“Christians are exclusionary,” is the common gripe, usually registered by those who’d exclude Christianity. “We need to govern the world with universal values,” is the appeal, usually issued by those who scoff at true universals. These ideas again came to the fore in a recent social media debate involving a man who, though enduring job termination due to political correctness, himself became politically correct.
That fellow is biologist Bret Weinstein, 50, who in 2017 resigned from Evergreen State College after refusing to participate in a campus “day without white people” event. Now, though, laments Information Liberation’s Chris Menahan, he’s apparently advocating a world without Christian people (orthodox ones, anyway), saying that all and sundry must “agree on values, ground rules and assumptions” to “govern the Earth” — with one ground rule being that Christians should relinquish their “exclusionary claims.”
Weinstein and his 54-year-old brother, Eric, are part of what’s known as the Intellectual Dark Web, a termed coined by the elder Weinstein. This is simply “a grouping of public personalities who oppose what they believe to be the dominance of identity politics and political correctness in academia and the media” and which is sometimes described “as the ‘anti-woke’ left,” as Wikipedia puts it.
But call them that, the “alt-left,” or something else, what they really represent and reflect is modernist confusion. As an example, the social media argument catching Menahan’s eye appears to have begun when Bret complained about the trending Twitter hashtag #JesusistheSonofGod. As he tweeted:
It would be very different if the hashtag had been “#JesusWasACoolDude” or something. What I saw trending proclaimed “#JesusistheSonofGod” or some other nonsense shibboleth that puts most of the world in an awkward spot. Golden-Rule vs. Onward-Christian-Soldier. See the problem? https://t.co/wuvDD724wV— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) November 22, 2019
He’d also tweeted that day, engaging in debate, “Faith serves a purpose. Having one particular faith trend triumphantly on Twitter is not going to lead anywhere good.” This was followed by the idea that the orthodox Christian claim “reinforces a dead-end. God is not looking out for us. We need to do that, and we’re doing a terrible job relative to the long term,” as Bret lamented.
The next day he tweeted:
I’m not asking Christians to “give up” much. I’m asking them to participate in a world in which a majority don’t share their priors. I ask the same of everyone. I don’t want Jews announcing they are “chosen”. I don’t want atheists asserting faith is a pathology. Get it? https://t.co/ULxHV8l9nE— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) November 23, 2019
Some of history’s darkest chapters involved brutal coercion of people because they didn’t accept that “Jesus is the son of God”. Assuming Christians have outgrown that inclination, they’d be wise to quit broadcasting this exclusionary claim. Seems obvious. What am I missing? https://t.co/nnbJh1sKm3— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) November 22, 2019
The answer is much. For starters:
• That Jesus is the second person in the Holy Trinity, the son of God, is the very basis of Christianity; asking Christians to shed this belief amounts to asking them to abandon their faith. It’s tantamount to pressuring Muslims to reject their dogma, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” Would you and do you, Prof. Weinstein, demand that Muslims view Allah as mythical and Mohammed as “just a cool guy”? Moreover, would you characterize their exclusive claim as a nonsense “shibboleth” (a belief considered outdated or irrelevant)? Don’t lose your head pondering that one.
• What ideology’s, philosophy’s, or faith’s “priors” are shared by a world majority? How many people subscribe to your atheism’s priors, professor? Note that Christianity can at least claim a plurality of the world, having 2.4 billion adherents. Atheism also claims a 2.4 number — that percent of the world. All non-religious together are just 12.5 percent.
• As for some of “history’s darkest chapters” allegedly having Christian authorship, Weinstein is likely alluding to the Crusades and inquisitions. But the former were responses to Muslim aggression, as I demonstrated here; the inquisitions also are largely misunderstood, as I explained here. In reality, some of “history’s darkest chapters involved brutal coercion of people” because they did accept that “Jesus is the son of God” — see Joseph Stalin, China, the French revolutionaries et al.
In Menahan’s piece, he points out how despite trumpeting tolerance and inclusivity, the Weinsteins and others are very willing to exclude, and don’t appear very tolerant of, “unfashionable” ideologists. For example, earlier this year Eric Weinstein was aghast that renowned Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson met with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.
Eric’s distaste for Orban, a “Trumpian” European leader, was explained via a tweet (below) he sent earlier this month.
Don’t get sold the narrative that Trump now owns ALL US Conservatism. He does own a good chunk of it. But there‘s also a new strain of tolerant conservatism that‘s very liberal: relentlessly civil, anti-inequality, pro-logic, pro-gay, pro-weed, pro-free speech & multicultural.— Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) November 14, 2019
Of course, not only is Eric basically describing libertarianism, but as I responded Saturday:
There's nothing "new" about it. That's simply a stop on the road of moral decay; it's the kind of "conservatism" we've long seen in Western Europe. Remember G.K. Chesterton's observation: "Nine out of ten of what we call new ideas are simply old mistakes."— Selwyn Duke (@SelwynDuke) November 30, 2019
So the only thing new here may be Eric to politics. He’s a mathematician, after all, not a political scientist.
