Privilege and Character

Someone on CNN accused a conservative of white privilege yesterday. She was soon stunned into silence as he revealed that he was black.

The concept of privilege offers a glimpse into the minds of progressives. In it, we can see that envy is a guiding principle in Leftist philosophy. That’s because privilege is simply a way of casting good character in a negative light.

There’s a grain of truth in the leftist lie, as there is in many lies. The truth is that some people are more likely to succeed than others because of their pasts. A middle-aged man who has worked hard for two decades is privileged over a man who has never held a job and his lived on government welfare since he dropped out of high school. A child who has a married mother and father is more likely to succeed in school, marriage, and a career than the child of a single mother.

Historically, those who had strong character were admired. It was a good thing to make good, tough decisions that required sacrifice. It was good to work hard to privilege one’s children instead of squandering their inheritance. It was good to emulate men of honor and character.

Progressives have a different commitment, though. When someone is successful, progressives look on them with envy and suspicion. A man who succeeds must have done something wrong and crooked to get where he is. He must have stolen from someone or cheated someone or hurt someone.

The Left has classified the world in postmodern oppressor/oppressed categories, such that the more “oppressor” categories a person finds themselves in, the more suspicious we should be about any of their success. Where historically the important question was “how can we succeed?”, the Leftist asks “how can we tear someone down because of their skin color, sex, and beliefs?” The Left doesn’t build on the work of the past, but makes sure to destroy everything to preserve a flat wasteland of mediocrity and failure.

This is more insidious than presuming a man must have had his success by virtue of being white when he is actually black. The Leftist model actually encourages people they deem “oppressed” into behaviors which keep them poor, dependent, broken, and flailing. Instead of urging people in these groups to strive for the kind of character which leads to success, the Left encourages envy and hate. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where the Left encourages the very behaviors that lead to the very situations they claim to champion against.

It also reveals some inherent racism on the Left. When a white man succeeds, its his “privilege” that does it. He comes naturally equipped for success. When a white man fails, it’s in spite of his “privilege”. The opposite is true of black men. They succeed in spite of their disadvantage of being black. And failure isn’t a big deal; it’s expected. After all, they are black. This explains why progressives are far, far more likely to talk down to minorities, even to the point of treating them like children.

I see this attitude even among lefty “conservative” women on subtly different topics. For example, I’ve made the strongly evidenced claim that women should marry before having children and stay married if they want the best possible outcome for their children. “Conservative” women were very quick to tell me how mean-spirited and cruel my suggestion was. Even though this is extremely good advice for young women, we can’t have it spoken aloud, lest the women who have already made mistakes feel bad. I have another post in mind for the topic of sympathy-as-hatred, but this example also fits here.

Calls to good character are condemned – by the Left as privilege and by some “conservatives” because it might make people feel bad. The real victims, though, are the people who could live much better lives by being encouraged to make good decisions who are instead told that the consequences of their actions are someone else’s fault.

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Special Treatment

I recently ran across a comment someone made about sodomy. The author claimed to be a Christian, and was upset that other Christians made a big deal about sodomy and same-sex attraction. “What’s the deal with Christians and homosexuality?” It sounded like the start of a bad joke. Ultimately, his solution was to “be kind and let God sort it out”, unlike all those evil, mean “fundamentalists”.

This was all very odd. For one thing, it seems strange to put the cultural focus on same-sex attraction at the feet of Christians. If anything, Christians are slow to respond to a total moral inversion in the West regarding sodomy. Within a generation, anti-sodomy laws were replaced by laws against any critique of sodomy. That means in less than 20 years, what was considered so evil as to be punishable by law became so good as to have any opposition to it punishable by law. Christians are making too big a deal out of this?

It gets worse though. God doesn’t allow Christians to “be kind and let God sort it out”. That sounds a bit like Christianity without the Gospel. What did Christ die for if there is no sin?

But things can get worse still. Paul spends a great deal of time condemning same-sex sexual sin. He calls it shameful, and he even says talking about it is shameful in Ephesians 5:

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God…

…For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

So while our friend wants to condemn Christians for taking issue with same-sex acts, it turns out Paul was disgusted by them and treated them as utterly contemptible and shameful. The acts are called abominations throughout Scripture for good reason. For some reason, modern Western Christians would rather eject you from your congregation for having a natural, God-given gag reflex than for engaging in same-sex sin. This is totally backwards.

The thing about sodomy and same-sex sexual sin in general is that it is so damaging to one’s body and soul that it serves as its own punishment. As Paul says in Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Where Paul and the rest of Scripture treats sexual sin in especially harsh terms, the modern, Western Christian treats it in especially soft and careful terms, if at all. That tells us more about the theology of such people than anything else.

Some Binary Skepticism

I’ll continue two things today: the longest streak of posts I’ve written on this blog to date (a trend I hope continues), and another unrelated topic to my previous posts (which can’t go on forever, can it?). This topic isn’t too deep and it isn’t too controversial, but it’s been on my mind. It’s nice to take a break from pressing issues.

