“He is not our tsar!”

His Majesty Tsar Vladimir II

That was the slogan under which hundreds of thousands of protesters staged peaceful demonstrations in 21 Russian cities.

Is he not? The occasion was yet another inauguration of Col. Putin, and those sport-spoiling Russians refused to accept it as a coronation. Yet, in Russia, that’s a distinction without a difference, which point was hammered home by police truncheons.

History is screaming parallels – is anyone listening? When the coronation of a Russian tsar is accompanied by deliberate or even accidental violence, it’s a bad omen. For even if it’s accidental, deliberate violence will certainly follow, eventually claiming the tsar himself as its victim.

The last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, was crowned on 30 May, 1896. Half a million people rushed to Moscow’s Khodynka Field, attracted by the promise of free food and drink at the festivities.

Those were indeed on offer, but the rumour of gold coins also to be doled out was false. One way or the other, a stampede occurred, and 1,389 people were trampled to death.

That was an auspicious start, and many superstitious Russians (which is to say almost all Russians) believed the reign was cursed. So it proved, even though the violence was a tragic accident.

What happened on Sunday, 9 January, 1905, was also tragic – but it wasn’t accidental. Thousands of unarmed workers marched to Petersburg’s Winter Palace to deliver a petition to the tsar.

Many theories of what happened on that day have been put forth, but one fact is indisputable: the Imperial Guard opened fire on the crowd, killing about 1,000 people and contributing the expression Bloody Sunday to most languages.

Thirteen years later the tsar and his whole family were butchered in a damp basement. Superstitious Russians, even those who grieved, were muttering the Russian equivalent of ‘what goes around comes around’.

What happened in Russia yesterday isn’t an exact parallel of Khodynka. The 1896 crowd were celebrating the coronation; yesterday’s crowd were protesting against it (fine, against the inauguration, if you’re a stickler for trivial detail).

The ensuing violence was accidental in 1896, but deliberate and pre-planned yesterday. And, so far, no one has died – though not for any lack of ardour on the part of the police.

Actually, not just the police. Developing the fine tradition of Nazi stormtroopers and Soviet druzhinniki the cops were backed up by paramilitary gangs, including fancy-dress mock-Cossacks beating the demonstrators to bloody welts with horsewhips.

The police were using less flexible truncheons and, as you can see on this video link, were doing a good job: https://graniru.org/Politics/Russia/activism/m.269723.html

Reports of casualties, although not yet fatalities, are streaming in, with many of the victims being journalists, mostly Russian but also some Western. (This last detail is another difference between yesterday and 1896: no correspondents were abused then.) Altogether there were some 1,600 arrests, and God only knows how many casualties:

Journalist Alexander Skrylnikov’s lung was lacerated by a truncheon blow. Dmitry Karasev was hospitalised with two broken ribs and liver damage. TV journalist Oksana Gandziuk was arrested. So was radio journalist Arseniy Vesnin. So were Daily Star journalists Ilia Gorshkiv and Alexander Antiufeev. So was journalist Alexei Alexandrov.

Flashnord’s woman correspondent was beaten up while being arrested. The same publication’s correspondent Tatiana Ysipushtanova was also arrested. The mock Cossacks attacked a France-Presse correspondent who tried to interview a demonstrator. A Telegram journalist had his video camera smashed and his arm damaged by a police truncheon.

And so forth, ad nauseum. It has to be said that this kind of take on freedom of assembly and of the press lacks novelty appeal. But the KGB training of most Russian high officials stood them in good stead: they were able to provide a fine creative touch, and I hope the patent office has been contacted.

When demonstrators gathered in Moscow’s Pushkin Square, a helicopter arrived and assumed a hovering position just above their heads. The roar of the engine and the airstream produced by the rotor completely muffled not only potential speeches but even normal conversation.

Yes, no Gatling guns were fired and no one was killed. But escalation of protests will lead to escalation of violence. Sooner or later Putin will order firing at protesting crowds, following in the footsteps of all Soviet chieftains from Lenin to Gorbachev.

Make no mistake about it: this lot will do anything it takes to hold on to power. Truncheons and horsewhips do the job for the time being; when they no longer do, machineguns will see the light of day.

When, I don’t know, and neither do I know if a Bloody Sunday Mark II would culminate in the same sanguinary finale for its instigator. But one thing I do know for sure: no matter how many people Putin maims, beats up, imprisons or kills, our useful idiots will still worship him.

Those on the right proceed from the kind of syllogism that used to land people in Bedlam. Thesis: We want Brexit – now. Antithesis: Our government isn’t delivering it. Synthesis: We love Putin.

These useless idiots think Putin is a fellow conservative. The Corbynistas are smarter: they know Putin hates our civilisation as much as they do, which is why they too join the fan club.

Opposites attract? I don’t think so. When they attract, they aren’t really opposites.

One intellectual pygmy on another

Happy birthday to you, you belong in the zoo…

“As anyone who opens Das Kapital will know, his was an intellect of formidable power,” writes Dominic Sandbrook to commemorate Marx’s anniversary.

