inferior genetic quality, for they will never agree. Let’s base our proposals on the desirability of having children born in homes where they will get affectionate and responsible care, and perhaps our proposals will be accepted.

Let me unpack what he is saying for you:

The more outspoken approach of actually singling out populations as defective in a society like America, coming out of the ashes of Nazi Germany, isn’t going to work.  How best to achieve virtually the same aims, of a genetically ‘perfect’ human race?  You get the parents to think they’ve come up with the idea all on their own: voluntary unconscious selection.  By ‘selection’, yes, that selection, ie, Darwinian selection.  Voluntary–because people are making a choice, unconscious–because they are acting on Darwinian principles without knowing they are doing so.

Osborn understands that this will fly in the face of the sensibilities of his allies:

My own feeling is that if eugenics is to make progress in the foreseeable future, we will not only have to drop the idea of assigning genetic superiorities to social or racial groups, but we will even have to stop trying to designate individuals as superior or inferior.  To many eugenists this would seem a radical step, almost the abandonment of eugenics.  But a little consideration will show that there are means of selection which do not require that we humiliate one half of the individuals who comprise the human race by telling them that they are not as fit as the other half to procreate the next generation.

His solution was to advance eugenics ideas on ‘generally acceptable reasons,’ ie, not by highlighting inferior genetic quality, but by focusing on “reasonable psychological conditioning”, so that they will achieve the same ends.  He, or they, appear to have been right.  But, importantly, the idea of ‘assigning superiorities to social or racial groups’ is not dropped as a matter of substance. Ie, they all still believe that certain races… ahem… such as black people… are racially inferior, or that certain people are genetically inferior (eg, those who will bear defective children) but because tactically, in the present circumstances found in the United States, they will never achieve their aims.  And its the ‘aims’ that matter.

And so, the heredity clinics eventually morphed into the field of genetic counseling, guided by founding principles and individuals who shared 100% the goals of the Nazis, and for often the same reasons, but had to change their tactics if they wanted to achieve the same ends.* [See important caveat at end of this essay.]

They really did have the same goals and aims. They only differed on their assessment on which populations were genetically inferior, and, naturally, were horrified by the Nazi’s mechanisms, especially since many of these German advocates for eugenics, like Franz Kallmann, were Jews themselves.

Kallmann had also called for the destruction of defectives, and even worked with Ernst Rudin the one who helped supply the scientific basis for the aforementioned German law against hereditary diseases. However, as a Jew he was forced to flee Germany when the scientific assessment there was that Jews themselves were defectives.  How is that for gratitude? In America, he joined his fellow eugenicists  by helping to found organizations like the ASHG.  American advocates for eugenics would find many new places to advance their agenda, often doing so under the guise of ‘public health.’

(Another irony: Alfred Hoche, author of the aforementioned “Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life,” had one of his own relatives scooped up by Nazis employing the rationale he had himself helped establish as ‘scientific’ and ethical.)

The idea that our contemporary destruction of ‘defective’ children while in the womb is utterly distinct from the Nazi ideology is completely unhistorical, for the simple reason that the Nazis merely borrowed what was already in mainstream circulation by numerous scholars, scientists, and researchers both inside and outside of Germany.

Which brings us, I think, to the question:  “What kind of society do you want to live in?”

If it was one that was devoid of any Nazi heritage, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not the society you live in–and the white supremacists are not the main examples.  These are a small slice of a small slice of America’s population.

In the immortal words of Frederick Osborn, “Birth control and abortion are turning out to be great eugenic advances of our time. If they had been advanced for eugenic reasons it would have retarded or stopped their acceptance.”

But that they were accepted by the general public is a simple historical fact.  That they are accepted still, is likewise a fact.  Don’t like it?  Time to start thinking for yourself, my friend.  Do not any longer let yourself be victims of those seeking ‘voluntary, unconscious’ acceptance of their ideas.

