The following is the introduction to a book I am writing for my children, which I will post here as I have time to finish.
For the past couple of years, when I could fit it in, I have been writing a book for the benefit of my children on the topic of wealth and Christianity. That book, perhaps half finished, sets out to demolish politically correct ideas about wealth and Christian attitudes towards it.
It then occurred to me that such a book would hopefully not be necessary for a long time, if God-willing, I have a normal lifespan. What my children needed, more urgently, with my oldest being 14 as I write this in early 2016, is a book on life in general as they begin their journey as young adults. This book I hope to finish more quickly, by the end of 2017. We shall see if I reach my goal.
When I talk to my children about the world today, they often find it upsetting. They are being raised as orthodox Christians in a world increasingly hostile to that view. Ideas of morality and decency that were shared by nearly everyone a century ago are now relics of the past, at least in the media’s “mainstream” culture. So this book has two tasks: to explain to my children how our once great civilization arrived to the present moment, and to coach them on how to navigate, and thrive, in this new world. Societies built on pretty lies, like our society today, are inherently unstable. They may survive in their present course for a few more centuries, or they may degenerate so fast that they collapse of their own weight more quickly. Truth, however, never changes. As a parent, it is my special responsibility to inculcate truth in my children, even when surrounded by lies.
The audience of this book is a reasonably intelligent 16 to 18-year-old young man or woman, who generally shares my overall Christian worldview. As such, I will not be doing extensive apologetics of the basics of the Christian faith itself, but rather working to strip away politically correct barnacles that have attached themselves to that faith. Adult readers could certainly benefit from this work as well, but will hopefully excuse my deliberate efforts at explaining everything thoroughly, not assuming a whole lot of prior knowledge for my teenage audience. Plus, as I’ve matured as a writer, I’ve come to realize that complicated language is often used to hide foggy, imprecise thinking. Simpler language is a discipline for a writer, forcing ideas to be made clear and accessible and avoiding the need for interpretation.
The title of this book is Red Pill Christian. Unless you grew up in the 90’s, the term “red pill” may not be familiar. In 1999, an iconic movie was released, The Matrix, which provided the origin for this term. In this movie, set in the ostensible present-day at the time of its release, a young computer programmer named Neo begins to notice certain slight inconsistencies in the world he inhabits. These were little glitches in reality, things some might interpret as deja vu, but Neo notices it more deeply, largely due to glitches he observes on his computer. Soon after he begins to doubt the reality around him, he is contacted by a mysterious group of people who are being hunted vigorously by the police. Brought to a safe house under their protection, Neo and the leader of the rebel group, Morpheus, sit down to have a discussion.
Morpheus explains that Neo’s intuitions about the world are correct, but the truth is deeper and darker than he possibly imagined. Warning Neo that from learning this truth there can be no turning back, he offers Neo a choice of two pills, one red and one blue. If Neo swallows the blue pill, he will forget all of his experiences relating to doubting the consistency of the world around him and go back to his life as normal. If he swallows the red pill, he will be shown the full truth behind the broken reality he observes. Neo chooses the red pill, and immediately wakes up in a vat of warm water, in a gigantic tower of other similar vats filled with living human bodies, ripping away breathing tubes and other things attached to his naked form as he is rescued by Morpheus and his companions in a nearby hovering aircraft. The reality behind reality is that the movie is actually set far into the future, in a world where super-intelligent computers and robots had become self-aware, fought a war, and won, against their human creators. After their victory, most of the humans, except a few escaping rebels like Morpheus and his crew, are placed in huge installations where they live their lives in vats of water, deaf, blind and dumb, to serve as batteries for the machines who enslaved them. Human babies are created in artificial wombs to supply the banks of batteries, and from birth their minds are connected to a virtual reality program called “The Matrix,” which simulates what was considered the peak of human civilization in 1999. The glitches Neo observed were errors in this computer simulation. The vast majority of humanity has a life consisting of a dream inside of a computer, unaware of the horrific subjugation wrought by their machine slaves turned masters.
The first Matrix movie was by far the best, as so much of the plot was left open to interpretation. As often happens, sequels are constrained by having to explain all of the questions raised by the first movie, and when those answers are less satisfying than the questions themselves, the story falls apart. The first movie, however, remained a cultural icon of the times. The 90’s were a time of great paper wealth, with a huge stock market bubble, but little real progress in actual wealth. The Bubble popped in 2000, so the Matrix tapped into a real cultural item at the time, the feeling that things weren’t quite right despite the appearance of great prosperity.
Since that time, the term “red pill” has been co-opted by conservative realists to describe the feeling they often experienced when they discovered that our society was based on so many liberal lies. “Red Pill” types are diverse in their focus, ranging from a rejection of secularism, humanism, human equality, multiculturalism and/or feminism. I believe all of these groups are touching several parts of the same elephant, and that elephant has deep roots in Western culture.
