Saturday, April 08, 2017

Postmodernism and Leftism

Over at American Thinker, Paul Austin Murphy has a piece called "Postmodernism is Leftism" that perfectly articulates things I've felt for a long time.  The thesis is that as socialism fell out of favor in the late 60s, philosophers committed to a leftist worldview constructed a new set of ideas, consciously or not, that kept socialist ideas alive.  

He builds his article on a book by Stephen Hicks, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault .   Hicks ties part of his thinking to a religious commitment to socialism.  "“You feel that socialism is true; you want it to be true; upon socialism you have pinned all your dreams of a peaceful and prosperous future society and all your hopes for solving the ills of our current society.”

Whatever the motivation, Murphy writes "It can be said that sceptical epistemology, deconstruction, etc. are all means to achieve the political ends which can't be sustained by truth, evidence and argumentation."  

I've written here many times that the denial of objective truth cannot lead anywhere good.   I've objected to postmodern nonsense time and time again.   If there is no objective truth, and truth is a "mask to power", than all that is left is raw battle for power.  If an existing political and social order is to be replaced, it first has to be delegitimized and destroyed.   If that cannot be done by argumentation, then it is diabolically cunning to cut the roots away from the very concept of argumentation and truth.  

What else can explain the recent epidemic of political movements built on ideas that fly in the face of evidence and common sense?   How else to explain why "climate change" is impervious to a simple objection that the predicted rise in oceans and mass destruction have not occurred?   Or that sex and gender are suddenly unrelated so taht gender and race are mere subjective "identifications" in the mind of one individual that everyone else must acknowledge with no objective way to evaluate.  How else to understand the recent campus activities of radical leftists who shout down all who dare disagree, refuse to engage in any debate, but simply shout leftist slogans to prevent alternative viewpoints from being heard?

The article notes that "Hicks cites the example of Stanley Fish who “calls all opponents of racial preferences bigots and lumps them in with the Ku Klux Klan”. He also cites the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin. She “calls all heterosexual males rapists and repeatedly labels 'Amerika‛ a fascist state”. (So too does Chomsky!) All this, therefore, is simply a variant on the many Leftists who suffer from Tourette's syndrome when they repeatedly and uncontrollably shout “racist”, “bigot”, “xenophobe”, “Nazi”, etc. at literally anyone who dares to opposes them.

And if truth is constructed, then leftists need not concern themselves with the horrific failures of socialism in the recent events in Cuba or Venezuela.   "Rorty, as quoted by Hicks, said: 'I think that a good Left is a party that always thinks about the future and doesn’t care much about our past sins.'”  Never mind how many millions have died under communist dictatorships, it is enough to simply scream "fascist" at anyone who suggests that a reasonable immigration policy be enforced or that biological males ought not shower with 14 year old girls.

But what strikes me is the connection between postmodernism and leftism spelled out clearly. 

"..nearly all these intellectuals did indeed begin their lives as outright communists/socialists. Michel Foucault, for example, was a member of the French Communist Party from 1950 to 1953. Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard was an active member of the Marxist group Socialisme ou Barbarie (Socialism or Barbarism) for twelve years. As for Jacques Derrida, he was a writer for the well-known Maoist Tel Quel journal. (Hicks quotes Derrida as saying: “Deconstruction never had meaning or interest, at least in my eyes, than as a radicalization, that is to say, also within the tradition of a certain Marxism, in a certain spirit of Marxism.”) Richard Rorty's case is less clear-cut, both in terms of political activity and ideological allegiance. Nonetheless, he once strongly supported the American Socialist Party, specifically the union leader A. Philip Randolph."

How to wake up slumbering Americans to the Trojan horses in their midst - when so many have lost the ability to think critically and when we all are lulled to sleep by the seemingly innocuous peace of 100s of entertaining cable channels and our main concern is making sure we have a retirement nest egg or something to pass on to our kids?   

I am more and more convinced it is fruitless to try to reason with those who have denied the concept of reason.   I fear what some are saying is true, a new civil war is fully underway. Wars happen when negotiations have failed.   That seems to be our state.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

President Trump

I have to admit I am a bit shocked.

As one who would have wished for someone other than Trump to oppose the lawless and radical Alinskyite Hillary Clinton, I did not believe Trump had a chance.  What does it mean?

For starters it means that Hillary really was a worse candidate than Trump.   Her baldfaced lies about just about everything, her clear corruption in using the Clinton foundation as part of a massive pay-for-play scheme, her utter incompetence on foreign policy and her reckless disregard for both the law and national security with her email server fiasco clearly had an effect.

It also means that a good chunk of the American public are sick and tired of being told that only politically correct left wing ideals can qualify as "justice" or "compassion".   I have no doubt that the race baiting of the left upsets a lot more people than the charges of racism hurled at everyone to the right of Al Sharpton.

But it means as well that both parties have lost touch with a majority of Americans.  The reason Trump was the candidate was in part because significant numbers of voters on the right simply did not want another Bush, another establishment Republican or anybody at all who was part of the system.

While that can be a good thing, it can also be a dangerous one.   Fixing the corruption, cronyism, and inertia that is Washington is necessary - but no doubt some want to burn it down altogether.

We'll see what happens.   My hope is that with Republicans controlling both houses and the presidency, at least the Supreme Court will not become a tool of the left and that some of the illegal executive actions the current president has taken can be rolled back.  I hope that the guiding principles will be the restoration of the Constitution to its rightful place and not the principles of retaliation or mere populism.

I will say with Trump there is hope for that.  With Hillary I truly believe the Republic the founders had envisioned would have been lost.   For that I am grateful, if cautious.

