Intelligent Design

Coyne Brings Us The Conceptual Underpinnings of Fascism

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Jerry Coyne believes in “science-based determinism” and denies the existence of libertarian free will.  Over at his blog he assures us that he is nevertheless in favor of altering the behavior of other beings (whether dogs or people) through “environmental factors” such as kicks or arguments.

He starts off in his OP:

you can alter the behavior of a dog by kicking it when it does something you don’t like. (I am NOT recommending this!). After a while the dog, whose onboard computer gets reprogrammed to anticipate pain, will no longer engage in the unwanted behavior.

Later in a comment he writes:

Reason is no different from a kick: it’s words that people can take on board to see if doing what the words say gives a result that’s adaptive–that they like. For some reason you think that a kick (which tells a dog what to expect if you do X) is somehow different from a “reason” (which tells people what you think will happen if they do X).

Coyne is absolutely correct given materialist premises.  If objective transcendent morality does not exist (and materialism necessarily entails that it does not), reason really is no different, morally speaking, from a kick.  They are both morally meaningless.

Therefore, if reasoning with a person does not work, why not kick him?  Or put him in the Gulag.  Or stand him up against a wall.  After all, if getting what one “likes” is all that matters,” as Coyne implies, you have to crack a few eggs to get the omelet you like.

Notice also Coyne’s hypocrisy.  In all caps and with an exclamation point he says he is not recommending kicking your dog.  Then he says reasoning is no different from a kick.  And he even reproduces with approval a cartoon from a fascist who goes by “Pliny the in between” of someone conditioning another person to stop arguing for free will by kicking them in the groin.  Well, Jerry, which is it?  If one form of environmental conditioning (kicking) is morally equivalent to another form of environmental conditioning (reasoning), why not use the form that is most effective, meaning most likely to produce the results Coyne subjectively prefers?

One suspects that Coyne would answer that question by professing that I’ve misunderstood him; that he is making a point through hyperbole; that he would never endorse the kicking method of environmental conditioning, because that would be immoral (as if the word “moral” has an objective meaning).  Yet we all know that when it comes to ethics Coyne is a consequentialist.  And nothing is off limits for a consequentialist so long as he can convince himself that he is advancing the “greater good.”  For Coyne, if kicking a few humans would bring about utopia, then kicking them — far from being wrong — is an affirmatively good thing.  On such reasoning Gulags are built.

And that, dear readers, is the ethical underpinning of the “brutality for the greater good” that characterizes all fascist regimes.

12 Replies to “Coyne Brings Us The Conceptual Underpinnings of Fascism

  1. 1
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Spot on, Barry!

    A flawed anthropology is behind the tyrannies of Western “civilization,” including the current mish-mash of atheism, communism, socialism, cultural Marxism, environmentalism and the sexual revolution that so clearly characterizes the Left.

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    Well, gee. You simply REFUSE to understand ANYTHING about real Fascism. You’re sold on the Hollywood version, which never existed, except perhaps in Moscow. Actual Fascism is a form of Socialism in which individuals are allowed to own businesses but every business is required to be a member of a cartel/syndicate. And production for each cartel is assigned by the government. In the same way, all workers are required to be members of a union, but all unions are branches of the political party that runs the government.

    Throughout CIVILIZED history (i.e., the period when humans began living in permanent cities) there have been any number of truly brutal forms of government that enforced controls on the actions and thoughts of of their citizens. The general term for these governments is “despotism”, since the chief honcho, or “despot”, is in complete control. Legally, the despot OWNS EVERYTHING, including every inch of ground, every building regardless of who raised it, and every single person (people not being substantially different from cattle or chickens). So no subject of a despot would find being sold as a slave to a foreigner unusual.

    But if the spin you’re looking for is along the lines of Brainwashing, what you mean is COMMUNIST not Fascist. The Communists invented brainwashing, and Mao was by far the world’s expert in its theory and practice. There were of course always individuals who “failed” brainwashing, but they were simply dragged out and shot. Communists are very practical about these things.

  3. 3
    soundburger says:

    I am less concerned about the totalitarian implications of Coyne’s argument (though it is implicit whether he attempts to deny it or not) than with how utterly self refuting it is. So much so that I am astounded that Coyne himself cannot see it.

    Let’s begin with one of the definitions of ‘reason’, from MW: the power of the mind to think and understand in a logical way’

    Does it not occur to Coyne that decisions, i.e. choices, take place all along the path of a person learning to think and understand in a logical way, and then further, to exercise this skill when deciding what is best for oneself or society?

