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Veritatis Splendor or Veritatis Peccator?


Recently I posted “Darwin at Columbine,” in which I pointed out that Eric Harris, a great fan of Charles Darwin, believed he had evolved to a higher plane of existence and that his killing of his “inferior” classmates was the work of natural selection.  I hoped to spark a debate about whether Harris’ understanding of Darwinism is an aberration with no relation to the theory, or a logical (if perhaps misguided) extension of the theory.   The debate that ensued discussed this topic at a high level and I wish to congratulate the commenters on both sides for their insights into the issue and the general civility of the discussion.

I wish to respond, however, to one commenter who suggested that by pointing out the connection between Darwin and the (up until then) worst school shooting in history I was making cheap rhetorical points.  He even said in so many words that my post was “sinful.” 

I took the accusation seriously and examined both my actions and my motives.  Had I violated one of the injunctions or proscriptions of the moral code?  If so, which one?

Certainly I did not stray from the truth.  I have first hand knowledge of the matter about which I spoke, and I know for a certainty that what I said was true.

The truth is good and it is good to speak it (Veritatis Splendor).  Yet, my accuser said I sinned when I spoke the truth.  Can the truth also be sinful (Veritatis Peccator)?

No, the truth cannot be sinful.  It is always good.  Nevertheless, one can offend in the WAY in which one speaks the truth.  The truth, which is good in itself, must nevertheless be spoken in love in order to avoid giving unnecessary offense. 

Did I give unnecessary offense in my message?  I do not think so.  I merely pointed out the facts; I do not think any reasonable person could suggest that my post was inflamatory or rude.

Was the truth offensive to some?  Undoubtedly.  But that is not the point.  Scripture tells us that the truth (and the Truth) will be an offense to many.  We are nevertheless enjoined to speak the truth even though it offends.  At the same time we must strive to ensure that it is the truth (i.e., the message) and not us (i.e., the messenger) that is the cause of the offense. 

When I deposed the killers’ parents I struggled with this issue.  The depositions dragged on for day after day after day with my clients sitting  in the same small conference room with the parents of the men who slaughtered their children.   My clients were willing to endure this ordeal because they wanted to get at the bottom of what happened.  They were seeking truth.  At the same time I was not insensitive to the Harrises’ and Klebolds’ anguish as they answered my questions.  I would be less than candid if I did not admit there were times I thought about not following up on a particularly disturbing line of questions.  It was painful for them; it was painful for me; it was painful for my clients.  But I knew that if I gave in to this temptation I would  be shirking my duty, not only to my clients but also to the cause of justice and truth.

Yes, sometimes the truth does hurt, as the cliche goes.  But we must have the courage to face it and follow it wherever it leads.  In the case of my post, the moral implications of Darwin’s theory are there for all to see.  Eric Harris was a brilliant young man (Dylan Klebold was a follower, more or less along for the ride).  Harris paid attention in class and he learned both Darwin and Nietzsche (and wrote about both in his journal). He put two and two together and got “kill everyone whom I deem to be inferior.”  In our public school system Harris was steeped in the moral darkness and nihilism of Darwin and Nietzsche.  Tragically, he was not exposed to any countervailing influences,  He took what he learned and, however misguided his actions were, he acted upon his lessons.

This is the lesson of Columbine at least insofar as our schools are concerned:  It is very dangerous to spout untempered nihilism in class, because someone just might take you seriously and act on your lesson.

Is it wrong or even sinful for me to point this out?  I don’t think so.

angryoldfatman, I stand corrected. Thanks for the history lesson. getawitness
getawitness wrote
It’s true that Protestant private schools sprung up a lot in the late 50s and early 60s. They were especially prevalent in the South, where they opened as a response to forced integration.
