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Is Europe's suicide related to its lack of faith?

18.09.2009. In the 2003 book Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950, the American political scientist Charles Murray attempts to quantify the accomplishments of individuals worldwide in arts and sciences. In his review of Murray's book, Fjordman concludes as follows (emphasis added):

Christianity played an important part in this, too. As Murray writes, “It was a theology that empowered the individual acting as an individual as no other philosophy or religion had ever done before. The potentially revolutionary message was realized more completely in one part of Christendom, the Catholic West, than in the Orthodox East. The crucial difference was that Roman Catholicism developed a philosophical and artistic humanism typified, and to a great degree engendered, by Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274). Aquinas made the case, eventually adopted by the Church, that human intelligence is a gift from God, and that to apply human intelligence to understanding the world is not an affront to God but is pleasing to him.”

Charles Murray argues that Christianity was an important variable, not that it explains everything. He does not say that it is impossible to find purpose in a secular life and achieve great accomplishments, only that it is harder to do so. It is here that Christianity has its most potent advantage: devotion to God trumps devotion to most human causes. Even the greatest of talents have to spend a lot of time and work on practice and on absorbing external impulses. From Michelangelo to Beethoven, the willingness to engage in such monomaniacal levels of effort is related to a sense of vocation. Consequently, a person with a strong sense that “I was put here on Earth to do exactly this” is more likely to accomplish great things than someone who lacks such a sense of purpose. By this Murray means a transcendental element, something more important than the here and now. Those accomplishing great achievements are not necessarily indifferent to worldly motives like money, power, fame and glory, but the giants often had a strong feeling that their lives had a purpose, a feeling they had even before they had achieved anything substantial.

The Enlightenment’s passionate commitment to reason was close to religious, yet after Freud, Nietzsche and others with similar messages, the belief in man as a rational being took a body blow. It became fashionable in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century to see humans as unwittingly acting out neuroses and subconscious drives. God was mostly dead among the European creative elites at this time. Such beliefs undermined the belief of the creative elites that their lives had purpose or that their talents could be efficacious. Murray believes that the twentieth century witnessed a decline in per capita accomplishment, as intellectuals rejected religion. He expects that almost no art from the second half of this century will be remembered 200 years from now. It's a challenge for democratic societies to keep up standards of excellence when there is an obsession with making everyone equal. He has noticed that young Europeans no longer take pride in their scientific and artistic legacy; attempts to point this out to them will typically be met with pessimism and a sense that European civilization is evil and cursed. The decline of accomplishment in Europe, once the homeland par excellence of geniuses, was in all likelihood initially caused by loss of self-confidence and a sense of purpose.

Maybe belief in a higher purpose is necessary for the creation of true greatness. Achievements that outlast the lifespan of a single human being are generated out of respect for something greater than the individual. Many Europeans no longer experience themselves as part of a wider community with a past worth preserving and a future worth fighting for, which is perhaps why they see no point in reproducing themselves. Europe in the past believed in itself, its culture, its nations and above all its religion and produced Michelangelo, Descartes and Newton. Europe at the turn of the twenty-first century believes in virtually nothing of lasting value and so produces virtually nothing of lasting value. It remains to be seen whether this trend can be reversed.

Read the entire review at The Brussels Journal.

HonestThinking comments: These are questions that I have struggled with for many years. Large portions of Christianity demonstrate their irrelevance and lack of contact with reality by, among other things, actively promoting the currently ongoing European suicide. Even so, the history of the Western world for the past 60 years does not seem to indicate that atheism, agnosticism, humanism, and secularism are likely to help us create sustainable and successful societies anytime soon. What on earth are we going to do?


The antiracism laboratory

08.09.2009. I just stumbled across a nine year old story from South Africa which I think is worth referring to. It's the story of a young and idealistic couple who learned the hard way that antiracist ideology does not always match reality. The sister of the husband concludes her story thus:

A horrific experience by anyone's standards. But hardly uncommon in Johannesburg, which now has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. The murder rate there is about nine times that of the United States. A rape occurs every 10 minutes in South Africa today, and a violent housebreaking is so common that it doesn't even make the papers and is only perfunctorily investigated by the police, who, outnumbered, overworked, undertrained and often corrupt, hold out no hope of solving it (or the thousands like it). The only noteworthy aspect of this case, apparently, is that my brother and sister-in-law weren't killed.

Something else worth noting: As my mother narrated these events, she didn't -- as far as I can recall -- specify the race of the three young men. She didn't need to. I took it for granted, correctly, that they were black. The overwhelming majority of violent crimes in South Africa, against people of all races, are committed by black offenders. Blacks are, of course, the majority in South Africa, but their involvement in violent crime is still vastly disproportionate to their numbers.

Random violence, rape, robbery can erupt into anyone's life, no matter where you live or who you are -- we know this only too well in the United States. But this incident, this South African statistic, struck me with a peculiarly bitter poignancy. Not only because family members were involved, though obviously for that reason. Not only because of the unfairness of it -- my brother worked for the racially integrated Market Theatre in the 1980s and returned to Johannesburg from London in 1991 to become part of the "new South Africa" -- because violence is always unfair. (And class privilege is still class privilege, however clean its conscience and its hands.)

No, what I experienced was a different, more complicated kind of confusion. As I listened, in the October pre-dawn, to my mother recounting these events, I thought I could detect in her voice not only shock, not only pain, not only disbelief, but a shrill note of vindication. My mother is a native-born South African, profoundly, reflexively, candidly racist. For as long as I can remember, she has been telling us, her children, that "they" are out to get us, that "they" will break into our houses, "they" will beat us, rob us, rape us.

And now "they" have.

Read the entire story at Salon.com.


The evolution of ethnonationalism

07.09.2009. Thus begins J. Philippe Rushton his article on shared genes and the evolution of ethnonationalism (most of the below links have been copied from the original text, but not all links in the original have been copied):

Jerry Z. Muller a professor at Catholic University, ("Us and Them,", Foreign Affairs, March/April 2008, and "Replies," July/August 2008) argued that the power of ethnic nationalism "will drive global politics for generations to come" because it "corresponds to some enduring propensities of the human spirit," which often manifests in the "need for each people to have its own state." His essay provided a valuable corrective to the position that ethnic identity is a mere social construction that globalization will steadily eradicate.

But Muller’s argument would have been strengthened by understanding why people prefer genetic similarity in others.

Ever since the 1994 publication of The History and Geography of Human Genes by Stanford University geneticist Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, it has been possible to measure genetic distances between population groups in terms of family equivalents. Anthropologist Henry Harpending showed that against the background of worldwide genetic variance, the average similarity between people within a single population is the same as that between half-siblings. Political scientist Frank Salter calculated that compared to the Danes, any two random English people have a kinship of 1/32 of a cousin. Two English people become the equivalent of 3/8 of a cousin by comparison with people from the Near East, 1/2 cousin by comparison with people from India, half-siblings by comparison with people from China, and like full-siblings compared with people from sub-Saharan Africa.

Thus, the aggregate of genes people share with co-ethnics dwarfs those shared with extended families. Rather than being a poor relation of family nepotism, ethnic nepotism is virtually a proxy for it.

Read Rushton's entire article at Vdare.com.



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