Scientific Theology

Way back in the before times, when terms like “multiculturalism” had not escaped the academy, it was assumed that science and math were immune from the politicization that was ongoing in fields like history. After all, history is about storytelling, while math is about getting the right answer. Surely the right answer fields would not succumb to the growing lunacy on the Left, with regards to race, sex and ethnicity. Yet, here we are in the current year and the Left has declared a fatwa against math.

It turns out that lunacy and intelligence are not opposites. Smart people, the sort you tend to find in science departments, can believe in crazy things. This probably should have been obvious to the men of science a long time ago, but scientists, like the lunatics now making war on them, have always had a narrow definition of religion and the supernatural. They fell into the trap of thinking the people spouting oogily-boogily about the gods were churchgoers, not their friends at the university.

A classic example of smart people embracing wacky beliefs is the fascination with communism in the last century. Lots of brilliant people, some working on top-secret government projects, were sure communism was the future. Marxism was their religion in the same way Catholicism was for Blaise Pascal. By the standards of his day, Pascal was considered a religious fanatic, even an extremist, but there’s no disputing his influence on math and science. Religion and science are not oil and water.

That is what we have to keep in mind as the sciences of today are overrun by the modern fanatics. A person capable of sitting through an undergrad degree in biology and then advanced degrees in human sciences is also capable of thinking their penis is a human construct and they are oppressed by pronouns. People are of two minds, the moral and the empirical. The former will always override the latter when it comes to their group participation. Morality is the shared reality of the group.

That’s important to keep in mind when these epistles are issued by random clerics and imams of the academy. The people putting these together are not using their science brain, which is why that post is largely devoid of science. Instead, they are using their moral brain in order to both reassure themselves by huddling tighter with their coreligionists, but also to increase their standing within that group. You can be sure they got plenty of positive feedback from their fellow members of the hive.

The anti-science quality of that post is clear in the second paragraph. The authors talk about “dark forces” in the same way a primitive would warn villagers of spectral forces he experienced in the forest. That’s not a phrase that has any business in a post about facts, but it is not a post about facts. It is an effort to anathematize a set of facts that contradict deeply held beliefs by the ruling cult of the West. The “dark forces” are not wrong as a factual matter. They are wrong in the spiritual sense.

This is something normal people have struggled with for a very long time, as they foolishly think facts and reason can overcome emotion. They have been sure they can “win” the fight with the Left by assembling enough facts or providing bulletproof reasoning. That never works. Facts will never triumph over people’s sense of right and wrong and that is the point of that post. They are not disputing the facts. They are subtly arguing that those facts are immoral, so they must be condemned.

Of course, the reason the fanatics are so focused on the human sciences now is they see it as a way to solve a problem in their faith. A couple generations ago, before genetics began to reveal important facts about humanity, the Left could claim to be on the side of reason against the superstition of religion. Their opponent was Christianity and they were on the side of facts and reason. Now that their opponent is the new information springing forth from science, they have lost their authority.

Imagine if suddenly the Catholic Church discovered some scrolls written by Jesus that contradicted key parts of modern Christianity. It turns out that Jesus wanted everyone to convert to Judaism. One option would be to overturn two thousand years of theology and tradition, admitting that Christianity is a hoax. The other option would be to toss the scrolls into the fire and be done with it. It’s not hard to see which way things would go, which is why this idea makes for a great plot device.

That’s what the primitives of the Left are doing when they attack the new findings from the human sciences. Everything the authors believe about the world, including their social connections and personal beliefs about themselves, are tangled up in the religion of the blank slate and extreme egalitarianism. The facts that are now showing those beliefs are false, perhaps deliberately false, are just like those scrolls in the hypothetical example. It’s easy to see why they are ready to destroy science in order to save it.

It is tempting to assume that the truth will eventually triumph, but that has never been the way to bet, at least in the cultural realm. We are more likely to see Steve Sailer burned at the stake as a heretic than we are to see these primitives accept biological reality. Belief is powerful magic that can easily overcome the most stubborn facts and the most stubborn people holding them. The barking at the moon fanatics now in control of the West will let the world burn before abandoning their faith.


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Buddha’s Children

In his interesting post on Robert Mugabe’s intelligence, the blogger calling himself Pumpkin Person notes “One reason for thinking he’s in the upper end of this range is that he was a Marxist, and left-wing politics are positively correlated with IQ (at least if you control for race and income).” This does not imply that all Marxists are highly intelligent. He is simply noting the observation that left-wing politics of the radical sort highly correlate with intelligence. Smart, educated people tend to be radicals.

This is an assertion most people have heard, if they have gone to college, spent time on a college campus or consumed popular culture. The assertion, that intelligence and radicalism are traveling partners, is a part of the cultural bath in which every western man swims. It certainly holds up when you look at the data. Whoever the Democrats nominate for President, no matter how nutty and deranged, that person will win more than 80% of the vote in every college town of America.

Now, normal people chafe at this assertion as the obvious implication is that stupid people oppose radicalism. That’s certainly what the usual suspects have always claimed, until biology became a taboo of late. Anyone over the age of forty probably recalls being told something like this in college. Of course, it was never just a passing observation. The link between radicalism and intelligence was always supposed to put critics on the defensive, as if they are inferiors.

The power of this can be seen in how Bill Buckley adopted the over-the-top WASP intellectual style. The point of it was to inoculate himself against the claim he was too dumb to understand what the Left was claiming. George Will’s silly bowtie or Kevin Williamson’s quill pen act are other recent examples. These affectations are intended to signal the person is smart and therefore cannot be dismissed by the Left. It’s Athena’s shield for the right-wing Perseus of left-wing politics.

