Friday, February 11, 2005

The Problem with "Progress"

Wherever you go, there you are Progress is a favourite shibboleth of the left. As "liberal" becomes a non starter in the United States, some are already dropping that word for the term "progressive." As if this was about somehow about words rather than ideas! The success of that project is dependent on who uses the word. If it is those who think that the Democrats are failing because they are not left enough, no word will give them the aura of respectability they seek. What is this idea that they think it will help them and why does it apply to them and not to others? Where does it come from and where is it going? That's the trouble. No one knows. Vaguely it means things get more complex and somehow better. How do we know it's better? *shrug* It's progressing, isn't it? Here's what C.S. Lewis had to say about progress:
As a force for emergent evolution, if anyone insists on using the word God to mean "whatever the universe happens to be going to do next," of course we cannot prevent him. But nobody would in fact use it unless he had a secret belief that what is coming next would be an improvement. Such a belief, besides being unwarranted, presents peculiar difficulties to an emergent evolutionist. If things can improve, this means that there is some absolute standard of good above and outside the cosmic process to which that standard can approximate. There is no sense in talking of "becoming better" if better means simply "what we are becoming" - it is like congratulating yourself on reaching your destination and defining your destination as "the place your have reached."
Taken from "Evil and God," an essay from the book, God in the Dock, which is a much, much better book than Robert Wright's Nonzero.

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