All this said, people can get lost in these debates hurling accusations (“hypocrite!”) and talking past each other, but there’s no question that the Weinsteins are sincere and represent millions of co-ideologists. For this reason, why they’re sincerely wrong — as epitomized by the tweet below — should be well examined.
We are going to have to figure out how to govern the Earth. That requires us to agree on values, ground rules and assumptions. I don’t care about private faith. I care that all populations maintain compatibility with a common belief system that prioritizes no one’s sacred book. https://t.co/6NKS8cj3Fw— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) November 24, 2019
Many have, understandably, focused on Weinstein’s first sentence. To those aware of world government’s implications, after all, it’s a scary prospect. But whether or not he was advocating such (and this doesn’t seem entirely clear), the rest of his tweet is far more interesting.
There are Only Two Ways of Governing: By Principle and by Preference.
One reason to reject the terminology and notion of “private faith” is that it transmits the very idea to which Weinstein has fallen victim: that we’re not talking about universals here. Religion is just a hobby, a diversion, a question of taste.
Allegorizing the issue, however, Christians aren’t saying, “Hey, we know flavors are a matter of whatever piques the palate and that most people prefer vanilla to chocolate. But we demand they eat chocolate, anyway!” Rather, they’re saying, “These are the actual laws of human nutrition — and mankind cannot reject them and be healthy.”
Whether or not you agree with the Christian prescription, the point is that a major thrust of sincere religious endeavor corresponds largely to what Weinstein stresses (though he uses atheistic terminology). What should be man’s “values, ground rules and assumptions”? And, once determined, how best to cultivate a situation in which “all populations maintain compatibility with” what we’d like to make the “common belief system”?
Moderns who ponder this striving for universals and fancy them new, as Eric Weinstein seemed to fancy libertarianism new, ought to consider that “Catholic,” as in the church, is a Greek word meaning “universal.”
The point is that whether we’re talking about Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, humanism, liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, socialism, or some other ism (certainly outside of Satanism and occultism), sincere believers are all united in one thing: the conviction that their beliefs’ universal embrace would improve the world. Note that this conviction is the only good reason to market a political party (all too common power lust doesn’t qualify).
So any mature discussion of this subject begins with the above understanding. Without it you can descend into Weinstein’s error: essentially saying, without self-awareness, “Shed your dogmas and exclusionary beliefs.”
“Embrace my dogmas and exclusionary beliefs!”
Remember that the statement “We must have no dogmas” is itself a dogma; an inclusive belief that rejects exclusionary beliefs is itself an exclusionary belief. Why, the mere act of defining a belief for an audience’s consideration excludes what doesn’t meet the definition.
In point of fact, only the people of faith impugned as “absolutists” have any business speaking of universals. For while we all need water, calories, and air to live, there are no “universals” in the sense of morality universally embraced; and there can be no morality that “should” be universally embraced without the basis for “should”: Truth, meaning, a standard of right and wrong reflecting the divine and thus transcending man.
The beliefs of moderns such Weinstein, properly understood, don’t actually purport to be prescribing any moral universals, as in transcendent absolutes. (Mis)informed by moral relativism/nihilism, these would-be philosophers are actually saying, “Everything we call a social code, tradition, cultural norm, ethic, or even moral is just a flavor of the day. Still, though, we want you to embrace our flavor.”
So I’d suggest that Weinstein ponder something. How, professor, do you resolve arguments concerning biology? Do you merely try to get people “to agree on values, ground rules and assumptions,” erroneous or not, regarding the discipline? Or do you ferret out Truth about the physical world via the scientific method, present it for consideration, and achieve universal acceptance by convincing others it is true?
If there is no Moral Reality (Truth) just as there is Physical Reality, then there’s no rational basis for saying “My way is how things ‘should’ be” because then it really is just your way, “private” faith in a preference. For then who is to say what’s “good” or “bad,” “better” or “worse,” “right” or “wrong”? Just drop the pretense and accept occultist Aleister Crowley’s conclusion, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
A “common belief system’s” validity presupposes the reality of Truth. And its becoming more common requires that we seek Truth and embrace it — even if it does so happen to end up prioritizing someone’s sacred book.
Photo: georgemuresan/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Selwyn Duke (@SelwynDuke) has written for The New American for more than a decade. He has also written for The Hill, Observer, The American Conservative, WorldNetDaily, American Thinker, and many other print and online publications. In addition, he has contributed to college textbooks published by Gale-Cengage Learning, has appeared on television, and is a frequent guest on radio.