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For Record: a note on the significance of the Ben Carson incident at Emory University

On May 16, UD News reported on the Ben Carson speech at Emory, raising some significant issues on the tendency of some Darwinists to toss ad hominem rhetorical stink-bombs at those who question the ethical implications of their views.

(And yes, I am pointing to the unanswered problem that evolutionary materialism, ever since at least the days of Plato in The Laws Bk X, has never been able to objectively ground OUGHT in a worldview foundational IS that they accept.  And in light of what Hume pointed out with his guillotine argument, if such an objective basis for ought does not lie in the foundation of the worldview, it can never be brought in thereafter. Since we cannot have turtles all the way down, and since turtles in a circle is begging the question, we are left with the challenge that to ground ethics, the last turtle must have solid footing in an IS that grounds ought. The strongest candidate for that solid footing is the essentially good, loving creator God. [Cf. here on, for why I so freely say this.] )

Since UD’s News posts tend to move off the discussion focus rather quickly, and since this event is a watershed, let us pause and look again at the video:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

In responding to News, this is what I had to say:

____________________

>>It is indeed saddening that the Darwin censors, by throwing rhetorical stink-bombs, have forced the president of this university to set a policy that no-one who does not pass the Darwinist gauntlet will ever be allowed to speak like this again, ever. Political correctness may have got a well-deserved bloody nose from Dr Carson, but — through this sad precedent — it has won the battle to censor what is said in public from the platform of major universities.

Let us note Dr Carson’s short and gentle rebuttal to the vicious ad hominem:

I know there was some controversy about my views on creation and somebody thought that I said that evolutionists are not ethical people. Of course I would never say such a thing and would never believe such a thing nor would anybody with any common sense.

Next, let us observe ENV’s apt comment on its significance:

How could the four professors who drew up the petition of complaint seriously think he meant to say Darwin believers are morally defective, as opposed to acknowledging what’s obviously true — that Darwinian evolution undercuts any coherent defense of moral principles?

After that, let us listen again to Dr Carson’s warning on the tactics of the ruthless Darwinist factions:

“Political correctness,” . . . “threatens the prosperity and the vitality of our nation.”

Let us then think about what this incident also implies for less eminent people, perhaps a bright grad student, or a young professor who begins to see the holes in the evolutionary materialist picture and knows what nearly happened to Ben Carson at Emory. The bullies got a well-deserved bloody nose because enough people stood up for such a case, but a less eminent person will not have that kind of protection.

Sadly, while the bullies had a bloody nose, they actually won the wider fight to impose politically correct evolutionary materialist censorship on public speech events in the academy. For, no university administrator in future is going to expose himself to this sort of attack. Censorship — in the short run — will be the personally safer path. But in the longer run, the whole civilisation suffers from that imposed censorship and triumph of incivility.

(BTW, see why I am saying that we need to build an alternative independent education system?)

Let us therefore note this underlying trend with shame and alarm for what it means for where the life of the mind is headed in our civilisation.

In addition, let us observe a careful distinction: what Dr Carson here outlined is how an artful strawman distractor can be used to pull attention away from the real issue; the utter want of a worldview foundational IS that can objectively ground OUGHT on evolutionary materialist premises.

What is happening is that this is being willfully twisted into a “how dare you” false accusation that one who raises the worldview foundation issue is implying or saying that all or even most who adhere to the Darwinist origins story are habitually and generally amoral or immoral in their behaviour. Then, with that twist-about rhetorical talking point on the table, there is a convenient excuse to attack the man instead of deal with the rather inconvenient issue.

Those who played this tactic did not hesitate to use it against so eminent a humanitarian as Dr Carson, seeking to besmirch his reputation.

And, nowhere, do we see the faintest sign of the appropriate public apology for this smear.

Ironically, by playing this red herring –> strawman –> ad hominem card, the bullies and censors in fact demonstrate the force of Dr Carson’s actual underlying point: evolutionary materialism tends to undermine the support for that which is moral in our civilisation, because [improperly: we are here looking at a worldview not a scientific theory warranted by actual observations] through dressing itself in the holy lab coat, it holds the prestige of science and in the name of science proclaims, implies or simply assumes — every INTELLIGENT and INFORMED person “knows” — that all that is, is material. But, since on such a premise, one cannot ever objectively ground ought, this destabilises ethics in our civilisation, opening the door to the terrible premise that might and manipulation make ‘right.’