It is certainly true that the data supports the claim. The voting patterns of the educated bear this out. There are exceptions from time to time, but generally speaking, the more credentials you have acquired, the more likely you are to be on the Left. Since credentials are a pretty good proxy for IQ, the original assertion holds. The smarter you are, the more inclined you are toward radical politics. Or, if you prefer, the smarter the person, the more open they are to radical politics.

The problem with this observation is that it a logical fallacy. Specifically, it is the fallacy of association. A famous example of this fallacy is the observation that hardcore drug takers usually start with marijuana, so pot is a gateway drug. All hardcore drug takers start life drinking milk, but no rational person would say milk leads to smoking crystal meth in adulthood. In other words, there is no causal link established between IQ and radicalism in politics, no matter how much the Left would wish it so.

Then there is the issue of how one defines left-wing politics. Every single establishment right-winger would have been called a radical a century ago. Two centuries ago the radicals in the West were people advocating liberalism. All of these terms used to describe politics are relative and their definitions shift over time. To pretend that Left and Right are timeless categories is to reveal a total ignorance of history. Even figuring out the relative poles in each era is not always possible, as we see today.

There is another angle here that is more important to the topic. People are social animals and we are a self-segregating species. People of like mind will tend to congregate with one another out of instinct. This is obvious to anyone who has been in a lunchroom of a large public school. This is not just true of mature humans. Even babies are attracted to their kind. This is why the college campus is so intolerant of free inquiry and dissent. Over time, it has boiled off those with contrary opinions.

What this means is smart people are naturally going to end up in areas around other smart people, like the college campus. The ornery and disagreeable will usually be boiled off for all the natural reasons. Most, however, will be as open to peer pressure as everyone else, maybe more so. Most smart people tend to live sheltered lives, insulated from the harsh reality of the human animal. If they are not left-wing when they hit the college campus, they soon adapt to their new friends and new culture.

This is such an obvious thing we have memes for it. The know-it-all coed, back from her first year at college, is a standard type in American culture. It’s a stock character in television and movies. Then you have the modern meme of sweet little Suzy heading off to college and coming back and blue-haired lesbian with a nose ring. This happens less frequently with males, which probably explains why the college campus is looking more like a hormonal coven these days than anything imagined by Aristotle.

Another thing to consider is that 500 years ago, if one were to use modern techniques to measure IQ and politics, the correlation would look much different. Instead of the intelligent tending toward radicalism, they would tend toward monasticism. The smart men of the age, if they were not the first born, often ended up in the Church. That’s where smart, curious men of the age went to be around other smart men. Maybe they would end up in the court of their king, defending the natural order.

Putting it all together, the reason radicalism and intelligence seem to go hand-in-hand in this age is that radicalism is the secular religion of this age. Just as the best and brightest of a prior age would have been great theologians, the smart set of this age seek to advance the secular religion of today. That means coming up with novel ways to justify it in the face of observable reality. Of course, there’s always profit in being the defender of the faith, so the Left attracts the most ambitious too.

The reason we currently observe a correlation between left-wing politics and intelligence is because left-wing politics is the secular religion of this age. In America this has been true since Gettysburg. In Europe, neo-liberalism has been the dominant faith since the end of the last war. To be in the high IQ world means embracing the religion of the high IQ world. If tomorrow, those people become Buddhists, the smart young people of tomorrow will suddenly trend toward Buddhism.


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The Louder He Talked Of His Honor

Last week, Catholic University hosted a showdown, of sorts, between David French and Sohrab Ahmari. Their dispute started when Ahmari posted this piece on First Things, declaring jihad against Frenchism, which he described as a passive-aggressive approach to the culture war with the Left. It got a lot of attention in conservative circles, mostly because they were happy that anyone was talking about them at all. Here is the video of the show down and here is a summary from American Conservative.

The event itself was typical of the pseudo-academic culture you see around conservative politics at this level. There is the superficial collegiality and the carrying on like this is a meeting of two intellectual giants. An essential element of this culture is the displaying of credentials, as well as the recognition of those credentials. That’s why the opening was like dogs sniffing each other’s butts at the park. Ahmari brought a gift to signal his submissiveness to French, who he considers a superior.

This is, of course, why French agreed to the thing in the first place. He was certainly told that Ahmari is a light weight, who could land a few punches, but was incapable of delivering any hard blows. Ahmari appears to be a guy, who has sampled dissident writing, but is not well versed in the arguments against Buckley conservatism. As a result he was left to flail around while French was able to safely keep the conversation to theoretical topics, rather than the failings of Buckley conservatism.

That is, of course, a game the Buckleyites learned from libertarians. When the conversation is about practical issues, like fighting the Left over cultural turf, they shift the focus to theory. When confronted on theory, they take a deep dive into the weeds of some narrow policy topic. That’s what French was doing with Ahmari. He kept shifting the topics to legalism and constitutional theory, in order to avoid talking about the fact that conservatism has been a colossal, multi-generational failure.

That’s what was a bit disappointing about Ahmari’s performance. A better equipped debater, a dissident for example, would have turned French’s arguments back on him with relative ease. His claim that the Founders wanted a neutral public space, for example, is laughable nonsense. The Founders were white Christians, who assumed they were founding a white Christian country. More important, they were practical men who understood what was required to maintain their people.

Think about it. These were men who revolted against the prevailing order, against centuries of tradition, in order to impose their way of life on their lands. Not only were they willing to overthrow centuries of tradition, they were willing to kill their countrymen in order to found their nation. They were also quite explicit in their motives. They founded a nation for their people and their posterity. By the definitions of today, definitions David French supports, the Founders were white nationalists.

