Friday, June 8, 2012
Does Romans 1 contain a precursor of Jime's Iron Law?
A Christian reader wrote to me commenting that Jime's Iron Law is, in a sense, already contained in the New Testament.
Specifically, according to my reader, in Romans 1, Paul argues like this:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Now, at face falue, I don't think the above passages are identical to what Jime's Iron Law describes. Let me explain a couple of differences:
1-Jime's Iron Law says that hard-core atheists are stupid, irrational, positively illogical and wishful thinkers. This law applies to hard-core atheists SPECIFICALLY, not to "unbelievers" (=skeptics of Christianity) in general. So my law is specific of hard-core atheists.
2-Jime's Iron Law doesn't link the atheist's irrationality and imbecility to "wickedness" and "foolish hearts". A reason for this is that, in this moment, Jime's Iron Law is purely descriptive (this law is a factual description of the intellectual faculties of hard-core atheists), but it is still undeveloped regarding the mechanisms underlying the operation of such a law.
However, I strongly suspect that the mechanisms have connection with spiritual and psychological matters, but it is pure speculation and not part of my law yet.
Now, keep in mind that in Paul's view, the unbelievers "suppress the truth by their wickedness". In other words, the atheist suppress the truth BECAUSE his wickedness (the latter being the hidden motivation of the suppression of the truth).
Even though such a consideration doesn't belong to Jime's Iron Law, certainly Paul's view seems to apply in a straigforward way to many hard-core atheists (I don't know about other kind of "unbelievers"). Just take a cursory look in the blogs of atheists like PZ Myers, or the Forum of Richard Dawkins, or of "skeptics" forum. Clearly, you can watch there bad people, intentionally dishonest sophists and charlatans, people of very low and questionable integrity and ethics. They certainly seem to be "wicked" people in a certain sense. They're bad persons.
In order to see this point more carefully, let's to mention some cases of hard-core atheists to whom Paul's view seems to apply. When you check this evidence, ask yourself: Do these people belong to the "good, honest people with good will", or rather to the "wicked" people with darkened hearts? (Try to think hard about it, not letting your Christian or anti-Christian ideas to colour your assesment of the evidence).
1)Recently, James Randi has been the center of a polemic, in which his ethical principles have been fully exposed. (See here for more information). Does he fit Paul's view?
2)Consider Richard Dawkins views on infanticide:
3)Consider this "insider" confession by a former skeptic: "But such is the character of skepticism that good intentions quickly get swamped by bad ones. Look past the crocodile tears on any online debunking forum, and you'll quickly find that the majority of visitors are not drawn there by concern for the victims of irrationality, but by contempt. They're there to laugh at idiots. I'm not going to plead innocence here: I've often joined in with the laughter, at least vicariously; laughing at idiots can be fun. But in the context of skeptic sites, the laughter takes on a bullying and unhealthy tone. It's never pleasant to watch a group of university graduates ganging up to sneer at people denied their advantages in life, especially when for some of them it's a full-time hobby... It's an increasingly acknowledged fact that the skeptic community is rife with sexism -- especially in the wake of the "elevator guy" controversy, about which more later. Women are a small minority in the skeptic world, and the few who get involved get shit thrown at them constantly by their skeptic peers. Every day, they suffer the whole gamut of attitudes from sneering to leering."
Does the above description of skeptics fit better with the notion of wicked, bad, mean people of dark hearts, or rather with the notion of good people of clear hearts and good will?
4)Consider the evidence that I've provided regarding Prometheus Books (the leading American publishing house of books on skepticism and atheism) and its explicit and implicit promotion of sexual perversions.
I have no doubts that Paul's view applies to many hard-core atheists and secularists. They certainly seem to be people of darkened hearts, questionable morality, unreliable ethical principles, self-centered egocentrism (which obviously doesn't promote good will towards others) and, in many cases, straighforward wickedness.
I think Paul's view is clearly different of Jime's Iron Law, but I have to recognize that thinking hard about Paul's point and comparing it with hard-core atheists have provided me with new insights.
I don't agree with Paul that his view applies to "unbelievers" in general, but I suspect that it applies to a large portion of hard-core, hard-nosed atheists, secularists and "skeptics" in particular.
Perhaps Jime's Iron Law will be expanded to include something like Paul's view, provided the evidence for the atheist's irrationality be clearly linked to moral deficiences or impairments.