Wednesday, October 14, 2015
The Conventional Lies of History That Are Embedded In Our Common Received Body of "Knowledge"
As was mentioned here a few weeks back, the great quest of physicists and cosmologists who are going after their (un)holy grail of a theory of everything are engaged in an absurd contradiction of one of the harder facts uncovered by modern physics and mathematics, that no humanly known means of knowing something completely, even the construction of any logical system can ever have complete closure and be all inclusive. I quoted the eminent mathematician and scientist and brilliantly succinct user of the English language, Jacob Bronowski,
One aim of the physical sciences has been to give an exact picture of the natural world. One achievement of physics in the twentieth century has been to prove that that aim is unattainable.
And he was talking about the scientific study of some of the simplest (seeming) objects which human intellects have ever sought to know completely and exhaustively. You would think that the inability of scientists to ever entirely account for the entirety of an electron would prove to them the futility of coming up with a theory which will account for the entire range of all electrons and all other objects in the universe.
But that isn't the case. Those scientists who are engaged in that obviously futile quest, at enormous public expense, I will add, are granted some of the greatest respect and reverence and it is the intellectual class, within science and, perhaps even more so, outside of science, that have granted them that position. I can also add that there are those within science whose work is less esteemed because it is less abstract and more useful and even vital to our continued existence as a species who share my skepticism of this situation. My sister-in-law who is a research biologist can be quite eloquent over the allocation of money and resources on the basis of celebrity and repute as opposed to utility and even a prospect of success in reaching the goals announced, which don't necessarily favor those with some prospect of doing something useful.
The conceit of the would-be intellectual class is that our activities remove us from the deluded world of the hoi polloi, a conceit which we could well have imbibed from those original intellectual snobs, Socrates and Plato, though there was probably far more than enough of that going around in the world at their time and after, it is certainly known in other intellectual traditions. It is one of the great themes of human life, everywhere. I will point out that a great exception of that is found in the Jewish-Christian strain of thought which dominates the Second Testament in the Bible which is remarkably free of it and which has been one of the things which I have come to believe is the actual motive of the hatred of Christianity by the intellectual and economic elite* which dominates in the modern era. It has far more to do with the maintenance, keeping and increase of social status than it does any intellectual matters and is related to the general, would-be aristocratic disdain of the useful which esteems "pure science" more than it does applied science and abstract generalization over specific and generally more accurate knowledge. Of course, when money can be made in great amounts, that, in itself, adds repute to the work done, though not as much as that gained by its sale. If there is something notable about our intellectual snobs, it's that they can drop the pose when faced with flashy toys and the allure and glamor of wealth. A lot of them are big phonies.
The past few days I've been discussing a general narrative in the far, far more complex and detailed realm of history, though, the narrative which assigns blame to Christianity for Nazism, a case which begins with the rather daunting chasm between, not only the words and commandments of Jesus and his earliest followers and those of the men who defined Nazism and ordered the breaking of every one of those commandments and who, at the same time, were engaged in the destruction of every Christian institution. Yet that narrative assigning blame for the Nazis to Christianity is almost ubiquitous and has been promoted in the media, in the publishing industry, in academia to the point where it has become a master narrative among the self-regarded intellectual class in the English speaking world and elsewhere. It is hardly the only inaccurate narrative attack against Christianity made by the same sources.
