For Record: a note on the significance of the Ben Carson incident at Emory University
|May 18, 2012||Posted by kairosfocus under academic freedom, Atheism, Creationism, Culture, Science, worldview issues/foundations and society|
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:
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?>>
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