Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sojourner Truth Will Tell Us More About How To Make Progress than Sam Harris

In the paper by Thomas Lessl which I recommended the other day, he has amply demonstrated that even some of the most renowned and respected scientists have foisted a frequently false, absurdly reductionist view of the famous trial of Galileo for clearly ideological purposes.

One of the most striking things about that is how little the actual man, Galileo Galilei, is part of their morality play. He, as much as the other people and events of those accounts, is entirely distorted and made to serve purposes that the real man, as found in his own words, would have rejected.   He was a firmly committed religious believer, a Christian, a Catholic who would certainly not have welcomed being turned into a tool of modern atheists in their attacks on Christianity and the scriptures which he obviously had read and taken seriously. Anyone who has done what almost no scientist has, read Galileo on the topic of religion, could never mistake him as an atheist.

Copernicus, who is presented in even more crude a fashion would certainly have rejected the role he's cast in by modern atheists considering that he was at least a minor cleric in real life (some say he was ordained but I haven't been able to confirm that) and that his scientific work was encouraged by, sponsored by and in some cases commissioned by the Catholic Church.  Anyone who read Copernicus's De Revolutionibus would know better than that as he dedicated it to Pope Paul III and mentioned the encouragement he had had from cardinals and bishops, including a letter of encouragement from Nicholas Schönberg, Cardinal of Capua.

As mentioned, the religious, neo-pagan mystic, Giordano Bruno is transformed into a modern scientist instead of the guy who used his own version of Copernicus to support his heretical ideas, the thing he was actually burned at the stake for, there being no Church position on the Copernican system until a number of years after he died.

The extent to which the habits of scientists to reduce, extract, abstract and characterize specimens from human experience and real life are at work in this man handling of people and history is worth considering.  The very habits of science lead to finding very generalized truths about very simple things and there is nothing simple in history, human lives of specific human beings and their actions in societies and institutions and in time.  The extent to which scientists can confidently assert their totally distorted and stereotyped characters and scenarios tell us anything about reality is quite shocking when you read the paper and other accounts from scientists about the Galileo trial, holding it up against the actual evidence we have for that.  And the role that the arrogance into which scientists are acculturated plays a role in that, as well.

As is so often the case, even eminent scientists demonstrate their disrespect for history, historical accuracy, the certain evidence of the primary documentary material relevant to the case, including that WRITTEN BY THE VERY GALILEO AND COPERNICUS in order that other people understand what they believe, who they use as heroes in their myths.  Which is odd, considering that scientists are held up as heroes in a mythological quest for truth and respect for evidence.  Only, as the history of science shows, they're, if anything, as if not more fast and loose with that when they figure they can get away with outside of their professional publication and as it serves the ideology they share with their colleagues and admirers.  That they are ready to lie about those things is troubling.   Their disrespect for historical accuracy is especially troubling, considering the power of the things they manipulate and the absurd and unquestioning reverence even many of them expect to be shown to them.  It is one of the most dangerous of all modern delusions that could end up getting us all killed.


Lessl ends his paper by saying:

To expect the scientific culture to offer a more balanced view of these events might be reasonable, but it would be unrealistic.  Those who promulgate scientific folklore are not only naive historians but also partisan political actors who are little motivated to alter longstanding narrative conventions which serve to uphold their interests.  Moreover, the values that are championed in the Galileo legend are shared with the broader culture of modernism.  Modernity looks to the scientific culture as a kind of moral exemplar which upholds in some ideal fashion its values of rationalism, liberalism, and individualism.  The more general culture of modernism is similarly unlikely to protest such aberrations of historical consciousness because it shares with science a belief in binary oppositions between reason and faith, knowledge and authority, and between Scripture and the light of nature.

Being a political blogger the extent to which science upholds liberalism and even individualism have turned out to be important to what I write about.  And I don't think it is reliably helpful in either case.  I have come to see that through Darwinism but, more generally, through materialism both the view of human beings as free thinking individuals having a status as a locus of rights and moral responsibilities has been damaged by science.  And even more so, the political liberalism that is a moral necessity of that status held by people is undermined by the assumption that people as thinking beings, their minds, their lives can become the subjects of science.  The history of psychology, sociology, anthropology, when falsely granted the status of science, gives no one any reason for confidence on that count.

I think the role of science and modernism in necessarily leading to liberalism is amply disproved by the actual history of both of them.  Modernism was compatible with the most oppressive political movements of the 20th century, even that one most generally given as the greatest example of right wing dictatorships, Nazism and fascism, and the ones mistaken as being nearer to liberalism on the imaginary line of political identity, Stalinism, Maoism and other forms of Marxism.   Science was certainly compatible with all of those and anything which scientists will work for.   Nazi science was no less science than science done under the Roosevelt administration, the science done for Stalin was, as well, totally acceptable as science.  Science gave Stalin The Bomb, and to Mao and whatever regime governs Pakistan, secular or, perhaps sooner than we'd like to think of, an Islamic fundamentalist government.  Science sold that ability to the Kim regime in North Korea.

Science is morally fungible, independent of the moral character of the regime, corporation or individual who gets hold of it.  It has no moral character and can take on whatever one it is associated with.  Scientists have not proven to be of any higher moral character than anyone else and even the most morally admirable of them will publish and make their science available to the most morally reprehensible person who ever lived.  To endow it and its professionals with the halo of morality is insanely unrealistic.

The association of liberalism with science and with modernism is not supported by looking hard at the common received wisdom that it is the product of those things.  You have to be willing to look at the original source materials of the case, virtually all of the secondary academic writing on that buys into an ideological distortion of that history and the tertiary level junk that is derived from that, what informs the popular level of atheism today, is totally false rubbish.  I think this is what led to liberalism being hollowed out and turned into the plaything of idiotic ideologues instead of a means of gaining office and changing laws.  And the results have been the disaster of the past half century, as the materialists took over from the Reverends and those whose political activism were informed by the Prophets and the Gospels.   It was the story of the children of Israel escaping bondage from the Egyptians, the greatest technological and political center of the time, which fueled the great civil rights struggles. Sojourner Truth can be profitably compared to Thomas Huxley on that count. Nevermind Richard Dawkins and others undermining the very basis of liberalism through destroying the possibility of believing in  individualism.

More to come.


  1. "Science is morally fungible"

    Indeed, like a superpower, it can be used for good or evil (however that is determined morally). And we've seen how some scientists like those on the Manhattan Project feel they're just pursuing knowledge and aren't culpable for the results.

  2. No coincidence the stereotype of the "mad scientist" came along after the Bomb.