The Left’s War against Science

30 Jan

According to many, especially among the secular and liberal cultural elites, the arrow runs only one way.  Conservatives and evangelicals have been engaged, we are told, in an ongoing “war” against modern science (science defined as acceptance of Darwinian evolution, global warming, and embryonic stem cell research).  Despite evidence to the contrary, I simply want to point out in this post that it is rather easy to make the case that liberals too are blatantly guilty of readily dismissing or denying hard empirical data when even well-established facts don’t fit their ideological dogma.  Here are a few examples:

The impact of traditional family breakdown:

One of the most well-established empirical facts in the study of sociology, family and parenting, socio-psychology, political science, education studies, criminology, etc. is the relationship between the well-being of children raised in traditional or nuclear families versus those raised in alternative family arrangements.  Many times on this blog, I’ve pointed to this evidence, so I’m not going to do so again here.  But whether we are talking criminal behavior, poverty, health, educational performance, mental disorders, satisfaction with life, and other measures of social and personal well-being, the most important variable, cause, or factor is routinely the breakdown or nuclear family.  There aren’t even any close seconds.   But these facts don’t fit the liberal narrative, dogma, faith, that families are utterly malleable, kids utterly adaptable, all you need is love, there is no such thing as the “ideal” family design, fathers are unnecessary, marriage is unnecessary, gender roles in parenting are meaningless, there is no “right way” to raise kids, etc.  So, it appears that even when the facts and principle causes of so many social problems (or social “injustices”) that so trouble the left are perfectly clear, they are simply ignored or explicitly denied if they get in the way of an ideological narrative.  When empirical evidence meets dogma, in this case, the left does precisely what they accuse the right of doing, they stick their head in the sand or jam fingers in their ears.  Ironic? Yes.  Hypocritical?  True.  But most importantly, sad, because millions of suffering children are the result.  In many ways, this fact denying behavior is far more consequential than whether high school science textbooks describe human evolution as scientific fact or just a theory.

The reality of differences between genders:

The science is pretty doggone clear that real, significant, persistent differences in men and women exist.  From virtually every field, psychology and psychiatry, sociology and anthropology, anatomy and physiology, the evidence is overwhelming.  Even the secular left’s favorite theory of everything, evolutionary socio-biology and evolutionary anthropology, explains these theses stubborn (plainly obvious too) differences as perfectly normal, a natural part of the way humans survive and thrive.  But none of this matters because none of this works well with the dogma that men and women are interchangeable in society, families, parenting, the workplace, military, and so on.  When the belief or goal of a gender-blind society conflicts with established empirical and scientific fact, which does the left choose to give up?  Do they just objectively follow the facts or ignore, deny, dismiss them for the sake of an ideological paradigm and agenda?

The physiological nature of the unborn:

Early on in the abortion debate, the defenders of abortion argued that abortion can’t be wrong if the fetus is just a blog of undeveloped tissue.  When advances in medical technology and biological research began to yield clear evidence that this description was simply untenable, that instead, the fetus is far more developed at earlier stages than originally thought, did the pro-choice left bow the knee to science or stick to dogma?  You guessed it.  Their argument simply changed from it’s not life or it’s not human to it’s not a person or it’s not a person with rights that trump those of the mother, so it can be a person “worth sacrificing.”  Take a seat science, we’ll call you when we need you.

I’m not saying that conservatives are never reluctant believers in scientific consensus.  I’m only saying that many of us are, regardless of worldview persuasion, when that consensus or evidence doesn’t fit our most cherished beliefs.

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9 Responses to “The Left’s War against Science”

  1. J. Palmer January 30, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    I certainly cannot speak for all liberals, but as someone who believes in liberal ideology, I think there is a big difference between acknowledging the detriments inherent with non-traditional families (which I do) and supporting legislation to “fix the problem” (which I don’t). Solutions to this problem can’t be legislated because the morality behind such measures is far too subjective. Solutions could come from the church, however. With 78% of Americans identifying themselves as Christian, you would think that they could make some major strides in combating fatherless children. Maybe advocating for more access to birth control (instead of fighting it) would be helpful.

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    • thereformedmind January 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks much for the comment.

