We have advanced to a more tolerant and politically correct culture. We are kind to the LGBT community, believe in human rights, suffrage for women, believe that no people is genetically more advanced than another, that everything that makes us different from one another is individualistic rather than racial, due to our individual genes, backgrounds, upbringings and environments.
We have dismissed pseudo-scientific findings of the past that suggested that there was a difference and we were to act on it, such as in the matter of eugenics or in stating that black/ "negro" people had different brains or lesser intellects.
Here is what I am wondering, however:
What if one day in the future we were to advance to the point where people really could scientifically prove the intellectual superiority of one race over another? Suppose white people really were genetically wired to be smarter than black people? Then what? What happens to our carefully crafted tolerant and politically correct culture?
Do we tell the truth? Do we start teaching our children in our science textbooks about this divide?
If I am reasoning correctly, the reason that we promote and allow for the teaching of a subject like evolution, for instance, is because it is scientifically and factually based and for all intensive purposes, true. Similarly, in our public schools we do not promote teaching a creationist version of history and/or the theory of intelligent design because this is irrational and lacks a scientific foundation.
But do we act similarly in this case, this potentially inflammatory and terrible case? Do we state that in the same way that science suggests evolution is true and therefore we must teach it, science now suggests white people are wired differently from black people; we must teach that as well? Do we allow for this dangerous opportunity, something that will most probably end in racism and cruelty and the utter breakdown of respect for people from different cultures based on our supposed equality and common humanity, now proven false?
I think most of us would automatically say no. Because telling this truth leads to terrible consequences for all, a divided society, racism and intolerance, people hurting one another, etc.
But tell me, atheists- there are those of you who believe you have discovered a form of higher truth, and look down on those who are not brave enough or strong enough to discover this truth and instead cling to their religion, their moral guide. You believe science and reason support your view. But if science and reason supported a view you did not like- an intolerant, cruel view- what then? Do you believe it? Do you follow its dictates because science says so? Or do you refuse to know this supposed truth, do you pretend and perhaps lie- in order to be a better, kinder person?
And if you would be willing to follow your heart in this manner, who are you to judge the religious people who do the same?
Suppose, alternatively, that you would not do this. You believe in science and reason no matter the cost and state that this, like all other things, should and must be taught in high school and placed in the text books- because it is true. You believe we can create a respectful society that can intellectually understand that white people are racially wired to be smarter than black people, but who simultaneously don't take advantage of that. Even then...is this controlled attempt at not looking down at others preferable to the benign ignorance in which everyone believed themselves to be on the same footing?
Can it be that Colonel Jessep is actually right, and there really are times when "You can't handle the truth!"?
Are there times when we must spare the populace the truth due to the larger effects it may cause? Where something may be true, but it is not ethical to disseminate that information? If we were to one day prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, scientifically and genetically, that there are major racial differences and that white people are smarter than black people- would it be ethical to release this information?
Atheists often seem to dismiss religion as being cruel and oppressive (and can cite numerous instances where this is so, the penalty for homosexual behavior, etc.) And they suggest the reason for this cruel and oppressive behavior is because we believe in a God who tells us to do these things and we follow his laws. But, using one's intellect and reason, we realize that all people are equal and ought to be treated equally (including homosexuals, etc), therefore atheists who make use of science and reason are acting (or find it easier to act) in a much kinder manner than religious people.
So I have to wonder- what if this same intellect and reason which is now being used in order to scientifically excuse away people's actions and behavior (all very likable from not only an atheist's but from my point of view); for example, the idea that homosexuality is genetic and not necessarily a choice- suddenly switched? What if this same intellect, science and reason proved something very, very intolerant, very unattractive to our enlightened outlook, something that would lead to cruel and oppressive behavior- something like I suggested, such as racial mental superiority?
What then? How does the rational, scientific and intellectual mind respond to something like this, something proved beyond a shadow of a doubt- but nevertheless cruel and wrong on an emotional level, those same emotions this person fears to trust?
What do you do with this damnable truth? Do you hide it away? Pretend it doesn't exist? Face it, confront it, and try to ensure that it doesn't change anything- venture into the field of apologetics; "Yes, it has been scientifically proven that white people are smarter than black people but don't worry; we love you anyway!" How condescending can you be?
In fact, I now wonder- how many scientists, if they discovered any data like this, would simply refuse to release it because it doesn't fit the morals/ethics of our world and day-to-day life, our philosophy of tolerance and live and let live? Are our scientists biased? Should this data fall into their possession, would they simply ignore it or destroy it- because they know what lies in wait for them if they would dare to bring it to light, to tell the truth?
How much of science is simply recreating a popular myth, entrapping us in our own cozy beliefs? In our world, can a scientist who wishes to be taken seriously even advance a non-politically correct notion?
Doesn't this mean we've put barriers, deadlocks and gates around science, that very science which is supposed to be all about truth? But we don't want to hear a truth that conflicts with our tolerant worldview, now do we?
In which case, how does that philosophy make us- make any secular person- different from the Chareidi person who bars himself inside his insular community? He too has his gates and barriers; they are simply more obvious and at times more offensive to others, who view themselves as more enlightened. But even the enlightened ones don't wish to consider that something they hate might be truthful- who would ever entertain the idea that perhaps a stereotype could be correct? What if races, religions or nations do have certain genetic traits in common? What if those aren't all the most flattering traits?
I'm certain that someone who advanced this notion would be called a Hitler. Which just means that in some circumstances, even we, even the most enlightened, don't seem to be able to accept the truth (or the possibility thereof.) Because who would entertain this cruel and hateful possibility?
Wizard's First Rule: People believe what they want to believe.
It seems to me that this applies to all of us. To those who are putting up the obvious barriers- and also the ones who claim to have no barriers. Atheists and Chareidim alike, the majority of us all reach a point where we "can't handle the truth."
Of course, this is all hypothetical. I don't know the scientist who has proved racial superiority beyond the shadow of a doubt. But to me, it seems eminently possible that this could happen. And I wonder, where would we be then? Where would our worldview be? Our love for reason, science and truth? Our claim that we bar nothing, allow for anything when it comes to pure intellectual exploration?
Oh, I think you would find that that claim would become suddenly untrue.
There are some truths, which if they exist, are too ugly to tell.
What does the scientific mind do with a damnable truth?
I've really been wondering. I'd really like to know.