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How Progressive Gnosticism Leads to Liberal Fascism


Peter M. Burfeind writes:

According to the various social theories—all claiming to be scientific—it is an ironclad law that to be human is to have all your thought and thinking inescapably determined by whatever structures you’re born in. A Cretan can’t stop being a Cretan any more than an apple can stop being pulled to the earth by gravity. At least that’s the pretense of the sociologist (who fantasizes he’s doing science, but that’s another story.) The only escape exists in something transcending the physical nature of the subject, something outside its earthy, physical nature. Thus, if you wished to escape your human-ness, you’d have to be supra- or trans-human.

This was the exact position of the Gnostics. A Gnostic believes our flesh imprisons us in various fleshly designations—our place in space and time; our sex; our family and culture; our race and country, the language we grow up with. An elite few, however, are able to escape the tyranny of flesh and its various institutions and systems. They are able to see things purely, free of the various constructs established by life in a physical world.

This sets up, in effect, a radically binary world. Where the non-Gnostic (traditionalist) understanding of human thought invites a host of thinkers to discuss and strive for objective truth—yielding a form of federalism that when working best begets humility, tolerance, and curiosity as each deals with other seekers of the truth (i.e., what a university education used to be)—the Gnostic says all these posers are blinded by social forces they don’t perceive or understand. They’re all just on power quests, one blind thinker imprisoned by social forces leading another, all living the delusion they are pursuing the truth.

But he, the Gnostic, is not blind. Coupled with evolutionary thinking, the Gnostic is one who has “progressed” to the next age, who is on the right side of History, who is on the verge of trans-humanism, and who is charged with shepherding us benighted folk into the bright future. The program can’t be federal—a bunch of blind idiots leading other blind idiots in random circles. It must be universal, the enlightened leading the benighted out of systemic darkness into systemic light.

This is, needless to say, terrifying, because it dabbles in the idea that those not properly advanced in their thinking are of a lesser species, stifling the progress of the earth. And we’ve seen where that idea has led before. Sieg Heil!

@ your #22, Upright Biped re jdk's #8, in response to asauber's #7 ! : 'The idea that you need merely say “I don’t want to talk about it” is nothing less than horse poo.' Likewise, ' .... way too far off topic for this thread..." JDK, we are not pedants, still less, or martinets, here. Truth is more important than following 'tram lines'. Why don't you enlighten us now, rather than wait for a 'suitable' thread. Axel
jdk @ 37 you state:
'I’ve thought' a great deal about all these issues and examined a lot of evidence:
First off, there is no 'I' to do any thinking within atheistic naturalism. In fact, in what 'I', a Theist, consider a shining example of poetic justice, in atheists denying the reality of God as a real person, atheists end up denying that they themselves really exist as a real person.
"What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.”" Jerry Coyne 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.com/2014/01/06/the-confidence-of-jerry-coyne/?_r=0 "that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.” Francis Crick - "The Astonishing Hypothesis" 1994 "The neural circuits in our brain manage the beautifully coordinated and smoothly appropriate behavior of our body. They also produce the entrancing introspective illusion that thoughts really are about stuff in the world. This powerful illusion has been with humanity since language kicked in, as we’ll see. It is the source of at least two other profound myths: that we have purposes that give our actions and lives meaning and that there is a person “in there” steering the body, so to speak." [A.Rosenberg, The Atheist's Guide To Reality, Ch.9] "There is no self in, around, or as part of anyone’s body. There can’t be. So there really isn’t any enduring self that ever could wake up morning after morning worrying about why it should bother getting out of bed. The self is just another illusion, like the illusion that thought is about stuff or that we carry around plans and purposes that give meaning to what our body does." - A.Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, ch.10
In other words, under atheistic naturalism, the lights are on but nobody is home!
