Evidence, miracles, and science: An argument against the existence of Jesus considered


In a recentish post, Arkhenaten advances two theses, one concerning the philosophy of science, the other history:

A) Sometimes science can test for and falsify supernatural phenomena (philosophy of science).

B) Jesus of Nazareth never existed (history)*.

More specifically, he writes:

If the theist wants the atheist to change – and aren’t they compelled to spread the Word? (sic) – then simply provide evidence that demonstrates the sincerity of their objective and the veracity of their claims.

At least provide the evidence that convinced them to become Christian.

Ah … but then we are back to things supernatural which cannot be tested by scientific means as they fall outside the natural world. Right?

Well, yes … and no.

Yes, he[Jesus] was a regular bloke. Except for miracles. The miracles he did. Not least of which was raising Lazarus from the dead.

And this is where we should expect to find evidence. Some independent attestation of the wondrous deeds he did. After all:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

John 21:25

It’s in the bible, and the bible is the inspired Word of God, right?

And, yet, what do we have?

Not a word, not a whisper.

A god who lived among humans as a human and as a god for over thirty years and left no trace outside of a story?

There is absolutely nothing that can be checked. Nothing to back a single claim.

In this case absence of evidence is most definitely evidence of absence.

Evidence of miracles? Hmm …. I don’t think so.

And under such circumstances it is perfectly reasonable to draw the only logical conclusion.

The biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth is simply a work of fiction.

There are several things to be noted here:

1) Why must the Christian provide evidence to prove the “sincerity of their[sic] objective”? Why assume that when a Christian is evangelizing to the non-Christian he is doing so with nefarious intent? Perhaps this Christian knows nothing of apologetics and the rational case for the Christian worldview. Yet, when he recites John 3:16 to someone he’s proselytizing, what is there to suggest he’s doing so disingenuously and not with the belief that it’s for non-Christian’s best interest?

This Freudian slip suggests there is no “evidence” that will give Arkenaten cognitive pause because he is already convicted not to mull it due to prejudice he has about its source. Whether this prejudice is rationally justified, I’ll let the reader decide. For those who have met him online, I think the answer is readily apparent.

2) Arkenaten doesn’t flesh out the “scientific means” he has in mind to test the supernatural—also undefined. The supernatural, being super-, must be beyond the natural, which itself refers to what I’m interpreting as what the spacio-temporal exhausts. So, miracles from Jesus, Moses, or whoever are supposedly of the supernatural and workings not of this spacio-temporal realm. Indeed, according to Hume, miracles are by essence violations of observable natural laws. If science only operates within these observable natural laws of the spacio-temporal, then any miracle is beyond the reach of science to corroborate. To wit: Any miracle X that seems in violation of some natural law Y doesn’t provide prima facie evidence for the existence of X, but throws into question the veracity of Y as being a bonafide natural law.

So, it’s not clear what’s applicable for the natural can verify the supernatural. Though Arkenaten admits the difficulty here, he also thinks there is a way to get around this problem, vaguely appealing to “evidence.” However, it’s not obvious how science—understood as the empirical method that seeks knowledge of the physical spacio-temporal universe via continuous stages of observation, hypothesis, and experimentation—can provide evidence about whether a proposed historical figure existed (How do you test that?). The past isn’t empirical; why assume the “evidence” strictly is too?

Perhaps what Arkenaten means by “evidence” are archaeologically gathered artifacts, like contemporaneous manuscripts from the first century Roman Palestine. Well, deriving conclusions about the past from writings of a bygone era is not science but something closer to the discipline of history, which can be informed by science but not actually be of science as defined above.

So, Arkenaten seems to be stretching the bounds of empirical science in order to make a historical argument about whether Jesus existed. This either stems from a commitment to scientism, the incoherent view that the only genuine knowledge is scientific knowledge, or confusion about what science does and what constitutes its evidence. Regardless, both undermine his claim A) that science can test for and falsify supernatural phenomena. It also is unrelated to the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. These are separate issues.

3) As for Arkenaten’s historical argument for the non-existence of Jesus, it seems to be the following:

  1. If Jesus did exist, then there is independent attestation of his miracles.
  2. There is no independent attestation of Jesus’ miracles (indeed, nothing at all “outside of a story”).
  3. Ergo, Jesus did not exist.

