In a recent interview, Richard Dawkins was asked if he would prefer to be “happy” or “right.” He felt there was no reason why he couldn’t be both, but of the two he would unquestionably opt for “reality.” To Dawkins, “reality” and “right” are apparently synonymous. Given that no individual in the history of the planet has produced one syllable of incontrovertible insight into what “reality” might be, this could be considered a leap of faith.
Dawkins derives his happiness/rightness from a reality informed by Science and is aghast there are still individuals in the world do not agree with him. In contrast to a system predicated on reason and accountability that contributes to man’s well being, Religion is an anachronistic, obfuscating catalogue of superstitious fable that undermines it and even threatens our existence altogether. He is on that account an Atheist, or, as he announces to his TED Talk audience – given the urgency of the situation – “a Militant Atheist.”
The Religious “they” and “them” he refers to are presented as a sort of homogenous mass of humanity all pretty much the same, simply less thoughtful than himself, not as clever, not “intelligentsia…like us” as he confides to his congregation. In order to demonstrate the prevalence of this unthinking mindset in the United States, he compares its monetary currency with that of the more ‘enlightened’ British. The American one-dollar bill has “In God We Trust” printed on the back, while the British ten-pound note shows an image of Charles Darwin. “I can’t help making the comparison” smiles Mr. Dawkins.
What he neglects to point out is that the front of all U.K. currency features an image of The Queen, the current iteration of a long sequence of unelected individuals assuming absolute authority by “GOD GIVEN RIGHT.” More religion does not counter his argument, but the fact should surely temper his smugness.
If not for the entitlement the English class system entails, Dawkins’ own family wealth, and his subsequent privileged upbringing and education might not have occurred the way it did. When confronted with the fact that his 400-acre family estate was the result of a fortune amassed through the slave trade, Dawkins responded that the idea his genes in any way suggested inherited inclinations was preposterous. That goes without saying, but his memes – the class identification, sense of entitlement and the loot that went with it – were clearly inherited with ease.
Money is very much a part of Dawkins’ shtick, and he appeals to his audience to dig into their pockets to help fund his militancy. This does not fall on deaf ears: In 2017 tickets for a TED conference were…Regular: $8,500, Donor: $17,000. Patron: $150,000. Most of the three billion “they” Dawkins refers to does not wake up to such intellectual financial ease.
Dawkins attended the elite Oundle Public (private) boarding school then moved on to Balliol College Oxford, a trajectory similar to fellow atheist Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens also attended select boarding schools and also ‘went up to’ Oxford and Balliol College. In an entrenched class system like England, it is an educational path that presumes and assumes all manner of elevated prerogatives. Dawkins went on to marry the daughter of a Viscount and Hitchens went off shooting pheasants and mingling with the wealth and intellectual cream of society. These are rarified worldviews not accessible to the vast majority of English people, much less those on the rest of the planet, but it is the worldview that informs their position.
Dawkins and Hitchens were recently reunited in a two-hour Youtube hunker-down to consider strategy in the face of this threat to planetary stability. Joining them at the table were two Americans, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris. Dennett also went to Oxford – via Harvard, whereas Harris received his doctorate from Stanford. The combined intellectual power of the four individuals is formidable; the list of books, papers, awards and fellowships incontestable testament to their erudition. They are a godless force to be reckoned with, billing themselves as – “The Four Horsemen.”
The debate centers round the irrational notion of God and the incontestable rationality of Darwin; Creationist fiction that is, versus Scientific fact. “My approach to attacking Creationism is to attack Religion as a whole” announces Dawkins. This is an ambitious undertaking: Stonehenge, the Pyramids, the Parthenon and Chartres Cathedral were all erected in the name of Religion and they have endured for millennia. If they hadn’t, there would be no Science. As for those who practice Religion … “We should hold their feet to the fire.” declares Daniel Dennett.”…There’s no polite way to say you’ve wasted your life, but we have to do it.”