    If he wishes to argue that all of that decision making is actually an illusion, because it was determined to happen no differently than billiard balls being set in motion, then his argument posted above falls through entirely. There IS no reason. A reasoned argument is in no way different than a nonsense statement like ’twas Brilling and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe’. There would be no ‘me’ to create it, no ‘you’ to try to understand it, and no ‘we’ to decide if we agree that it can help us grow as a society. It would have simply popped into existence just as ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ or Plato’s discourses on usury. Nothing to consider, because no one to do the considering. Just events up and down the line.

    He ultimately will need to argue less that reason is a tool than he will that it is an illusion, to the exact same degree that free will is, to his way of thinking. To accept an argument, or to reject it, I use free will. To create said argument, to choose not to create it, to modify it in some way, to refine and enhance it and bolster it, I use free will. If free will is an illusion, so is reason. Twas Brillig.

    Does Coyne believe this? Of course he doesn’t. He just won’t think it through to the point of accepting that his arguments are hogwash.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Apparently, Coyne thinks that he is exempt from his own method of persuasion. I think we ought to apply Coyne’s method of persuasion to Coyne himself. Every time he denies he has free will someone ought to kick him in the groin. 🙂

    Atheism/Evolution PUT TO THE TEST – “Cruel Logic” Short Film
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY9Z5LRkjkk

    of related note: Besides denying free will, Coyne also denies that he really exists as a real person. He holds that his sense of self is merely a neuronal illusion. Therefore, since he does not really exist and is merely just matter in motion, kicking him in the groin is not any different, morally, from crushing a rock into pieces. Both actions are morally equivalent.

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne – 2015

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – Ross Douthat – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession (by Coyne) that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.) Prometheus cannot be at once unbound and unreal; the human will cannot be simultaneously triumphant and imaginary.
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    Moreover, Coyne’s claim that we are deterministic automatons is refuted by, among other evidences, evidence from quantum mechanics.

    In the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is directly falsified by the fact that present conscious choices effect past material states:

    “If we attempt to attribute an objective meaning to the quantum state of a single system, curious paradoxes appear: quantum effects mimic not only instantaneous action-at-a-distance but also, as seen here, influence of future actions on past events, even after these events have been irrevocably recorded.”
    Asher Peres, Delayed choice for entanglement swapping. J. Mod. Opt. 47, 139-143 (2000).

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    You can see a little better explanation of the “delayed-choice entanglement swapping” experiment at the 9:11 minute mark of the following video:

    Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser Experiment Explained – 2014 video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6HLjpj4Nt4

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever ‘random’ state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my present choices on how to measure a particle instantaneously effecting the state of other material particles in the past? This experiment is simply impossible for any coherent materialistic presupposition that holds that my current thoughts are merely the result of whatever state the particles of my brain happened to be in in the past!

    Moreover, due to these advances in quantum mechanics, the materialist is now forced to claim that our free will choices, instead of being determined by the random jostling of the material particles in our brain, as atheists had originally claimed, is now forced to claim that our free will choices were somehow ‘superdetermined’ all the way back at the Big Bang:

    But why is the quantum world thought spooky anyway? – September 1, 2015
    Excerpt: Zeilinger also notes that there remains one last, somewhat philosophical loophole, first identified by Bell himself: the possibility that hidden variables could somehow manipulate the experimenters’ choices of what properties to measure, tricking them into thinking quantum theory is correct.,,,
    Leifer is less troubled by this ‘freedom-of-choice loophole’, however. “It could be that there is some kind of superdeterminism, so that the choice of measurement settings was determined at the Big Bang,” he says. “We can never prove that is not the case, so I think it’s fair to say that most physicists don’t worry too much about this.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ky-anyway/

    Moreover, if you truly believe that your free will choices were ‘superdetermined’ all the way back at the big bang, then I say welcome to Christianity since strict Calvinists have, for centuries, held to a ‘superdeterminism’ view of reality.

    Here is an excellent sermon by Tim Keller that gets the Calvinist’s ‘God is omniscient we are not’ position across very well.

    Does God Control Everything? – Tim Keller – (God’s sovereignty, evil, and our free will, how do they mesh? Short answer? God’s Omniscience!) – video (12:00 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/MDbKCZodtZI?t=727

    Of personal note, although, because of my high view of God’s sovereignty, I lean heavily towards Calvinism, for the most part, being true, none-the-less, because of ‘personal responsibility’ side of the debate, I hold that some amount of personal free will has to be in play. Especially in regards to personally accepting or rejecting Christ.