As a modus tollens, the argument is formally valid, but that itself is not a guarantee of soundness. Indeed, I think both 1 and 2 can be rejected as false.

For premise 1, there isn’t a strong reason to think independent attestation, meaning contemporaneous references to Jesus’ miracles not from his disciples or their followers, would have much bearing on the question of Jesus’ existence. Either Jesus, as a mere man or the incarnated Son of God, did or didn’t exist; whether Roman historians or others of the time cited miracles attributed to him is logically irrelevant to the matter at hand. For it’s possible, even likely, that Jesus’ miracles wouldn’t be widely written down in the oral tradition-driven society of first century Judea. As for the occupying Romans, it’s probable they wouldn’t even be aware of Jesus until he would be leveraged as a symbolic figurehead for Jewish insurrection. The antecedent of 1 does not imply its consequent.

Moreover, Arkenaten provides no argument for this criterion of independent attestation found in the consequent. He just posits it as plausible and definitive. But why assume this? I mean, most of what we know about Socrates, a man who was amazing in his own right, comes from his followers. They’re not independent either, yet, while some might doubt some parts of Socrates’ life, no one doubts that Socrates even existed. That’s because there are other means historians use to establish the historicity of an event or person that this dogged insistence on independent attestation of miracles as what determines Jesus’ historicity precludes by seemingly capricious fiat. So, what is gratuitously asserted—if there was a historical Jesus, his miracles would be confirmed by contemporary independent sources—can be gratuitously denied.

Likewise, premise 2 can be regarded as false. Let’s grant Arkenaten’s call for “independent attestation,” albeit modified. While there isn’t a contemporary non-Christian reference to Jesus or his miracles (Tacitus and Josephus are later), it’s simply not the case that there is “Not a word, not a whisper … absolutely nothing that can be checked. Nothing to back a single claim” about Jesus. It’s not “In this case, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.” The Christian faith did not emerge from a vacuum. There are particular facts established by historian-developed methodologies in need of explanation which apologists use to make an abductive case for the Resurrection, the miracle upon which Christianity is erected, and, ipso facto, the historical Jesus.

For example, at least a few of Jesus’ apostles died espousing Jesus as Lord and Savior. Martyrs make terrible liars. It seems the likes Peter and Paul really believed what they were preaching. Well, it’s possible they hallucinated Jesus or were just plain crazy. But isn’t it much more likely they knew a person (or in Paul’s case, knew people who did) upon whom to base their radical new religion? As it so happens, the same sort of argument, mutatis mutandis, is used to claim the Resurrection as history.

So, it’s not enough for Arkenaten to declare victory here. These kinds of arguments from apologists have to be refuted, the historical facts explained better in terms New Atheists would accept, before justifiably dismissing Jesus’ existence, and thereby Christianity, not to mention the many secular accounts of the Gospels’ narratives in which Jesus is a historical figure.

4) Now, I’m sure this reasoning has little pull on Jesus mythicists, who occupy quite the redoubt on the internet when it comes to this area of New Testament scholarship. They’ll find this answer too speculative. After all, they’re demanding a “smoking gun” in a discipline where practitioners, more often than not, don’t possess one and must piece together what they do have to draw conclusions about the past. History is not a hands-on science.

Nevertheless, I suspect Arkenaten and company will treat it as such if it suits their ideological fancy. In my experience, “evidence” can be whatever they need it to be, hence the adamant Jesus mythicism in spite of the evidence that convinces the vast majority of academic historians, many of whom have no theological axe to grind, that Jesus, at least as a mortal, walked the earth two millennia ago.

Why do New Atheists cling to this benighted view about Jesus? My estimation: It’s not enough for Christians to be wrong—they must be hopelessly irrational too. Christianity, in their minds, is not merely false, but ridiculous. And those who believe in and live by the ridiculous in an increasingly secular society deserve ridicule from their more enlightened peers.

These anti-Christian beliefs form a cock-sure attitude. Neither falsifiable nor open for negotiation, they are dogma founded more in vitriolic politics than dispassionate reason.

For potential further evidence of it, read the comments.


