‘Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles’ – Ambrose Bierce
‘God is dead’ – Nietzsche
‘Nietzsche is dead’ – God (Graffiti on a wall in Vienna, 2020)
At the beginning of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari’s bestselling work of the Big History genre, there is a timeline of events working backwards from the present. It is rather sobering. ‘45,000 [years ago]’, we are told, ‘Sapiens settled Australia. Extinction of Australian megafauna. 16,000 [years ago] Sapiens settled America. Extinction of American megafauna. 200 [years ago], the Industrial Revolution … Massive extinction of plants and animals.’ In his Afterword entitled ‘The Animal that Became a God’ he reminds us that Sapiens won out over the last alternative human species, Homo floriensis, circa 13,000 years ago. Since then it has become ‘master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem’.1
Harari is a secular Jewish scholar, but his dramatic depiction of the hubristic progress of our species has a distinct whiff of the doctrine of original sin, which it shares with much fashionable contemporary orthodoxy from radical eco-salvationism such as Extinction Rebellion2 to the Black Lives Matter campaign. And just as original sin only appeared after nearly five centuries of Christianity as a fully-fledged doctrine enunciated by St Augustine based on the teaching of St Paul that Christ had suffered and died ‘for our sins’,3 so also Harari has flashes of almost Rousseauesque lyricism in writing about the harmony with nature of the pre-farming hunter gatherers. St Augustine combined misogyny with the penalty of death and damnation for mankind, stemming from Adam’s original sin. A ‘fitting retribution’ was bestowed upon him through ‘carnal concupiscence’ and upon the progeny of this union with the corrupted Eve, ‘the cause of his sin and the companion of his damnation’. Accordingly, he would drag the burden of original sin through all the ages of humanity.
Harari’s narrative reads as if, after the cognitive revolution and the ‘emergence of fictive language’ some 70,000 years ago, Sapiens began devouring the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, at first sparingly, then, after the Agricultural Revolution some 12,000 years ago, with increasingly successful but destructive zeal. Now the species seemingly aspires to godhead, while at the same time being in a position to destroy itself with nuclear weapons – and also the planet by means of man-made eco-catastrophe.
Although St Augustine did not take the view that free will was eclipsed by original sin (he thought it was weakened but not destroyed), the more radical Protestant view after the Reformation was that it did indeed imply the loss of free will – except to sin. This view existed even among the Catholic Jansenists, though they were declared heretical in 1653. On the other hand, the Irish monk Pelagius (360–420) held that ‘the natural power of free will, without the necessary help of God’s grace’ could enable man to live a virtuous life. The fundamental point for Pelagianists was that Adam’s sin had harmed only him, not the whole of subsequent humanity, a view disapproved of by St Augustine and declared heretical at the Council of Carthage (418).4 Yet both the Orthodox Church and Islam do not believe in an original sin that includes inherited sin; the Catholic Church does teach that Baptism should erase the taint of original sin, but is rather sceptical about the real consequences for free will.
Augustine’s doctrine of original sin, as well as the Latin Church’s questionable decision to insist on clerical celibacy in the Gregorian Reforms of the late eleventh century and the First Lateran Council (1123), have done the church as much harm as the good that was supposedly their rationale. Impractical dogmas in respect of contraception have also tended to maintain the implied connection between sex and sinfulness. Augustine’s misogyny (St Jerome is even worse) and his fatal linking of the sexual act to sin is something that hardly any rational person (including of course many Catholics and non-Augustinian Protestants) is likely to endorse, at least since the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, dogma and the rigorous (or violent) enforcement of same, as with communism and conservative Islam, is an aid to many people who feel strengthened in their faith by absolutely clear precepts and (especially) prohibitions. Catholics might also have enjoyed a sense of righteousness, especially if they did spontaneous good works beyond obeying the doctrinal rules; but Calvinists faced the unforgiving idea of predestination, of which a Voltaire commentator observes that it carries ‘the bacillus of fanaticism: the psychology of the playground pressed into the gold leaf of dogma’.5 Voltaire of course was good at uncovering the exact line between righteousness and selt-righteousness …
A HISTORICAL, UNTRUE, TENDENTIOUS … BUT EFFECTIVE
What can possibly be the relevance today of apparently obscure, even fustian, theological disputes and power struggles in the early and early modern church? The answer is that they often reflected psychological predispositions that also turn out to be present in the modern secular mind, in particular the sort of mind that is unreflectively dogmatic and believes it has a monopoly on virtue. Naturally contemporary intolerance or persecution sails under different colours, yet the highly aggressive embrace of ahistorical narratives in the free world (for example, ‘Racism is a creation of white people’)6 and the furious attacks on any dissent from fashionable claims, or even from the rhetoric they are couched in, revives the atmosphere of heresy all too vividly.
