Atheism and Apologetics - Moist Robots
Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
The penultimate chapter of Free Will is on politics, and is only a few pages. All it takes is a few pages to snark at conservatives.
"Conservatives, however, often make a religious fetish of individualism" (p. 61)
"Living in America, one gets the distinct sense that if certain conservatives were asked why they weren't born with club feet or orphaned before the age of five, they would not hesitate to take credit for these accomplishments" (p 62).
All of which goes to show that Harris knows as much about conservatism as he does about free will.
We could go off in that direction, but I will refrain. What I want to chortle about in this instance is the fact that Harris is blaming conservatives for doing simply what the space/time continuum is making them do.
If you have a right view of the cosmos, Harris has been arguing, you won't blame individuals for doing things that are completely outside their control, and then he proceeds immediately to the edifying task of blaming those who don't think this way.
If atoms in motion are responsible for inner city crime, then atoms in motion are also responsible for the conservatives in red state, fly-over country who object to it. Not only so, for this is a liberating game, atoms in motion are also responsible for Harris objecting to the conservatives objecting to the crime. This would be great fun, but Harris keeps forgetting to apply his dogmas to his dogmas.
One understands why he keeps forgetting to do this, of course. If he remembered, he would realize there is no such thing as remembering. He would realize that sawing off the branch you are sitting on is an activity with consequences, by which I mean consequences that might affect sales.
"There is not a person on earth who chose his genome, or the country of his birth, or the political and economic conditions that prevailed at moments crucial to his progress" (pp. 61-62).
Right. There are only people who act like they did. Like conservatives. And Harris.
"Where people can change we can demand that they do so. Where change is impossible, or unresponsive to demands, we can chart some other course. In improving ourselves and society, we are working directly with the forces of nature, for there is nothing but nature itself to work with" (p. 63).
Change? Change from what? In a deterministic universe, things can change from the way they were, but they can never change from what they were always going to be. In short, what is he talking about?
"We are working directly with the forces of nature . . ." Heh. I ask the bubbles on the surface of a pot of boiling water what they think they are doing. They reply that they are "working with" the forces of convection. I ask the foam of a mug of overflowing beer what's up. The foam declares that it has decided to "work with" the forces of combined carbon dioxide and albumins. I ask the eight ball why it now resides in the corner pocket, and the answer comes back that it decided to "work with" the cue ball.
We are almost done reviewing this book, and I will close this post with a preview of my conclusions. This is what always happens to rationalism. You begin with an absolute dedication to reason, and nothing but reason, and then find yourself as the night progresses doing a conga dance in the Festival of Unreason. And there is nothing more unsettling than the spectacle of our leading scientists throwing beads while flashing the laymen on the sidewalk.