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Good article, and I recommend that everyone read the Carl Trueman article linked within it.

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Mar 18, 2023·edited Mar 18, 2023

Aaron, you write:

"I’m not anti-mask, was happy to wear one... Yet it’s very obvious that we were lied to by our ostensible public health authorities..."

Well, a significant portion of that lying was *about masks*, so maybe you should be anti. It turns out that there's been a small but steady stream of studies over the decades that show masks don't really have any statistically valid benefit, not even in surgical settings. And no, I wasn't aware of them either until quite recently, but it certainly gives me pause about the entire corpus of received "scientific" wisdom; instead we ought perhaps to be paying more attention to John Ioannidis of "replication crisis" fame, and calling for more transparency, openness, and especially for wide dissemination of negative results.

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Great thoughts. As you call out, there is a legitimate point in what Noll is saying, which I suggested that Mabry ought to have spent more time addressing in his review. It's easy to get into a mode in which our suspicions about Noll's loyalties, his conformity to the pattern of the world, cause us to entirely dismiss his legitimate points.

What it sounds like is really needed is for more of us whose loyalties are less dubious to address the problem that Noll perceived and the possible remedies for it. I'm hopeful that your project here can continue to contribute good insights on the matter.

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Mar 16, 2023·edited Mar 16, 2023

Your comment is a little imprecise, because it contains a potential motte-and-bailey that secularists commonly use when discussing this issue. Is there a problem of Evangelicals being unwilling to study and learn from the Created order? Sure. Does that mean deferring to academic science? Absolutely not. Replacing one superstition with another does nobody any benefit. I'll be the first to criticize Millerites for predicting the end of the world, but that doesn't mean I embrace the climatists who do the exact same thing. Is this the "science" we should be doing: https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1634644472553168896

Having read plenty of Noll's own works, and talked with him myself, I recognized this rhetorical tactic when he uses it. We need to be careful when we talk about this topic, because bad actors will use motte-and-bailey approaches to science/The Science in order to manipulate the discourse on the subject. Noll's disdainful attitude toward working Evangelical scientists at my former employer, his own comments regarding our "place" as working academics, and his lifetime of advocacy for politicized pseudoscientific agendas tells me that the arguments in the Scandal have a meaning deeper than their surface understanding.

For example - Aaron quotes, "least likely to believe that evolutionary science actually describes the development of species." To clarify, Noll sent a letter to several faculty members of my former college stating that anyone who doesn't accept the notion that speciation occurred entirely by random mutation without any kind of divine guidance is "arrogant" and potentially outside of the Christian faith, while viciously attacking the character of a very thoughtful, intelligent friend of mine in the Biology department. That's what we're dealing with here.

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Thanks -- that continues to establish Noll's character. Though I still stand by my original point. I think it almost always makes for a more effective book review if you can spend a moment on what the author gets right or perceives correctly, even if you've concluded that 95% of the book is wrong and the author's agenda is plainly misguided or evil.

I also wonder if Noll has gotten worse -- if contemporary Noll is the same man as 1994 Noll. Did decades spent in academia change him, causing him to become more sympathetic to his secular leftist colleagues and students while dehumanizing the faraway Evangelical plebeians, or did Negative World simply cause his true world-conforming character to come forth?

Per Trueman's article, this question applies to a lot of Evangelical elites -- were they always so world-conforming, or did certain experiences push them in that direction? I recall Aaron in an earlier piece describing an effect that might apply to figures like David French or Russell Moore, in which you allow your nastiest critics on the right to cause you to drift further left.

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I believe that the problem is that he really didn't get anything right. Sure, he points out some problems, but frankly so does Karl Marx if you give him a fair reading. I could certainly talk for quite a while on what Marx rightly understood about the problems of industrial capitalism. Marx has some brilliant critiques of the materialism, cultural rot, and inhumanity of 19th century society. His description of the 1848 Revolution is a great account, second perhaps only to Alexis de Toqueville's Recollections. But, there's two problems with that approach.

