The Return of Heresy
The Evolutionary Origins of the Social Justice Warrior and Her Impact on Humanity
SJWism is not simply a variation on liberalism or leftism. It’s best understood as a replacement religion—one that is flourishing in our putatively secular age. Traditional religions succeeded in making populations more evolutionarily adaptive: more fertile, cooperative, and willing to outcompete others, all of which are conceived as the will of the gods. SJWism, by contrast, is a “death cult” that aims to lose.
Among other effects, the rise of the SJW marks the return of heresy as a religious and political concept, as well as the dolling out of quasi-death sentences to those who think “evil” thoughts. One cannot understand current controversies around social-media “de-platforming” and “cancel culture” without inquiring into the evolutionary origins of the SJW religion, which undergirds and legitimizes these phenomena.
In the end, the West’s collapse into “Clown World” is due to the impact of industrialization on the human environment and the end of Darwinian selection. One surprising result is the birth of a new intolerant religion, which shares much in common with monotheism, but has dispensed with God.
That’s how I know he can be beaten. Because he’s a fanatic. And the fanatic is always concealing a secret doubt.
—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Is God Really Dead?
So many of us believe that we live in a “secular age”—and one that’s becoming more secular by the day. Religious communities based on Islamic, fundamentalist, or Orthodox traditions still exist, of course; however, these will be “secularized” in the coming years—neutered and brought up to date, if not ended entirely. Witch hunts, heretics burned at the stake, or the dogmatic denunciations of dissidents are, we tell ourselves, safely confined to the benighted past.
This premise seems to hold for quite a large portion of the population, and in Western Europe more so than in the United States. Assuming that weekly church attendance is a measure of how religiously committed a society is, then the United Kingdom, for example, has become a quite irreligious place. In 1900, 27 percent of the British population attended church on Sundays. By the the year 2000, this was down to just 10 percent. The collapse of religiousness is particularly pronounced among young people. A European Social Survey conducted in Britain between 2014 and 2016 found that 70 percent of those aged between 16 and 29 claimed that they were “not religious.”
In these kinds of surveys, “religiousness” is defined in the way the term is commonly understood. A religion involves believing in and worshipping a god or gods and some sort of community of shared practices. In general, these gods are what we might called “moral gods”—gods that direct their worshippers to behave in a pro-social way, at least in relation to fellow religious adherents.
Nevertheless, the assumption that people are no longer religious seems to obscure more than it reveals. There are behaviors that are typically associated with religiousness—intolerance of disagreement, fervent belief, or casting dissenters as “evil”—which are alive and well and, if anything, seem to be increasing in frequency rather than decreasing.
The Rise of the SJW and Cancel Culture
Over the past decade, popular discourse on the Left in the United States and Europe has changed key, and sounded different tones and themes. Talk of “civil rights,” “welfare,” and tropes such as “helping working families” have gradually given way to highly moralized language surrounding being “woke,” getting “triggered,” and finding mundane and previously unremarkable matters “problematic.” These range from men arguing with women (“mansplaining”) to sitting aggressively on public transportation (“manspreading”).
Throughout the last century, the Left was defined, on the one hand, by “liberals”, who were socially permissive but supported welfare socialism and economic intervention as a national purpose, and, on the other, by “Communists,” who thought that the state should plan (if not outright own) the economy. Today, the most vocal and intense segment of the Left bears the monicker “Social Justice Warrior” (SJW), and it is a new breed altogether.
Much like liberals and leftists, SJWs fight for “equality,” but what they mean by that word seems to differ markedly from the 20th-century Left. “Equality” has less to do with, say, job security, healthcare, or a social safety net, and more with the rights of transsexuals to use the bathrooms of their choosing, removing statues and paintings of Dead White Males at universities, and discussing the “shameful flirting with blackface” in Mary Poppins.
SJWism might be most prevalent among young adults at university; however, its popularity is broad, and it is informing electoral outcomes. And SJWs are shaking up what were previously consensus political issues. Erstwhile sacred cows like “free speech” are, for the SJWs, no longer sacred. Indeed, monitoring, censoring, denunciation, iconoclasm—ultimately erasing or cancelling—is one of their chief modus operandi.
In 2018, SJWs at an Oregon law school issued the following statement with regard to a speaker they found highly “problematic” (a neoconservative feminist who was, nevertheless, “not woke”).
Freedom of speech is certainly an important tenet to a free, healthy society, but that freedom stops when it has a negative and violent impact on other individuals.
Putting aside the issues of whether speech can be violence—or whether speech should be beholden to those who might feel offended—what’s important for our purposes is that SJWs have reintroduced the concept of heresy into public discourse. Language can be designed as having “violent impact” even if the speaker is discussing quotidian, cultural, political, or scientific matters and not actually calling for violence by any reasonable definition. In other words, Language can anger the gods, with horrific consequences for us all.
This is precisely where the issue of “hate speech,” “de-platforming,” and “cancelling” become most relevant. In recent times, countless people have been kicked off social-media platforms, banks, and payment processors; fired from their employment; expelled from universities; or publicly humiliated for, essentially, talking. The examples are now too numerous to recount.
So what is going on? What is the origin of this new “heresy” designation, as well as the particular emotional vehemence with which SJWs denounce “heretics”? Moreover, how is it that we are becoming, as a whole, less religiously observant and yet religiosity seems to be reasserting itself in surprising ways?
What is Religion?
To make sense of what is happening, we have to be clear on the different dimensions of “religion” and then on how religion has come into being. In his book Religion Explained (2001), Pascal Boyer presents the key psychological traits that appear to be common to accepted religions. Each of these appear to be hardwired into human psychology, meaning that they are significantly genetic and were adaptive in our evolutionary past. We are likely to succumb to these cognitive biases when we are subject to stress or feelings of exclusion or our own mortality, because that is when we are most in touch with our cognitive biases, including our general inclination towards being religious.
