Dr. Eric Holloway is an observer of the humanists and the scientists: a great texts degree, a MSc in Computer Science at the Air Force Institute of Technology and a PhD in Computer Engineering from Baylor University. He is not impressed with either group apart from the other. He began to worry about those opinion makers, influencers, he calls “the leaders of the moths.” These moth leaders tend to be quantitative to the point of insanity. Dr. Holloway:
“The truly insane man is the perfectly rational man.” So says GK
Chesterton. This saying is very counter intuitive today. The
perfectly rational man is the ideal scientist, the man who knows
reality in precise quantitative terms, the best kind of knowledge we
have. Such scientific knowledge promises the secret of immortality.
If we can understand the fundamentals of our physical existence, we
can shape our existence in whatever way we wish. The rational man is
the messiah of our scientific age.
So, why did Chesterton warn us about the rational man? The problem is
that rationality only deals with the known knowns and known unknowns.
Rationality does not deal with the unknown unknowns. The perfectly
rational man is a closed book, one who has pefectly circumscribed
reality within his mind. This has a double effect, which are mutually
reinforcing. First, the perfect rationality closes him off to the
unknown unknowns. Second, since the rational man knows all physical
means, he focuses with a laser like precision on the path the ultimate
human end: physical immortality.
To rephrase, the rational man is like the treasure hunter who has
found the map to the sunken spanish galleon, and amasses all his
fortune to recover the chests of doubloons buried deep within the
ship’s rotting hulk. Nothing can dissuade him from his course. That
is the tenor of our modern scientific age. We now know we are
physical, we now understand matter to its most fundamental components,
and we now can manipulate the fundamental components in any way we
wish. All that remains is to remake ourselves as immortal beings.
Our treasure hunter will stop at nothing to get his treasure. He will
sacrifice fortune and livelihood, ship and crew, perhaps even his own
health (but not life), to acquire the gold at the bottom of the ocean.
Because once the gold is acquired, it will be worth all sacrifice.
The same with immortality. Whatever sacrifices we must make to
achieve human immortality, history will condone our actions. History
is written by the victors, after all, which are whomever becomes
Of course this sounds silly and myopic, but that is precisely the
danger of the perfectly rational man. The clarity of the scientific
vision is its great danger. Science today is ultimately a modern form
of the original alchemy. Alchemy is fundamentally a means of
capturing for oneself ultimate value in some form: money, wisdom,
power, or life. Today, with the materialistic view that everything of
value has a material basis, and that all material things are within
the grasp of science and technology, this is exactly the condition for
alchemy. And, once we can achieve something of ultimate value, all
other values are secondary and discardable.
This has left us in the dangerous position today where we have many
powerful technologies that can fundamentally reshape our world. Be
they artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, or social
engineering, the problem is the reigning worldview gives those with
the power a blank check to do whatever they wish to push humanity to
the next step of evolution.
The problem is, the reigning worldview may just be flat out wrong.
There is no good reason to believe it is correct. The fundamentals of
consciousness, thought, free will, experience, an intricately complex
world, through which all scientific knowledge come, have no scientific
explanation. Yet, there is no authoritative voice questioning what we
call ‘science’, which is really a new religion. We have priests in
lab coats that can transubstantiate matter to give us the elixer of
immortality. No one likes to tolerate the dissenting voices from the
new religion. These voices hold back our gift.
Yet if we take a step back and look at the past couple centuries, the
era of progress has been anything but progressive. Instead we have
hundreds of millions murdered, many more lives ruined, and humanity
held in thrall to a vision that denies the reality of its rotten
fruit. And yet our leaders continue pandering to the spirit of the
age, in the hopes that next time we’ll get it right. But it is
precisely this unwavering commitment to the course that makes it ever
more likely there will not be a next time. The double effect of
perfect focus and ignoring of all distractions means GK Chesterton’s
rational man is cooly driving our civilization right into the abyss.