** Caveat: ironically, Roe vs. Wade was decided on the grounds of a woman’s privacy.  This threw a wrench in the plan, and in America at least, genetic counseling became infused with a strong current for ‘non-directive’ genetic counseling.  This has probably spared us a great deal of agony, as if Roe vs. Wade had been decided in favor of abortion, but on the basis of ‘public health,’ who knows what levels of compulsion we might have descended into.  Not that the abortion of some 60 million people is something of no consequence, but in light of the measures being promoted by other advocates of eugenics that had currency in the 1970s (eg, the ‘over-population crisis’, which Roe vs. Wade actually alludes to), we could have seen in America the same horrors that were seen in Germany.  But there are people pushing back against non-directive counseling, even to this day.  For example, the liberal authors of From Chance to Choice: Genetics & Justice seem to think the days of non-directive counseling need to disappear, and this, its worth saying, after they offer a very sober and accurate description of the history of eugenics as it relates to the question. Their approach is typical of progressive-speech:  it is not eugenics, it is genetic justice… 

 

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Unraveling the Universe of Ideas (Part 1 of N)

When I wrote my (yet unpublished) dissertation examining the influence of Darwinism on the founders of eugenics, I found myself faced with trying to tease out just what is meant by ‘influenced.’  Ie, does Darwinism logically entail eugenics? I felt I needed a model for comprehending those connections.  Think, for example, of W. V. Quine’s ‘web of belief,’ which has value, but does not address the phenomena of people having seemingly the same ideas, but for some reason or another, they are not able to continue together upon an ideological train of thought.

This dovetails into my dissatisfaction with the terms ‘left wing’ or ‘right wing’ and other ideological terms.  Except for very cursory and quick characterizations, the terms seem useless to me.  To take some quick examples, it is an absolute fact that liberals and Ku Klux Klan members rubbed shoulders with relative ease not too long ago in American history.  Woodrow Wilson was the liberal progressive par excellence, but was also one of the most strident advocates for segregation in American history.  Few would object to the notion that ‘liberalism’ belongs on the ‘left’ side of the ideological persuasion, but in today’s climate, racism is viewed as a feature of the ‘right’ side of the ideological persuasion.  (To this, we could add fascism and Nazism.)

Whether or not this characterization of racism being a ‘right wing’ phenomena is correct is not the curious part.  The curious part is that if racism can swing from ‘left’ to ‘right’ in the course of a hundred years, then it is probably not something that actually belongs on a ‘left’/’right’ scale at all.  The ‘left’ vs ‘right’ paradigm does not capture the dynamics involved.

Or, to take another case, in my readings and conversations I am sometimes confronted with the ludicrous claim that Hitler was pro-life.  The reason?  He was opposed to abortion.

When I hear such lines of argument, it is easy to conclude there really is no hope for humanity and despair of there ever being real conversations, but set aside the stupidity of the argument for a moment and focus on the fact that yes, there is a superficial similarity here–at least in one scenario (racially pure, German women)–Hitler opposed abortions.  Of course, Jews, blacks, and gypsies were encouraged to get as many as they liked.  What kind of model can accommodate people arriving at seemingly similar positions, but from such radically different starting points with startling diverse exit points?

Whatever it is, it is not encompassed by ‘left’ or ‘right’ or many of the other terms we commonly use to characterize ideologies.

So, in the process of writing my dissertation, I came up with a model of sorts.  However, it would have required significantly more writing and analysis to flesh it out properly, so I ended up dropping it from the paper.  Since I still think its an important issue and something I’m wrestling with, I want to put it out there as preliminary reading material for those trying to follow along with me as I continue to refine my thinking on how best to characterize ideologies.

Without further ado, here is a deleted portion of that dissertation.  You can download it in PDF, here:

On Worldviews and Logical Implications vs 2

On Worldviews and Logical Implications:  A New Model

[rough draft, copyright Anthony Horvath, 2017.  All rights Reserved]

In consideration of the various ways in which Darwinism was applied during the period explored in this paper that many readers may not expect, it became apparent that some kind of model might be useful to explain how certain people came to certain conclusions while others did not.  When contemplating whether or not a particular belief ought to lead one to consider another belief is especially important for modern day adherents to Darwinism, who should like to continue to embrace the theory consistently but not wind up forced to accept propositions they may find morally reprehensible though they seem to follow logically.

The kind of model one might turn to would be W.V. Quine’s ‘web of belief.’ This model adequately explains how we give weight to some beliefs more than others and how they may ‘tug’ at nearby beliefs, but it does not explain why it is that particular beliefs tend to lead to other particular beliefs.