In short, the “red pill” movement represents the rejection of the social doctrines of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement following the Reformation in 18th century Europe. Some of its doctrines were useful, such as the partial rejection of Aristotelian philosophy in science. Aristotle, and most of the historical philosophers, believed in reasoning things out from first principles. You would start from what was known and then make logical conclusions to discover what was unknown. Aristotle in particular stood as an intellectual giant in the Western world at this time, and so his method of reasoning, called deductive, was considered the gold standard of thinking. During the Enlightenment, a group emerged called the empiricists, who took an inductive approach to science. Their reasoning was based on trial and error, what we now call the scientific method. In a way, empiricism represented a new humbleness of man towards creation, in that man stopped trying to reason his way from first principles to understand something infinitely more complex than what the human mind could comprehend. By relying on observation rather than conjecture, by letting go of the need to have a comprehensive understanding of everything, man increased vastly his knowledge of the particular. The scientific method made man the master of nature, thanks to the advances in physics, chemistry, biology and other scientific fields. The advances in material quality of life due to the scientific method are inestimable and are the good fruit of the Enlightenment.
However, as is common when fallen man has success in any field, hubris followed scientific innovation. European man made an error in thinking that his mastery of nature would also enable him to master himself. Parallel to the empirical revolution in the sciences came a new philosophy of human nature. In contrast to Biblical doctrine and the collective wisdom of most of humanity from simple observation, Enlightenment thinkers believed many strange things about man. They believed that man was naturally good, and was only corrupted by society. Man was also seen as a tabula rasa, a “blank slate,” who had no defined nature for good or bad, but was only made that way by his environment. As such, all men were, fundamentally, equally capable of good, and equal in every other capacity as well, if only man could be liberated from the oppressive environment of society, particularly Christian society. All inequality between men, then, was a result of injustice which might be corrected with the same “scientific” approach to man’s environment that had worked so well in describing the mechanics of the universe.
The origins of Enlightenment thought on human nature go further back into history. Even as scientific thinkers of the Enlightenment corrected Greek errors in the approach to understanding the natural world, social thinkers of the Enlightenment resurrected certain Greek ideas, or at least amplified them. Medieval society was deeply Christian, with its belief in “The Great Chain of Being.” In this way of thinking, every creature, from God, to the kings, to the nobility, and down through the peasantry and even animals, were placed providentially in their positions by a loving God. Man’s role was not to rage against his position in life, but rather to submit to it and make the most of it, obeying God in his station and submitting to the spiritual discipline of contentment.
Enlightenment thought on human nature and society, however, came from a historically non-Christian source. Greek thought had always held that the essence of man was a spirit, and that the universe itself was an imperfect material representation of a perfect universe of forms. Thus, a circle made of wood was always imperfect in some way, but represented the ideal of a circle on the spiritual plane. Man’s spirit, it was thought, existed on this higher plane, and the ideal for man was to free himself from the restrictions of the material world. The highest human accomplishment was that of philosophy, the pondering of perfect forms and ideas independent of the physical realm.
There were undoubtedly some advantages to Greek thought, in developing the idea of the abstract, to see common threads between somewhat dissimilar things in life. Such an approach enabled the Greeks to make great strides in math and geometry, the disciplines most akin to highly abstract, idealizing thinking. The Greeks took their ideas, however, too far in talking about the nature of man. Their mistakes, of course, are forgivable given that the Greeks had no direct revelation from God. The amazing thing about Greek and Roman philosophy is not their errors, but how close they were able to reach the truth despite lacking, until the rise of Christianity, any direct communication from the Creator.
The Bible, as revealed truth, speaks of man’s nature more accurately. Man is spirit, but also flesh. He is divine in a sense of carrying the image of God, but fallen and a slave to sin. Only the Bible captures this dual nature of man, having some qualities of angels and some qualities of brute animals. The incarnation of Christ further confirmed the true nature of man. For in the incarnation, Christ took on flesh, flesh he retains in glorified form to this day. Christian theology revealed that man’s spirit will not be his eternal state but rather that man would have a glorified body like Christ. The Christian view is that the flesh and the body are not fundamentally inferior to the spirit. Man is equally both, and God increased His glory by taking on flesh, and eternally having part of the Godhead remain fully man and fully God. It was at the same time both a lower view of man than the Greeks, but also a higher view. God, it should be noted, never took the form of an angel on a permanent basis, but the form of his particular image-bearer, man. There is a divine mystery in how the infinite is magnified through the finite container of a flesh-and-blood body.
Greek errors about the nature of man persisted into the Christian era. The idea of Christ as both man and God offended man’s sensibilities, and so the primary heresies afflicting the church throughout history have been related to either the incarnation or the Trinity. Gnosticism probably remains the most lasting influence, a complex early Christian heresy that blended aspects of Greek philosophy with Christian theology. The chief distinction of the Gnostics was their retaining the belief that the material world was somehow lower than, or even a corruption of the spiritual world, and that the path to salvation was to acquire secret knowledge (“gnosis”) that would enable the divine soul in every human to transcend their material limitations.