Meanwhile ultra-conservative Islam, generally labelled Islamism, has made heresy and the closely related concept of blasphemy the framework (and justification) for physical violence against alleged offenders, whether they be heretical Muslims or infidels (kafirs). Apart from white supremacist terrorism reacting against Islamic violence, secular intolerance confines its attacks to the realm of hate speech, denial of free speech, and attempts (quite often successful) to ruin the reputations and careers of those who disagree with its shibboleths. An important weapon is the policing of terminology and language generally. Many of its techniques and attitudes mirror those of ancient theological dispute, for example in the secular equivalents of excommunication from a ‘community’ and punishment for heresy.
If we take the above-quoted claim that ‘racism is the creation of white people’, it will be apparent that this is both untrue and effective as a slogan. White people are bad people and the invention of racism is clearly part of their irredeemable badness. This is an exact inversion of racism based on the same assumptions about black people by racists (such assumptions, as we learn from the writings of Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul, by no means being confined to white people).7 It is just as mendacious. As the distinguished historian of the Mediterranean David Abulafia points out, ‘the history of racism goes back further in time than the records humanity possesses’. Everywhere you look, from ancient Egyptians to Aztecs and especially the Japanese or the Han Chinese or the ancient tribes of Africa, racism is apparent, at least in the manner of ethnic supremacism that modern left-wing ideology identifies, but more often in the basic sense of exploitation and slaughter (Abulafia points to the massive African slave revolt in Basra against the Abbasids in 869 that continued for fourteen years). Evidence for racist attitudes among the dominant Han dynasty in China can be found as early as the Book of Han (111 AD). These attitudes have traditionally been directed with appropriate vitriol against Japanese and Korean people, as well as Westerners.8 Nowadays African students in China and Africans working for Chinese companies in Africa are frequently the targets of vulgar racial abuse (‘monkeys’ – or a laundry detergent advertisement that showed a black man being put into a washing machine and coming out an Asian, for example). So far Black Lives Matter does not seem to have founded a BLM chapter in China, but no doubt there are quite a lot of forms to fill in.
Priyamvada Gopal, a lecturer in postcolonial literature at Cambridge University, has tweeted that ‘White lives don’t matter. As white lives’. In case you should think she has been quoted out of context, she further explained that ‘lives do matter, but not because they are white. I say the same thing about my own community.’ The logic of this is that black lives matter, but not because they are black. But anyone suggesting that (or even flying a banner with the slogan ‘White Lives Matter’, as happened at a football match) can expect to be investigated by the police for racism. How to resolve the contradiction? ‘When I talk about abolishing whiteness’, explains Gopal, ‘I talk about political practices and ideologies. Systems of oppression, whether white or brown, should be abolished … It’s about abolishing a race hierarchy where whites are at the top.’ Gopal is Indian and we have not actually seen her write ‘Brown lives don’t matter. As brown lives’, but no doubt that will be in a future tweet. The clue to Gopal’s ingenious polemic lies in the assertion that we live in a ‘race hierarchy’ where whites are at the top. But can this be true of majority white Britain, which currently has Indians appointed to the second and fourth highest offices of state and an Undersecretary of State for Equalities who is of Nigerian origin? What about India itself, with its caste system, or China? Both states are much more based on ethnic hierarchies than the UK – and the latter currently puts Muslim Uighurs in concentration camps. The novelist Lee Child tries to help us over the difficulty in Gopal’s argument, writing that: ‘the slogan “Black Lives Matter” answers 400 years of history in just three words’. He identifies the statement ‘White Lives Matter’ as smug, adding: ‘into the subsequent embarrassed silence crash the voices of ghosts, who say: “Yes, of course, but they always have – unlike ours.”’9 Child is of course right: Black Lives Matter is the perfect activists’ slogan, setting one ever-unreachable standard for whites (never mind that they eventually abolished slavery), while non-whites are given a free pass on the grounds that they are ‘systemically’ oppressed. As soon as the WLM storm broke over Gopal, Cambridge promoted her to a professorship. It also issued a statement of solidarity stressing the university’s commitment to inclusiveness, the very same argument that obliged it to disinvite the world-famous professor of clinical psychology, Jordan B. Peterson from his Fellowship at the Divinity Faculty last in 2019 because some students disapproved of his views on gender and Marxism. It seems inclusiveness does matter, but not inclusiveness as inclusiveness. Or … er … something like that.
COUNTERING AHISTORICAL CLAIMS
Where to start with such an intricate web of hypocrisy originating in and backed by contemporary academia at one of the most prestigious universities in the world? Peterson himself rightly says in his bestselling book 12 Rules for Life that the concept of original sin is very unpopular in modern intellectual circles, but points out that the cruelties of man are consciously chosen (not so with animals) and tend to legitimize the idea, plus its attendant guilt (‘Who can deny the sense of existential guilt that pervades human experience?’). This guilt has now so invaded the minds of Western liberals that many of them cannot conceive of a historical narrative that is not predicated on it. In short, being ‘white’ has become something like the original sin from which there is no redemption. Everywhere around us are the victims of our whiteness demanding public repentance for the deeds of our ancestors, and balancing eternal sin with eternal victimhood. Again, we have been here before – Christ is the progenitor of victimhood, the person who sacrificed himself for us because we (mankind) were so steeped in sinfulness we could not save ourselves. However, modern secular victimhood is of course very different from Christ’s self-sacrifice, being based on a revisionist historical narrative analysed purely in terms of power relations at any one time – dominant powers oppressing subordinate ones. The hierarchy of oppression has simply been shifted to the contemporary scene, conveniently airbrushing out any of the advantages that Western civilization and its technological development may have brought to the world in general (they are many).
Culpability has become a one-way street – any attempt to argue otherwise is ‘racist’. However, some black people have been courageously outspoken about this one-sided view; for example, the Nigerian journalist and novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani did a piece for the BBC African Service entitled ‘My Nigerian Great-Grandfather Sold Slaves’. ‘My great-grandfather, Nwaubani Ogogo Oriaku’, she wrote, ‘was what I prefer to call a businessman, from the Igbo ethnic group of south-eastern Nigeria. He dealt in a number of goods, including tobacco and palm produce. He also sold human beings.’ She describes the agency trade for slaves brought from the hinterland in which her great-grandfather was active, but she also says that ‘it would be unfair to judge a nineteenth-century man by twenty-first-century principles’.
‘Assessing the people of Africa’s past by today’s standards would compel us to cast the majority of our heroes as villains, denying us the right to fully celebrate anyone who was not influenced by Western ideology … Igbo slaves served as domestic servants and labourers. They were sometimes also sacrificed in religious ceremonies and buried alive with their masters to attend to them in the next world.’ The abolition of the external slave trade by the British was of course not popular and she notes that because the British used ‘force rather than persuasion, many local people such as my great-grandfather may not have understood that abolition was about the dignity of humankind and not a mere change in economic policy that affected demand and supply’. ‘We think this trade must go on’, one local king in Bonny infamously said in the nineteenth century. ‘That is the verdict of our oracle and our priests. They say that your country, however great, can never stop a trade ordained by God.’10
Similar stories can be replicated for other locations. A former Mayor of Accra, Ghana, describes how, in 1874, a sort of arrangement was reached with the abolitionist colonial rulers. ‘The chiefs and peoples decided “All right, we will not talk about it [i.e. their complicity in slave trading].” They created a mythology that we were innocent bystanders whose land was raped by Europeans.’11
The point of citing such examples is simply to point out that the issue of slavery, treated in current radical polemics as part of the irredeemable wickedness of Western civilization or white people in general, cannot truthfully be so represented. Two of Nwaubani’s observations merit further scrutiny. The first is the citation of the ruler of Bonny that slavery was approved by God. As has frequently been pointed out, the early Christian view was not dissimilar, and St Paul enjoins slaves to obey their masters ‘in fear and trembling in sincerity of heart as to Christ’.12 Slaves who converted to Christianity were to be equal human beings in the sight of God, but the general attitude was on a par with ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’, generally seen as an injunction not to disturb the rule of law as constituted.13 There were obviously difficulties with this if the rulers continued to persecute Christians. The position of slavery in Islam has many similarities with its position in Christianity. There were injunctions to treat slaves well, and in theory a Muslim could not enslave another Muslim. But Muhammad himself ‘bought, sold, captured and owned slaves’.14 The emphasis in dealing with slavery is to regulate both the behaviour of masters vis-à-vis slaves and vice versa. The impetus for the abolition of slavery came almost entirely from the colonial powers in the nineteenth century, specifically Non-Conformist English Christians, though there were Muslim thinkers who also strongly opposed it. The leftist attitude towards slavery today seems to ignore the universality of slavery as a timeless and enduring socio-economic phenomenon, a point forcefully made by Friedrich Engels in Anti-Dühring (1877): ‘Without slavery, no Greek state, no Greek art and science. But without the basis laid by Hellenism and the Roman Empire, also no modern Europe. We should never forget that our whole, political and intellectual development presupposes a state of things in which slavery was as necessary as it was universally recognized. Without the slavery of antiquity no modern socialism.’15 (Italics added.)
Obviously the second observation of Nwaubani that deserves attention is her assertion that ‘assessing the people of Africa’s past by today’s standards would compel us to cast the majority of our heroes as villains, denying us the right to fully celebrate anyone who was not influenced by Western ideology’. She even says she prefers to think of her great-grandfather as a ‘businessman’, which of course he was – and a highly respected pillar of the community. That profile bears comparison with those Western European slave traders who were also philanthropists in their own communities. Nwaubani’s descendants still celebrate his achievements, just as Bristol erected a statue to its greatest philanthropic businessman, whose fortune was made in the slave trade. Attempts to demonize white people today on the basis that their alleged ‘systemic racism’ is constructed on the most violent sins of their ancestors necessitates airbrushing out a lot of history. They also have to ignore the fact that the societies now existing in Europe are the most humane, tolerant, and non-racist in history. That is why Black Lives Matter can parade past unarmed policemen in London shouting abuse at them even as those same policemen ‘take the knee’.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY (CRT)
Ahistoricism is a valuable accompaniment to Critical Race Theory, which originated in the liberal faculties of American universities in the 1970s. Although it purports to be an academic discourse, CRT is entirely political; and although it also purports to be assisting in the societal integration of ethnic (especially black) minorities, its entire modus operandi pushes the opposite. One of its sacred texts, entitled White Fragility (2018) by Robin DeAngelo, boils down to the argument that whites are racist if they say they are racist, but also if they say they are not racist. This is in itself a profoundly racist idea. DeAngelo is obviously worried that the continuing rise of a black (and Asian) middle class in white majority countries might seem to detract from her dogma, so we also have a precautionary statement that denies any progress has been made in attitudes: ‘I am often asked if I think the younger generation is less racist. No, I don’t. In some ways, racism’s adaptations over time are more sinister than concrete rules such as Jim Crow.’ The pot of estrangement and victimhood must be kept stirring.
Such attitudes are not only infantile, but also condescending to the alleged victims,16 though (as we have seen implied by such public figures as the Chief Librarian of the British Library) not so infantile as not to attract and intimidate people who should know better. Furthermore they are increasingly totalitarian in their effects, spawning courses in ‘Unconscious Racial Bias’ to which civil servants, politicians, and administrators in the US and UK are increasingly expected to submit. The Marxist’s ‘false consciousness’ rides again! The writer Douglas Murray cites an American corporate video in which a lady of colour lectures employees with the claim that ‘All white people are racist. I believe that white people are born into not being human. You’re taught to be demons.’17 At the more risible end of the spectrum, the Archbishop of Canterbury worries in a radio interview that there is too much ‘white’ Jesus around, although the whole point of Christianity is its universalism, and depictions of Christ may be either stylized in early church tradition (nothing to do with colour) or indeed black or Fijian or whatever, as the Archbishop in almost the same breath recognized. Religion tends to acculturate to the society which converts to it while retaining its universalist essence; it is hard to see why Britain should be smeared by implied ‘white supremacism’ because of that.