As Plato warned us on what had been happening in Athens c 400 BC, in his 360 BC The Laws, Bk X, such opens the door to ruthless manipulative and intimidatory factions who wish to push agendas on us that if the society had a sounder basis for addressing morality, would never pass the smell test (or even in some cases the giggle test):

[[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC say that] The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

 [[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . [U/D: Cf Weikart's note on how ever so many Darwinists from Darwin's day right down to today say much the same as Plato on the way Darwinism-based views tend to relativise views on morality -- though of course, they probably would not go along with Plato's warning on likely (or, at least, plausible or possible) moral hazards and social consequences. However, it is worth pausing to see Weikart's lecture on some aspects of that, here. ]

Of course, many are tempted to try to tell the truth by the clock — clocks tell time, not the truth — and dismiss such a classical era warning as “pre-enlightenment.”

To such, I solemnly warn, in the voice of Sanatayana and many other historians: those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to relive its worst chapters. As the ghosts of well over 100 millions moan out, reminding us of the history of how the past century plainly played out with the sad story of both the fascist and the communist ideologues once they seized power. And that leaves off the bloody foreshadowing of what radical revolutions animated by the rationalist, empiricist, deist then positivist- materialist spirit would do, that was set by the horrors of the French Revolution and its aftermath.

Nor is this a mere reading back into history of what we now know. For Heine warned in the early 1830′s as follows, for Germany:

Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [--> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . .], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. …

The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

… Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature [ --> I.e. those who became scientists and linked to that explicit or implicit philosophers of science]. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …

At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [--> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [--> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns] will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831.]

That was 100 years ahead of what happened in Germany.

We have been warned and the canaries in the mines are gagging and keeling over, but are we listening?>>

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So, now, on which side of the watershed civilisational divide line will we stand? Why?

For, by the inherent separating forces of such a divide, the longer we wait the more distant will be those who are on one side or the other.

And, so, we need to think about whether we really want to hand our civilisation’s intellectual high ground to uncivil, ruthless factions and politically correct censorship.

Where also, those who refuse to learn from history, historically, have been doomed to repeat its worst chapters.

Where, no less a figure than Karl Marx said of this that history tends to repeat once as tragedy, the second time as farce. (But, in fact, it can repeat as even worse tragedy.) END

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10 Responses to For Record: a note on the significance of the Ben Carson incident at Emory University

  1. 1

    “BTW, see why I am saying that we need to build an alternative independent education system?”

    There is only one way to do this: remove public funding from education. You cannot win against a competitor that has the power to force its customers to pay the fee. You cannot work within the system, because it has calcified and institutionalized around its own interests. It will require a political movement.

  2. Hi TM:

    Thanks for the thought.

    Not necessarily, though. My model here is how the pagan temples — which were state sponsored — were abandoned by the people once they saw a clear alternative.

    If people become convinced that the state and the existing academic guild have been taken over by an agenda (as they plainly have, given what is above . . . shouldn’t Emory be hearing from its alumni and major donors?) they will be willing to invest in an alternative, either as a replacement or a balancing complement. Cf my linked.

    A voucher type system or system of scholarships could work, where people could pick what they want, similar to the old GI bill in the ’50′s. That is why it is being fought tooth and nail by the entrenched ideologised interests. And in case after case, they are able to instil enough fear into the general public to get them to vote for the system.

    So, I say it is time to walk away.

    There is nothing less viable than a plantation without slaves or sharecroppers.

    KF

  3. 3

    Of course they are resisting. That’s why it will require a massive public political movement. What else are you talking about when you say “abandoned by the people”?

  4. 4

    In a democratic republic, “abandonment by the people” is a political movement. We the people are in charge, so when we abandon public education, it will lose its public funding and not before. There are plenty of private alternatives already, but they will never be able to compete with profligate public research dollars, because that’s basically free money until the people say otherwise.

  5. TM:

    The key difference is that a walkaway does not require any overcoming of the power systems in or behind the now corrupted schools.

    Dis-satisfied customers taking their trade elsewhere, in short. That does not in itself require political campaigns and attempts to change court rulings and laws. Let them indoctrinate empty rooms scorned by parents and students who will have nothing further to do with the propaganda mills, and let them address having to justify state funding to do so. Especially where fearless reporters have exposed what is going on. (Think about what is happening post climategate.)

    And it is not “free money,” it is taxes extracted to support ideological indoctrination.