By way of example, most eugenicists were also materialists of some fashion.  There were, however, some Christian eugenicists.  These tended to be protestant, and not Roman Catholic.  But one strains to find a eugenicist who was one of those much maligned young earth creationists!  There seems to be something in the belief system of young earth creationism that positively precludes them from becoming eugenicists.  Can it simply be because of their rejection of Darwinism?  But the Roman Catholics have historically been willing to accommodate Darwinism, and yet they steadfastly have been opposed to eugenics, as well.  How are such things to be explained?

A model is intended to be an approximation of how the real world works, and to the extent that it is any good, will allow one to make predictions about future observations while making sense out of existing observations.  Models are not complete descriptions, by definition.  They are only useful up until the moment they aren’t.  What follows is a model that may explain the surprising connections that eugenicists made from Darwinism as well as why Darwinists today tend not to make the same connections.

Imagine that a worldview is a massively large building with innumerable rooms within it.  Each room is a proposition, attitude, approach, or preference.  When one enters a room, they draw closer in proximity to other rooms.  Which rooms are closer is not due to individual preference, but rather the way the world really is.  Thus, if one ‘room’ is the proposition “There is a bowl of vanilla ice cream in front of me” a slew of other ‘rooms’ open up adjoining that proposition, such as “I like vanilla ice cream, so I will eat it”, or “I don’t like vanilla ice cream and will eat it, anyway” or “I don’t like vanilla ice cream so I will not eat it” or “I will pick this ice cream up and throw it in my friend’s face.”  These rooms are all immediately adjoining the first room, but there are some rooms reality prevents from existing.  For example, there may be an adjoining room where one says, “I will ride the bowl of ice cream to the moon” but since this is not physically possible, there are very few rooms that are adjacent to that room.  (One of those rooms is the conclusion, “I may be going insane.”)

Similarly, other rooms are precluded from being adjoined or even in the same vicinity because the reality that underlies ideological landscapes do not allow them to be close.  One does not get from “There is a bowl of vanilla ice cream in front of me” to “I am now going to throw six million Jews into concentration camps” through a single step, or even through many, many steps.

In the case of a deductive argument, rather than a preference, there may only be one way in or out of the room.  If one enters the room, they must either continue on through the logical conclusion or they must retreat from the room.  Choosing not to press ahead to the conclusion may in fact constitute retreating from the room, and re-entering a nearly identical room, but with a few more exits.  Or not;  perhaps no exit is available at all, and one must simply follow the original path.

Certain paths open up certain rooms just by the nature of reality and the viewpoints being considered.  If one viewpoint is “humans are just animals” there will be two natural implications ‘adjoining’ that room, “therefore we will treat animals like humans” or “therefore we will treat humans like animals.”  It would be extraordinarily difficult to find a path out of the room “humans are just animals” that nonetheless proceeds to act as though humans are not just animals.  Perhaps such a path can be found by crawling through a ventilation shaft or hacking one’s way through the wall, hoping that that on the other side is a viewpoint that retains human dignity.  It is not impossible, but the path of least resistance suggests a small number of adjoining and easily accessible ‘rooms.’

Once in the “therefore we will treat humans like animals” room, we find ourselves considering the various ways we have treated animals.  We have bred them, culled them, sterilized them, eaten them, experimented on them–dead and alive, or even alive until dead.  Once in this room, it is difficult not to consider these kinds of pathways without first leaving the room the way one has come, and then also leaving the “humans are just animals” room.

Similarly, the “therefore we will treat animals like humans” room will consider the various ways that we have regarded humans, and then treat animals the same way.  For example, ‘human’ rights will be extended to animals.  As a case in point, there have been some, like Cass Sunstein, who believe that animals ought to be able to press their case in court against humans.