*I’m not being uncharitable about Arkenaten’s position either. He’s maintaining it’s not merely the Christian conception of Jesus Christ that is the myth, which allows the possibility of a historical person known as Jesus who’s merely a man, not divine. It’s Jesus wholesale. Note that Arkenaten expresses skepticism about even the seemingly most mundane details of his life, writing, “Jesus was born, lived – and one can presume he slept, ate and used the toilet just like regular people – and of course he died. Or at least this is the claim [emphasis mine]. He’s also said as much in previous comments on another entry of this blog.
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Steven Crowder on David Hogg


As a bit followup to yesterday’s post, here’s conservative YouTube funnyman Steven Crowder on David Hogg, Leftist Christ Superstar.

Oh, and for those rankled by my not so subtle but clever suggestion that Hogg is like sadistic, child-murdering Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones, Crowder cleverly but not so subtly compares You-Know-Who to Hitler. So…I’m not the worst.

David Hogg: The ‘vicious idiot’ who would be king


David Hogg is a real piece of work. Really. It’s time to take off the kiddie gloves.

During the last two months, the teenager-turned-activist who survived the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting has burned through any goodwill he’s had for undergoing something highly traumatic and being wet behind the ears. Hogg’s proved himself to be a vile demagogue and an exception to the saying, “Only bad things happen to good people.”

Here’s a few of his greatest hits, as compiled by Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire staff and then mirrored by YouTuber TRUTHBOMBS:

For my mind, Shapiro, who has come down the hardest on Hogg among the conservative commentariat, is still too generous to the brat. He claims he is withholding judgment about whether Hogg is a nice guy outside of politics earlier in the video. Please. As exemplified above, the teenager has serially slandered Dana Loesch, Marco Rubio, the NRA to the point that his tirades push what’s normative for political discourse even in these polarized times. Sorry, Ben, media prop or not, a foul-mouthed, arrogant student who regularly and remorselessly bears false witness against his neighbors is not a mensch. Surviving a shooting is not a license to demand the infringement of people’s gun rights and be insufferable about it.

Hogg’s worse than that, though. This latest episode in which he’s orchestrated an advertiser boycott against Fox News’ Laura Ingraham also shows he’s thin-skinned and vindictive. For those who need to be caught up, Ingraham took time on Twitter to pick on Hogg for being rejected by some colleges in California. Since then, he and Media Matters have incited several companies to pull their advertising from her show, prompting the Fox talk show host to offer an apology, which he’s rebuffed.

On what grounds, you ask? Well, see for yourself the wisdom that spouted wondrously from Hogg’s own mouth:

How gracioushumble, and sincere the left’s new favorite talisman is! “I’m [emphasis mine] not the issue here,” and “when people try to distract, like Laura is doing right now, from what the real issue here is…,” said the precocious prince of the left’s effort to gut the Second Amendment and who could choose to make peace with Ingraham at any time. It looks like our rising star has a taste for exerting power upon people, making them squirm, making them hurt.

Don’t believe me? Well, apparently this dust-up with Ingraham isn’t the first time Hogg has gone out of his way to screw with someone’s livelihood for slighting him or his friends. Go ask the Redondo Beach, Calif., lifeguard who was put under review due in some part to Hogg’s footage of this confrontation between that lifeguard and a member of Hogg’s crew, who was recalcitrant about being admonished for covering a trash can at a beach with his boogie board.

Yeah, the lifeguard’s punishment really seems to fit his crime, if you can call his conduct with Hogg’s associate that. Our boy wonder apparently isn’t a fan of lex talionis. I, however, doubt he knows what that means even though he’s fixated on handing out deserts he believes are just to those who oppose him. A 4.1 GPA isn’t a reliable indicator of knowledge these days, though it might correlate with a grossly inflated sense of one’s capability to solve incredibly complex social problems, such as gun violence, specifically school shootings.

What’s perhaps even more ironic, which I’m sure others have pointed out, is that the left has gone all-in with the caustic, spoiled millennial as the face of its tyrannical gun control agenda, and he is unlikeable enough for it to all backfire. He’s sanctimonious, grudging, self-obsessed, and, worst of all, conceited enough to believe he knows how best to fix what ails society, i.e., “…our parents don’t know how to use a fucking democracy, so we have to.” The left has anointed someone who embodies the sort of authoritarian personality for which the right to bear arms exists—a foolish, self-righteous megalomaniac impulsive and vengeful enough to trample those he believes are beneath him. After the Parkland massacre, that’s gun-toting America and her political representatives. Although psychopath Nikolas Cruz pulled the trigger, for Hogg, everyone else is equally culpable and must have their liberty curtailed.