Of course, the neutral public space argument is a justification for not fighting the Left over cultural turf. By claiming a principled claim in support of an open and neutral public space, it rules out doing anything that could actually win the fight. After all, defending the public square from complete domination by the Left, means pushing them out of some portion of it. That would violate the sacred principles of principled conservatives, so they not only refuse to do it, they prevent others from doing it.

Something that never gets mentioned by dissidents is that this line of reasoning contradicts basic Christian teaching. To cede the public space on principle is to agree, in advance, to not proselytize. To preach and proselytize means staking out space in the public square, regardless of the consequences. The very founding of the Christian faith was on the bones of those, who martyred themselves to spread the word of Jesus Christ in the face of violent opposition.

That of course, raises the question as to just how sincere David French is in his religious conviction. He waves his Christian faith around almost as much as he waves around his military service, yet he is not willing to risk much for it. The Gospels are pretty clear on this point. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus instructed the rich to give away their riches and follow him. Surely, salvation is worth some principles.

This is where dissident Christians can find a niche in dissident politics. There is a long tradition of Christians preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of fierce opposition from authority. To be a dissident is to reject the authority of the prevailing orthodoxy. To be a dissident Christian is to know the source of all authority. The way forward to a society built around natural association is also the path to a society where Christians can proselytize and lead their fellow man to salvation.

This is what the backers of Frenchism fear. A militant, optimistic and aggressive Christianity would be wildly attractive to disaffected white youth. Imagine young guys in camo flash mobbing public events, while reading Scripture. Imagine them employing the protest tactics of the Left, but in favor of faith. That’s why millions are poured into Christian groups to advocate the surrender model. Their leaders get very rich while leading their flocks away from the public space.

None of this is new material, which is why David French has become the clown nose of Buckley conservatism. It’s not about ideology or theology with this guy. David Frenchism is about celebrating the choices of David French. From his adoption of an African to his JAG service, it’s always about his public acts of piety. That’s what jumps out from the video of that event. Watching him in action, the line from Emerson comes to mind. “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”


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The Problems Of Design

Whenever the subject of Intelligent Design turns up, it is always in the context of believers in ID attacking evolutionary biology. The ID’ers have a list of claims about “Darwinism” that they insist make evolution impossible. A popular one now, for example, is that there is not enough time for natural selection to produce enough gene mutations to explain the fossil record. A fair description of ID is that it is a list of arguments and assertions about evolution wrapped around a set of central claims.

One of those claims is that creation, as we observe it, must be the result of design and therefore a designer. They never describe the designer, as most people just assume they mean God, but the designer could be space aliens, in theory. A certain type of self-described Christian finds this appealing. They assume the designer is God, as they have an understanding of God that is much more personal. They believe God is highly involved in the granular details of human existence.

Now, it should be pointed out that this understanding of God is outside Christian tradition and perhaps even anti-Christian. Early Christians, like the Jews of the period, were highly influenced by the Greek understanding of the world. For them, the universe was an orderly place operating by fixed rules. You can’t have a covenant with God, after all, if the universe is a lawless place controlled by a fickle creator. That would make God’s covenant with man just another trick played by him on mankind.

Intelligent Design is occasionalism. While the natural world seems to operate along a set of knowable rules, God often intervenes to change results. He is always in that space between cause and effect, ready to alter the relationship according to his design. God created the platypus for reasons only known to God. If he chooses, he can make the Nile flow south or the sky turn pink. The proof of this, according to Intelligent Design, is the variety of species alive today, as well those no longer in existence.

In fairness to the ID’ers, occasionalism did creep into Christian theology in the Middle Ages, as the Christian West came into contact with Islam. Nicholas of Autrecourt was a 14th century French theologian, who was a critic of the orderly view of the natural world and a proto-occasionalist. David Hume dabbled in the ideas, but stopped short of claiming a creator or designer. Modern ID’ers can therefore claim they are not way outside Christian tradition, but they would have to defend against it.

Another central claim of Intelligent Design is that the natural world is either the result of chance or design. This is the keystone of their theory, as Intelligent Design is not an affirmative argument in favor of a designer. Instead, they frame the debate as between two competing theories. Therefore, if one is shown to be invalid, by default the other must be true. It is a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand to avoid the central problems of Intelligent Design, which of course is that it can never be proven.

This aspect of Intelligent Design relies on a characterization of natural selection as random chance, like rolling of dice. It’s the claim that a football game is either the result of random chance or the game is fixed by the officials, either in advance or as the game proceeds to its conclusion. Obviously, this is ridiculous. The result of a sports match is not random and it is not predetermined or fixed. The result of a sportsball game, is the result of the players acting and reacting to one another, within a known set of rules.

That’s the case with evolutionary biology. Random mutations in the genome are one aspect of the evolutionary process. Environment obviously plays a role here.  Sexual selection is another. Human intervention is another. After all, people have killed off whole species. People have killed off whole groups of people. Like the sportsball game, there are multiple actors, acting and reacting, within a set of rules that science does not fully understand. Evolution is not an argument in favor of chance.

The point here is Intelligent Design is built, in part, on a false dichotomy. Natural selection is not random chance, at least not how most people understand what random chance means. Further, even if natural selection is unable to explain everything, there are other forces, like sexual selection, that come into play. Even if everything about evolutionary biology is wrong, it does not make Intelligent Design true. It simply means we have no good answer understanding the natural world.

This again comes back to the question as to whether Intelligent Design is at odds with Christian theology. The Sphynx cat exists and we know why. The ID’ers would argue that it is an example of design, but that presupposes the breeders were either directed by God or compelled by God to create the breed. That means man has no agency and that sin cannot truly exist. This argument for Intelligent Design comes dangerously close to the argument that man has no free will, which is heretical on its face.