Darwinian theory thrusts people into the “humans are just animals” room.  There is no easy way out of this room, because the rear entrance is guarded by a very large man named Scientific Fact.  Most people are not keen to tangle with Scientific Fact, and indeed find his company comforting.  Scientific Fact is often taken to be a reliable guide who is able to shed light on which paths through the building are safe.  However, if Scientific Fact takes you to a room with adjoining rooms that make one uncomfortable, his prominent presence prevents you from making an easy retreat.  Add to that the internal fortitude necessary to stand up to the ridicule that will be heaped on somebody if he chooses to leave behind Scientific Fact.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many materialists were thrilled that Scientific Fact had brought them into the Darwinism room, and didn’t see any particular problem with either of the two natural choices set before them.  If anything, they found that those choices were also interconnected in many ways, so that in choosing to emphasize one, this did not necessarily mean completely abandoning the other.  But it was more than that:  Scientific Fact had brought them into the Darwinism room via the “interpret all reality without reference to God” hallway.  Previously, atheists and materialists struggled to make an ally out of Scientific Fact.  Reflecting this deficiency in their worldview, Richard Dawkins has famously said that Darwin was the one who finally made it possible to be an intellectually satisfied atheist.[2]

We might say that Materialism was a guide just as Scientific Fact is a guide, so that in the end, it was inevitable that they would end up in the Darwinism room.

Why doesn’t the Darwinism room lead people today to enter into the rooms where one contemplates sterilizing or even exterminating their fellow man?  As this paper will show, we cannot be so certain that this is not in fact happening.  We recall that Osborn said that “eugenics must follow new policies and state its case anew” in order to achieve Galton’s “high goals.”  But why was this necessary at all?  In a word, the Nazis had so fouled up things that even people who had previously endorsed every other aspect of the Nazi eugenics programs couldn’t bring themselves to continue along the path.  Certainly, others wouldn’t join them.

In short, Scientific Fact and Materialism stands behind people, preventing them from leaving the Darwinism room, but the Holocaust and History stands in front of them, blocking their way into the adjoining rooms.  There were always obstacles into the other rooms, but because of the great power and might of Scientific Fact and Materialism, these obstacles were easily overcome.  Holocaust and History are much more formidable.

David H. Hirsch, in his book The Deconstruction of Literature: Criticism after Auschwitz, put it this way:  “Purveyors of postmodern ideologies must consider whether it is possible to diminish human beings in theory, without, at the same time, making individual human lives worthless in the real world.”  (Hirsch, 165)

That is precisely the situation that Darwinists are in at present.  It is now a known fact of history just what can happen if human lives are rendered “worthless in the real world” and very few would like to see such things again.  However, the room they are standing in is very close to that particular room, whether they like it or not.

How, then, can there be Darwinists who are not Materialists?  How can it be that Roman Catholics, for example, could wander around the Darwinist room without also embracing the “humans are just animals” premise?

Well, for one thing, the Roman Catholics do not have Materialism as their guide, so though they may enter the Darwinist room, they do so through a different entrance.[3]  But it is more than that, and it must be more than that, because otherwise once people of completely different viewpoints arrives at the same propositional destination, all of the available outcomes ought to be present before them.  It may be that, being accompanied by Theism, certain routes are not open to them, but I don’t think this adequately models what is happening.

It is perhaps better explained as, in entering the Darwinist room via a different entrance, they also step into it via a raised path or catwalk that passes through the room.  While they may be in the room, they are nonetheless hemmed in by the rails of the catwalk in such a way that while they might be able to look at the “humans are just animals” implications, they cannot possibly immerse themselves in it, without jumping off the catwalk altogether, abandoning their Catholicism.

So it is that you can have people from completely disparate perspectives on occasion arrive at the same ‘locations,’ but not able, as we observe, to consider the same ‘paths’ out of the location they presently find themselves in.  Indeed, there may be adjoining rooms available to our Catholics finding themselves in the Darwinist room that are not available to others, who came in by a different path.

But even this does not completely account for our observations.  It would appear that the width of the walls separating certain rooms can be very thick or very thin, so that in cases where it is undesirable to walk through the door (the path of least resistance) into the logical implication of the room you are in, one may have varying degrees of success in staying out of those undesirable rooms.  Where the rooms have thick walls, no hacking away at them allows escape.  If the rooms have thin walls, the feat can sometimes be done.

Unfortunately, sometimes a wall can be so thin that one falls through them, completely unexpectedly.   This may be the case for abortion on demand proponents who believe they are fighting for ‘reproductive choice’ but end up advancing Osborn’s eugenics causes.

