Prometheus Books and the pseudoskeptical perversions: another insane and frightening possible consequences of metaphysical naturalism and materialis

From the taken down blog Subversive Thinking

 SUNDAY, JANUARY 4, 2009

Prometheus Books is the leading publisher of pseudoskeptical, materialist, secular humanist and atheist books in U.S. According to wikipedia “Prometheus Books is a publishing company founded in August 1969 by Paul Kurtz, who also founded theCouncil for Secular Humanism and co- founded Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is currently the chairman of all three organizations. Prometheus books publishes a range of books, including many about science, especially those of a skeptical nature
Note that Prometheus Books was founded by Paul Kurtz, the atheist and materialist philosopher founder of the pseudoskeptical organization CSICOP (now called CSI).
Well, if you enter to the website of Prometheus Books, and see the section on “Human Sexuality”, you’ll see titles explicitly or implicitly endorsing, promoting and justifying (with pseudo-scientific and “rationalistic” jargon) pornography, prostitution, paedophilia, sado-masochism, zoophilia, and other sexual aberrations and pervertions. In other sections you’ll see titles supporting abortion and infanticide, or weird behaviours like transvestism.
The original “Human Sexuality” section of Prometheus Books catalog was edited by CSICOP/CSI Fellow and International Academy of Humanism Secretariat Dr. Vern Bullough, who according to wikipedia was “a member of the editorial board of Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia.”
This pseudo-scietific and immoral journal (Paidika) was a pro-paedophilia journal. According to wikipediaPaidika: The Journal of Paedophilia (1987–1995) was a journal published by the Stichting Paidika Foundation. Articles drawn from it are available from a number of pro-pedophile activistwebsites. Its editor was Joseph Geraci and the editorial board included articles by writers Frits Bernard, Edward Brongersma, Vern L. Bullough, and D. H. (Donald) Mader, some of whom campaigned as pro-pedophile activists

In this website, Bullough is mentioned as someone who “accepts the conclusions of Wilson & Cox (1983) that people with pedophilic feelings are quite normal people who not should be demonized. Some behavior might be socially incorrect, but that is not the same as pathological. As long as these people limit themselves to have fantasies, nothing is wrong. If some people have to change their behavior, this is a case of re-educating those people, not of treatment or curing an illness.”

People with pedophilic feelings are quite normal people? Would you swallow such nonsense? According to wikipedia: “According to theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM), pedophilia is specified as a form of paraphilia in which a person either has acted on intense sexual urges towards children, or experiences recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that cause distress or interpersonal difficulty.[4] The disorder is frequently a feature of persons who commit child sexual abuse;[5][6][7]however, some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia.[8] In strictly behavioral contexts, the word “pedophilia” can also be applied to the act of child sexual abuse itself, also called “pedophilic behavior

Pedophiles are not “quate normal people”, they suffer of a mental disorder and their behaviour may be potentially destructive to children. The use of euphemisms is a well-known tactic to defend censurable doctrines and beliefs.

According to this article by Dr.Judith Reisman, comenting on World Pornography Conference: “The conference featured Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia editor Vern Bullough and his pedophile editorial colleagues: John DeCecco, Daniel Tsang and Wayne Dynes — all professors at major American colleges.3 Chairing the CSUN “Erotic” section on “Child Pornography” was Harris Mirkin, an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Mirkin’s 1999 article, “The Pattern of Sexual Politics: Feminism, Homosexuality and Pedophilia” (Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 37) describes the steps pedophiles need to take to gain social acceptance. He advises pedophiles to advocate for the elimination of words like “child molestation” and “child abuse.”

Why does a so-called “Secular Humanist” (Bullough) was member of the editorial board of a pro-paedophilia journal like Paidika? Why does the “skeptical”, atheist and materialist publisihing house (Prometheus Books) endorse this kind of behaviour with its books? Is that part of a materialist and metaphysical naturalist agenda to destroy the values of society? I’ll attempt to respond some of these questions later. Keep in mind that Prometheus Books publish other titles about different topics, including philosophy and science (and I don’t doubt some of these titles have some value; but it doesn’t justify the promotiong of sexual aberrations like paedophilia). Also, perversions and aberrations can be seen in religious people too (but again, it doesn’t justify some naturalists’ aberrations and perversions; moreover, hardly you’ll see any Christian or Jews or other current religious organization promoting these practiques like done by Prometheus Books)

