February 1, 2006

"undiluted marxist terms"

Peter Burnett writes, after quoting an article about yet another lying history textbook ("...Students learning about the colonisation of Australia are given a black and white portrait, so to speak. Black is good. White is bad..."):

It is fascinating to watch how quickly so-called progressive efforts to separate historical fact from myth in the name of “objective truth” descend simply into a self-abasing and uncritical embrace of other peoples' myths. Even many modern conservatives seem to have great difficulty in seeing two thousand years of Judeo-Christian tradition in other than undiluted marxist terms–-one big cruel social exploitation and mind control program.

The leftist addiction to West-bashing stems in part from the fact that, in order to deflect us from confronting directly the spiritual barrenness and material oppressions of the brave new world they promise us, they must inflame and shame constantly by convincing us we are in the grip of organic tyrannies and exploitations that our unprincipled ancestors wrought for cruel and selfish reasons and which cannot be thrown off until we disown our pasts completely. Whatever is actually going on the world (or whatever was), these folks spend 24/7 marching at Selma, confronting absentee landlords or acting as Galileo's defense lawyer.

Were our students protected from their anti-intellectual indoctrination and taught an honest history, particularly an honest 20th century history, the leftist project might be as authoritative and popular as social credit.

I notice that Natalie Solent is posting various back-and-forths of a debate over whether science or religion has done more harm in the world. Of course it's an impossible question to determine, because much of what gets credited to science is actually engineering, or economic progress using existing technology in new and more efficient ways. And until recent centuries religion was intermingled with everything else, and so, for instance, a king's "white-collar" staff was his chancellery (chapel), staffed by clerks (clerics). And his chief minister might be a bishop.

But what's really interesting about her debate is that, at least by my hasty reading, it is couched wholly in secular terms. Saving souls from sin and damnation earns no points. Giving meaning to life earns no points. If science prolongs lives, that's a plus. But if the secular-rationalism that is often considered (somewhat mistakenly, I think) as "science" renders those lives less worth living, less sweet, less beautiful, that's excluded from the argument. And if, as some of us are rather inclined to suspect, the decline of Christianity and Judaism in Europe is causally linked to the ongoing European demographic collapse, then "science" may be helping to obliterate a large chunk of Western Civilization, without that being factored into the debate...

And it usually doesn't get mentioned in this sort of discussion, but science itself is a faith. It rests on the assumption that the natural world it studies is "real." Is not a dream or an illusion. But science cannot ever prove that this is so.

But it looks like Natalie's debate is grounded on the assumption that science is known to be true, and religion is presumed to be false. (If the debate were held more the a few hundred years ago, the assumptions might have been just the opposite.)

In fact science can't "prove" anything, not only because it's underlying faith can't be tested, but also because the method of investigation it uses, called Induction, never proves anything. Induction collects evidence, and generalizes. but there is always the possibility of finding more evidence, or finding that the evidence is some sort of illusion.

We all accept, in a common-sensical way, that when Dr Johnson kicked the rock, and felt pain in his toe, he proved that the rock exists, and gave us a useful bit of data. But he didn't. And the great rigor and prestige of science, and its many successes, have led us to the common-sense position that what Johnson felt was real, but when a person says he "feels the Holy Spirit," this data should be discarded as "unscientific." Maybe so, but using science in that way is not science, it's what you might call science-ism.

I suspect that what Prof. Grayling (whose writings started the debate) is really up to is not a search for truth, but something like what that textbook Burnett was discussing was up to. Religion (which is almost extinct in Britain anyway) must be attacked and demonized to draw attention away from the "spiritual barrenness and material oppressions" of the world people like him have created.

Posted by John Weidner at February 1, 2006 9:22 AM
Weblog by John Weidner