From a 1979 article: Currently there are approximately 5.6 million students enrolled in private elementary and high schools -- with two-thirds of them in Christian schools. The wave of new Christian schools is largely unrelated to the issue of racial segregation, which prompted the opening of many Christian schools in the south between 1967 and 1976. The present wave is a unique phenomenon, highly visible in the north and west and especially pronounced in such states as New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Oregon, Kansas and California. One of the basic differences between this new movement and the segregationist academies of a few years ago is that the all-white schools were especially concerned to avoid racial integration at the junior high and senior high levels. The current boom in Christian day schools is concentrated more heavily on the young child, and many of these new schools operate on the assumption that the children will transfer to public schools after completing third or fourth grade. Another factor is that many of the most determined advocates of this new wave of Christian day schools are upwardly mobile black parents who are willing to make major sacrifices in order to enroll their children. Some of the fathers are ministers, and many of these parents are employed in the public schools. angryoldfatman
"I’d bet most of us would agree that it is worthwhile and noble to try and make the world a better place because we care about people even more than we want a reward afterwards" The problem (leaving aside observations about the reality of trying to immanentize the eschaton as you suggest) is that at best your suggestion is questionably coherent. What does it even mean to "make the world a better place" in a materialist worldview ? What is this standard of "better" you refer too ? You can't be pointing to the internal moral compass that lets us tell right from wrong, good from evil, the is not, in a materialist worldview, something that reflects an external reality, but it instead just a set of survival aiding prudential suggestions. So what does "better" even mean ? Don't worry, I don't expect you to be able to answer. If you are consistent with your materialism then you need to deny that any such "better" as an external objective reality exists. Jason Rennie
Prayer is allowed in school. I prayed all the time. :-) I also read the Bible, which I brought every day during my junior and senior years of high school. It's true that Protestant private schools sprung up a lot in the late 50s and early 60s. They were especially prevalent in the South, where they opened as a response to forced integration. getawitness
getawitness, I am not quite sure what you are trying to prove. That the country is growing more and more secular is a given. However, it was not always that way. It was never religious in the sense that it promoted a religion explicitly but it fostered religion. That is certainly disappearing through court actions and for no really good legal argument. Prayer is a part of Congress and the Supreme Court and Presidency and has been since the beginning. As I said above, Christmas is an official holiday of the US. And some of the states actually had a state religion at one time. Separation of Church and State is the result of Hugo Black who was a Christian but anti-Catholic. The interpretation that led to less support of religion and specifically Christianity because that is what most were and still are in the US was to reduce support for Catholic education but it had the side effect of the hysteria we see about the display of the 10 commandments or religious displays at various times of the year on public property. Support of religious education in the sense of vouchers was commonly accepted just 60 years ago. After World War II no one had any problem with vets using their GI bill money in religious schools. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of vets used the money to become ministers, priests and rabbis. Such a program probably wouldn't pass muster today under the bogus rulings because of Justice Black. To keep up the pretense that the US government was secular from the start is nonsense. Not promoting a specific religion is the not the same as secular. To say it is now is very close to the truth but the reasons it is are based on bogus legal interpretations. I would bet that if there were significant number of Protestant schools in the 1950's we would have a significantly different interpretation of the law today. But Protestants knew the teachers in the public schools were going to provide an education that was compatible with their religion including prayer in school. jerry