      I’m glad that you acknowledge what is perhaps the most critical and problematic change in society today, with far-reaching effects. I too hold out little hope that government solutions can solve this problem, which didn’t start with government policies in the first place (though, policies or programs that discourage or are indifferent to the formation of traditional families don’t help). I’m a little surprised, however, that you agree with the problem and yet so quickly dismiss government solutions. Modern liberalism accepts the premise that government is among the best social engineers ever devised and can/should be used for social progress.

      Be that as it may, I didn’t call for government solutions either. I simply pointed out that cultural liberalism, the kind cultivated in our universities and entertainment industries, simply ignore or (more commonly) publicly decry the traditional family as a relic of an oppressive past and totally unnecessary. They applaud moral relativism, secularization of society, the new normal, modern family, or whatever with total disregard to the empirical results. So if you want private solutions not government policies (sounds pretty conservative to me), you will want to chop at the root of this problem, a radically reversed ethos brought about by cultural liberal elites in the 1960s and perpetuated in the most influential cultural producing institutions throughout society.

      When both abortion and birth control were rare, incidentally, these problems didn’t exist to any significant degree. Rather than preventing them, they appear to have fed them by contributing to the new sexual licentiousness and evolving ethos themselves (lots of sociological research on that fact too). So the difference appears to be the dismantling of the family, not the existence/use of birth control or abortion. If anything, birth control is the band-aid, not the cure and certainly doesn’t address the nature of the problem itself. Girls aren’t having babies out of wedlock because they can’t find birth control. They are having babies because they are far more promiscuous than they once were, and cultural liberalism has told them two things: (1) that’s okay, no one will judge you, morals are relative, do what makes you happy, and (2) if the use of your freedom doesn’t end the way you want it, a non-judging state will be here to bail you out. That my friend, is a recipe for disaster, a kind of disaster we are now seeing here in and in Europe.

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  2. J. Palmer January 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Great points. And you have exposed some of the inconsistencies that come with me being a liberal Christian (a rare breed in the south).

    When I speak of the government solutions to the problem that I oppose, I am thinking of amendments to ban gay marriage and other legislative measures intended to protect “family values.” I see these as more directly infringing on others’ pursuit of happiness, but I am open to an argument that shows how the proliferation of non-traditional families infringes upon others’ rights (or anything to that effect).

    I do believe strongly in the government’s ability (even duty) to provide financial welfare, but not moral welfare. As a Christian, I would much rather see churches fill both roles, but it just isn’t happening, and therefore the government (wasteful bureaucracy that it is) has been forced into caring for the indigent.

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    • thereformedmind January 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      The proliferation of and moral indifference towards non-traditional families harms children, millions of them. Isn’t that enough to move your liberal or Christian sensibilities?

      By the way, whether it is the government’s “duty” to provide moral welfare (legislate morality) or not is in one sense a mute point. When the government passes a law, any law, unless it flips a coin to do so, it will legislate morality. So, the only question will be which morality to legislate. When government officials (say, judges or social workers) have to decide what kind of family is best for orphans, I don’t mind if those officials morally prefer traditional families to non-traditional families. I don’t mind if they consider factors beyond the ability of the adults to provide “financial welfare” to the child. I don’t want them indifferent between cohabitors and married couples (again, not only because of what is just right, the essence of things like marriage, but also what the empirical social science shows us about child well-being). As Christians, we believe in the binding enduring universal moral law of God, and the nature of the family is simply a part of that. Deny it, be indifferent to it, and we do so at the peril not only of society but the “least among us” (children) as well.

      I’m not a thoroughgoing libertarian, so I agree completely that the state will often have to step in when the organic social institutions of civil society erode (church, family, public virtue, community, charity, social order). That’s a very old prophecy found in Puritan, Classical Republican, and Classical Conservative political thought (not liberalism, mind you). But there is a simple question to ask. Which basic political philosophy, liberalism or conservatism, emphasizes the cultivation, maintenance, importance, necessity, of those social institutions as public goods, protections against a tyrannical state, and basic to human flourishing (once again, it’s not liberalism)? . .