He’s basically Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones. No, really, the two are more alike than different: Both are entitled, come from well-connected families (it’s not by accident that Hogg has been quickly and regularly thrust in front of the camera across the country), feign either victimhood, heroism, or machismo when it suits their purposes, sic others on their political enemies to destroy them, boast irritating smirks and sneers, and clearly are products of incest—ideological incest, that is, for Hogg. All he needs to do is go blond and murder two whores for fun with a crossbow (I hear, however, he has something against bearing personal arms).

You don’t think he’s that evil? Sure, but hair dye is readily available; plus, given his background and exploits from the last several months, it’s evident he’s got potential.

Am I being too provocative? Too unfair? Too harsh in suggesting that the Iron Throne from the early GOT seasons fits? Well, at the very least, it’s fair to opine that something very sharp and pointy is far up his ass, and he needs to be slapped repeatedly, so to speak, for it. This is in part to show conservatives that their hands won’t fall from their wrists for striking a “vicious idiot king,” but also to drive home the point that civility is for the civil. Contra Matt Walsh, the cankerous Hogg can’t be ignored because he’s not going anywhere, at least not until his handlers realize he’s more trouble than he’s worth. Reasoned debate with him or his enablers is not possible and thereby a losing bet. In order to get rid of him, we mustn’t be afraid to resort to ridicule and mockery, especially because Hogg thoroughly deserves them for his smug demagoguery. Doing so is not character assassination because the boy who would be king hasn’t got any. As Bronn, another character from GOT, observes about Joffrey,
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Indeed, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Indeed.

On the ‘Polish death camps’ controversy


The Washington Post reported that Poland’s President Andrzej Duda signed into law a bill outlawing the use of language that associates Poland as responsible for the Holocaust. Within it, penalties for the phrases like “Polish death camps” could include up to jail time for potential violators.

This move has reaped a backlash, but not for the right reasons, I fear. The concerns over free speech and historical debate are ones I share. It’s reprobate and tyrannical to criminalize the articulation of certain kinds of phrases.

However, the lion’s share — or at least loudest — critics condemn Poland’s government here not so much with liberal ideals of free expression in mind, but for anti-semitism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, implies Polish officials are guilty of Holocaust denial. Yair Lapid went as far to tweet:

I find Netanyahu’s and Lapid’s reactions unhinged. “Polish death camps,” as anyone with a basic understanding of the World War II and the Holocaust knows, is a misleading term. Auschwitz, Treblinka, and many of those horrendous places were Nazi installations located in Nazi-occupied Poland. Putting aside the law seemingly is clumsy in what it permits and just ill-conceived legislation, it’s understandable that the Polish government doesn’t want Poles to be defamed as genocidal butchers as culpable as the Third Reich.

Ah, but what about Polish collaborators or Polish anti-semitism before, during, and after the events in question? Like the Jedwabne and Kielce pogroms?

Well, what about them? It’s consistent to recognize both that the camps in occupied Poland were Nazi in origin and administration, and Polish anti-semitism was contemporaneous and played a factor in the Holocaust. Is anyone of consequence in the civilized world denying the evil of either of them? This isn’t to say Poland doesn’t have a history of anti-semistism prior, during, and after the war, or anti-semitism isn’t significant force in the world today (on the contrary, I affirm the negation of both claims). However, atrocities like Jedwabne, Kielce, and other unsettling anecdotes of Polish misconduct involving Jews and their Nazi killers — acts committed by a relatively small few in a nation of millions — though perhaps inspired and or coaxed by the Nazis, weren’t part of the Holocaust as it pertains to the operation of the extermination camps as implied by the imprecise phrase “Polish death camps” at the center of this controversy. Overall, these regrettable acts are irrelevant to the matter at hand, namely whether Poland as a nation — not some number of individual Poles or segments of the Polish underground — can be credibly blamed as part of the Holocaust or anti-semitism wholesale.