For the moment, let’s see some titles of this “skeptical” and “humanist” publishing organization:

S&M Studies in Dominance and Submission, by Thomas S. Weinberg
-A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King, by David Friedman & Don DeNevi
The X-Rated Videotape Guides: Volumes 1 – 8, by Robert H. Rimmer
The X-Rated Videotape Star Index: Volumes 1 – 3, by Patrick Riley
Raw Talent: The Adult Film Industry as Seen by its Most Popular Male Star, by Jerry Butler
The Horseman: Obsessions of a Zoophile, by Mark Matthews, Introduction by Vern Bullough (the above mentioned editorial member of Paideka)
Children’s Sexual Encounters With Adults, A Scientific Study, by C.K. Li, D.J. West and T.P. Woodhouse
Dirty Talk: Diary of a Phone Sex Mistress, by Gary Anthony & Rocky Bennett
Whips & Kisses: Parting the Leather Curtain, by Mistress Jacqueline
The Q Letters: True Stories of Sadomasochism, by “Sir” John
A COMMENTARY ON TRANSVESTISM (not a sexual pervertion, but another possible example of the hidden agenda and the irrationality and immorality of secular humanism and its leading publishing house):
Among some of the weird titles of the books edited by the “rationalist” and “scientific” Prometeus Books, you can see a book entitled “Transvestites : The Erotic Drive to Cross-Dress” by Magnus Hirschfeld. This book tries to make the case for transvestism as “a natural extension of the infinite variations of human personality
But who’s its author? According to wikipedia, Magnus Hirschfeld: “was a gay German-Jewish physician, sex researcher, and early gay rights advocate
Around 1900, Hirschfeld developed the theory of a third, “intermediate sex” between men and women. He was interested in the study of a wide variety of sexual and erotic urges, at a time when the early taxonomy of sexual identity labels was still being formed. His scientific work extended that of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and influenced Havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter
An intermediate sex between men and women? What the hell is that?

Not suprisingly, “rationalistic”, “scientific” and “secular humanist” Prometheus Books has edited two books by Hirschfeld. Interesting, isn’t it?

In his book on Uri Geller, journalist Jonathan Margolis wroteOne book on Prometheus’s list is a British academic text on child abuse. Children’s Sexual Encounters With Adults, republished in the States – with a bright red jacket on which the title is printed in bold black letters three quarters of an inch high, for the benefit, presumably, of short-sighted researchers into child sex. The book consists of hundreds of pages of detailed case histories of adults having sex with children. Others Prometheus texts have little claim to being academic. Cannibalism: From Sacrifice to Survival, The Horseman: Obsessions of a Zoophile [person with a sexual attraction to animals], Whips and Kisses: Parting the Leather Curtain (by Mistress Jacqueline), The Breathless Orgasm: A Lovemap Biography of Asphyxiophilia, Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz …

How can we explain the above titles? Remember that metaphysical naturalists, secular humanists and materialistic atheists don’t believe in objective values (bear in mind this point, because it’s absolutely essential to understand the psychological and ideological motivation behind such titles). They have a purely negative philosophy (i.e. a philosophy based on the negation of traditional religion and its values). If they’re consistent, they have to embrace relativism and subjetivism in moral topics. According to Richard DawkinsNow, if you then ask me where I get my ‘ought’ statements from, that’s a more difficult question. If I say something is wrong, like killing people, I don’t find that nearly such a defensible statement as ‘I am a distant cousin of an orangutan
If it’s true, then pornography, paedophilia, infanticide, sado-masochism, rape, zoophilia, suicide, drugs and “killing people” are not intrinsically bad or wrong. In fact, Dawkins conceded the latter when, complementing the above quote, he said: “The second of those statements is true, I can tell you why it’s true, I can bore you to death telling you why it’s true. It’s definitely true. The statement ‘killing people is wrong’, to me, is not of that character. I would be quite open to persuasion that killing people is right in some circumstances
It could be argued than in cases of self-defense, selective “killing” is justified. But remember that Dawkins 1)hasn’t objective standards of value; and 2)He is not specifically refering to self-defense; so his “killing people is right under certaing circunstances” idea is an open and inespecific statement, fully consistent with the metaphysical naturalist and secular humanist belief that human life is not an absolute value (and therefore, killing people is not intrinsically bad). For them, there is not such thing as an absolute value in the universe. In fact, according to Dawkins, our universe lack, at the bottom, of any properties like the “good” or the “evil”:
The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference“(River Out Of Eden, p. 155)
As said, if the universe lack of moral properties and values, then any moral value is objectively non-existent (because it is not part of the universe); and any concept of value is, necessarily, an arbitrary idea posed by the human mind (which, according to materialists, is an illusion, because the “mind” doesn’t exist as such; it’s only a name for some cerebral processes). Also, Dawkins’ documentary title “The root of all evil” losses any moral and logical meaning and its use is sheer rhetoric, since that according to Dawkins the “evil” doesn’t exist as part of the universe (and after all, religious beliefs are part of this universe, isn’t it? Thus, how could religion be “evil” in an universe where evil doesn’t exist? Dawkins doesn’t seem to be interested in logical consistency and rationality) and no part of the universe can cause the evil if the latter is not a property of the universe at all; and an universe whose observable property is “blind pitiless indiference” is morally irrelevant, since that morality excludes indifference and, on the contrary, implies interest and concern for certain behaviours considered “correct” and consistent avoiding of another ones considered “bad” or “incorrect”. But since that for Dawkins no purpose exists in this universe, you (as an intrinsic and essential part of the universe) can’t have any purpose to do good or bad things, and objective morality is in such view ontologically non-existent). Also, if the universe manifest only “blind pitiless indiference“, how could the human life be objectively important at all; or objectively more important than other material things? After all, the supossed “blind pitiless indifference” of the universe has to be equally valid for the human beings or any other material things (because if the human beings are objectively important or more important, then the universe is not indifferent anymore since that it would be establishing objective status or levels of importance, what makes no sense in an universe “blindly indifferent”)
Actually, Dawkins has conceded that morality is relative: “Science has no methods for deciding what is ethical. That is a matter for individuals and for society” (A Devil’s Chaplain, p.34)”
Given that each human being and each society has different standars to judge what’s good and what’s bad, then appealing to “individuals” and to “society” implies moral relativism and subjetivism. (For example, if individual atheists consider that religion is bad; and individuals religious persons consider what religion is good, who’s going to decide who’s right? They both can’t be right, because they’re asserting incompatible ethical claims regarding the same fact: religion. But for Dawkins, no objective moral standard exist to settle the question, since that for him “this is a matter for individuals and for society“, so when individuals and societies disagree, you can’t appeal to any reference to resolve the controversy)
In this sense, as has been correctly written by logically consistent metaphysical naturalist and atheist Keith Augustine in his article defending moral subjetivismI think there is a certain degree of plausibility among atheists in the view that without some kind of transcendental intelligence in the universe, there can be no objective moral laws.Moral laws are maxims which tell sentient beings that certain actions are to be deemed moral or immoral. But how could such laws exist in the absence of any mind or sentience in the universe at all? Are moral laws objective in the way that laws of nature are? They do not seem to be, for few would argue that “murder is wrong” existed in some Platonic realm of ideas when galaxies were forming over ten billion years ago and there was no sign life or consciousness anywhere in the universe. The use of the word “law” implies an objective existence of unchanging moral maxims independently of sentience. Yet it appears that there can be nothing objective about so-called “moral laws”, because it seems absurd on its face to say that maxims which tell sentient beings that certain actions of sentient beings are moral or immoral could exist in the absence of sentience.

