The Religious Instinct: Plato vs Dutton

Anamnesis is a key feature of Platonic philosophy. It means “to remember.” Plato thought that eternal truths concerning justice, truth, and beauty were present in the human soul and that we had experienced these Form/Ideas in some previous spiritual and heavenly existence. This contains the pleasing idea that we come from the divine and we return to a transcendent realm upon death, as Wordsworth’s poem “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” also implies. Plato thought that imperfect versions of justice, truth, and beauty could be experienced in the course of earthly existence and they could remind us of the true archetypes that exist in the mind of God, to interpolate Christianity into the description.

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Edward Dutton points out that there is a ubiquitous human instinct to believe in spirits, the gods, and God. Every single human society has proved as much. It can be anticipated with certainty that when the next hitherto undiscovered Amazonian tribe is encountered, they will believe in God or the gods. Belief in a moral God who is collectively worshiped is tremendously adaptive for a society, as is ethnocentrism; a preference for members of your own community and thus a willingness to fight to expel invaders and to defend yourself and your brethren. Multiculturalism is by that measure, nonadaptive. And then, ethnomasochism and xenophilia would be the ultimate maladaptation. Belief in a moral God is associated with mental health, physical health, good looks, and fertility. Atheism is correlated with mental illness, poor health, and infertility; voluntary or otherwise. Atheism is maladaptive. God or nihilism. Dutton argues that if you are unfortunate enough to be an atheist, you should keep your beliefs to yourself and avoid spreading your nihilism and existential despair to the rest of us, something that I have argued for years concerning nihilist professors. Depression is contagious – even for the otherwise mentally healthy.

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There is nothing hypothetical about all this. Feminists, the modern witches as Dutton describes them, are explicitly anti-natalist. Traditionally, witches hate children with a vengeance and wish them harm; the abusive and even murderous stepmothers of human society. We know that militant feminists tend to be childless, unattractive, to be anti-natalist, and mannish, and they have convinced many biologically and formerly mentally healthy young women to adopt their views.

Dutton is himself a part-time theist. He has moments where he believes, but finds the arguments in favor of God’s existence unconvincing. Yet, he also knows that atheism is maladaptive and suggests that everyone believe in God if they possibly can.

The religious shall inherit the earth in fairly short order because the religiously conservative are the only3 ones having children as a group at or above replacement level, along with welfare recipients with IQs around 80, who are frequently in trouble with law, at least in the UK. So, feminists/witches are not long for this world and good riddance to them.

Regarding the instinct to believe in God, several things can be said. One is that it matches Plato’s contention that matters of the most profound spiritual significance are embedded in our souls, just waiting to be remembered. Maybe someone has to prod this remembrance – you might need to be taken to church, or to see a crucifix; at least read or hear some reference to the divine. This then resonates with one’s inner depths and produces a resounding, “Yes.” This might be accompanied by a fear of God and a realization that the quality of one’s life is a matter of cosmic importance and not just a private matter.

A belief in eternal values makes having children and familial continuity seem more attractive and reasonable. So, too, with the continued existence of society in which those children will have to live. Being made in the image of God makes of the human something of intrinsic spiritual worth and significance, providing the basis for a thoroughgoing moral realism. And, the existence of the transcendent frees us from the implication of determinism, which if true would eliminate agency, love, and moral responsibility.

Descartes argues that since the effect cannot be greater than its cause, the idea of God, considered as an effect, must have been caused by God Himself, since we fallen men would be in no position to dream up such magnificence and perfection. On this view, the instinct to believe is God-given. The related notion of “intuition” is perhaps preferable to “instinct” because an intuition is the name we give to an ability we have that we are unable to articulate, whereas “instinct” implies a certain animal brutishness and dumbness. Women intuit that a certain man means to do her harm. We intuit emotions expressed by the human face without knowing how we do it. We intuit that Spider Man, were he to actually exist, would not swing between buildings in the clumsy manner depicted in movies. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on “production” is unable to fool the human perceptual apparatus and kinesthetic sense.

4It takes no genius to understand why a belief in a moral God would be correlated with mental health. The notion that human life is the product of divinity with a holy rationale, though we might at times wonder its ultimate purpose, provides a foundation to human existence. Being the product of blind chance and natural selection is not congenial to a belief in ultimate meaning – though a recognition of the intelligence and agency of living organisms to alter themselves to their environments in real time, including their genes, through transposition, horizontal gene transfer and epigenetics inserts agency back into the evolutionary picture. The fact that religious belief is also associated with good physical health, with its concomitant attractiveness, and fertility, makes it seem especially wonderful.