The notion of linking Nietzsche to Aristotle is truly hair-raising. Aristotle not only believed in Supreme Being but asserted that Supreme Being is “life itself.” Aristotle had a reverence for life which is entirely absent in Nietzsche. Nietzsche did not eschew nihilism; he embraced it as the inevitable annihilation of Europe’s Christian past and its concepts of “the good.” Those who claim that he repudiated it are simply affirming the tactical advantage he gained by pretending to repudiate it. In reality, he invoked nihilism and then claimed the mantle of prophet for himself and the power to discern a new path that goes “beyond good and evil.” Just how difficult is it to understand that there can be no goodness in such a path? That the annihilation of the good leads to evil? Nietzsche adamantly rejected the value of life. Our concepts of goodness are based on this value—on the golden rule, which reflects it. What goodness is still possible if the golden rule is annihilated? Global warmism? SETI? The Third Reich with its thousand-year jubilee of the blond-haired and the blue-eyed? Nietzsche was kin to Plato, not Aristotle. His “unhappy consciousness” caused him to long for the annihilation of all existent values, including the value of life. But the same problem that plagued Idealism is also quite evident in Nietzsche and Nihilism. It is impossible to put forward any substantial concept of value after the annihilation of everything that exists. All that remains is nothingness and the vanity of the Zarathustras in our midst, who presume to save us from ourselves (when they’re not killing us). allanius
Denyse, "Fact: Social Darwinism is a persistent occasional theme in the world of the terrorist." Fact: religious commitment is a persistent occasional theme in the world of the terrorist. For recent examples see 9-11, the North of Ireland, bombings and train fires in India and Pakistan, the Bali nightclub bombing, Eric Rudolph, Paul Hill, James Kopp, John Salvi. All recent history. This proves what exactly? "So everyone knows that social Darwinism led to mass murder." This is more than BarryA has been willing to claim, at least with regard to the Finnish kid. With regard to Eric Harris, he's talking out of both sides of his mouth. getawitness
Jerry, I dealt with some of the language of the treaties in [71] above. I still do not see what is relevant to the fundamentally secular structure and function of American government. What the treaties seem to show is this: the government will proclaim Christian allegiance when convenient, disclaim Christian allegiance when convenient, refer to a monarch it rebelled against as "keeper of the faith," etc. etc. as convenient. This has squat to do with the structure of our government. I have never denied that Christian faith was one of the formative influences on American society at the time of government. Of course it was! It seems both pointless and historically inept to suggest that that Christian belief somehow trumps all the other influences also at play. All the language of those treaties does not change the secular structure of government under the Constitution. Nor -- to answer a question posed by someone a while ago -- does the reference to the "Creator" in the DoI. The foundation of government in America is the Constitution. The Constituition is a secular document. As for DeMar, he was used to attack the supposed bias of Wikipedia. I thought it was silly to use one source with an obvious agenda to attack another source for being agenda-driven. I merely pointed that out. getawitness
getawitness, Have you dealt with the information in the treaties yet? Or do you want to pick on the messenger to undermine it in the hope it will support your position. Was Gary DeMar wrong about the treaties? If not, then give up the attack on him. It is not the issue. I certainly don't share his position on the bible but that has nothing to do with what was in treaties 150-200 years ago. jerry
Jason Rennie writes: "I thought your point was really well made Barry, and frankly if people get upset by it, perhaps they should examine why they get upset by it. You are not making the connection as you noted but just reporting that the killers in question made the connections." Denyse responds: Perhaps I can help explain that, Jason. Barry's offence (and mine) is to report accurately that people have used social Darwinism as a justification for murder. Murder of Holocaust proportions in the case of the Nazis, and community tragedy proportions in the case of Harris and Auvinen. Fact: Social Darwinism is a persistent occasional theme in the world of the terrorist. The Darwinist is at war with that very fact itself. Presumably because he has no other way of dealing with the fact, he must question why anyone ever reports it or brings it up - and asperse the characters of anyone who does. He engages in long, rambling, pettifogging quibbles about everything under the sun. He simply cannot admit the problem and move on. I am not offering a theory of why the Darwinist has no other way of dealing with the menace of social Darwinism; I am pointing to a behaviour pattern that shows that he does not. If he could, this thread would have petered out long ago, and I would not have had to shut off the thread at the Post-D for time management reasons. (And the comments there represent only a sampling of opinion, with the fantically repetitive stuff removed.) As I pointed out in my own recent post here, most communities hit by scandal must learn to deal with it. As a Christian journalist, I have considerable acquaintance with the problem of "bad news" stories for religious or pro-life groups of just the sort that Harris and Auvinen represent for Darwinists. The Darwinists have behaved throughout this episode like people who are used to fudging the truth. Unfortunately for them, in this case, the events took place not in prehistory but in recent or current historical time. So everyone knows that social Darwinism led to mass murder. Now I wonder more than ever about Darwinism and the old bones. Talk about skeletons in the closet! O'Leary
