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EL ESPECTADOR

The Empty Dogma Of The Radical Humanist

The idea of today's neuroscientists and radical secularists that human beings are nothing more than cell matter is not only arrogant, it is a theory that is self-defeating to the core.

Atheist Richard Dawkins and bus campaign creator Ariane Sherine in London
Atheist Richard Dawkins and bus campaign creator Ariane Sherine in London
Santiago Montenegro

-OpEd-

BOGOTA — Are science and philosophy the new dogma of our age? Remember that dogma itself was what science was purported to have overthrown when it was cloaked in the garb of religion. But these days, some of the world's great scientists, philosophers and psychologists are offering a worldview more regressive than even the infernal visions of Dante back in the 14th century.

Like Dante, they see a universe with a clearly defined and definitive order in which humans are rendered helpless. But they go even further. The scientists of today tell us that humans aren't actual subjects, that we are merely objects without free will.

Dante expand=1] envisioned a universe in which every living thing had its place, role and inevitable destiny in a strictly hierarchical setting. At its summit was the Great Ordainer, God, and below were the saints and angels, then monarchs, noblemen and traders. Below these came women, followed by the lower classes, slaves, animals, then plants and inanimate objects or natural elements.

Such conceptions evolved in leaps and bounds over the next 500 years, and our vision of humanity even more. From beings shaped by an impenetrable resolve, humans have become the center and masters of their actions, creators of laws and norms to govern their conduct.

This was the apotheosis of the individual and his autonomy, which prompted Immanuel Kant to postulate the idea of heteronomy to designate anyone controlled not by his will, but by outside forces and determinations.

Two centuries later, many neuroscientists, evolutionary biologists, psychologists, physicians and philosophers — and their popularizing disseminators such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker — are saying that the mind and everything it permits are just cells, chemical elements and atoms, ordered in complex forms that will one day be definitively explained by the natural sciences, physics in particular.

There is, they say, no dichotomy between subject and object. All things and all human beings and their minds are just objects. Living material is, fundamentally, akin to dead matter, and therefore nobody has free will or autonomy, nor are there subjects that can "have" and "enjoy" them.

Everything we do, they argue, is but a dream or illusion.

The consequences of this vision of the universe are terrifying. If there is no will, autonomy or liberty, then there can be no blame or merit, no justice, no rights.

By this logic, Mother Teresa was no saint, and terrorists and drug traffickers commit no crimes. For there are simply neither saints nor sinners.

In Dante's world, where God ordered everything, there were nonetheless pockets of autonomy — for Abelard and Eloïse, for example, who disobeyed for loving and earned themselves a terrible punishment.

It may be that in describing a world of mindless illusion, modern thinkers are showing the weaknesses of their own arguments. Because if everything is object and material, one may legitimately ask who — or what — is dreaming or deluding itself? Perhaps the greatest proof of the existence of humans as subjects is precisely our existence as thinking beings. It wasn't enough to declare that God was dead: Certain thinkers in their presumption and arrogance are now telling us that we, as human beings, do not exist either.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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