It’s an historical certainty that once a particular paradigm of truth–an accepted model of thinking about what is true and what is false--is accepted without much question by the general public, it will be appropriated by ideologues and used to delude and to abuse a credulous people.
Examples of paradigms of truth used by leaders to deceive and to control society abound, but only two will be noted; one from Renaissance times and one from our own time.
In the very late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the Roman Catholic church reigned supreme. It permeated the religious and political reality of European culture. Many benefits flowed from the power of the church and from its institutions. However, as its power over the lives of European Christians became almost complete, as powerful institutions of any stripe tend to do when absolutely powerful, the church descended into disastrous corruption. The rot within the church eventually to the Protestant Reformation.
By the time of the Reformation, papal taxes and regulations overburdened burdened a groaning populace. One of the most devious means of getting money from the poor and credulous was the papal issuance of indulgences in order to get money for the building of St. Peter’s church in Rome. Indulgences were held out as a means fo delivering one’s deceased family members from purgatory.
Redemption was for sale.
The most famous purveyor of indulgences was Johannes Tetzel, a salesman of forgiveness who was given a papal commission to sell indulgences in Germany. He is everlastingly known for his little rhyming couplet "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings/ the soul from purgatory springs."
Tetzel and other representatives of the Catholic church used its adherents’ faith, devotion and trust to fleece credulous believers of money for the pope’s building project.
How could the public have been so deceived? The answer to that question is that most believed the church and the pope were trustworthy conveyors of truth. They did not question, but believed; and the leadership of the church cooperated in plundering belief, relying on its control of people of faith.
Dostoevsky points out the problem, still extant in Russia of his day, in the "Grand Inquisitor" speech, in which the grand Inquisitor questions Jesus Christ’s return, perceiving the Messiah’s appearance would upset the status quo by threatening the autonomy and control of the church. The inquisitor states that people allowed the church to take over their freedom because it was easier and more comfortable than to go through the difficult process of attaining true freedom. They handed over faith and trust to the formulaic control of the church.
The tendency of the faithful to hand over issues of truth to the control to the church may have been eroded over the last century and a half, but the actual tendency to blindly believe has not been vitiated.
What has changed is the paradigm of truth.
In our own times, the discipline most representative of truth is science. To say something is "scientific" is to say it is true. The scientific paradigm has replaced religion in many folks’ minds as the most credible belief system.
The unarguable successes of the scientific revolution have fortified and buttressed faith in science and in the scientific method. Of course, the faith in science extends to scientists themselves. They are held up to admiration and receive the respect priests once automatically enjoyed.
But time and again this powerful and productive paradigm which has blessed so many with incredible advances in technology, medicine and other fields has been appropriated, as was the faith and trust of Christians of old, by the unscrupulous for nefarious and often fatal ends.
Those familiar with the history of the West know the racial theories of Nazism and the economic theories of Marxism were both considered "scientific" and therefore unarguable. Human carnage was the result. Percentage wise, more people died because of "scientific" racial and economic theories than ever perished under the banner of religion.
While many scientists in the West largely upheld the integrity of the scientific method and its application, particularly that of the "hard" science of physics; the "free" nations of the West, such s Britain and the United States, were also susceptible to less deadly but equally erroneous nostrums. For example, phrenology and eugenics postured as science while the fields of biology, psychiatry and sociology suffered from the theories and postulates of "scientists" who were no more than heretical kooks but who found refuge under the aegis of science in general. The "soft" sciences suffered most, as hard and irrefutable data proved to be difficult to gather. Whole fields of study became weedy variants and corrupt offshoots of true science.
All along, in spite of the heresies abounding in the "soft" sciences, the "hard" sciences flourished, seemingly impervious to the corruption of the scientific method.
But ironically, it would be physics, the Queen of the sciences, which ushered in the most deleterious paradigm shift, a shift that would affect all of Western civilization. It would be the misappropriation and misapplication of the theory of relativity as put forth by Albert Einstein that would bring the Judeo/Christian moral consensus of the entire West to its knees.