More insidiously the theme of white supremacism is becoming a meme of journalism and historiography; to take one egregious example, journalist Afua Hirsch, who has distinguished herself inter alia by saying that Nelson should be removed from his column on Trafalgar Square, wrote an FT article (14 August) in which she claimed that the fourth-century Christian Church in Europe was ‘navigating its role in spreading white supremacist images of biblical figures’. This kind of claim is now standard issue propaganda of the increasingly racist Black Lives Matter and its many allies in academia and the media. The only problem with it is that it is not true (not a problem for contemporary leftist academia, of course, where such a line can only be career-enhancing). Perhaps we might also listen to Peter Brown, the most eminent scholar of early Christianity, who points out in The Rise of Western Christendom that ‘for the entire period from 200 to 1000, Christianity remained predominantly a religion of Asia and of northern Africa’. Hence the shaping influence on the Western Church of many North African figures, including St Augustine of Hippo and Tertullian, both of whom are thought to be of Berber origin. The idea of a distinctly ‘European Christianity’ was ‘unthinkable in the year 500 AD’, says Brown (italics added). And even the notion of ‘Europe’ itself only took on its modern meaning around the year 650 AD. Before that time it was a bit like Gertrude Stein’s definition of Oakland, California, namely ‘there was no there there’.18
If the unreformed and apparently irredeemable white man looks like a contemporary mutation of original sin, as I have argued here, a few words in closing may be appropriate in regard to original sin’s problem sibling, free will. St Augustine’s teaching is equivocal, as he struggled to reconcile God’s merciful nature (so that man could choose sin or choose God instead) with his later espousal of predestination. The underlying problem is that of theodicy (how can an almighty and merciful God allow the awful horrors that occur on the planet and amongst men), a conundrum which has plagued Christianity through the centuries. Thomas Aquinas in his discussion of liberum arbitrium in the Summa Theologiae (written in the thirteenth century) seems to accept that intellect and will have command of the free will of men. This inevitably raises the question of moral responsibility, which is a good vantage point from which to observe today’s secularist version of the denial of free will.
In his essay on Free Will (2012), the neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris argues that ‘free will’ is an illusion because, according to modern brain research, our decisions are made somewhere in the unconscious part of our brains before they enter the conscious part. And these decisions have already been decided somewhere else for us by circumstances, upbringing, genes – in short, luck. A famous observation by Schopenhauer is quoted in support: Der mensch kann was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will (‘Man can do what he will but he cannot will what he wills’). Crudely put, one of the conclusions to be drawn from this is that if we are not psychopaths, that is because we are luckier than those who are destined to be psychopaths (due to the above-mentioned factors, which we could not choose). One result is to call into question the American system of justice, which is based very substantially on retribution.19
Many liberals are instinctively sympathetic to an argument of this kind (which I have compressed to essentials, but I hope not misrepresented) that seems to remove the element of culpability from dreadful crimes; and many conservatives would throw up their hands in horror at such an idea. My purpose here is not to argue the toss on such a fraught topic, but illustrate its potential for unscrupulous exploitation. One example is well illustrated by the above-mentioned Jordan Peterson in his powerful denunciation of the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, whose view, according to Peterson, is that ‘hierarchies exist because they gain from oppressing those who are omitted’. Divisiveness and oppression are built into language. There are ‘males and females only because members of that more heterogeneous group benefit by excluding the tiny minority of people whose biological sexuality is amorphous. Science only benefits the scientists. Politics only benefits the politicians’ – and so on. This is a template for contemporary ‘victimhood’ politics, whereby ‘all definitions of skill or competence are merely made up by those who benefit from them, to exclude others, and to benefit personally and selfishly’.20 Apart from its obvious potential for ‘deconstructing’ (in every sense of the word) the basis of our society and culture, it is clear that such a categorization inherently rejects the possibility of both social mobility for ‘the oppressed’ or any public-spiritedness of ‘the oppressors’. This is Marxism as Postmodernism, a thinly veiled appeal for totalitarian solutions. The unredeemable guilt of the designated oppressor is a late-arriving secular offspring of the Christian notion of inherited and collective guilt, something which informed the church’s view of the Jews for centuries.
For the last word we return to Yuval Noah Harari, who has argued that although the idea of free will and the liberal values based upon it ‘emboldened people who had to fight against the Inquisition, the divine right of kings, the KGB and the KKK’, in reality, there is now no such thing. Governments and corporations are coming to know the individual better than they know themselves [he calls this ‘Dataism’]; and the easiest people to manipulate will be those who believe in free will. Harari elaborates that ‘[h]umans certainly have a will – but it isn’t free. You cannot decide what desires you have … Every choice depends on a lot of biological, social and personal conditions that you cannot determine for yourself. I can choose what to eat, whom to marry and whom to vote for, but these choices are determined in part by my genes, my biochemistry, my gender, my family background, my national culture, etc – and I didn’t choose which genes or family to have.’21 This position is not as extreme as that of Sam Harris, but it still has an apocalyptic echo, in particular the aphorism that those who believe in free will are the easiest to manipulate. So the dichotomy is between those, like Peterson, who passionately believe that moral responsibility can be educated for and chosen, and those who seem to believe that hierarchies of power render notions of moral responsibility an irrelevance both for the ‘oppressed’ and the ‘oppressor’. The great irony is that the latter ideology should flourish in the most free and least oppressive societies the world has ever known. Moreover, it flows not from a church, but from the greatest trahison des clercs since intellectuals on the Parisian Left Bank fell in love with Stalinism.