Science has given us iPhones and drones and men on the moon, there is no question it should be heady with kudos, but the convictions of The Horsemen are lofty indeed. Not only the present, but all Religious history are apparently to be reduced to superstitious rubble. Hitchens’ bombastic, bulldozer, debating style is appropriately suited to the task: with his constant references to high-minded literary precedent and terms like “apotropaic,” “entre parentheses” and “non overlapping magisteria” thrown in, his erudition is unassailable. There can be no withholding of cleverness if half the world’s population is to be disavowed of its sense of purpose.
“Religion” remarks Hitchens “can help people to avoid hubris” an idea that seems to have gone over everyone’s heads including his own. The situation is not as cut and dried as it appears.
All Four Horsemen drink alcohol during the discussion, Dawkins, Dennett and Harris discreetly from martini glasses, Hitchens unabashedly from a tumbler. He also smokes cigarettes surreptitiously throughout. In light of the ‘militant’ insistence on the rational over the irrational, this is ironic to say the least. Despite his smart logical bluster, Hitchens might qualify as the poster boy for the irrational and Science’s shortcomings both.
In the very near past, Medical Science endorsed cigarette smoking; it was not only considered harmless but even beneficial. Sixty or so years ago, English hospital patients were not only permitted to smoke in bed, but pregnant mothers might be seen smoking before going into labor. It was the risk of patients setting fire to the place that finally prompted the process of ending it. Nowadays, there is hardly a Scientist on the planet who does not agree the original claims were in error.
Such a radical about face is tantamount to a flat earth theory disproved.
Every generation is prone to such theories: Science also endorsed the prenatal drug Thalidomide during this period and its catastrophic effects clearly proved its convictions to be wrong. Similarly, many of Rachel Carson’s environmental claims at that time have subsequently been determined to be inaccurate or false. That is in the nature of Science and its greatest claim to integrity: the process of constantly redefining itself.
It is also one of its greatest shortcomings.
A disproved fact by definition becomes fiction, in which scheme of things Science could be described as an ongoing process of uncovering inherent falsehoods. Some facts may simply take longer than others to reveal themselves as fiction – decades possibly, or centuries, or even millennia.
Scientist Rupert Sheldrake, had the temerity in his own TED Talk, to propose this same idea: he suggested that the great constants of physics, even the speed of light, may not be constant at all – a presumption that had him summarily banned from TED forever. Excommunicated as it were, with the same rigorous denouncement as Giordano Bruno questioning the Church.
Science has now ‘conclusively’ determined that cigarette smoking is not only detrimental to health, but also potentially fatal. Hitchens was surely aware of this yet he continued to smoke and ultimately succumbed to esophageal cancer. The connection may be circumstantial, but it is certainly consistent with statistics and medical research. To continue to smoke in light of this is surely irrational behavior.
But Nicotine is a narcotic, an analgesic of sorts, like alcohol, a means for ‘taking the edge off.’ It addresses the profoundest of concerns. The need to blur, even derail rational thought, is as essential to human wellbeing as the need to constrain it – even at the risk of life and limb. Taking the ‘edge’ off is at the very heart of the Religious impulse.
We are made aware of the operating principle on this planet within the first few seconds of arrival: FEAR of not breathing, FEAR of not eating and FEAR of not maintaining the correct temperature are the three, intractable, non-negotiable conditions that must be addressed immediately in order to proceed. They are the primary conditions that will remain constant throughout the rest of our stay. Failure to address them at any time will result in PAIN that will increase until the situation is remedied. Failure to do that will result in termination of sensibility altogether. The forces marshaled against us in this struggle are relentless, remorseless, violent and incomprehensible. As an added indignity, we are made CONSCIOUS of the fact at all times. This is the ‘edge.’
The edge is sharp and we welcome any means for dulling it. Whether literally through narcotic analgesics, or metaphorically through other-wordly Religious palliatives, we do our best to distract ourselves from its insistence. Karl Marx made the connection during the appalling conditions of the Scientific Industrial Revolution: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature,” he wrote “the heart of a heartless world, the soul of a soulless condition… It is the opium of the people.”
