The Left’s cruelty — an ideology without room for repentance
Leftism is just another faith, but it’s more cruel than the Judeo-Christian tradition as its creed does not recognize remorse, repentance, and redemption.
This is a rather discursive post, but there are a lot of ideas and facts I want to tie together to explain why I argue that Leftism is an unusually cruel creed, which allows no room for individual growth or moral improvement. Although the genesis for this post was a news story and a friend’s comment, I’m going to discuss them later. I’ll start, instead, with an HBO documentary from 2014 called Questioning Darwin. HBO summarizes the documentary as follows:
Literal and creationist interpretation of the Bible is the fastest-growing branch of Christianity in the U.S. This film takes an in-depth look at the views of these Christians who reject Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution–while also examining how Darwin handled the question of God himself as he developed his theory of natural selection in the mid-1800s.
The documentary spends surprisingly little time on Darwin although what time it spends is interesting. For example, it talks about his traditional Christian beliefs before he took off on the HMS Beagle and the way in which the journey changed those views.
One thing that struck me was that Darwin’s eventual views about evolution were neither new nor unique. He just did them better than anyone else. For decades, digs in England had turned up all sorts of bones from extinct species, from dinosaurs to mammoths. These bones forced many people to recognize that literal Biblical dating, which placed the world at about 6,000 years old, had to have been inaccurate. This meant that, when Darwin reached the Galapagos Islands in Year Four of his five-year journey, he was already primed to understand that earth’s life forms had changed over time, rather than appearing in perfect and final form in a single instant.
The other striking thing the documentary claims — and this is where I’m heading with the rest of my post — is that Darwin’s journey first made him aware of Nature’s and Man’s cruelty, leading him to reject the idea of a “loving God.” Specifically, according to the documentary, a devastating earthquake in Chile and the cruelty of Brazilian slavery opened his eyes to the overall cruelty that made up the world. I found this assertion peculiar because Darwin was born in 1809 and left on the HMS Beagle in 1836. The England he knew before boarding the Beagle wasn’t a particularly kind and loving place.
Infant mortality in the England of Darwin’s youth hovered around 50%, a mortality rate that held true until children made it past their 5th birthdays. Average life expectancy was 40 years and an enormous percentage of children who didn’t die were full or half orphans (especially because of maternal mortality).
Deadly diseases were endemic. Infections were untreatable. Serious injuries usually meant death. In 1816, thanks to the Mount Tambora eruption, there was a year without summer, which meant a year of starvation across England and Europe. A seven-year-old Darwin may well have been aware of that starvation.
It wasn’t just Nature that was blatantly cruel. People, including children, were routinely hanged for thieving. Insane people were chained to walls and people went to view them like animals in a modern zoo.
Although England no longer had “ownership” slavery, industrialization was in full bloom and it created a form of “wage” slavery. The early factory owners treated their employees with extraordinary cruelty. People worked endless hours in incredibly dangerous conditions for wages starvation wages. That’s why their children, starting at age 6, worked the same long hours in the same dangerous conditions. Vast swaths of English people lived in unrelenting squalor with starvation an ever-present threat. It’s hard to believe that even Darwin’s upper middle class upbringing sheltered him entirely from this reality.
When Darwin boarded the Beagle, England may have been primed to begin the modern era. Nevertheless, it was still a place in which life was Hobbesian: life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
In other words, it’s difficult to accept that it took a journey to Latin America for Darwin to discover that life was hard, that Nature was cruel, and man had the ability to be even crueler than Nature alone, because man, unlike Nature, brought intentionality to his cruelty. I suspect that Darwin, who once wanted to be a minister, was already moving towards atheism when he embarked on his journey. The trip starting solidifying his belief that the world’s random cruelty was inconsistent with a benevolent God, a view that later hardened completely when his beloved daughter died when she was 10. In other words, for Darwin, the order wasn’t “evolution therefore no God;” it was almost certainly “no God therefore evolution.”
The preceding laborious analysis is important, because it’s a necessary backdrop both to my thoughts about the religious people given voice in the documentary. According to the documentary, Darwin rejected God because the world is cruel and it is cruel, in part, because humans are animals.
As the foil to examining Darwin’s scientific views (and moral findings), the documentary’s in-depth look at modern Creationism consists of interviewing ministers and parishioners from churches in Ohio, Texas, and Washington State, as well as the Australian-born Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum. To their credit, the documentary’s makers do not use cheap tricks to make the people whom they interview look foolish. Instead, they let them talk.
I suspect that this “let them talk” approach wasn’t just intellectual honesty. The filmmakers must have known that cheap tricks were unnecessary because the documentary’s intended audience — people who accept 100% the Darwin theory of evolution — would mentally attire the interviewees with clown hats without the documentary makers having to do so. I know this because I once was among that intended audience. That is, I had all of Leftism’s disdain for genuinely religious people. The fact that religious Christians could hold onto their blind faith in the face of science struck me as proof that they were idiots.
