Monday, November 29, 2010

Ten Books That Screwed Up The World

and 4 others that didn't help, by Benjamin Wiker

This is a book that I HIGHLY recommend as "cliff notes" on some very important thought errors that entered Western civilization (mostly quite recently) that anyone who thinks deeply needs to understand and learn how to deal with. The ten books are:
  1. The Manifesto of the Communist Party (Marx/Engels) 
  2. Utilitarianism (Mill) 
  3. The Descent of Man (Darwin)
  4. Beyond Good and Evil (Nietzsche)
  5. The State and Revolution (Lenin) 
  6. The Pivot of Civilization (Sanger)
  7. Mein Kampf (Hitler) 
  8. The Future of an Illusion (Freud) 
  9. Coming of Age in Samoa (Mead)
  10. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Kinsey)
and the 4 that didn't help:
  1. The Prince (Machiavelli)
  2. Discourse on Method ( Descartes)
  3. Leviathan (Hobbes) 
  4. Discourse on the the Origins and Foundations of Inequality Among Men (Rousseau) 

I'll dispense with anything like the "cliff notes on the cliff notes", but rather share what I see to be the clear overall message gained from all the books that Wiker ( and I ) see as "in error".

The core error is "there is no God". While we know that nobody is going to be able to prove in this life that there IS a God, the primary effect of throwing him out is to make man into god -- with somewhat variable, but uniformly disastrous results.

If man is god, we need "a new creation myth". For Hobbes it is "every man has a right to everything ...". Since there is no god, there is no morality beyond "if it feels good, do it", which leads to a state of perpetual war with everyone, or a life that is now famously "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".

While our education system loves telling the impressionable young minds that "The Bible is just a Myth", what they don't say is that the Hobbesian, Lockean, Darwinian, Meadan, Freudian, etc views of the past and future are DEFINITELY myths. We even know for certain who made up those particular myths. Are any of the more recently created myths "better"? More realistic? Helpful to life?

Now Rousseau and Mead of course have a different rather idyllic view of our "basic nature" as being non-competitive, free love hippy sorts -- sharing everyone and everything with complete ease until some guy got jealous and wanted to keep one of the best females all for his own -- after which civilization got created and things went downhill ever since.  Man is wonderful, civilization is evil.

The bottom line is that all these books either start from creating the myth from pure imagination, or build on a previous error to make determinations about the problems with our present and predict some joyous better future that will approach "heaven on earth" if their nostrums are followed. Two of the visions; Marx and Hitler, pretty much got implemented, but the resemblance was to the place with the brimstone rather than Heaven.

Lot's of Kinsey's vision has come true as well -- lots of abortion, AIDs, child molestation, sexually transmitted disease and generally broken lives. In many of the cases. Kinsey being the most extreme, there is somehow the idea that "natural is good" -- as if once the higher functions of the spirit and the search for God and the eternal has been put behind us, the way to nirvana is through sex driven by all the morality found in the brain stem. The basic philosophy of utilitarianism -- which is essentially socialism, is "philosophy for pigs" ... if the most people enjoy it, then it must be good. Get more folks to enjoy more of it and see if we can avoid pain. End of story.

Nietzsche dumped god, crapped all over utilitarianism, and pretty much decided on on the philosophy of "no pain, no gain" -- we need to get better, but better in the "natural way", so like Darwin and Sanger, he wanted solid competition for "the best race", leadership of"the best of the best" -- meaning greatest will to power in that best race, and wala -- we get Hitler. Maybe not exactly what the "natural selection crowd" thought of as the ultimate goal of evolution, but one never really knows where a random process that arose randomly will end up.

The bottom line would seem to be that Pogo had it right. "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Thus, we would be very very wise to accept the reality of an all powerful God sending a Savior to die for us, or at least make it as close to reality as our faith will allow. "Myth or Truth"?, there are no purely human created world views that have any hope at all of being anything but myth, that is a certainty. Is the Christian world view divine? It is at least plausible opposed to any of the above.

If it isn't there were a set of disciples that died as martyrs for what they knew to be a lie.  There is a GIANT gulf between that and a terrorist dying for what he wants to believe to be the truth -- he has no real evidence for or against his belief.  If Christ really didn't rise from the dead, St Peter  ... and all the other disciples  save John died horrible deaths for what they would have known was a lie.

Does that "prove Christianity"? Unfortunately, no -- God said "by faith", and he meant it.  However I think 100's of millions of dead due to the failed utopia ideas of man might at least give us a bit of pause as to what is BEST?

The book is actually pretty short, and it is PACKED with information -- his style is a bit "chippy" for my taste in a book of this sort, but some may find it entertaining. In any case, the book has merit -- go for it!

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