Hannah Arendt and the American Imperial Crisis

Posted March 19th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Evil, Freedom and Structure in Human Life, history, Moral issues

With most of my books packed away and not easily accessible, I’m going to let my sometimes misfiring memory have a partially free rein. I remember that Hannah Arendt had once asserted—I believe in Life of the Mind—that Americans (by circa 1970) had already made political decisions which would force us to a crisis point in a generation or so (which would be circa 2000-2005). We Americans would be forced to either voluntarily fall back to a state of relative impoverishment or become more openly an empire and start stealing what we could no longer produce by our own efforts. In her earlier analyses of Adolph Eichmann, the master-planner behind the Nazi work-camps and the round-ups of Jews and others, Professor Arendt had argued that he was a nice man without real moral character and then had claimed this was true of Americans. Yet, she thought that the American people would accept a partial collapse of American wealth and power rather than becoming a looting and marauding empire. I’m not sure why a hardheaded thinker would imagine “moral niceness” to be adequate for making such a difficult decision, but, as it turned out, there was no explicit decision of the sort made nor were the common folk of the United States involved in the decision which was made by our ruling class.

She was certainly right that the American Colossus of 1940-1970 was beginning to lose his power to shape events throughout the entire world—the United States has retained plenty of power to cause trouble throughout the world, sometimes to the benefit of our ruling class but sometimes not even to their benefit. Our leaders are Moe, Larry, and Curly pretending to be Alexander, Napoleon, and Bismarck.

Yet, how right Arendt was about the relative loss of American wealth and power even if she was somewhat wrong in thinking we would refuse to steal, for example, the portable wealth of the former Soviet countries or the oil of Iraq. We Americans might not be so good at this piracy business—the country as a whole doesn’t seem to benefit much from the rather inept efforts of the Three Stooges in Southwestern Asia nor from our bullying of countries all around the globe. At the same time, various parasitical creatures and institutions—politicians and bankers and think-tankers and aerospace executives—make out well in the short-run. The American people pay good money for the chance to damage their own country as well as other countries; the American people make sure the profits remain high at Lockheed and General Dynamics and the zoo of mercenary armies we’ve spawned while immense amounts of money and human blood—American and foreign—are poured out on the sands of Southwest Asia.

So, what happened? The American people didn’t exactly demand our country invade various countries around the world and commit miscellaneous acts of financial terrorism and thievery in still more countries, but some did and the rest mostly went along. Our leaders made it clear not too many years after our retreat from Vietnam that they would return to the struggle throughout the world and would fight to the last drop of blood of the last American soldier to maintain that ruling class’s power and wealth, though some of us only saw this in the rearview mirror and some still refuse to see it. (Some would claim that Nixon, when he took the dollar off the gold standard, was risking the prosperity of the common American citizen in a gamble to maintain the power and wealth of the American ruling class; I don’t know if he consciously did so, but the general suggestion would seem quite plausible.)

Of course, there are reasons for serious historians to write 900 page books about topics such as this. The desires of the individuals and more particular groups in the American ruling class to create a New World Order where American hegemony was to maintained forever was, so far as I can tell, the driving force in the construction of an imperialistic monster of sorts, a monster which spouts pious words about spreading democracy and respect for human rights as it wreaks havoc upon regions of dense civilian populations, using brutal attacks of modern weaponry such as bombs designed to suck the lungs out of nearby creatures and cluster bombs containing bomblets which are covered with brightly colored plastic, looking very attractive to children, and holding explosive charges intended to maim rather than kill so that the victims will remain burdens to their communities. But we’re too Christian to chop off heads. I don’t think God is fooled by our pious and antinomian pretensions. See my recent essay, In a Complex World, the Community Must be Smart for the Individual to Be Smart or my essay from 2013, Quietly Charitable or Quietly Murderous But Always Quietly American.

After destroying a country’s infrastructure, sanitary and medical systems and schools and many residences, the moral giants who rule the United States will often try to rebuild the country to their own needs; they haven’t quite gotten the part right even though they had mastered the arts and sciences of destruction.

There are many doctoral dissertations and many history books, academic and popular, to go before we can claim we have a good handle on exactly how this moral and political disaster has occurred, a disaster which probably will lead to a (perhaps) temporary end to the levels of American power and wealth necessary to support our accustomed standards of living. The activities of that giant juvenile delinquent known as the United States have certainly brought about millions of deaths and the destruction of vast amounts of infrastructures of countries struggling toward prosperity—and sometimes not doing so well in their strugglesWith most of my books packed away and not easily accessible, I’m going to let my sometimes misfiring memory have a partially free rein. I remember that Hannah Arendt had once asserted—I believe in Life of the Mind—that Americans (by circa 1970) had already made political decisions which would force us to a crisis point in a generation or so (which would be circa 2000-2005). We Americans would be forced to either voluntarily fall back to a state of relative impoverishment or become more openly an empire and start stealing what we could no longer produce by our own efforts. In her earlier analyses of Adolph Eichmann, the master-planner behind the Nazi work-camps and the round-ups of Jews and others, Professor Arendt had argued that he was a nice man without real moral character and then had claimed this was true of Americans. Yet, she thought that the American people would accept a partial collapse of American wealth and power rather than becoming a looting and marauding empire. I’m not sure why a hardheaded thinker would imagine “moral niceness” to be adequate for making such a difficult decision, but, as it turned out, there was no explicit decision of the sort made nor were the common folk of the United States involved in the decision which was made by our ruling class.

She was certainly right that the American Colossus of 1940-1970 was beginning to lose his power to shape events throughout the entire world—the United States has retained plenty of power to cause trouble throughout the world, sometimes to the benefit of our ruling class but sometimes not even to their benefit. Our leaders are Moe, Larry, and Curly pretending to be Alexander, Napoleon, and Bismarck.

Yet, how right Arendt was about the relative loss of American wealth and power even if she was in thinking we would refuse to steal, for example, the portable wealth of the former Soviet countries or the oil of Iraq. We Americans might not be so good at this piracy business—the country as a whole doesn’t seem to benefit much from the rather inept efforts of the Three Stooges in Southwestern Asia nor from our bullying of countries all around the globe. At the same time, various parasitical creatures and institutions—politicians and bankers and think-tankers and aerospace executives—make out well. The American people pay good money for the chance to damage their own country as well as other countries; the American people make sure the profits remain high at Lockheed and General Dynamics and the zoo of mercenary armies we’ve spawned while immense amounts of money and human blood—American and foreign—are poured out on the sands of Southwest Asia.

So, what happened? The American people didn’t exactly demand our country invade various countries around the world and commit miscellaneous acts of financial terrorism and thievery in still more countries, but some did and the rest mostly went along. Our leaders made it clear not too many years after our retreat from Vietnam that they would return to the struggle throughout the world and would fight to the last drop of blood of the last American soldier to maintain that ruling class’s power and wealth, though some of us only saw this in the rearview mirror and some still refuse to see it. (Some would claim that Nixon, when he took the dollar off the gold standard, was risking the prosperity of the common American citizen in a gamble to maintain the power and wealth of the American ruling class; I don’t know if he consciously did so, but the general suggestion would seem quite plausible.)

Of course, there are reasons for serious historians to write 900 page books about topics such as this. The desires of the individuals and more particular groups in the American ruling class to create a New World Order where American hegemony was to maintained forever was, so far as I can tell, the driving force in the construction of an imperialistic monster of sorts, a monster which spouts pious words about spreading democracy and respect for human rights as it wreaks havoc upon regions of dense civilian populations, using brutal attacks of modern weaponry such as bombs designed to suck the lungs out of nearby creatures and cluster bombs containing bomblets which are covered with brightly colored plastic, looking very attractive to children and holding explosive charges intended to maim rather than kill so that the victims will remain burdens to their communities. But we’re too Christian to chop off heads. I don’t think God is fooled by our pious and antinomian pretensions. See my recent essay, In a Complex World, the Community Must be Smart for the Individual to Be Smart or my essay from 2013, Quietly Charitable or Quietly Murderous But Always Quietly American.

After destroying a country’s infrastructure, sanitary and medical systems and schools and many residences, the moral giants who rule the United States will often, try to rebuild the country to their own needs; they haven’t quite gotten the part right even though they had mastered the arts and sciences of destruction.

There are many doctoral dissertations and many history books, academic and popular, to go before we can claim we have a good handle on exactly how this moral and political disaster has occurred, a disaster which probably will lead to a (perhaps) temporary end to the levels of American power and wealth necessary to support our accustomed standards of living. The activities of that giant juvenile delinquent known as the United States have certainly brought about millions of deaths and the destruction of vast amounts of infrastructures of countries struggling toward prosperity—and sometimes not doing so well in their struggles, especially when the American Colossus comes along to stomp on their collective faces.

We Must Understand Matter in Empirical Terms to Understand the Christian Sacraments

Posted March 17th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: being, Body of Christ, Catholic theology

Matter, your own living flesh and blood or the bread and wine brought to the altar, is an essential element of any Christian Sacrament. More than that, it’s the most concrete part of a sacramental world. Even non-sacramental Christians accept baptism as a Sacrament though perhaps refusing to use the term, but I’m going to write about one of the Sacraments they don’t accept—the Eucharistic Rite.

In a Sacrament, God operates upon matter, sometimes through an ordained priest and, in the case of baptism, through any human being who uses water and the proper Trinitarian formula. Under Catholic teaching, no minister and no Rite celebrated in a church is even needed for a wedding since it’s only God and the man and the woman who are parties to the formation of a marriage bond—a formal wedding is no guarantee the bride and bride-groom made the proper commitment to each other and the lack of a formal wedding doesn’t necessarily weaken any such commitment which forms a wedding bond.