ellazimm, you said "my day is filled with the love of my family, my work, and the world around me. I’d bet most of us would agree that it is worthwhile and noble to try and make the world a better place because we care about people even more than we want a reward afterwards. Live your life, fully and completely." Do you actually believe this? What utter nonsense. You are truly deluded. As you indicated by believing the Gregory S. Paul nonsense. As I said you seem to be susceptible to certain types of misinformation. My experience is that those who try to create the heaven on earth actually create hell. Socialism of various types has racked up 125-million dead in the 20th century. Have you gone to the workers paradises in North Korea and Cuba? Environmentalism in its ban of DDT can add another 30-50 million dead and many more living a hellish life, AIDS resulting from a certain advocated life style can add another 30-40 million. Does this life style flow from religious beliefs or the lack of? Aid to Dependent Children and the Great Society essentially created a permanent underclass here in the US with 70% born to single mothers who have no idea how to raise their children. There is no place in society for the males born in these situations because there are no fathers to show them where to go. In order to try and stop this devastation, welfare reform had to be rammed down the liberal's throats which is where most of the heaven on earth people reside. Ah yes, the delusion that you have lived your life better than those who believe in God, work hard, raise their children responsively, volunteer to help others, give to charity and by the way are as rich or richer than those who share you folly and are mostly making the world a better place. It is largely the religious of the US who are disproportionally driving most of the progress in the world while the intellectuals sit about dreaming of ways to create the heaven on earth and ending up creating hells. My experience is that the religious lead their lives more fully and completely. I see the emptiness in those who have rejected God because for the most part they have nothing to replace it and hand on to their children. They in turn are having fewer and fewer children because they see no future. The world is only about them. jerry
ellazimm, Your post indicated why I am suspicious of perspectives like Gary DeMar's. I was especially struck by this quote (in your post): America’s foundation can be restored when we teach Americans to believe the whole Bible from cover to cover and apply it to ALL areas of life. Apparently DeMar thinks that America's "foundation can be restored" only when we're all inerrantist Christians. This is wrong on at least two counts: first, American never was such a nation; and second, American foundations do not depend on religious unity. In fact, the establishment clause assumes that there will be religious diversity. Seems to me that anyone who looks at history that ideologically is going to see whatever he wants to see. getawitness
Folks: Excellent discussion! Give us more! GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Carl, I doubt if many will die for what you propose. Those who seek what you are proposing only envision heaven on earth and if they are dead, well they are dead. And with no chance at that elusive heaven. jerry
Carl said, "I urge that we see our commitment to ideals such as equality, liberty, and solidarity as ideals that are arrived at as we experiment with different social arrangements" Sounds like a paraphrase of the French Revolution slogan that produced all those beheadings. While sounding noble, it might be interesting to debate if equality and liberty are at opposite ends of the spectrum and each time you push for one, you must move away from the other. Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried except for Israeli kibbutzs and then it was dropped after one generation. Equality is one of those nice sounding words that nobody peaks behind to see what it really means. Nobody really wants equality. They want the opportunity to be better. The US definition of equality is different from the socialism definition that flowed from the French revolution. I am not sure what solidarity means. I get very wary of this term because it sounds like homogenization. What are we in solidaritying to? Different social arrangements reminds me of what was just attempted at the University of Delaware and is prevalent all across the US in many if not most of its universities. Not quite 1984 but traipsing that way. It must be tough for intellectuals these days to beholden to such doctrines as neo Darwinism and stringently enforced equality. They are contradictory and neither has any empirical support in reality. Will the honest intellectual please stand up. jerry
"I don’t (yet) see what’s wrong with defining it retrospectively — i.e. “see how far we’ve come.”" The main problem I see is working out what counts as "moral progress". I'm not inclined to think the "right" of a woman to kill her unborn off spring because it is inconvenient is moral progress. I don't think the "right" for the neglected to kill themselves is moral progress either. I could enumerate plenty of other examples, but these will no doubt suffice to illustrate the point. "In any event I find the contrast between Nietzsche and Aristotle forced." Well I was going to say Nietzsche and Aquinas, but I think there is a similar resonance between Nietzsche and Aristotle (although not as strong). "There are two crucial differences, though. The first is that Nietzsche lacked Aristotle’s teleological cosmology. The second is that Nietzsche