“In abandoning an absolute standard for judging good and evil, scholars attempt to utilize statistics and history to evaluate what would in the future be regarded as normative in terms of truth, law, and ethics. “The greatest happiness for the greatest number” becomes the sole norm in religion, morality, logic, and aesthetics. In itself, everything is a private matter—a matter of taste and passion or of character and education.
But because this would lead to licentious arbitrariness, individualism needs to be subdued by socialism. Science, represented by an Areopagus of scholars, must therefore prescribe to everyone, on the basis of their own analysis, what constitutes truth. They have the highest authority . . . They must now authoritatively proclaim the dogmas and norms which govern all of human life. On the basis of historical and statistical analysis, they must proclaim whether monotheism or polytheism, truth or lies, marriage or debauchery is to be preferred.
Translator — Adi Schlebush
1.) When one rids the transcendent God who has come close to us in the eternal Word, the incarnate Word, and the inscripturated Word from one’s thinking then a new transcendent must be sought out in order to provide temporal unity to all the temporal particulars of life.
2.) Bavinck contends that the new transcendent God becomes statistics and history. The problem with these is obvious though. The problem is that in making statistics and history to be normative one has made man to be God since it is the mortal statistician who collects the “data” and it is a mortal historian who writes the history. In the former, we remember Twain (citing Disraeli) saying that there are “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” In the latter, we divinize the historian and have embraced historicism. Consequently, in taking up statistics and history as our new norm that will norm all norms we have not rid ourselves of God. Instead, we have merely transposed the quality of godness to some man or men (statisticians and historians).
3.) The greatest good for the greatest number that Bavinck cites is the motto of pragmatism. Pragmatism is an illusion as there is no way that anybody could ever know what is the greatest good for the greatest number nor could any equation ever be established in order to determine all the variants that were possible in order to determine the greatest good for the greatest number.
4.) Apart from force, in the abandoning of God as a transcendent reality who gives objective meaning to everything what is left is pure subjectivism as those who are epistemologically self-conscious each do what is right in their own eyes. This is Bavinck’s point about everything becoming a private matter.
5.) When man becomes ultimate as the individual anarchy is the consequence. As such there must be created an equal humanist ultimate (one) for the equal humanist many. This is where socialism enters. Scientific Socialism (so-called) takes on the mantle of God walking on the earth in order that there might be a humanist order. This conflict between anarchistic humanism and humanistic Scientific socialism was the conflict that raged between Max Stirner and Marx.
6.) Pay attention here to the reality that what Bavinck wrote over 100 years ago is now what is rising in the West. Bavinck here was reading the stitches on the fastball coming. Clearly, we are living in a time where we have an Areopagus of scholars covering their authority with the fig leaf of science seeking to dictate to us as gods what mask, jab, and distancing by which we must abide. Such men have arisen and will continue to arise to do the same thing in the other areas that Bavinck mentions. It’s all humanist bull-scat.
7.) In Bavinck’s last paragraph he predicts postmodernism in a subtle fashion. When Bavinck notes that when truth is not convenient it will be changed out for lies, he is noting that truth will become completely arbitrary as it serves the interests of the elite in whatever way they desire. The idea of truth existing for the sake of mankind is just more humanism. Man will live by whatever truth he desires.
8.) In this scenario, we see in our situation that the FEDS have become the mercenary army (Bavincks requisite “violence”) for the Scientists with the consequence that they use their tyrannical power to ensure that everybody has absolute freedom (license-licentiousness) to pursue any deviant end while at the same time exercising that tyrannical power against anyone who insists that there is a standard about the Scientists and the FEDS by which all norms are normed — including the FEDS, their Scientists, and perverted and deviant rabble.
Bavinck was a genius. He is someone you should be familiar with along with Dabney, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Gordon H. Clark, Christopher Dawson, Chesterton, to name only a few.