Just Start Bowing to Molech Openly – Agriculture Worse Than Infanticide?

Jared Diamond, the bestselling author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, wrote a paper back in 1987 stating that the worst mistake in the history of the human race. What is that mistake? Agriculture.

 In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

He argues the hunter-gatherer diet is better nutritionally, as agriculture tended to focus on a single crop, like potatoes. This led to deficiencies and over-reliance, which led to events like the potato famines in Ireland. Overall, he paints a very rosy picture of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and almost romanticizes it. This comes from a Marxist perspective (big surprise):

Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses.

But it soon gets more interesting (or horrifying). He asks the question, if agriculture is so bad for us, why did we choose it?

Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.

So what should we have done instead? Well, infanticide is a good solution to the problem.

…nomadic hunter-gatherers have to keep their children spaced at four-year intervals by infanticide and other means.

And here is where Diamond’s (or any secularist’s) definition of evil comes into play:

As population densities of hunter-gatherers slowly rose at the end of the ice ages, bands had to choose between feeding more mouths by taking the first steps toward agriculture, or else finding ways to limit growth. Some bands chose the former solution, unable to anticipate the evils of farming.

To limit growth by infanticide is reasonable. To support a larger population via farming is evil. And in other news, up is down, down is up, Lady Gaga is a serious person, and Congress is a fine group of people to which you feel comfortable turning your back.

This is what passes for morality in our brave new world. Based on speculation about history, most people who have lived are both dependent on agriculture for their life AND victims of what agriculture has wrought. Ergo, it’s better if they had never been born at all. This is what I call Over-Dramatic, Petulant, and Ungrateful Brat Syndrome. Or, ODPUBS.

And it’s strange, since the progress allowed by agriculture is the very thing that allows Diamond to write  academic papers and best-selling books in the first place. He’s a thin branch looking down at the trunk of his tree, shaking his head in condescension, and saying “You shouldn’t have grown so tall. You’ve jeopardized our survival. Don’t you know its windy up here?”

God: “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.”

Diamond and others: “Nope.”

It is no surprise that progressives like Diamond champion abortion and free contraception. And soon, maybe they will champion infanticide itself, and give up the pretense of the fabled “woman’s right to choose,” and just start bowing to Molech openly in the public square. We’ve already started down that path, with one journal of medical “ethics” saying that after-birth abortion should be allowed.

But when the idols are taken out of the closet, perhaps they’ll be easier to tear down.

If this type of reasoning from the halls of higher learning sounds familiar, it should. When you start talking about population control, you start harkening back to the eugenics movement, which is a natural outpouring of Darwinism in a culture. It is a fount of many deaths.

The authors of the “ethics” article are, of course, correct in the sense that abortion inside the fetus is no different from abortion outside the fetus. That reasoning is sound. But they just give the car more gas when they should be slamming on their brakes, shifting into reverse, and pushing the RPM gauge into the red going the opposite direction. They are discovering where their core assumptions have led them. Again. But this time they are not stepping away in absolute horror.

Eugenics, in essence, is still alive. But instead of elites and other brights deciding who lives and who dies, we have that power passed to the parents themselves, a decentralization of evil. Or rather, those who don’t want to be parents.

A Pack of Gum from 1997

I don’t know why I am constantly surprised to find Scripture that is relevant today, but it happens all the time, and I nod in appreciation and wonder. It’s my own foolishness, of course. I’m handling a living, breathing, two-edged sword and am surprised to find that it has a sharp, pointy end.

The latest jab I’ve come across, that I know I’ve read before:

Better to be lowly and have a servant, than to play the great man and lack bread. (Proverbs 12:9)(ESV)

In an age of easy credit and institutionalized covetousness, this proverb pulls the red carpet out from under a culture of people who like to play at being the “great man” in more ways than one.

Playing the great man (PGM) applies to so many things. I know many people who struggle to put food on the table for a variety of reasons, and all have to do with some form of PGM. Maxed out credit cards on the latest gadgets, leased an expensive car, signed themselves into slavery with a huge mortgage, and various other ways of trying to live a life beyond one’s means.

But over-extension to keep up with the Joneses is the obvious way people can PGM. What are some other ways?

