Die verfluchte Hure, Vernunft.
(The damned whore, Reason).
[While this and similar words from Luther are frequently used as justification for rejection of religion I, even as an atheist, tend to give him a bit of a pass for it. It appears that in context he was referring to using reason to determine the nature or validity of god(s), not the general use of reason. He was not consistent in this however. For example he concluded that the earth was motionless and the sun, moon, and stars moved around the earth because some phrase in the Bible said as much.
But an analysis of Luther’s philosophy is way beyond the scope of a blog post as well as my interest. I bring up this quote because of it’s application to politics, economics, gun control, and even interpersonal relationships.
As Lyle has pointed out many times:
If you’d been born in Saudi, you’d most likely be a Muslim, in Borneo maybe a cannibal, born in America with low self esteem and watching the Old Media, you’ll be what I call a “default leftist”, meaning you’ll have the mentality that has you expressing puzzlement. It’s a given, and very few people can escape it, and even then they don’t really escape conditioning really, but are merely receiving conditioning of a different kind.
In Luther’s case he had a set of assumptions that he would not, perhaps could not, challenge despite evidence those assumptions had flaws. The Muslim, the cannibal, and the “default leftist” have a different set of assumptions about the world around them. To a certain extent those assumptions are unchallenged or even buried so deep into the unconscious they are invisible to the possessor of said assumptions.
The very basis of truth and knowledge within a culture depends upon a base set of shared assumptions. If those assumptions are at odds with the real world, as in the movement of the earth versus the sun, moon, and stars in Luther’s case, then reality is frequently rejected rather than the unacknowledged assumptions.
Lyle goes on to claim:
To be truly objective means you have no Earthly conditioning. How possible is that, being as we’re all born into some form of conditioning?
What are we doing right here, right now, if not attempting to reprogram people to a different set of cultural assumptions or “stimulus A = reaction B”?
Is our over-arching thesis that there is an “Ultimate Measure or Ideal of Right and Wrong” and if so, where is it? Or are we trying to tell people to “be objective” and then be the ones ourselves to define what is objectivity, thus forming our own cult?
I don’t buy the conclusion that there is no, or perhaps cannot be, an objective view of reality. Yes, we have biases from our culture. Yes, we have limitations of our senses. Yes, ultimately we cannot say with absolute certainty that our universe is not just an incredibly detailed simulation in some super-being’s computer lab. But even in this later case we can characterize the essence of our universe in a way that can be reproduced by others with significantly different cultural biases. For example, a dropped rock always falls and boiled water always evaporates and you will be find wide agreement with those claims across nearly all cultures.
From such simple, reproducible, observations one can build an entire objective view of the world that includes mass, time, distance, and temperature. You may lose some people as you start manipulating the simple concepts and forming derived concepts such as energy, sub-atomic particles, and quantum effects but a (perhaps very long, detailed, and expensive) set of experiments can be done to retrace the path and arrive at the same conclusions. If a different conclusion can explain the same data obtained from the repeatable experiments then two or more people can discuss the differences in the conclusions and, in most cases, devise an experiment to disprove one or both of the differing conclusions.
This is the scientific method.
Yes. The scientific method can be, at some level, described as a cult. This is because, if you dig deep enough, there are base assumptions which are not provable. An example would be that we can trust our senses to correctly tell us there does exist some object we call a rock and that such an object does fall. You might claim this is clearly provable. But I claim that you cannot disprove the claim the entire universe was created a millisecond ago complete with intact memories, buildings, books, and archeological evidence of ancient plant and animal life. Or try proving that the “rock” you are so certain actually exists is not just an elaborate model, along with models for all life forms and the rest of the universe, in a super computer.
But even if you can successfully argue that the scientific method is a “cult” not all cults, or world views, are of equal validity. The cult that believes a spaceship with aliens will soon arrive and carry off the true believers saving them from the imminent destruction of the earth can be proven wrong when the arrival date of the spaceship passes and the associated destruction of the earth fails to occur.
Data and reason conclusively demonstrates that some “cults” are more valid than others. It is only by the willful, or negligent, rejection of reason and/or data that most “cults” continue to have followers.
Many will claim, with what I find to be fairly convincing evidence and reasoning, that reason has been destroyed in our schools. While this may have a great deal of validity a case can be made that reason is just a thin veneer over a very primitive brain that does not recognize reason and is far, far more eager to embrace the assertions of authority figures or comfortable beliefs of simple sound bytes.