The key adaptations are as follows:
1. Pattern Over-Detection
We tend to see patterns, and even causation, when confronted with images of randomly moving dots. It is adaptive, rather like an over-sensitive smoke alarm, because it means that when there is a genuine pattern then we are certain to detect it. This phenomenon helps explain why religious people see evidence of the divine all around them and have a strong sense of fate. (Think “Relax, God is in charge”).
2. Agency Over-Detection
In pre-history, if we heard a noise in the forest and assumed it was an animal when it was in fact the wind, then we lost nothing. If we assumed it was the wind when it was in fact an animal, we might lose everything—either by being predated or by not killing a quarry, which could save us from starvation. Consequently, we are evolved to over-detect agency. This is why religious people perceive evidence of god in the world itself, and it is why we are prone to believing in “conspiracy theories,” rather than coincidences or mistakes, even if the theory is wildly improbable. This also, in part, helps to explain the certainty with which religious people are often imbued. Their worldview is uniquely true. They know that God is there. They can feel His presence and perceive signs of Him all around them. Taken to an extreme, this tendency manifests as schizophrenia, whereby sufferers have paranoid delusions of sinister agents controlling their minds. For this reason, schizophrenia not only predicts accepting conspiracy theories but, often, intense religious belief.
3. Follow the Leader
Being pack animals, we are evolved to obey authority. In general, the most intelligent people rise to the top of the human pack, something demonstrated, using general knowledge as a proxy for intelligence, even among primitive tribe. So, all else being equal, it makes sense to follow the leader.
This cognitive bias is most obvious in the infamous “Milgram Experiment.” Under laboratory conditions, it was demonstrated in American psychologist Stanley Milgram’s (1933-1984) experiment that the majority of people (more than 50 percent) would be prepared to knowingly administer a lethal electric shock to an innocent person in another room simply to comply with the instructions of an authority, in the form of a white-coated scientist. Subjects, known as “teachers,” were told that they were taking part in an experiment to see whether electric shocks increased learning ability. They watched as their “student” (really an actor) was strapped into the electric device. Then, in another room, they had to ask the student questions over a speaker system, observed by a scientist, with teachers increasing the electric shock level each time the student gave a wrong answer. Eventually, students were audibly screaming in pain and teachers questioning whether they should continue. Told that “the experiment must go on,” over half continued past the point where the machine said “Danger: Severe Shock” and even after the students had fallen silent, presumably fainted or worse, simply because they were instructed to do so by an authority. This phenomenon can be seen, in religious terms, in the strongly hierarchical nature of many religions and the willingness of adherents to obey the religious authorities.
4. Consensus Effect
We have evolved a strong capacity to conform to the group and this extends to the tendency to alter one’s beliefs, even if a dissenter knows he is correct, in order to conform to the group. Indeed, the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance shows that people will alter even their memories in order to ensure that their worldview is congruous with that of the group. This cognitive bias can be seen in religious conformity and, especially, in the way that people adopt obviously empirically inaccurate beliefs if the group of which they are a part, or of which they want to be a part, advocates such beliefs and regards them as essential to group membership. This cognitive bias is adaptive because it allows the individual to remain part of the group and to appear to genuinely believe its dogmas. Having irrational dogmas is adaptive because it drives out the non-conformers, and it is crucial, as we will now see, that groups are internally highly cooperative.
5. In-Group Cooperation.
We are evolved to be highly cooperative with our in-group. This is the broader cognitive bias of which consensus effect is a part. And it is adaptive. Computer models have demonstrated that groups that are highly internally cooperative—high in “positive ethnocentrism” (but also “negative ethnocentrism,” see below)—are more likely to dominate other groups. This explains phenomena such as religious martyrdom. Adherents are prepared to make incredible personal sacrifices for the good of the group.
This cognitive bias has been found in experiments. In Game Theory, there is a game called “Prisoner’s Dilemma.” In experiment, two players will play this game on networked computers and the two players will neither meet each other nor know anything about each other. Each player can decide to “cooperate” with the other player or “defect” on the other player. “Cooperation” benefits the other player, while “defection” hurts the other player but benefits the defector. In a “two shot” game, it may be rational to “cooperate” because, if you don’t, then the other player can “defect” on you in the future, so damaging you. However, in a “one-shot” game, it is always rational to defect, as you will always get a higher pay-off by doing so. Despite this, numerous experiments have shown that around 50 percent of people cooperate in a “one shot” game.
6. Out-group Hostility
Groups are more likely to to win battles with other groups if they are high in negative ethnocentrism, that is, if they are hostile to outsiders. In addition, outsiders are likely to bring with them contagious diseases, to which your own group is not adapted. And, if they incur onto your territory, they will generally reduce the genetic fitness of your group by reducing the extent to which it controls resources. Accordingly, we are evolved to be hostile to outsiders, and religious groups will tend to regard outsiders as, in effect, “evil.” Similarly, we tend to be extremely hostile to defectors (those that have used our group for their own benefit and then abandoned it), free-riders (who take the benefits of group membership without making the attendant sacrifices), and uncooperative members of our own group. In many ways, these are more dangerous than outsiders, because they threaten the internal cohesion of the group, and thus people react to them very strongly.
Boyer’s summary crosses over with Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory, a model that highlights five fundamental human concerns: Care v Harm, Fairness v Cheating, Loyalty v Betrayal, Authority v Subversion, and Sanctity v Degradation. The fifth foundation manifests, negatively, as a strong sense of disgust towards the out-group or towards deviant members of the in-group. One study has even shown that religious people feel a sense of physical disgust when exposed to the beliefs of other religious groups. Religious people also feel a stronger generalized disgust response to most common sources of disgust.