  • Micro fame. Doing everything you can get a few more Youtube views or a few more Twitter followers. In most cases, these are mostly good for bragging rights. 1 million youtube views, 25,000 Twitter followers, and 25 cents will buy you a pack of gum from 1997 (thanks inflation!) But oh, you have some bragging rights.
  • Video gamesMMORPGs, especially World of Warcraft, touch something deep within the human psyche: the desire to grow and complete an epic quest. All in the comfort of our pajamas, sitting in front of a computer monitor. Hours and hours spent building an empire of pixels, which is a worth even less than an empire of dirt. You’ll be famous in Azeroth, though, so that’s something. And then there was the craze of Guitar Hero and Rock Band (which I joyfully took part in myself). Are you able to play Dragonforce’s “Through the Fire and Flames” on expert mode? Congratulations. Now put that on your resume or bring it up on a first date. What will the response be? How much time have we spent practicing fake guitar, so we can play at being the rock star…or PGM? For me, it was Starcraft 2, and working to have a winning record so I could impress other people who spent hours playing Starcraft 2.

I’m not knocking these things as casual hobbies, just the desire to gain some sense of worth from them. Each tap into that desire to be “great” somehow, to be known, a person of renown. Each offer an easy counterfeit. Dedication to that type of “renown” just leads to poverty, just like trying to keep up the mere appearances of wealth.

Willie Wonka thinks you're so cute

What are some other ways of playing the great man are there, and what other traps can we fall into?

Rolling Up the Slopes of Everest in a Wheelchair

Neal Stephenson on recovering the majesty of science, and the possible role of science fiction in generating big ideas:

For those who don’t want to watch the video, Stephenson, as an example, calls for building a tower at least 20 kilometers tall, which is apparently possible to do with steel, even with today’s construction technology. There are a couple of things this would accomplish.

One, it’s big. So it would be a unifying beacon or a light shining in the darkness, similar to other scientific advances that people couldn’t argue with, such as the polio vaccine and the nuclear bomb. We would continue to make a name for ourselves.

Two, for a more practical reason, it takes far less energy (and therefore less money and resources) to break the atmosphere if you start at an altitude of 20 km. This makes space travel cheaper and more common.

This type of call to arms with the promise of glory is eerily familiar. Building a tower to the heavens? Making a name for ourselves?

And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:3)(ESV)

And we all know how that turned out. There is nothing new under the sun.

Before anyone accuses me of being intolerant of tall buildings or suffering from raging batophobia, let me say I have no problem with 20 kilometer tall building, or even a building 18.6 miles tall (to poke the metric system a bit). I even have some friends who live and work in tall buildings. So let’s build them. But I’d rather have reasons more interesting than the self glorification of man and the perpetuation of the species.

Also in the video, Stephenson laments the ground (his version of) science is losing, such as parents not vaccinating their kids and people denying the moon landing. How do we awaken wonder and respect again? This is a good question and a noble goal, but he’s turned left where he should have turned right. The way to awaken wonder is the same way it happened during the first scientific revolution: point to the supreme Artist and Engineer. We can’t race as fast as we can to utter meaninglessness and randomness, and then wonder why everyone is apathetic at the finish line.

I will bookend this by saying that I love Neal Stephenson as a writer. His books are inventive, funny, and thought-provoking and I will go ahead and say Anathem was the best science fiction book I’ve read in 10 years. From an entertainment and consumer standpoint, I have yet to be disappointed.

But…he is pretty much a secular humanist, which is like trying to roll up the slopes of Everest in a wheelchair, saddled with oxygen tanks that are empty. You probably don’t want to undertake the climb with such a person, or follow their advice when it comes to mountain climbing, just like you wouldn’t want to take fruit from a serpent.

Why I Hate (Love) Christmas Music

I used to not like Christmas music. For me, the season brought on headaches from my eyes being in a constant state of rolling to show my disdain and convince myself I had superior aesthetic taste.  My favorite radio stations would be taken over by the holiday spirit. Me, complaining that top 40 radio stations played such abysmal, tasteless music between Thanksgiving and December 25th, as if this was a break from the norm. Just a few months earlier, I would be complaining that they played the same songs over and over again.

Yep. I was a moron.