Plato has a Creator moral God, The Form of the Good, that at the very least gives rise to the Forms which are copied by terrestrial objects and thoughts. For Plato, the human soul contains access to this Origin and Source, at least for the philosopher. Plato accepted Socrates’ desire for an emphasis on ethics, but added that metaphysics is necessary to provide context for ethical striving. Dutton comments that the least religious people are autistic men. Autism, that tendency of the brain with its heavy emphasis on the left hemisphere with its narrow focus, love of logic, analysis, and language, results in a lack of empathy and the inability to sense God’s presence. All such intuitions and abilities are a right hemisphere phenomenon. Religious men with their somewhat feminized brains remain especially open to intuition. This rings true, phenomenologically. Consequently, women are on average more religious than men, and homosexual men are more religious than heterosexual men.

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Plato asks, “What kind of universe do we live in?” Or, if “universe” is anachronistic, “What is the nature of ultimate reality?” It is not material reality; the shadows on the wall of the cave. It seems plausible that having beliefs that do not align with reality will be pathological. Believing that it is a good idea to drink polluted water (the Ganges) or to eat rotten meat will have you exiting the gene pool fairly quickly. Religious belief is false when considered scientifically; when judged by the standards of this world. But, science and the standards of the world produce, in this regard, despair, poor health, and infertility just like polluted water and rotten meat. The Nietzsche’s of the world claim to be moral heroes who “face the horrible nihilistic truth.” Given that truth means “corresponding to reality,” and false beliefs will generally be pathological because wrong, e.g., the drinking hole is not where you thought it was, and so on, it would indeed be odd if religious belief were to be the one false belief that is the very opposite of pathological; in fact, to be a requirement for good mental health and for social continuity.

Dutton likes theories that are parsimonious. The most parsimonious explanation for why religious belief is consistent with human flourishing is because it is right. Dutton complains that smart people’s Christian apologetics tend to turn into word salad. But then, he is devoted to scientism and materialism, at least in theory. My preference regarding apologetics is for indirect arguments. Assume that God does not exist, and then derive a contradiction. If God and the transcendent do not exist, and all reality is material, then determinism follows. Many determinists acknowledge that no one can actually live by the dictates of determinism (and Dutton is a determinist). We have to assume agency on the part of ourselves and others just to function. Beliefs that are literally pathological, that no one can live by, seem silly, unless they are merely aspirational in the manner of being perfectly moral.

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Being aware of the logical absurdities of determinism seems comparable to being the only person in a hundred-person lecture theater to see through the line experiment: the one where everyone claims a clearly longer line is shorter than the short line. Apparently, most people simply cave and reject the evidence of their own eyes. To find that Dutton, as devoted to logic as he is, and whose views seem generally appealing, cannot see that the “longer” line is shorter, is baffling. As time goes on, the audience in the lecture theater feels like it keeps doubling in size exponentially. Thomas F. Bertonneau pithily described determinism as the denial of consciousness, which it is.

Dutton is absolutely clear that believing in eternal values is healthy and necessary; and argues that his own agnosticism is not all a good thing; that once the Western world has disintegrated thanks to internecine warfare, lowering IQs associated with low prosocial tendencies, and low social trust, multiculturalism, ethnomasochism, and DIE, the religious shall inherit the earth. The religious are prosocial and less individualistic. The religious conservatives who survive will not be as smart as liberals and we will perhaps return to a pre-industrial state. Conditions will be too harsh for the children of welfare recipients to survive. The very smart are the most (social) environmentally sensitive and suffer from ideational and social pathologies, like atheism, at higher rates than the rest of us.

This Woke willingness to be pathological is in direct conflict with that other built-in tendency, the survival instinct. Seeing DIE (diversity, inclusion, equity) AKA IED (improvised, explosive, device) be implemented even in matters of life and death beggars belief. Apologies in advance for shouting but, FOR GOD’S SAKE, DO NOT EMPLOY DIE CRITERIA IN SELECTING AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS OR PILOTS. DIE surgeons can only kill one patient at a time and, perhaps, after a dozen or so botched and lethal surgeries, they will be struck off – and humanities professors do not directly kill anyone. There is a video you can watch of a trained female firefighter trying and failing to burst through an approximation of a partially block doorway to save someone in a simulated emergency. An athletic untrained man achieves the goal in one try.