lacked a substantial theory of, or even understanding of, society." Well I wont pretend to know enough to comment on the second, but the first one is probably the most critical difference between the two. And also a deeply significant one. Whatever the differences between a pagan like Aristotle and a Christian like Aquinas were, they had much more in common than the differences between Nietzsche and Aristotle. The denial of teleology is such a significant difference. That one change produces radically different conceptions of the universe we inhabit. Certian clueless atheists joke about theists being atheists except for 1 god in particular, but this so fundamentally misses the point. The difference between teleology and purpose in the universe and its absence is the difference between the deepest darkness and the heart of the sun. (Or perhaps I should say the undiluted presence of God himself ;) ). "Most people in this forum who have been discussing Nietzsche have assumed, it seems to me, that the heart of the problem with Nietzsche lies in the acceptance of Darwinism and rejection of teleology/”natural law.”" Although I do think that is true. I think the main problem with Nietzsche is that he took what he said seriously and followed through to where those ideas led. He is like Peter Singer in that regard. The problem is that he reaches conclusions that should make him rethink the correctness of his premises, but he is committed to those and so presses on when he should turn back. "And, I suspect, that the moral failure of the Columbine killers can also be approached in terms of their inability to perceive the reality of others." I'm not sure there is anything in the ethic he put forward that requires that he pay attention to such things. The central problem IMO, is that the bad fruit are unavoidable because they are grown from bad roots and in bad soil. The problem is not the fruit ultimately (such as the columbine shootings) but the bad soil the produces such thinking in those who take it seriously. If I can offer an observation, the problem with the columbine shooters et al, is not that they failed to learn the lessons they were taught by those around them, but quite the opposite, they learned them, understood them and took them to heart. Jason Rennie
Bob, you misunderstand. I keep trying to make it clear that my personal view about whether Columbine or the Finnish shootings were caused by belief in Darwinism is beside the point of my post. The issue is the shooters’ self understanding. Both of them say they were influenced by Darwinism. Whether I also believe this may be an interesting topic for another day, but it is not the topic of the post. Why is this so difficult to understand?
Because you contradict yourself. If you don't believe that Harris' actions were "caused by belief in Darwinism", then don't write "It is, however, clear that at least some of Darwin’s followers [and you've acknowledged that you meant Harris] understand “survival of the fittest” and the attendant amorality at the bottom of Darwinism as a license to kill those whom they consider “inferior.”". Bob Bob O'H
On moral progress: certainly I'm no relativist (cf. Jason Rennie's point about MLK). But, to answer Stephen's question, how is progress to be defined? I don't (yet) see what's wrong with defining it retrospectively -- i.e. "see how far we've come." After all, that's how we conceptualize technological progress, progress with respect to public health (sanitation, disease control, nutrition). We don't need an abstract, a-historical standard of perfect health in order to recognize that we've made significant progress in public health. Now you might insist that technological progress is one thing, and moral progress is quite another. Whereas the core of my proposal is, why should one think that? Why should the two cases be thought of as so different? As for criteria: to continue with this analogy, our criteria of technological progress are internal to our understanding of what technology is and why it's good. We've come to value efficiency, and prefer more efficient systems over less efficient ones. But efficiency is not a Platonic Idea -- our commitment to that ideal is itself something that evolved over the course of human history. And of course it can be contested, and criticized, insofar as it conflicts with other ideals and values. In much the same way, I urge that we see our commitment to ideals such as equality, liberty, and solidarity as ideals that are arrived at as we experiment with different social arrangements. They're good ideals to have, and if push came to shove, I'd defend them with my life. That's no guarantee that our descendants won't develop better ones -- better by their criteria, of course! So it can't be ruled out that our descendants, or even contemporaries, might come to view liberal democracy as a terrible mistake, and to think that totalitarianism is far preferable. We can hope that this does not happen, and do what we can to prevent it from happening, but there are no guarantees. It can be seen, then, that I think the distinction between morality and prudence is usually over-drawn. On the other hand, I tend to see much of morality -- such as a sense of fairness, insistence on social norms, and compassion for others -- among some other highly intelligent, emotionally complicated social animals. (The primatologist De Waal has written about experiments with captive bonobos; the philosopher MacIntyre has written