How else can you explain the widespread embracing of assertions as “Violence is always wrong.”? Or the small parade of people marching past my office window yesterday chanting, “No justice, no peace!”? It is my opinion that people gather into crowds and chant in unison because it helps them believe the irrational and the unbelievable. It penetrates that thin veneer of reason and taps into that deeper primitive brain. It gives them a sense of accomplishment when no accomplish, beyond the destruction of reason, has been achieved.
The “currency” of the left is in masses of people with simple, and almost always, wrong ideas.* Why do you think we run into “Reasoned Discourse” so often? Why do you think the leftist talk show hosts shout down their “guests” who disagree with them? It’s because they actively reject reason and data. Their minds have been stripped of, never developed, or actively reject that thin veneer of reason.
Peterson Syndrome is merely an articulable example of the absence of this thin veneer. I have recently mentioned to Ry and Barb L., “There are far too many crazy people in the world.” It’s true that much of the bizarre behavior we see around appears “crazy”. But these people are not really crazy in the usual sense.
It is crazy to reject success? The left has made tremendous strides in Dismantling America (Thomas Sowell) by rejecting reason. All the advances in gun control in the last century was through the rejection of reason and data on both the benefits and the clear intent of the 2nd Amendment. It’s crazy that an abusive spouse would claim their victim deserved the beating because dinner was five minutes late. But if they repeatedly convince their victim it was their own fault and the victim stays with them was it really crazy to make that claim?
It is my belief “the damned whore, reason” only services a small subset of the human population. That small group of people were, and are, frequently attacked for being seduced by the “damned whore”. But that same group of people, when they could escape the inquisitions, purges, and genocides, brought us health, wealth, and knowledge billions of times greater than the collective minds of 100’s of millions of others who could not or would not partaking of her services.
As Thomas Sowell points out, after Roman collapsed it took a 1000 years to recover to a point comparable to the peak of Roman culture. How much more clear of examples than Detroit, Greece, Cyprus, and Spain do people need to reject the politics of the left? Will it take another 1000 year lesson?
The answer is no example will be “clear enough”. These people do not operate on examples the way those serviced by the whore do. They cannot distinguish between intention and results. They cannot distinguish between truth and falsity. They are missing that thin veneer of reason and appealing to reason in someone without reason is a fools errand.
I see only three futures with numerous variations ahead of us. Two are exceedingly unpleasant and I believe the third is exceedingly unlikely. Those options are:
- We convince a much larger portion of the population to embrace the “whore” of reason. I believe this is so unlikely that claiming it impossible is probably a safe bet.
- The entire human society collapses into superstition, chaos, tyranny, and massive numbers of people die from starvation and disease.
- Relatively small geographic areas with defensible borders achieve relatively self supporting infrastructures with something approximating “Gault’s Gulch”. Those outside those few and small areas experience the die off. Those surviving will, in essence, experience another long dark age.
For a long time I assumed rural areas, such as the farm where I grew up, would be relatively safe. But there is historical evidence that farmers (along with bankers) are frequently among the first victims of societal collapse. So now I don’t know what to think or how to prepare for the final fall of reason to the barbarians.
I’m left thinking about the wise words of Marty Smith:
To hell with the 72 virgins … Give me three good whores.
* One of the most basic tenets of the political left is that is somehow wrong for there to be wealthy people. It’s not wrong that there exist super wealthy people. The world would be a better place if everyone, by todays standards, were super wealthy. And in fact by the standards of 1000 years ago the bottom 1% of the population in the U.S. have nearly unimaginable wealth. 1000 years ago all the richest king’s gold could not have bought a vaccine to prevent their child from contracting small pox. Nor could they have purchased a ride on a vehicle that could take them 50 miles in less than hour. Or gotten a valid answer to some of the toughest questions ever asked within a few minutes. But almost anyone today can get that for a pittance if not for free.
Without that thin veneer of reason the people of the political left cannot, or in some cases will not, recognize that the poor are only temporarily, if that, improved by taking wealth from the rich and redistributing it. The situation of the poor is improved through the creation of more wealth.
This creation of more wealth was how our world today became so much better for everyone than the world of 1000 years ago. We created a trillion (just a WAG) times more wealth. Creating more wealth may increase disparity between the rich and the poor but in the long term the poor will be improved far more than if the wealth of the rich was taken from them. This is not just an assertion but a simple extrapolation of countless “experiments” run in hundreds of cultures around the world over hundreds if not 1000s of years.
This creation of wealth required a large population growth and a dramatic increase in the consumption of natural resources. Both the population growth and the consumption of natural resources were, and are, seen as catastrophic by the political left. Yet, humans are far better off for it.