This is why ID’er focus all of their energy on the negative argument, making various claims about evolutionary science. That way, the discussion is always on the science, rather than the theology. This rhetorical sleight of hand is also dishonest, which raises another theological problem for ID’ers. How can something be in line with Biblical teaching if it is based on a falsehood? Maybe the ID’er have a way to explain this, but it is not something they choose to address in their books and articles.

The most serious issue with Intelligent Design is what it implies about God. A designer that is endlessly tinkering with his creation is not a designer with foresight. Alternatively, it is a designer that is a fickle trickster, tinkering with his creation for his own amusement, without regard for his creation. It is a designer that purposely makes flawed creations that harm his other creations. This is a designer burning army men with a magnifying glass and blowing up the model train trestle. That’s not God. That’s the Devil.

From a mainstream Christian perspective, Intelligent Design has some serious theological problems, with occasionalism being the main one. The one way to solve the theological problems is to move the designer back to the beginning, where the Bible writers preferred to place him. The classic watchmaker model, where God sets the universe in motion, according to a fixed set of rules, with evolution possibly being one of them. That leaves room to debate evolution, but does not make God a villain.


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Religion Versus Capitalism

A peculiar feature of the West over the last half century or so is the sudden decline in church attendance among Christians. In some parts of Europe, church attendance has declined into the single digits. France and Belgium have church attendance rates of around ten percent and it is mostly among the old. Estonia is at two percent, which makes it the least religious country in Europe, at least until they invite in enough Muslims. Even in the United States, religiosity is in steep decline, especially outside the South.

These declines have not been uniform. Quebec, for example, had high church attendance rates until fairly recent. They also had a relatively high fertility rate. Then all of a sudden, both went into steep decline. Similarly, Poland had very high church attendance rates, even under the yoke of communism, but then it started to fall. As in Quebec, this recent drop in church attendance is with the young and corresponds to a drop in fertility. As David Goldman observed, all over the world, religiosity and fertility follow the same path.

One assumed cause is social cycle theory, where a society goes through a process of birth, life and death, with falling fertility and religiosity in the late phases. Another explanation is that one causes the other. That is, when women get jobs instead of getting pregnant, church attendance falls. Alternatively, the drop in church attendance causes a drop in fertility, as other traditional modes of life also decline. Still others argue that multiculturalism crowds out both religion and normal family life, causing the decline of both.

A better, less popular explanation for both the decline of religion and the drop in fertility is the spread of what we call capitalism. In the two examples of Quebec and Poland, the drop in fertility and religiosity both coincided with their inclusion into the global economy starting in the 1990’s. Quebec was not communist, but somewhat disconnected from the emerging global economy, until the independence movement was defeated. One result of that process was the greater integration of Quebec into the global economy.

Poland, of course, was in the Soviet Bloc until the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was then quickly and suddenly integrated into the emerging global economy. Poland joined the West and then stopped going to church and stopped making babies. Polish church attendance dropped from 80% to 40% in a generation. The fertility rate in 1980 was 3.0 and by 2000 it had dropped to 1.37. The opening of Poland to capitalism and the global economy corresponded with the closing of Polish churches and the Polish womb.

If you think about the nature of capitalism, in theory at least, and the nature of religion, it is not hard to see the conflict. Capitalism not only assumes certain things about people, it imposes them. The marketplace is a competition to attain informational asymmetry between the buyer and seller. The seller wants the buyer to over value the good or service, while the buyer wants the seller to undervalue his product or service. It is only in this way that either can expect to make a profit from the transaction.

In a system where the highest good is a profit, then all other considerations must be secondary. Lying, for example, is no longer strictly prohibited. The seller will no longer feel obligated to disclose everything to the buyer. The seller will exaggerate his claims about his product or service. Buyers, of course, will seek to lock in sellers into one way contracts based on information unknown the other seller. The marketplace, at its most basic level, is a game of liar’s poker, where all sides hope to fool the other.

Religion, in contrast, also assumes certain things about people, but seeks to mitigate and ameliorate them. Generally speaking, religion assumes the imperfection of man and sees that imperfection as the root cause of human suffering. While those imperfections cannot be eliminated, the negative effects can be reduced through moral codes, contemplation and the full understanding of one’s nature. Religions, outside of some extreme cults, are not about altering the nature of man, but rather the acceptance of it.

Further, religion is a closed system, while the marketplace must be open. In order to be in the sect, one has to adopt a certain lifestyle and a certain set of beliefs. Most of all, the person has to be accepted by the other members. The marketplace, in theory, is open to everyone and the participants cannot exclude new entries. An ethos based on extreme openness cannot peacefully coexist with a system based on exclusivity. Not only has religion died in the West, but so have social organizations like fraternal orders.

Now, to be precise, what we call capitalism is closer to what prior age would have called corporatism or even fascism. The West is not living in an age of free markets and open competition. Instead, it is in a period of tightly controlled markets that are ruled by state protected oligopolists. Finance is controlled by a relatively small number of major banks and technology is run by a handful of global giants. Healthcare is a government controlled monopoly. The neo-liberal order is a global public-private partnership.

Since this arrangement lacks natural legitimacy, libertarians have been brought in to create a civic religion based around worship of the marketplace. It is why otherwise sensible people can support internet censorship by “private” entities. People have been condition to accept whatever private business does as morally legitimate. This new religion in support of the neo-liberal order, like all secular religions, is covetous and intolerant. It has to anathematize and marginalize any alternative religion.