about dolphins.) So it does not seem outrageous to me to think that some aspects of morality, at least, are part of our primate inheritance. We can and have modified that inheritance in some remarkable ways, and hopefully we'll continue to do so. In any event I find the contrast between Nietzsche and Aristotle forced. Nietzsche and Aristotle have a great deal in common. Both were naturalists, steeped in biological knowledge. Both were virtue ethicists. There are two crucial differences, though. The first is that Nietzsche lacked Aristotle's teleological cosmology. The second is that Nietzsche lacked a substantial theory of, or even understanding of, society. Most people in this forum who have been discussing Nietzsche have assumed, it seems to me, that the heart of the problem with Nietzsche lies in the acceptance of Darwinism and rejection of teleology/"natural law." By contrast, I think that's fine, and the real problem with Nietzsche is that the absence of social theory or even a pre-theoretical understanding of social reality, of the reality of other people. Nietzsche excels as a psychologically sensitive interpreter of cultural products (including philosophical texts, his own no less than those of others), but he rather clumsily grafts this onto a crude biology he inherits, without questioning too much, from Herbert Spencer. What's missing between culture and biology is society, and without this term, all Nietzsche can offer as response to nihilism is "triumph of the will," which is no less nihilistic, and which opens itself to all sorts of abuses, as we've been discussing. In short, the real problem with Nietzsche isn't his biology (though that's not unproblematic, either), but his inability to comprehend the reality of other people -- the existential fact of being-with-others. And, I suspect, that the moral failure of the Columbine killers can also be approached in terms of their inability to perceive the reality of others. Carl Sachs
Now to your questions. Once again they are not germane. The questions were intended to get our conversation started from a common point of understanding. That you don't answer them is unfortunate, as the political philosophy of Jefferson and Madison is an interesting topic. But, I understand now that you are approaching this as a matter of what was in force rather than what was would have been a more logical derivative of the natural right of conscience. specs
getawitness, "So the treaty acknowledges King George as the “defender of the faith.” Why found a country against a monarchy if the king is the “defender of the faith”? Or is it ok that that’s convention?" Treaties are not the place to air out old greivances. With what language would you have them approach this treaty, "Oh former tyrant from whom we have become liberated?" Anyway, you seem to have forgotten once again the subject matter under discussion. Religious references are in abundance and, as is most cases, consistent with the Trinitarian (Christian) God. StephenB
Karl Kraus on Uncommon Descent! Unfortunately his dissent from the mentality of his day was too uncommon:The superman is a premature ideal, one that presupposes man.(Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half-Truths :107) Progress makes purses out of human skin. (ib :122)
Not only skeletons but human skins were collected by the masters of the New Order though in the latter case the pretense could not be made that the cause of scientific research was being served. The skins of concentration camp prisoners, especially executed for this ghoulish purpose, had merely decorative value.
(The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William Shirer :983) Sometimes it seems that how scientific progress comes about is important. Why do you suppose that is? mynym
The point is that a scientific theory about the causes of biological change tells us nothing — nothing at all — about what we may or may not do to each other. There is something often woven into Darwinism, the notion that life intrinsically will struggle to survive. Given this basic assumption, which isn't without support, theories of biological change become laden with the values typical to life which guide what we may or may not do to each other. For instance, if there was a scientific consensus that one group of people was diseased or like a disease that would bring death then one might naturally be engaged in a Darwinian struggle against them. Perhaps if one were to write a bit of text about such a struggle one might call it: "My fight" and so on. One could pose it as an issue of science, how things really are and not just some idea or philosophy dealing with nonsensical "why" questions. It would be, after all, a simple brute fact. Darwinism may pose an interesting sort of challenge insofar as it invites questions about how morality came into existence; it says nothing at all about why we should be moral, or what morality consists in. Of course, it's all just about how things are given your biological brain events. As those who believed that used to say:
“And they were all doctors like me, who tried to think biologically, biology as the foundation of medical thought. . . . We didn’t want politics—we were critical of politics—but [concerned} with the way human beings really are—not just an idea or philosophy.” National Socialism as Applied Biology The nation would now be run according to what Johann S. and his cohorts considered biological truth, “the way human beings really are.”