1 Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (London: Vintage Books, 2014).
2 Extinction Rebellion uses tactics of peaceful ‘disruption’, which it claims are based on precedents such as suffragettes and the American Civil Rights movement. It has faced criticism not only from the right for its evident anti-capitalism, but also from the left for being ‘too white’ and ‘too middle-class’.
3 I. Corinthians 15.4. Quotations from Augustine: On the Trinity xiii in the version quoted by Karen Armstrong: The History of God (New York: Ballantine Books), 123–124.
4 An interesting discussion of St Augustine’s rather paradoxical positions on Free Will is that by Brandon Peterson, Professor of Philosophy at Utah, in an article entitled: ‘Augustine: Advocate of Free Will, Defender of Predestination’, retrievable from sites.nd./ujournal/files/2014/07/ Peterson_05_06.
6 Reported as a claim made by the Chief Librarian of the British Library in 2020, who was responding to the demands of a group of her librarians who proclaimed that the BL was ‘systemically racist’ and facing a racial ‘state of emergency’ (she seemed to agree with the so-called ‘Decolonizing Working Group’ which made these claims). See reports in The Telegraph (28 Aug. 2020), and elsewhere.
7 See, for instance, the disturbing story ‘One Out Of Many’ in Naipaul’s In a Free State (1972).
8 See David Abulafia: ‘No, racism isn’t a “creation of white people”’, The Spectator (2 Sept. 2020). Abulafia is Emeritus Professor of Mediterranean History at Cambridge University. The ‘race emergency’ group at the BL also wanted to have the library’s busts of Beethoven and Mendelssohn removed on the grounds that they represented ‘Western civilizational supremacy’.
9 Lee Child, ‘The brilliance of the “Black Lives Matter” slogan’, The Spectator (30 July 2020).
10 Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, ‘My Nigerian Great-Grandfather Sold Slaves’, BBC.com (18 July 2020), www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53444752, accessed 3 Nov. 2020. She also wrote a piece on the same subject for The New Yorker.
11 Nat Amarteifio, former Mayor of Accra and local historian. The World. Interview by Rupa Shepoy. Retrieved from www.pri.org/2019-08-20/willful-amnesia-how-Africans-forgot-and-remembered-their-role-in-the-slave-trade.
12 Ephesians 6:5 KJV.
13 I am grateful to John Barton for pointing out that Jesuit missionaries such as St Peter Claver (1580– 1654) and St Francis Xavier (1506–1552) were among the first people to insist on the humanity of slaves and their equality before God. In particular Claver, ‘the Apostle of Cartagena’, lived among slaves in South America and ministered to their physical, as well as to their spiritual needs.
14 Rodney Stark in For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton University Press, 2004), 338.
15 Quoted by philosopher and broadcaster Peter Cave in a letter to the Financial Times (22 June 2020).
16 This point is well illustrated in a review of the book by an African American professor at Columbia, John McWhorter, in The Atlantic (15 July 2020): ‘The Dehumanizing Condescension of White Fragility’.
17 Douglas Murray, ‘It’s about time we fought back against the unthinking adoption of critical race theory’, The Telegraph (3 Oct. 2020).
18 Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200–1000. Tenth Anniversary (Revised Edition, Wiley-Blackwell: 2013), xvi, 13.
19 Sam Harris, Free Will (New York: Free Press, 2012). See in particular pages 4, 8, 13, 18, 39, the Chapter on ‘Moral Responsibility’, 48 ff., 75–76.
20 Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Penguin Books, 2019), 310–311.
21 Harari has written numerous articles headlined with titles like ‘Is Free Will a Dangerous Myth’ which can be retrieved from the internet to get a fuller picture of his somewhat apocalyptic view of the matter.