The rise of this new fusion of capital and state authority, centered in Washington, does track with the decline of religion, fertility and local institutions. Whether you call it globalism, neo-liberalism or neo-conservatism, all of these terms describe the same system of rule by a corporate-government partnership. It is hostile to religion, both explicitly and implicitly, particularity Christianity. Faith in the marketplace is inimical to faith in God. When man loses that, he loses the will to go on and fertility rates plummet.

The End Of Atheism

If you are over the age of 40, perhaps a bit older, you have lived long enough to see a great fad get going, peak and then fade away completely. Lots of fads run their course in a few months, obviously, but social movements tend to build slowly and then stick around for a while, before disappearing down the memory hole. One of those fads is atheism, which had a good run in the 80’s and 90’s. It started to peter out in the 90’s, had a brief revival in the aughts, but now seems to be headed to oblivion.

The so-called “new atheists” are not ready to throw in the towel on their reason to exist, as it were, but that’s to be expected. Harris and Dennett moved all their chips into the middle of the table with the atheism stuff. It got them the attention they desired, so as a gambler will wear a diamond pinky ring to recall his one big score, these guys still proudly wear their atheism. All of them have moved onto other things, but they will expound upon their hatred of religion if the crowd demands it.

Of course, anytime the word “new” gets attached to something old, it means that old thing is now dead. It also means that old thing had some serious internal defect that eventually killed it. The “new right” made an appearance when it was clear Conservative Inc. was just a ruthless money racket. The previous iteration of “new right” appeared in the 70’s when everyone agreed the old right was dead. The reason “new atheism” got going is everyone agreed that regular old atheism was creepy and weird.

The central defect of atheism, old and new, is it is an entirely negative western identity and entirely dependent on Christianity. Specifically, it requires people of some status to defend Christianity and the Christian belief in the super natural. Atheism has always been the oxpecker of mass movements. Everything about it relies on its host both tolerating it and thriving on its own. It’s why atheism has had its spasms of success when Christianity in America has had a revival, as in the 80’s and the 2000’s.

Atheists will deny this, of course. They will argue, as Dennett often does, that the steep decline of Christianity is proof their arguments were superior. The reason they no longer talk about their thing is they won and their enemy is dead. The fact that there are plenty of Muslims and crackpot feminist airheads around spouting magical oogily-boogily never seems to get their attention for some reason. The only guy to venture into this area was Dawkins, but the Prog quickly reminded him who pays his bills.

That’s always been the tell with atheism. Belief in something as insane as male privilege or implicit whiteness should get their attention. After all, these are not just beliefs in the supernatural, they are primitive beliefs in the supernatural. Men of the classical period had more plausible and complex beliefs than people like Amy Harmon. She is a click away from demanding human sacrifice. Yet, the new atheists were never much interest in those magical beliefs. They were too busy hounding the last Christians.

That’s another tell. Atheism has always been a popular pose on the Left, because it was a useful signal. The bad whites loved their boom sticks and sky gods. The good whites rejected all those crazy beliefs. It’s why atheists tended to focus on the mainstream of Christianity, like Catholics and mainline Protestant churches. Mormons were always an easy target. They avoided the Jews and black Baptists. Sure, once in while a zinger against the tribe would be tossed in, but the enemy was always white Christians.

The decline on atheism is a good example of the perils of negative identity. When you define yourself as being in opposition to someone or something, you inevitably become a slave to it. Your very existence depends on it. As the main Christian churches collapse in scandal and bizarre attempts to move Left, the enemies for atheists to attack are getting more difficult to find. Attacking Christians is like beating up a puppy. Only the severely mentally disturbed think Christians have any power today.

The other thing working against atheism is it has been mostly male. That’s an interesting thing, given that the American Atheists was created by a woman in the 60’s. Then again, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was just a cat’s paw for the usual suspects. Her role was to be the point the spear in the war to decouple Christianity from American civic and cultural life. Since then, atheism has been a male thing. Given the declining status of males on the Left, particularly white males, it is no surprise that atheism is dying.

Given the state of affairs in the West and the crippling decline in the Christian churches, it is hard to see atheism having another revival. Christianity appears to morphing into a private, bespoke thing in order to survive outside the Progressive orthodoxy. That makes it a worthless enemy for atheists. You can never know, of course, but it looks like public Christianity is done for. That means atheism is done for as well, unless it moves onto Judaism or Progressivism and that will never be allowed.

Rugged Individual Sociopaths

Imagine in a discussion about the sex abuse that goes on in Hollywood, someone said, regarding the victims of the abuse, “I guess I’m meant to cry tears of sympathy for all of these people who were molested. Somehow I just can’t muster a single tear. You made your choices. Nobody put a gun to your head.” That would no doubt elicit gasps and a good deal of the familiar point and sputter. If nothing else, people are expected to show a little empathy for the victims of predators, especially when it is kids or young adults.

Empathy is essential to a high-trust society. It allows people to cooperate, rather than spend their time defending themselves from others in society. Empathy allows people to engage with others, trusting that the other side is acting in good faith and not trying to cheat the other party. It makes it possible to engage in things like charity and social improvement. When you can put yourself in the mind of a person outside your kin-group, share their feelings about things, cooperative society is possible.

It’s why liars and cheaters can never be tolerated. Their actions put the trust of society into question, which means their lack of empathy costs everyone. In some respects, the lack of empathy is worse than the crime itself. A man who kills another man in a dispute, but feels remorse, can be rehabilitated. A man who steals from another man and is unable to understand why it is wrong or celebrates his act, can never be rehabilitated and can never be a part of society. He can never be trusted, because he lacks empathy.

This basic insight into the nature of society has been a central element of the Western Right since de Maistre. It was always the radical that imagined human society as based entirely on self-interest. Humans would either cooperate because it worked to their advantage or not cooperate because it was to their advantage. Humans were infinity selfish and altruism was just a consequence of society and culture. Therefore, set the conditions of society just right and people will cooperate with one another.