And there is still even one more component that we may need to add to the model:  sometimes, one does not voluntarily enter a particular room.  They are perhaps forced into the room by the ‘guides’ that have brought them that far, but other times it appears that ideological inhabitants of an adjoining room are powerful in their own right, and come unbidden to carry off those who come too close.  This may account for the virulent racism seen in the Nazi brand of eugenics.  Having come as far as they did, they came close to a lair of monsters that hauled them the rest of the way, and in turn, made them also into monsters.

So it might be the case that whatever ‘guide’ we bring into a room with us, and no matter how much we intend to refrain from entering some of the more ‘undesirable’ logical implications, those implications themselves may brutally force themselves upon you.  The sole recourse may be to not draw close in the first place.

[2] God Delusion, find page.
[3] Antony Flew, reflecting on a quote on the implications of “Darwin’s work: ‘Once man himself was accepted as a natural product of the evolutionary process, the rest of the Cartesian compromise could hardly be maintained.’  It was this obvious extension of the Darwinian theory, rather than the actual argument of the Origin, which was the occasion of Bishop Wilberforce’s scurrilous attack at the British Association meeting of 1860.”  See pages 54-55.

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Hate

Embarrassed.

That’s how I felt awhile back when I came across the ADL’s (Anti-Defamation League) so-called ‘Pyramid of Hate.’  How could an organization focused on preventing genocide fail to understand how genocides occur, and, with disturbing irony, in particular the genocide against the Jews under the Nazis?  Since they were not ashamed at their ignorance, I was ashamed on their behalf.

The ADL puts ‘hate speech’ at the very bottom of the pyramid (eg, “Belittling Jokes” and “Insensitive Remarks”) and moving up from there we have “Ridicule” and “Slurs” before we get to some of the more serious items, such as terrorism, etc.  This is almost as far from reality as one can get.  It is, in a word, typical liberal/progressive tripe.  Certainly, speech belongs on the ‘pyramid’ but it is not the cause.  It is the symptom.

The closest that the pyramid gets to the capturing the truth is “De-humanization,” which any sane look at the Holocaust and a proper ‘pyramid of hate’ would put at the very bottom layer of the pyramid.  The Holocaust was an outgrowth of an ideology.

The ‘hate speech’ that followed… followed.  It did not lead. The root was the ideology.  One of the first fruits was speech, but it is highly debatable whether or not later fruits were built on speech.  Rather, there was a branch, with many fruits, and ‘speech’ was just one of them.

Fixating on the Nazi’s ‘speech’ as a root cause of the Holocaust is a total swing and a miss.  The focus should be on the underlying ideology.  And that’s where things get really interesting, and really troubling.  The Nazis launched their program for euthanizing the disabled on the basis of an international consensus among scholars that the disabled were harmful to the species, and, at any rate, putting the disabled out of their misery was the humane thing to do.  (Is anything already starting to sound familiar?).  A notable example comes from Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche, two German academic luminaries, writing a couple of years before the Nazi party even existed.  Their little book “Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life” merely recapitulated a manner of thinking that already had gained broad, international, currency.  When the Nazis launched their T4 program, they were only putting into action the ideology already established as ‘mainstream’ all around the globe.

No surprise, then, that when post-war trials were held at Nuremberg, the accused Germans submitted examples of people having similar beliefs as the Nazis, who, by the way, were not Germans.  (Eg., Madison Grant.)

There was an ideological underpinning to the Nazi extermination of disabled defectives.  There was an ideological underpinning to the Nazi’s anti-semitism.  These ideologies had their critics, no doubt.  But these ideologies were also widely taught in universities across the globe, too.  Even more fundamental than ‘De-humanization’ was the role of the University in cultivating certain attitudes which were presented to young people as facts–indeed, scientific facts.

Hold that thought, and fast forward.

Today, a man attempted to assassinate Republicans.

A couple of months ago, I wrote an essay warning of the coming violence–emerging from the American left–as a result of Trump’s election.  There has been a steady stream of violence emerging from the American left ever since.  On my Facebook, I predicted that there would be Trump supporters dead in the street.  Today, we came very close to seeing that prediction come to pass.