A number of memes have made their way onto my monitor in the past few weeks about extroversion and introversion. I remembered reading a blog post years ago on the topic, and managed to find it. I highly recommend it.

While I usually hear the term “binary” used by radical inhumanists who deny our sexual reproductive nature, I think the binary of introversion and extroversion really does deserve some scrutiny. Back in middle and high school, I considered myself an introvert. I was quiet, shy, and didn’t have too many friends. But even back then, I noticed that something strange would happen as I’d spend time with people I knew well: My personality would change.

It took many years to think about the ramifications of that fact, but it seems pretty obvious now. There’s really no such thing as an introvert or an extrovert. One particular meme I’ve come across presents the two as getting “energy” from different sources; the introvert from time alone and the extrovert from time spent with others. The implication is that “energy” would be drained by spending time with others (for the introvert) or spending time alone (for the extrovert). But “energy” is ambiguous. And I can’t think of anyone who could spend every waking moment in conversation with other people or totally isolated for years on end. At some point, we need time to ourselves, and at other points, we need time with others. The ratios may be different, but they probably change over time and with different circumstances.

As the blog mentioned early says, people who claim to be extroverts are happier and have more productive, full lives. You can spend your time concerned with placing yourself into (what seem to be) arbitrary categories, but that’s a waste. Better to spend time on simply acting in the way you’d like to act. If you want the benefits of being an extrovert – just act that way.

It seems at first like this is asking too much. I suspect several friends of mine would think so. But I have some genuine personal experience that lets me know it’s possible. Even today, it takes work for me to make small talk and even leave my home sometimes. But I do the work anyway, and reap the rewards for it. I rarely enjoy going to big events, but I go anyway.

I put the suggestions in that post to work, and predictable results followed: Despite my personality being about what it was over a decade ago, I now lead teams, give presentations, and speak in front of groups all without any problems. I still dread it sometimes, and as I said, it still takes work to pull it off – more than it might for others. But I do it anyway. None of this is to boast, but to say it can be done. And now that I know it, I find the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” to be without any good use. While real binaries exist (like the sexual binary), there’s no need to invent new ones and then force oneself into them permanently.

The American Propaganda Assocation

The American Psychological Association just published this, and it’s breathtaking.

APA issues first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys

The article is full of political claims that might as well have been spoken by Democrat operatives. A full display of ignorance regarding the economy and incentives is only matched by the total failure to understand (or even recognize) the differences between men and women – something a PSYCHOLOGY organization ought to have mastered.

But lets be honest. The APA doesn’t really care about science. It’s just a bunch of ideologues who are bad at philosophy doing philosophy while pretending to be scientists.

This should have already been obvious since they’ve changed their categories for mental illness in response to threats from lobbyists.

Unlike real medicine where there are observable facts like “this leg is broken”, the APA gets to define “health” in any arbitrary way they want. They’ve settled on pure relativism: mental health is what ever you, the patient, want it to be. Imagine a surgeon asking you what you consider a “healthy heart” and then doing whatever you ask in the operating room.

Replace “surgeon” with “therapist” and “heart” with “mind”, and that’s exactly what the APA defines as mental health. That’s why they don’t say pedophilia is a mental illness, but -guilt- about pedophilia is. Because guilt is bad (you don’t want it), but unnatural desires are good (they are things you want).

The APA has outdone themselves with this far-left-feminist-ideology-as-science though. As someone who has studied and worked in hard science fields, my intelligence is under assault every time I read anything this organization publishes.

h/t Captain Capitalism

Federal Welfare Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

This can be demonstrated by syllogism:

  1. Welfare effectively replaces fathers as provider and patriarch of a family
  2. Broken homes (single-mothers with children) are the primary source of poverty and crime*
  3. The poor overwhelmingly vote for federal welfare
  4. Therefore, given (1) and (2), welfare causes poverty
  5. Therefore, given (3) and (4), welfare causes welfare

Welfare necessitates more welfare and creates poverty, crime, broken homes, mental health problems, sexual confusion, psychological disorders, addictions, school dropouts, and ghettos along the way.

It’s not hard to determine that it is utterly immoral to vote for politicians who embrace these policies of federal largess. No Christian should ever do so.


*”Crime in America”, “Adolescent Personality and Behavior”, “The Feminine Mystique”, hundreds of studies

Presuppositional Apologetics as a Weak Point

This post will be brief, but I’ll still provide a disclaimer: Theologically conservative Reformed churches are Christian churches, and this topic is an internal one between fellow Christians. I myself am not a Calvinist (for what I believe are very good reasons), but I don’t deny that Calvinists have true Christian faith. With that out of the way…

Reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til developed the concept of presuppositional apologetics (PA from here on out in this post) as a result of his theological work. When you combine the central tenets of Calvinism and push them to their most extreme form, you end up with the view that nothing in the entire world can be properly understood without the “light of the main doctrines of Christianity”, in Van Til’s words. In his mind, there is no such thing as a neutral ground of reason where both Christian and non can debate ideas. Even offering evidences outside of Christianity thus grants non-Christians their own presuppositions, meaning an apologist fails before he starts*.

