According to the website, Robert M Price is shutting down his podcast The Human Bible. It claims that this most recent episode (posted yesterday) is the penultimate one. I’m not a bit surprise. In the early days, Price was a lot of fun. But it’s been clear for a while that he is just going through the motions. But if I had to guess, I’d say the causation is indirect. I’ll bet they are shutting it down because fewer people are listening to it, and that’s because the show has gotten boring.
I have a special interest in listening to the show, however. You see, Price is a conservative — and not a very smart one either. I’ve written about this a number of times, most recently in, More Robert Price Islamophobia. In that one, I noted that a comment I made complaining about Price’s repeating of a ring-wing radio Obamacare canard got ten “thumbs up” from other listeners. So apparently, I’m not the only one to notice these things. But I suspect that I’m alone in looking forward to them. And in the most recent, Episode 35, Price delivered a whopper!
He started talking about economic redistribution. He claimed that in the time of the Bible, economics really was a zero-sum game: that the poor were poor because the rich were rich. Actually, that’s not true. Even Neolithic towns saw booms and busts. They didn’t see their GDP as constant. Some years there was more food, some years there was less. Certainly it is true at that time and much later at the time of the Bible, the economy was less dynamic than it is now. But it was not distinctly different from what it is today.
Price used this fact to argue (or rather state without evidence) that today, since we know that economics is not a zero-sum game, redistribution is wrong. So the argument he is making is that redistribution made sense as long as we thought that the economy was a fixed size. But now that we know it isn’t, redistribution doesn’t make sense. This is an amazingly bad straw man argument. No one makes this argument for redistribution. I don’t know of anyone ever making this argument for redistribution.
Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes both understood economics very well. They both understood the way that money flows and that the economy is not static. Yet both men believed in redistribution. Back in 1797, Thomas Paine laid out the case for redistribution: the government enforcement of property rights means that many people end up living worse lives than they would if they were born into a tribal culture. So the rich, who benefit excessively from the enforcement of property rights, owe something to the poor who lose out.
Since I’m a generalist, who despite my doctorate really doesn’t know a lot about anything but has a reasonable understand of everything, I don’t get people like Robert M Price. How can he be so brilliant in discussing religion (And H P Lovecraft!) but just follow along with lazy political ideas he’s heard? This is, interestingly, what atheists (like Price) always complain about theists: they just believe what they’ve heard without thinking about it. It is part of what I’ve written about before: the link between libertarianism and atheism.
Increasingly, I believe that the atheist community has fallen under the spell of Nietzsche. If God is dead, they make their own gods out of humans. And what humans? Well, the “super men” of course! They can’t be limited. And the “super men” are, of course, the rich. And so we must keep taxes low on the rich. This is Ayn Rand 101. It also is a complete misapplication of evolution theory. Being smart, strong, and hard working are all things that can make a species successful. It says nothing of individuals of the species. The smartest, strongest, and hardest working individual might simply be eaten by a shark through simple bad luck.
The end of The Human Bible comes at a very good time for me. I’m more and more unhappy with the atheist community. It isn’t just that they are often dimwitted and simplistic; it is also that they are so arrogant. I used to think that people were unfair when they said that atheists were just the mirror image of religious fundamentalists, but I really don’t anymore. Both groups make me wish that there were a god who punished people for hubris. But I’m more forgiving of the religious fundamentalists: they have the excuse of generally being stupid and indoctrinated when they were too young to fight against it. Atheists have no such excuses.
So Robert M Price can go on his merry being very rational and exacting in his biblical criticism. But he continues on with his faith-based politics, throwing out straw man arguments that should embarrass him with a second’s reflection. He is just another example of an atheist movement that has nothing to add to society. It’s just another tribe, blinded by its own interests, and convinced that it is superior because on a single issue it thinks slightly more clearly than other tribes.
Let me be clear: I’m not talking about all atheists. In fact, I think that most atheists aren’t like this. But the most vocal ones are. Most recently, we had Bill Maher and Sam Harris. But this group will never have a big following, because the politics of these people turn out to be remarkably similar to the politics of the Christian fundamentalists. It is like how the communists and the fascist hated each other, even though both groups ended up creating the same kind of governments. For what does it profit a man to gain the truth about a tiny aspect of life and forfeit the betterment of mankind? What does atheism profit a man when it changes the world not at all?