Monday, October 26, 2015

Hate Mail - Science Is A Two Edged Sword The Enlightenment Was Based On A Convenient Lie

Chris Hedges, another skeptic of the value of the Enlightenment, has noted that its rejection of the idea of original sin, of the absolutely proven capacity of people to do evil, was what made it so dangerous.  The utopian vision of science and reason curing all the ills of human society that so easily and quickly leads to the decision by those utopians that anyone who either doesn't cooperate with their scientifically, reasoned out plan for a better if not perfect world has to either be made to or, more typically, to be killed has certainly been a notable feature of so many efforts to improve the world since the alleged triumph of science and reason in the 18th century.  It is what I noted in its first try out as applied science in the French Revolution and in its more developed and potently homicidal forms in the Nazi and Marxist applications of science in the 20th century.

For myself, I'd agree with Hedges on that point but I think there is an even more basic irrationality in the idea that science is going to cure the disasters of human behavior, especially those of large groups of people.   Those are not failures of science or reason.   Science, from its earliest applied forms in physics and chemistry were used to make weapons and war more effective in killing and controlling people through terror.   Guns and big guns, cannons, were early products of science, science and the scientists who do it have had a continued responsibility in making both far more potent killing machines, in the hire of those who wanted to use them to kill and terrorize and, therefore, get what they wanted, more wealth, more power, more of the satisfaction that the depraved get from killing and destroying.

Killing, stealing, enjoying causing pain and fear are not issues of science and reason, those are issues of morality.   It is a lack of morality that has been responsible for those throughout human history.  I mentioned last week the idiocy of allowing science to be invented with an in-built exemption from considerations of the morality of its methods and results.  I don't think that was done for any rational reason, its absence has certainly not been a boon to humanity, though it certainly is for those who want to use it for those purposes.  The stupidity and hypocrisy of Steven Weinberg's snarky comment about religion being what makes good people do bad things got it entirely backward, science is the excuse for those who are required to be taken as good people to do the worst things in the employ of the worst people.   And science has been the camp follower, the prostitute of the worst people from the time the earliest scientists built better armaments for the princes and kings of Europe and elsewhere.  Science made the automatic weapons that murder our school children, science makes atomic and nuclear killing machines, science will build the computerized drone weapons which promise to be the next horror that scientists, exempted of any moral consideration as they build ever more potent killing machines for whoever they work for, build for their patrons.  In the west and in almost every other country, those guys aren't religious in either their inclinations or their conduct, they are as secular as they get as were the champion murderers of our modern history.

The good that science does is certainly offset by the bad.  Vaccine creation is not where most of the science dollars are spent.  The science of creating new medications is far less likely to produce safe and effective medications, these days, they're more likely to create new means of drugging people oppressed by the horrors of modern life and the imaginary problems they get from consuming too much TV and other media.  Or in the dubiously good idea of geezers being able to have more sex with more people.  If scientists would like to be curing more diseases or at least treating or even preventing them, science, as a corporate activity follows the money.   The idealistic view of science is sadly, not realistic in the large majority of cases, it never was.  The use of science to produce death and misery was already well established by the time of the French Philosophes, their view was always the opposite of realism, it was romantic and a self-serving lie in service to their ideology.

Materialism, science, atheism are, all of them are means of denying the necessity of morality strong enough to overcome the desire to use evil to get what you want.  The fact is that intelligent people who are so inclined can use their intelligence to multiply their power to more effectively get what they want and to find means of doing that while talking themselves out of any kind of moral restrictions against doing what they want to do.    Knowlege without moral restraint is more dangerous than stupidity without moral restraint because knowledge has that multiplying effect and science is our most potent means of optimizing that factor.  The idea that it was the key to a more moral world as opposed to those religions that contain ideas that you shouldn't do to other people what you wouldn't want done to you was always a stupid idea, one which would take some very clever double talk to allow you to pretend it was what it so clearly wasn't and which scientists had, by their own agreed to choice, exempted from that moral consideration.

Update:  Well, you could have looked for Hedges saying that, yourself, I'm not lying about it.   You can hear that he is a lot less critical of Freud and Darwin than I've been, adults can agree to disagree about some things, the idea that anyone who doesn't conform to your thinking is totally discredited is jr. high thinking, not adult thinking.  Grow up.

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