Religion and Evolution
Boyer argues that religion is a manifestation of these different cognitive biases and instincts. However, there is every reason to argue that religiousness, once it manifested, became selected for in itself. Religion displays all of the dimensions of an adaptation. Religiousness, in the specific sense of collectively worshipping a god or gods, is a human universal, it correlates with mental and physical health as well as with longevity; it correlates with fertility; it is around 0.4 genetic; and specific parts of the brain associated with religiosity have been identified. The correlation between religiosity and overall health is 0.3. This relatively weak correlation reflects the fact that extreme religiosity is associated with schizophrenia, periods of depression, and with bipolar disorder.
We can also understand how religiousness would have been selected for. There are three levels of selection.
- Individual selection: people with a particular trait are more likely to pass on their genes in a given environment.
- Sexual selection: people with a particular trait are better able to persuade others to copulate with them.
- Group selection: groups—such as kinship groups, ethnicities, or nations with an optimum percentage of people with certain traits—are more likely to outcompete rival groups.
At the individual level, it has been shown that religiousness tends to become more pronounced at times of stress and, in turn, reduces stress by persuading the devotee that God or the gods are looking after them. It has been shown that the belief that one is being watched, such as by a moral god, makes one behave in a more pro-social manner, so those that had this belief would have been less likely to have been ostracized by the band for breaking its rules. Religion is also sexually selected for because it can be regarded as a marker of pro-social personality. Across cultures, religiousness predicts being altruistic and rule-following. This means that a religious person is less likely to be unfaithful and cuckold her husband or a husband to abandon his wife while pregnant. Consequently, it would make sense for people to sexually select for religiousness in partners.
Religiosity is group-selected for because religious groups tend to be higher in ethnocentrism, meaning that they ultimately triumph in battles of group selection, as shown by the computer models cited above. Indeed, there is neurological evidence of the relationship between religiousness and ethnocentrism. In one study, an area of the brain called the posterior medial frontal cortex was rendered less active by trans-cranial magnetic stimulation. As a consequence, the subjects became both less negatively ethnocentric and less likely to believe in God. Many studies have shown that what religion essentially does is take adaptive behavior, in terms of Darwinian selection, and turn that into the will of God, thus making such behavior more likely to be followed. In particular, it promotes positive and negative ethnocentrism as the will of God but, also, simply eating healthy food.
The consequence of this is that under conditions of harsh Darwinian selection—in which there was intense individual, sexual, and group selection—religiousness was selected for. Indeed, it has been demonstrated, using the proxy of the population percentage who were religious devotees, that the English people became more religious across the Medieval period, in part because all felonies carried the death sentence and those who were executed—amounting to two percent of the male population each generation—would have been high in personality traits that predict criminality, these being the same traits that negatively predict religiousness. These personality traits—such as Agreeableness (altruism and empathy) and Conscientiousness—are at least 0.5 genetic. The result of this selection is that religiousness became genetically correlated with other traits that were being selected for. For example, it has been shown that religiousness is negatively correlated with carrying forms of genes that predict depression; it is associated with genetic physical health; and it correlates with other evidence of a low number of (almost always harmful) mutations. In other words, religiousness is the “genetic norm” under Darwinian conditions.
Evolution and Religious Diversity
Even though religion in general can be regarded as a “genetic norm,” the nature of religion varies in subtle ways between human ecologies. This is because each of these ecologies are slightly different, meaning that there is likely to be variation in what kind of religion is adaptive at any given point. In other words, there are significant differences in the details when comparing different religious groups, differences that we would expect, mindful of the diverse ecologies to which humans are adapted.
As societies become more complex, the nature of the gods appears to change. In essence, those groups that triumph in the battle of group selection are more ethnocentric, but also more intelligent, because the more intelligent society will be strategically superior and will be able to producer better weapons, for example. This results in the size of the polity expanding, therefore, its members no longer being as closely related as they once were. This is potentially problematic because there is a large body of evidence that we are more prepared to cooperate with people who are genetically similar to ourselves. Thus, as societies became larger, something had to happen to persuade distantly related strangers to be ethnocentric. It appears that this was a change in the nature of the gods.
American philosopher of science Nathan Cofnas has proposed that intelligence has co-evolved with more universalistic religions. Universalist religions are very different from ethnic ones. They are characterized by membership via religious belief and practice rather than simply through being a member of a particular ethnic group. Intelligence, argues Cofnas, predicts the ability and desire to cooperate, the ability to trust others, and the ability to innovate new ideas. These factors would mean that the more intelligent populations would develop into larger groups with greater and greater levels of internal genetic diversity: they would be the groups who would develop cities where constant fraternization with non-kin would become a fact of life. Thus, it would make sense that these kinds of societies would increasingly develop a belief in a moral god. This moral god would compel people to be altruistic even to strangers. It would also follow that such a society would develop a universalist form of religion, because its members would increasingly be from diverse kinship and ethnic groups, and the society would be continuously expanding. Adherence to a universalist religion would become the key marker that you were “one of us;” that you could be trusted because you believed in the same (moral) god who was watching over you and influencing your actions. The society that adopted this kind of religiosity, argues Cofnas, would be better able to spread, becoming larger and larger. In other words, the city-based society that evolved from believing merely in gods who were placated by ritual to believing in a moral god or gods would be at an advantage in terms of promoting positive ethnocentrism (and negative ethnocentrism towards non-believers) among an ever-larger group. It would, therefore, ultimately triumph. As such, we would expect that highly successful groups might even be at advantage were they to be intolerant of those who questioned components of the religion; religion now being so central to holding the group together.