Moreover, Lapid’s tweet leaves no room to distinguish between those among the conquered Poles who assisted the Nazis and those who didn’t actively resist their rule. It implies both were equally complicit in the systematic extirpation of European Jewry.

It also disregards the ethical difficulties of the Polish situation during World War II. Keep in mind Polish Slavs weren’t considered perfect Aryan specimens either. Viewed as inferior, they too were sent to the camps to be killed. Perhaps every living Pole at the time in Poland ought to have risen up against the barbarism of the Nazis, but Lapid ignores that every living Pole at the time in Poland had a gun to their heads — that, everyday Poles were under duress, oppressed, and faced a legitimate moral dilemma. As such, some, whatever their feelings toward Jews, decided their best option at survival was to keep their heads down or unfortunately even abet the Nazis. Even if some of this behavior was based in anti-semitism, it’s unfair, with almost 80 years of hindsight, to denounce categorically the Poles for some Poles failing to be decent human beings when mired in indecent circumstances.

It seems because there existed some Polish collaborators and anti-semites, Poland can’t be largely seen as innocent of the Holocaust or the great European anti-semitic ether from which it apparently materialized (never mind that many Poles risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis and the long, complex history between Jews and Poles). As Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is recorded in The Guardian:

The Jewish people, the state of Israel, and the entire world must ensure that the Holocaust is recognised for its horrors and atrocities…Also among the Polish people, there were those who aided the Nazis in their crimes. Every crime, every offence, must be condemned. They must be examined and revealed.

So given the examples of Netanyahu, Lapid, and Rivlin, the outrage here seems to be all about collective guilt-mongering. That, European anti-semitism wholesale is responsible for the Holocaust. And non-Jews, especially those of European descent, must always be aware of that and the fact that they and or their fellow countrymen have ancestors who committed heinous crimes against Jews seemingly in order to foster a perpetual feeling of penitence.

Let me be lucid: I don’t buy those anti-semitic conspiracy theories about the “Jews controlling everything” found on the far right. They repulse me. Plus, I’m far from callous about Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis.

However, it’s obvious there are prominent Jews and Israelis who are invested in promoting a simplified narrative about what happened in Poland before, during, and after World War II to impute guilt, I suspect, on the non-guilty for ethnocentric reasons. There’s too many who equivocate “Poland,” “Polish people,” and other similar phrases, as well as fail to use “the Holocaust” univocally, for it to be otherwise. It’s tribalism, us vs. them, Jews against gentiles/whites identity politics. Lest we forget, identity politics led to the Holocaust, whose victims’ descendants ironically are not above engaging in their own version of them. So I call them out for it.

See Danusha V. Goska for a nuanced take on the relationship between Poles and Jews.

All you need to know to reject Black Lives Matter


That is, unless you’re insane.

Anyway, putting aside the rabble rousing, pillaging, burning of the very communities they claim to champion and the chanting, “Pigs in a blanket! Fry ’em like bacon!” there’s always this little habit of Black Lives Matters “protesters.”

Ah, I love the smell of irony in the morning. If only the good Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks could see their descendants piss on their inheritance. The brave men and women of the the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s did not suffer indignity and physical harm for spoiled demagogues to exercise their own brand of racist violence and humiliation 50 years later.

Now, maybe this was covered in professional activist camp, but I thought the idea of a protest is to make a public scene to draw attention on your cause. This is sort of counter-intuitive, don’t you think, limiting your exposure? The press, after all, are the public’s eyes and ears.

Secondly, BLM have a right to organize and protest, but it doesn’t have a right to racially segregate the press. Media are there on behalf of the public and are agents representing the public’s right to information for self-governance. If you’re going to make a hullabaloo, it can’t infringe on other people’s and institutions’ First Amendment rights to document it. Same thing happened with the BLM-affiliated protesters at the University of Missouri with Tim Tai and Mark Schierbecker. There’s no legal or moral standing for what these despicable megalomaniacs are doing.

Please tell me how these racists are not driven by hatred and stupidity. Spare me the meaningless distinction about black people can only be prejudiced and not racist because they don’t have institutional power bullshit. Tell that to the six Baltimore cops charged by state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby, who hastily brought the full force of her office down upon them, in the Freddie Gray trial. You have to go to college — which not everyone does — and specialize in black studies — which many college attendees don’t — to know what Critical Race Theory is and how its tenets-as-tentacles skull-jockey the otherwise very hollow noggins of BLM supporters. Captured above is racism as it is colloquially understood. Even resorting to such semantic games, distinguishing between prejudice and racism, is ineffective because technically BLM is an institution and wielding institutional power to segregate on a whim. This is overtly unconstitutional and anti-civil rights.