Opium is a means for not being here, and not being here is as essential to human existence as being here. This is the fundamental purpose of all narcotics: to short circuit relentless, rational, logical awareness with an irrational, dissociative numbness. Whether it is from physical pain or mental anguish it is a means for detaching from the “heartless world;” a means for ‘getting off,’ that is as old as consciousness itself.
One of the great cinematic icons of twentieth century film was Stanley Kubrick’s ape with the bone in 2001:A Space Odyssey. This was the great ‘aha!’ moment of cause and effect that conceivably initiated man’s rise to technological supremacy: the bone that smashes a carcass was suddenly perceived as a weapon that could be used to smash living competitors.
What makes the image more poignant is that Danny Richter, the actor inside the monkey suit, was stoned on heroin at the time.
Richter explains his addiction and the personal and professional anxieties it caused in his book Moonwatcher’s Memoir. Unquestionably the combination of ‘being here’ and ‘not being here’ inspired a memorable performance, but what makes the image significant in terms of human sensibility, is that the monkey with the bone has another invisible monkey on its back. That monkey is the expression of the ‘edge’ and our desperate need to ‘get off.’
But the need to ‘get off’ brings a whole other order of anxieties: Heroin is addictive and addiction puts us even less in control of our actions, renders us more defenseless in the face of the conditions that confront us. Science has attempted to separate the genetic mechanisms that bind the analgesic and addictive qualities of opiates but to no avail. It is in that fact that the true significance of the image of the ape lies: the methods that we adopt to allay the effects of the incomprehensible reality that assails us, are invariably IATROGENIC: The remedies – including those epitomized by the weapon in the monkey’s hand – simply create more problems.
The moment of that event is ‘inspired’ by the alien monolith, alien in the sense that its source is unknowable, unquantifiable, beyond comprehension. It is an ‘aha!’ moment,’ an epiphany, presented in the form of fiction. When we cannot know what something is, we express it in terms of what it is like, that is the nature of fiction, especially the fiction of Religion. Science decries Religion because it assigns a metaphorical agency to such events, yet anything that changes state involves agency, whether it be called force, gravity, energy, entropy, or – God. Such epiphanies are incalculably rare, but they have determined the course of evolution since the beginning. They are characterized above all by the unpredictable, non-empirical element of chance.
Darwin made a connection between 13 finches on an insignificant group of islands in the Pacific because he happened to be there at that time, with his particular biological mindset from which to extrapolate. One of the most profound changes in human perception was the result. The theories of evolutionary Science are contingent almost entirely on the items we chance to dig up, and much of that is buried under the sea. Given that the discovery of a single human tooth or toe bone can completely redefine our ancestry and pedigree in a heartbeat, our Scientific means for knowing ourselves is woefully constrained.
It was the chance banging of rocks that conceivably moved the Scientific ball along, the magical process of actually summoning something from nothing. The mesmerizing organism of fire, transformed light into darkness, heat into cold and provided us with the earliest of respites. It relieved us from the pain of cold and gave us Time to reflect. It extended our days, and created a different sense of community. Hearts and hearth became one. It was a seminal moment of cause and effect that evoked Science and mystery both – and with them, the beginnings of greater ineffable fears. Hundreds of thousands of years on the same frictional sparks would allow us to shoot projectiles into one another, and beyond that the collisions of yet smaller rocks would obliterate entire cities in a flash. As it has been since the beginning, the possibilities for smashing human competitors are often Science’s first consideration.
The Large Hadron Collider is the latest manifestation of this great banging of rocks routine, the biggest singularly dedicated machine ever built. It is twenty-seven miles in diameter, but by contrast, the rocks it collides are now all but invisible to us. The experiments hope to throw light on the space between matter, but how much light will it throw on the space between Scientists themselves? The matter they investigate permeates the universe, but the system of apprehension that acknowledges it is rare indeed. A human being is infinitesimally small, infinitely rarer yet every single one of them contains within itself the vision of the entire universe and the eternity that enfolds it.