There seems to be something in man that chafes against both the Incarnation and the Trinity. Our ideal of forms rejects that a God could be multiple persons, yet unified. Men do not want to admit that there may be realities beyond human comprehension that will manifest themselves as paradoxes. Since we can understand a strictly monistic (i.e. one person) God, we prefer that He be that way. The Incarnation, likewise, rubs man the wrong way because he wants to believe that he may be allowed to enter the world of the spiritual and infinite, which he believes is somehow more desirable than the dual existence God has ordained for his lot. Man, like Satan, seeks transcendence beyond his station. In this way, we can trace a common thread, that of rejecting real limitations, between Greek, Gnostic, Enlightenment and modern liberal or “blue pill” thought patterns.
Enlightenment social doctrine was at first used to undermine the authority of Christianity and the Christian monarchies of Europe, resulting in the replacement of the old, medieval and clerical elite with a new elite of intellectuals and merchants. When this did not bring about sufficient equality to match expectations, liberal thought moved from supporting equality in rank and political power to equality in outcome.
In the mid-19th-century, the radical political doctrines of Marxism, Communism and Anarchism emerged in Europe. The seminal work of Communism, The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, taught that property ownership was oppressive and that the economic order of free enterprise and capitalism was inherently exploitive. Communism was explicitly atheist, dismissing the Christian religion as an “opiate of the masses” that provided exploited workers with a “false consciousness” pinning their hopes on a world to come rather than the world as it was.
A strictly materialistic worldview, Communism / Marxism promulgated a deterministic future history, where society would move irresistibly from pre-industrial feudalism to free market capitalism and finally to communism. All authority, from the king’s over his subject to the lowliest peasant father’s over his children, were seen as evidence of exploitation to be eliminated by revolution. Marxists were amoral except towards this one end, absolute material equality, and would use any means necessary to bring about their utopia. Marxism was the final stage of Enlightenment social thought, the ultimate faith in man’s perfectibility and equality if only provided the right environment.
The problem for this kind of thinking is that it contradicts reality. But like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, those who push these ideas, of man’s equality and goodness, are less interested in evidence but in suppressing evidence. When liberal ideas do not work, the refrain is that they have not really been tried hard enough. Liberals demand that reality bend to their wishes and will use any means they can to force it to conform.
In the late 19th century, a new secular idea emerged that challenged the beliefs of the Enlightenment: the birth of Darwinism. And before I can discuss Darwinism versus Enlightenment ideas, I must summarize Darwin and my opinion of his work.
Charles Darwin was a naturalist who noticed that particular, closely related species of finches in the Galapagos Islands seemed uncannily adapted to their environment. Since the islands as a whole were presumably populated by a common finch ancestor, but the islands differed significantly in their fauna, it fascinated Darwin that finches on different islands had adapted particular beaks for consuming their varied food sources. The finches had evolved, Darwin not unreasonably assumed, from a common ancestor to adapt to the challenges of their environment. The English had historically been the most advanced society in Europe in the science of animal husbandry and selective breeding. Darwin knew that human selection could result in animals as different as a 10 lb chihuahua and an Alaskan Huskie. With environmental pressure for change, he posited that such selection could occur naturally as well, just as a litter of puppies from common parents will have a variety of traits. Animals having features better able to help them survive were more likely to pass those traits on to offspring. From this Darwin proposed his theory of “common descent with modification,” with the idea that the engine of modification was “natural selection.” This theory became known by the term “evolution.”
Darwin pre-dated our modern understanding of genes, so Darwin did not know how traits passed themselves from parent to offspring, only that such passing could be observed. The findings of later scientists would fully flesh out Darwinism, with the addition to the theory of random mutations of genes followed by natural selection. This became known as neo-Darwinism and represents the mainstream of scientific thought in biology today.
Science, however, is distinguished by not being a enterprise where truth is based on everyone agreeing. Every major scientific revolution, every advance of human knowledge, involves the destruction of the old ideas by a new theory that is fiercely resisted by those who have come before. If the scientific method is the engine of our greater understanding of nature, it is ironically scientists themselves that represent the friction and resistance the engine must overcome each time it advances our knowledge. This is not necessarily bad, as most new ideas in science are wrong, and in any field a degree of conservatism and resistance to change is necessary to avoid being taken in by foolishness. The error is when we assume that scientists agreeing on something means it’s true, when the whole history of science is knowledge advancing by showing how today’s scientists are wrong. Scientists are also human, and numerous histories of science have documented how it usually takes an entirely new generation of scientists to correct the errors of those who came before. Most older scientists, who represent the majority opinion, cannot overcome their natural tendency to support their own theories over upstarts seeking to prove them wrong.
Darwin undoubtedly discovered something important in his finches. The capacity of life to adapt itself to new environments is undeniable but was poorly understood at the time. The basic idea of evolution, of adaptation based on natural selection, could be observed directly in nature. Where Darwin went wrong, I believe, was in extrapolating small changes observed in finches to his idea that all life was descended from a common ancestor. I do not blame Darwin, however, for this error. Christians today I believe are too hard on Darwin, who was an honest man. During Darwin’s times, it was plausible, from a scientific view, to assume that biology might be as simple as physics, which had been so elegantly (and almost completely) described by the mathematical work of Sir Isaac Newton. The biologists of Darwin’s time simply had no idea of the complexity of life, of how every cell in every organism is more complex than anything man had ever invented. If Newton had demonstrated that the non-living world was governed by simple, understandable laws that did not require conscious moment-by-moment intervention from a divine agent, then perhaps life might have a simple explanation as well.
Darwin also lacked, at his time, what I believe to be the most powerful mathematical science useful in the analysis of evolutionary ideas: that of information theory. As communications technology like radios and telephones took off around 1900, electrical engineers began exploring the concept of signal and noise. The traditional view of science is that science feeds theories down to engineers, who implement scientific findings into useful technologies. This is a simplistic view, though, as scientific information is also generated, and arguably more of it, when a theory is put to practical use in the real world.
If you’ve ever used a walky-talky, you know the sound it produces is a combination of information (the voice of the other person) and pops, squeaks and static, or noise. This noise finds its source, among other places, in the background radio signals of our planet, influenced by Earth’s magnetic fields, which are randomly intercepted by the antenna of the walky-talky and repeated through the speaker. The longer distance the communications, whether over radio or telephone wires, the more noise from the outside environment hurts the signal. As the engineers sought to improve long distance communications at minimum cost, they discovered certain properties about noise and signals.
One useful thing they discovered is that once a certain amount of noise finds its way into a signal, the information that remains is as useless to the recipient as the noise itself. Noise destroys information quickly and once scrambled, past a certain point it is impossible to put the information back together again. Another useful thing they discovered is that all language, all information and even all noise, really anything that can be observed, can be converted into what is called binary code, or a series of 1’s and 0’s. This is the basis of computers, which at their heart consist of a massive amount of 0’s and 1’s, which are recombined by the computer to make the music we listen to or the movies we watch. This binary language is simple, as it only has two letters, 0 and 1, so it takes a really long sequence to describe real world information. A single dot of color on your computer screen takes 32 bits, or 32 0’s and 1’s, to be described inside your computer. If that seems really wasteful, it is in a sense, but since computer memory is basically a huge number of switches, it can only remember that a certain bit is “on” or “off.” Computers are as powerful as they are because engineers have discovered how to very cheaply make billions and trillions of bits of computer memory, and have that take up a small space.
Since all signals and noise could be converted into essentially a simple sequence of numbers, this meant that any information, or noise, could be mathematically analyzed. The engineers and applied scientists at AT&T, the American Telegraph & Telephone Company, discovered that they could do a calculation and determine the likelihood that a sequence of 1’s and 0’s was actually information or just noise. In most cases, with enough of a sample, they could determine this to a very high degree of confidence. Just the sentence I am writing at this very moment would likely have a 99.9999+% probability of being actual information as opposed to random noise. Similarly, five seconds of radio static could be determined to be random, information-free noise to the same degree of confidence.
The relevance of information theory to evolution is that we have never observed, in a huge sample of observation, any natural process produce information. Information is always produced by minds and no one has demonstrated that the complexities of life, which largely require the creation of information, can emerge from a mindless process. As an example, consider the simple language of a humble bee, as it dances to communicate information about the location of flowers to its sisters. This language is fairly well understood by biologists, and can be written as a code that can then be digitized, or turned into zeroes and ones, and analyzed. The language of bees is relatively simple by human standards, but the mathematics of information theory would reveal that they are non-random and contain real information. If we similarly digitized radio static, as mentioned above, resulting from non-living mindless natural processes, we could again determine with mathematical certainty that this was truly noise and did not contain information. We have literally never observed information being generated by a non-living source.
As I mentioned before, I do think evolution is extremely useful as a concept, in its proper place, and does not conflict with Scripture. I distinguish between information-winnowing evolution and information-growing evolution. The terms are loaded in the evolution debate, but it’s convenient to say macroevolution for those changes that claim that non-living and mindless processes can create information, and microevolution for those processes that reduce information. The latter concept explains that a finch may reduce or modify its beak through natural selection, or that a wolf may be bred into a chihuahua. What evolution cannot do is turn a dog into a zebra or a bird into a rabbit, since to do so would require mindless processes to create new information. I would also argue, but not as strongly, that all processes of evolution that actually happen are information destroying, in that we may reduce a wolf to a chihuahua, be we cannot turn the chihuahua back into a wolf.
