Self-Esteem, Origins and CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch website came under scrutiny a fair bit at my old blog, and I think it will be featuring quite frequently here as well. In his latest post Muehlenberg looks at the issue of self-esteem, and what leads to it.

Of course there are numerous reasons why a person may have a low sense of self-worth. All sorts of factors go into the problem of low self-esteem. But it seems that one factor must have a leading role in all of this. I refer to worldviews and the way they understand the human person: their origin, their nature and their destiny.

If a person holds to or is greatly influenced by a worldview which has a very low view of personhood and the human condition, then this must contribute to a flagging self-image. If we believe, for example, that people are only animals, with nothing unique or special about them, then that will contribute to a less than optimistic assessment of one’s self and one’s world.

There’s your answer – evilution. So not only is Darwin responsible for Hitler, eugenics and school shootings, he’s also responsible for low self-esteem.

Consider the philosophy of naturalism or materialism, which argues that matter is all there is. There is no supernatural, no spiritual, no non-material reality. Matter alone matters, this worldview asserts. Of course evolutionary worldviews which are undergirded by such a materialist philosophy are good examples of this.

“Matter alone matters”? Really? I don’t believe in the supernatural, but I wouldn’t say that “matter alone matters”. It’s almost as if non-believers are having words shoveled into their mouths.

Bill then proceeds to quote an article by Randy Alcorn:

Everywhere in the secular media I’ve been hearing and reading about the critical problem of poor self-esteem among our young people. A bad self-image is being cited as the cause of teen suicide, drug abuse, crime and violence. Educators and community leaders are trying to find ways to help children bolster their self-esteem.

Where does this plague of low self-esteem come from? Ironically, straight from the atheistic evolutionary view of man with which society has indoctrinated our young people.

Evolution is not a “view”, it is a fact. If society has indoctrinated young people with evolution, then it has also indoctrinated them with the germ theory of disease, atomic theory and heliocentrism.

Sorry, the next bit is quite long, but take notice of the bits in red:

Let me summarize the secular and Christian foundations for self-esteem, then you tell me whether it’s any wonder why America’s children are feeling like they, their lives and values have so little meaning.

The Secular Basis for Self-Esteem:
You are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm that washed up on an ocean beach ten billion years ago. You are the blind and arbitrary product of time, chance and natural forces. Your closest living relatives swing from trees and eat crackers at the zoo.

You are a mere grab-bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an obscure galaxy in a remote and empty corner of a vast, cold, and meaningless universe. You are flying through lifeless space with no purpose, no direction, no control, and no destiny but final destruction.

You are a purely biological entity, different only in degree but not in kind from a microbe, virus or amoeba. You have no essence beyond your body, and at death you will cease to exist entirely. What little life you do have is confined to a fragile body aimlessly moving through a world plagued by war, famine and disease. The only question is whether the world will manage to blow itself up before your brief and pointless life ends on its own.

In short, you came from nothing, you are going nowhere, and you will end your brief cosmic journey beneath six feet of dirt, where all that is you will become food for bacteria and rot with worms.

And now, kids . . . doesn’t that make you feel good about yourselves?

Everything in red is how people like Muehlenberg and Alcorn would feel if they were to accept the basic facts of biology and were to start believing only in things for which good evidence exists. I, personally, am not disheartened by the fact that a very distant ancestor of mine was “a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm that washed up on an ocean beach” 3.7 billion years ago (not 10 billion years – the earth itself was but a twinkling in the big bang’s eye at that stage). I don’t find the fact that I am the result of time, chance and natural forces to be depressing. In fact I feel quite the opposite. If people like Muehlenberg and Alcorn believe life without a sky daddy would be “brief and pointless” with “no purpose, no direction, no control, and no destiny but final destruction” than that’s their problem, not mine.

And as for the bit about ending up “beneath six feet of dirt, where all that is you will become food for bacteria and rot with worms”, well, I’m sorry guys, but that’s how it is. Trying to gross me out won’t make me change my mind.

There’s a lot more that could be fisked about Alcorn’s Secular Basis for Self-Esteem, but I’ll leave it there for now. Feel free to add anything in the comments.

Bill then quotes Alcorn’s Christian Basis for Self Esteem, which is basically six paragraphs of “you’re special and God loves you!” He sure loves us alright. That’s why he invented cancer, ebola and AIDS. That’s why he sits by while parents watch their young sons and daughters die from leukemia. That’s why he didn’t intervene at Auschwitz or the Gulag, and why he’s not intervening in Darfur (things have to get really bad before he’ll step in and say “enough”).

Again, reason takes a back seat to rhetoric at CultureWatch.

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~ by Sammy Jankis on November 14, 2007.

3 Responses to “Self-Esteem, Origins and CultureWatch”

  1. Matter alone matters, this worldview asserts.

    Wrong. Science does not claim that “Matter alone matters.” Science holds no position whatsoever on the question of whether matter “matters.”

    Ironically, straight from the atheistic evolutionary view of man with which society has indoctrinated our young people.

    As opposed to the fundie worldview, which indoctrinates those young people unfortunate enough to fall under its sway that if they don’t blindly and uncritically submit to its dogmas, they will spend eternity in Hell. The fundie worldview, which basically says: fuck this world and fuck this life–it’s the afterlife that’s important. You couldn’t get a more nihilistic worldview than fundamentalist Christianity–though I suppose fundamentalist Islam is way up there also.

    But Bill, as always, is talking out of his arse. There is no “worldview” associated with evolution. Evolution, like all science, is descriptive, not prescriptive. Nor is there any “worldview” associated with atheism. Atheism is the simple lack of belief in a deity. If Bill wants to construct a strawman worldview on top of that basic fact, he is welcome, but that’s all it will be. A strawman.

    Everything in red is how people like Muehlenberg and Alcorn would feel if they were to accept the basic facts of biology and were to start believing only in things for which good evidence exists.

    Agreed. These guys are simple-minded nihilists. They simply cannot imagine how it is possible to live without the baby blanket of sky-daddy-worship, and so assume this applies to everyone. Time to grow up, gentlemen.

    Bill then quotes Alcorn’s Christian Basis for Self Esteem

    Bill does a lot of this, you will notice. Cutting and pasting large swathes of work from those he agrees with, that is. He is not a very original thinker, is he?

    The question is, who is Alcorn [or you may substitute with whatever obscure author whose book Bill recently picked up in the shop at the back of the megachurch], and why should his opinions be regarded with any more weight than those of the guy who delivers my pizza?

  2. Nihilism straw man. Yawn.

    Oh… If BM hasn’t put you to sleep, you’ve been tagged.

  3. […] the other day.  One in the comments thread of this article regarding self-esteem (which I’d blogged about earlier), and one following a glowing review of Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s so great […]

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