So now we hear all of the same crap that we always hear.  Eg, we need to tone down the rhetoric.  Or, perhaps my favorite, which I heard today, “I wasn’t making an equivalence between left and right wing incitement to violence. I was saying that the right, at present, is worse.”  The right is worse?  HA!

This seemed to be an example of something I’ve heard conservative commentators mention numerous times over the years–that the Left has a habit of accusing the Right of doing the things that in fact are actually done by the Left. (Tucker Carlson talked about it tonight on his show.  It was the segment with the Federalist writer, iirc.  Rush Limbaugh has said it many times)

Or, as it was put on Carlson’s show:  On the ‘right’ we have rhetorical violence… but on the ‘left’ we see literal violence.

But why is this the case?  Why is there a difference?  Why will the difference persist?  I will tell you why.

To hear the pundits and politicians tell it, they will spout out the same line that the ADL did: it all starts with ‘hate speech.’  It’s because of all the invective that is out there, and the hateful remarks, etc.

And don’t get me wrong, I think ‘speech’ is an ingredient.

For example, I think the Democrat’s continued insinuation that Trump has committed actual treason, and the MSM’s continued fanning of those fabricated flames (eg, ‘Russian collusion’) certainly has the power to lead people to reason, “Why, if that’s all true, then by golly, we’ve got to act!”  These ‘low information voters’ don’t understand that the Democrats and the MSM are only using these issues as political bludgeons.  There seems to be no merit to these accusations, but not everyone knows that its merely the same old Alinsky tactics.

But this does not explain the vitriol and violence, the ‘illiberal’ behavior, that has been bursting out at college campuses, etc, supposedly in the name of ‘tolerance’ and in alleged defiance of fascist ‘hate speech.’   This started long before Trump was elected.

What does explain it?

Very simply, all these youngsters were taught to believe these things in the very place that a great deal of history’s greatest atrocities emerged:  the University.  What they learned in the University, the MSM and Hollywood repeated (endlessly).

They learned that certain things were true… were facts… were scientific facts… in their classrooms.  Honestly, it begins even before college.  It starts as early as elementary school and I can give personal examples of this mindset being propagated in high schools.

This is why there is no good reason to think that the American left will cease being violent–education in America is almost completely dominated by leftists, churning out a particular ideology, which, as it happens holds that dissenters are hateful fascists–and what does one do to fascists?  This meme that I saw last year sums it up:

And that’s why the “Right’s” violent rhetoric will probably remain nothing more than rhetoric; ie, it is actually intended as rhetoric, as evidenced by the fact that when you probe the underlying ideology, you will usually discover that most people on the ‘right’ have no desire whatsoever to act violently, because, generally speaking, they genuinely believe that people have intrinsic value–created in the image of God, if you will.  Thus, to actually harm someone flies in the face of one’s actual ideology.

But the Left’s literal violence, will persist, because according to the ideology that people are actually being taught, people who disagree with progressives HAVE IT COMING.  Obviously, there is nothing in any curriculum as direct as that, but just as there are those who don’t understand that the Democrats accusations of ‘treason’ are mere political tactics and, on their own, draw out the implications, so too the professors (etc) don’t need to spell it out, either.  Their students put two and two together all on their own, thank you very much.

So, you can have two people saying exactly the same thing:  “I’m going to kill you!” but one offers it out of exasperation, while the other actually means it.  The only way to know which is which is to look at the underlying ideology.

The rhetoric is a problem, but it is not the problem.  The problem is the ideology.   There is no indication yet that leftists have any inclination to re-think their ideology.

Will today’s assassination [attempt] diminish the vitriolic rhetoric coming from the American left?

Yes, probably.  At least temporarily.

But will today’s assassination attempt cause anyone to evaluate their ideology?

I doubt it.

And since the ideology remains, it is reasonable to expect the behavior to return.

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Missing the Point on Bill Nye

Judging from my Facebook home feed, Bill Nye has (once again) said some things monumentally stupid.