A number of scholars have developed similar theories to Cofnas’s model. Most prominently, Lebanese psychologist Ara Norenzayan has proposed that the rise of city-states and large polities is paralleled by the rise of moralistic monotheism, as this helps to create a bonded society who are not kin. However, a slight nuance to this can be found in the way that monotheism first prominently developed among certain specific groups of pastoralists, the Hebrews and, later, the followers of the Prophet Mohammed. It begins as monolatry: the idea that there are many Gods but that you must only worship one of these, Yahweh, and He is a god who demands not only ritual adherence but highly moral behavior. Indeed, if the Old Testament is correct, it would appear that it is the bonding mechanism presented by this belief in one moral god that allows His followers to triumph. Once the Hebrews have developed cities and high levels of comfort, they turn away from monolatry and start worshipping other gods, such as Baal. This, inevitably, leads to them losing ground to other groups, possibly because the Hebrews have become less internally similar and thus less ethnocentric. But as long as the different tribes of Israel are united under the watchful and judgmental eye of Yahweh, then they are successful in terms of group selection. In addition, monolatry, or, at least, intolerant monolatry, that regards worshippers of other gods as evil, seems to first develop among groups that are excluded and on the borders of a wealthier society; exclusion, along with stress, being one of the factors that is associated with elevated levels of religiousness. It is unclear how this intolerant monolatry developed into a similarly intolerant form of monotheism. It may have been via the influence on Judaism of the Neo-Platonic belief in a single divine presence, the Demiurge, a belief that became increasingly significant in Greek paganism from the time of Plato onwards. But, however Jewish monotheism developed, Jewish-style intolerant monotheism not only helps to hold together an increasingly diverse society, but provides it with a sense of moral superiority that incentivizes it to expand even further, as can be seen among the followers of Yahweh. Accordingly, we would expect that, all else being equal, groups that adopted intolerant monotheisms would triumph in the battle of group selection, because they would be fanatically high in negative ethnocentrism, perceiving outsiders—and even insiders who questioned minor aspects of the religion—as in league with Satan.
This intolerant dimension to monotheism may be of central importance to understanding its success. The French philosopher Alain de Benoist has observed that there tend to be consistent differences between monotheism and polytheism, beyond merely the number of gods that are worshipped or that are believed to exist. We can conceive of a spectrum with extreme monotheism at one end and extreme polytheism at the other. Monotheistic religions, such as Judaism in its purest form, are characterized by a number of other beliefs. God is regarded as perfect and held in contrast to humanity, which is regarded as sinful. In polytheistic religions, however, gods have human-like personalities, including human-like failings. Christianity and Islam have a clear understanding of good and evil, with the latter being embodied in Satan. In polytheistic religions, this sense of duality is much less pronounced. The difference is most obvious in terms of the relationship between humanity and the gods. In Greek myth, for example, characters negotiate with the gods or even defy them, though there may be dire consequences for this. The relationship with God in Christianity, by contrast, is far more black and white. God is to be obeyed without question. Those who do not obey God will be punished, and in the Old Testament this is often through being executed.
The New Testament would seem to portray God rather differently. It rejects the harsh punishments of the Old Testament. But it is still clear that you either accept Jesus as your Lord and obey Him absolutely, as God, or you are condemned to Hell. Even the understanding of history tends to be different when comparing these two religious extremes. Monotheistic religions have a clear sense of what has happened in the past and what is true. Thus, many conservative Christians claim to believe in the Biblical account of Creation and in the “inerrancy” of the Bible in general. By contrast, in polytheistic religions, there are different accounts of history and of the creation of the world, and this tension is not generally regarded as a problem.
Accordingly, the concept of “heresy” is inherent in this form of religion, that is, one that is extremely intolerant. As this kind of religion was selected for over time, we might expect people to become increasingly intolerant of heretics. Joseph Klaits’s analysis of Medieval Europe finds precisely this to be the case. As the Middle Ages progress, heretical Christian sects—as well adherents to other religions, such as the Jews—are increasingly persecuted and persecuted with ever greater ruthlessness. In 1401, in England, heresy was finally made a capital offense. There followed a period in Europe, up until the early 19th century (in Spain), were heretics could be subject to execution. Under the conditions of harsh Darwinian selection prevalent prior to the Industrial Revolution, the persecution of heretics would have ensured that the optimum form of religiosity was maintained. Those who questioned it, either by being insufficiently religious or even by being fanatically religious, would have been subject to persecution.
The Collapse of Darwinian Selection and the Rise of Atheism
By the beginning of the 18th century, Darwinian selection had become particularly intense in Europe. This was the time of the Maunder Minimum, meaning it was particularly cold due to a very low level of sun-spot activity. This meant that insufficient food could be grown to feed the population and there was, as a result, mass starvation and disease. This struggle to survive meant that group selection—battles for resources waged by different ethnic groups against each other—was also ferocious, their being many bloody wars. Up to around the year 1800, approximately 90 percent of people born in European countries did not pass on their genes. Child mortality stood at around 50 percent and another 40 percent of people, those that survived childhood, either didn’t marry or they witnessed all of their children die young.