Among their many follies, their own contradictions and logical disconnects and prejudices, there is one thing that the right has gotten right, there is a concerted attack on the reputability of Christianity in the intellectual establishment. It is not a mere correction of details and flaws in Christians understanding of their own history and intellectual content, it is a concerted attack that introduces outright lies and distortion of the intellectual content of Christianity and a magnification of any flaw found among even a tiny number of Christians into a universal definition of the billions of people who are and have been professed Christians. I had started becoming aware of that attack quite a while back but it is in the past ten or so years of looking harder at the original source materials surrounding Darwinism that I was struck at how intimately those men of science tied their attack on Christianity to their scientific efforts. Why was it that Haeckel's History of Creation, a book identified by Charles Darwin as one of the most important SCIENTIFIC texts about the science of evolution so concerned with the destruction of morality, quite specifically Christian morality. And, let me point out again, IN A BOOK ABOUT SCIENCE. And that was not an outlier in the coming century and a half, many books intended to be taken as science and accepted as science contained similar attacks, not only on the fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis and such stories as the sun standing still for Joshua but, more so, on the very concept of morality as set out in the Mosaic Law and the Gospel of Jesus, those very requirements of charity and care for the least among us, to not do violence, to passivity in the face of attack, that were, also, disdained by the Nazis and which definitively separates Nazism from Christianity.
That there are Christians who don't follow the teachings of Jesus logically defines them as failed Christians, it doesn't honestly define or even describe Christians who are more successful at following those teachings, or, at least, that would be the case if reason were the governing factor in the general narrative instead of purposeful prejudice and self-interest which doesn't find that bit of reason convenient to it. There were a whole hell of a lot of scientists who were members of the Nazi party, none of whom were ever tossed out of the rolls of science, many of them, after the war, went on teaching in university departments of science and in laboratories for governments and industry. Some of those, such as Werner von Braun who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity suffered nothing much, legally or intellectually, as a result of killing people through bombs and slave labor. Konrad Lorenz was an example in the biological sciences. To be intellectually honest, the people who assign blame to Christians for things they opposed and even fought against would have to assign universal blame to all of science and technology for the sins of the Nazis among them. No liberal Christian would ever use the thinking of those who mixed Nazism with Christian content, scientists have never had much problem using the thinking of scientists who mixed racism with things like evolutionary science or anatomical knowledge gained through mass murder.
That it was hard to follow the teachings set out by Jesus was something he pointed out, the gate was narrow and hard to get through, there was no royal road to following them and he also pointed out that the rich and famous would find it a lot harder to do than the humble. The Gospel of Jesus is so radically egalitarian, so leveling that it holds that not only will the last be first but that the least among us are the very representation of God made manifest in the world so that what we do to them determines our very salvation. It is a gospel which is bound to frustrate and win the hatred of anyone who is in love with the idea of their own superiority and with the esteem, fame and wealth that come with status. If followed it would not only frustrate attempts to hoard and steal and concentrate wealth, it would make it impossible.
Everything within the Gospel of Jesus is opposed to everything in Nazism, it is the opposite of Nazism, even the identity of its central figure, born, living and dying a Jew who cited and expanded on the Jewish prophetic tradition. Any Christian who either joined the Nazi party or failed to resist them was a Christian corrupted by the opposite of what the man they consider as speaking with the authority of God taught. They were, out of fear or temptation, putting other Gods before the Hebrew God, they were breaking the most fundamental of all of the commandments as taught by Jesus.
Yet all of that has been ignored or denied by those who push that master narrative, which has been aided by an ignorance of the teachings of Jesus and an ignorance of what those who defined Nazism in theory and in practice said and did. And it is a narrative which is as obviously ideological purposeful as it is ahistorical. It is whopper of a lie, one which it is clear any amount of contradicting evidence will find hard if not impossible to overcome, but it is a lie and a lie that needs to be overturned. Why it needs to be overturned is that its overturning will undermine the current version of those racist, elitist political and social movements which are always going to arise whenever people hanker after and can achieve power and wealth through the most evil of means. The targets of those efforts may not be the Jews, Roma, Pols, Slavs, etc. but it will have its own list. The current ones in the United States are Muslims, Africans, Latinos, etc. As also mentioned here recently, the Bible also says that the truth will set you free and you can't know the truth while you also buy a lie, especially a really big one which denies the one thing which the liars so hate.
* As pointed out by Al Franken, among others, the "Christianity" which is generally pushed by the economically powerful is a far cry from that taught in the Gospels and in the epistles of James, Paul and the rest of them. But that's for another post.
Posted by The Thought Criminal at 7:07 AM