Saturday 3 December 2011

A note on rabbits, political correctness and divine providence


I started thinking-out a Watership Down type of fable, about a strain of mutant rabbit which limited its own  reproduction in favour of 'industrial' activities that raised the standard of living; and where this disposition was combined with a compulsive altruism; such that the surplus product was shared with any mutant rabbits who cared to come and ask - and how this led to an horrific collapse of the warren...

And so on...


It was (obviously!) meant as an allegory of modernity, and how the particular combination of reproductive suppression and altruism was even-more-rapidly self-destroying than either would be on their own.

And how the psychological factors which led to reproductive self suppression were themselves amplified by the consequence of that psychology; how modernity creates more of itself.


Then I got to thinking that this could either be explained in terms of natural selection - of the weeding-out of deleterious genes (i.e that moderns are essentially a lower fitness mutant strain); or in terms of divine providence - like those Old Testament stories of wicked societies which get worse and worse yet still refuse to repent, until they are overwhelmed by catastrophe and slaughtered or enslaved.


It is weird in the extreme to see this scenario unfolding relentlessly, step by step, and sustained not so much by ignorance as by self-blinding.

It is things like this which seem to require the operation of purposive evil in the world (if we did not already know this from divine revelation).


And the greatest triumph of purposive evil is surely that the self-destroying society finds the concept of purposive evil laughable, infantile, embarrassing or itself evil; and regards this attitude as evidence of their enlightenment and intelligence, their superiority over all previous ages.


The fires are lit, the fuel is being loaded on them, the conflagration builds, the defenders are bound and gagged, all exits are sealed.



Anonymous said...

I understand the thing about reproductive suppression but I don't get the problem with altruism.

Wasn't this the core of the Christian message? "Love each other the way I have loved you".

Have you explained this in another post?

Thanks in advance

Baduin said...

This would be a good introduction to the problem:

In short: Christians should strive to do good to their brothers. But what is good? Sanctity and righteousness, not over-abundance of food and drink.

The spiritual goods are infinitely more important than material. It is surely better to die than to do evil.

Mark 9:41-49
"[41] And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea. [42] And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: [43] Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. [44] And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting, than having two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire: [45] Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.

[46] And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out. It is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God, than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: [47] Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. [48] For every one shall be salted with fire: and every victim shall be salted with salt. [49] Salt is good. But if the salt became unsavoury; wherewith will you season it? Have salt in you, and have peace among you."

If we are to love our brothers as ourselves, we have to help them to do what we should desire: the quotation above explains what is the good we should do for our brothers.

Bruce Charlton said...

If we want to know the meaning of Christian altruism, we simply need to look at the example of the most devout societies in history (in places and at times and among people which had a far deeper understanding of the faith than anyone alive today) - see what they did, and what they did not do.

Bruce Charlton said...

Penda says: " It might be possible that Russia is building in a different direction than the liberal West. However the same conditions of modernity are there, so maybe we are just seeing noise?"

My feeling is that Russia is different, and has the *potential* for a national Christian revival in a way that is perhaps not possible for the West (or at least much less likely).

(I am not concerned here with economic conditions, but with spiritual conditions.)

Russia was the most devoutly Christian nation until about a century ago - the question is whether this was fatally-weakened, or refined and strengthened by the Communist attempt at complete extirpation (which was much more horrific than generally acknowledged - indeed one of the greatest mass evils ever).

There seems to be a genuine Christian awakening, especially among the ruling elites. The potential move to abandon democracy and perhaps restore monarchy may be a positive sign in this respect; but of course it would need much more than this.

Brett Stevens said...

The problem with the concept of evil, for most of us, is that it is interpreted as an actor and not a prevailing force to which we can give in, like gravity.

You and I resist gravity every day -- by walking and standing -- but we don't think of it as a deliberate, external force. Rather it's part of our universe.

As a nihilist, I think of evil the same way. It's one choice-option. It is error routed in denial of reality in preference for human feelings, judgments and desires. "Me first, at all costs!" in other words. There is no inherent reason to deny it. Like choosing to believe in the goodness of reality (a condition some call God) we must choose to resist evil, whose origin is within.