It’s all in the mind and of that Science can tell us nothing, not what it is or even where it is. It can point to where certain thoughts and emotions occur, but as to why they occur at all it does not have a clue. Its methods are tantamount to pointing at the hand of a clock to explain Time.
“X” marks the spot but the “WHY” is nowhere to be found.
Everything exists within the context of Time, and Science with its linear, procedural tick-tock methodology can only amount to a materialistic parochial view of it. No tick is ever longer than the one that precedes or follows it – or bigger, or heavier, smoother, or kinder.
Paleontology is the basis for Evolutionary theory but it merely uncovers the hard parts of history, the bones and fossils, not the soft tissue that really describes us. Without a modern elephant to inform us, would we have been able to envision a mammoth’s trunk? Does the skull of a Proboscis monkey give any real indication of its remarkable appearance? How do we know when proto-human females stopped swelling up into “pink ladies,” as Jane Goodall would describe them, with “one pint mixing bowl” sized rear ends? These superficial soft parts, in turn give no indication of the truly fragile; our emotional bodies: the aspirations, hopes, fears and “sighs” that are the deeper expressions of what we are.
The unreasonable, irrational, atemporal reality of dreams also informs our sense of self. It is a state of mind that allows us to relinquish the need for logical thought, and gain respite from the insistent demand for vigilance, strategy and balance that drives our waking world. The ‘edge’ nevertheless follows us even into this private universe to remind us of our primary conditions: nightmares are as vivid and terrifying as events in our physical reality – even the dead haunt us there. In terms of rational Science these are fictional expressions and even though sleep represents a third of our lives, it can throw no empirical light on it at all.
Analgesic narcotics numb us to anxiety, but other compounds provide the means for deliberately accessing alternate states of mind when fully alert. Naturally occurring hallucinogens have induced atemporal states since the beginnings of consciousness, and some cause more profound disassociation from linear thinking than others. More recently, synthetically created chemicals have been able to replicate the process: quantities no larger than the proverbial head of a pin can fundamentally and irrevocably change our sense of reality altogether. Hallucinogens have been integral to many Religions throughout history and the resulting mindsets have also contributed to Science… and ART, the vast area of human expression The Four Horsemen hardly acknowledge at all. Interestingly, Christopher Hitchens announced that he had never ‘done’ drugs and that he knew “nothing about art.”
Art is not about efficiency and does not concern itself with answers. It is not about linearity, logic or control. Shakespeare, Beethoven, Leonardo and the millions of artists since the caves of Lascaux, have striven to express the transcendent through fictional metaphor. It too is a Religious impulse, the deferential process of acknowledging the ineffable without imposing upon it.
Imagination, wishful thinking and daydreaming are the impetus to Art, Religion and Science, the unquantifiable, intangible means by which we clarify the present and anticipate possible futures. They are also the means for preempting and allaying anxiety – particularly sexual anxiety. The final insult added to the list of Earthly conditions is that we must make more of them – reproduce ourselves that is, and pass the FEAR on to another batch of unwitting souls. Sexual imaginings are by definition the expression of the anxieties and frustrations associated with this imperative, and their individually crafted cinematic narratives are unique to each human being. They are Scientifically immeasurable fictions yet they contribute to our life trajectories no less than the physical bodies that incorporate them.
The Amazing Randi is another member of the anti-irrational, atheistic militancy, commander in chief of the pseudo-Science Bunko Squad. People who insist on theocracy are simply uninformed, Randi tells us, they do not understand the way the real world works. To suggest Aristotle and Newton were uninformed for including Gods in their worldview is a wonderful presumption. Without them, supposedly, their outlook would have been far more realistic.
Randi has a wager of 1 million dollars that no one can demonstrate a ‘paranormal’ act on stage to order – reproduce empirically that is, an event that contravenes or throws into dispute the laws of rational Science. Many spoon benders and clairvoyant clowns have made fools of themselves in the attempt, but the fundamental nature of atemporal, non-rational events is that they are qualitative not quantitative – and equally subject to chance. They cannot necessarily be made to occur on demand, but this does not mean they do not occur at all. I will wager the Amazing Mr. Randi a million dollars, that he cannot appear on stage and get an erection to order – much less fall in love.