    The need to remove oneself from institutions that are violating their proper role is thus the key motive; out of concern for one’s children and a need to go to where one will be educated not propagandised, indoctrinated and manipulated or even intimidated. And BTW, that is also what happened when people walked away from established state supported religious institutions.

    Empty temples told their own clear message.

    KF

  6. TM,

    I have an old college friend in PA who wanted to open a statewide online charter school for grade school aged students with special needs. A school that strayed from the secular orthodoxy of the public school system, but did not stray from the state curriculum standards.

    After about 5 years of fighting with the state board of education, the school opened and is still in operation with over 2,000 students statewide. Most of the issues were as follows: they ran a daycare in the building where the school office was located, which was against regulation since the school was not for profit, while the daycare was. Also, the state did not object to their curriculum outright, just that it had to meet state standards, which during the initial application process, it did not. But with a few fixes they were in business.

    That’s one example of how it can be done.

    The one area that might be a problem, but which I believe is fixable without making it a political issue is in the area of curriculum. It won’t be the same from state to state though. Whatever supplemental material you would use (particularly with science education) has to be approved in some states, but not in others.

    Apparently online charter schools are legal, and they have a lot of leeway as far as what they can teach as long as they are meeting education standards. It appears that what KF has in mind would far exceed most or all state education standards. This is primarily why charter schools get approved; because they do something that is well above the standards, while many public schools struggle just to meet those standards.

  7. CY (& TM):

    Thanks for some key insights from on the ground.

    My first thought is exactly that something is wrong where you have to “fight” a board of education for five years to do something that is obvious, and obviously right.

    That this is the state of the infamous Dover trial is probably not entirely coincidental, and if anything is a case of indoctrination and censorship being imposed by court order, that is. And that the Judge in question not only copied the ACLU/NCSE misrepresentations into his judgement in the teeth of what his eyes saw and his ears heard is bad enough, what is worse is how he thought that watching the agitprop film Inherit the Wind would set him in a fit frame of mind to assess the case.

    My comment is, it is time to walk away from such corruption.

    Let us notice Wiki on Charter Schools:

    Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school’s charter.[1] Charter schools are opened and attended by choice.[2] While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition. Where enrollment in a charter school is oversubscribed, admission is frequently allocated by lottery-based admissions systems. However, the lottery is open to all students.[3] In a 2008 survey of United States charter schools, 59% of the schools reported that they had a waiting list, averaging 198 students.[4] Some charter schools provide a curriculum that specializes in a certain field—e.g., arts, mathematics, or vocational training. Others attempt to provide a better and more efficient general education than nearby public schools. Charter school students take state-mandated exams.[5]

    Some charter schools are founded by teachers, parents, or activists who feel restricted by traditional public schools.[6] State-authorized charters (schools not chartered by local school districts) are often established by non-profit groups, universities, and some government entities.[7] Additionally, school districts sometimes permit corporations to manage chains of charter schools. The schools themselves are still non-profit, in the same way that public schools may be managed by a for-profit corporation. Corporate management does not affect the status of a school. In the United States, though the percentage of students educated in charter schools varies by school district, only in the New Orleans Public Schools system are the majority of children educated within independent public charter schools.

    To this I say, once you are on the public purse directly, you are under the control of the politicians and their bureaucrats, who in this day and age are liable to be dominated by all sorts of ideological agendas. To pick just one instance that speaks to a pivotal social institution in our civilisation, I am sure that the public schools would be used as a primary means to push through the homosexualisation of marriage through indoctrination, should this ever become a general institution under colour of law. And, as we speak, under the same colour of law, indoctrination in evolutionary materialism in the name of science, is an ongoing effort.

    Let us never forget, Alinsky’s teachings and other indoctrination in radicalism, is also embedded in teacher training and professional development. And these days, “mainstreaming” is the name of the game for the ideologues. Multiply this by the ingrained tendency to willfully misrepresent those they object to and what they have to say, to smear persons and polarise issues to seize power by subversive manipulation, and the tendency of too many journalists to be peas from the same pod and you will see why I argue that a greenfield — or brownfield — fresh start is where we need to go.

    Don’t merely wave the BATNA card as a negotiating tactic, walk away. If someone is willing to lie about and slander you as policy and habit, that person and the institution s/he represents, is utterly unworthy of trust. Period.

