Conservatism, God, and HBD

In the entry where I quote Dennis Mangan saying that people have to be irrational to believe in God, John Dempsey asked me how I had ever thought an alliance was possible between traditionalism and the “godless, bio-reductionist position of the HBD’ers.” I answered Mr. Dempsey’s question there. But his comment also included an account of why a truly conservative position is incompatible with rejection of God. It is worth repeating:

I am of the mind that it is not possible to take a truly conservative position on a consistent basis while at the same time rejecting God. At its core, conservatism acknowledges that there are basic to life certain realities which are unchangeable, which cannot be manipulated or controlled, even though we don’t understand them, and that they are not always seen by us as being good. But these realities must be looked upon as being part of the plan, God’s plan, which makes them good and therefore we should accept them as being the good. We then work to achieve a stable society by working together toward a common enterprise, utilizing what has been presented to us in our surroundings in order to make our lives better. If we are of the mind that we have the ability to construct our own reality (which is liberalism’s vision), what is it that we are conserving? If we take the HBD position, we can really know of no ultimate good that we should be conserving.

This is a fine statement and I agree. Of course, there can be individual conservatives who are atheists or agnostics. But conservatism as such is inconceivable without an acknowledgment of the transcendent order of the world which pre-exists and forms us and in which we participate. Without that affirmation at the core of conservatism, or, at least (in the case of the non-believing minority within the conservative camp), an absence of open opposition to it, everything is up for grabs, and all our goods are but our own invention, which would make us indistinguishable from liberals.

Of course conservatism is not only about God and religion. Conservatism is constituted by an appreciation of the goods it seeks to protect and preserve. Various types of conservative seek to preserve (for example) the constitutional order of a society, its culture, its racial character, and so on. These are all types of conservatism, and they obviously do not strictly require a belief in God and the transcendent. However, if people reject God and the transcendent, then it become very difficult for them to defend any larger values such as the ones just listed, because if you reject God and say that matter is the ultimate reality, you reject any overall order and coherence in the universe, except perhaps at some atomic level, which leads, inevitably, to the reduction of people and society down to self-interested atoms.

Consider Human Biodiversity, and its best known exponent, Steve Sailer. Human biodiversity has been defined as

an acknowledgment that humans differ from each other in various ways because of our different genotypes. Differences include, but are not limited to, physical appearance, athletic ability, personality, and cognitive abilities.

Nothing wrong with that. I’m very much interested in that. But the problem is that HBD doesn’t stop at that. HBD seeks to understand every issue—and says that every issue can be understood—from the point if view of biology, specifically biology as seen in the light of Darwinian evolution and sociobiology. It is thus a type of material reductionism. And the reductionism doesn’t stop at the biological level. In an article written in 1999, Sailer endorses the radical reductionism of evolutionist E.O. Wilson who says that all cultural things can be reduced to biology, and all biology can be reduced to chemistry, and all chemistry can be reduced to physics. If all we are is particles, then any notion of a larger whole, a larger good, and of a human being seeking the good, is out of the question. Such beliefs lead inevitably to an idea of the human being as a status- and sex- seeking machine.

And indeed we see this very attitude in Sailer’s own writings. Sailer says that liberals believe in liberalism not because they think it’s true but because it enhances their status. Liberals’ supposed beliefs as to the good and true are really an aspect of Darwinian competition. But if this is true of liberals, it must be true of conservatives as well, including Sailer. It must be true of everyone. How can humans who seek only their egocentric status and advancement, who don’t believe in the true and good because it’s true and good, believe in their own culture as a unique expression of the true and good?

We see this lack of love for anything higher reflected in Sailer’s writings. I have never read a single passage by Sailer appreciating and defending the white race, Western Civilization, Western Culture, traditional American culture, the U.S. Constitution, Christianity. But Sailer has written numerous articles delectating on the wonders of white women mating with black men, and of white men mating with Oriental women, and of black basketball stars having sex with 18,000 women. Sailer has no vision of Western Man and Western Culture, no vision of the good. He has a vision of humanity as a roiling mass in a global sexual market place.

And if Sailer cannot be taken as representative of HBD, who can be?

Of course, what I’ve just said about Sailer and the HBD’ers is not the whole truth. Qualifications must be added. Along with their desolating biocentric yuppiedom, Sailer as a person, and at least some other HBD’ers as persons, do believe in various larger goods and values, including the defense of their existing society. But the problem is that the HBD’ers can only believe in those larger goods by making unprincipled exceptions to their HBD belief system. Far from claiming that the individuals who subscribe to HBD have no belief in the good (which a certain overwrought critic of mine has repeatedly accused me of claiming), I say that they do believe in the good, but that they can only have that belief to the extent that they put aside HBD. HBD, as a branch of reductionist, anti-God Darwinism, is incompatible with a belief in the good.

Similarly, Sailer takes stands on discrete issues that are helpful to conservatism. He’s very effective on immigration and race differences. But his reductive materialist ideology which denies the transcendent is profoundly inimical to conservatism.

All of which brings us back to the truth of John Dempsey’s statement, that if God is rejected, true conservatism becomes impossible.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 31, 2009 12:50 PM | Send

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