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‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 2 The Threat of Terminal Alienation from Science’s Denial
Chapter 2:12 While denial has been necessary, you can’t find the truth with lies
In concluding this chapter, I need to emphasise that Wilson, as the quintessential exponent of reductionist, mechanistic science, is only doing what all mechanistic scientists have been doing—and, indeed, what virtually all resigned humans have been doing—which is avoiding the issue of the human condition at all costs. But when it comes to finding understanding of the human condition, the costs of such evasion are great indeed because, clearly, if you’re committed to living in denial of the human condition you are in no position to ever find understanding of it. When Laing said, ‘Our alienation goes to the roots. The realization of this is the essential springboard for any serious reflection on any aspect of present inter-human life’, he was making the fundamental point that for there to be ‘any serious reflection on’ ‘human life’ the truth of our alienated, psychotic and neurotic, human-condition-afflicted state had to be ‘realiz[ed]’/confronted. You can’t find the truth from a position of lying—a case the aforementioned philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was making when he wrote that ‘The discovery of truth is prevented most effectively…by prejudice, which…stands in the path of truth and is then like a contrary wind driving a ship away from land’ (Essays and Aphorisms, tr. R.J. Hollingdale, 1970, p.120 of 237). As Martin Luther King Jr once said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate [relevantly here, hate/fear of the issue of the human condition] cannot drive out hate; only love [relevantly here, love/tolerance of the issue of the human condition] can do that’ (‘Loving Your Enemies’ sermon, Christmas 1957).
The psychologist Arthur Janov gave this deadly accurate description of the psychological basis of resigned, human-condition-avoiding, neurotic, alienated, ineffective, mechanistic thinking when he wrote that (underlinings are my emphasis) ‘As the child becomes split by his Pain [caused by his particular encounter with the human condition], he will develop philosophies and attitudes commensurate with his denials. He will have a warped view of the world…Thus, intellect becomes the mental process of repression…We can understand now why it is so difficult to change a neurotic’s ideas with facts, reasoning, or even counselling. He needs his ideological padding, and he will incorporate into it whatever he needs to strengthen it [this explains the ‘deaf effect’ resistance to discussion of the human condition described in ch. 1:4]…The more reality a person is forced to hide in his youth, the more likely it will be that certain areas of thinking will be unreal. That is, it is more likely that thought process will be constricted so that generalised extrapolations cannot be made about the nature of life and the world. Conversely, to be free to articulate one’s feelings while growing up will lead to becoming an articulate, free-thinking person, unhampered by fear, which paralyses thought…A young child can split from his feelings [from his Pain, the human condition] and learn every aspect of engineering. He can be a “smart” engineer or scientist…His intellect is something apart from his feelings…Neurotic intellect is an order superimposed on reality…Neurotic intellect is subject to indoctrination and brainwashing—because neurosis [blocking out] is brainwashing. So long as the neurotic has lost his full internal frame of reference, his mind can be swayed by false ideas and inaccurate systems. So long as he is neurotic, his judgment will be poor…He is truly a specialised man, living in his head because his body [where his feelings/pain/hurt soul lives] is out of touch and reach. He will deal with each piece of news he hears as an isolated event, unable to assemble what he sees and hears into an integrated view. Life for him is a series of discrete events, unconnected, without rhyme or true meaning’ (The Primal Revolution, 1972, pp.158-160 of 246).