But it’s that Eucharistic Rite I wish to discuss with Holy Week approaching. The Bible tells us that, on Holy Thursday, Jesus Christ changed bread into His own Body and wine into His own Blood. In addition, the Lord instituted a sacramental priesthood to celebrate this Eucharistic Rite (and to do much else) after He ascended into Heaven.

That much is clear, but the question remains: How was it possible for even God to have changed bread into the very Flesh of God incarnate and wine into His very Blood. Such an act would seem to be more magic than what we might expect given the work of Darwin and Einstein and the like. On the other hand, Catholics claim to have a doctrine of transubstantiation, but that’s really just a pointer toward a Platonic way of looking at the world as made of substantial entities which form relationships with each other or with God. Or fail to form such relationships. This is a viewpoint in which God is seen as acting upon substance in the way of a Zeus, a God who resides upon Mt Olympus, or in Heaven, and looks down, sometimes choosing to carry out some sort of magical act, to heal someone or to turn bread into the Flesh of Christ, wine into the Blood of Christ. Transubstantiation once made sense in terms of Christian understandings of Creation and was developed for that purpose. It no longer makes sense and can only be held as a superstition, however much sense transubstantiation might have made or seemed to have made.

Consistent with my teachings about what it means to understand Creation, I look for an understanding of the Real Presence on the Altar, the bread has become the Flesh of Christ and the wine His Blood, in terms not necessarily consistent with any existing human schemes of knowledge but rather in terms of an understanding of Creation which reflects the best empirical understanding of that Creation and also in terms of Christian revelation. We have to take what empirical science tells us and what the Bible tells us, dropping the speculative theological theories which no longer work and going beyond the limited speculative scientific theories. We have to develop new speculative theories more appropriate to our current understanding of Creation, including our understanding of the mundane, thing-like being which presents itself to our eyes and ears, our noses and our fingers.

Aquinas had this to say about our efforts to understand “God’s wisdom”:

[J]ust as a disciple reaches an understanding of the teacher’s wisdom by the words he hears from him, so man can reach an understanding of God’s wisdom by examining the creatures [God] made… (Page 17 of St Thomas Aquinas’ commentary on 1 Corinthians as translated by Fabian Larcher, OP and now available as an online document at the website of Priory of the Immaculate Conception, which is a Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. It might still be available as a downloadable pdf if you search the Internet.)

Most certainly, if we are to understand Creation and God’s relationships to individual creatures, we must understand the matter of this world, this very concrete realm of Creation. We must examine “the creatures [God] made.” We must understand what physicists have discovered about protons and pions and neutrinos and we must eventually move on to a more exact understanding of what the biologists have discovered about living flesh and blood and the evolutionary/genetic foundations of that living stuff.

Yet, modern sacramental Christians, even many priests or other theologians, go to Mass seemingly unaware that they have a fundamental lack of understanding about the sacraments they celebrate because they have an inherited understanding of matter at odds with modern scientific discoveries but also at odds with Biblical revelation. Matter exists and then forms relationships. Can that be, from a Christian viewpoint? Are we conceived and then God chooses to love us? Do we develop into specific human beings and then our mothers choose to love us? No, the love comes first and works to create from nothingness when God initially acts and to create in the sense of shaping when God continues to act upon us and our mothers also act upon us.

So, what happens upon the altar when the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to consecrate bread so that it becomes the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ and wine so that it becomes His Blood?

Catholic theological works, and undoubtedly those of other sacramental Christians, will teach that sacraments involve God working in a special way upon matter, possibly matter which is a living human animal. So, again, we need to have some plausible and coherent answer to the question: What is matter? I’ve given the answer by discussing the love which God and our mothers feel for us. Having given the answer in an intuitive form, I’ll provide links for more explicit and (somewhat) more disciplined discussions.

See two of my early blog essays, Einstein and Bohr’s debate on the meaning of reality and Quantum Mechanics and Moral Formation: Part 1 for short discussions of the primacy of relationships from the viewpoint of modern science and philosophy recognizing the discoveries of modern science and also—quite consistently—from the viewpoint of St John the Evangelist.

In a somewhat later essay, What is Mind?: Part 2. Rules or Context?, I deal with the issue from the viewpoint of the human mind and how it’s formed—as an encapsulation of those relationships we discern behind or beneath the concrete stuff we can directly perceive.

In a still later essay, Evolutionary Thomists Don’t Do Ontology, I discuss the issue in responding to the somewhat conflicting thoughts of the theologian Metropolitan John Zizioulas of the Greek Orthodox Church who sees the change of matter into the Body and Blood of Christ as occurring as a result of a point-like, Platonic change of the ontological status of that bread and blood. I present it as being the result of a change in the relationship of God toward that bread and blood on the altar, a way of thinking that allows us to see that matter—bread and blood—in terms consistent with modern understandings of matter. The major difference between my answer and that of Zizioulas is that my answer recognizes the modern discovery that we live in a world of what might be called `existential relationship’, a world of evolution and development and not one where Platonic Forms or Reals are shadowed in pre-existing chaotic forms of matter. Rather than our world being populated by entities which are feeble shadows of ideal entities, Forms or Reals, our world and the entities in it are the result of God acting through evolutionary and developmental processes working over multiple levels of reality and all grounded upon the “raw stuff” of Creation, a realm in which God manifested the truths He chose for Creation. It is the Word of God, Christ, who gave that raw stuff from Himself and it is that raw stuff which is still present in all created matter, including the bread and wine on the altar. That bread and wine becomes subject to a new relationship, to a re-creation to become the Son of God Incarnate in a more direct way than other matter. Essentially, that Body and Blood is loved by God in the way that Father and Son and Holy Spirit love each other in their one Divinity. Or so I would speak to make greater—though still provisional—sense of the Real Presence on the altar in this year of 2015.

In a Complex World, the Community Must be Smart for the Individual to Be Smart

Posted March 13th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Freedom and Structure in Human Life, Mind

Fred Reed is a smart and insightful man. Courageous as well, caring more for truth than for conventional opinions and public myths. And a friendly, neighborly sort of fellow so that just “Fred” is usually sufficient.

In the recent article, The 145 Solution: Sapience, not Sentience, Fred writes:

If fourteen percent [of American voters] are illiterate, a larger number must be nearly so. People who can barely read don´t. People so little engaged as to think Iraq attacked New York—forty-six percent!—vote almost at random, or in the direction in which they are shooed by cunning electoral mechanics and fixers.

The educated and thoughtful may have no idea of the night in which the rest live. We tend to associate with people like ourselves. Consequently if you know where Iran is, you probably don’t know anyone who doesn’t. But–a pre-Copernican quarter of the population believes that the sun moves around the earth? As we said in the Sixties, that’s a whole nuther head-space.

Thus a test of literacy, or more correctly of competence to vote. It might involve reading a paragraph of prose at the level of college, or of what used to be the level of college, and answering questions about it. There might be questions such as how many Congressmen are there, name a country bordering of Iraq, list three rights guaranteed (ha!) by the First Amendment, and when did World War Two take place.

When we address the sheer ignorance and functional stupidity—on mostly public matters—of the American citizenry, voters and non-voters alike, there is so much to write about or talk about as to be overwhelming. When we add in the moral issues: self-righteousness to the point of antinomianism grounded upon ignorance of much including the wider possibilities of human being, we come to the real horror. I addressed this horror to some extent in an earlier essay, Quietly Charitable or Quietly Murderous But Always Quietly American. I’ve also pointed to Graham Greene’s novel, The Quiet American, where he claimed that we Americans feel the world exists to give us opportunities to feel good about ourselves. (The novel was a story about a romantic competition of sorts and was also a political thriller about terrorist, that is—criminal, acts that American government agents were committing in Vietnam by the early 1950s.)

A digression on the title of this essay. Historically, the Antinomians were a sect originating in Germany in the 16th century. They took the Protestant doctrine of faith so literalistically as to claim that the moral law was not obligatory on those who have a Christian faith; in the United States, this often means simply those who have come forward at an Evangelical revival and declared their faith in Jesus Christ. Whatever nuances might have been in Luther’s writings and sermons were wiped away and “faith alone” assures salvation and frees the true believer of moral obligations. (Sometimes it might be a Gnostic doctrine of “knowledge of the divine alone,” but I’m not sure I would consider either flavor to be truly separate. And, no, I’m not denying that most American Christians, Evangelicals and Catholics and others, are well-behaved in their own neighborhoods and workplaces, only that they hold themselves and the United States above moral rules when dealing with other peoples.)

In various essays, I’ve dealt with the problems of misformed minds in the modern world, especially American minds. For example, in this essay— Unreliable Memories, Minds Like Silly Putty, I more or less claimed Americans have willing allowed themselves to be turned into compliant objects for the propagandizing of primarily the American government but also other American institutions.

Morality in a complex world is dependent upon intellectual understandings, not just because the social and cultural worlds of men are complex but also because the world becomes complex when men learn more about God’s Creation of which we are a part; simplicity returns with a greater understanding—see Enriching Our Moral World: Simple Is Digested Complexity. But the world is recursive in some crucial ways and intellectual understandings of the better sort come only with the application of certain moral characteristics—honesty and humility. We must be honest and open in dealing with reality. We must be humble enough to realize there are few answers inside our heads and those few answers are sometimes unreliable instincts about how the world works, though reliable enough to have aided in the survival and reproduction of our ancestors. We must also expend a serious effort if we would wish to understand a very complex world which often seems so messy as to be unordered—curiosity can energize the actual effort and even turn it into a game, though a quite serious game.