Friday, November 04, 2016

The Central Questions - Part 1

(This is a repost from a few years back.)

The central questions

In my 54 years on earth, I have had only two significant challenges to my faith.  It occurs to me that both of those challenges focused on the same basic questions, perhaps the central questions that all human beings have to ask.

This will sound a bit odd, but those two challenges were evolution and Calvinism. (More)

The Central Questions - Part 2

Evolution, built on a foundation of naturalism and uniformitarianism asserts that what we experience now, including corruption, suffering and death, have been the norm from the beginning of life on the planet.   Death is not an enemy, but is instead part of the engine of progress toward higher life forms. It is necessary for the weak to die so that the strong can prosper.

In it's atheist form, there is no purpose at all to this pattern.  Life arose, but it could have failed to arise.   Creatures that survive are "better"  only in the sense that they were better equipped to survive.

In it's theistic form, God may have devised a universe that made life possible and may in some hidden sense be the energy behind the laws of nature, but the "survival of the fittest" reality is nevertheless the overarching fact of existence.   Death cannot be an enemy if it is a necessary component in the development of more complex life forms.

So why do we suffer?   Because suffering and pain are evolutionary developments that aid our survival, a notion that is brutal if there is no purpose in existence and perhaps far worse if this was "God's method of creation".

In either case the traditional "free will" explanation for the origin of evil and suffering cannot be maintained.   Evil and suffering are part of the fabric of reality from the beginning and by design.   

On occasion, when the latest media reports of some new discovery seemed to indicate that the "fact" of evolution was undeniable, my faith would be significantly challenged.

But much later in a short stint in seminary, my faith was shaken.   Calvinism in its most rigid form, asserts that God's will in the form of his eternal decrees.   In our present reality, human free will is in complete bondage to corruption, pride and rebellion.  Only by the grace of God extended to those whom he chooses, can the will be moved to desire the ultimate good.  On these ideas Christians generally agree.  Humans have been corrupted.  ("Good" is a term that needs context.   Bad people can do things that are "good" in a relative sense, better than something worse, but even the best we do is tainted, corrupted and mixed with evil).

But the Calvinst view goes much further.   Human choice and human freedom are contingent on the  will of a sovereign God.   There are shades of difference but in some forms of Calvinism, the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden was part of God's eternal decree, thus every evil act is in some way connected to a Master Plan that only God can ever know or understand.   It was a Calvinist who pointed out in Seminary that no Calvinist can use the "free-will" defense to explain the existence of evil.

Hearing this at an Evangelical Christian seminary shook me more than any other idea that had ever challenged my view of reality.

What then is the purpose of suffering and evil, if suffering and evil are somehow part of the mystery of God's sovereign plan?   In fact, what are even the definitions of suffering and evil if the free choices of men are determined by the sovereign decree of God?   

In both cases, that of evolutionary thinking and the logical end of Calvinist thinking, the universe is deterministic, free will is an illusion, and suffering and evil are simply part of the reality of the universe as it is or as it was intended.   Evil, death and suffering are not intruders on a reality that was intended to be good, rather they are necessary cogs in the machine that marches toward some other end, an end that requires evil, suffering and death.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Don't Blame Never Trump

No doubt Trump supporters will want to blame the Never Trump crowd if Hillary gets elected.

No.  I have little doubt some Never Trumpers will quietly check the box next to his name with the other hand firmly over their noses.   Yes, Hillary is that bad.  But that may not be enough.

If Trump loses to the most vulnerable and disliked Democratic candidate in history, there are three places to lay the blame.

First is Trump himself.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Naturalism - Not a Scientific Necessity

I have often written about the scourge of naturalism on this blog.   The usual knock on both Intelligent Design and Creationism in its various is that neither are true "science", because the scientific method is built on the foundation of methodological naturalism.  

Short form of the argument is that unless scientists continue looking for natural explanations for everything, they will resort to a "god of the gaps" argument, say "God did it" and science will grind to a halt.  

Of course the response has long been that modern science pre-dates the advent of a militant naturalism and science as we know it is instead a result of men with a theistic worldview assuming that the universe is orderly and intelligible because it is the product of an orderly mind who intended us to understand it.

Over at Uncommon Descent, Vincent Torley has posted a long and fairly comprehensive rundown of scientists who advanced the cause of science from a theistic and usually explicitly Christian set of assumptions.   Included on the list are Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Newton and many others.   Somehow this history is invisible to Theistic Evolutionists who often argue the most strenuously for methodological naturalism.  

Strange times we live in when Christians in the sciences ignore their own history to adopt a thoroughly secular worldview while attacking Christians who attempt to merely allow for the possibility that a Deity might interact with His own creation

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Count Me as Never Trump

There are many reasons to dislike Donald Trump as a candidate.  And as much as I would like to focus on his policies, whatever they really are, I have to take a moment to rehearse some of the more egregious personal attacks that in my mind reveal the utter lack of character necessary for the leader of this nation.

There is a reason I find this exercise necessary.   Politics has gotten ugly in the age of Alinsky.   His “Rules for Radicals” suggests as a legitimate strategy the practice of isolating individuals as figureheads and then demonizing them with lies and ridicule.  It forces them to waste time responding to charges that ultimately have no defense and distracts the rank and file from real issues.  It has been a tactic of the left for years and one I find utterly opposed to the practice of democracy. 

So to see Donald Trump and his minions using such ugly, immoral and unprincipled tactics and using them successfully means that the right side of the political spectrum has sunk to the same gutter as the thugs of the left.  What good is “winning” the Republican nomination if one utterly shreds any principles that once were a normative part of a civilized society built on self-government?  (More)