What power in us is supposed to correct what our genes have given us, when our genes have determined everything we are? Again, the only possible solution is a Gnostic one, a beyond-logic-and-rationality solution which imposes a dualistic understanding of humanity on us. There is the we of the material world—what we think we are according to the dictates of our evolved physical bodies—and then there is the Self of of the Gnostic myth, the aspect of us that transcends what nature has given us or what can be known. This Self has the power to strive against the gentically-fated ego. And evidently this transcendent Self exists else these supposed evolutionary scientists wouldn’t appeal to this gene-transcending we, which against all empirical evidence embraces brotherly love.
But where does this gene-transcending we come from? Again we’re in Gnostic territory here. They just know it’s there; the elite intelligentsia just know it, even if it has no logical, rational, or scientific foundation whatsoever. Likewise they just know rape is wrong, or they just know Social Darwinism is wrong. (p. 101)
Social Gospel preachers gained traction because they rallied earlier communitarian revivalism in opposition to voguish Social Darwinism, popularized by Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) and minister (turned sociology professor) William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) as a justification for Gilded Age capitalism. Their argument wasn’t against the Theory of Evolution per se. Rather they said, through the prism of revivalist Evangelicalism (i.e. Anabaptist, Pietistic, Puritan dogma), the facts of evolution could be manipulated to suggest “a new concept of world unity, in which God’s overall purpose was gradually unfolded in the progressive achievement of his kingdom here on earth.” They in essence were saying, “Evolution is on our side.”
It was a sly move, because as we’ve been contemplating, evolution really doesn’t lay down anything in terms of prescriptive social policy other than simply, whatever is, is. If what is happens to be unchecked competition for resources, which seems far truer to reality, an alternative view of evolution would need to be anchored in something other than the cold facts of nature. The Social Gospel theorists provided that anchor by putting the course of evolution in God’s hands. (p. 226)
Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857) was the first progressive. He invented the term sociology to justify his application of science to society. Echoing a longstanding (millennarian) tradition in the West, Comte divided history into three eras: the age of theological thinking, the age of metaphysical thinking, and the age scientific (or positivist) thinking. Each age progressed from the previous one. Those who embraced the new age were forward thinking, while those that did not were “retrograde” stuck in old patterns of thought.
. . .
Comte believed scientific experts should run society, or as his mentor Saint-Simon said, “Councils of Newton.” John Stuart Mill envisioned “a ‘body of moral authority’ which would rest with those possessing the greatest knowledge.” (p. 233)
Hell called. They want their Councils of Newton back. Pronto.
Hey, no problem. ASAP.