Speaking of college, notice how many of these self-appointed defenders of blacks tend to be people who are privileged and educated. They never seem to need food, shelter, clothing or other fundamentals of existence. Instead, they apparently have the time and energy to be so idealistic as to put their ideals into practice. You don’t see struggling, impoverished individuals so lucky, yet these self-appointed champions of the downtrodden claim to speak for them. Social justice warriors are bourgeoisie who loathe everything about bourgeoisieness. Philosopher Roger Scruton has their number:

 Activist campaigns, which tend to be conducted in the name of the people as a whole, neither consult the people nor show much interest in noticing them—a point that was noticeable to Burke, in considering the insolence of the French revolutionaries. Such campaigns are affairs of elites who are seeking to triumph over real or imaginary adversaries, and who make an impact on politics because they share, in their hearts, the old socialist view that things must be changed from the top downwards, and that the people themselves are not to be trusted now, but only later, when the revolutionary vanguard has completed its task.

Bingo! The same applies to BLM and all its splinter chapters. It’s a movement doomed to fail. It’s too abrasively racist to win over potential allies, it’s message too unpalatable for normal people across the political spectrum. It’s primary methods of persuasion is guilt-mongering via slander, to which only self-flagellating individuals are susceptible. Most self-respecting people who are white don’t take too kindly to being smeared as a de facto racist. And to those, who out of some perversely false sense of responsibility and accept such unfair condemnation, such epithets don’t inspire loyalty but obedience out of fear. BLM is a band of tyrants who, between the language policing enforced by social stigma and rioting to disrupt the rule of law as an more overt form of intimidation, use both soft and hard methods of totalitarian control. If it wasn’t for that detestable species called journalist providing uncritical coverage as life support, this organized manifestation of wickedness masquerading as justice would be moribund already.

God-willing, it will be soon,

Modus Pownens

Why I’m not a progressive


In 2000, The Guardian in a profile reported the event that prompted the junior Roger Scruton to be a conservative with the help of the philosopher’s own words:

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Sir Roger Scruton

For Roger Scruton, as for so many of his generation, the Paris riots of May 1968 were the defining political moment of his life. He was in the Latin Quarter when students tore up the cobblestones to hurl at the riot police. His friends overturned cars and uprooted lamp-posts to erect the barricades. Representatives of his own discipline, old philosophers like Marx and new ones like Foucault, were providing the intellectual fuel for the fire raging on the ground.

As he watched the events unfold from his apartment window, and listened to his friends, drunk on revolutionary hope and excitement, Scruton found his own emotions and opinions crystallising. “I suddenly realised that I was on the other side,” he says. “What I saw was an unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans. When I asked my friends what they wanted, what were they trying to achieve, all I got back was this ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook. I was disgusted by it, and thought there must be a way back to the defence of western civilisation against these things. That’s when I became a conservative. I knew I wanted to conserve things rather than pull them down.”

Sir Roger’s reason is as good and lucid of an illustration as to why one should oppose the Left. Not that I have such a experience that so encapsulates the nature of Leftism, but I would like to detail a recent epiphany as to why I reject the synonymous progressivism.

Consider the term “progressive.” People who are progressives identify by being for progress. Duh, I know, but note that to identify by something suggests strong emotions for and fervent belief in it. To identify by progress is to advertise robust attachment for progression. Such strident convictions compel action toward their actualization, nurturing an agent for progress. Being for progress, change, by default, is being against the status quo. Hence, a progressive is someone who actively works to abolish the current state of affairs.

Now, change, in it of itself, is not a terrible thing. There are times when it’s justified. Rather, the fetishization of change as a good in it of itself is what’s grossly insidious. Identifying as progressive makes change a fetish; the act extols it. Then what constitutes progress for a progressive, someone, who as a matter of self-realization, is against the way things are? Simply what isn’t — what ought to be, his moral convictions regardless if they’re rational or possible. Taken together, the contrarian nature that inheres in progressive identity and the notion of change as intrinsically good, we have a potent and toxic recipe for radicalism.

