Thirty-year-old book more true now than ever: Today’s irrationalism is a product of naturalism
|March 30, 2012||Posted by News under Darwinism, Culture, News|
Written nearly thirty years ago, it is perhaps more pertinent even today than when Baum (who died in 1986) first wrote it. I think its essence can be distilled in one paragraph, which I offer as food for thought:
Yet today must we not acknowledge that naturalism has failed to deliver the progress promised by its champions? The hopes it once engendered no longer fire adult imaginations: we know that man is not evolving toward perfection, that in fact man is not significantly evolving; where Marxism has triumphed it has established tyranny, not a realm of freedom; instead of uplifting the instinctive animal in us, Freudianism has licensed him.
For over a century naturalism has drawn thought and practice into conformity with itself, at once persuading men that they are essentially brutes yet encouraging them to develop and augment their powers without let or limit–and the results in this century’s indices of war, tyranny, fiscal profligacy, suicide, and discontent, and in the dark overhang of nuclear and biological weaponry, look more and more like human regress. Do we not simply pay the evidence its due if we view enthusiasm for the naturalistic doctrines examined in these pages as symptomatic of a singularly bloody century’s deep demoralization?
From the Amazon site,
What, often obscured by the commentaries they inspired, did Darwin, Marx, and Freud actually assert? What in the end did they withdraw? Here, in one well documented book, are concise and accurate statements of doctrine whose impact on the modern world can hardly be exaggerated. In Doctors of Modernity R. F. Baum, whose work has been applauded by thinkers as diverse as Sir Karl Popper and the late P. A. Sorokin, provides critical assessments of Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism in the light of empirical fact and logic. So doing, Baum uncovers in their propositions a denigration of mind and reason that undercuts the same propositions’ claims to rationality and truth. Baum traces this irrationalism to Darwin’s, Marx’s, and Freud’s common naturalism or atheism. Pointing out, perhaps to the reader’s surprise, that what is most convincing in Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism was anticipated long ago in the teaching of Doctors of the Church, Baum’s conclusion argues briefly for reconsideration of non-sectarian theism. A substatial contribution to this generation’s re-thinking of fundamental issues, Doctors of Modernity will prove invaluable to college students and reflective adults.
Fact and logic were racing truth to the bottom as the first casualty, and it is going to take a long time to clean up the mess.