The Right has always rejected that, until recently. The quote at the start of this post is a variation of this tweet from Matt Walsh. He is, according to his handlers, “a writer, speaker, author, and one of the religious Right’s most influential young voices.” In addition to that, they claim “He is known for boldly tackling the tough subjects and speaking out on faith and culture in a way that connects with his generation and beyond.” In reality, he is reproducing official dogma for the Official Right, what remains of it.

What that tweet reveals is that Official Conservatism™ thinks it is perfectly fine for sophisticated parties to prey on unsophisticated parties. In his case, it suggests the religious Right would be OK with the strong preying on the weak, as in the example at the start of the post. After all, pederasty is by definition a crime because one party, the adult, is sophisticated, while the other party, the young person, is not. Therefore, it is assumed they cannot bargain in the sexual marketplace on fair and equal terms.

Now, there is nothing in the writing of Matt Walsh to suggest he is in favor of pederasty, but there is no reason to think he would oppose it. After all, if he is so utterly lacking in empathy that he cannot muster even a bit of sympathy for people saddled with egregious school debt, his fitness for society is in question. His brand of flamboyant sociopathy is what we would expect from a serial predator or maybe a banker. You have to wonder what is wrong with someone who is so proudly callous toward his fellow citizens.

This is exactly why Official Conservatism™ is headed for the dustbin of history. It no longer offers a philosophical alternative to radicalism. Instead, it embraces the same callous and materialist view of society as the radicals. It starts from the premise that we are just random strangers flung together by serendipity, ruthlessly trying to advance our self-interest. The only difference between the radical and the so-called conservative is the former still thinks this can be remedied, while the latter embraces it.

A civil society is one in which the individuals naturally balance their interests against the interests of the whole. Popular government assumes this to be true. The people will debate and persuade one another about the proper balance. A democratic society composed of sociopaths quickly descends into gang warfare, where ever-shifting alliances of individuals makes war upon one another in a zero-sum game, ruthlessly exploiting the available resources. That’s a prison yard, not a high-trust society.

That’s why people with a soul should look at the student debt problem with sympathy and horror. It’s not just that these kids are saddled with debt. It’s that they and their parents are being preyed upon by sophisticated parties, with the aid and protection of the state. It is a form of economic piracy, in which the crown is quietly supporting the pirates, at the expense of the people’s commerce. Conservatives have always rejected this. Christians have always rejected this. Today, the “religious right” embraces it.

This inability to comprehend the basic building blocks of Western society is also why they cannot understand how open borders are a disaster. For someone like Matt Walsh, people are interchangeable, not only with one another, but with other economic units. In the materialist world view, social capital matters only in that it can be exploited for economic gain. In the zero-trust, Hobbesian world of the modern conservative, the greater the diversity, the greater the openness, which makes exploitation easier.

Authentic conservatism has always understood that Western society is built on trust and trust comes naturally to the familiar. Our greatest natural empathy is toward our family and then our kin group. From there is extends, but weakens, to those who look and sound like our kin. It breaks down entirely when it reaches those who are alien in appearance, speech, and custom. Therefore, high-trust societies can only exist in societies with a shared heritage and a shared biology. Diversity and trust are mutually exclusive.

The Cancer of Fanaticism

In my school days, teachers would often say that historians remained puzzled as to why so many good Germans stood silent as the Nazis took over or how Russians just allowed the Bolsheviks to go on a murder spree. The point was to have us think about these events as something other than just a good guy versus bad guy thing. The lesson of history was that the forces of good had to be active, not passive. Otherwise, the people seeking to exploit and subvert society would not meet any resistance.

Perhaps for school kids, it was a fine exercise, but it was the sort of thinking that motivated the Nazis and Bolsheviks to murder. These were not people who thought of themselves as evil or on the wrong side of history. To the contrary, they saw themselves as the champions of light, fighting the forces of darkness. As such, they were duty bound to use any means necessary to win. Maybe the people at the top were more cynical, as is usually the case, but the rank and file were the truest of true believers.

The only person I have read, other than myself, who bothered to contemplate the mindset of the typical Nazi, Bolshevik or Progressive was Eric Hoffer. His classic book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, is the field guide to understanding the mind of the political zealot. Over the years I have referenced it many times, when posting about the American Left. Hoffer’s book is not the definitive work, more of a skeleton key to unlock a mode of analysis. It is a starting point in thinking about the Left.

For example, the conventional way of framing politics is the old Left-Right scale, where Hitler is on the Right and Stalin is on the Left. This scale was useful during the Cold War as a rhetorical device, but it never made any sense, as a way to describe the modern political universe. It’s why stupid people and the historically ignorant argue that the Nazis were actually leftists or that fascism exists today. The demands of that political scale require everyone to seek the undefined to middle, to avoid being Hitler or Stalin.

A better scale, especially in the current age, is probably one that has the true believer at one end and the non-ideological skeptic at the other. Unlike the old Left-Right scale, there is no one at the either end to point to as the most extreme example. Instead, it is impossible to be entirely free of belief, as humans are not robots. Therefore, there are no pure skeptics. At the other end, there is always some way to be just a bit more pious than the most pious, or at least appear to be, so it is a line that extends out indefinitely.

Another way to think of it is the skeptical end is zero, the complete lack of belief or faith, if you will, and the total acceptance of observable reality. No human is built with a desire to reach zero. It’s like looking into a blast furnace. No matter how beautiful it is, the closer you get the more intolerable. Just as no one can walk into and experience the purifying flames of the furnace, not one can ever fully embrace reality. As a result, the most cynical among us are clustered at some safe distance from the point of absolute reality.