If PA is the naturally outworking of a fully formed Reformed theological system, though, we have a problem. The Bible has many accounts where evidence is offered to non-Christians. The context of these passages makes it clear that such evidence is offered to convince people of the truth of Christianity (Jesus does this, for example, with His miracles and His fulfillment of prophecy. Paul does it as well, “reasoning” with the Greeks).

That means Jesus Himself and the Apostles don’t seem to understand the importance of PA, which is unattested in Scripture. More likely, Jesus and the Apostles do not see the value in PA (if they did, they presumably would have used that tactic).

This isn’t just a problem for PA, though. If PA really is the logical outworking of a strong Calvinist theology, then to reject PA is to reject the theological framework which necessitates it. That makes PA a huge liability for extreme Calvinists:

  • Logical conclusion of reformed theology -> Presuppositional apologetics
  • Presuppositional apologetics are not Biblical (it is both not attested, and its inverse offering evidence is well attested)
  • Therefore the logical conclusion of reformed theology is not Biblical
  • (Modus Tollens: P -> Q. Not Q. Therefore not P)

 


*I once got into an argument on social media with (Calvinist) James White, only to have my faith impugned because I didn’t agree with PA. This view really is the logical outworking of Calvinism, so much so that it seems to hold its own against doctrines like the Divinity of Christ and His death by the cross when some Calvinists determine if people are genuine in their faith.

How Google Search Results Work – Or, Technology Writers Can’t Do Philosophy

The AP published an article intended to counter the prevailing view that Google has biased search results. Google denies any bias whatsoever:

“We don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.”

So why do results so often seem biased? The technology writer at the AP promises to make everything clear for us.

Google has software which indexes every site it can find on the internet and keeps track of the most common search terms. So far, no chance for Google to inject bias of any kind, presuming this is what happens.

However, the rest of the article reveals a variety of ways Google employees can bias the results, and even ways they are required to bias results.

The technology writer for the AP cannot distinguish between a computer algorithm itself (which is mechanical) and the intent and effect of its design (which is based on the philosophy of its authors).

“Quality” Raters

According to the article, more than 10,000 “quality raters” judge the quality of search results using a 164 page document with such obviously political sections as:

“Using the Upsetting-Offensive Flag”

“Needs Met Rating for Upsetting-Offensive Tolerant Queries”

“Pages that Potentially Deceive Users”

“Lacking Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness”

“Mixed or Mildly Negative Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content”

Who defines what is “upsetting” or “offensive”? Who decides what someone’s reputation is? Who decides if someone lacks expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness?

Google.

It isn’t some mindless, apolitical machine that decides these things. It’s employees at Google, who bring their own beliefs with them. If these employees presume themselves to be neutral observers – as the author of the article seems to imply they are – it’s all the more dangerous.

What is high quality?

The example given for how quality might be determined is by looking at Pulitzer Prizes won by the author of the content. This presumes that the prize itself is neutral, that those who give the prize are neutral, that the authors receiving the prize are neutral, and that those who don’t receive the prize are of poorer quality. Every single one of these assumptions are political and philosophical, meaning that in the example which is given of how quality is determined, we already have a clear example of bias.

What is poor quality?

The pages which are given a low rating, on the other hand, are those which “spread hate, cause harm or misinformation, or which deceive users”.

For the Left, suggesting that women make less than men on average because of career decisions and not because of some evil mystical force called “the patriarchy” is considered “hateful” and “harmful” and “misinformation”. Google just fired an employee for suggesting this very thing.

The same people who fired him are the ones who determine what is “hateful” and “harmful” and “misinformation”. Again, for reasons unknown, the technology writer at the AP doesn’t think that this is a place where bias might enter into the design of Google’s algorithms.

Fake News

We are also told that sites are labelled “deceptive” if they “look like a news organization” but “in fact [have] articles to manipulate users in order to benefit a person, business, government, or other organization politically, monetarily, or otherwise”.

This presumes two things:

  1. That far-left employees at Google can determine the hidden motivations behind the authors of articles.
  2. That far-left employees at Google implicitly trust major news companies not to be deceptive in either what they report or what they fail to report.

Both of these things are examples of political bias.

Design and Designer

What the author of the article fails to understand is the difference between a mindless algorithm that does whatever it is programmed to do and the mindful intentions of the authors of that algorithm. Because he likely agrees with the politics of Google engineers, he thinks the algorithm is neutral. After all, his own views are obviously neutral (or so he thinks).

Too many software engineers lack a strong philosophical background and make elementary mistakes in reasoning (like presuming their own neutrality) which, when ignored, lead to things like a far-left bias to the most influential search algorithm in the world. Unfortunately, the tech writer at the AP is similarly unaware of his own biases, or is simply defending Google because of their political leanings.