Macroevolution holds that life has an entirely material origin. It holds that something as complex as a cell, a miniature chemical factory, could emerge from non-living sources. This means it claims something that has never been observed, which is the creation of information from something mindless. Macroevolution further claims that the most complex object in the known universe, the human brain, is the result of mindless processes. I do realize that very intelligent scientists disagree with me on this, but my intuition tells me that is impossible. And without the ability to observe it, I cannot overcome my intuition.
This is not to say that true Christians cannot believe in macroevolution. Some Christian theistic evolutionists hold to a view that God guided evolution, as a means of Creation, either guiding it through small acts of improbable mutations or else somehow embedding the capacity for macroevolution into the laws of physics which we admittedly do not yet completely understand. This is, in my view, legitimate theologically, though a weaker interpretation in my view of Scripture. It is also not a materialistic view of life, since it presupposes that God would need to intervene to create the very unlikely mutations necessary to bring about new species. In this way, theistic evolution is a type of Creationism, because God is still necessary. However, having studied theistic evolution and its claims, and the counterclaims of the Intelligent Design and information theory apologists, I conclude that the latter is more likely to have it right.
Specifically, if we look at the archeological record, the Cambrian Explosion created so many new groups of animals that the mathematics of those appearing in a relatively short period due to random mutations and natural selection is pretty much nil. The Cambrian Explosion was an event in the fossil record that occurred over 25 million years, which is pretty small, comprising less than 1% of the total time that life has existed on the Earth, according to scientific estimates. Now many Christians who I respect would disagree with the presupposition that the Earth could be billions of years old, but the important point here is that even if the Earth is that old, it still would not be nearly enough time to produce the complexities of life by random chance. The Cambrian Explosion narrows the range further, as it has a huge number of different, brand new types of organisms emerging in this relatively tiny period of time. This has been a problem in the fossil record for evolution, and was noted by Darwin, who assumed that future geological discoveries would find evidence showing that the Explosion was actually not an explosion, but had gone on for a much longer time. Unfortunately for evolutionists, the geological record discovered since Darwin’s time has not changed appreciably the significance of the Cambrian event. New theories have been proposed to deal with the difficulty, but scientists continue to disagree on how the event happened, indicating no one has yet come up with a good enough explanation.
Honest macroevolutionists acknowledge these problems, but mostly privately, not wanting to give political talking points to Creationists. As a result, high school and introductory college biology books still present an antiquated view of evolutionary theory, without an honest presentation of the conceptual gaps of how it actually happened, admitted by biologists themselves. These evolutionists are diligently working to modify and correct Darwinian theory to account for some of the logistical problems encountered by classical Darwinism. They have faith that a material explanation will be found, but their “Darwin of the gaps” mental model is more faith-based than the Christian who accepts that Creation had to involve supernatural acts by a supernatural mind based on evidence in nature.
The idea that life could happen without God may be taken at face value by some people because of common human errors when thinking about big numbers. For example, if I asked about the odds of a fair coin coming up heads 10,000 times in a row, many people would just assume that the odds would be something like 10,000 to 1. The actual odds are so tiny as to be practically zero. To illustrate, if we flipped a coin once per second for 5 billion years, we would still have a practically zero chance of coming across 10,000 heads in a row. The actual number is a decimal with approximately 3,000 zeroes followed by a 5. The number is so small we don’t even have a name for it. It just wouldn’t happen. Yet many of the things that had to happen for life to happen accidentally are much more improbable than 10,000 sequential coin tosses.
Two explanations offered by respected scientists for the improbable origin of life demonstrate how big of a problem this is for the materialist view. One is that of panspermia – serious scientists propose that space aliens must have “seeded” the Earth with life, the probability of it happening is so low naturally. Of course, this is no solution at all, as then we have to ask about the origins of the aliens. The second one, more common, is this idea of the multiverse. Physicists have proposed that all possible universes exist, so that every time anything happens, like the flip of a coin, the universe splits in two, where one comes up heads and one comes up tails. The idea is that if we have infinite universes, there would eventually be one that created life, and eventually intelligent life, at random. And since God can’t be real, we must just happen to live in the one where all of this happened. Note that both of these theories are not really science, because they cannot be tested. We cannot observe whether aliens seeded the Earth, and the existence of another universe is by definition unknowable. That these ideas are respected among scientists shows how tenuous the position of a material origin for life really is.
I have taken an extended rabbit trail on this issue, getting into some apologetics, because I want to make myself clear when we get into the impact of Darwinism on Western thought, especially in comparison to the Enlightenment, and Christian overreactions to Darwinism. I do not believe in macroevolution, and I do not think you should either. I’ll say one more thing apologetics-wise before returning to my primary argument.