Emotional resonance is hardly ‘paranormal,’ but it does not conform to the ‘repeat on demand’ rigors of Science. Trying to guess whether a card has wavy lines or a circle on the back is also a mechanistic, specific-result-oriented approach that has little to do with the implied fields of resonance associated with telepathy. It does not prove one way or another whether the phenomenon is real. The same applies to clairvoyance. Because something cannot be made to happen on demand or happens rarely does not prove it does not exist.
“They say there are flowers that bloom only once every hundred years. Why shouldn’t there be ones that bloom only once every thousand, every ten thousand years? Maybe we just haven’t heard of them up to now because this very day is that once-in-ten-thousand-years.” —Yevgeny Zamayatin “We”
Modern Science acknowledges its debt to the Alchemists, the individuals who first struggled to identify the rules of mathematics, chemistry and physics. But to the Alchemists, Science was merely the metaphor for a far greater process: the comprehension, measuring and refinement of the Alchemist himself. It was a Religious endeavor. Newton and the Enlightenment pioneers also characterized their discoveries in terms of an acknowledgement to God; each new understanding being a further glorification of the greater context in which it existed. Over time, however, ‘man’ became more and more objectified, more and more a material compound devoid of soul or innate ideas. Increasing secularism gradually edged Religion out of the equation, until – as Nietzsche pronounced at the end of the nineteenth century – God was “dead.”
But as Nietzsche also pointed out, the need for God would remain and as he perfectly predicted, those that abandoned conventional Religion would strive to devise other forms of ideological palliative to replace him. In only a few decades, Marx’s materialist vision of man would be the first to try. The Bolshevik “intelligentsia” defined man as a quantifiable, mathematical entity… a Scientifically engineered cog in a flawless machine. In their vision of society no individual would be more or less entitled than another, everyone reduced to a contented number in an equation free of concerns; everyone happy at last.
Science would become the opium of the people.
Trotsky envisioned a future in which, ”…the average human being [would] become an Aristotle, a Goethe, a Marx – and beyond that new peaks [would] rise,” Over the course of seventy years, tens of millions of Russians would die in the process, murdered, starved to death, or worked to death when they failed to conform to the equation. Not one Aristotle was created. There were no ‘aha!’ moments. Original thought was heresy. In the words of Mr. Solzhenitsyn – “… the most morally or intellectually valuable people were extirpated from the population.” (Hitchens was a fashionable Communist at Oxford, despite the appalling record of carnage it had demonstrated up to that point. He later modified his position, in an intellectual nicety, to being a Trotskyite.)
In keeping with Marx’s directive for “…unbridled militant atheism,” Leon Trotsky was responsible for eradicating Religion in Russia. He organized the destruction of all churches, and synagogues, the murdering of bishops and priests, and closed all Religious funded schools, orphanages, hospitals and charities. It was a de-moralizing agenda achieved through brute force and terror that destroyed the ethical compass and value system that focused community. In effect the Bolshevik “intelligentsia” replaced the priests they had eradicated. As it happened, they did not subject Islam to the same ruthless destruction. Their reasons were precisely the reasons The Four Horsemen now focus their attentions upon it.
They narrow their definition of Religion to The Bible and rate the three interpretations of God it represents according to their threat to worldwide stability. Their principal target is Creationism, the myth that initiates Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the absurdist dangerous mindset it engenders. They do not allow that there is any validity to the myth, choosing instead to simply dismiss it as agreed upon superstitious nonsense. In this they demonstrate the same literal-mindedness of which they accuse their opponents.