For Marx was a jolly bright fellow, and nobody can “deny him a place, alongside other Victorian figures such as Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud, as one of the genuinely titanic intellectual influences on the modern world.”

Well, I can deny just that. Influences, yes. ‘Genuinely titanic intellectual influences’, no. The three manifest frauds didn’t appeal to the intellect, nor even to emotions. They appealed to the putrid modern swamp of viscera where evil resides.

But of course young Dominic can’t think in terms of good and evil because they are outside his ken. His upward intellectual journey stops several tiers below the system of thought where such concepts live.

That’s why he writes things like “And although [Marx’s] ideas – the importance of class struggle, the urgency of revolution, the dream of a socialist society – remain hugely controversial, there is simply no escaping them. Indeed, you could even argue that, to some degree, we are all Marxists today.”

Speak for yourself, Dominic… Actually he has.

Marx’s ideas aren’t ‘hugely controversial’. No controversy exists. They’ve been proved not just wrong but fraudulent – empirically, philosophically and historically.

Hence only a small mind will allow his thinking to be influenced by the Marxist methodology, whatever conclusions pro or contra he draws. The wide spread of Marxist ideas only validates the fact that most people’s minds are indeed small.

“…Thanks to the sheer force of Marx’s intellect,” continues Sandbrook, “[his teaching] has attracted some very clever people.” Such as “the British historian Eric Hobsbawm.”

No one who can’t see through ‘the sheer force of Marx’s intellect’ can be genuinely clever. He’s more likely to be genuinely evil, and Hobsbawm is a prime example.

The three iconic figures Sandbrook mentioned had no real intellect – if they had, they would have been seeking the truth, not just universal influence. What they, emphatically including Marx, actually had was some intellectual charisma and a highly sensitive nose to the needs of Zeitgeist.

Using such traits, Marx gave modernity something it had been sorely missing: an eschatology to fit its instincts. These were informed by the Enlightenment, which misnomer is applied to a mass revolt against Christendom – not just its founding faith, but everything it had produced: its morality, politics, aesthetics and system of thought.

This removed the intellectual and moral anchor, and society was cast adrift. Sensing that, people craved a new system of thought and morality to provide some self-justification and some sort of haven. Marx with his animal cunning sensed that need and responded to it.

Thanks to him the extermination of Christendom could now be put on a pseudo-intellectual footing. While the kingdom in heaven had been debunked, the kingdom in earth was at last described in detail.

Marx went the likes of More, Companella, Fourier and Owen one better by creating a utopia that didn’t look utopian. His ideal society appeared to be there for the taking, however long that took to achieve. It was a utopia nonetheless, but one put together with more evil sleight of hand than any of his predecessors had been able to master.

Had modern barbarians actually read Marx, instead of relying on politicised mouthpieces, they’d know that the central doctrines of Marxism were false even at the time of writing.

Marx wrote for political, not intellectual, ends. So he showed the way for many a modern politician by suppressing the data that contradicted his theories.

For example, the first edition of Das Kapital gives most statistics up to 1865 or 1866, except those for the changes in wages that stop in 1850. The second edition brings all other statistics up to date, but the movement of wages again stops in 1850 – it was essential to emphasise the workers’ plight.

Any serious study will demonstrate that Marx based his theories on the industrial conditions that either were already obsolete at the time or had never existed in the first place. That’s no wonder, for Marx never saw the inside of a factory, farm or manufactory.

The point about Marx’s selective treatment of facts is only worth making because of all the numerous claims to scientific truth made by, and for, him. Whatever else he was, Marx wasn’t a scientist, nor, God forbid, a philosopher. He wasn’t after truth, and all his writings were designed for one purpose: to stab a venomous sting into Christendom’s heart.

Sandbrook doesn’t realise how fraudulent and intellectually puny Marxism is. But he is aware of its awful consequences: “Well, the death toll speaks for itself. In the Soviet Union alone, his disciple Stalin killed perhaps 12 million people.”

Sandbrook is right in principle, but slipshod in his facts. ‘In the Soviet Union alone’, even Marx’s disciple Lenin killed more people than the number Sandbrook cites.

Marx’s disciple Stalin ran the score up to about 61 million, but then, since ‘we’re all Marxists now’, there’s an instinctive need to downplay Marxist monstrosities even when acknowledging them.

The monstrous acts are directly linked to Marx’s monstrous ideas, which, to his credit, Sandbrook knows – and supports with a few quotations (I did the same thing in my piece of 28 April). But, because the concept of evil is alien to him, he misunderstands the nature of the link.

“The Soviet dictator was not a monster who happened to be a Marxist,” Sandbrook writes, “He was a monster because he was a Marxist.” Yes, but why was he a Marxist?

Evil theories are always concocted by evil men. And, as I wrote above, Marx provided modernity with an eschatological justification for its evil instincts. But, for their possessor to accept that justification and act accordingly, those evil instincts have to be there to begin with.

Stalin was a monster not because he was a Marxist but because he was a monster. But no man likes to think of himself as such. Enter Marxism, or any of its eschatological derivatives, such as socialism, communism, fascism or Nazism.

