Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Middle ages in a handbasket

Coincidentally, after going off on Gregg Easterbrook last night, I watched a PBS show about the recent Intelligent Design trial in Dover, Pennsylvania. I was struck by how closely those Creationist wackos mirrored Easterbrook’s insecurity about his ancestry. They all get so het up over the indisputable fact that we are closely related to apes and chimpanzees.

That’s sadly understandable I guess. They are raised with a high-falutin sense of their own importance in the universe. They may not be Gods, but they are at least God-like, created in the His image no less. Now it turns out they’re just a bunch of monkey boys created from the image of Bonzo. The very idea makes them so angry that they bare their teeth and howl.

Beyond the monkey stuff, it’s interesting how they see science only as a means of justifying their superiority to everything else in the universe, not as a means of understanding their place in it. Not only were they created in God’s image, the earth is God’s creation, the center of the universe, obviously the only inhabited planet. In Easterbrook’s football column, he regularly reports any evidence he can find that suggests earth is the only planet among the 200 billion galaxies each with 200 billion stars and who knows how many gazillions of other planets. Nope, life can only happen here, just like the Bible implies.

But what’s really funny is the way link scientific progress to moral degeneracy. The literature is full of whining about the horrible social consequences of science.

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art

The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.

Funny, isn't it? From a moral, even a prudish perspective, today has to look pretty good compared to the history of western civilization before science. Considering our history from the ancient Greeks’ man boy love to the Roman Bacchanal and the Christian sex cults all the way through the violence and oppression of the middle ages, what self-respecting right wing religious nut case would want to live in those times? Our modern world is as relatively chaste as it is just.

But there was a time before all that, when man not only looked like God but was as innocent as the newborn Jesus. Then that bitch ate the apple and people have been fucking ever since. Fucking like monkeys. To hell with science, with education, with the constitution, we gotta do something... anything to stop the fucking. Then all will be well.

It's hard to believe we've regressed to the point where these fucked up nutbags are taken seriously.