Most Americans are muddleheaded thinkers because they imagine the world to be transparent to their penetrating minds. They don’t think to seek information and this is true of most of the smart Americans I know. They certainly don’t seek to find new ways of thinking or to refine their existing ways of thinking. From their ignorance and muddled thought comes the self-righteousness that hardens into outright antinomianism, perhaps the “invincible ignorance” which Jefferson detected in Americans, or at least overlapping with it. This is both a general view of the world and also a way of dealing with aspects of the world, human and non-human, which don’t act according to our American standards. If the Russians don’t accept that we good Americans just want a strong presence on their border to do some more good, then they must be evil; and certainly we would never suspect that our American leaders are up to more or up to something different than their words indicate. If the world doesn’t have enough petroleum which can be cheaply extracted, then we’ll plan on an economy which can continue to grow by using petroleum which is expensive to extract and refine; we certainly won’t consider improving our school system to nurture the better quality minds which might find new ways to provide abundant energy. We like our current school systems with all those pep rallies and homecoming games. We like our library systems all the more as they get rid of all those hard-to-understand books and replace them with thriller novels and computer terminals and DVDs.

What is the problem? Is there something unique about the United States, something exceptional? Was that something never as good, as promising of greater good, as was advertised by many? Or did that something go bad in some way? I think the West as a whole went wrong first in intellectual and cultural matters; the moral problems followed from there though, as I said above, all human characteristics are intertwined and all are involved when things go well or badly. Americans are leading the charge into regions of moral and intellectual incoherence but most Europeans peoples aren’t so far behind us.

We human beings can usefully and in substantial truth be described as mind and heart and hands. (See an earlier essay on this blog, Do We Need Heart and Hands as Well as Mind to Understand Reality?, or download my book, A More Exact Understanding of Human Being, for a discussion of this issue.)

But it’s the mind which is of greatest concern here because it is the beginning of the peculiar form of American decay—it has been said that Americans are the first people to pass from a state of barbarism to a state of decadence without passing through a state of civilization in between. I think it largely true and largely true because of the weakness of the American mind, a mind which functioned well in parochial circumstances but doesn’t function so well in the fluid and dynamic cosmopolis, let alone a globe of civilizations and cultures not linked to specific civilizations.

But we each and all have two intelligences—individual intelligence and intellect or communal intelligence. I consider the intellect to be the communal intelligence of real communities and do not use the word as merely a way of speaking of our collection of long-lasting customs and the stuff in our libraries and the other stuff in our art museums and so forth. But I’ll start with words from a serious thinker who seemed to advocate a view of the `intellect’ which is profound and insightful but—perhaps—more in line with mainstream understandings of human nature. In The House of Intellect, Jacques Barzun tells us, first:

We [in the United States] have in fact intelligence in plenty and we use it perhaps more widely than other nations, for we apply it with praiseworthy innocence to parts of life elsewhere ruled by custom or routine. [page 4]

Later on that same page, Barzun goes on to tell us the difference between that intelligence we Americans have “in plenty” or at least had “in plenty” in the 1950s and the intellect which we largely lack:

Intellect is the capitalized and communal form of live intelligence; it is intelligence stored up and made into habits of discipline, signs and symbols of meaning, chains of reasoning and spurs to emotion—a shorthand and a wireless by which the mind can skip connectives, recognize ability, and communicate truth. Intellect is at once a body of common knowledge and the channels through which the right particle of it can be brought to bear quickly, without the effort of redemonstration, on the matter in hand.

I’m a little uncertain about the exact meaning of Barzun’s words. I agree with him to a large extent but it’s possible I go where he wouldn’t travel: I believe the intellect, “the capitalized and communal form of live intelligence”, to be the (abstractly) observable aspects of a true communal mind which is subject to evolutionary and developmental processes which ultimately leads to the mind of the Body of Christ. It’s quite possible Barzun believed communities to have only a nominal existence exist.

In any case, I think that Barzun would have agreed that much of our moral reasoning, certainly when it covers very complex issues, is `done’ at the communal level. This isn’t to say that individuals minds aren’t working hard, maybe just to spin their wheels, but it is to say serious thinking is done, at the very least, in conversation with Jeremiah and St Paul and St Augustine and Shakespeare and Melville and Minogue and many others—a complete list will include geneticists and evolutionary thinkers and brain-scientists and many others as well as far more prophets and poets and theologians and philosophers. Even a book which is morally questionable to a Christian, but also honest, such as Madame Bovary, should be part of the Christian’s deeper thought processes and likely will be, for good or ill, if he’s read it.

There are certain core parts of any communal mind which come from the individual intelligences of those more gifted in speculative or practical reasoning, with the curiosity of individual minds driving much of the development of that communal mind and sometimes providing for less talented thinkers to overachieve. Americans can admire great doers, entrepreneurs and politicians as well as athletes and soldiers. Americans can admire those who are driven by the heart, missionaries and certain poets and musicians as well as mothers and teachers. Americans seem to try to admire great thinkers, even turning Einstein or Watson and Crick into celebrities of a sort. Americans can’t figure out why great thinkers are of great importance because of the reasons I gave above—basically, they think their empty and unexercized and perhaps untalented minds are as capable of getting to the truth as all those analysts at the CIA and the DIA and all those universities. They think it a waste of time to check out a book or two on the history of Iran or that of American diplomacy and military interventions overseas. After all, the world is transparent to their minds; if Iranians act in ways that make no immediate sense to the average American suburbanite, then those Iranians must be irrational and up to no good. Since the world is transparent to our minds, then any confusion we see is clearly irrationality or immorality. And we don’t let any wise-guys try to talk about, say, the different understanding of Iranians which is held by retired CIA or DIA or State Department officers who actually learned the languages and histories of the peoples in and around Iran, who interacted with some of those peoples in hostile or friendly situations. Certainly, we Americans react strongly against anyone who starts a conversation with words such as, “I read a history of Iran which is down at the town library and…”

When we don’t admit into our own minds the knowledge of serious historians and military or civilian intelligence analysts and diplomats or soldiers with boots on the ground experience, we show that there is no American community mind. Furthermore, we show ourselves to be rebels against reality, against the Almighty who made and sustains that reality. (Herman Melville made this latter claim against Americans back in the 1850s.)

Individuality, Freedom, and the Real Conflict Facing Modern Christians

Posted February 26th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Body of Christ, Narratives and truth

The modern man of the West knows in his bones that he is an individual, born an individual, a clearly defined entity which stands in some sense above not only the confusing and often chaotic world around us but also above our bodies, our organisms which are also confusing and chaotic at times. An individual human being can be a chimera with the DNA of multiple human individuals—twin embryos can merge in the womb. A woman can be a genetic male because of a faulty switch which is supposed to begin the masculinization of the embryonic body. Statistically, men are more likely to have homosexual desires if they have older brothers—speculatively, the mother’s womb develops some sort of resistance to the masculinization process.

One of my favorite problems of this sort, because it shoots down the modern form of `free-will’ is the well-established fact that, when we move a finger or leg, the movement control regions of the brain begin to act before there is any activity in the regions of the brain associated with conscious thinking, including conscious planning. This is not an argument against our freedom, including our moral freedom, though it is an argument against free-will as usually imagined. That is, it’s an argument against the delusion that a human organism is controlled by some self-contained, subsistent entity that is the real us, an entity which rules our bodies.

Our individuality, which is clearly tied to our various sorts of freedom, cannot be associated with our DNA or with the conscious regions of the brain. Our individuality is a matter of our entire being, which starts with our bodies, our physical being but extends out into what seems to be not-us, human communities—past and present and future, as well as the non-human regions of Creation. We are free as being certain types of organisms, as are nearly all living creatures—viruses are almost mechanisms rather than organisms but even bacteria move with apparent freedom. To be sure, the human capabilities for certain sorts of awareness, including an explicit awareness of past and present and future, and for planning give us the possibilities of greater freedom though there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that many human beings don’t have, or at least don’t exercise, the sort and level of freedom which would allow them to be self-governing as citizens or as full participants in the marketplace or even as parents.

We’re creatures embedded in a particular universe and in very particular and very small environments inside that universe. We’re strange creatures by most traditional understandings, at war with ourselves as taught by the Biblical prophets and St Paul and the Jewish sages of the early Christian era, yet the details of DNA and sexual battles (mostly unconscious and sometimes fought at the level of parental DNA) are eerie. Some of our DNA and some of our body mass comes from bacteria and even viruses. To a pure Platonist (not a description applicable to Plato himself), there doesn’t even seem to be any `human being’ which could be part of any realm of the Real.

And that is the sort of problem that everyman faces. We have a self-understanding, and an understanding of our world, which doesn’t look plausible in light of modern empirical knowledge and we try hard to hold on to those understandings as we face up to those bits and pieces of modern empirical knowledge which come to our attention.

It won’t work. As a result of our indifference toward or rebellion against what-is, we have become confused and fragmented creatures—see my novel, A Man for Every Purpose. Those under 40 or so are in a still worse condition. They have been raised under conditions where few adults even held an inherited and defective understanding of their human self or of the world. The young of the early decades of the 21st century seem unformed, somewhat in the way of a two year-old who is just beginning to explore her environments, but there is no sign they are so exploring. They accept the condition of an unformed human being in a chaotic world and just turn to video-games or cellphones.

There is no readily available understanding of human being or of our world. It can’t be found in television shows or movies or popular music. It can’t be found in the bare facts of science documentaries, bare facts presented as if that’s all there is of human being and the world—just bare facts. It can’t be found in the fairy-tales of Catholic CCD or Protestant Sunday Schools, teachings which are fairy-tales not because they speak of the Creator and His purposes for us and for the entire world, teachings which are fairy-tales because they come from understandings of the world which were once the best the human race could do but no longer make sense.

We can read a very confused, and seemingly honest, man on this issue: We’re All Zombies. Robert Bonomo tells us:

As the Christian myth begins its third millennium, is the zombie meme telling us that this religious story is no longer viable ? Are billions of ‘zombies’ eating flesh and drinking blood but finding no nourishment? The vast majority of Western people have a profound belief in science and science tells us that the story of Jesus is not to be taken literally, yet our churches insist that the ‘myth’ of Jesus is historical. The Christian software no longer works as the science ‘virus’ has rendered it useless.