It seems to me that all ethical codes must ultimately be man-made, and thus there could be no objective criteria for determining if human actions are right or wrong. Admitting that moral laws are man-made is equivalent to acknowledging that ethical rules are arbitrary and therefore human beings are not obligated to follow them.”
The key point here is that, for fully consistent metaphysical naturalists and secular humanists, objective moral values don’t and cannot exist; and morality has a purely arbitrary basis. In other words, if metaphysical naturalism (and its implied secular humanism) is true, then objective moral values don’t exist. Therefore, IF objective moral values exist, metaphysical naturalism (and secular humanism) is false.
As consequence of a consistently applied and assumed view of moral values as relative and subjetive, some metaphysical naturalists and atheists seem to support suicide in some circunstances. According metaphysical naturalist, atheist and self-proclaimed “skeptic” Richard Carrier: “When we have exhausted all options, and still conclude there is no longer any prospect of happiness, death becomes an acceptable alternative” (Sense and Goodness without God, p. 342)
Death as an “acceptable alternative” (i.e. suicide, in some cases), killing people “under certain circunstances” (unspecified circunstances!), and other insane beliefs like those proves that, for metaphysical naturalists, secular humanists and philosophical materialists, human life is not an absolute and objective value (such thing doesn’t exist for them), but a relative or subjetive value dependent on contingent and arbitrary circunstances and criteria (like the opinion of individuals and societies). If human life is not an absolute and objective value, then you can understand that the values destroyed by pornography, paedophilia, rape, infanticide, zoophilia, drugs consumption, etc. are not absolute either. Thus, these behaviours aren’t intrinsically immoral (or bad or wrong) for metaphysical naturalists and secular humanists (and this fully explain some Prometheus’ book titles on sexual behaviour).
To avoid misunderstandings, let’s to be explicit in my position. I’m not arguing that Dawkins, Augustine or Carrier support the behaviours promoted and endorsed by Prometheus Books (probably, they don’t). My argument is that these behaviours aren’t intrisically inconsistent with metaphysical naturalism and secular humanism, enabling some of its followers consistently hold both metaphysical naturalism (and secular humanism) and one (or many) of the above practiques (like Bullough, who was an supporter of paedophilia and at the same time a “secular humanist” and metaphysical naturalist).
In other words, the above behaviours are absolutely consistent with metaphysical naturalism, secular humanism and materialistic atheism. But this negative (and destructive) philosophy of life has some additional insane beliefs, for example:
-The belief that there is not free will (which logically entails that you’re not responsable of your acts; being it a potential “explanation” of any aberrative and perverted behaviour like paedophilia or child pornography). In addition to destroying morality, a determistic conception of human beings also destroys rationalitity because, as argue philosopher Peter Williams, “Determinism destroys the possibility of rationality. If this is so and this fact is recognised, then it is impossible to rationally believe in determinism. Moreover, if determinism were true, it would be impossible for anyone to rationally believe anything:

Given certain evidences, I ‘ought’ to believe certain things. I am intellectually responsible for drawing certain conclusions, given certain pieces of evidence. . . If I ought to believe something, then I must have the ability to choose to believe it or not believe it. If one is to be rational, one must be free to choose her beliefs in order to be reasonable. . . But such deliberations make sense only if I assume that what I am going to do or believe is ‘up to me’ – that I am free to choose and, thus, I am responsible for irrationality if I choose inappropriately. [46]

However, it is a necessary presupposition of rationality and rational pursuits (such as philosophy) that rationality is possible. Therefore, determinism, which rules out libertarian freedom, is necessarily false (not just contingently false, i.e. not simply possibly true but actually untrue, but not even possibly true). If determinism is necessarily false, any world-view that requires determinism to be true must also be necessarily false. Naturalism and physicalism both imply determinism. Therefore both naturalism and physicalism are necessarily false: ‘It is self-refuting to argue that one ought to choose physicalism. . . on the basis of the fact that one should see that the evidence is good for physicalism. . .

Note that metaphysical naturalism, destroying the possibility of rationality, makes science and philosophy impossible. Its insane beliefs, while presenting themselves as consistent with “science” and “reason”, actually implies the impossibility of reason and science.

A common fallacy used by metaphysical naturalists is argue that “reasons” are causes too; thus you’re not free of unavoidable causes. The fallacy (of equivocation) consists in to identify “reasons” (which applies to conceptual matters) with physical causes (which only applies to physical, mechanical or empirical phenomena). Reasons aren’t physical causes, they’re the foundations of logical conclusions and decisions and have a normative character. For example, in the physical world, the cause X of Y phenomenon is previous to it (i.e., no physical causes are posterior to their effects).