I’ve since changed my views. A lot.
What was fascinating to me now that I’m more open-minded about faith was what the Christians interviewed said. Sure, some of it was “Because the Bible tells me so,” a reductive response that’s more than enough to earn sneers from the Evolution crowd. Mostly, though, these Christians talked about important non-tangible things, although they phrased them in “godly” terms offensive to the Darwin crowd. They said that we are better than animals; we are not random events; morality is predicated upon our unique status and relationship with God; God’s love is a bulwark against the ugliness of life, making us feel we are worthy and worthwhile; and, most importantly because it explains their push back against evolution, without Genesis there is no God and without God there is only a frightening black hole of amoral nihilism.
Regarding the point about feeling worthwhile, I actually blogged about it some time ago when a friend’s daughter explained how her realization that God loved her saved her from a horrible spiral of damaging behaviors based upon a feeling of worthlessness. The documentary shows the same mindset when it allows a former drug addicted prostitute and a former drug addicted vet to speak. Both escaped the horror that their lives had become because they could see in themselves a reflection of God and God’s love. As for faith being a bulwark against the ugliness of life, I’ve noted here before that Dennis Prager says part of his faith is because, without a belief in a just God, one who will invariably dispense justice even if we cannot see it being done, he would be driven insane by man’s periodic cruelty.
In other words, Creationists aren’t being mindlessly, blindly faithful to the Bible. They believe that God — and their relationship with God — gives meaning to their lives and structure to the world. Theirs is a deeply considered faith that pushes back against the factual and emotional anarchy of “pure reason.” Rather than saying these people are stupid, one could just as easily say that they’re very wise.
By the way, a bit of a digression here: The Leftist attack that Creationists are anti-science is unfair. Yes, a small percentage of Creationists will also deny science in other aspects of their lives. They’re the ones who end up in the newspapers because they let their children die from appendicitis or from some other ailment that modern science can correct. However, most Creationists happily embrace the benefits of modern science.
Indeed, for some religious people, modern science is a pathway back to God. At the end of the day, the know that science can answer many questions, but not the ultimate ones. That’s why it’s only Leftists who are stunned to learn that one of the foremost scientists involved in unraveling the mysteries of the human genome saw science lead him to God not away.
The reality is that the only science most Creationists deny is evolution — which, while a big belief in modern science, is not at all connected to modern scientific work in medicine, pharmacy, chemistry, etc. Thus, their Creationism has no effect on the scientific trajectory of the modern world. The Left focuses on Creationism only as an easy tool by which to ridicule and destroy religion entirely.
The focus on Creationism also allows the Left to ignore that some of today’s loopiest, least scientific thinking comes from Lefties who totally buy into evolution. These are the people who refuse to vaccinate their children; drink (and feed to their children) dangerously unpasteurized dairy products because they think they’re healthier; believe in crystals and other New Age healing; and have given themselves entirely over to the Church of Climate Change notwithstanding the fact that actual data gives the lie to all the computer modeling predictions. Given the nonsensical thinking that dominates so much Leftist discourse, it’s risible that Lefties still award to themselves the labels of “scientific” and “reality based.” (I blogged more about that here, if you’re interested.)
To sum things up before I move to my next premise, Creationists know that the world is cruel and man is flawed, but they also believe that faith in God is the best and only antidote. Rather than doing as Darwin did in the face of the world’s random cruelty and rejecting God, they fight this randomness by embracing God. Doing so gives meaning and purpose to life, stature to humans, a reason to behave in a moral way, and a promise of something better in the Afterlife to offset the fact that, no matter how carefully one follows God’s moral principles, bad things still happen. For them, Embracing evolution, a theory that has no effect whatsoever on people’s day-to-day lives, undermines God, thereby undermining everything good that flows from the Judeo-Christian belief system.
So, what does the above megillah have to do with my post title — “The Left’s cruelty — an ideology without room for repentance”? Well, for that point, I have to introduce you to the tragic story and my friend’s comment, both of which were the genesis of this post.
The story — a tragic one, as I mentioned — came out of the University of Texas, a school I attended more than 30 years ago, when it was still sane:
Before killing himself with a drug intended for rapid and painless animal euthanasia, Richard A. Morrisett had endured a nightmare at the University of Texas in Austin. The 57-year-old tenured professor of pharmacology and toxicology was once a rising star in the College of Pharmacy – a man regarded as a first-rate research scientist and teacher during his 21 years at the state’s flagship university. Morrisett’s research offered new insights into alcohol-related brain disorders and alcoholism – an arcane area of research among neuroscientists. Some colleagues called him “brilliant.”
Morrisett’s career, however, was destroyed by a single newspaper article. Published by the Austin American-Statesman, a metropolitan daily, the article dredged up an ugly episode from Morrisett’s past – a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend at the time. It was the sort of inexcusable incident that, sadly, the police and courts handle all the time. There were no serious injuries; it hadn’t even merited a headline when it occurred on May 28, 2016. Morrisett, in a plea deal, pleaded guilty to a 3rd degree felony. He was sentenced to four years of probation, called community supervision in Texas, and ordered to receive counseling, take a class on avoiding family violence, and perform 100 hours of community service. Morrisett had thought he was moving on with his life. He had accepted responsibility for his actions and, moreover, had put an apparently volatile and dysfunctional relationship behind him.
Then, more than a year and a half after the incident, a Statesman reporter contacted Morrisett about the domestic violence case. On his lawyer’s advice, Morrisett declined to comment. And not long after that, on Thursday, January 25, his nightmare began: He woke up to see a banner headline across the Statesman’s front page: “UT declined to sanction professor who pleaded guilty to violent felony.” The incident had suddenly become timely – tied as it was to the #MeToo movement that, starting one year ago with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, has since targeted and disgraced a number of prominent or famous men for being sexual predators and abusers.
Until the Statesman’s article, only a handful of people knew about the incident, mainly in the criminal-justice system and at the University of Texas. But the #MeToo movement changed all that; or as the Statesman explained: “The case comes to light at a time of heightened concern at colleges and universities, and more broadly across American society, about sexual assault and interpersonal violence.”
The Statesman’s article set off a media feeding frenzy and campus uproar. Overnight, Morrisett became Public Enemy No. 1. Enraged that a domestic violence abuser was in their midst, many students staged peaceful anti-Morrisett protests, chanting and marching while shadowed by campus police. Radical leftist students, however, went on a rampage. One night, students apparently affiliated with the Revolutionary Student Front, a communist group, stormed the College of Pharmacy like the blood-thirsty mob that stormed the Bastille. They spray painted the building’s front stone facade with red paint reading: “UT harbors abusers.” Nearby on the sidewalk, they wrote: “Watch your back, Richard.” And Morrisett’s office door was spray painted: “Get out Morrisett or else!” The graffiti was signed with hammer and sickle symbols, and later posted on the website of the local Revolutionary Student Front. (Hyperlinks omitted.)
You can read the whole thing here and I strongly recommend that you do so. It’s a horrific example of Leftism ascendant. In response to what happened to Morrisett and the blind hatred aimed at him, my friend Princess Leah made a comment that I thought was very profound:
So sad. One thing I’ve noticed about the left, there is no room for redemption or Teshuva
— PrincessLeah1 (@PrincessLeah1) November 18, 2018
Remorse, repentance, and redemption are God-based concepts that began with the Jews and continued with Christians. They arise from the premise that we are created in God’s image so, no matter the Fall, we still have God within us. That notion leads to other profound ideas: no matter the Fall, God remains interested in his creation’s affairs; God has set out important moral rules that we are expected to follow; God knows we are fallible (if we weren’t, we’d also be gods); and God’s love allows us to experience remorse, to repent of our bad behavior, to reform our conduct; and thereby to be redeemed. Indeed, without that trajectory, a relationship with God is meaningless because there is no benefit either to following His rules or to changing bad behaviors and habits that are out-of-sync with His rules.
Nature, of course, is neither moral nor loving. Tennyson nailed the difference between a God-based world and a nature-based world. Speaking of Man (as in mankind), with Man being the “Who” in the first line I quote below, he wrote:
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed
In Nature, it’s strong versus weak. The lion is not evil for killing. It just does what lions do to survive, a behavior uncomplicated by notions such as good or bad. Social Darwinists transformed this natural absence of morality into “might makes right,” and therefore justified their foul racism. Since they had achieved more worldly success in Darwin’s time than blacks had, they reasonably concluded that were inferior under a Darwin-esque world view and could be exploited and destroyed. They cheerfully extended that thinking to any people’s they viewed as less successful than they were in terms of worldly goods and accomplishments. (Mediterranean people, Chinese people, Irish people, Jewish people…)
The fallout from abandoning God in favor of “Darwin-esque scientism,” didn’t end with justifying the scientific racism that led directly to Hitler’s modern antisemitism, the dehumanization of the Jews, and the Holocaust. Instead, it drove a dagger into the notion of moral improvement.
Thus, Leftism, by abandoning the Judeo-Christian relationship with a just and loving God, necessarily also abandoned the notions of remorse, repentance, and redemption, none of which have meaning in a universe without fixed moral principles and divine forgiveness. Instead, it is a universe governed by rules.
Rules and morals are two different things. Think of it from a navigational approach. Morals are like the fixed points of a compass. If you know your compass points, it’s quite easy to navigate from point A to point B, even when it’s not a straight line between those two points. No matter which way you’re facing when you begin, if the direction you’re given is “go West,” you know which way to travel. However, rules are incredibly situational. They tell you “if X then Y, if A then B.” If you get any of those wrong, you’re lost.
I can speak with some authority about this geographic analogy because I grew up in San Francisco, a small city that has the Pacific Ocean on its west side and the Golden Gate Bridge on its north. For me, West and North are fixed. I always know where they are. If I’m trying to go someplace in San Francisco based upon directions that tell me to “go two blocks on X street and then turn right on Y street, then three blocks and then turn left, etc.” I am at a high risk of getting lost. One wrong turn (a right where I should have gone left, or a moment’s inattention that finds me on the wrong street) and I suddenly have no idea where I am and may have a hard time finding my way either to my starting point or my goal.
Compass navigating, however, will get me to, or near, my destination. If I need to head west to get out of downtown and north to get to the Golden Gate Bridge, it doesn’t much matter which streets I travel or where I make my turns.
The religious person’s compass is the Ten Commandments. No matter how lost you, if you wish, you can find your way back to them.
The American Leftist person’s rules, however, are the constantly mutating hierarchy of victimhood, with this hierarchy always and ultimately functioning in the service of political power. Once, American Progressives had as their rule “blacks, Italians, Poles, Native Americans, the mentally disabled, Chinese, etc. are all bad and whites of Northern European descent are good.” Then their rule changed to “whites and other races are equally good” (which is a nice, “we’re all God’s children” rule). In the last few decades, though, the rule has changed again: whites, especially white males, are bad.
Recent developments with females, though, show just how situational the Leftists rules are. Because white women refused to vote en masse for Hillary or Stacey Abrams, or to condemn Justice Kavanaugh, white females are now as bad as white males. Their double X chromosomes no longer protect them from the Left’s wrath.
This newest rule is a far cry from a world in which all females were good, except that minority and lesbian females were obviously better than white and/or straight females. Now, in addition to minority and lesbian subsets of the all-wonderful world of women, we have the addition of men who claim they are female. Because these men are of the LQBTQ spectrum, their perception of themselves, no matter their XY chromosomes, trump any rights inherent in XX chromosome females, especially those lacking melanin. (Yes, it’s incredibly confusing.) This is already wreaking havoc in the sports world and will soon play out in ugly ways in the corporate world.
Make a wrong turn in the Leftist rule-based world and there’s no getting back. You are forever lost and will be forever punished and, possibly, destroyed. Violate one of the prevailing shibboleths and there’s no road back. Even Mao-style re-education will not restore you to full status. At best, it will spare you execution and torture. Certainly, taking your punishment through the criminal judicial process, as Richard A. Morrisett did, is insufficient. Once he was shown to be a damaged gazelle, he was fair game. Nature red in tooth and claw indeed.
Both halves of the Judeo-Christian tradition (the Jewish and the Christian) had growing pains during which the faithful exhibited behavior entirely inconsistent with, even hostile to, God’s commandments and Jesus’s teachings. Nevertheless, in the early 21st century, most practitioners of those two faiths have found their way back to the central components, which demand moral behavior and humane treatment of our fellow man, especially those of our fellows who have fallen but are seeking their way back. The same is true for Americans who fell short of the commitments to individual equality and liberty, as set out in the Declaration and Constitution, and who painfully worked their way back, through a bloody civil war and the hard work of the early Civil Rights movement (before the latter became a Leftist vehicle for perpetual political power).
Other religions, including Leftism, lack the safe havens inherent in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Danny Lemieux, a faithful and brilliant friend to this blog, first alerted me a long time ago to the fact that indigenous Americans often did not fight the Spanish and French priests who sought to convert them to Christianity. Those who were the victims of human sacrifice and torture at the hands of stronger tribes (or stronger people within their own tribes) were grateful for a religion that was based upon love and that disavowed human sacrifice. They finally had a belief system that allowed them to turn their backs upon the unbelievable cruelty and violence that was a daily reality in Stone Age tribes across the world.
I’m wandering, so I’ll try to wrap it up here: Our Judeo-Christian faith, including the Creation story in the Bible, is neither rational or scientific. It doesn’t need to be, though. What’s important is that it is a belief system that elevates humankind, allowing people the mercy of remorse, repentance, and redemption. Those virtues — and they are virtues — are utterly lacking in both raw Nature and in those faiths that are based solely in Nature, whether we’re talking about stone-aged animism or modern, Darwinist Leftism. There, capricious rules (or gods), especially when combined with actual or social Darwinism, create a world in which if you’re down, you’re dead.