Myths are other people’s religions and for Westerners in need of spiritual ‘food’ the Eastern systems of yoga and Buddhism, which don’t depend on dogma that contradicts science, seem to be more palatable to their scientific worldviews. Unfortunately, those ‘programs’ where written for a machine other than modern Western man.

And again:

Science can give us answers to almost all our questions, yet in the end its meaninglessness is disquieting. Science gives us technologies and deep understandings of the mechanics of the universe, but it’s unwilling to the breach the topic of meaning. We are asked to live for cliches, consumerism, hedonism or fundamentalism. Rejecting science is absurd but embracing it is deadening.

If we were able to understand our own religions in the same spirit that we decipher the religions of others (myths) while embracing science (with its limitations), than maybe we could find our way to a new myth that would shed meaning on our cold world. But myths emerge, they are not consciously created, and for the moment we wade in the void of knowing how but not why. We consume but are never filled, we seek but we do not find.

We are all zombies.

No, we’re not, but we are victims of some number of generations of cowardly, faithless, dishonest leaders, priest and ministers as well as philosophers and theologians as well as businessmen and local political leaders as well as politicians and doctors.

I can imagine the pain of the inhabitants of the Mediterranean region in the fifth century who saw all meaning decaying along with the stability and nobility of Rome. I can also imagine one man, Bishop Augustine of Hippo, setting out to make sense of that decay in light of his Christian faith and then dying not even realizing he’d made such good sense of it as to provide a narrative for a still greater civilization than even the Roman. Yes, the West was founded by one man setting out to counter claims by pagan thinkers he admired, claims that Rome was falling because it had become Christian. In doing so, Augustine made such good sense of it that his basic narrative lasted for nearly 1500 years.

We need a major effort by Christians to address the claims not of those who would be our enemies but rather of those who were and are simply good historians and physicists and biologists. We need to make sense of their claims in light of Moses and Jeremiah and, most of all, in light of the man-God who walked the earth and whose story is told in the Gospels.

We of the modern world can’t possibly understand ourselves without serious knowledge of not only human history proper (disciplined writings of facts and narratives) but also our species history. We have to be inspired by Augustine of Hippo, historian and theologian, and we have to be strong where he was weak—in science and metaphysics.

We can even come up with a coherent and morally well-ordered understanding of the freedom we enjoy, not the false freedoms of a subsistent individual somehow independent of his proper and improper desires and not the false freedoms described by reductionists, such as advocates of the selfish-gene viewpoint. Even when it comes to the biology of the human being, for example our tendencies to seek relative independence from communities or to naturally subordinate individual self to community are largely found in our bodily based feelings and emotions and those bodily based human traits are not uniform across the human species; each of us has a history of particular ethnic lines within that human species. Each of us also has a cultural and family and personal history. We are individuals but not made for standing freely of either our communities or our environments.

We, as individuals or as communities, have no freedom to change much of this, some freedom to change some of it; little of true importance can be changed in the short-run. We do have the freedom to act according to our customs and the habits and thoughts we’ve developed through our own efforts and the efforts of our parents and other teachers and guides. This is where human conscious types of moral intelligence are truly important: we can form habits and shape our future selves. Otherwise we remain dependent upon either inadequate habits and ways of perceiving reality or else force ourselves to attempt the heroic effort of deep analysis for each and all of our difficult moral decisions and many of our less difficult moral decisions.

Our freedom comes as a result of proper formation of self, a self which is both individual and communal. Our freedom comes when we act as that properly formed self. Our moral habits, as well as other good habits, are encapsulated in those movements of finger or legs which begin before we consciously think about that scream of pain toward which we move or about that drink too many which has been placed in front of us by a generous buddy at the bar. This is true also in our vocations and our avocations and our daily activities of the most casual sort.

Freedom can’t be found by pursuing the false dreams of radical individualism which don’t correspond to true human being, other than perhaps to that of some extreme individuals, most of whom are probably found in the extreme ethnic groups of northwestern Europe and the descendant populations mainly in the Anglo- regions of the world. Freedom won’t be real and certainly won’t be stable if it is, in fact, a freedom to pretend to be something we really aren’t. No wonder we are so confused and fragmented, so many in the younger generation are simply empty.

We have given up our particular cultures, especially those of us who are the mush produced by the melting-pot called America. We have no greater civilization which can provide us with a narrative that tells us what it all means, where `it’ includes our own human beings. Western Civilization has decayed, almost gone away. Christ remains as Lord of Creation but His Church is in ruins and its leaders are without clothes. We are free individuals, that is, we are atoms being freely slammed and banged about by forces and even the most social of those forces are external to us, enemies.

After all this talk about individualism and freedom, I’m going to retreat to a basic, Socratic question: What is freedom? I wrote this essay under the assumption we best seek freedom as if answering the question: how can we better shape ourselves to be what we should be. We start with what we already are: poorly integrated organisms with both individual and communal being. I should stress that it is both individual and communal being which is poorly integrated.

We gain freedom by shaping ourselves properly to what lies outside of us, the objective reality which is typically, and properly for the most part, perceived as opportunities and problems. But, that by itself, should make no sense to modern men, including most Christians trying to be faithful to the traditions of their faith for they are bound to think and feel that, at conception or at least some time before adult awareness, there will be that subsistent entity which is a human being, an entity defined as a self-aware individual. It is that subsistent, self-aware entity which desires the good or what gives purely physical pleasure or something else. It is that subsistent, self-aware entity which is an atom, a plaything of a hostile world, a world in which we are aliens.

I stand against all this confusion and all this failure of Christians and others to resolve this confusion, to give us a meaning, a narrative which brings all this horror, as well as all this beauty and pleasure, into moral order. I’m advocating a worldview, an understanding of all created being and its relationship to God, which is Christian all the way down. What is good and beautiful and true, what is conducive to good order, is found in all of Creation and is there because Creation and all that is found in it is the manifestation of certain thoughts God chose freely for the very specific Creation and this still more specific world He chose to create, to create from nothingness and then to create in the way of shaping. Some of this goodness and beauty and truth is in human being in partial and imperfect states, but most of it lies outside any individual human being, outside of any communal human being—even the pilgrim Body of Christ. Ultimately, the goodness and beauty and truth are found in God, but we find them in each thought and all thoughts the Almighty has manifested as created being.

We move toward the completion and perfection found only in the world of the resurrected and we move as individual members of the pilgrim Body of Christ and as that Body in its entirety, but we move as beings existing as acts-of-being of the Creator, as objects of His attention and of His love.

That places a heavy burden upon Christians who would carry the Good News to all men. We have no Good News because our Jesus isn’t true to the universe of evolution and genes and curved spacetime, which means our Jesus isn’t the true Jesus Christ. Christians have no plausible understanding of the universe, no narrative telling other men or even our own selves what it all means. Our main failure is not that of not reading the Bible or not praying, though we may be also failing in those matters. Our main failure is not reading the revelations found in our own human beings, in the stars, in the strangeness and the beauty of modern mathematics. We don’t understand created being in this universe and we think we can jump to the meaning found in Christ who is God but also perfected and completed man, man as found in reality and not in our imaginations.

Here is what St Thomas Aquinas had to say about the importance of knowledge of Creation, empirical knowledge of created being:

[J]ust as a disciple reaches an understanding of the teacher’s wisdom by the words he hears from him, so man can reach an understanding of God’s wisdom by examining the creatures [God] made… [Page 17 of St Thomas Aquinas’ commentary on 1 Corinthians. Translated by Fabian Larcher, O.P. in unknown year and originally made available at website of Ave Maria University. It is now available online here and in print here. Both of those are edited and corrected copies unlike the one I had downloaded and lost which was Fr Larcher’s final draft at his death.]

Some Medieval Scholastics were said to phrase it: “Most of what we know about God comes from knowing His effects in Creation.”

Radical individualism and some other defective lines of thought in recent centuries developed and spread so widely because of a vacuum of sorts. Western Civilization was deeply, if quite incompletely and defectively, Christian. Western Civilization was founded upon what might be labeled the Augustinian understanding of human history and its relationship to the more specialized Christian understanding of human origins and human moral nature and much else culminating in an understanding of salvation, of the relationship of this world to its Maker. This last understanding, once rethought in terms of those lesser understandings, had then re-absorbed those lesser understandings.

Earlier men of Western Civilization were individuals with some substantial freedom and also members of various communities with their own sorts of freedom. Ultimately, individuals and communities were part of the Body of Christ.

No longer can we provide meaning by an appeal to our inherited understanding of what-is, not because it wasn’t true. It was true and is true, but the individuals and the various communities have to be understood in terms of reality, in the best terms available to men of any given age, not in textbook terms drawn from prior and no longer valid understandings of created being.

Any understanding of “what it all means” in the mainstream of the Catholic Church or any other part of Christianity is centuries out of date and can’t be taken seriously—one of the reasons so many no longer take the Catholic Church or other Christian churches seriously. Christian theologians and philosophers attempt to speak about human moral nature or—somewhat equivalently—about human origins by, at best, squeezing selected bits of knowledge about genes and evolution into old frameworks of knowledge. (The totality of any such consistent frameworks would constitute what I call a “worldview.”)

We hear of one view of human origins and human moral nature in homilies and sermons and theological or spiritual books. We hear of other views in popular or academic works about science and history. Too many will wave their hands spasmodically and claim, “There is no conflict.” There is, though it isn’t a conflict between religion and science but rather a conflict between science of past centuries and science of our own time—using the term `science’ in the broader sense of “disciplined study of facts” and including history and some philosophy as well as physics and biology. Mainstream Christian worldviews are based upon the best of human empirical knowledge as of, perhaps, 1800 in Etienne Gilson’s quite knowledgeable and intelligent understanding of the history of Christian thought. (I would tend to put the break nearer to the persecution of that orthodox Augustinian theologian Galileo, the early 17th century though the rebellion of Christians against God and His Creation had been developing for some time before that.)

