Time for a change

As I wrote in the previous post, it’s time for this blog to have a new name. I chose the old one, waka waka waka, rather impulsively; its meaning was not obvious, and over the years many people assumed it had something to do with Fozzie Bear.

The original title came from a Fela Kuti song, “Coffin for Head of State”. In the song’s lyrics, the phrase referred to Mr. Kuti’s peregrinations in his African homeland (“walk-a walk-walk-a”), trying to make sense of things. The subheading of this blog was, for many years, “I go many places”, another line from the song. I chose the title because I imagined that the website wouldn’t be about anything in particular — and in those early days it wasn’t (although I did write a lot more, back then, about two topics of interest to me: natural history, and the philosophy of mind).

Looking back over the years, though, I can see a distinct evolution in my own thinking and interests. In particular the crisis in Western culture and civilization, and the need to understand how we came to such a pass, has come to the forefront. For fifteen years or more my own reading and study has centered on the history of the West, on philosophy and political theory, on the long story of Christianity and Islam (and the great and continuing struggle between them), on the place of religion in the world, on the persistent and awkward realities and diversities of human nature, and on the way cultures and civilizations flourish and die. I have learned that one must consult the past to understand the past, and so in studying history I have made a point of reading contemporary sources wherever I can. (This, perhaps more than anything else, has been for me a vital awakening.)

In this process my own understanding of the world has changed, and with it many of my beliefs about fundamental things. For example: I am no longer an atheist; my unjustifiable certainty on that score is gone. I have shed every trace of the unreflective leftishness of my youth. I no longer believe that humans populations everywhere are essentially the same in all important characteristics, having the same innate qualities and wanting the same things. I no longer believe that culture is a fungible or casually disposable artifact, or that culture is the cause, rather than an effect, of all differences and inequalities. With regard to democracy itself, I am now at the very least a heretic, if not an apostate. My apostasy extends also to the quasi-religion of scientism (which is not in any sense to say that I reject science itself, or the scientific method, or the astonishing power of rational inquiry). And so on.

All of this has been chronicled in these pages. This blog, over the thirteen years of its existence, has been the record of the movement, or progress, of one man’s mind. There is a phrase for this in Latin, suggested to me by my lovely wife Nina: motus mentis. This seems fitting.

So: no more waka waka waka. It’s been fun, but all things must pass.


  1. BETTER choice and I understand the causes for your transformations. I had the same fate.

    Posted February 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  2. Whitewall says

    Very fitting title!

    Posted February 4, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink
  3. This is one of the best blogs in the “Nrx” spheres.

    We seem to share a similar political evolution.

    With respect to the importance of religion as a cultural phenomenon, we both seem to agree on its enduring importance.

    As for “scientism”, the one thing we have changed our minds about is, via Moldbug, Hoppe and Mises is rationalist epistemology. Thus, we have rejected empiricism.

    Your loss of confidence in “atheism” is interesting. Do you mean this in a metaphysical and epistemological sense or do you mean social/political sense?

    Rationalist praxeology notwithstanding, we see no reason to revise what seems to be the triumph of naturalism as the best description of the sum totality of our experience and knowledge.

    If there is a restoration and the restoration is along traditional, religious lines (Protestant? Catholic?), one wonders about the political and cultural/intellectual conflict between power and philosophy (science).

    One unintended consequence might be a mass exodus of scientists (important) and philosophers (not so important) to somewhere (China?) and the start of a Western decline in science and technology.

    Take one practical example, the Chinese are and will continue to make leaps and bounds in genetic engineering. The left opposes such things, but so do the Christian right. China has no such qualms. As one writer on Edge more or less put it: China could establish an unassailable human capital advantage in the years ahead. It would be something like the Chinese decision to forbid ocean going voyages (thus retarding China’s geopolitical evolution).

    The strongest argument for atheism is David Hume’s inference problem of evil (which virtually no one is aware of, never-mind challenge).

    Hume’s argument, when combined with the explanatory insights gleaned from Darwin’s theory (mind, being complex, is a consequence of natural selection operating on matter; in contrast to the “mind first” view of a God who creates matter).

    This, one-two punch is followed by roundhouse kick of evolutionary explanations of religious belief that, while not definitive, are more plausible than any theistic explanation.

    Nevertheless, it should be said that one thing that is different for us is that it is harder, thought not impossible,to be atheist and not come to the same conclusions that Nietzsche did.

    Posted February 4, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink
  4. Epicaric says

    Carry on, Malcolm.

    Posted February 4, 2018 at 6:32 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says


    Thank you for the compliment.

    Your loss of confidence in “atheism” is interesting. Do you mean this in a metaphysical and epistemological sense or do you mean social/political sense?

    Both. (As for the latter, see here.) I am not a theist, but I can no longer call myself an atheist. At this point I really don’t know where I’ll end up. All I have at this point is uncertainty. (I’m “between two chairs”, as Gurdjieff would say.)