Creationism is an astute description of the human dilemma – that is why it has endured for so long. It posits the metaphor of Eden, an original state of perfection. Perfection is an impossible condition, since by definition it cannot move, it has no reason to move, it is bound by its perfection. It cannot change. It cannot evolve. A condition that does not change, in effect does not exist. Change is a relative dynamic, requiring contrary forces – things reacting against one another. In order for perfection to change, therefore, it needs a force to react against it. As the metaphor describes, it is relativistic human consciousness that provides this vital ingredient. Imperfect ‘Man and Woman’ react to Eden and bring relative awareness into being. They are ‘cursed’ by this ‘knowledge’ and can never return to the ‘perfect’ state of inertia. They embody imperfection, in order to exist they must forever be wanting.
Science presents precisely this scenario in its theory of the Big Bang: from the impossible state of ‘nothing’ comes the ‘something’ of the universe, the dynamic of reaction and change. It is a strictly materialistic interpretation of change in contrast to the non-materialistic human perspective of Creationism. Both views are contingent on consciousness, but what distinguishes them is that Religion admits that words fail us in our attempt to describe the simultaneous possibility of existence and non-existence; its sheer incomprehensibility is therefore simply referred to as God. Science dismisses this term and is convinced it can assign a tangible value to explain it.
Given the appalling nature of reality, both Science and Religion nevertheless strive to create some new state of perfection. But as the Creationist metaphor points out, the fundamentally contradictory nature of the idea means it can only be achieved if we are no longer conscious – which will ultimately be the case. Eventually, says Science, the material ‘something’ of the universe will revert back to the inertia of ‘nothing.’ Eventually, says Religion, each of us individually succumbs to the perfect inertia of death. In order to allay the fearful anticipation of this ultimate state of non-existence, Religion, unlike its material counterpart, offers the solace of PURPOSE.
Lack of purpose is one of the celebrated tenets of Evolutionary theory as Socratic Daniel Dennett takes pleasure in reminding us. It is a wonderfully Escheresque trick in which he gives purpose to his own life by saying there is none. If that were the case, one cannot help but wonder why he is bothering to tell us, or why his audience is facing towards him not the other way. After umpteen billion years of it, however, Professor Dennett is finally able to mitigate the quandary.
He compares a termite ‘cathedral’ with that of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in order to qualify the anathema of “Intelligent Design.” The evolutionary process has been propelled by chance and expediency, not an overarching intelligence, he reminds us, but finally after billions of years of fortuitous random collisions it has arrived at what might truly be described as ”intelligent designers.” Those would be us no less, Homo sapiens, the wise guys, the culmination of all the mindless fumbling and fucking. There is purpose after all and we are it. There are no Gaudi termites, they are merely “automata”, Mr. Dennett yells us, theirs is a bottom-up process driven by habit, unlike human endeavors that are top-down, driven by mindful intention. Informed by ‘intelligentsia” that is – “people like us.” The “Anointed” as Thomas Sowell so aptly puts it – ‘Chosen’ even.
Science readily incorporates the methodology and terms of Religion – Messianic conviction being only one of them. Apple computers, in the vanguard of Scientific inquiry, take their logo from the Creationist Garden of Eden. In keeping with the ‘dominion over all other life forms’ directive, Arthur C. Clarke was “ashamed” to admit that we haven’t domesticated one new animal, i.e., created one new “servant” (his term) in 5,000 years. In the ‘original sin’ department, arch panty-sniffer Sigmund Freud converted the Catholic confessional into a therapy couch and used the same kind of ‘talk dirty to me’ methodology on his patients as the more questionable of his Religious counterparts. In addition to Rupert Sheldrake’s excommunication for Scientific ‘heresy,’ the pronouncement by so-called Climate Science that “there can be no more debate” is the ultimate expression of Religious dogma.
It is the communication of ideas through language that justifies our exalted place on Dennett’s Tree of Life, the process of blowing air across our teeth and vibrating the eardrums of others with considered truth – making stuff up out of thin air as it were. The fact that communication between other life forms – including termites – might not employ such methods, hardly precludes the idea that an understanding of intention does not occur. Science has simply not discovered the ‘tools’ for perceiving it yet – and there is no telling if and when it will. This is another shortcoming of Science: it is forever short in coming. It may be able to supply answers, but given the circumstances we must endure during the process, the ends cannot possibly justify the meanness.