This book you’re reading represents information. As I write, information in my mind is being typed by my fingers into the computer, where it is stored in computer memory. We know this book is real, but what is the information contained in this book? Is it the paper or computer screen you are reading? Is it in my mind? We all know that a copy of a book is not the book itself, just like a recording of a song is not the song itself. In other words, information represents something we work with every day that is essentially non-material. It is always stored materially, but it is not itself material. It exists independent of yet dependent on the material world for its existence. The existence of information shows that we cannot live in a world that consists only of atoms, unless we admit that information is itself an illusion. Yet since the idea that information is an illusion is also information, we self-contradict. If all knowledge is information and all information is an illusion, then the very statement we just made is itself an illusion, and unprovable. Denying the non-material nature of information denies the highest reality we know, as everything we experience consists of information present in the mind. If we believe the universe is completely material, we cannot reason to that position unless we “borrow” the concept of a non-material universe, the validity of logic and reasoning, from Christianity or another faith.
Let us remember that the Enlightenment produced some good results in science, and some bad results in social theory. Out of whole cloth, Enlightenment theorists claimed that men were equal, and naturally good, that any differences between people were the result of environment, an environment that could be controlled and improved. Inequality was evidence of exploitation and so the government should work to prevent inequality and human conflict would be vastly decreased.
Darwinism, while over extending itself, in my view, to account for the entire origin of life, corrected much of the social thinking of the Enlightenment. The Biblical view of man is that he is fallen, with a dual nature capable of recognizing some good but ultimately in need of divine intervention. The Enlightenment said man was an angel, only corrupted by society, the Church, guilt, inequality and lack of education. Darwinism said man was an animal, nothing more and nothing less. The true, Christian view is frankly closer to the Darwinian view than the Enlightenment view. As an approximate illustration:
Two things propelled Darwinism’s advance in the late 1800’s. First, it was demonstrably more true than Enlightenment views. Man was selfish and much of the world looked like a brute struggle for survival. Second, it was attractive to conservatives. For years, conservatives, who at this time were loyal to King and Church, throne and altar, were mocked by Enlightenment types for their beliefs in religious superstition. The Enlightenment was mostly successful in its push for secularism, for a number of reasons. The great advances in science had eliminated many superstitions, that is, false supernatural beliefs. An error many fell into was to assume that because many superstitious supernatural beliefs were demonstrably false, it therefore followed that all supernatural beliefs, including the core doctrines of the Christian faith, might be false as well. Conservatives began to have their doubts as well, especially at the top of society where scientific advances were held in high esteem. The memory of the great religious wars of Europe also played a role, as the generation following, beginning around 1700, looked back in sickness at the death and destruction that occurred over religious arguments. Conservatives embraced secularism, among the elite, even if they remained skeptical of the radical equality claims of the rest of the Enlightenment.
In Darwinism, conservatives found a scientific validation for many of their instincts against the Enlightenment that did not require them to be embarrassed about or believe in Biblical revelation. Against calls for equality, the conservative could rely on the Darwinian view that inequality is a part of nature, whether between the sexes or among groups of men. Natural selection, popularized as “Survival of the Fittest,” provided a scientific validation for the “Great Chain of Being,” and that stifling competition and imposing artificial equality would only encourage those less fit to reproduce. A new conservative doctrine of “Social Darwinism” arose to justify both the inequality and advances associated with capitalism and the final phases of the Industrial Revolution. Only by tolerating inequality, and allowing outsized rewards to innovators, could talented men be motivated to serve the larger population with technological advances like petroleum, railroads and the telephone.
This era was known as “The Gilded Age” and there is a stereotype of greedy Social Darwinists hoarding great fortunes while the masses lived in poverty. This is an unfair picture of the period, because even with the greatest monopolies known to man, the tycoons of this age were only able to capture a tiny amount of the value they produced. Yes, the Rockefellers were rich, but the value they produced for society, through cheap energy and its distribution, vastly exceeded what they kept for themselves. The stereotypes of the “robber barons,” as they were later called, are unfair as well. Far from being amoral, greedy, pure Darwinists, Rockefeller and others gave a large portion of their earned fortunes away. Many of them, like Rockefeller, were deeply religious and frugal men who explicitly saw their business activities as a calling from God.
So all in all, the immediate social effects of Darwinism were good, in the sense that it temporarily gave conservatives confidence against the demands of Enlightenment thinkers, especially the more dangerous beliefs of Marxism and Communism. Most men of this period retained some degree of Christian belief, even if much of their orthodoxy was eroded by doubts driven by the cumulative effects of secularism, scientific advance and Darwinism.
