Russell and Duenes

The Prohibition of Questioning

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voegelinTo be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions…With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom. – Kitmiller v. Dover, U.S. District Court, Middle District, Pennsylvania, 2005.

Eric Voegelin, in his brief book, Science, Politics & Gnosticism, writes, “There has emerged a phenomenon unknown to antiquity that permeates our modern societies so completely that its ubiquity scarcely leaves us any room to see it at all: the prohibition of questioning. This is not a matter of resistance to analysis – that existed in antiquity as well. It does not involve those who cling to opinions by reason of tradition or emotion, or those who engage in debate in naive confidence in the rightness of their opinions and who take the offensive only when analysis unnerves them. Rather, we are confronted here with persons who know that, and why, their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma. This position of a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio [i.e., thought, reason] constitutes the new phenomenon.” (ISI Books, 2004; pg. 17).

Voegelin uses Karl Marx as a prime example of where this “prohibition of questioning” occurs. Marx “is a thinker who knows that his construct will collapse as soon as the basic philosophical question (i.e., the question of whether mankind and nature might never have existed) is asked. Does this knowledge induce him to abandon his untenable construct? Not in the least: it merely induces him to prohibit such questions…In the clash between system and reality, reality must give way.” (pgs. 20-21, 34) Voegelin further says that the “prohibition of questions” means that the “gnostic thinker (e.g., Marx, Neitzsche, Comte, Hegel) really does commit an intellectual swindle, and he knows it…On the surface lies the deception itself. It could be self-deception; and very often is, when the speculation of a creative thinker has culturally degenerated and become the dogma of a mass movement. But when the phenomenon is apprehended at its point of origin, as in Marx or Nietzsche, deeper than the deception itself will be found the awareness of it.” (pg. 25). Indeed, “the deepest reach of persistence in the deception” is ultimately “where revolt against God is revealed to be its motive and purpose.” (pg. 25).

Though Voegelin does not address it, I could not help but apply his thesis to the system of Darwinian evolution and its propagation in the public schools. The modern form of naturalist, materialist evolution is certainly a “gnostic” system, relying as it does on unfounded/ unproven assertions (e.g., how we developed seeing eyes) and a kind of “special” knowledge by which one is “liberated” or “saved” from the shackles of God and religion (e.g., Richard Dawkins’ statement that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”). Worse, Darwinian evolution, as force-fed to students in the public schools, is not open to question. Its purveyors do not really consider it to be a “theory,” but rather “an established fact.” Again, as Richard Dawkins, the most prolific popularizer of materialist evolution alive today, says in The Washington Post (no backwater newspaper): “This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well.” (italics mine). This sounds like a statement open to valid questioning, no? One hardly need mention that Dawkins is in revolt against God, and never tires of pointing up how many scientists are also atheists.

And so it goes. Moreover, our courts presume the prerogative of deciding what is and is not “science,” and then proclaim, wouldn’t you know it, that anything that is not materialist evolution, is not science, and may not be taught in the public schools. As Sam Harris repeatedly says about atheistic evolution in his atheist apologetic, Letter to a Christian Nation, there is “no question” about evolution. To which Douglas Wilson quips: “No question…no question…NO QUESTION!”

All of which leads to my ultimate point, which pertains to public education. When it comes to the teaching of Darwinian evolution (and a good many other things) in the official curriculum, student questions which would impugn the validity or veracity of the “system” are simply not countenanced. To allow them is to allow ignorance and stupidity, and to give “unscientific notions” a foothold in the classroom, when, as we all know, “our students are already lagging behind the rest of the developed world in science and math.” Such a prohibition of questioning is consistent with the modern public school project of creating a certain kind of citizen, loyal subjects who never question technocratic elitism, and who are cut off from the wisdom of their parents, churches, and forebears, all in the service of “progress.” I think instead I’ll have my boys learn to ask questions.



Written by Michael Duenes

January 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm

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