The Creator and the Destroyer

Continuing with this series, reviewing the conversation between Jordan Peterson (JP) and Peter Kreeft (PK): How to Combat Hedonism

Peter Kreeft cites something from Karl Marx, apparently Marx’s favorite line from all of literature, from Goethe’s Faust: “Everything that lives deserves to perish.”

PK: That is what I would call absolute evil.

To elaborate on this, from Dr. Paul Kengor, the author of the book The Devil and Karl Marx:

Friends said Marx would chant this. He would recite this–’Everything that exists deserves to perish. Everything that exists deserves to perish.’ This is a philosophy that’s about tearing down, burning the foundation, leveling the house, to where you have Marx standing there in the smoldering embers, saying, ‘Now we are ready to begin.’

One need not even limit this perishing to traditional social conditions or even for all living beings as the enemy of Marxism.  As Peterson points out, this directly makes God the enemy of Marxism:

JP: This is very contrary to Genesis, where God says – after each phase of creation: it is good.

If it is good, it deserves to live.  It deserves this so much that God sacrificed His Son / Himself to ensure this was so.  But not according to Marx.  Everything that exists deserves to perish.  Everything.  It is satanic – even jab-like.

PK: If the benevolent God who created the world is a myth, and there is nothing beyond the created universe, then the universe is very much like Rhett Butler: frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.  It’s beyond good and evil.

Can there even be such a thing as good or evil if we are the result of nothing but random atoms smashing together randomly?  In other words, while everything that exists might not deserve to perish, it also might not deserve to live.

In any case, many modern atheists believe that good and evil can be determined from the stew around us:

JP: There is this idea from the materialist determinists that if we just derive enough information about the nature of things, we could produce an algorithm that would allow us to compute our way forward…

Now, that is naïve….

PK interrupts: Now, that is naïve.

Yes, that’s what I said.

JP: It is naïve, well I think it’s technically naïve.  I have talked to some great scientists like Sir Roger Penrose, and Penrose believes that in principle the horizon of the future is not fundamentally from the positions of the past.

Which diverts me to a conversation between Aubrey Marcus and Jonathan Pageau.  In this portion, they discuss artificial intelligence and psychedelics.  I will skip the psychedelics part, and focus on the portion of the discussion involving artificial intelligence (AI):

Marcus: I wonder if that [complete, supreme AI] could actually find a real understanding and be able to offer an actual shared system of value.  That it would come to that conclusion naturally.  That it would become not like the old gods that were capricious, but could become the great God – like God itself?   That it would understand that love is what actually animates life.

You can imagine Pageau, just chomping at the bit to tie into this.

Marcus: If it really was gathering all of the intelligence of the cosmos, would it not come to the truth – or could it not come to the truth?

Pageau: OK, so let’s look at that.  Is it gathering intelligence?  What is it gathering?  It’s gathering information; it’s a quantitative process.  And so, it gathers information.  The quality that AI can access is always given to it by humans – even the little AIs that we deal with.

Humans determine the quality, the hierarchy, the values.  AI merely quantifies and tabulates according to these instructions.

Pageau: If you look at the algorithms that the social media platforms use, they have to farm intelligence – they can gather data, but they farm intelligence with people because people have to provide intelligence.

He talks to the supposed AI regarding faces – the AI can’t recognize faces; it relies on humans telling it “This is a face.  This is a better face, base it on that.”

Pageau: So, the quality of the AI is always brought in by humans.  And so, AI will always be a fake intelligence, ultimately.

Marcus: So, based on what you are saying, it will always be a reflection on the current state of consciousness in the macro.  If humans are continually informing it, it will be a god that is the aggregation of all human thought…which is f’ing terrifying actually.

Yes, terrifying.

Pageau: if the AI quality was being given by a monastery at the top of a mountain somewhere, you could imagine something better…

But it isn’t monks in charge of providing the quality.  Anyway, how many divisions do the monks have….

So, returning to the Peterson-Kreeft conversation, and repeating Peterson’s line from above:

JP: There is this idea from the materialist determinists that if we just derive enough information about the nature of things, we could produce an algorithm that would allow us to compute our way forward…

It doesn’t work that way and can’t work that way – at least not before the human derived “quality” has already conditioned us toward the will of the conditioners.

The future isn’t derived solely on the actions of the past.  Nor is the future set in stone.  Nor is it merely placed in a known and knowable motion:

JP: This is not a clockwork universe.  What we confront is a horizon of potential, that has multiple potential branches.

Which branch to take?  Which path is toward the good, and which toward evil?  Who, or what, decides?

PK: Whether the universe is a clockwork universe or not, doesn’t much matter because our lives are not clockwork lives.  So, we can add to the universe new data by our choices and by our living.

What influences our choices?  This is the question, and it comes back to a proper end, or telos for man.  This is not something man can give to himself – that which is in the system cannot also judge the system from a monarchical position.

From CS Lewis:

…the judge cannot be one of the parties judged; or, if he is, the decision is worthless and there is no ground for placing the preservation of the species above self-preservation or sexual appetite.

Just as it is true for AI – where the quality, or values, must be inserted from outside, so it is with man.  we cannot do the judging while we are also the ones being judged.  The values must come from outside.

Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao [natural law], or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasure of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own ‘natural’ impulses.

Conclusion

More from CS Lewis:

I am inclined to think that the Conditioners will hate the conditioned.

We see this today.  The conditioners (call them the elite) hate the conditioned (the common man).  The conditioners are doing all they can to destroy life – fighting against He who created life, considering Him nothing more than a harmful myth.

And we see via the value systems that they have forced upon us that their natural impulses are, quite clearly, to destroy.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

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