The problem, however, was that this seed of doubt in the supernatural, and the belief that man was nothing more than a brute animal, continued to grow. Men may continue for a while in an old belief, or at least the outward forms of that belief, like church attendance, but eventually ideas lead to actions. In the late 19th century, the German philosopher Nietzsche took macroevolutionary ideas to their logical consequence: if natural causes could explain the origin of life, no God was necessary. He famously said, “God is dead,” not so much as a declaration of belief, though he was an atheist, but a declaration of fact that, among the elite in Europe at the time, belief in God, especially the personal God as revealed in the Bible, was nearly gone. Nietzsche advanced and predicted a coming worldview that saw man as merely a “mechanical animal,” locked in a brutal struggle for existence against other groups of men and nature itself. Christianity and other belief systems that called for charity to the poor, or measured aggression only under threat, he derided as “slave moralities” that degraded the more noble and natural motives of man, which he saw as the “will to power.” He believed man had a natural drive to dominate and slave moralities like Christianity were simply propaganda used by the weak to prevent the strong from reaching their full potential.
Nietzsche’s philosophy was called “nihilism,” that is, a belief in nothing. To Nietzsche, man was a meaningless animal, an accidental collection of atoms. To the extent man could have meaning, he would have to invent it himself, to use his force of will to choose and impose his own morality upon the world. Of course, this morality would be ultimately meaningless, but Nietzsche believed man’s highest act was to stoically impose some sort of order on the meaningless world through pure force of will. It was all man could do, to accept the ugliness of his meaningless existence, and impose his will, while he could, while he existed.
If nihilism sounds like a depressing way of thinking, I’d agree with you. Nietzsche himself died in a mental institution. Yet, in a way, Nietzsche brought materialism to its rational conclusion. If man was nothing more than an animal, then morality is an illusion. The philosophy of Darwinism, which had energized conservatives at first, would eventually demoralize them. Nietzsche had predicted the carnage of the First World War, and the leaders of that war were partially influenced by this philosophy that man was merely an animal. Technological change had made it easier than ever for men to kill each other just at the moment that all moral codes were abdicated. After the war, many people in the West were demoralized, and cited the great horror of the war as a reason that God could not exist.
So while microevolution is undoubtedly true and useful, macroevolution, in saying that God did not create life and may not exist, demoralized those who believed in it. If we think about it, man either has a spiritual component or he does not. If man does have a spiritual component, yet believes and adopts a philosophy contrary to that truth, then he will find it demoralizing, for his own experience will contradict his belief. Conservatives after World War I were a uniformly pessimistic and nihilistic group. They advocated tradition for hollow utilitarian ends without really believing in it. Even today, the most consistent macroevolutionists are conservatives, who now acknowledge that religion, far from being harmful, is helpful as a survival mechanism. They have painted themselves into a corner, where they know we need religious faith to restore our civilization, yet the fundamental beliefs leading them to that conclusion preclude any sort of supernatural faith.
Macroevolution and materialism can then be seen as a false philosophical extension of Darwin’s legitimate scientific observations. Darwin’s theory explained much about life and was a more accurate description of man’s nature than the Enlightenment, but it went too far in characterizing man as purely animal. This view would not be stomached long, and so the net effect of the brief ascent of philosophical Darwinism was a reaction against it. This happened after the horror of both World War I and II. Man simply could not live with nihilism. As Nietzsche had famously said, “when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.”
There were two academic movements that came about to push back on the Darwinian view of man and re-advance and strengthen the Enlightenment view right around 1900. The first was that of Boasian anthropology, led by Jewish scientist Franz Boas of Columbia University. Until Boas, anthropologists, who study man, had focused on applying Darwin’s theories to the observed differences between groups of people. All of their observations, it should be noted, were based on the legitimate microevolutionary part of Darwin’s theories. Boas, however, was a dedicated liberal and took to falsifying data showing that immigrants to America somehow developed larger skulls after immigrating to the country. The implication, of course, is that intelligence and brain size has nothing to do with genetics but to do with environment. Immigrants grew larger brains, Boas reported, when they came to the better environment of the United States.
Boas and his disciples were absolutely committed to an ideal of human equality and essentially drove the naturalists and conservatives out of the profession. Any explanation that contradicted their insistence on absolute human equality was rejected out-of-hand. Instead, Boas insisted that cultural differences and environment explained all differences among people, with genetics playing only a superficial role. Because Boas only believed evidence that supported his theories, and ruthlessly suppressed all opposition, he was functionally a pseudoscientist.
Boas, then, resurrected Enlightenment thinking in regards to man’s physical nature. Sigmund Freud, in his own way, resurrected it in view of man’s spiritual nature. Freud was a Jewish-Austrian psychologist who, like Boas, came up with his own pseudoscience called psychoanalysis. I’m going to have to be rather uncouth to describe Freud, but his work is important to know in its particulars.