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  3. J. Palmer January 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    It does move my sensibilities, but what can the government do? Or more importantly, what do we really want the government to do? Is a government that regulates who can and cannot have children the answer? That seems way outside the boundaries of what I would ever want.

    You say, “When the government passes a law, any law, unless it flips a coin to do so, it will legislate morality. So, the only question will be which morality to legislate.”

    I think there is a big difference between protecting someone’s rights and legislating morality. The governing system in the US exists to protect citizens’ rights as outlined in the Constitution. Now, we could say that the rights protected by the Constitution are based on a moral code, and in that case, that is the only morality of any significance–not an individual judge’s morality, or an individual law maker’s, or a group’s, or a President’s, etc.

    Thanks for the dialogue.

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    • thereformedmind January 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      If you are a liberal, and not a libertarian, then you don’t mind legislating morality any more than a conservative does. I’m not talking about protecting rights, I’m talking about policies and programs. You just want the government to legislate (impose) a different set of moral values than others. If you favor public education, then you want to impose your values on those who reject public education. Why? Because you think their choice to withhold money from poor uneducated children is wrong. So, using the arm of the state, you relieve them of that personal choice. That is, you make that personal choice illegal because you happen to think it immoral. The same could be said for so many other programs and laws as well. They exist, not to protect rights, but to help actualize by coercion someone’s or some group’s view of the good and the right. This, by the way, is something that many progressive thinkers readily admit (see Michael Sandel). I must say, however, that your comments about constitutional rights for individuals seem far more at home with a constitutional libertarian philosophy than any modern liberal I know who have no problem whatsoever advocating for various public policies based explicitly on their understanding of morality.

      Again, government can’t do much to stem the changing tide of a sick and twisted culture that has departed nearly wholesale from a collective respect for the natural and moral law of God; a law written on the heart of every man but suppressed in unrighteousness (Romans 1). But incentivizing the formation of traditional families rather than incentivizing the formation of non-traditional families, something our welfare programs currently do not do, is a tiny start. But until the culture producers promote rather than scoff at traditional families, government will be pretty powerless to make a serious dent. For its part, the church must hold firm in the face of an increasingly hostile and marginalizing culture to biblical ethics on marriage and the family (no matter what the state allows or approves).

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  4. J. Palmer January 31, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    I do advocate for public programs, but I do not consider these legislating morality so long as citizens are not forced to use the programs. Public education is a good example since homeschooling and private school are options. Welfare, food stamps, and unemployment also do not require that poor folks receive benefits.

    Now I do think that everyone should have to pay taxes to support these “common goods,” and I can see how you could tie this to forcing my morality on others. But doesn’t the social contract theory suppose that there are certain universally accepted morals necessary to living in a society? My aversion to conservatism stems (in part) from folks who seem to want to completely abandon, either wholly or in part, the social contract.

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    • thereformedmind January 31, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      I don’t follow. I don’t have the choice to do with my money what I want when it comes to supporting public education because someone has legislated morality, imposing their values on me. Liberals don’t have a problem with that, do they? I can’t be clearer than that I guess. Legislating morality is the very business of politics (as one political scientist defines politics: “the authoritative allocation of values”). Advocating in politics based on moral conviction may put you in the same camp as Jerry Falwell, but it also puts you in the same camp as Martin Luther King, Jr.

      I’d encourage you not to let “folks” be the reason why you adopt any ideology or a religion. Let truth or the strengths of the argument/philosophy itself matter more I don’t like how a lot of Christians behave, but that doesn’t change the fact that Christ rose from the dead.

      As for your comments on the social contract theory, you are simply mistaken that conservatism wants “to completely abandon, either wholly or in part, the social contract.” Lockean conservatism (classical liberalism), Burkean conservatism (classical republicanism) and the Puritan political thinkers all advanced the social contract theory (they called it different things; contract, compact, covenant, etc.). And yes, the social contract theory was rooted in natural law tradition, which says that there are universal immutable moral laws that exist NOT BASED on consensus but based on nature or nature’s God. I can see how that squares easily with conservatism, but modern liberalism? Not so much.

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    […] Presbyterian Church (PCA) with his wife, Natalie, and three children, Caleb, Noah, and Sarah Ann. This article first appeared on his blog, The Reformed Mind, and is used with […]

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