First, what is the purpose of that kind of essay? What will it be used for? A kind reading of Marx will be used to try and smuggle in his many, many bad ideas through his goods ones. We're told to be innocent as doves, but wise as a serpent. Don't write things that bad people will misuse against the Church. Likewise with Noll. Leading to the second problem:

Second, his fundamental approach is flawed. The very basic argument at its core is wrong because secular science presupposes an atheist worldview. To use Noll's example, to participate in academic biology requires you to presuppose a logos-less universe, something even a hard-core atheist like Martin Heidegger says is not possible. Heidegger admits that at the core, his atheism is as much of a faith-based position as Christianity, and the assumption of a universe without a logos is as unproveable by science as our assumption of a created universe. Likewise, as Aaron illustrated above, participation in social science presupposes that one accept the notions of the oppressor-oppressed dichotomy, that disparity is de facto discrimination, blank-slatism, mind-body dichotomy, and a host of other unexamined priors which are beyond question and simply assumed to be dogmatic truths. They are simply the presuppositions of all currently-acceptable theory, and those who want to propose alternative scientific frameworks will never get past the gatekeepers, both in the secular and, unfortunately, Christian scientific communities.

But the problem here is deeper than a mere argument about intellectualism. What is necessary is for Christians, as a whole rather than in our own bickering little contingents and denominations, to open our eyes and try to conceive of existence in an entirely new, authentic, Christ-centered way. We need to try and look at the universe with eyes unclouded by the dogmas and conventional wisdom of secular modernity. We need to discover new questions that we had not realized were even questions because our secular educations blinded us to their very possibility. A resurgent Christian intellectualism is about questioning what was unquestionable, revealing the hidden agendas and errors behind what was "settled science," and beginning again "ad fontes" from the Rock of Jesus Christ.

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That last paragraph is beautiful, and it's really happening. Just don't try holding your breath until the Christian resurgence becomes mainstream; that may be something for our grandchildren to enjoy. We just get to enjoy seeing the first glimmers of it.

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I’d agree with that, the last paragraph was well-put and a good summation.

I suppose I still think there’s a difference between “The Conservative Case for a Marxist-Leninist Dictatorship” by David French and a review of Marx’s oeuvre that spends most of its time on what went wrong with Marxist theory but still calls out whatever insights, however thin, might be worth gleaning from it. I don’t think that sort of review really gives more ammo to Marxists. But it helps give insight into what committed Marxists might see as being of value in his work while thoroughly addressing why they’re wrong.

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Mar 16, 2023·edited Mar 16, 2023

It wasn't just that people were right to question what we were being told, it was that when you did question what we were being told you were banned from social media and in some cases fired from your job. In more extreme cases, people were cutoff from the financial system. Mea culpas from people who had actual power, even in small areas have been very rare. Men like Noll and Collins either completely lack introspection or have become totally power hungry and really believe the average person has no right to question them. You see this in issues like the proposed ban on gas stoves. They float a radical policy and get a couple of stories about it mainstream news sources. If the push back is low they proceed. If it is heavy they swear they had no intention of doing what they proposed and gaslight their critics. Behind the scenes, they continue working towards their original proposal.

By the way, if you can look back on what happened and still be proud you wore a cloth mask that did nothing but virtue signal and happy you have had three shots of a worthless at best vaccine, you aren't pro science, in the sense you support the scientific method, you are pro "Science," as elites have turned it into a religion.

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“ These evangelicals have been least likely to seek vaccination against the coronavirus, least likely to believe that evolutionary science actually describes the development of species, and least likely to believe that the planet is really warming up because of human activity.”

They’re 3 for 3! Not too shabby.

More on Collins’ Babylonian roots here, you just know what he’d have been telling Daniel:

https://gaty.substack.com/p/thirty-days-to-slow-the-faith

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