However, conceptual reasons can be posterior to conclusions or actions (in fact, most people have preconceived ideas, and then seek for “reasons” to support them… a phenomenon known as “rationalizing”). Thus, physical causes are previous (or, in some cases, simultaneous) to their effects. But conceptual reasons can be actually previous, simultaneous or posterior to any conceptual conclusion (only in a strict logical sense, can be asserted that reasons must be previous to a conclusion, i.e conclusions and actions should be based on previous rational reasons) since such reasons are not physical (i.e. they are not physical objects ruled by physical causes).

More importantly (from an ethical, personal and social viewpoint) is that scientific evidence support the conclusion that people who doesn’t believe in free will are more prone to cheat (because they feel no personal responsability to their actions… after all, these actions were unavoidable!). According to this recent scientific study: “it is well established that changing people’s sense of responsibility can change their behavior. But what would happen if people came to believe that their behavior was the inevitable product of a causal chain beyond their control — a predetermined fate beyond the reach of free will?

Surprisingly, the link between fatalistic beliefs and unethical behavior has never been examined scientifically — until now. In two recent experiments, psychologists Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota and Jonathan Schooler of the University of British Columbia decided to explore this knotty philosophical issue in the lab, and they figured out an innovative way to do it.

Vohs and Schooler set out to see if otherwise honest people would cheat and lie if their beliefs in free will were manipulated.

The psychologists gave college students a mathematics exam. The math problems appeared on a computer screen, and the subjects were told that a computer glitch would cause the answers to appear on the screen as well. To prevent the answers from showing up, the students had to hit the space bar as soon as the problems appeared.

In fact, the scientists were observing to see if the participants surreptitiously used the answers instead of solving the problems honestly on their own. Prior to the math test, Vohs and Schooler used a well-established method to prime the subjects’ beliefs regarding free will: some of the students were taught that science disproves the notion of free will and that the illusion of free will was a mere artifact of the brain’s biochemistry whereas others got no such indoctrination.

The results were clear: those with weaker convictions about their power to control their own destiny were more apt to cheat when given the opportunity as compared to those whose beliefs about controlling their own lives were left untouched.

Vohs and Schooler then went a step further to see if they could get people to cheat with unmistakable intention and effort. In a second study, the experimenters set up a different deception: they had the subjects take a very difficult cognitive test. Then, the subjects solved a series of problems without supervision and scored themselves. They also “rewarded” themselves $1 for each correct answer; in order to collect, they had to walk across the room and help themselves to money in a manila envelope.

The psychologists had previously primed the participants to have their beliefs in free will bolstered or reduced by having them read statements supporting a deterministic stance of human behavior. And the results were just as robust. As reported in the January issue of Psychological Science, this study shows that those with a stronger belief in their own free will were less apt to steal money than were those with a weakened belief.

Although the results of this study point to a significant value in believing that free will exists, it clearly raises some significant societal questions about personal beliefs and personal behavior.”

Thus, if people who believe and feel that free will doesn’t exist are prone to cheat (an expression of personal dishonesty), and metaphysical naturalism entails the belief that free will doesn’t exist, THEN it follows that metaphysical naturalism entails a belief that makes its supporters/followers more prone to cheating and personal dishonesty (and independent evidence confirms such logical deduction, as you can see in this example; also in this and in this .)

-The belief that mind or consciousness doesn’t have any causal efficacy (because only physical entities, like a brain, have causal power). It entails that your mind has no causal effect on reality, being your consciousness “nothing but” a powerless effect of your neurophysiology.
Such belief is argueably false (on empirical grounds).
-The belief that we’re only a “by-product” of matter, without any spiritual or trascendental dimension (which implies that humal life doesn’t have an objective sense or purpose, except the one that we wish, subjectively, to assign it). In a psychological and existencial sense, if pushed consistently this view through its ultimate implications, it implies existential despair too. Indirectly, it could explain too the common traits of many atheists (superciliousness, intellectual megalomany, arrogance, bigotry, antagonism, fanaticism, hostile and aggresive ad hominem language, sectarian elitism, intolerance to different opinions, self-indulgence and other irrational traits only seen in some fundamentalist religious people)
Do you imagine what would happen if metaphysical naturalism, secular humanism and its potentially immoral, intellectually poor, philosophically weak, emotionally negative, and self-defeating and destructively insane set of beliefs become the creed of most people on Earth?
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