The Industrial Revolution, which began around 1800, radically changed this situation. Industrialization saw the price of food and of materials collapse as well as massive improvements in public health and in medical science, including the widespread use of inoculations as well as increasingly effective treatments for disease. This led to the collapse of child mortality, from around 50 percent in 1800 to around 1 percent in Western countries today. The result of this has been an ever-growing “mutational load.” Under Darwinian conditions, mutations (which are almost always negative) would be purged every generation via high child mortality. People who had sub-optimal immune systems, due to high mutational load, would die of childhood diseases and, thus, never pass on their genes. Physical mutation, and thus physical illness, is comorbid with mental mutation, and thus mental illness. This is because the brain is around 84 percent of the genome, meaning that it is a massive target for mutation. Consequently, many of the children who died due to their poor immune systems prior to 1800 would, if they had become adults, have suffered from mental illness and also would have been more likely to have other mutations that might cause them to think in maladaptive ways, such as not wanting to have children. Consistent with this, a rise across time in significantly genetic physical and mental problems associated with de novo mutation, such as autism, has been highlighted. Indeed, it has been found that the faces of Western people are becoming gradually less symmetrical. This implies an increase in mutations in the face, as the norm is to have a symmetrical face, and an increase in mutations relating to the immune system, as people with good immune systems are better able to maintain a symmetrical phenotype in the face of disease.
Two consequences to the breakdown in selection have been highlighted. Firstly, you would expect to find more and more people with instincts and desires that would have been maladaptive under Darwinian conditions, and these instincts and desires would be comorbid with other maladaptive traits. One such example is atheism. As we have discussed, the collective worship of a moral god is adaptive and is, therefore, associated with other adaptive traits and general evidence of low mutational load. Atheism is maladaptive and is, therefore, correlated with evidence of high mutational load, such as autism and non-right-handedness. The latter is because people with symmetrical brains are generally right-handed. Non-right-handedness correlates with many mental and psycho-sexual pathologies. Emil Kirkegaard has presented some evidence that self-reported “liberalism” is associated with physical and mental illness and low fertility. There’s little doubt that, at least today, “liberalism” has a great deal of crossover with multiculturalism, where an individual puts the interests of other ethnicities ahead of his own—. By contrast, conservatism, even when controlling for religiousness, is associated with mental and physical health and with fertility. Interestingly, it has been shown that right-wing people, on average, have faces that are more symmetrical than are those of left-wing people. This implies that right-wing people are lower in mutational load. This make sense because, in the contemporary West, many ideas associated the Left, such as multiculturalism, are maladaptive at the level of group selection.
The second consequence of this breakdown is what has been called the “spiteful mutant.” When people carry mutations that make them inclined towards maladaptive behavior, they will damage the genetic interests even of non-mutants. They will do this, firstly by espousing maladaptive ways of thinking—such as that women should heavily limit their fertility or even have no children at all—influencing many non-mutants to damage their own genetic interests. Secondly, they will critique and otherwise undermine societal structures that act to optimize adaptive behavior, such as religion. Indeed, they may even take control of such structures and gradually change them such that they advocate maladaptive behavior. This can be seen in the Church of England and its leaders, such as the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, now being little more that multiculturalists in mitres. They do not even have to ascend to positions of great influence to do this. Spiteful mutants will simply influence everyone they know to behave in a maladaptive way, consistent with evidence that if a healthy person associates with a person who suffers from depression, then the healthy person is more likely to become depressed himself.
The Mutation of Religion
With the collapse of harsh Darwinian selection, we would, therefore, expect maladaptive inclinations to become increasingly prominent in society, and even to become a new “normal.” Religiousness would no longer be, in effect, fundamental to survival and passing on your genes, though it might still be associated with fertility (which, indeed, it is). As we have seen, religiousness hits in at times of stress, so with the collapse of mortality salience, we would also expect religiousness to collapse for environmental reasons, even if the remnants of traditional religious populations were still steadily outbreeding the non-religious one. Accordingly, due to a combination of low stress and the increasing influence of spiteful mutants, we would expect a long, if temporary, period of relatively low religiosity, in the traditional sense of the word.
We would also expect, however, religion to start to mutate in the mimetic realm. Under harsh conditions, religion was very strongly selected for and thus the “bundle” that constitutes religiousness was itself strongly selected for. With the weakening of these pressures, we would expect to see all kinds of deviations from the pre-industrial norm of “collectively worshipping a moral god as part of a religion that promoted group-selected behavior as God’s will.” And we would expect these to be associated with elevated mutational load. These mutant religions would likely involve some aspects of religiosity, sometimes taken to extremes, but not all of them. For example, fervently believing in religious doctrines—yet not concomitantly collectively worshiping god—is associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Such people are religious in their way, but they do not trend to be regular participants in a religious community. Fervent belief in conspiracy theories is also associated with schizophrenia. Conspiracy theorists display some of the dimensions associated with religiousness—such as agency over-detection, pattern over-detection, out-group hostility, and intense certainty—but they do not display all of them, because they don’t necessarily believe in God, and they don’t collectively worship anything.
Following this line of thinking, we would expect Christianity itself to mutate. The Romanian anthropologist Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) highlighted two key “replacement religions” that appear to have evolved from Christianity in Industrial Europe: Romantic Nationalism and Marxism. It can be argued that both of these “replacement religions” involve many of the key dimensions to religiousness with the exception of belief in a moral God, although some forms of Romantic nationalism, and occasionally even Marxism, syncretize Christianity with their ideology, much like Medieval Catholicism syncretized itself with European paganism. They are theologically comparable to Christianity, in the sense that Christianity stresses identifying with the poor; nationalism, with the peasant from your own ethnic group; and Marxism, with the international worker. Multiculturalism and political correctness have extended this to the “Wretched of the Earth” (that is, the non-White living under colonialism), to the sexual minority, and to many others.