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    Of related note: At around the 15:00 – 17:00 minute mark of the following Near Death Experience testimony, Dr. Mary Neal spoke about how she, when in the presence of God, and from being able to see things from that much higher ‘omniscient’ perspective, finally understood why God allows evil in the world (i.e. she finally ‘got it’) and understood how our limited perspective on ‘evil’ severely clouds our judgement and our reactions to ‘evil’ tragedies in our lives.

    Dr. Mary Neal’s Near-Death Experience – (Life review portion starts at the 13:00 minute mark) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHXW1erHMtg

    Verse and video:

    I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.”
    –Deuteronomy 30: 19-20

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video (reworked May 2016 – following two videos referenced in it)
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/1193118270701104/

  5. 5
    Borne says:

    Coyne is always amusing.

    “Jerry Coyne believes in “science-based determinism” ”

    That’s only because he thinks he’s a scientist. 😉

  6. 6
    Borne says:

    “If objective transcendent morality does not exist (and materialism necessarily entails that it does not), reason really is no different, morally speaking, from a kick. They are both morally meaningless.”

    This is true but needs to go a step further. Rationality itself isn’t just morally meaningless under materialism, it is virtually non-existent as anything beyond yet another evolutionary illusion.

    If free will is an illusion, as Harris, Hood et al preach it on their TV evangelist spots and in their robotically programmed books, then real rationality cannot exist any more than real morality can exist.

    Morality is the ability to freely choose between morally relative actions. No free choice = no morality is possible.
    There is not a judge on earth that would condemn a person for doing what they had no real choice but to do.

    “The time has come to take seriously the fact that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent God on the Sixth Day … We must think again especially about our so-called ‘ethical principles.’ … As evolutionists, we see that no (ethical) justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence, the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will … In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding … Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. Once it is grasped, everything falls into place.” (Michael Ruse and E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics” in Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement by James Edward Huchingson, (Harcourt Brace, 1993).)

    Rationality is the ability to freely choose between conceptual alternatives.
    No free will equals your neurons navigate more towards one than another.
    Computers are not rational. Nor can they be. Since free will is required for rationality just as much as for morality.

    Ergo, the atheists in all their nutty ranting over their own pretensions to rationality have shot themselves in the head very squarely. Their rationality is no less illusory than their illusory morality.

    So I’m surprised this point isn’t used far more in the discussions with them. It’s a MAJOR point against materialism. It is in fact a fatal blow to atheism.
    If materialism is true and we are nothing but “bags of chemicals” (A. Cashmore et al.) and therefore have no more free will than a “bowl of sugar”, then rationality is an illusion.

    So what’s the point of arguing over anything? None.

    Thankfully we know that since materialism is a major contradiction to everything including itself, and therefore there is a God, we can also know that humans have a true, generally reliable rational faculty; no matter it’s flaws based on ignorance, selfish motives skewering the logic or simple poor understanding.

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    ‘Science-based determinism’…. Hilarious ! He’s into scientism of course.. Meccano and Lego.

    Determinism based on the paradigm of ‘thinking by numbers’. How about that !?! Where’s my paint-book by numbers ? I’m a gonna paint me some determinism by numbers ! And then maybe ah kcin try painting some voluntarism by numbers, though that could be a mite harder

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Yes, it is about choices, isn’t it ? The heart, the seat of wisdom and the will – not the head. ‘The devils also believe and tremble.’ Nobody will get to heaven on the strength of his ‘smarts’, his worldly analytical intelligence.

    In the end, it will all come down to not what we believe, or its accuracy, but to what we want to believe, our cherishing of the love we receive from God in all its forms and our reciprocation of it, and our love of spiritual and moral beauty.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, There is a reason we are cautioned about how easily self-referential statements can become self-refuting, like a snake attacking and swallowing itself tail-first. Any human scheme of thought that undermines responsible [thus, morally governed] rational freedom undermines itself fatally. Coyne has here provided yet another inadvertent, inherent self-falsification of evolutionary materialism. But, “inadvertent” counts: it can be hard to recognise and acknowledge the logically fatal nature of the result. Of course, that subjective challenge does not change the objective result: self-referential incoherence and irretrievable self-falsification. KF

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    You just have to love his short-term thinking.

    Me, I’d want to change the behavior of their offspring.

    The atheist way is to deny them any offspring at all.

    You go Jerry.

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    I wonder if Coyne is recommending that you reason with your dog.

  12. 12
    mike1962 says:

    Once it is grasped, everything falls into place.” (Michael Ruse and E. O.)

    Then I can just murder (you), without worrying about that pesky “moral” conscience, to get what I want.

    Yippie!

    Thanks for the clarification.

    If there’s no real reason not to murder, don’t be surprised if I murder you.

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