    You raise a fair point about the consequences for science in the event of a religious restoration. But if scientism is a kind of religion as well, in that it goes beyond rational empiricism to a promissory faith, then perhaps in the new context of such a restoration we might see a different sort of scientist as well — one that understands the epistemological limitations of his craft.

    I agree that the problem of evil is difficult for theists. It’s one of the reasons I am not a theist. But atheists must be careful wielding it as a bludgeon against theists, because on an atheistic and “ethical realist” view, there is no such thing as objective evil. And you can’t use the existence of something that actually isn’t there to prove the nonexistence of something else.

    I shall continue to think about it all.

    Posted February 4, 2018 at 11:07 pm | Permalink
  6. Problem of Evil

    God is omnipotent (entails omniscience).
    God is omnibenevolent.
    There is evil.

    Do these contradict? I used to say, “Yes!”

    But what if the evil were a single white lie that harmed no one? Well, that might be okay. Then, what about two such lies? Yeah, okay. And so on . . .

    Somewhere down that sequence of bad things, there’s evil enough to contradict God’s existence, but we don’t where that point lies. Perhaps it lies at the non-euclidean point where parallel lines cross.

    God, in His omniscience, can know that point, but we, in our finitude, cannot.

    We are left in a state of agnosticism, neither theist nor atheist . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted February 5, 2018 at 1:02 am | Permalink
  7. Asher says

    I rather enjoy writing using not capitalization. the problem of evil is the biggest contributing factor as to why I *am* a theist

    (note, the caps in this comment are from autocorrect)

    Posted February 5, 2018 at 1:25 am | Permalink
  8. @malcom

    “Both. (As for the latter, see here.)”

    Read that post on secularism. It seems right on the mark.

    “But if scientism is a kind of religion as well,”

    Oh indeed. However, things are in a state of flux. You have someone like Pinker being called a Nazi now. As Razib Khan pointed out, he sees a new dark age under progressivism. Scientists will stop studying and stop talking about certain things.

    The scientific viewpoint and the scientific mindset is hostile to all forms of dogma.

    But that is is a good point. Scientists and science itself is not and must not be walled off the ethical implications it brings.

    “But atheists must be careful wielding it as a bludgeon against theists, because on an atheistic and “ethical realist” view, there is no such thing as objective evil.”

    Hume was a “anti-realist” in ethics. It is not about an atheist’s consistency but the theists.

    Posted February 5, 2018 at 5:56 am | Permalink
  9. @Horace.

    “Problem of Evil

    God is omnipotent (entails omniscience).
    God is omnibenevolent.
    There is evil.”

    Hume’s inference problem of evil is different to the logical problem of evil (the one you gave).

    Essentially, Hume, in the dialogues via Philo, is asking the following:

    Assuming that *a* God (or gods) exists and assuming that we can infer the moral attributes of God (such as perfect goodness) from empirical facts (natural theology) then what is the evidence for God’s perfect goodness?

    In other words, rather just assume that God is perfectly Good (as in the logical problem), what happens if we have to establish the claim on the grounds of facts and logic?

    Hume, via Philo, appears to answer that we cannot infer God’s perfect goodness (from such “mixed phenomena”).

    The plausible possibilities in descending order of most to least are:

    1:An indifferent God.

    2: An inconsistent God (sometimes good, sometimes bad, with no good reason).

    3: An imperfectly evil God.

    4: An imperfectly good God.

    5: A perfectly evil God.

    6: A Perfectly good God.

    This is a completely different argument to the logical argument. It is also one that few, if any, theists have ever grappled with. Even most atheists,such as John Mackie, do not make use of it.

    Posted February 5, 2018 at 6:06 am | Permalink
  10. JK says

    Just curious Malcolm but might you recall my, years ago regaling you with the tale of my sometime reluctance for accompanying my Mom to church and my Dad handing me a book?

    You recall who authored that book?

    I for one have enjoyed the trek

    Posted February 5, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink
  11. Whitewall says

    Not John Shelby Spong I hope?

    Posted February 5, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  12. JK says

    We ought I think Whitewall, allow our host to ruminate.

    (Might take about the same amount of time as it takes to figure out why Bluehost keeps saving email addresses for people using Chrome. … Or, at any rate, a browser not the same as the one I use.)

    Posted February 5, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink
  13. Jimmy says

    If I am ever to be a thiest, it will be of the Kierkegaardian variety. God is beyond reason by definition. Beyond the capacity of mortals to understand. You surrender to unjustifiable faith as the only possible human response to being in the presence of a universe you cannkt begin to truly understand.

    The problem of evil, from such a frame, begins to look awfully petty and trivial.

    Posted February 6, 2018 at 6:30 am | Permalink
  14. JK says

    The problem of evil, from such a frame, begins to look awfully petty and trivial.


    Posted February 6, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *