I shared this idea on Facebook today. I’ll elaborate it here.
I had an epiphany today. I figured out what I think is the essential problem with liberalism in our time. They believe in an outmoded form of science, a pseudoscientific myth.
Think of one of our president’s favorite phrases: “My opponents are on the wrong side of history.”
Think about it. What does it mean to be on the wrong side of history? How can history have sides?
It can only have sides if you believe there is some overarching inevitability to the course of history. It’s understandable for Christians to think that way. We’re supernaturalists. We believe a Mind is in control. That’s how our world-view works.
But how can secularists believe that history has an inevitable course, a right and a wrong side?
It can only come from a myth, a belief in some kind of driving force behind the course of events, even if it’s seen as somehow non-supernatural.
In the 19th Century there was a common belief in Progress. You may think of the 19th Century as an age of faith, but it was also an age in which the driving, dynamic new world view was Darwinian. The problem was that even the scientists of the time generally didn’t understand how evolution works.
(I don’t propose to debate the evolution question here. I’m talking in terms of social myths and common assumptions.)
The kind of Evolution that was popularized by writers like H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw was purposeful. Nature – in some way – was striving to perfect itself. Everything it did was an attempt to come closer to the perfection that waited at the end. History had an inevitable course. This is implicit in Marx. He firmly believed he was writing science. Because it was science, anyone who disagreed had to be insane.
You can observe this kind of thinking in 19th Century ideas about race. Why were white people subjugating dark-skinned people all over the world? Because white people were more highly evolved, better in an evolutionary sense. It was right that they should rule the earth. They were the future. Darker races had been bypassed by the evolutionary process, and must inevitably wither and disappear, like non-Marxists.
Of course if you’ve studied biology more recently, you know this is all nonsense. Nature has no universal mind, no course, no inevitability (a Christian can agree with this. The divine Mind is not nature). Evolution as understood today is simply a process of innovation and error. It does not happen by plan, but because it just occurs when genes mutate. Most – the massive majority – of biological mutations don’t work. They produce changes in organisms that are either useless or counterproductive. The organisms that carry them tend to die without reproducing.
But a few – a very few – are beneficial and help their organisms thrive and reproduce. These are passed along.
Liberals need to stop listening to the biology Marx believed in Victorian times, and listen to the modern biologists.
Modern biology will warn them that most new ideas won’t work. They will cause damage. They will lead to death, poverty, and chaos.
That doesn’t mean we should reject new ideas out of hand. Not at all.
But new ideas should be understood for what they are. Mutations that might be good, but are far more likely to be dangerous. New ideas should be examined carefully before they are tried, and tried cautiously if they show promise. And there should always be an escape hatch in case of unintended consequences.
Listen to science, liberals. You’ll become conservatives.