Freud was basically obsessed with sex and assumed everyone else was too. He posited that pre-pubescent children were sexual creatures secretly attracted to their parents, and that most human problems were the result of sexual repression. Men, he claimed, really wanted to kill their fathers and have sex with their mothers. Christian sexual morals, in particular, he derided as causing unnecessary guilt and a host of psychological problems in the Christian population. Freud essentially restated the Enlightenment theories of man as perfectible, but with the added twist that sexual morality and Christianity specifically were to blame for people’s problems, whether lack of self-control, violence or psychological delusions. The implication of Freud’s view, something the original Enlightenment theorists would have been afraid to publicly advance, is that man could be perfected if only the repressive guilt of Christianity were removed from society and children raised without any sexual restraint.
While all of this was going on, Christians, especially American Christians, began accepting certain Enlightenment doctrines. They embraced a modified theory of man’s perfectibility, that man’s problems could be eliminated by the spread of the gospel. Now, this is true to a certain degree, as the Holy Spirit sanctifies people. But the reaction against Darwinism among Christians also included embracing Enlightenment doctrines of equality. In this way, most Christians joined what I call the new humanitarian consensus on human nature.
The secular world had become tired of the materialist view of man as too depressing, even if it was more accurate than the perfectible view of man. So the view that came about was to accept Darwinism as applying to animals, but to exclude it when applied to humans. Humans were declared, contrary to evidence, to be perfectly equal in ability except for cosmetic differences. This rehabilitation of the Enlightenment view actually strengthened it. Darwinism had finished off, among the elite, any real belief in the God of the Bible. Now that they rejected the Darwinist view of man as an incorrigible animal but kept Darwinist atheism, they could embrace Enlightenment views of man without the hassle of its contradicting the Bible. Following in this wake was Freud, with his prescription that Christianity in particular was to blame for people’s psychological problems, due to sexual repression. The secular world had everything it could want: freedom from Biblical moral codes, especially surrounding sex, and a new faith that scientists could find ways to improve man’s environment and perfect him.
Christians of course rejected the atheistic and amoral parts of this new consensus, but they accepted the basic equality of man. After World War II especially, it became very unfashionable, due to the actions of Nazi Germany, to believe in any kind of human differences. Jews, persecuted by the Nazis, had enormous influence outside of Nazi Germany and used this influence to ensure that such a thing would happen “never again.”
The Jewish diagnosis of what happened in Nazi Germany was led by a set of theorists known as the Cultural Marxists, and typical of Jewish social science movements, its adherents were highly pseudoscientific, relying on the charisma and authority of movement leaders, and just-so explanations of contrary evidence, sometimes including, like Boas, outright falsification of data, to achieve a predetermined conclusion. This group has the most direct influence on the anti-Christian culture we see today. Combining elements of Marx, Boas, and Freud, and mostly based at the University of Frankfurt in Weimar Germany, they explained the failure of Marxism as not anything fundamentally lacking in Marxism itself, but rather the Christianity’s power to instill a “false consciousness” in the working class. A major intellectual force in Germany that supported the degeneracy of the Weimar era, including open child pornography and prostitution, the “Frankfurt School” were forced to flee to America when Hitler came to power, finding a new home at Columbia University in New York City.
The Cultural Marxists decried in pseudoscientific studies like The Authoritarian Personality that Christian religious belief, traditional sexual mores and the nuclear family, particularly respect for fathers, were incubators of fascism. That the Christian American family, and particularly American men, had been the best friend of the Jewish people, defeating Nazism, supporting the founding of and defense of Israel, and providing the scholars of the Frankfurt School themselves with asylum, was of no importance. Americans were, in their view, the same banally evil, dangerous potential Nazis as the Germans, and only the destruction of the nuclear family could prevent Jewish persecution in the future. Their chutzpah and ingratitude knew no bounds.
To the Cultural Marxists, irrational religious beliefs, attendant sexual repression, and respect for authority prevented the economically exploited from rising up and violently overthrowing their exploiters as Marxist theory demanded. Thus, they concluded, an intermediate phase of Marxism was necessary that would focus on the culture in order to destroy Christianity and the Christian family. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Cultural Marxism is the most common form of Marxism encountered in the world today. It is the source of the “blue pill” way of thinking.
The secular world you live in today of course rejects Christian principles, but also any kind of standard. Men can marry men, or pretend to be women and the only thing that anyone judges is anyone who lacks tolerance. However, an unfortunate effect of Cultural Marxism is how it has influenced many of the churches and many Christians themselves.
The Church has broadly narrowed its focus to the mechanics of salvation only, and largely neglected its broader mission to be salt and light in the world. Like their secular counterparts, pastors live in fear of the hostile media, and because of the inherently political nature of their jobs, cannot rock the boat very much. One defamatory newspaper story could put most pastors out of a job, so timid and cowardly are most of the Christians who attend their congregations.
Thus, the responsible Christian who wants to know the broader truth, and influence the culture in a comprehensive Kingdom way, must seek out this knowledge for themselves. These writings, of which this is the first, is my attempt to do so for you.