As I scanned the episodes in his Netflix series “Bill Nye Saves the World,” I was reminded of Joel Achenbach’s March, 2015, National Geographic article titled, “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?” Achenbach says something very revealing about liberals:

Americans fall into two basic camps, Kahan says. Those with a more “egalitarian” and “communitarian” mind-set are generally suspicious of industry and apt to think it’s up to something dangerous that calls for government regulation; they’re likely to see the risks of climate change. In contrast, people with a “hierarchical” and “individualistic” mind-set respect leaders of industry and don’t like government interfering in their affairs; they’re apt to reject warnings about climate change, because they know what accepting them could lead to—some kind of tax or regulation to limit emissions.

Elsewhere he says what is probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever read:

Even for scientists, the scientific method is a hard discipline. Like the rest of us, they’re vulnerable to what they call confirmation bias—the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe. But unlike the rest of us, they submit their ideas to formal peer review before publishing them.

To break it down: liberals are more willing to accept scientific ‘consensus’ because they are happy to contemplate government regulation, whereas conservatives oppose ‘science’ because they don’t want the government involved. But because of Achenbach’s ‘confirmation bias,’ he is unable to see that it is a very real possibility that he himself accepts certain propositions, not because they are true, or rooted in actual science, but because he himself welcomes regulation.  In other words, he is unable to distinguish between liberalism and science.  (And anyone who believes that ‘peer review’ somehow counteracts ‘confirmation bias’ should not be anywhere near any levers of power.)

The same is true for poor Bill Nye.  What he calls ‘science’ is actually liberalism with a heavy dose of elitism.  But here is the thing.  I saw many attacks on Nye’s credentials as a ‘scientist.’  This is not the way to go.  It’s a logical fallacy, in fact.  People with credentials say stupid things every day.  People without credentials can still utter truth.  ‘Credentials’ are an epistemological shortcut which demonstrably has let the human race down countless times when it has relied on them.  The real issue is that Bill Nye is, as near as I can tell, regurgitating, with high fidelity, what even the ‘credentialed’ scientists said, are saying, and likely will say.  In other words, because of his own presuppositions, he cannot distinguish between liberalism and real science–just like thousands of other self-styled ‘scientists.’

So, if we turn our attention to the last episode (admittedly, the only one I watched in full), “Earth’s People Problem,” you are not, in fact, getting the perspective and point of view of an unqualified hack masquerading as a scientist.  No, you are getting a good representation of what ‘real’ scientists have said and are saying about ‘over-population’ and what to do about it.   Where do you think Bill Nye got his information and analysis?  From the ‘experts,’ of course.

So, if you find that the proposals that Bill Nye is willing to contemplate to be extreme and disturbing, what you really need to do is turn your attention away from Mr. Nye to the question, “How did he come upon these viewpoints in the first place?”

The truth is, what Nye is saying represents information and viewpoints which are transmitted every day in the media and in our schools; naturally, since what he is saying is represented as ‘science.’ (Real world example:  my kid once brought home a worksheet from his high school science class which echoed similar themes. I brought it to the attention of the science teacher.  It had never occurred to him that what he was handing out had the goal of cultivating such viewpoints.  But I knew, since I was familiar with the authors’ of the worksheet, the PRB.  The fact that he was unaware of their agenda is kinda the point of this very blog entry.)

People will inevitably come to Nye’s conclusions if they are then predisposed to bringing the government into every nook and cranny of the human experience–which is actually evidence that what is in view is NOT science at all.  As GE Moore famously put it, ‘you cannot get an ought from and is.’  Science is the domain of ‘is.’  ‘Ought’ is the domain of ideology.  The ideology with the hallmark of being unable to tell the difference is liberalism.

The ‘naturalism fallacy’ is on full display in Nye’s panel discussion (“A panel of experts!”), where he says something which seems to have provoked a multitude.  Dr. Travis Rieder has just said, “The average Nigerian emits .1 metric tons of carbon annually.  How many does the average American emit?” and answers his own question with, “Sixteen metric tons!”  (c. 15:00 in the video).

Ok, there is the ‘is.’  Now for the ‘ought.’

Here comes Nye: “So should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?”

Rieder:  “I do think we should at least consider it.”

Nye:  “‘At least consider it’ is, like do it.”

And that, my friends, is how an observation of the world (which may very well be true) enters a brain and is spat out as a statement about what we should do–and what we should do is regarded as science.  One wonders: is a penalty on having children the kind of regulation that Achenbach had in mind?