Evidently, nationalism is the more adaptive of these two mutations, because it is explicitly group-selected. The identification with the peasant was actually a way of purifying the group of foreign influence, the attitude being that only in peasant culture were the foreign and otherwise materialistic influences of the city absent. Indeed, it could be argued that with decline Christianity—which by the mid-19th century had been subjected to withering critique—Romantic Nationalism provided a revitalized, alternative group-selected religion. In general, it syncretized with Christianity, but Eliade points out that, where it did not, it attempted revive pagan gods and notions of fate. Accordingly, we would expect this kind of replacement religion to be associated with fertility, and this, indeed, was the case. Of all those on the political spectrum, independent of religion, extremist conservatives (in other words far-right nationalists) have the highest fertility.
Accordingly, it is Marxism—which is explicitly anti-nationalistic—that can be understood to be maladaptive, and this is evidenced by the fact that those who hold to ideologies that are related to Marxism—such as postmodernism, nihilism, and atheism—have limited fertility. We would, therefore, expect the growing spiteful mutant population, and those whom they successfully influence, to adopt a maladaptive “replacement religion,” which would be materialistic and maladaptive at the level of group selection. Such a religion would, potentially, share many aspects with pre-industrial Christianity—but with two important exceptions. It would eschew the (adaptive) belief in and collective worship of a moral god, and its members would be focused on destroying, rather than promoting, their genetic interests, whether of themselves, their ethnic group, their race, or even (in the case of the most extreme animal rights or climate activists) humanity itself. In other words, whereas Christianity and nationalism would believe in eternity and their members’ genetic interests as an unquestioned metaphysical good, the Marxism-descended groups could properly be described as “death cults.” And, with high mutational load and spiteful mutants undermining adaptive societal institutions that encourage adaptive behavior, we would expect this death cult to become increasingly influential. This is why it is possible for Western societies to be, concomitantly, increasingly “secular” but also, in a sense, increasingly less rational and more quasi-religious and fanatical.
This irrationalism would also be congruous with what we know about the personality of the SJW. Accepting traditional religiosity is associated with high Agreeableness (altruism), high Conscientiousness (rule-following, impulse control), low Neuroticism (low mental instability), and high Openness (novelty-seeking). We would, therefore, expect that modal SJW personality to be exactly the opposite of this. They would be low in Agreeableness (so, ultimately, selfish people). This would explain their double standards—preaching multiculturalism while at the same time cloistering themselves in the well-off, White areas. It would also explain the glee they seem to take in attacking those who dare to disagree with them. They would be low in Conscientiousness, which would make sense of the emotional breakdowns they display when things don’t go their way, such as the young SJW who collapsed to the ground and screamed like a wounded animal during Trump’s inauguration. They would be highly mentally unstable, experiencing negative feelings very strongly. Indeed, this correlation has been specifically demonstrated. Leftists are high in mental instability. As such, we can better understand why they are so easily “triggered,” and why they require “safe spaces” to protect them from opinions that might induce negative feelings in them. Finally, their high Openness explains their constant desire for change and novelty, as well as their potent “herd instinct.” People who are high in Openness are susceptible to hypnotism and thus to being indoctrinated. This is consistent with a summary of the modal personality of those who are extreme advocates of political correctness as being “usually artistic, theatrical, vain and narcissistic, poseurs who need attention at any cost. Their views on life in general, as well as on questions of PC, are characterized by colourfulness, picturesqueness and emotional satiety.”
Attacking the Messenger
This brings us to the issue of de-platforming. We would expect the New Religion, in its race to destroy humanity, to take control of every organ of power that it could, in order to be maximally “spiteful” and in order to exert as much negative influence on its group’s genetic interests as possible. In a sense, everything of importance would need to be controlled by the Church. Heretics—those who disagree with the Church—would, therefore, have to be purged from these institutions. This would not even necessarily be because the Church feared that the heretics’ message undermined their own, though this would be part of it. More prosaically, as we have seen, religious people feel a keen sense of disgust towards those who disagree with their doctrines. This “disgust” makes them feel, at best, uncomfortable and, at worst, physically unsafe. So, for this reason alone, heretics cannot be allowed to use the platforms that members of the Church use. Heretics’ use of them besmirches them; it renders them “unclean.”
One of the great ironies of contemporary censorship is that, since the Church is obsessed with topics like “racism,” “homophobia,” “the patriarchy,” and so forth, SJWs spend a great deal of time and effort discussing these matters and publishing their knowledge of various “racists,” “homophobes,” and “chauvinists”—ultimately drawing attention to these ideologies and their adherents. If the Church were concerned solely with the heretic’s message, it would seek to suppress that message—to explicitly ban all speech about certain topics, ideas, or facts in order that nobody should learn about them. But this is not what the Church does. The heretic’s message should, in fact, be heard, in order to prove the charge of heresy and set the heretic up for being cancelled. In other words, the Church seeks to damn the messenger much more than it seeks to damn the message itself. That damnable message must be made known, at least to a certain extent, so that the messenger can be suitably demeaned and destroyed.
The heretic must be de-platformed from any public space in which he could gain a following, whether that be the ivory towers of academia, a city council, or even Twitter.com. In this way, cancelling and de-platforming resembles the death sentences dealt out to the heretics of the sixteenth century. After being once cancelled for “racism” or similar offenses, there is little chance of coming back. Even someone convicted of the crimes of manslaughter, rape, or armed robbery is allowed to re-enter society after serving their time. A “racist,” on the other hand, must be permanently ostracized.
