Serious Social Disease

Here’s the problem with all these false dichotomies: At bottom, they come from, and reinforce, illiteracy. And while sophisticates can, and too often do, produce their own exquisite forms of barbarism, widespread illiteracy probably inexorably leads to barbarism. A scientist who doesn’t understand anything about epistemology, or religion, or philosophy, and gets on his soapbox is a joke. A scientist who does all these things and as a result is on best-seller lists and gets published in The New Yorker is a symptom of a serious social disease. Never mind the science-versus-religion debate,” such as it is — widespread confusion about science’s epistemological framework) is producing a lot of shoddy science, and that should have us all concerned.

That Krauss, while singing the praises of an epistemic of doubt, blithely evinces absolutely none about the nature or value of human life — he only needs to know what religious” people oppose to know what he’s for — merely shows that he’s ignorant and intellectually lazy. That he can write this in the pages of a magazine that is supposed to be a beacon of American intellectualism without rebuke, or even throat-clearing, from his ideological fellow-travelers shows that the illiteracy is widespread and cultural.

Now, none of this is to say that there is a God (though there is) or that abortion is wrong and should be illegal (though it is, and it should be). But it is simply to demonstrate that we have arrived at a peculiar moment when our elite institutions and discourse seem to be utterly ignorant of their own philosophical and cultural legacy. The institutions we live in and through, whether the scientific revolution or liberal democracy or the concept of human rights, were built and explored by great thinkers, who in turn were grounded in great traditions of rational speculation (that is to say, of philosophy), and it is mystifying and, frankly, very scary that we have arrived at this moment of what can only be called cultural amnesia — an amnesia so profound that we have not only forgotten, we’ve forgotten that we’ve forgotten.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Errors of the Militant Atheist

April 10, 2020

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