I've been thinking a lot again recently about the inconsistency of the New/Pop Atheists. So has John Richardson, the “Ugley Vicar”. Some excellent stuff here on how our obsession with evolution quickly falls away when it comes up against other cherished beliefs. Crime – its a 'black thing'
And in case anyone seeks to construe this post as racist, let me remind you of at least 4 reasons why I abhor racism of any sort.
Eysenck was perhaps the most influential behavioural psychologist in his generation and certainly neither a fool nor a charlatan. Unfortunately for him, his reading of the statistical evidence suggested a genetic component to intelligence which basically meant some races are smarter than others and he published the results in a deliberately ‘popular’ format. Instead of a dispassionate examination of the evidence, however, Eysenck was personally vilified and attacked.
Yet from a strictly scientific point of view, his was an unexceptionable conclusion. There is no a priori reason why genes should not be a determinant of intellectual ability. Moreover, if that’s where the evidence goes, that is where we must follow if we are real scientists. Four years earlier, Desmond Morris had published, in a similarly popular format, The Naked Ape, subtitled A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal, and it went on to be a best-seller. Why was Eysenck treated any differently?
The trouble is, when it comes to specifically racial differences, we’ve been there before and we’ve seen where it leads, and few people want to go there again.
And this is the problem. Part of us wants to go with the ‘evolutionist’ paradigm, not least because it seems to provide a neat ‘explanation’ of human altruism: you don’t have to be religious to be good — it’s in our genes. (See, e.g., Dawkins passim for an elaboration of this.)
But when others want to apply that same evolutionary paradigm in ‘unsavoury’ ways, something else kicks in. Like the Apostle Peter in John’s Gospel, we feel someone leading us where we do not want to go.
The question is, are we right at this point, or are we simply being irrational? Is the person who fears the social implications of such an approach unenlightened, or are those who want to follow wherever it may go at whatever the price darkened in their understanding?
Indeed. Yet again a major inconsistency. As I noted before, atheists/materialists just don't live with a consistent ethic. Which is a good thing, I reckon. Heaven help us the day that they all do.