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What then, are the beliefs thatcharacterize today’s self-destructiveChristianity? They are altruism anduniversalism. These two beliefs sodominate public Christian discoursethat they are contradicted from nomore than a handful of pulpits—evenin the American South, where minis-ters once invoked God in defense of segregation.
Let us first consider altruism, theGood Samaritan reflex. The GoldenRule—which is the ideal of Christianconduct—exalts altruism, or acts beneficial to others without regard for one’s own interests. If followed byeveryone, surely the Golden Rulewould produce world peace and har-mony.In fact, universal altruism has un-intended consequences, some of which are shocking to Christian sensi- bilities. Biologist and human ecolo-gist, Garrett Hardin, explained why inhis 1968 essay, “The Tragedy of theCommons:” “
Conscience is self-eliminating from a population.
“ (Thetragedy of the commons is the ten-dency to over-exploit any resourcethat is available for all to share butthat exacts little or no cost from anyone user.) Prof. Hardin first makes his point with respect to voluntary birthcontrol, then generalizes it:“People vary. Confronted with ap- peals to limited breeding, some peo- ple will undoubtedly respond to the plea more than others. Those whohave more children will produce alarger fraction of the next generationthan those with more susceptible con-sciences . . . . The argument here has been stated in the context of the popu-lation problem, but it applies equallywell to any instance in which societyappeals to an individual exploiting acommons to restrain himself for thegeneral good—by means of his con-science. To make such an appeal is toset up a selective system that workstoward the elimination of consciencefrom the race.”Conscience is eliminated becauseit is not randomly distributed in a population but is to some degree in-herited from parents. Even if willing-ness to restrict breeding for the goodof all is only slightly heritable, an ap- peal to conscience will steadily re-move it from the population. The factthat
conscience, or ina broader sense, unfettered altruism,is self-eliminating is a fundamentaltruth with which any lasting moralorder must contend.There must be a dual code of mo-rality—one for one’s own group andanother for everyone else. Harsh asthis may sound both to Christians andnon-Christians, nature will inexorablyeliminate the flawed genes of anygroup that fails to make this distinc-tion.In fact, we take the dual code for granted. We devote much of our lives
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American Renaissance - 3 - September 1997to rearing our own children but weignore the children of strangers—anobvious double standard. We save thelives of our comrades in battle but wekill the enemy—another double stan-dard. The universal altruism of theGolden Rule undercuts both forms of group loyalty. After all, we might wellwish that strangers
devotethemselves to our children. If we took the Golden Rule seriously we mightthen devote ourselves to the childrenof others and neglect our own. Like-wise the Golden Rule might require usto betray our own side to the enemy,inasmuch as that is what we mightwant done for us. Clearly, groups andindividuals that behaved this waywould not pass on their perverted mo-rality to many descendants.Some will object that Prof. Har-din’s prediction about the self-elimination of conscience is demon-strable false, since it still exists. Nev-ertheless, what matters is the timescale. Conscience-obsessed Westernman is declining in numbers, and hismorality and behavior are decliningwith him.
Today’s Christians have confusedthe Biblical injunction to be our brother’s keeper—a moral code basedon blood kinship—with the oppositenotion that every human on earth isour brother. More than a century ago,Pierre-Joseph Proudhon observed, “If everyone is my brother, I have no brothers.” Prof. Hardin adds:“Universalism is altruism practiced
of kinship, ac-quaintanceship, shared values, or pro- pinquity in time or space.”Biblical testimony on universalismis, in fact, mixed. The Old Testament praises altruism only within the com-munity, and commands the Childrenof Israel to shun other peoples. For example, Deuteronomy 7:2-3 reads:“2 When the Lord thy God shalldeliver them before thee, thou shaltsmite them, and utterly destroy them;thou shalt make no covenant withthem, nor shew mercy unto them; 3 Neither shalt thou make marriageswith them; thy daughter thou shalt notgive unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. . . .”One finds national and presumablyracial separatism in the New Testa-ment as well. Acts 17:26 reads, “[He]
A self-sacrificingconscience andunfettered altruism, areself-eliminating.