At the other end, the next point on the scale is like the next step on the road to paradise and each step is more inviting than the next, at least to those built to seek it.  Unlike the other end of the scale, there is no intense resistance, so the only thing that can keep the believer from seeking greater purity is a leash of sorts, either internal or external, that limits their ability to seek the ultimate goal. In the post-Christian West, we are learning that some men lack that internal governor and will go as far as they can to reach paradise.

That is, of course, what lies beneath the great ideological struggles of the Western world since the French Revolution. They may not be explicit, but that is what lies beneath all of them. Communists of various stripes thought they could create the worker’s paradise in the industrial age. The radicalism of Robespierre became a secular religion, in which men were gods. The fascists were a utopian reaction to the utopian radicals of their age. They simply had a different vision of paradise, which is why they embraced the same methods.

We see this today with the America Left, which has, in fits and starts, become increasingly radical and increasingly untethered from reality. Into the 20th century, it still carried with it the Christian restraint of accepting that paradise, if it exists at all, is in the next life. That’s all gone now and the believers are filled with the passion of the zealot. All that matters to them is the next step on the path. Whoever is the most pious, the furthest along on the journey, is the standard until someone else can prove to be pious, further along the path.

That explains the dog-piling we see from these fanatics, whenever they discover a heretic or obstacle. They lack anything resembling human compassion, so the heretic serves only one role for them. That is as a point of comparison. The more outraged and exited one is about the heretic, the more pious they are. The heretic, becomes point zero on the graph, so the further one is away from the heretic, emotionally and spiritually, the further along they are on their journey to paradise. Thus the endless piety contests.

It’s why someone like Howard Dean feels righteous in calling for the imprisonment of Andrew Torba, for the crime of existing. Dean is not a bright man, but he is filled with the passion of the true believer. For him and the rest of his cult, the point of shrieking at Torba is not a practical one. It is spiritual one. They are showing how far along the path they are away from the sinner and toward the land of milk and honey. Dean probably would have called for Torba’s murder, but he did not have to in order to show he was the most pious.

That is the great challenge of the post-Christian era. The limiting principle of Christianity, that grace was for the next life, is gone. That means all of the lunatics are off the leash and society has no intellectual framework for putting them back on the leash. As a result, the West is afflicted with a metastasizing cancer in the form of increasingly deranged true believers, determined to extend their quest for self-abnegation to the whole of society in order to bring about the end times. Either the cancer is removed, or the host will die.

The Energy Of Religion

The other day, I caught a little of Jim Goad on Luke Ford’s podcast. I did not stick around long, as Goad went into a childish rant about religion. It was a bit embarrassing to see a middle-aged man carry on like a toddler demanding his binky. Then again, the sum total of atheism is a childish rant, demanding someone else explain the mysteries of religion to the satisfaction of an atheist. “Tell me how a loving God would let bad things happen to good people” is the typical rant. It is a question that can never be answered to their satisfaction.

Atheism is a good example of a negative identity. If Christianity did not exists. atheists would have to invent it so they could rail against it. You’ll never hear an atheists talk about the majesty or beauty of atheism. In fact, they never talk about it at all. Instead, it is endless complaining about religion, especially Christianity. The atheist defines himself entirely by his opposition to religion. It’s why they almost always inform you they are an atheist within five minutes of meeting them. They are like vegans in that way.

Atheism is nutty on two fronts. One is the core irrationality of it. The existence of God, gods or some supernatural force that animates the universe is unknowable. The big religions get that, which is why it is at the core of those faiths. For that matter, what we understand to be the universe could just be a kid’s science experiment in another dimension. Our world exists in a terrarium on the desk of some kid in the lizard people dimension. These are things we cannot know. That is the nature of faith.

This is where a “bible believing Christian” tells me I’m wrong. They know God exists because of something they read somewhere in their bible. Well, you don’t know that and saying you do puts you outside Christianity. The Catholic Church had a word for people who went around saying they knew things about God. They called them heretics and burned them at the stake. You can believe in God, you can believe he plays a hand in man’s affairs. You can believe anything, but you can only know what is knowable.

Belief is one of modern man’s oldest traits. It is assumed it co-evolved with language, for the simple reason both involve abstract thinking. The future condition tense, for example is about something that might happen in the future. This is not something that is real, that you see and touch. it is something you imagine. To express that, to even think it, you need language that can contain the idea. That is what language is, after all. It is a container to hold ideas and concepts that you can transmit to other humans, across time and place.

Belief works the same way, even simple beliefs that existed with primitive early man. To imagine a spirit force that animates the wind or the tides requires the ability to imagine that which cannot be seen or touched. Conjuring a spirit force as the explanation for the tides requires the ability to infer things from observation. This belief becomes a container to hold this idea. The stories that came to surround the existence of the spirit force are also containers, to make it easy to transmit this abstract idea to others over time and place.

As humans settled, their observations about nature mixed with their own ability to alter nature. The first breeding of dogs, for example, surely changed how people thought of animals and their fundamental nature. Throw in the complexity of human relations that arises from settled life and it is no surprise that belief became more complex. Those containers had to hold more complex abstract ideas, so simple beliefs based in nature were replaced with complex religious systems that could encompass complex ideas.

Put another way, just as our complex communications systems are part of what defines us as modern humans, our complex belief structures define us as modern humans. Belief, especially in the form of mature religious systems like Catholicism and its offshoots, is an incredibly efficient way of preserving and transmitting human experience and inferred knowledge. The Christian Bible contains vast stores of knowledge about human relations, just about everything one would ever need to know about human society.