(The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide by Robert Jay Lifton :129) It seems like they're saying that they focused on how things really are divorced from why they are. Why do you suppose that is? Now, is there a standard? As I’ve said a few times before, I think there is: the exercise and cultivation of human capabilities. Human beings are not “merely” animals; we’re brilliant, creative, passionate, needy, destructive, fascinating animals. That seems to have been Neitzche's standard as well, as some form of creativity results in the supposed transvaluation of values and so on. Of course, it seems that he went insane in the membrane in the end. Why do you suppose that is? mynym
Karl Kraus on Uncommon Descent! Who would have thunk it? In response I give more Kraus aphorisms: The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people meaner. And also: The real truths are those that can be invented. getawitness
Examining the casus belli that a sick mind latches onto is certainly fair game for analysis. As I began to point out in the other threads minds do not really get "sick" unless you want to argue that there are brain lesions and so on which correlate to the actions of the sick individuals in questions. If they are really sick then what is the physical, pathological and clinical evidence? It seems that given the evidence, there is literally no evidence with respect to a disease of the brain causing people to engage in highly complex planning and activity. This observation comports with ID theory and has been incorporated in the way it is used to detect design. At any rate, if sickness is not meant literally then what is at issue is a metaphoric "sickness" of the mind and so the argument of: "Some people are just insane in the membrane just like berserkers of old, it just happens no matter what mentality they get from their culture." has no merit. Ironically berserkers didn't "just happen" to be insane, instead they emerged from a pagan culture driven by a mentality which would emerge in the "insanity" of Nazism again. Karl Kraus pointed out the pattern before it happened and other students of language also warned of it:
It is to the great merit of Christianity that it has somewhat attenuated the brutal German lust for battle. But it could not destroy it entirely. And should ever that taming talisman break the Cross then will come roaring back the wild madness of the ancient warriors of whom our Nordic poets speak and sing, with all their insane Berserker rage. That talisman is now already crumbling, and the day is not far off when it shall break apart entirely. On that day the old stone gods will rise from long-forgotten wreckage, and rub from their eyes the dust of a thousand-year sleep.
(The Works of Heinrich Heine. vol. V (London:William Heinemann. 1892) :207-9) Metaphorically speaking the "blonde beast" became all too literal:
'It is impossible not to recognize at the core of all these aristocratic races the beast of prey; the magnificent blonde brute, avidly rampant for spoil and victory; this hidden core needed an outlet from time to time—the Roman, Arabic, German, and Japanese nobility... The profound, icy mistrust which the German provokes as soon as he arrives at power, even at the present time, is always still an aftermath of that inextinguishable horror with which for whole centuries Europe has regarded the wrath of the blonde Teuton beast.' Nietzsche affords passages still closer to what the Germans today mean by Rassenhygiene. Europe is degenerating because of the shocking mixture of blood modern times have brought about: 'Europe, the scene of a senseless, precipitate attempt at a radical blending of classes, and consequently of races, is therefore skeptical in all its heights and depths, sick unto death of its will.'
(The National Socialists' Use of Nietzsche by Crane Brinton Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 1, No. 2.(Apr., 1940), pp. 131-150) As someone who believed in representing patterns of ideas symbolically said:
"As the Christian view of the world loses its authority,the more menacingly will the 'blonde beast' be heard prowling about in its underground prison, ready at any moment to burst out with devastating consequences.When this happens in the individual it brings about a psychological revolution, but it can also take a social form.