Yes, once you are resigned to living in denial of the human condition, you are in no position to think truthfully and thus effectively—as the aforementioned, painfully honest poem of the resigning adolescent lamented, ‘you spend the rest of life trying to find the meaning of life and confused in its maze’. This sense of confusion was something Plato also acknowledged when he too wrote about the consequences of ‘unconnected’, ‘true meaning’-blocked, ‘warped’, ‘paralyse[d]’, soul-and-truth-denying, mechanistic, reductionist intellectualism—that ‘when the soul uses the instrumentality of the body [uses the body’s intellect with its preoccupation with denial] for any inquiry…it is drawn away by the body into the realm of the variable, and loses its way and becomes confused and dizzy, as though it were fuddled [drunk]’ (Phaedo, c.360 BC; tr. H. Tredennick, 1954, 79). And of course in his cave allegory (see par. 83), the inimitable Plato described how being unable to face the ‘sun[lit]’ true world that ‘makes the things we see visible’ meant that humans could only ‘see dimly and appear to be almost blind’. Indeed, as mentioned in par. 172, Plato described how in the situation of the human race as a whole, the practice of ‘more and more forgetting [denial]’ only leads to ‘discord’ and ‘disorder’ ‘burst[ing] forth’ and eventually ‘universal ruin’. Similar to Plato’s concerns are those expressed by the Templeton Prize-winning physicist Paul Davies who recognised the stultifying, ‘confused’, ‘fuddled’, ‘paralyse[d]’, ‘blind[ing]’, ‘ruin[ing]’, ‘more and more forgetting’, alienating effect of being ‘driv[en]’ ‘away from’ the ‘truth’ in his observation that ‘For 300 years science has been dominated by extremely mechanistic thinking. According to this [whole-view-evading, human-condition-psychosis-avoiding, mechanisms-only-focused] view of the world all physical systems are regarded as basically machines…I have little doubt that much of the alienation and demoralisation that people feel in our so-called scientific age stems from the bleak sterility of mechanistic thought’ (‘Living in a non-material world—the new scientific consciousness’, The Australian, 9 Oct. 1991).
Arthur Koestler was another frustrated by mechanistic, reductionist science’s avoidance of our species’ consciousness-induced, human-condition-afflicted psychosis, writing that ‘symptoms of the mental disorder which appears to be endemic in our species…are specifically and uniquely human, and not found in any other species. Thus it seems only logical that our search for explanations [of human behaviour] should also concentrate primarily on those attributes of homo sapiens which are exclusively human and not shared by the rest of the animal kingdom. But however obvious this conclusion may seem, it runs counter to the prevailing reductionist trend. “Reductionism” is the philosophical belief that all human activities can be “reduced” to – i.e., explained by – the [non-psychosis involved] behavioural responses of lower animals – Pavlov’s dogs, Skinner’s rats and pigeons, Lorenz’s greylag geese, Morris’s hairless apes…That is why the scientific establishment has so pitifully failed to define the predicament of man’ (Janus: A Summing Up, 1978, p.19 of 354). Like Davies, Koestler complained too of ‘the sterile deserts of reductionist philosophy’, making the fundamental point that ‘a correct diagnosis of the condition of man [had to be] based on a new approach to the sciences of life’ (ibid. pp.19-20), concluding that ‘the citadel they [mechanistic scientists] are defending lies in ruins’ (p.192).
And in addition to pointing out the psychological nature of our condition when he said that ‘Our alienation goes to the roots. The realization of this is the essential springboard for any serious reflection on any aspect of present inter-human life’, Laing also bemoaned the fact that mechanistic science has ‘pitifully failed to define the predicament of man’ when he wrote that ‘The requirement of the present, the failure of the past, is the same: to provide a thoroughly self-conscious and self-critical human account of man [p.11 of 156] …We respect the voyager, the explorer, the climber, the space man. It makes far more sense to me as a valid project—indeed, as a desperately urgently required project for our time—to explore the inner space and time of consciousness [p.105]’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967). Since our condition is consciousness-induced, ‘consciousness’ has become (and this will be more fully explained in ch. 7:2) code word for the issue of the human condition.