Science is concerned with answers but as yet it cannot figure out the question. More significantly it has not figured out WHY we are asking it. We are the punchline to an elaborate, consistently nasty joke and we have spent the past 10,000 years trying to figure out the set up. The permutations are infinite: whatever it is, the joke is on us. Stephen Hawking – without a hint of irony – claimed in the 1990s, that by the year 2000, “…we will know how everything works.” This will supposedly include why we need to know it. Twenty years later there is no answer in sight. In the meantime we have experienced worldwide carnage the way we have always done.
Coincident with Hawkins’ pronouncement, the Soviet experiment finally collapsed: the materialist, Scientific, reductionist vision of man had failed. Its successor Cultural Marxism has nevertheless picked up the pieces with its own interpretation of the same obsessions, the same “top-down” ideological convictions that reduce the ‘ignorant masses’ to a common denominator in the interest of Control. Just as its predecessors had attempted a century before, this rebranded Socialism determines to impose its convictions worldwide.
Its “multiculturalist” collectivist agenda has now succeeded in enforcing the intermingling of radical Islam within European culture – and this is the real concern of The Horsemen. This is the reason for their emergency summit. All agree that Christianity and Judaism have all but lost their virulent edge but in Hitchens’ words, radical Islam “must be extirpated.” This is indeed ‘militant atheism’ – and somewhat ironic.
The Horsemen pride themselves on their successes in thinning the ranks of Judeo/Christianity, but they have made next to no impression on their perceived main adversary. In addition, the Cultural Marxist heirs to Hitchens’ very own Trotsky have succeeded in positioning that adversary in the midst of the Democratic Western culture, that made Science – and The Four Horsemen’s ability to speak freely about Religion – possible. Both “militant” Cultural Marxism and “militant” Islam are intent on destroying that culture. Neither of them cares for contrary argument no matter how logical, much less to having their God described as nonsensical fiction. They are monologues that resist innovation, unlike reactive dialogue that encourages it. They strive for “perfect” inertia while Science strives for the ongoing “imperfection” of change. The “militant atheist” Light Brigade, with its appeals to right, truth and reasonableness, may soon be literally at war to defend its side of the Creationist myth it decries.
Pestilence, Famine, War and Death: giddy up.
Right, truth and reasonableness are arbitrary, ephemeral ideas, certainly not the determinants of history. In a reality for which no manual exists, where no instructions are given, there is no criterion against which the truth of any idea can be held. If there is no criterion for truth, then there can be no measure for those who claim to know it. If nothing can be known for certain, how can anyone consider themself smarter at knowing nothing than anyone else?
‘Smart’ is the ape with the bone, the one with the biggest stick and the determination to use it. “As it was in the beginning, so it shall be, world without end.” Human against human is the way of things, but what does it amount to in the scope of a spiraling galaxy? What are four men sitting at a table? Billions of “automata” will go about their business regardless, the way they have always done, even if there is no Science left to record it.
When a man digs his wife and dead children from the rubble and looks up at a million indifferent stars he asks “WHY?” He does not stop to ponder the magnificent economy of Planck’s second radiation constant or Cohn’s polynomial irreducibility criterion. He cares nothing for Darwin and his linear temporal follies. He cries out from the infinite reaches of fundamental human despair.
“Human history is a river of blood,” says director Bela Tarr. This is self-evident. But it is also a river of laughter, a river of triumph and joy. That is the despair.
God is a fiction, a placeholder that has tried since the beginning of consciousness to describe this dilemma. Science is still the Alchemists’ metaphor: a means for trying to come to terms with itself, one more device for getting the monkey off our back, for trying to reach the itch we cannot scratch.
There is no ‘equals’ beyond X+WHY.
The difference between a duck is that one leg is both the same.
There will always be rubble.
MALCOLM MC NEILL’s collection of essays, REFLUX was published in 2014 and is available on Amazon. “X+WHY” is part of REFLUX2.
Other work in progress, include SCIENCE at http://www.malcolmmcneillscience.com