"Hawking’s entire argument is built upon theism. He is, as Cornelius Van Til put it, like the child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face. Take that part about the “human mind” for example. Under atheism there is no such thing as a mind. There is no such thing as understanding and no such thing as truth. All (Stephen) Hawking is left with is a box, called a skull, which contains a bunch of molecules. Hawking needs God in order to deny Him." - Cornelius Hunter – Photo – an atheist contemplating his mind http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H-kjiGN_9Fw/URkPboX5l2I/AAAAAAAAATw/yN18NZgMJ-4/s1600/rob4.jpg
Moreover, it is impossible for atheists to live as if their worldview were actually true, i.e. to live as if they did not really exist as real persons:
The Heretic - Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? - March 25, 2013 Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath. http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/heretic_707692.html?page=3
In the following article, Dawkins himself reluctantly admits that it would be 'intolerable' for him to live as if his atheistic worldview were actually true:
Who wrote Richard Dawkins's new book? - October 28, 2006 Excerpt: Dawkins: What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don't feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do.,,, Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views? Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable.,,, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/10/who_wrote_richard_dawkinss_new002783.html
In what should be needless to say, if it is impossible for you to live as if your worldview were actually true then your worldview cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but your worldview must instead be based on fantasy.
Existential Argument against Atheism - November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen 1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview. 2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview. 3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality. 4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion. 5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true. Conclusion: Atheism is false. http://answersforhope.com/existential-argument-atheism/
Secondly jdk, in your sentence that 'I', (a real person), highlighted, 'you', (a real person I grant for the sake of argument), stated that 'you' have "examined a lot of evidence". As others have noted, you always make these vague allusions to 'lots of evidence' for atheism but that you never seem to bother getting into any specifics of that 'lots of evidence'. Personally, I have been through 'lots of evidence' myself and cannot find any real time empirical evidence whatsoever to substantiate atheistic naturalism or the claims therein. Perhaps you would like to be the first on UD to present knock down experimental proof that your position is actually true? I'm not asking for much really. Just a single verified example of unguided material processes generating a code would suffice to knock ID out of the water and prove your atheistic position as reasonably feasible:
The Origin of Information: How to Solve It - Perry Marshall Where did the information in DNA come from? This is one of the most important and valuable questions in the history of science. Cosmic Fingerprints has issued a challenge to the scientific community: “Show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.” “Information” is defined as digital communication between an encoder and a decoder, using agreed upon symbols. To date, no one has shown an example of a naturally occurring encoding / decoding system, i.e. one that has demonstrably come into existence without a designer. A private equity investment group is offering a technology prize for this discovery (up to 3 million dollars). We will financially reward and publicize the first person who can solve this;,,, To solve this problem is far more than an object of abstract religious or philosophical discussion. It would demonstrate a mechanism for producing coding systems, thus opening up new channels of scientific discovery. Such a find would have sweeping implications for Artificial Intelligence research. http://cosmicfingerprints.com/solve/
The main point being, jdk, is that these people on UD, UprightBiped, kf, WJM, etc.. etc.., asking for you to get specific on your 'lots of evidence' claim are people who have been around this debate for years and are not just whistling Dixie when they want you to get specific in your evidential claims. They are people who know the ins and outs of the evidence like the back of their hands. And who are more than capable of refuting each and any piece of imagined evidence that you, an imaginary person, think that you have to support your atheistic worldview.
2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Pindi Surely if the one is permissable on the premise that; when two consenting adults love each other so the other would be also? It would be hypocritical to accept the one but not the other? Is that not so? What possible difference does it make wether its incest or homosexuality the common denominator is love. Andre
JDK, I don't really care regarding conservative ideology. We already know you are "not interested" in discussing the logic and science foundations of the design inference. Let us ask how your worldview foundations fare vs a 101 for ethical theism, starting with self-evident first principles of right reason and other plumbline considerations. Which, inter alia, include Josiah Royce's error exists. For to attempt denial implies inadvertent confirmation. Then, utterly certain and undeniably knowable truth exists. Therefore, any worldview that doubts utterly certainly knowable truth about the outside world fails decisively. Then, how said foundations fare vs say, a 101 grounding basis for the Christian gospel, noting the force of Greenleaf regarding evidence. Where, the truth of the gospel can be warranted to moral certainty, never mind common selectively hyperskeptical dismissals. KF kairosfocus
Mung says,
I suppose that the best way to live with uncertainty is to live a life that refuses to subject what one believes to any fact about the real world that might reveal that one believes things that are not true.