Charles Birch, my professor of biology at Sydney University and another recipient of the Templeton Prize, also bravely spoke the truth about the limitations of human-condition-avoiding mechanistic science when he said, ‘[mechanistic] science can’t deal with subjectivity [the issue of our psychologically distressed condition]…what we were all taught in universities is pretty much a dead end’ (from recording of Birch’s 1993 World Transformation Movement Open Day address). He also perceived the stultifying, ‘truth’-‘prevent[ing]’ effects of dishonest, denial-based, mechanistic thinking when he said, ‘Biology has not made any real advance since Darwin’ (in recorded conversation with the author, 20 Mar. 1987), and, some 10 years later, that ‘the traditional framework of thinking in science is not adequate for solving the really hard problems’ (Ockham’s Razor, ABC Radio National, 16 Apr. 1997), with the ‘hard[est] problem’ of all for truth-avoiding thinking to solve being the all-important issue of our psychologically distressed human condition. Yes, as Birch concluded, ‘Biology right now awaits its Einstein in the realm of consciousness studies’ (ibid).
It is no wonder that humanity has lost faith in science. General Omar Bradley was certainly clear-sighted when, in pointing out science’s failings, he said, ‘The world has achieved brilliance…without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants’ (Armistice Day Address, 10 Nov. 1948; Collected Writings of General Omar N. Bradley, Vol.1). Yes, as Carl Jung said, ‘Man everywhere is dangerously unaware of himself. We really know nothing about the nature of man, and unless we hurry to get to know ourselves we are in dangerous trouble’ (Laurens van der Post, Jung and the Story of Our Time, 1976, p.239 of 275). Sharing Jung’s concerns about science’s inability to provide us with the all-important, psychologically liberating, redeeming and transforming understanding of ourselves was the author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote that ‘We are living through deeply anxious days, and if we are to relieve our anxiety we must diagnose its cause…What is the meaning of man? To this question no answer is being offered, and I have the feeling that we are moving toward the darkest era our world has ever known’ (A Sense of Life, 1965, pp.127, 219 of 231). And lastly, when Sir Bob Geldof wrote and sang about our species’ plight in his aptly titled 1986 album, Deep in the Heart of Nowhere, ‘What are we going to do because it can’t go on…This is the world calling. God help us’, and ‘Searching through their sacred books for the holy grail of “why”, but the total sum of knowledge knows no more than you or I’, he was recognising that not only has science failed us, religious scripture has also been unable to help us with the ‘holy grail’ of answers we needed of the ‘why’ of the human condition. As explained in par. 156, until science clarified the difference between the gene and nerve based learning systems, the great prophets of old were in no position to explain the human condition—but even with that key knowledge found, science has been practising such extreme denial that it couldn’t use that knowledge to answer ‘why’.
The picture these concerned thinkers have painted of humanity’s predicament may be bleak, but it is true—‘Man…is [so] dangerously unaware of himself’ that ‘we are moving toward the darkest era our world has ever known’; ‘Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants’, ‘the scientific establishment has so pitifully failed to define the predicament of man’, ‘what we were all taught in universities is pretty much a dead end’, ‘the traditional framework of thinking in science is not adequate for solving the’ human condition, the ‘demoralisation that people feel in our so-called scientific age stems from the bleak sterility of mechanistic thought’, ‘the total sum of knowledge’ hasn’t been able to explain ‘why’ we are the way we are. Dishonest mechanistic science couldn’t solve the human condition, which is what was needed for the human race to progress to a human-condition-ameliorated, transformed state. And so human progress has been stalled, piled up and festering. The dialogue of one character in the 1991 film Separate but Equal accurately recognised the plight of our species when he said, ‘Struggling between two worlds; one dead, the other powerless to be born’—words that echo those of the philosopher Antonio Gramsci: ‘The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appears’ (Prison Notebooks, written during Gramsci’s 10-year imprisonment under Mussolini, 1927-1937). The politician Lionel Bowen also alluded to the futility of trying to reform our lives and world without first finding the reconciling, ameliorating understanding of ourselves when he said, ‘I think it’s just impossible to bring about change until such time as some new civilisation develops to allow change’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 Sep. 1988). But it was perhaps the historian Eric Hobsbawm who most succinctly captured the stark predicament facing humanity—that ‘the alternative to a changed society, is darkness’ (The Age of Extremes, 1994, p.585 of 672).