I think I’ve laid a good foundation for a new understanding of Creation in my various books and other writings, but few seem interested. Some prefer to join in the fun as barbarian children party in the ruins of Western Civilization. Some prefer to watch in horror and to write learned commentaries of the decay in light of the inherited understandings which no longer work. And others, such as the blogger I quoted above, Robert Bonomo, simply express their confusion and perhaps their pain.

Readers, learn from what I’ve done and spread the word. Perhaps you can do better or perhaps join in the work to which God has called me.

Is the United States a Parasite Feeding on the Rest of Humanity?

Posted February 17th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Body of Christ, decay of civilization

Albert Jay Nock wrote of a friend of his who had spent some years in the United States and was returning to Europe. This friend spoke of his admiration of many American characteristics, but said he was disturbed on realizing that Americans are the first people in history to pass directly from barbarism to decadence without ever passing through a state of civilization. Nock and his friends didn’t see the real danger in this sad state of affairs—as the wealthiest and most energetic frontier region of the West, the United States had a chance to take on the role of leader of the West, the role of nurturing and, in fact, rebuilding the West which was already showing the wear and tear of dealing with the Industrial Revolution followed by the less promising conversion of parts of the economy to financial, bank-based capitalism and the parallel conversion of the productive parts of the economy to a sort of monopoly capitalism allied with government regulators. But that wasn’t all. Economic problems, usually opportunities missed or misused, were not the entirety of the reason for that wear and tear on the West. Not by a long shot. Christian leaders, ecclesiastical and cultural and intellectual, had failed to produce a new understanding of Creation which reconciled modern empirical knowledge with Christian beliefs. Leaders and shapers of opinion and great practitioners in the fields of literature and science and philosophy and history and so on achieved, at best, partial success dealing with the problems and opportunities of the Enlightenment era and the succeeding centuries; their success was limited partly by the cowardly and faithless failures of Christians who loudly claimed to be brave and strong in their faith, but failed to face up to the new knowledge of the world and more as being knowledge of some of God’s thoughts manifested as created being.

As the Catholic and Lutheran and Anglican and Calvinist churches had become corrupted in their own ways, they had turned inward, no longer in fruitful conflict with non-Christian peoples; Christian thought and customs began to soften and to simplify in various ways. When we Christians had engaged other peoples in fruitful and mostly peaceful ways, their very existence as well as their specific beliefs and intellectual or cultural traditions, even their personalities and ways of life, had been a spur to Christian understanding of a greater part of God’s Creation, a part which wasn’t and isn’t us. They spurred us on in ways somewhat similar to a thorn in the flesh but should have been experienced as similar to the frustrations of trying to explain difficult thoughts and feelings to a good friend over a mug of beer or a glass of port.

The ancient Fathers of the Church developed the theologies we falsely think to be transparently true to human vision and they developed them in conflict and in fruitful collaboration with both pagan thinkers and with those who were seen, truly or falsely, as having strayed from Christian truth. For example, Augustine of Hippo developed a Christian understanding of history (largely still plausible and fruitful) in respectful conflict with both the traditional pagan idea of history as being cyclical and also in respectful conflict with the ideas of post-Constantinian pagan thinkers who had argued that Rome had decayed and was collapsing because of Christianity.

Many of the problems of the modern West come from those successes of Christian thinkers from ancient times and the Medieval centuries and, to a lesser extent, the early centuries of the so-called Modern Age. To the heirs of those earlier Christians, all of Creation seemed transparent to examination by Christian leaders, ecclesiastical or intellectual, and the Protestant Reformation didn’t even shake this confidence that God’s Creation was understood fully and was subject to imprisonment to the pages of textbooks—the conflicts between Catholics and others concerned other matters of apparently greater importance than the understanding of God’s acts as Creator, matters such as control and ownership of various assets including entire countries.

Meanwhile, as the story goes and it’s mostly true to reality, Galileo and his successors headed out to explore those parts of Creation which were subject to exploration by their limited tools. Galileo was himself a follower of the Catholic tradition of respect for empirical reality, a tradition given us by Augustine and Jerome, Anselm and Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, and so on. Over time, as Popes and bishops and Catholic professors, and their Lutheran and Anglican and Calvinist counterparts, stuck to politics and financial matters, an implicit truce came into being: theology and much of philosophy and parts of history would separate from physics and mathematics and biology and other parts of history and of philosophy. If any conflicts arose, everybody would refuse to engage in fruitful encounters; all parties would instead wave their hands spasmodically and sing in unison: “There are no conflicts between religion and science.” That is, all would agree to an unfruitful misunderstanding of Creation and of human knowledge. This agreement was extended to Jewish ideas and the ideas of other peoples; we extended to them the charity of respecting their ideas by ignoring them and saying, “There is no conflict between the ideas of men of good will, no matter the ideas.” We even extended to them the further charity of thinking it possible they could be like us, think like us, feel like us, at least in the most important areas of human life, such as finance and politics.

It’s most obvious in the Catholic Church—partly because it’s more intact than most Christian churches in 2015, but all Christians accepted in public the fragmentation of knowledge of God’s Creation in such a way as to imply strongly a fragmentation of the created being of which we have knowledge. Inside our own classrooms or sacred spaces, we talk and act as if the binding power of our small stock of Christian revelations applies to the entirety of our particular tradition of understanding the world, of writing greeting-card poetry and making elevator music as well as engaging in philosophical speculation or explorations of history which are far more shallow than what I saw in my childhood in old-fashioned Bugs Bunny and Mr Peabody cartoons. Knowledge became unified in a horrible and wrongful way: Christians forgot that all knowledge concerns God’s direct revelations or those of His revelations which are His effects in the world as some Medieval thinkers put it in partial understanding of the greater truth of God’s absolute power over all created being. Knowledge became unified in the mind of the knower, priest or professor, rather than being unified as a mostly communal image or mostly communal encapsulation of created being, one subject to change as we come to know more about God’s effects in Creation, or His acts-of-being as I prefer.

Americans are an extreme example of moral and intellectual and cultural disorder. We act as if believing that “I absorbed all I ever need to know from the fluids in my mother’s womb.” Not only are Americans not civilized, but we have increasingly set ourselves, as a country and as individuals, apart from and above the rest of Western Civilization and, indeed, all of humanity. If once we Americans were the pioneers on an important frontier region of the West, we are now an aggressive occupier, claiming Europe as our own. We need Europe for the deeper culture we can’t provide through our pep-rally religions nor through our utilitarian science nor, most certainly, through our mass-marketed literature and cinema and music. It’s not only Europe that we claim. The entire globe seems to be a bauble for us to play with, as if we were the god-like star-child from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” We have done our best to occupy much of the earth, at least in the sense of having soldiers stationed at about a thousand bases in dozens of countries. We need the entire world for the wealth which can support our way of life, including our grotesquely oversized military, and we can no longer generate enough wealth to even keep our large middle-class consuming strongly. Perhaps we feel an even stronger desire to control the entire earth and all its peoples to justify our sense of being the point of it all, both the end-product of biological evolution and the highest of all divine goals. More simply and more in line with the degraded ways of American thought in 2015: We Americans are the ones who got it right. Whatever “it” is.

I’m going to momentarily step to the side to point to John Hawk’s commentary on some recent work in experimental and speculative evolutionary science: Notable: Coevolution drives biological complexity. Professor Hawks tells us: “One of the most interesting parts of the paper involved removing the parasite from the population, after which the host complexity began to decrease. It’s similar to classic selection experiments, in which the selection condition is removed or reversed partway through.”

It seems to me that one way to look at the global situation in 2015 is: the United States has become a parasite preying upon the culture of Europe and upon the wealth of nearly all countries. In addition, we look for human energy and developed intelligence in immigrants from other countries, largely because American culture sucks the souls and minds and moral characters out of our youth—even those who are good at learning from textbooks and can spit back the heavily schematized and lifeless knowledge on classroom tests and even those who can do quite well in making money on Wall St or in the laboratories and workshops of our high-tech electronic and medical industries.

We Americans need blood to keep going, rich blood of a sort we no longer have, not even in our children born with high spirits and serious talents, not after they’ve been raised on television and cellphones and adult-supervised games. We have allowed our own blood to be sucked out by an exploitive ruling class and we are allowing the blood of our children to be sucked out. We need fresh, rich blood and we have to go overseas to get it or, when it comes to sports, we have to go into the inner-cities or even to such places as the Dominican Republic.

We Americans need to gain natural resources cheaply because that is how we became wealthy; we have not yet learned how to work intelligently as opposed to hitting the lottery, whether the lottery run by the government or the one which is run by the contingent forces which put pools of black gold below some acres and not below others.

We invade. We, being incompetent as conquerors and looters, devastate countries and destroy infrastructure and kill large numbers of innocents. We destroy $10 billion in assets for every $1 billion we manage to steal. We who were once the best-liked of individuals and sometimes even the most highly admired of nations have become hated and feared. We’re not feared because we fight or rule effectively. We’re feared because our leaders are morally perverse juveniles with lots of firepower and we, the American people, join them in their moral perversion. We aren’t the Macedonians or the Romans or the Franks or the Normans; we are Moe as Bismarck, Larry as Napoleon, and Curly as Patton.

And, so it is, that I come to my conclusion by a path long and twisted in many ways: the United States and Americans as individuals have become the thorn in the flesh of the pilgrim Body of Christ, that is, we have become the parasite or opponent or accuser who works for God in the negative way (see 2Cor 12:6-9). We Americans, in our narcissism and selfishness, have taken on the role of the opponent that many peoples are uniting against. We are enemies of the pilgrim Body of Christ, enemies of Creation, enemies of God to the extent that the Body of Christ, Creation, and God don’t serve American desires. We would rule all in our hubris, would subjugate God Himself to our schemes and plans.