Nope. I've thought a great deal about all these issues and examined a lot of evidence: living with uncertainty is not the same as sticking your head in the sand or choosing to live in willful ignorance. But I feel pretty certain that lots of people believe things that are not true - for instance, religious beliefs that claim to know something about the metaphysical world, whatever it might be, are all false, in my opinion. I am willing to, and do, entertain some unprovable speculations as possibly true, but those range over a spectrum of possibilities, in my mind, from close to 0% to some bigger number, but nothing anywhere close to certainty. So living with uncertainty is a necessary accommodation to knowing the difference between what we can really know and the things that we make up stories about but can't really know. jdk
Cute, Mung, I guess, sort of. I abandoned (probably not the best word) Christianity and being conservative, as I'm sure you understood. jdk
Upright BiPed:
As I said, you hide from physical evidence while wrapping yourself in the flag of science and reason. It’s intellectually fraudulent. You avoid science and reason. It profits you to do so.
Yet jdk claims:
I accept as a fundamental principle Feynman’s statement (paraphrased) that I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true.
I suppose that the best way to live with uncertainty is to live a life that refuses to subject what one believes to any fact about the real world that might reveal that one believes things that are not true. Mung
ba-dum-tsss daveS
I, like many of you, was born into a traditional Christian family, in a conservative mid-west town. Through reading and thinking I came to abandon all that...
Well, I was not born into a traditional Christian family in a conservative mid-west town, so I cannot really understand how you came to deny that you were born into a traditional Christian family in a conservative mid-west town. How did your reading and thinking lead you to deny what you also admit as rather obvious facts? Mung
F/N: I should give a warning regarding delicate stomachs before reading Suetonius on Nero. KF kairosfocus
Pindi, transgressivity, defiance of, contempt for and dismissal of sound moral standards and norms. (Note Plato's warning, here, from 2350 years ago. Ponder also Rom 1 with Nero as transgressor in chief per relevant chapter of Lives of the Caesars.) KF kairosfocus
Andre @20 What is the connection between homosexuality and incest? Pindi
Since science and reason can both only be reasonably grounded within the Theistic worldview, I certainly would like to hear how reasoning led someone to embrace the atheistic worldview in which reasoning itself is an 'illusion'. bornagain77
As I said, you hide from physical evidence while wrapping yourself in the flag of science and reason. It's intellectually fraudulent. You avoid science and reason. It profits you to do so. Upright BiPed
You exaggerate. One example: I made one small comment about growing up in a Christian environment, and you write, "You’ve been here for days talking about how you were raised a mere pup in a theist’s household." I think you're a little over the top. But I'll let this whole thing rest at this point. jdk
Oh good grief, jdk Yes yes yes, lets now talk about whether or not a “disagreement” on a debate forum is the same as an “attack” on someone's position. Let's surely spend some time wandering through the vagaries and commonalities of English word use. Perhaps we should check the etymology and find some historical or cultural context to settle the issue? After that we can talk about steaming clams, coal byproducts, and sewing with natural plant fibers – ANYTHING -- but address the evidence of design in biology. You’ve been here for days talking about how you were raised a mere pup in a theist’s household, but that you’ve opened yourself up to the world of science and reason, and become intellectually emancipated from the small thinking of your pedigree. Yet, I’ve asked you to focus on just one unambiguous requirement for biology to exist, and you’ll do anything rather than submit yourself to even the slightest bit of scrutiny. One could be forgiven for thinking your entire shtick is nothing more than a carefully choreographed defense. Do you actually have any idea whatsoever the evidence for design in biology? Upright BiPed
Is disagreeing with someone the same as attacking them? Or are there distinctions, and if so what are they? jdk
UB, I don’t come here to “attack ID”.
yawn of course you do you don't think positioning ID as non-scientific is not an attack on ID? ... and to do so as you continue to avoid the science? Upright BiPed
UB, I don't come here to "attack ID". I come here to discuss various issues of interest to me, and to interact with people who have varying ideas about those issue, for many of the same reasons wjm mentioned in his last post. jdk
jdk, you've come to UD to attack ID and the people who support it. You've promoted rhetoric that is entirely irrelevant to the subject of detecting an act of intelligence in biology, while simultaneously ignoring that same evidence. Everything you say here is related to this fact. I'm not sure why you think you deserve a pass. The idea that you need merely say "I don't want to talk about it" is nothing less than horse poo. Upright BiPed
I see, Upright. You were referring to a previous discussion about a different, unrelated, issue, not the particular point I've made on this thread. jdk
So lets have a conversation. This is in particular to our atheist friends who has been very vocal about gay rights and the people here at UD being bigots. I am very interested in your thoughts on this; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3725551/Mother-36-son-19-fell-love-met-year-gave-adoption-baby-say-willing-risk-JAIL-defend-love.html Andre
UB, re JDK:
[JDK:] my comments were about the goals and purposes of the ID movement, not about “the evidence for ID”, such as it is. It is true that right now I am not interested in discussing the latter issue.