It was said of Mrs. Einstein, when asked by a reporter if she understood her husband’s theory of relativity that she replied, "Oh, no, my dear. I only know how to make his cup of tea."
Likewise, this author does not pretend to understand the intricacies of Einstein’s discoveries.
What is understood is that his postulate that two frames of reference are equally valid in describing the world, that time itself is relative and that the way one sees things is a matter of which point of view you take.
The popularization of Einstein’s observations concerning time and space and the speed of light trickled down and were understood by the general public to apply in areas in which they held no authority other than in the popular imagination, which took hold of the idea that "Everything is relative," including morality.
The results of the misapplication of Einstein’s theory of relativity continue to play out in the West’s societal structures in ways that can only be described as catastrophic. One such catastrophe has been the corruption and general disregard of mores based on the Judeo/Christian concept of an overarching, transcendent morality that informs all personal and societal behavior.
What was originally a novel misunderstanding of Einstein’s theory that promised personal "freedom" from morality become over a century’s time, an entrenched mind set that resulted in philosophical constructs which permeated all of society and most societal institutions, including the church.
Such constructs include radical multi-culturalism, the basic premise of which is that no one cultural construct is better than another. The conclusion is that Western mores and Western exceptionalism are no better than the societal constructs of a lost tribe in the Amazon, regardless of whether that particular tribe or cultural entity practices things morally abhorrent to Westerners. The tribe is its own judge and no outside viewpoint has validity. No judgement is desirable or even possible, as morality and excellence are relative concepts and purely dependent on the viewpoint of the person immersed in a particular culture.
The concept of relativity is also behind the current rage for political correctness. As standards of morality and behavior differ markedly, and no judgement is possible in a relative world, no overarching moral standards may applied to any person or any subculture.
Of course, the ultimate playing out of relativism is moral and societal anarchy which will eventually crush into irrelevancy the scientific paradigm itself, including the integrity of the theory of relativity. That is because, as we have seen above, the scientific paradigm and the scientific method depends on a rigorous morality. It depends on truth telling, on relentless comparisons of data and observations and on the integrity of scientists themselves. Once the integrity is gone, all that is left is pseudo science which is used to buttress ideology and to service sheer power.
We have an example of such corruption in the present scandal concerning global warming. The outlines of the scandal are available in countless articles, and will not be reviewed here.
However, it should be pointed out that the theory of relativity misapplied to morality has come full circle to bite a the relatively "hard" science of climate study, which is dependent on the hard data of temperature measurements. It is clear from the purloined emails that hard data was distorted to produce the results desired to bolster the claims that climate change is manmade.
In brief, the truth claims of the scientific method and of science itself were sacrificed to political expediency and used to delude a credulous and trusting public as surely as the sale of indulgences was used to extract monies from the trusting faithful of the church.
One can scarcely overstate the catastrophic effects of the discovery that the scientific method was deliberately sacrificed and perverted in order to satisfy transient political ends which included the the extraction of Western wealth in order that the world order ostensibly be made more equitable.
Once science is subjected to purely political ends, it is no longer science, and even more importantly, it is no longer worthy of trust.
That the August paradigm of Western science, particularly as practiced by the free nations of Britain and the U.S., both of which have contributed so much truth about our world and universe, would be brought to such a pass would have been virtually unthinkable even a few decades ago.
As the magnitude of this moral catastrophe continues to unfold, the re-examination of the bases of science and the scientific method must begin now. What makes science truly science; what makes it a truthful paradigm worthy of respect and trust must be established anew in order the public not be ensnared either by their own blind credulity or the charlatanism of scientists parading as truth tellers while all the while they practice in secret a corrupting deception.
A start in the right direction would be the repudiation of moral relativity and a return to acknowledgment and practice of the morality which transcends and informs all human discourse and all societal orders, including those institutions devoted to the pursuit of scientific endeavors..