The trouble with reductio ad absurdum arguments is that they do not work if someone is willing to accept the absurd consequence. What could possibly be more absurd than letting people burn to death, for airplanes to crash into each other, and for surgical patients to die in the name of equity, or for people to stop having children en masse? Nothing at all; other than flat out contradictions which these things are not. Since these consequences are accepted, there is no further point in arguing with the Woke.

There has been some talk about developing dichotomous institutions – Woke banking, and base[1] banking. Woke credit card companies, and base credit card companies. Woke social media, and base social media. PayPal, Patreon, and credit card companies will block financial transactions if they do not like your politics – hence the promotion of Bitcoin to get around such things. I would like to suggest base airlines. There would have to be base airports with base air traffic controllers. I am open to suggestions about what to do about Woke air traffic controllers sending their airplanes into our base ones. After that, we just need base surgeons. Base elementary, high school and colleges would, of course, be nice too.

[1] Not caring what others think of you, and unwoke. It also implies noting facts and figures even when not expedient for Woke political agendas – in fact, especially when not so expedient.

9 thoughts on “The Religious Instinct: Plato vs Dutton

  1. Thanks for opening my eyes to the deeper meaning of witches antipathy to children. I’m thinking of the story of Hansel and Gretel, with the gingerbread house in the forest representing feminist ideology–superficially tempting but essentially deadly. It also makes me think how withes hate childhood as much as they hate children, and how this may explain their drive for the earliest possible sexualization and end of innocence.

    Epicurean atheism seems to be the dominant doctrine in senile civilizations. It is both a symptom of decadence and a sort of palliative. When I first came to the internet the idea was expressed with the phrases “enjoy the decline” and “I’ll be poolside.” The problem, of course, is that the compensations of hedonism pale with age–so much so that the burned out roué is a stock figure of literature.

    We must never forget that theism is natural and atheism is unnatural, and that the same can ne said for the desire to procreate, love of one’s own, and a belief in moral absolutes. We advocates of tradition are not, therefore, seeking to plant ideas in the minds of young people. We are seeking to protect natural saplings against the drought and frost of critical theories. That suggests another connection to witches, who are always seen as blighting nature–causing the cow to go dry, the lamb to abort, the crops to fail. Those sprouts are Plato’s anamnesis, and critical theory is simply amnesia.

    • Nice. Thank you. You’re a wise man, Mr. Smith.

      Dutton comments about fairy tales that they embody congealed folk wisdom, later adapted for children. Such teachings are much better remembered with fantastical, imaginative elements. Empirically, for instance, children are 100x more likely to suffer death, severe physical, or sexual abuse from stepparents than biological parents. Fairy tales communicate that fact quite nicely! And beware the ugly, old, childless, embittered, loner woman – Dutton calls them “spiteful mutants.” Ugly may seem mean, but there really is a correlation there with bad genes and maladaptive behaviors. See his book, “How to Judge People By What They Look Like.”

  2. Don’t underestimate the natural born witch’s desire to convert other women. However, like Dutton, I am hopeful because the fertility rates are diverging so rapidly, really to an unprecedented degree.

    BTW, professor the beard suits you.

  3. In other words spiteful mutants will always exist but selection against them now, what with the pill, surgical sterilization, abortion, lesbianism, transsexuals, etc. is so very great. Methinks our enemies will be finished off by the technologies and social trends they love so much.

    What, our society changed so rapidly? All the more rapid their extinction. Think positive gentlemen, it’s motivating.

    • Even from a naturalistic POV, if you believe that these things are genetically determined to a considerable extent, then you must also confront the problem that these things exist. An allele which decreases your fitness by even 10% disappears quickly. So, it’s not entirely obvious we aren’t losing something temporally valuable from all the sterility and damnation.

      For example, in an Empire of Lies, rubes lose terribly, both in the reproduction and salvation sweepstakes. But, do you really want to live in a society devoid of rubes? Would Heaven really look right without its rubes? Isn’t one of the points of civilization and religion to save the rubes?

  4. Well, an argument based on the non-existence of God:

    1)We define God as having infinite power and wisdom.
    2) We are assuming for this argument that the number of infinitely powerful gods is zero.
    3) Maths tells us that multiplying infinity by zero gives an undefined answer.
    therefore:
    if no God exists, His power is undefined.
    if His power is undefined, then there is no First Mover problem – God’s undefined power predates His existence, allowing Him to will Himself into existence.

    So God creating everything is possible.
    The First Mover problem means that no other option is possible.
    Yet the universe exists!
    Therefore the existence of the universe proves the existence of God.

  5. Pingback: Sunday Morning Coffee 12/26/2021 – A Mari Usque Ad Mare

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