But honestly, I still don’t like about 80% of Christmas songs. Mainly the syrupy sweet, saccharine nonsense that threatens to overwhelm your emotional pancreas. So no thanks, Bing Crosby. I still don’t need your White Christmas, and that includes the movie about the snow and the retired general and the ski resort and the crazy tap dancing.

But give me “Joy to the World.” Fill the air with the majesty and theological richness of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Let me get caught up in the desperate plea of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

I could probably listen to (and sing along with) skillful renditions of these songs all year long.

What changed?

The music certainly didn’t. These songs are much older than I am, and I’ll bet you 13 gazillion dollars that they will still be around long after I’m dead.

There are two things that changed. First, I had to get over my stuffiness and condescension over the general celebration. But even then, I was a Christmas agnostic, shrugging my shoulders in a “live and let live” kind of way. This was not ideal, but a necessary step that performed the right kind of controlled demolition to my core assumptions.

This leads to the second and primary reason I get into the spirit: I better understand the narrative arc of creation.

The story of Jesus, beginning with the wonder and mystery of the Incarnation, really is the greatest story ever told, because it is the climax of the Story. As Christians, we should always be aware of where we are in the Story. It should be the background of all of our thinking. And like many good stories, this one is a vast, sweeping epic, and has its highs and lows.

And one of the highs is the birth of the true King. The Anointed One who would crush Israel’s enemies and the Enemy. The Lion of Judah who would go to face the giant alone. The Root of Jesse who would rise in defiance of death. But first…he had to be born.

The only peak higher than the Incarnation is the Resurrection. Songs that try and harness just a little bit of that vast sweep resonate deeply, because  it was a glorious moment filled with hope and promise…and yet we know that even then, the best is yet to come. The bow has been strung and drawn, arrow notched. The tension becomes thick. We are on the edge of our seats.

Yes, even though we know the end, we are on the edge of our seats. Because these songs, the good ones, act as a master storyteller who spin a yarn so well as to make it seem new again, doing their best to imitate the Storyteller, who is actually in the process of making ALL things new.

And so when we are taken back to that night in the City of David, we can truly say with the heavenly host,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Because God became a man, and everything changed. And that was just the beginning.

And so that’s why I have come to like Christmas music. And not only the classics. I don’t discriminate against contemporary Christmas music, as long as it assumes and understands the weight of glory inherent in the part of the story it is trying to relate. But honestly, nothing really tops the classics.

What are your thoughts on Christmas music? What is your favorite (non-lame) song?

A Socialist Jubilee and Our Real Equality

The Jubilee Laws of Leviticus 25 are prized poster boys for Christian socialists everywhere. Every seven weeks of years, the 50th year would be consecrated with the sounds of a trumpet, the slaves would be freed, land sold would be returned to its rightful owner and have its Sabbath rest, and debt would be forgiven. This is where God finally becomes an egalitarian. He’s just as economically ignorant as the rest of us!

But the problem with using Jubilee as justification for a socialist paradise is that the set of laws screams just the opposite.

First, they presuppose some sort of inequality in order to even be obeyed, and this is in line with the rest of Biblical revelation, including that of the rest of the Pentateuch. Just look to the Ten Commandments. “You shall not steal” and “You shall not covet” tell us two things immediately: that private property is a real thing that is to be protected, and that some will have more of it than others.

Second, the Jubilee Laws actually maintains certain inequalities and locks them in. Lev. 25:29-30 specifically makes exception for dwellings within walled cities. If one is sold and is not redeemed within a year, it would remain with the new owner in perpetuity and would NOT be release for during the Jubilee.

Not surprisingly, to find the real point of Jubilee, you just need to look at the text.

“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine.” (Lev. 25:23)(ESV)

“For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. (Lev. 25:55)

Both rich and poort are equal in this way: what they have is really God’s, and they both rely on his mercy for their possessions no matter the quantity. And it is the ending of servitude to each other, only to affirm the people’s total servitude, both rich and poor, toward God.

Distributing goods more fairly among a certain number of people is not the message of Jubilee. The real message is that, for goods to be distributed more fairly, everything would go back to God, and our hands would be empty. That is real fairness. That is our real equality. Anything more than destitution is a mercy.

Thanks be to God for his great mercy.