Then there’s the problem that not everyone shares moral values and convictions. Disagreement is an obvious feature of the world. So, what then? If progress demands legalized abortion but others maintain abortion is infanticide, then what gives? Well, whoever’s convictions represent the de facto status quo, of course!

The moral stench is now becoming ever more pungent, I think. Behold its foulness: As agents radically pursuant to their own moral dogmas, progressives must impose their change as a matter of righteousness. If other people’s morals hinder it, they have a holy mandate to neutralize them, thus the eagerness to socially engineer. Nor is this crusade content with redefining a society’s morals. The cultural web of films, art, traditions, language, institutions that disseminate information — mass media, schools, churches, etc. — reaffirming these norms must also be dealt with. Every facet of society must be altered. Thusly, we see progressivism entails and justifies totalitarianism in theory, engenders it in practice.

When one examines Hegelian-influenced Marxism, which maintains that change occurs as a matter of dialectic — a clash of contradictions or polar opposites, where Aughebung is the negation or overcoming of the status quo, and with it, its assimilation into the greater totality and higher reality — one finds an intellectual penchant for such all-consuming tyrannical aspirations. Accordingly, everything is interconnected with mediated relationships between one another. As per this progressivism, totalitarian aggression is normalized as well as ennobled. And make no mistake, progressives are the aggressors, and they are motivated to act aggressively.

The point I’m making in a very roundabout way is, no matter how crude or refined, progressivism is totalitarianism. Period.

Like Scruton, it disgusts me,

Modus Pownens

“Clump” theory Kant buy an abortion


Perhaps you’ve heard this feminist folly about a human embryo shrilly pronounced in defense of abortion: “It’s just a clump of cells!”

Well, I mean, so are you, dear feminist. If we assume a strictly materialistic and naturalistic account of human beings, each woman, whether pregnant or not, is also “just a clump of cells,” only bigger. Hence, why does a woman, as a clump of cells, have the right to terminate an embryo or a fetus, whom too are clumps of cells? Mere difference in size between “clumps” seems to be an arbitrary reason. For the naturalist and materialist advocate of abortion, the issue is not just how one gets the immaterial goodies of rights and value solely from the material cellular composition of bodies but also why only women-as-clumps (WAC) have them and the unborn-as-clumps (UAC) don’t, much to their lethal expense.

I will now consider some possible responses to these problems implicated by this “clump” theory:

A. WACs are rational beings; UACs are not.
Immanuel Kant famously held within one of his formulations of the categorical imperative that we ought never to treat rational beings only as means but as ends in themselves. So, in a Kantian deontological framework, the hurdle of human dignity and personhood must be overcome to justify abortion. Bifurcating between WAC as rational agents and UAC as non-rational agents accomplishes this as it allows the latter to be used solely as a means — in this sense, subjects to abortion — in service of the will of the former. Under this interpretation of Kant, UAC are not persons and thusly don’t possess rights, such as the universalizable right to life.

I see some troubles with this move:

  1.  It fails to take into account the potential for rationality that inheres within a freshly formed, normal human zygote, that, as being a member of the sort of natural kind that it is, if left unabated in the womb would likely further develop, be born and actualize that potential for rationality over time. This actualization of latent rationality has been, as a matter of common experience, if not scientific observation, readily justified a posteriori. Following from this, it’s arguable (as Bill Vallicella does here) that this inherent potentiality for rationality, “confers a right to life”and thereby Kantian personhood. Thus, treading on this right, as abortion certainly does, given this case, is a moral evil and violates Kant’s categorical imperative.Moreover, Vallicella also notes another issue to which I find myself concurring: The “post-natal,” the newly born, can’t be considered as rational agents. They are utterly helpless and dependent on adults to make judgments on their behalf. Several years must pass before they become apt for rationality and develop the cognitive faculties for reasoning, moral decision-making and the like to the extent they incur the mantle of rational agent. Yet, they are ascribed as persons and possessors of the right to life before all this occurs. This fact seems problematic for the proponent of abortion, especially given any time during pregnancy, say even in midst of labor, the pre-natal baby is still a “clump of cells” with no rights — as per the official platform of the Democrats — but somehow a second after birth becomes a person, fully fledged in inviolable dignity. Both the uterine wall and vaginal canal seem to be very thin membranes constituting the special threshold between personhood and non-personhood. But how and why? Why does the act of being born result in a sudden transformation in ontological status for the fetus-clump?
  2. Secondly, it errs in that Kant is neither a naturalist nor a materialist. Hence, it’s not at all obvious as to how his ethics are compatible with “clump” theory. This all goes back to the first part of the issue — how naturalists and materialists get the immaterial out of the purely material. They would have to provide a compelling materialist basis for rationality as well as value and goodness. These are challenging metaphysical and metaethical quagmires that go far beyond the scope here, and in my opinion, typical attempts at solving them are rife with difficulties. But once again, addressing those attempted solutions is not within the purview of this post.