(C.G. Jung. "Wotan" Civilization in Transition Collected Works. vol. 10 (Princeton: University Press, 1918) :13) A more literal expression of the metaphor, unfortunately:
The ‘Blonde Beast,’ who controlled the sole intelligence service after1935, specialized in devious methods of blackmail along side weapons of open terror and persecution. .....The most satanic consequence of this accumulation of power was revealed in Heydrich’s implementation of the order for the wholesale extermination of European Jewry.
(Who’s Who in Nazi Germany by Robert Wistrich :134f) Look at those threads again: see how quickly the humanity was lost...how human beings are transformed into abstractions. It seems to me that you'd condemn people who try to warn others about a dangerous pattern of ideas no matter how they did it. Perhaps you should take a look at your own mind and its apparent rebellion against any form of transcendence having a bearing on the transformation of immanent things. Human sympathy took a back seat, and that does not reflect well on this community. Reflect on this:
I can imagine that an ugly woman who looks in the mirror is convinced that it is her mirror image, and not she, that is ugly. Thus society sees the mirror image of its meanness and is stupid enough to believe that I am the mean fellow.
(Karl Kraus, Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half-Truths :30) If it helps your state of reflection, I sometimes cry a little tear when people are mean. mynym
StephenB, You quote the Paris Peace Treaty (1783) as follows: "It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the Grace of God King of Great Britain. . . ." But after the ellipsis we find: ". . . France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick and Lunebourg, arch- treasurer and prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc.," So the treaty acknowledges King George as the "defender of the faith." Why found a country against a monarchy if the king is the "defender of the faith"? Or is it ok that that's convention? getawitness
"Darwinism may pose an interesting sort of challenge insofar as it invites questions about how morality came into existence; it says nothing at all about why we should be moral, or what morality consists in." Actually Carl you are mistaken on this point. If the moral compass is nothing more than a set of survival oriented suggestions from our deep evolutionary past then this has radical implications for what to make of them. We might adopt them for reasons of prudence, but we might just as well seek to minimize the harm caused by ignoring these suggestions. If they are a moral law written on the heart though, that we are expected to obey, and not just survival oriented suggestions then we are not free to ignore them and the harms we seek to minimize while attempting to ignore them is not the right way to go about dealing with the problem. Sorry you are dead wrong when you say the origin of our moral capacities has no effect on how we should think about how we reason morally. It makes a crucial difference. In fact it is the difference between Nietzsche and Aristotle. Jason Rennie
In terms of progress: I would say that progress is measured by the increase or decrease of the sphere of human recognition. We today recognize the humanity of African-Americans — a recognition that was denied to their ancestors. It is contrast between the present and the past, not between the present and an imagined future, that indicates whether or not progress has occurred. Although such recognition still has some ways to go, as measures go, it’s not a bad one. What makes you say that this contrast is a good thing? Without a goal it is simply change, not progress. And how far back in the past do we go for the contrast? What if we went back to recognizing the humanity of the unborn? Which past do we contrast with? StephenA
The first paragraph in #67 was written by getawitness. I apologize for omitting the quotation marks. StephenB
Um, no, since I don’t know who Gary DeMar is or why I should consider anything he writes as trustworthy or unbiased. (Not that Wikipedia is necessarily either.) I was asking a simple question about factual accuracy. Are you suggesting that the issue was raised for no reason at all? The discussion was about whether the US was once (I'll go ahead and use the undefinedd term)a Christian nation. Out of nowhere comes this out of context quote that purports to refute that argument. Since I knew that the information was misleading, it seemed reasonable to say so. You wanted to know if it the information was accurate. You do not ask me why the information is misleading, or if the context is misplaced, or any other question that would indicate that you are interested in the complete truth of the matter. Having said that, I will give you a straight answer to a straight question. Yes, to the best of my knowledge, the facts were accurate. StephenB
"So, does that answer you [sic] question about how trustworthiness of Wikipedia as a resource for American History." Um, no, since I don't know who Gary DeMar is or why I should consider anything he writes as trustworthy or unbiased. (Not that Wikipedia is necessarily either.) I was asking a simple question about factual accuracy. getawitness
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