Yes, only a whole new way of thinking, in particular the reconciling, redeeming and healing way of understanding ourselves, and resulting new transformed civilisation could alter our species’ plight. We had arrived at a situation where humanity desperately needed clear biological understanding of ourselves, understanding that would make sense of our divisive condition and liberate us from criticism, lift the psychological burden of guilt, give us meaning. There had to be a scientific, first-principle-based, biological reason for our divisive behaviour and finding it had become a matter of great urgency. The ‘race’ that Richard Neville so accurately identified we were ‘locked in…between self destruction and self discovery’ had reached crisis point, for to be stranded in a state of insecurity about our worthiness or otherwise was to be stranded in a terminally upset, psychologically immature state of arrested development—as Benjamin Disraeli, a former Prime Minister of Great Britain, famously recognised, ‘Stranded halfway between ape and angel is no place to stop.’ The essayist Jonathan Swift’s anguished cry to ‘Not die here in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole’ (Letter to Bolingbroke, 21 Mar. 1729) did not exaggerate the truth of our predicament. The cellist Pablo Casals similarly emphasised the danger of our species’ stalled state when he said, ‘The situation is hopeless, we must take the next step’ (at a press conference in Madrid, on the occasion of his 80th [approx.] birthday). The journalist Doug Anderson made the same point when he wrote, ‘Time may well be dwindling for us to enlighten ourselves…Tragic to die of thirst half a yard from the well’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Oct. 1994). In saying ‘enlighten ourselves’, Anderson was intimating that only understanding ourselves, understanding of our psychosis and neurosis afflicted human condition, could make the difference that was needed. In quoting clinical psychologist Maureen O’Hara, the science reporter Richard Eckersley also acknowledged that ‘humanity is either standing on the brink of “a quantum leap in human psychological capabilities or heading for a global nervous breakdown”’ (Address titled ‘Values and Visions: Western Culture and Humanity’s Future’, Nov. 1995; see <>). The psychotherapist Wayne Dyer was another who understood that it is only the reconciling, dignifying understanding of our seemingly imperfect human condition that could save the human race, when he said, ‘We’ve come to a place…where we can either destroy ourselves or discover our divineness’ (The Australian Magazine, 8 Oct. 1994). Yes, as the great Australian educator, and my headmaster when I was a student at Geelong Grammar School, Sir James Darling, wrote when referring to the critical need now to solve the human condition: ‘The time is past for help which is only a Band-Aid. It is time for radical thinking and for a solution on the grand scale’ (Reflections for The Age, ed. J. Minchin & B. Porter, 1991, p.145 of 176).
Knowing now how evasive, truth-avoiding, defensive, excusive and deluded the resigned mind is, it is really to an unresigned adolescent mind that we should go for a truly accurate description of the seriousness of our species’ plight—and that’s what we have in these clearly unresigned, denial-free, honest lyrics from the 2010 Grievances album of the young American heavy metal band With Life In Mind: ‘It scares me to death to think of what I have become…I feel so lost in this world’, ‘Our innocence is lost’, ‘I scream to the sky but my words get lost along the way. I can’t express all the hate that’s led me here and all the filth that swallows us whole. I don’t want to be part of all this insanity. Famine and death. Pestilence and war. [Famine, death, pestilence and war are traditional interpretations of the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ described in Revelation 6 in the Bible. Christ referred to similar ‘Signs of the End of the Age’ (Matt. 24:6-8 and Luke 21:10-11).] A world shrouded in darkness…Fear is driven into our minds everywhere we look’, ‘Trying so hard for a life with such little purpose…Lost in oblivion’, ‘Everything you’ve been told has been a lie…We’ve all been asleep since the beginning of time. Why are we so scared to use our minds?’, ‘Keep pretending; soon enough things will crumble to the ground…If they could only see the truth they would coil in disgust’, ‘How do we save ourselves from this misery…So desperate for the answers…We’re straining on the last bit of hope we have left. No one hears our cries. And no one sees us screaming’, ‘This is the end.’ Saying ‘We’ve all been asleep since the beginning of time’ echoes all that Laing said (par. 123) about the extent of our blocked-out, alienated condition; and saying ‘Everything you’ve been told has been a lie’ reiterates the extent of the dishonest denial in the world, especially in science, today; and saying ‘So desperate for the answers’ confirms how incredibly important are all the ‘answers’ about our human condition that are presented in this book. If there was ever a collection of words that cuts through all the dishonest pretence and delusion in the world about our condition these lyrics from With Life In Mind surely do it!