B. UACs are inside of WACs, violating the latter’s bodily freedom to control their own inner physiological processes, thereby threatening their greater autonomy.
I believe there’s two ideas here: (A) There’s a right to control one’s bodily processes, and prohibiting abortion limits said right; (B) Given the nine months of physical and psychological demands of pregnancy and the years of responsibility caring for a new human person, unwanted fetuses hamper women from actualizing their aspirations, goals, desires and otherwise curtail their abilities to achieve economic and cultural parity with men. In other words, their autonomy — which literally means self-legislation — is diminished…

  1. …Or so the narrative goes. Implicit within A, there’s the assumption that the UAC don’t have the right to life, which is the matter of contention, and begs the question against the Pro-Life movement. It’s undoubtedly uncontroversial that people, regardless of sex, have the right to do with their individual bodies as they please. It’s also true that most everybody accepts there are legal and moral limits with what one can do with one’s meat suit. For instance, murder often involves using your body, whether it’s enacted with hands bare or wielding weapons, but both morally and legally, murder is an impermissible use of one’s body. Furthermore, it’s evident that abortion terminates life, i.e kills. So, once again why does the UAC’s size and location inside women’s wombs make abortion permissible and not murderous? A woman’s rights trump a fetus’ (that is if it’s even recognized as a person)? But that changes nothing, as both are clumps with only relative location and size differentiating the unborn from the woman. Isn’t it arbitrary to favor the woman, especially in lieu of  we often consider the innocent and defenseless — both of which the fetus instantiates — especially warranting special recognition and protection? Well, the fetus isn’t a person with rights. Yet, once more this begs the question against Pro-Lifers and takes us back to the post’s original dilemma about clumps.
  2. As for B, I don’t see how pregnancy impairs or — to borrow a currently infamous term — causes an “undue burden” on feminine autonomy. Women are CEOs, high-ranking government officials, academics, entertainers and all manner of active and successful contributors to society outside of the home. Taking away abortion as a last resort likely wouldn’t “relegate” the fairer sex to domestic servitude in the kitchens. With the mass accessibility of varieties of birth control, including abstinence, pregnancy can be forestalled, parenthood planned. Admittedly, everything doesn’t often occur as planned, but whose fault is that? If you play fast and loose and or gamble with the action that creates life, why should it be unjust that responsibility actually comes a’knocking to collect on that semen deposit with interest? Alas, this is the sort of moral dereliction and accompanying depravity that manifests when you sever freedom from personal responsibility.
  3. Lastly, how does A and B not violate Kant’s principle of universalizability? Is it not the case that aborting a fetus disrupts permanently its control of its bodily processes that grows more independent daily? Moreover, abortion doesn’t just ruin the UAC’s days. It rather definitively puts the kibosh on the greater future autonomy that belongs to the fetuses, many of whom are female. Thusly, A and B seem to be self-vitiating. There’s always the response UAC have no rights, but I hope it’s obvious now there’s a theme of begging the question and continual not moving past Go in such a such a retort.

See, abortion supporters who happen to be materialists and naturalists want morality and rights without invoking God, the supernatural or the transcendental. They love their Kantian dignity, autonomy and equality; that’s why I brought up der Alles-Zermalmer. Pity their precious social justice also faces pulverization but not from Kant. Their mores just are not very compliant to their preferred metaphysics. Atheism, let alone New Atheism, struggles to alchemize blood from this stone.

Clumps get in the way,

Modus Pownens