And we Americans had the chance to take on the noble role of leader of Christian Civilization, of the Body of Christ. We could have put a part of our once promising, if immature, individual and communal selves into the Body of Christ, could have shaped it in an interplay between God’s purposes and our personal desires and talents, as once did Jews and Greeks and Romans and Armenians and Syrians and even the Germanic peoples when still barbarians. Now, the pilgrim Body of Christ will continue its journey through this world bearing American marks only in the form of wounds and damaged organs. With all that we have to be ashamed of—the ethnic cleansing of native Americans, the brutal war in the Philippines after we pretended to free them, Dresden and Hiroshima and Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Libya and others—this is by far the worst of American sins: we claim to be a God-fearing people and we are waging war against God’s Creation and the Body of His Son.

Islam, Violence, Repressive Governments, and All That.

Posted February 11th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Biological evolution, Human nature

In The Return of Fear, Peter Frost, an anthropologist, gives a few facts which don’t argue fully against the current belief among Americans and Europeans that Muslim men are prone to violence and fanaticism; those facts do tell us of the ethnic basis for this inclination. Indonesians—88% Muslim—have low rates of violent crime, as do other east Asians. It’s also been known since at least the writings of the Ibn Khaldun that some of the ethnic groups which took up Islam are inclined to violence and fanaticism. ( Ibn Khaldun was a great Islamic historian and philosopher of the 14th century.) Frost quotes Khaldun as claiming Arabs are a savage nation often making a living by looting—the early books of the Bible tell us the same thing.

Evolution is for real; genes are also for real. The inclination of a lot of modern human beings is to think those parts of life on earth are just so interesting when they tell us why the dinosaurs either disappeared or flew away, how giraffes got their long necks and zebras their stripes. We haven’t learned to think in terms of modern biological science when it comes to human beings, nor do many appreciate the ongoing effects of evolution and genes when it comes to human beings. Even readers of Frank Herbert‘s Dune novels don’t appreciate the ways in which a desert environment can select for a violent form of human personality which is radically individualistic but also inclined to accept the harsh discipline of warrior bands or even conquering armies.

So, it seems to me to be wrong to assume it’s Islam which causes the inclinations of Arabs—Khaldun also mentioned Berbers and other North African nations as being inclined to violence and fanaticism. It seems more likely that the Arabs and similar peoples have retained the traits of the desert nomadic ancestors. The `early adapters’ of Islam, including the founder, could be seen as regressing to an earlier form of Hebraic monotheism. That earlier form of Hebraic monotheism is more suited to a people who are yet desert nomads—at least in their inherited inclinations and aspirations. Such a religion would provide the enrironment which would both nurture aggressive tendencies and also reward aggressive men, desert warriors, with greater reproductive opportunities. Such societies will also tend to provide better reproductive opportunities for women who are submissive to these violent men, even strongly supportive of violent sons and husbands and brothers. Over time, as violent inclinations are reinforced in men, the women are likely to become more deeply, more `genetically’ submissive.

It would not be wise for a people with more peaceful inclinations to invite large numbers of a more violent people to settle in their midst. The peaceful people might become the victims even if in a great majority.

A violent people isn’t necessarily an evil people and they, women as well as men, might well think Western men to be womanish and Western women to be mannish. And a peaceful people can be evil. Trivial truths. The more important truth is that a people with men of violent inclinations will need strong, centralized governments to allow the building of larger-scale and more prosperous societies; otherwise, the men of violent inclinations would cause massive disruptions and distrust. Without a strong ruler, such men are much better at looting than they are at even administering a conquered people.

To exaggerate, but not by much: it takes a Genghis Khan to rule a nation (or multiples nations) of desert nomads. We of the West do not wish to live under the type of repressive government which is needed to bring peace when there are many men in the population with inclinations to violence and fanaticism. Nor do we wish to live in a society with chaos and violence on the streets. So why do we open up our countries to immigration by those who don’t have inclinations compatible with ours and with the sorts of societies we wish to build and to live in? Why do we send our armies overseas to destroy the sorts of repressive governments which have brought order and prosperity to these countries with men inclined to violence and fanaticism?

Do Numbers, as Mental Constructs, Come from Concrete Being?

Posted February 9th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: being, mathematics, Mind

We think ourselves now so sophisticated because we know the world isn’t designed, at least not in the way of a human engineer. But there are patterns and the ways of thought which provide some serious understandings of those patterns arising from states of seeming disorder are difficult and are certainly not yet part of the machinery of the human intellect or communal mind, the mind which does the sort of thinking which has made it possible for past “skills for geniuses” to be taught in the elementary schools of mass education within a few centuries of the development of those skills. See Mathematical Models of Human Communities: Randomness for one of a number of discussions I’ve provided of the general topic of order arising from seeming disorder. That same essay also discusses the strange history of long division: “[I]n the 14th century or so, long division was coming into use and was considered to be a topic for mathematical geniuses, well beyond those even of more normal high intelligence. Nowadays, we start learning long division in mass education elementary schools, though many still have trouble with it and some can never master it even to the point of figuring how much per pound a roast costs if 4.5 pounds costs $25.”

I’ve suggested in various writings and in various ways that thoughts are created being, images of that created being but images in a sense similar to: “Men are made in the image of God.” Created being is the manifestation of specific thoughts of God and we learn how to think truly by sharing those thoughts of God, by shaping our minds (but also our hearts and hands) in response to created being and its relationships and actions. Images can be concrete things. Concrete things have abstract created being as well as concrete created being.

One of the main points behind this line of reasoning can be stated: created being is created being is created being. There is a complex network of various streams coming from the truths God manifested as the raw stuff of created being, probably branching out at places and then joining again as it journeys, so to speak, to this very concrete realm of created being, of thing-like being. See this recent essay for a discussion of this general issue in a particular, focused form: Developing Human Minds, Individual and Communal. Pay particular attention to the very simple chart of created being to gain some idea of what I mean about abstract being branching out to more particular forms and joining along the way; many of those branches come together in this world of things. Even relatively simple things, for example—simple lifeforms, are the result of the shaping and the combining of a lesser or greater variety of abstract forms of being.

It would be hardly surprising if various animals have characteristics once claimed for human beings only. I’ve argued that man is unique because of the very complex human brain which is capable of `making up’ a mind. See How Brains Make Up Their Minds by the neuroscientist and philosopher Walter J. Freeman for a discussion of what it means to make up a mind. I go beyond Professor Freeman, or perhaps in a different direction from him, in seeing the human mind as capable of encapsulating what lies around it, even the entire universe and beyond, in the form of what I call a worldview, that is, a complex understanding which is unified and coherent and complete in the way of a world or—still better—all of Creation.

But this human uniqueness, seen in more or less expansive terms, is the result of evolutionary processes and a series of specific events over time. It would be hardly surprising if specific human characteristics, even particular skills of abstract reasoning, could be found even in animals we think to be truly dumb, such as chickens. Chimpanzees can keep objects in mind when those objects are no longer present and and can imagine them as being useful in solving an immediate problem. Birds from the crow family can engage in relatively powerful reasoning processes, as can octopuses.

Now we can learn from this article, Chicks Put Low Numbers on the Left, Just Like Humans, that even relatively dumb birds can not only deal with number concepts but they can order them. That they order them left to right seems to me to probably be an accident of evolution, perhaps a coincidence and perhaps a result of brain structures we’ve shared with the chicken’s line of evolution for tens or even hundreds of millions of years. Such details are important for some purposes but not for mine; at least, these particular details aren’t important for my main point in this essay.

The main point is a joining of the my first line of thought for most of this essay and the reference to some experimental facts discussed quickly in the above paragraph. Neither human beings nor chicks derive numbers, or the ordering of numbers, from some pure realm of abstractions and concepts, a Platonic realm of Ideas. Numbers are in the most concrete of things. Concrete being is shaped from those forms of abstract being we explore by way of mathematics, which is a way of exploring a form of created being with that same form, as physicists probe matter with matter. We can see this clearly with the knowledge of matter and energy and fields which comes from quantum physics. My contention is that this knowledge, mathematical formalisms which are the wavefunctions, is really abstract created being and not `mere’ knowledge. In a similar way, knowledge of numbers and the ordering of numbers, left-to-right or top-to-bottom or other, is actually a particular sort of abstract created being which is present in the concrete being of this mortal realm.

In a similar but more complex and complicated way, the order which arises from seeming chaos can be described in mathematical terms. I contend we are seeing actual created being in those patterns—fixed point phenomena, for example, are a form of abstract being. They are points of stability, f(x)=x, where the function `reproduces’ the input though perhaps in a complex and iterative process. I contend that stability isn’t just something which can happen and then can be modeled by experts in the sciences of dynamic systems. I contend that that stability is a form of created being which is described by “f(x)=x” and is f(x)=x, just as a man can be described as “rational” and rationality is a form of created being which is part of that complex entity, a man.

When we see a system come to order, perhaps by stabilizing around a fixed point (stability is rarely absolute even in simple systems such as pendulums), we could talk of an emergence in that system of that abstract form of created being we know as “stability” or we could talk about a stream of created being which is flowing into that system. I don’t know if one or the other is more right or otherwise more preferable. I do know that the stability of a fixed point isn’t so different from the set of relationships found in Schrodinger’s wavefunction, the set of relationships which are Schrodinger’s wavefunction. Concrete things come from something which can be described in those mathematical formalisms. I’m suggesting we can do no better, at least for now, than to regard those mathematical formalisms as abstract being from which concrete being is shaped; I’m suggesting that mathematical formalisms are a form of created being and not simply descriptions of some form of created being which is currently only describable in terms of those formalisms. It’s a clean way of thinking and talking which may ultimately be wrong or just part of the truth, but it allows us to avoid a lot of gibberish and to develop more unified and complete and coherent understandings. And I contend those understandings are encapsulations of created being, even of Creation, and I mean encapsulations in the same sense as used by the Biblical authors: man is an image of God. Our minds are images of what we recognize as existing, perhaps a very limited environment in the case of early men and perhaps all of Creation to those who share in abstract reasoning—not just philosophers but all of those who are engaged members of a civilization which contains philosophers and physicists and historians and composers of complex music.