Thankfully then it is precisely this ‘solution on the grand scale’, this ‘enlightenment’ of ‘ourselves’—in fact, the ‘discover[y]’ of the reason for ‘our divineness’—that makes possible the ‘quantum leap in human psychological capabilities’ from alienation to transformation that alone can ‘save ourselves from this misery’ of the human condition, that is going to be presented in the next chapter. Yes, finding understanding of the human condition is the real game-changer the human race has been waiting for, such that when only yesterday the levels of human suffering and distress and anger and environmental degradation from the effects of our horrifically troubled, upset human condition seemed irredeemable and irreversible, and all looked hopeless, suddenly people are going to appear who are inspired and transformed; so inspired and transformed, in fact, they are super-charged on a super-highway to a fabulous future for the human race. As will be explained and described in chapter 9 of this book, that sublime future is what becomes possible when the human condition is truthfully explained and solved, as it is in this book—and, indeed, the affirmations provided at evidence this is true.
Indeed, the next chapter in this book evidences what is possible if you don’t think dishonestly and instead acknowledge important truths such as that humans did once live in a cooperative, loving, innocent state, and that it was our conscious mind that led to our present ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted, immensely psychologically upset, fallen condition—for it provides the presentation of the dreamed-of, psychologically liberating, human-race-transforming, fully accountable, true explanation of the human condition. When, in defence of my work in the successful defamation trial we ran against mechanistic science’s attack on it (see pars 573-615), Professor Scott Churchill, the then Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Dallas, wrote, ‘I have recommended his [Griffith’s] more recent work to my students precisely for his razor-sharp clarifications of positions of contemporary authors like Edward O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, and Robert Wright. Griffith manages to summarize book-length expositions of these oftentimes obtuse and varying perspectives on human evolution with clarity and brilliance’ (see ), that ‘razor-sharp’ ‘clarity and brilliance’ was simply a case of having thought truthfully about biology in a human-condition-confronting rather than human-condition-avoiding way.
In conclusion, the following amazingly honest cartoon by Michael Leunig summarises all that has just been said about how truth and beauty can only be accessed via another paradigm outside the mechanistic one the human race currently lives in. In it we see a lone, self-powered, self-sufficient individual leaving the great artificial and superficial, alienated and alienating metropolis that has been built on dishonest denial to seek ‘truth’ in the dark night of all that we have repressed, and, by so doing, resurrect ‘beauty’ on Earth. Yes, as Sir Laurens van der Post wrote, ‘There is, somewhere beyond it all, an undiscovered country to be pioneered and explored, and only a few lonely and mature spirits take it seriously and are trying to walk it’ (About Blady, 1991, p.87 of 255)—a statement of prophetic honesty that reiterates an observation he made some 40 years earlier that ‘the one primary and elemental approach to the problem [that the world faces] is through [understanding] the being of man. Unfortunately it is an increasingly lonely way, trodden more and more not by masses but by solitary individuals…[only these few] sustain [man’s] urge to seek an answer to the riddle of life [confront and by so doing solve the human condition]’ (The Dark Eye in Africa, 1955, p.15 of 159).