The Future of the Death Cult
On its face, it seems implausible that a maladaptive religion—a Death Cult—could have become so powerful in Western countries and done so with such relative speed. But it actually makes a great deal of sense. Humans are a highly collective species, one might even say that they are “eusocial”—a hive mind—and, in that sense, more comparable to social insects than to chimpanzees. Consequently, we are strongly evolved to be part of an intensely bonded group. We have also co-evolved, in a sense, with religiosity, which has always been there to ensure that adaptive behavior is perceived as the will of the gods. Put simply, most of us behave adaptively, or are forced to do so. This means that we are particularly sensitive to our environment and to those around us. And if the nature of that environment changes, then we can expect to become maladaptive rather quickly. And this is exactly what has happened.
Once Darwinian selection is overcome, and a society’s delicate equilibrium is undermined, it starts to become less religious and the percentage of potential “spiteful mutants,” and mutated people who might be easily indoctrinated by them, begins to rise. At first, these mutants’s influence is minuscule, and they are suppressed by society’s religiousness. But eventually, a turning point is reached where a sufficient percentage of people reject the ways of the old gods. Experiments have shown that once this percentage is reached, somewhere around 25 percent, the society will lose confidence in the dominant way of thinking and will increasingly migrate towards the new one, which, in this case, is maladaptive. As this maladaptive way of thinking becomes the norm, it will not only spread but will force spiteful mutants and their most fervent followers to fight for status and power, by pushing the new way of thinking leftwards and thus in an ever more maladaptive direction. In other words, their religious fervor will increase, causing them to question more and more “sacred cows” from the previous dispensation, including, as we’ve seen, free speech. Those of us who stand against this trend must be aware that we are not dealing simply with those who oppose free speech; the problem goes much deeper. We are dealing with a religion, with all the attractions to human psychology inherent in it.
Humans are simply not adapted to be in this situation of relative luxury and low mortality salience and, to make things worse, Darwinian conditions quickly collapsed once this situation was reached, meaning that a large percentage of Western populations are likely, to varying degrees, to be prone to maladaptive ways of thinking for genetic reasons as well. Until around the 1960s, these were held back by the not-yet-breached dam of traditional religion. But that dam has burst, allowing a tsunami of mutation to overwhelm us. As a result, we are in a very different world—one in which the new religion is the Death Cult and the SJWs are its fanatical warrior-nuns. By earlier standards, right is wrong; good is evil. Or as Nietzsche so eloquently put it:
Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
- Steve Bruce, God is Dead: Secularization in the West (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), 67. ↩︎
- Shiona McCallum, “70% of young Brits are 'not religious,’” BBC News, March 21, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-43485581 (accessed March 15, 2020). ↩︎
- Ara Norenzayan and Azim Sharif, “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Pro-Sociality,” Science, 322 (2008): 58-62. ↩︎
- In Europe, “liberal” has a different resonance than in the United States, and can refer to someone in favor of free-market capitalism and dismantling the welfare state—that is, someone who would be called a “libertarian” or even a “conservative” in the United States. These semantic variations aside, there is clearly a “social democratic” or “center Left” in Europe that, more or less, tracks with the American term “liberal.” ↩︎
- Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, “‘Mary Poppins,’ and a Nanny’s Shameful Flirting With Blackface,” New York Times, January 28. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/movies/mary-poppins-returns-blackface.html (accessed March 15, 2020). ↩︎
- Matthew Yglesias, “The Great Awokening,” Vox, https://www.vox.com/2019/3/22/18259865/great-awokening-white-liberals-race-polling-trump-2020 (accessed March 15, 2020). ↩︎
- See Bari Weiss, “We’re All Fascists Now,” New York Times, March 7, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/opinion/were-all-fascists-now.html (accessed March 15, 2020). ↩︎
- Pascal Boyer, Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought (New York: Basic Book, 2001). ↩︎
- See Norenzayan and Sharif, “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Pro-Sociality,” op cit. ↩︎
- See Edward Dutton, Guy Madison, and Curits Dunkel: “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God’: The Rejection of Collective Religiosity Centred Around the Worship of Moral Gods is Associated with High Mutational Load,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4 (2018): 233-244. ↩︎
- Edward Dutton and Michael A. Woodley of Menie, At Our Wits’ End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What It Means for the Future, (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2018), 37. ↩︎
- Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority (New York: Harper & Row, 1974). ↩︎
- Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957). ↩︎
- Ross Hammond and Robert Axelrod, “The Evolution of Ethnocentric Behavior,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 50 (2006): 1-11. ↩︎
- Satoshi Kanazawa, The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn’t Always the Smart One (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2012), 32. ↩︎
- Frank Salter, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2006). ↩︎
- Jonathan Haidt, “Moral Psychology for the Twenty-first Century, Journal of Moral Education (2013) 42:3, 281-297, DOI: 10.1080/03057240.2013.817327. See also Moral Foundations Theory, https://moralfoundations.org (accessed March 15, 2020). ↩︎
- Ryan Ritter and Jesse Preston, “Gross Gods and Icky Atheism: Disgust Responses to Rejected Religious Beliefs,” Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, 47: 1225-1230. ↩︎