Individualism: A Trait Become a Disease

Posted February 6th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: communal human being, Freedom and Structure in Human Life

It’s not the failures but rather the great successes of the West which have left it as a hollowed-out and collapsing civilization, that is, our successes as individualists and our successes in nurturing our individualistic inclinations and pushing them ever further at the expense of our communalistic inclinations.

It’s not hard to understand.

  1. Human being is both individual and communal and both of those parts of human being start with traits encoded in genes and then refined by the development of a human being in a specific context within a particular culture. (The genes evolve, of course, within a total environment which includes culture which leads many to talk as if we are pure individuals but are subject to selection within an environment which includes cultures and communities and, thus, leads us to act as if we have communal being as well as individual being.)
  2. Different ethnic groups subject to different evolutionary histories, cultural and `natural’, lie on different points on a spectrum from individualistic to communalistic. A community will itself have a spread of traits so that some strong individualists might be born into the most communalistic of peoples.
  3. Northwestern Europeans are radically individualistic as opposed to, say, Chinese who are radically communalistic. (Actually, it is apparently more accurate to say the most strongly communalistic of Chinese, and a few other peoples, are those who have been rice-farmers for centuries.)
  4. It would seem that the genes and culture of Northwestern Europeans have evolved in unison over the past millenia or better.
  5. The thinking class of those northwestern Europeans, and some other Europeans as well, had developed within the priesthood and also, more freely, among the laity once education was more widely available. That thinking class seems to have been still more inclined to radical individualism than their fellow-Europeans and they developed political and economic ways of thought which assumed that it was a metaphysical truth that human being, if not deformed by culture, was radically individualistic. This started with Hobbes’ observation of the nearly sociopathic inclinations of many of his fellow Englishmen and his missing observations of rice-farmers in the south of China. Locke and Smith and Jefferson and Rousseau and Mill (both father and son) and the Classical Liberals in general, most especially the ones proudly bearing the label `Libertarian’, glorified what was a good trait so that it seemed good to make individualistic traits strongly dominant, and sometimes absolutely dominant, over any communalistic tendencies.
  6. European political and religious leaders, unlike those of most regions and most certainly unlike the Confucian rulers of China, enhanced their power by weakening other forms of human community, even the family. The Catholic Church, though biased toward the less radical individualism of Italian culture, also was guilty in treating human communities as nominal entities, as mere gatherings of individuals. Though partially true in corresponding to an imbalance in the human being of Europeans that reinforced the evolution and development of a still greater imbalance of individual over community, though some communities claimed the right and had the power to control individuals.
  7. The result was the war of all against all seen by Hobbes. Europe became a continent filled with unbalanced, murderously competitive communities of closely related peoples fighting themselves and those other peoples to whom they were closely related. Those peoples, once they had achieved what seemed to be high states of civilization, waged a prolonged war of extraordinary brutality; starting in 1914 and calming down for periods, but fully active again in some regions by the early 1930s and for much of Europe by 1939 or so. After the Cold War and its proxy wars in Asia and Africa and Latin America, the Europeans started actively fighting each other again in the Balkans, often to the profit of American politicians and arms-manufacturers, in the 1990s. Sociopaths had come to almost complete power over political and economic and cultural institutions.
  8. Along side these ultimately pointless wars, the West had to endure a prosperity of an deeply unattractive type. Westerners gave birth to start-up companies more often than to babies and the babies who did come were often raised in institutions or by women who spoke Spanish as their primary language.
  9. We in the West have passed on our moral rot, of the radical individualistic species, to some other peoples who seem to have had inadequate defenses. Maybe they also were inherently unbalanced in the direction of individualism over communalism?

Peter Frost has published another frighteningly insightful article about the ongoing self-destruction of the West and the spread of our moral disorder to some other peoples. In A Faustian Bargain?, he discusses the Parsi, a once proud and prosperous people who are non-breeding themselves out of existence as a result of their adoption of Western understandings of the good life. Please read it. It really is frightening to a thinking man.

Technicians, including many who present themselves as deep thinkers in the fields of economics and politics and sociology, tell us that our ways of life, our political and economic and cultural infrastructure, needs some fixing up. Replace a few support beams, put up a few more walls to keep the government out of some rooms, and throw on a coat of paint. In fact, the West is rotting, has been showing signs of decay since at least the 1800s. The West showed florid disease symptoms in the American War Between the States and the brutal and criminal war against the Filipino people, in the events of 1914 through 1945—both the wars and the economic collapses, in the political and financial corruption of the United States (existing from before the War Between the States but developing to absurd levels over the 20th century) and the turn to a brutal and criminal imperialism. Even the most ordinary observations in our towns and urban neighborhoods should tell us of demographic problems and of decreasing moral order in the youth of the best of families.

It would be evil to even try to rebuild the West as it once was. It would be an act of rebellion against God, an effort to push the Body of Christ out of the way so that we men can climb back up the ramp of decay to build another civilization subject to the same sort of decay as we’ve seen in recent centuries. It was a good experiment and the age of Enlightenment and a seemingly healthy form of radical individualism produced some darned good science and music and literature and art, even some interesting philosophy and theology. The experiment went bad, though not how or when most traditionalists imagine.

We are so many herds of individuals with no internal structure to those herds, no lasting relationships. Each head of Western human animal can move freely about inside the herd and form relationships as he wills at the time.

That herd isn’t part of the Body of Christ, though once it was the major part of the Body in its pilgrim, mortal life. That herd is marching toward the permanent grave and not toward Heaven.

Am I saying the typical American or European of northwestern European descent is a radical individualist? To this point, I have at least implied that to be true. Now it’s time for me to make an important correction.

Our rebellion against reality, against God the Creator of this reality, is soft and half-hearted. We can’t ridicule what is holy in our traditions because most of us are more individualistic than, say, Chinese but not nearly as individualistic as Hobbes and Locke would have us be, not nearly as individualistic as the Mills were and would have us be. We want our communities, strongly bound in their own ways though perhaps a bit more weakly bound than those of Chinese and certainly African tribal peoples, but we’ve been taught to desire the fruits which might come to a courageous Bohemian. We’ve been seduced into inappropriate ways of life by those who are even more radically individualistic than the great majority of northwestern Europeans. We’re destroying ourselves and only a small number of men and women are benefiting, those men and women who are radically individualistic to the point of sociopathy.

Though I strongly criticize the tendency of modern men of the West to develop certain traits into sociopathological conditions, though the West probably has a disproportionate number of men and women who have sociopathological tendencies, on the whole, the individualism of the peoples of northwestern Europe is a good and useful trait so long as it isn’t developed to an extreme and so long as economic and political and cultural systems of an individualistically inclined people aren’t forced upon other peoples. The Body of Christ is going to be a complex melding of valid human traits, in their various manifestations along spectrums of possibilities. We need team-players and we need healthy individualists.

The Invisible Hand, the Invisible Heart, the Invisible Mind

Posted February 3rd, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: communal human being

Adam Smith famously took a new approach to the ancient problem: how to describe and understand the mysterious workings of created being in which ordered forms exist or even can be seen coming into existence. Those ordered forms can be forms imposed upon concrete matter—concrete entities such as stars or human beings, the latter being Smith’s primary interest. Those ordered forms can also be relationships between concrete entities.

As I see it, the above problem is pretty much the problem of understanding the formation of complex entities, human beings are of particular interest to we who are human beings, in this particular world as shaped by the Creator from more abstract forms of being. The evolutionary and development processes which have shaped human beings on a species level and an individual level have produced actual creatures which have the characteristics of persons in analogy to the three Persons, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, who are the one God. There is much for Christians to do in developing a new, richer and more complex, understanding of Creation—including a specially focused understanding of human being. There are many who are fighting battles to defend tradition because of what is clearly good and true in it and many fighting to take down tradition because of the many outmoded speculations—often masquerading as theorems of a sort. Few there are who are willing to pay attention to God’s revelations as they emerge in this age when men have developed remarkable skills and technologies for the exploration of certain realms of created being. Fewer still there are who can even realize we are watching new forms of created being emerge as human communities grow to tremendous sizes and to surprising degrees of complexity. This is partly because nearly all men, especially those who are highly educated, misunderstand the nature of the human mind and mis-understand the nature of created being and of human knowledge and of the relationships between created being and human knowledge.

Men of the West were disturbed greatly by the discoveries of Galileo and his successors that matter and energy don’t behave the way that contemplation upon experience would indicate. They would be still more disturbed by relatively recent discoveries that matter and energy are something different from what even Galileo and Newton thought them to be. The same can be said of the more recent discoveries about the nature of space, time, infinity, and mathematics as a whole.

It will be still more disturbing when men, especially Christian men, face up to the discoveries by Darwin and his successors that God’s ways of shaping human being are strange and indirect, not so amenable to the forms of analysis preferred by traditional philosophers and theologians and historians and politicians and so forth.

Adam Smith was active during a period when physics stood about halfway between Newton and Einstein; Erasmus Darwin was writing a poem about an emergent form of evolution but his more hardheaded grandson, Charles, wasn’t yet born. Within the limits of Smith’s possible understandings of this concrete world, human communities as well as the physical stuff increasingly important in the Industrial Revolution, Smith managed to come up with vague language about the nature of forms and how they come into existence. It wasn’t so much Smith’s terminology which was good as was his prophetic success at capturing the spiritual essence of the formation and operation of free markets as they were in the second half of the 18th century in Scotland and England. He also saw into the future to some extent, predicting that the British colonies on the east coast of North America would become so powerful and wealthy as to likely overshadow Great Britain herself in the next century or so. (In line with some of my recent writings, Smith had not a clue that his specific theories about markets were mostly relevant when discussing a small sub-population of the human race—Europeans and especially those of the northwestern regions, a people very much skewed to individualistic traits.)

We should honor Smith for being a courageous and insightful pioneer of the modern world—his insights can be seen as prophesies of more exact forms of thought not only in the social sciences but also in the physical sciences. See this short introduction to the thought of Ilya Prigogine, a physical chemist and Nobel laureate who was a pioneer of concepts we can loosely describe as those of self-organizing systems. We should bear in mind that qualitative reasoning which can point toward more exact forms of thought are also important in physical science and are not just a fuzzy-minded child growing up into a tough-minded adult—qualitative reasoning remains important even in quantum mechanics and gravitational theories but has to always adjust to the results of explorations amenable to quantitative exactness. The global, often qualitative, aspects of a complex entity remain as important as its local, largely quantitative, aspects. Abstract being continues to exist even in the most concrete of things.

Though I’ve made some attempts to move toward a more exact understanding of created being on the “local” level and Creation on the “global” level, I’ve often worked on a higher level of abstraction than did Adam Smith. I usually work at a level which is necessarily qualitative because it is above the level of the more particular forms of being, including those of quantitative mathematics and the sciences which study concrete and `mostly’ particular being. (I put the scare quotes on “mostly” because quantum mechanics explores forms of being, energy-matter in this concrete world, which range from the very concrete to the not so nearly concrete; something similar could be said about other modern theories of physics with respect to spacetime.)

The type of analysis made by Adam Smith is still necessary for making greater sense of the discoveries of geneticists and anthropologists and historians and mathematicians and others, but Smith didn’t get it quite right. He couldn’t have gotten it right and needed to courageously do it the best he could, though it is also true that the better understandings of human being I’ve used as a starting point can be found in the ancient traditions of both Jewish and Christian thinkers. Men are hearts and minds and hands and yet one—defectively but truly. Men are born as communal beings as well as individual beings, or, as I prefer to put it, we have both individual and communal being. Smith, the radical individualist of northwestern Europe, was perhaps blind to knowledge emphasizing communal human being too strongly.

At the same time, we are a multitude of individuals, who remain such, and each of us is also, incompletely and defectively, our communities. We are told by the Bible and commentators from Judaic and Christian sources that we are images of God. Christians believe God to be Father and Son and Holy Spirit in one God—three individuals, who retain their individual Selves, but each is also fully and perfectly the one God.

Those who wish to explore these lines of thought can start with my freely downloadable books: Four Kinds of Knowledge and A More Exact Understanding of Human Being. From there you can explore other books, including my large collection of writings from my weblogs: Acts of Being: Selected Weblog Writings From 2006 to 2014. Other writings, essays and books, are available at my website, Acts of Being, including novels.

Was Dante a Pioneer of Radical Individualism?

Posted January 26th, 2015 by Loyd L Fueston
Categories: Body of Christ, Human nature

Ten years ago or more, I read the Inferno, the first volume of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. It didn’t make too much of an impression on me, seeming to be at least in part a matter of Dante taking shots at some of his enemies, a lot of people he didn’t admire (often, for good reasons), and a few friends who led disordered lives and didn’t even try to repent or reform.

After the past 9+ years of working out my worldview, a Christian understanding of created being, which necessarily included an understanding of human being, of its relationships to God, and, hence, of salvation and damnation, I wished to read all of The Divine Comedy—Singleton’s prose translation with heavy annotations. In a not so short sentence: I wished to see how much sense Dante’s theory of salvation and damnation made from the viewpoint of one who had struggled with both Christian teachings and with modern empirical knowledge and had produced a worldview which makes sense of both as compatible and mostly overlapping descriptions of the same world.

Dante doesn’t seem to have believed in the main teaching of the Bible: the Old Testament teaches that the members of the People of Israel will be saved as members of that community and the New Testament teaches that members of the Christian Church will be saved as members of that community. In Dante’s Paradiso, even those saved to live on the outermost realm of Heaven live as a gathering of individuals who are not in communion with the other souls who made it to regions closer to the center of Heaven; they are gathered together as they might have been at the hearth of a warm and well-run tavern. (That outermost realm is the everlasting home of souls who lived good lives but didn’t live up enthusiastically to their vows or presumably other serious commitments.)

Looking back, I can see that Hell and Purgatory were little different in the presentation of human beings as individuals—though I could appreciate a presentation of the damned as those who refused to properly engage with their communities and are bound not to ever do so. In any case, Dante’s poetic masterpiece doesn’t so much as hint of that ultimate community which is the Body of Christ, or rather it presents communities as mere gatherings of the `true’ human beings who are individuals.

On the other hand, I teach that we human beings, at least those who will achieve full membership in the Body of Christ, are like the three Persons of God and that Body, as I said, is like God. This is to say that, as true images of the Trinitarian God, individual human beings remain fully so while being also fully the Body of Christ. Each and every one of those who are saved to share God’s life for time without end. Dante has no such sense. Certainly, he can’t be blamed for not seeing much that history and modern biology and other sciences has brought into view or into more clear view in the past few centuries. Evolutionary biology and history and sociology supports the idea that we have a strong communal component to our human being—we aren’t just individuals who travel in groups or enter into voluntary relationships of a contractual type, though perhaps tinged with deep feelings.

Dante seems to me to be someone already on the path toward Hobbes and Locke and Jefferson and Nock—all admirable men, but dangerous men whose ideas are worth investigating and contemplating and whose ideas on human being must be rejected by any who have a Biblical faith or who are making sense of modern empirical knowledge of men and their various communities.

I’d even say that it’s pretty clear an individual human being of the sort found in Hobbes and other Liberal thinkers, finite in many ways and only displaying some of the virtues and gifts of human being even as we know it in this mortal realm, couldn’t tolerate life without end. We don’t have enough to draw on and would soon enough be praying for an end to time.

Dante is simply wrong that an individual human being could forever be satisfied, let alone in a state of bliss, by adoration of God—when that worshiper has to rely on the stuff of an individual. We can see the way to a solution when we posit a rich and complex Body of Christ in which we all share in the gifts and accomplishments of St Paul and St Augustine and Alfred the Great and St Thomas Aquinas and Blaise Pascal and John Henry Newman and Leo Tolstoy and Flannery O’Connor. But that’s still not enough. Not to fear. The Body of Christ has more—Jesus Christ, Son of God and true God. We can share in the fullness of God’s own Being and live God’s own life along with the Son and, through Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit.

As individuals standing outside of God and adoring Him, we would not be able to tolerate life without end. It is only by sharing God’s own life that we could enjoy life without end and we could share that life only through full membership in the Body of Christ and full communion with its Head: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Frost, a paleoanthropologist who is well-versed in genetic issues, has been writing for at least several years of the ways in which ethnic communities have characteristics which reflect their unique histories. One of the strong findings of modern research is that the ethnic groups which have inhabited much of Europe in recent centuries have personality characteristics consistent with their political and economic and cultural systems; these characteristics, especially a stronger sense of individual self which can be extreme in some, are said to be especially strong in northwestern Europeans, but seem to exist throughout Europe, possibly because of migrations of related peoples into all regions of Europe over the recent millenia.

The more recent immigrants from Asia and Africa to the countries of Europe and North America seem to have different characteristics, sometimes consistent enough with `Western’ characteristics that assimilation is possible at least in the public marketplaces, economic and political. Many of the more recent immigrants from eastern Europe and some from east Asia and southern Asia exhibit behaviors consistent to some major extent with the political and other systems of Europe, even the most Liberal (collectivist or classical) of countries. Even European styles of collectivism rely on pulling together mobs of individuals rather than the long-term development of complex, often kin-based relationships—Marx and Dante have similar assumptions about human communities so far as I can tell, though I admit I haven’t studied either writer too much and have no interest in doing so. Combining ethnic groups which have evolved in radically different environments can work but problems might develop between Europeans and even those groups of Chinese and Jews who have more respect than most Europeans for the accomplishments of Newton and Shakespeare and Mozart. (“Damn it, there’s some guys in tuxes playing crap music. Somebody must be broadcasting the national championships of the Women’s National Mud-Wrestling League (WNMWL).”)

In other words, as I stated above, there is now even scientific information that all that shallow speculation found in Locke and the classical liberals of the 19th century and forward is wrong but was worth pursuing but only with regards to some human beings at the extreme end of the spectrum for northwestern Europeans, themselves seeming to be at a fairly extreme end of the spectrum for mankind in general. Other peoples with equal or better accomplishments in politics and economics and culture and science aren’t even interested in the ways of the West. And they shouldn’t be.

And these wonderful northwestern European traits in their more moderate form showed up at least by the time of Dante, as did a blindness to their uniqueness and also the contradiction between an unqualified acceptance of those traits and the Biblical teachings on salvation as well as modern, scientific understandings of human being. Wonderful so long as we realize we are at the extreme end of certain human characteristics and then go on to understand, and act as if, other ethnic groups can be much different. We should also remember that many from that northwestern European population, or the European population in general, have far weaker individualistic traits.

This evolutionary stuff, including gene-culture co-evolution, is for real. The Bible is for real. Neither evolutionary thought nor the Bible should just be mined for verbal bullets to shoot at our enemy of the moment, only to be put back in the closet until another such opportunity. Both evolutionary knowledge of human being and Biblical knowledge of that same human being have to be fully accepted in understanding the fullness of human life or fully rejected.

See my freely downloadable book, A More Exact Understanding of Human Being, for a little bit more on human being as I understand it. More will be coming, God willing. See The Struggle Between the Individual and the Community in the Body of Christ for one of my recent efforts to move beyond that book.