    Why should you want to be “educated” by habitual liars and slanderers, or by those craven enough to provide the foot soldiers for the institution occupying armies of the lies?

    That makes no sense.

    Walk away, and make it clear why you are burning bridges and will not return under any circumstances. And I mean, walk away, period. The sort of highly Machiavellian operatives we are dealing with are experts on inducing co-dependency by false promises of improvement and requests for compromise.

    The burned hand teaches best.

    Where, betrayal of public trust is, frankly, just that: betrayal.

    But then, if it succeed, none dare call it betrayal.

    You have breach of trust backed up by resistance to corrective reform and multiplied by lies, which is material cause to terminate dealings if there ever was.

    “Manos arriba, traidor!”

    Walk away, change the door locks and the phone numbers. The ideologues need to learn that you mean it and will not be allowing them to worm their way in to subvert the new beginning. That means setting up community based, stakeholder-led governance in accord with principles that are tested to secure future safety and happiness. And, “eggspurts” with a track record of being part of the betrayal, you need to know that we will not be kowtowing to the holy lab coat or edicts of your new magisterium. Back to the manifestly well-warranted facts, first principles of right reason and sound epistemology and logic — including as applied to science, openly examining strengths and weaknesses.

    That one goes all the way back to Luther at Worms.

    And yes, the echo of the US DOI, 1776 is also deliberate. It worked, until we started to neglect its principles. (Did you know that people as far away as Japan were studying what happened in the US and were trying new initiatives?)

    And BTW, in Wilson’s Arte of Rhetorique, the advice was that if you cannot address a point, walk by it pretending it does not exist. (That is why the silence on key points and subjects here at UD may be the sign that they are the strongest points of all.)

    When it comes to the pivotal issue of origins science, my suggestion has long been that we should create a programme of community-based seminars, with different levels of access:

    1: Full participation for students at roughly an advance placement/early college level, through a web based period of study and development of a “science fair” type project culminating in a week-long community based seminar, and leading onward to assessment and formal statement of achievement.

    2: Full participation at higher level for educators in practice or in training, leading to similar assessment and professional credits.

    3: A one day summary seminar (with presentations and displays of projects by those at levels 1 & 2), for interested community members and leaders.

    4: A festival of evening sessions with keynote speeches [and/or multimedia presentations or movies like privileged planet etc], panels of “expert” response and public questions, answers and discussion.

    5: As a closing exercise to the week of public sessions, the presentation of a local declaration of findings and principles leading to a call to organised action, as a charter for an onward action programme of reformation.

    6: Through assessments at appropriate levels, issuing of statements of participation and/or achievement, hopefully backed by a decent community college.

    The IOSE is of course a rough draft towards that sort of programme.

    Something like this is now needed, and I assure you, it would hit home hard where it counts. Immunisation from indoctrination in evolutionary materialism under false colour of science multiplied by preparation to think, work and act in light of a sounder approach, in one’s studies, work, and community involvement, multiplied by a growing network of the involved, would have dramatic cumulative impact.

    At primary education and secondary levels, we need independent schools, and I favour the networked approach. At Associate level, I think a cyber college linked to a community based network would make a difference. At higher levels, established institutions need to develop blended community and campus based programmes.

    The current education debt crisis and the rise of the Tablet — I see where OLPC released their US$ 100 XO-3 at CES in January (I missed this!) — open a door of major opportunity over the next several years.

    And BTW, community-based, independent schools in a network would be very resistant to the sort of state school subversion that has happened.

    KF

    PS: CY, do email me.

  8. 8

    Creationists and private religious schools have been doing all those things for decades in the U.S. Really ever since the 60s.

  9. 9

    The real problem is our society is artificially, through coercion, sending a massive amount of everyone’s resources to a group of elites who have a bare minimum of actual support from the population. This is an economic and ultimately political problem.

  10. TM:

    Yes there are private schools, many of which do a lot of good. That is not yet the magnitude of recognition of what has gone wrong and walkaway that is needed.

    EMPTY the temples and leave the priests to preach to the choir!

    Next, the problem of arrogant, self-perpetuating elites that extract economic rent and act on agendas not in the general interest is an old one.

    The answer has always been the same: (i) sunshine drives out corruption, and (ii) serious alternatives break monopolies. Which is where I want to go for edu.

    BTW odd how the thread that is discussing edu is the one on the moral issue and the one that ended up on morality is the one on edu!

    KF

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