A good way to think of this is to consider the gas tank in your car. It is for holding gasoline, which is the most amazing energy containing system we possess. Vast amounts of energy are contained in small quantities. That energy is so easily released, it requires only a small spark, yet it is so stable and safe, we lug vast amounts of it around at high speed on our highways. To top it off, it is relatively cheap. A thousand generations of human technological advance resides in that gas tank, powering your car down the road.

That’s why it has proven impossible to replace. By now, the West has probably invested close to a trillion dollars trying to come up with a replacement for gasoline and the equally amazing internal combustion engine. International huckster Elon Musk has driven himself to madness trying to build electric cars. Yet, we are no more closer to replacing the internal combustion engine than fifty years ago. Like solar power and renewable energy, the world of the electric cars remains an avatar that is always over the next hill.

Religion, and for the West that means some iteration of Christianity, is the gasoline and internal combustion engine of our culture. The long war on religion is not much different than the war on oil. The one difference is that unlike with cars, we did not wait for a replacement before junking the old technology. Instead, the West abandoned what worked for the fantasy of something better. We keep trying to make civic religion the replacement, but like Elon Musk, we are being driven mad trying to make it work.

The New Druze

In the late 10th and early 11th century, a form of mysticism evolved that incorporated elements of Islam, Greek philosophy, Gnosticism, bits from other esoteric faiths, that existed in eastern Mediterranean and what we now call the Middle East. The person credited with spreading this new faith was a guy named Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazi. He came to Egypt in 1017 and began preaching and attracting converts. He was branded a heretic and executed in 1018 by the sixth Fatimid caliph.

The Caliph, al-Hakim, was not hostile to the new faith, so much as hostile to ad-Darazi, who he thought was suffering from megalomania. His move against ad-Darazi was to put Hamza ibn ‘Ali ibn Ahmad in charge of this new religious sect, which would eventually be known as the Druze. The sixth caliph plays a central role in the Druze faith despite being outside the faith. His actions during his reign as caliph made it possible for the faith to spread and altered its course with the decision to execute ad-Darazi.

This is an interesting bit of serendipity, but it has a connection to our own age in a few important ways. The most obvious, if you are a fan of the period, is al-Hakim is often blamed for starting the crusades. His decision to persecute Christians sent ripples through Europe, eventually leading to the call to recapture the Holy Land. Of course, as with everything about history, that’s debatable. There were other forces at work, but it is generally accepted that al-Hakim played a crucial role in the clash with Christendom.

Eventually, of course, two main strains of Islam came to dominate the Arab world, while Christianity dominated Europe, but The Levant has remained a place with lots of religious diversity. The Druze live mostly in Lebanon. The Samaritans are in the Palestinian territories. Maronites, Eastern Orthodox and Melkite Catholics exist in Lebanon. Syriac Christians and Alawites exist in Syria. Of course, various flavors of Judaism dominate in Israel. It is not an accident that instability is the only constant in The Levant.

That’s an obvious lesson when examining this part of the world. If one wanted proof of the axiom, Diversity + Proximity  = Violence, The Levant has more than enough for any argument. The pathological zeal of Western leaders for inviting the world into Western lands, can only have one end. That’s the same we see in Lebanon, a country blessed with a great location, abundant natural resources and natural barriers to larger enemies. Yet, it is a land riven by sectarian violence and the lack of a unifying identity.

There is another lesson from the history of The Levant and that is the cauldrons of diversity tend to create more diversity. The reason this part of the world was popular with schismatics and holy men is it was where the action was in the Middle Ages. Cairo was a wealthy, cosmopolitan place compared to cities of Europe. There were scholars well versed in Greek philosophy, wealthy patrons willing to sponsor scholarship and a wide range of thought to draw from for the creative minded spiritual leader.

That’s something to keep in mind as Europe works to invite the world and all of its religions to settle in the West. Throw a bunch of people together with a wide range of beliefs and inevitably it spawns a bunch of new combinations. The flow of Muslims into Europe, a land that has abandoned Christianity for various secular passions, is going to spawn new spiritual movements. The recent conversion to Islam of an AfD leader is the sort of thing that is happening with increasing frequency. Islam is now a thing in Europe.

The other aspect to this is the West is now open country, when it comes to the religion business. Just as Catholicism faced a dying collection of pagan beliefs, Islam is now flowing into a world held together by habit and pointless social fads. The soul of Europe died a long time ago. To be a European today means to be a deracinated stranger in a land that is increasingly unfamiliar to you. That makes Europe fertile ground for a confident religion brought by people thinking they are on the winning side of history.

That does not mean Europe will be Islamic. Islam is all over the world, but it always adapts to the local environment. Islam in Asia is Islam with very Asian characteristics. Islam in the Caucasus is a mountain man version of Islam. Biology is the root of everything and that means cultural items like religion flow from it. The Islamification of Europe will inevitably result in something that is very European. The Germans will have their take, the Danes will have theirs and the French will do something French.

It also means all sorts of other permutation that result from mixing Western empiricism, Oriental mysticism and traditional Christianity. The Druze we started with in this post combine Ismailism, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism and Hinduism. It is an esoteric faith that is also an ethnicity. The Druze do not accept converts and they do not allow out-marriage. A person who marries outside the faith is no longer Druze and their children will not be Druze. Imagine something like that happening Bulgaria.

The point of this somewhat disjointed post is that Europe is dead. The West is dead. The civilization that was created by the culture born of the Enlightenment carries on, but the culture that is the West is dead. Something will come to replace it and that something will, in whole or part, be carried by the people now attempting to replace the Europeans. The resulting culture that rises next will be some combination of the ingredients being tossed into the cauldron, but it will look nothing like the ingredients.