Which is the absolutely material issue, in the context of the grounding of science in inductive, empirically driven reasoning. KF kairosfocus
What evidence are you referring to?
You must have forgotten. A few days ago you were here pressing the wedge as a rhetorical tool to discredit to ID. I then asked a question relevant to the general premise: can the evidence in support of ID be discredited in that way?
jdk, if there is going to be life on this planet, you’ll have to specify objects among alternatives. How do you specify an object in a universe where no object specifies any other object? We know how it’s done in nature. Is that off limits? Is that evidence made void by anything any person has ever said or done?
Instead of directly addressing that question -- which would have only highlighted the irrelevance of the wedge to ID evidence -- you followed up with…
my comments were about the goals and purposes of the ID movement, not about “the evidence for ID”, such as it is. It is true that right now I am not interested in discussing the latter issue.
Upright BiPed
How am I hiding from physical evidence when I say the statement that "According to the various social theories—all claiming to be scientific—it is an ironclad law that to be human is to have all your thought and thinking inescapably determined by whatever structures you’re born in" is a gross misstatement of mainstream sociology and psychology. What evidence are you referring to? jdk
jdk, just imagine how much more powerful your comments would be if you weren't hiding from physical evidence and rationale. But you are. Upright BiPed
Actually I'm giving you the opinion of someone who has taught sociology and psychology, and has a degree in anthropology, and is somewhat familiar with the subjects, so I think I have more to offer than personal incredulity. However, I'm not going to do the research for you. My challenge to you is to find a sociology or psychology textbook and see if you can find a statement anywhere close to as strong as Burfield makes. If you don't what to investigate, that's fine: I'm not trying to convince you, and perhaps others will think there is something to what I have to say (or not.) jdk
It is not worth my time to go into details, but I completely agree with jdk. I also find the attacks on Gnostics to be from the point of ignorance: Christianity is the religion made up by the people who failed to understand any of the thoughtful or complex parts of Gnosticism. The stories were always ALLEGORIES. Failing to get the POINT of the Allegory, Christians took to believing that the STORIES were important enough to form the basis for a religion. And then they took to arguing about the details of the stories. mahuna
jdk @ 11. All you've given us so far is your personal incredulity. Perhaps others find your personal incredulity persuasive. I am unimpressed. Barry Arrington
Ok. It isn't important enough to me to try to find some, so I'll just repeat that I think Burfiend's statement is a gross mischaracterization of what mainstream sociology and psychology would say. jdk
jdk @ 9. They have, so I guess you are surprised. Barry Arrington
Additional comment to Barry at 5: I would be surprised that anyone has preached Burfield's strong position in these very pages, also. jdk
Hi Andrew. That would be an interesting question to respond to in the proper venue, particularly if it was done more in the interest of genuinely wanting to understand someone who made that transition rather than arguing against all my conclusions and observations. (I'm not saying you would do that, but some here would.) But that would be way too off-topic for this thread, I think. I appreciate your interest: maybe the opportunity will arise sometime. jdk
through reading and thinking I came to abandon all that
jdk, Care to share anything specific about what you read or thought that caused this abandonment? Genuinely wondering. Andrew asauber
I doubt that very many social scientists would agree with Burfiend's statement that I quoted. jdk
jdk, Of course the theory is wrong. You will get no argument from us. You are missing the point. The point is that many people believe this nonsense. Indeed, many materialists have preached it in these very pages. The point of the post is that believing this error can have serious consequences. Barry Arrington
I'm sure many theists would agree with what I said above. This issue has nothing to do with theism/atheism. jdk
JDK, I suspect the issue is more or less:
First, timeline. Darwin is 1858 - 9 (with roots in the 1830's), and later, notoriously (but without properly reckoning with the full self-referential import) highlighted how:
"With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy."
