Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Spiraling Down

December 12th, 2013 by Adam G.

I came across a pretty dark argument recently for a biological cycle that drags back down whatever civilization goes up.  There is also the Malthusian argument, and even the Spenglerian argument.   The Book of Mormon teaches a pride cycle that ends in destruction, so we have scriptural authority for the proposition that progress always creates its own demise.  We cannot expect this-wordly salvation.

We also have scriptural authority for the proposition that this-worldly salvation isn’t the only salvation.


Comments (8)
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December 12th, 2013 12:07:33

Bruce Charlton
December 12, 2013

Not ‘always’ because there is always a possibility of repentance – and some examples of it. If so, then there is delay; sometimes a renewal.

After all, the Roman Empire lasted an awfully long time – until either 1201 at least, or 1453 more reasonably.

But it is very strange to be in this kind of end stage – when the most obvious things are denied because they do not fit with basic (but false) assumptions.

For example, the fact that there are virtually no geniuses nowadays (in science, or indeed the arts) is re-interpreted to mean that there are so many geniuses around that no individual stands-out. Or, that there never were any geniuses, and the idea was a patriarchal scam.

Presumably, because people now believe so deeply the obviously-wrong idea that everybody in every time and place has equal ability – so the number of geniuses could not have changed over time (and therefore the proportion of geniuses could not differ between cultures, nations or the sexes).

This is only a small example. The main example is a kind of defeatism that refuses to take action unless it is both guaranteed success and promises to be 100 percent effective; also, that ‘tough decisions’ cannot be made (where any long term benefit comes at the expense of short term harm) – so the long term harm is simply denied.

In general, I have found that people seem to acknowledge that apostasy is the root cause of the problem and that atheism has failed catastrophically – but they cannot see that this implies that religion is the solution; and that if we do not chose the Christian religion then we will have to accept some other.

Of course the problem is that most Christian denominations are (as things stand) part of the problem, not a solution. That is true; but it is a constraint, rather than a refutation; it greatly reduces the chance of successfully reversing collapse; but does not affect the fact that revival is the *only* chance of success.

Adam G.
December 12, 2013

I wish I had a good term for the all too common argument that X is not politically or socially possible, therefore X is not important.

December 12, 2013

This reminds me of a syllogism I’ve been working out:

1. Without a large-scale return to religiously traditional living, Western civilization is doomed.

2. Western civilization will most likely reject any appeal to return to religiously traditional living.

3. Therefore, Western civilization is most likely doomed.

Alas, QED.

Joseph Hertzlinger
December 16, 2013

When I see the phrase “biological diversity,” I reach for my skepticism.

Bruce Charlton
December 16, 2013

@JH “When I see the phrase “biological diversity,” I reach for my skepticism.”

- Well then, you are fortunate – aren’t you? – that the politically correct thought police are so pervasive, so powerful, so active, and so zealous in finding and harshly-punishing those who might provoke your ‘skepticism’.

Unlike these PC witch-hunt victims – who include many of my friends and colleagues; you can thus sleep soundly, wrapped snugly in your ‘beliefs’.

Joseph Hertzlinger
December 16, 2013

I apply the same standards that I apply to claims about spotted owls or trace pollutants.

T. Greer
December 18, 2013

1. “the Roman Empire lasted an awfully long time – until either 1201 at least, or 1453 more reasonably.”

But the Roman Empire did follow a cyclical pattern – one just as cyclical as the Nephites. After the conquests of the 2nd and 3rd centuries Rome is ripped apart by greed, class struggles, and scheming designs of proud men, culminating in the terrors of civil war. Under Augustus the empire picks up, only to fall victim to the “Crisis of the Third Century” two centuries later. The Dominate manages to create a Rome resurgent, but a century later Rome falls to barbarian hands. Things look up again in Justinian’s hands, but under Heraclean hands the empire once again fades until the Arabs put Constantinople itself to siege. They fail, but the empire does not pick up again until Basil I and his reforms to the thames system. His reforms leave the empire strong for another few hundred years, but that system too crusts over, with high ambitions in the inner court destroying unity among the leadership and rampant landlordism robbing the military system of its free-holding farmer base. Manzikert and crusaders soon follow;from these the Romans could not recover.

2. Since we are listing cyclic theories of civilization, I once again offer Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War as a good place to start. I would love to apply his demographic/inequality/asabiyah cycle to Nephite civilization. Hmm. Hadn’t thought of it before, but now that seems like a pretty neat project to attempt….

Adam G.
December 19, 2013

Thanks for the Turchin link. Turchin is quite interesting (I originally got on to him from you), but like Toynbee his is a metahistory that doesn’t imply collapse, so I didn’t include it in the post.

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