Really, the funniest thing about the whole exchange is that the relationship between ‘climate change’ and ‘population control’ is presented as if it is novel.  This gets to my point–if you think it is novel, you are badly mistaken.  If you search this blog for search terms like “population control” and “over population” and “compulsory abortion” you will find example after example where ‘mainstream’ individuals link the environment to population control, often saying things that go well beyond what Nye said.   I’ve documented so many at this point that you’re really better off just doing a search of my blog.  You really can’t miss them.

At this point in the panel conversation, things got interesting.  Rieder then goes on to say, “One of the things that we could do that is kind of least policy-ish, is we could encourage our culture and our norms to change…”

Rieder says this, as if it our culture and norms have not already changed.  Does he not know that in the United States, is currently ‘enjoying’ its lowest fertility rate since records have been kept?  ‘Replacement’ is 2.1 kids per family.  As it sits, the United States is said to have a total fertility rate of 1.87.   My friends, one does not get from a TFR of almost 4, 40 years ago, to below replacement, if our ‘culture and our norms’ have not changed.  For the mathematically challenged, what this means is that the US population is actually set to decline in a generation or so, just by letting things ride, as is.  So what else does Rieder and Nye want?

Ok, so that is interesting, but to add further intrigue, it is at this point that Rieder is interrupted.  Up until this point, none of the panelists object to the line of reasoning.  They accept the statements of the situation.  But now that there is talk about what to do about it.  Dr. Rachel Snow interjects (15:45), saying that she ‘takes issue’ with any incentivizing to having more or less children, calling for the magic word, “justice!”  The other panelist, Dr. Nerys Benfield, now jumps in, highlighting the fact (and it is a fact) that the people who have been targeted for depopulation are ‘minorities,’ etc.  Nye’s response, “How are they penalized?” suggests he’s never heard of this before, which is worrisome in its own right.

At this point, the women have spoken, and Rieder is silenced.  You can see it on his face, really, “Here I thought we all agreed at how stark the problem is, and we can talk about real solutions, and you are pulling all this sentimentalist crap out?”

Snow and Benfield are espousing a perspective that represents, possibly, all that is conceivably good about the liberal point of view.  (I do not say that sarcastically.)  But again, Americans are already having fewer children than they ever had.  Blacks in New York City abort more children than they bring to term.   Pardon my french, but what the hell do you think is already happening?

I could explain it all to you, dear reader, but it would make for a lengthy blog post, and I’ve already traced a great deal of it elsewhere on this blog.  (search: “jaffe memo”).  The truth is that since 1945 or so, the ‘experts’ in America have been pursuing the Managed State, and have taken deliberate aim at reducing the world’s population, including here in America.  They studied how to do it, and then they actually did it.  And when they did it, they firmly believed they were acting in the name of science.  (Eg, Harrison Brown, John Holdren, etc.)  And they are still doing it.  Ironically, Snow and Benfield are knee-deep in implementing that vision, apparently oblivious.

‘Bosworth W. Hollingsworth’ at the Federalist writes, “This whole concept and the ease with which [Nye] discusses it is so frightening and evil that I am genuinely appalled at Netflix’s decision to air it.”

I, on the other hand, am happy that Netflix aired it.  Nye only popularized what the ‘experts’ have been saying quietly for decades.  The last time that anyone spoke aloud as brazenly as Nye was in the 1960s and 1970s, but they never really stopped saying the same thing.  Instead, they buried it into the fabric of American culture, in our curriculum, in our media, and so on.  It is now so deep and intimately tied to the American way of life that Nye’s panelists alternatively call for such provisions–as if they are already not in force–or decry them–as if they are already not in force.

Benfield was quite right when she said “we’ve seen this before.”  But she only referenced the tip of the iceberg.  If ever there was a topic where it was imperative that we recognized the difference between an ‘ought’ and an ‘is’, it is this one.  I am not here talking to liberals.  I’m talking to conservatives. Trust me when I tell you that hoping that ‘credentialed’ scientists submitting their work before ‘peer review’ will spare us this evil nonsense, for what you are decrying… is already in force. Where do you think it came from in the first place?

The more people come to understand that, the better our chances that we really will not revisit the horrors of the 20th century, many of which are still on-going.

 

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