Practical modern digital computing came in in the 1930's and 40's, with Babbage's first proposals on calculating engines being c 1824. (A measure of his work is that when an analytical engine was built to his plans and using C19 precision, in the 1990's, it worked perfectly.) Across C19 and well into C20, mechanical analogue computers did amazing work. Electrical and electronic analogue computers came later; with today's operational amplifier chip as legacy. In the 1930's Turing's universal machine model was established. (Cf. some further thoughts on brains, consciousness and computers here.) Finally, Haldane's well-known stricture on materialism and mind dates to 1927:
"It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]
This specific insight was built upon by both C S Lewis and Victor Reppert. In short, immediately, the Darwinist IOU on mindedness has been on the table for 80+ - 150+ years and so has lost a lot of its credibility. Pleas for more and more time begin to sound hollow after that much time. However that is not the core challenge. Haldane rightly and aptly spoke to the powers and limitations of computing substrates, in ways that are independent of digital, analogue, neural network etc architecture: . . . They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically, so also hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In short, computing substrates do not work by rational insight and responsible freedom. They are NOT rational, which undermines any evolutionary materialistic worldview as inevitably self-referentially incoherent. For, 1 --> computing substrates are mechanical, organised, implicitly or explicitly programmed cause-effect chained devices; that, 2 --> are working from blindly mechanical cause-effect chains and some influence or involvement of equally blind stochastic chance. So, _________________________ 3 --> they do not understand per logical ground-consequent inference or inductive connexion or abductive explanatory inference. In short, we see blind, mechanical and/or chance cascades leading to results driven and controlled by GIGO. That is why this is the heart of Reppert's argument:
It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.
No, it is not undue lack of confidence in yellowed intellectual IOU's; in the end it is that there is an undeniable categorical difference between blindly mechanical computational substrates and the responsible, rational freedom required to engage in reasoned discussion. So, properly, we point to the self-referential character and the indicators at the self-refutation end of the scale. Unless evolutionary materialism can cogently answer this, it cannot even properly sit at the discussion table as of right. By contrast, a far more promising approach first reckons with the fact of responsible, reasoned, credibly free discourse and discussion. Then it asks, how can this key self-referential fact be accounted for. To which one key step is the Smith model of a cybernetic loop with a two-tier controller. The lower i/o tier can comfortably fit with the mechanical paradigm. The upper one interacts with this and with the store facility provided by the lower tier. Informationally, and by way of perhaps quantum influences that in effect shape how the in the loop i/o controller behaves. In short, we are not locked up to the brain and cns alone.
KF kairosfocus
Burfiend writes,
According to the various social theories—all claiming to be scientific—it is an ironclad law that to be human is to have all your thought and thinking inescapably determined by whatever structures you’re born in."
This is extremely, and inaccurately, black-and-white: there is no "ironclad law" that humans are "inescapably determined by whatever structures you’re born in". Yes, we absorb various aspects of our culture as children. However, as we grow up our experiences broaden, both actually and vicariously through reading, and we mature in our ability to step back, so to speak, from our surface and examine our beliefs. I am a Western middle-class American, and as such there are ways of being that are so deeply embedded that I don't see them, like water to a fish. However, I have also broadened my perspectives tremendously over the years, and am fairly unattached to many of the cultural prescriptions that I grew up with. In fact one of the spiritual goals of many is to learn to be able to see yourself from behind yourself, so to speak, and to moderate your more culturally and psychologically-based reactions and beliefs. For instance, I, like many of you, was born into a traditional Christian family, in a conservative mid-west town. Through reading and thinking I came to abandon all that, obviously disproving Burfiend's thesis by counter-example. :-) jdk
If you want to know what permanent progressive rule will be like in North America, check this out. At the time, I was so shocked by the violence of the encounter that I only realized eight days later that I was myself a witness to what I knew was true. That was why I couldn’t agree to say it was false on any account. Progressivism, as described above, is about narrative, spin, and talking points, not about truth, fact, or evidence. We will all face this soon. It will not be pretty. News

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