- Ruile Wang, Qi Yang, Peng Huang, Liyang Sai, and Yue Gong, “The Association Between Disgust Sensitivity and Negative Attitudes Toward Homosexuality: The Mediating Role of Moral Foundations,” Frontiers in Psychology, 10 (2019): 1229. ↩︎
- Dutton, Madison, and Dunkel, “The Mutant Says in His Heart ‘There is No God,’” op cit. ↩︎
- See Norenzayan and Sharif, “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Pro-Sociality,” op cit. ↩︎
- Jochen E. Gebauer, Wiebke Bleidorn, Samuel Gosling, Peter Rentfrow, Michael Lamb, and Jeff Potter, “Cross-Cultural variations in Big Five relationships with religiosity: A sociocultural motives perspective,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107 (2014): 1064-1091. ↩︎
- Curtis S. Dunkel, Charlie L. Reeve, Michael A. Woodley of Menie, and Dimitri van der Linden, “A Comparative Study of the General Factor of Personality in Jewish and Non-Jewish Populations,” Personality and Individual Differences, 78: 63-67. Michael Blume, “The Reproductive Benefits of Religious Affiliation,” in The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior, Edited by Eckart Voland and Wulf Schiefenhövel (New York: Springer, 2009), 117-126. ↩︎
- See Hammond and Axelrod, “The Evolution of Ethnocentric Behavior,” op cit. ↩︎
- Colin Holbrook, Keise Izuma, Choi Deblieck, Daniel M. Fessler, and Marco Iacoboni, “Neuromodulation of Group Prejudice and Religious Belief,” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11 (2016):387-394. ↩︎
- Yael Sela, Todd K. Shackelford, and James R. Liddle, “When Religion Makes It Worse: Religiously motivated Violence as a Sexual Selection Weapon,” The Attraction of Religion: A New Evolutionary Psychology of Religion, Edited by D. Jason Sloane and James A. Van Slyke (London: Bloomsbury, 2015). ↩︎
- Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow, “Food Taboos: Their Origins and Purposes, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 5 (2009): 18. ↩︎
- See Dutton, Madison, and Dunkel: “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God,’” op. cit. ↩︎
- See Salter, On Genetic Interests, op cit. ↩︎
- Nathan Cofnas, Reptiles with a Conscience (London: Ulster Institute for Social Research, 2012). ↩︎
- See Norenzayan and Sharif, “On the Origins and Evolution of Pro-Sociality,” op cit. ↩︎
- Edward Dutton and Guy Madison, “Even ‘Bigger Gods Developed Amongst the Pastoralist Followers of Moses and Mohammed: Consistent with Uncertainty and Disadvantage Not Pro-Sociality,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 39 (2016). ↩︎
- Colin Wells, “How Did God Get Started? Arion 18 (2010): 2, https://www.bu.edu/arion/archive/volume-18/colin_wells_how_did_god_get-started/ (accessed March 15, 2020). ↩︎
- Alain de Benoist, On Being a Pagan (Atlanta, GA: Ultra, 2004). ↩︎
- Joseph Klaits, Servants of Satan: The Age of Witch-Hunts (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1985). ↩︎
- See Edward Dutton and Guy Madison, “Execution, Violent Punishment and Selection for Religiousness in Medieval England,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4 (2018): 83-89. ↩︎
- Tony Volk and Jeremey Atkinson, “Is Child Death the Crucible of Human Evolution?” Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2 (2008): 103-116. ↩︎
- Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Matthew A. Sarraf, Radomir N. Pestow, and Heitor B. F. Fernandes, “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 3 (2017): 181-191. ↩︎
- Dutton, Madison, and Dunkel: “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God,’” op. cit. ↩︎
- Emil Kirkegaard, Mental Illness and the Left, Mankind Quarterly 60: 497-510. See also Frank Salter, On Genetic Interests, op cit. ↩︎
- Niklaas Berggren, Henrik Jordahl, Panu Poutvaara, “The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Voters Reward It,” Journal of Public Economics, 146 (2017): 79-86. ↩︎
- Woodley of Menie, Sarraf, Pestow, and Fernandes, “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” op cit. ↩︎
- Justin Welby, Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope (London: Bloomsbury, 2018). ↩︎
- T.E. Joiner, “Contagious Depression: Existence, Specificity to Depressed Symptoms, and the Role of Reassurance Seeking,” Journal of Personal and Social Psychology 67 (1994): 287-296. ↩︎
- Dutton, Madison, and Dunkel: “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God,’” op. cit. ↩︎
- Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957). ↩︎
- Eric Maroney, Religious Syncretism (London: SCM Press, 2006). ↩︎
- See Dennis Forsythe, “Frantz Fanon—The Marx of the Third World,” Phylon (1973): 34: 160-170 ↩︎
- Martin Fieder and Susan Huber, “Political Attitude and Fertility: Is There a Selection for the Political Extreme?” Frontiers in Psychology (2018), https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02343 (accessed March 15, 2020). ↩︎
- Kirkegaard op cit. ↩︎
- Gebauer, Bleidorn, Gosling, et al., “Cross-Cultural Variations in Big Five Relationships with Religiosity,” op cit. ↩︎
- Emil Kirkegaard, “Mental Illness and the Left,” Preprint (2020), doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.25598.33605. ↩︎
- Martha L Glisky, Douglas Tataryn, Betsy Tobias, Tobias et al., “Absorption, Openness to Experience, and Hypnotizability,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60 (1991): 263–72. ↩︎
- Alexander Neduva, Michael Kanevsky and Vladimir Lerner, “Perverse Political Correctness and Personality Traits,” Medical Hypothesis, 78 (2012): 146-150. ↩︎
- Damon Centola, Joshua Becker, Devon Brackbill, Andrea Baronchelli, “Experimental Evidence for Tipping Points in Social Convention, Science, 360 (2018): 1116-1119. ↩︎
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Translated by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1974 ). ↩︎
15 thoughts on “The Return of Heresy”
“They will do this, firstly by espousing maladaptive ways of thinking—such as that women should heavily limit their fertility or even have no children at all—influencing many non-mutants to damage their own genetic interests.”
Dutton is always mistaken with this, in reality, on the subject of fertility – he’s the opposite side of same coin as SJWs and shares their pro-natalist mindset.
SJWs are pro-natalists (especially communists and socialists) and deny overpopulation. As noted by Paul R. Ehrlich, when he published his book The Population Bomb, attacks came came from both the hard-left and conservatives (but for different ideological reasons).
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