Suddenly the monster isn’t a monster any longer. He’s a man who regretfully has to be cruel in pursuit of a supposedly noble, in fact wicked, idea. But the need for such an idea comes from the evil nature of his personality.

That’s why I’m always sceptical about ex-communists (in other words, justifiers of mass murder) who claim to have converted to conservative goodness. Acceptance of ideological democide may or may not involve some rational process. But it always answers a deep emotional need, an innate personality defect.

And I doubt that, barring a Damascene epiphany, anyone can change his personality any more than he can change the colour of his eyes. To put it in clichéd terms, you can take a boy out of Marxism, but you can’t take Marxism out of a boy.

Understanding evil is essential to understanding Marx and Marxism. Anyone capable of such understanding will know that celebrating the birthday boy’s anniversary is tantamount to celebrating evil by taking part in a satanic rite.

Intellect, even as low-grade as Marx’s, has no role to play there. But this kind of thinking is beyond Sandbrook and his ilk.

The burglar, the baker, the candlestick maker

Vincent wasn’t buried at Westminster Abbey, presumably because it was prebooked for a rave

In his 1840 novel A Hero of Our Time, Lermontov depicted as his Byronic antihero a disaffected aristocrat of the type later to be called ‘the superfluous man’. According to Lermontov, Grigory Pechorin represented the dominant type in Russia of the mid-nineteenth century.

(To be pedantic about it, he had in mind only a minute fraction of the Russian population. Most were illiterate peasants who were so busy trying to survive that they had no time to be disaffected.)

Fast-forward 178 years, move the narrative to Byron’s native land, and our time also has its hero: Henry Vincent. Vincent’s lineage was different from Pechorin’s, although equally homogeneous.

Pechorin’s relations were aristocrats; Vincent’s relations are criminals. In fact, they are more of a gang than a family, yet similarly close-knit.

Vindicating the adage ‘a family that robs together, stays together’, the Vincent clan including Henry himself, his father and five uncles specialised in expanding the number of ways in which vulnerable pensioners could be robbed, defrauded or burgled.

They cast their net wide in search of appropriate marks, all above a certain age. Their favourite trick was to provide some routine building services and then overcharge the customers grotesquely.

If a victim refused to pay, he was frogmarched to his bank and forced to make a cash withdrawal. Sometimes the ploy worked and sometimes it didn’t.

Henry, for example, spent 10 of his 37 years in prison. His last 6-year sentence was in 2009, when he charged an old man £72,000 to replace a single roof tile. And in 2003 several members of his family were sentenced to a total of 29 years for duping pensioners out of £448,180.

Henry’s father eventually decided to settle down and bought a £1.7m farm from another pensioner. The old chap accepted a £300,000 offer for the property, probably deciding that what was left of his life was worth more than £1.4 million.

But Henry himself was too young to stop working. His industry finally led him to arming himself with a sharpened screwdriver and breaking into the house where a 78-year-old pensioner lived with his wife crippled by arthritis.

At that point Henry’s luck ran out. For the plucky wrinkly Richard Osborn-Brooks resisted. In the ensuing scuffle Henry was fatally stabbed with his own screwdriver.

So far so good, or rather so bad. The police immediately arrested Mr Osborn-Brooks and charged him with murder, thereby acting according to their new job description.

That used to be protecting society from criminals; now it’s reshaping society according to the latest demands of our deranged modernity. The relevant demand in this case is that a victim of burglary has no right to harm the burglar when the poor youth is quietly going about his job.

For that’s what burglary is according to the modern ethos, a job. I remember the shock of my colleague shortly after I had moved to Britain from the US. We were chatting about burglary, and I casually mentioned that, if I caught a burglar in flagrante, I would try to harm him as much as I could. And if that involved killing him, it’s his hard luck.

My colleague’s reaction suggested he wouldn’t mind doing to me what I’d do to a burglar. “He’s just doing his job!” Since he was not only my colleague but also my boss, I restricted myself to muttering that a burglar isn’t a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, and burglary isn’t a respectable job but a vicious crime.

To myself I thought of the tectonic shift in mores that had had to occur between the time burglary was a hanging offence and the time when it became a job like any other.

In the intervening 30 years the situation has got even worse, but not yet so bad that charging an old man with murder for protecting his family against a potentially murderous thug wouldn’t cause a public outcry. Mr Osborn-Brooks was released, all charges dismissed.

Yet things had got bad enough for another section of the public to feel outraged at that miscarriage of justice. Burglar or not, the thug was under the protection of the laws of political correctness.

A shrine was jerry-built outside the scene of the incident, with flowers and wreaths expressing the bereavement of the thug’s spiritual family: thugs like him and their champions, who see burglary as a sort of redistribution scheme similar to that done by Customs & Excise.

The neighbours, some of whom had themselves been burgled, displayed their retrograde scepticism of social justice by tearing the shrine down – only for it to reappear the next day. That charade continued until yesterday, when the thug’s funeral was held.

The funeral procession befitted one for a national hero about to be laid to rest at Westminster Abbey. The family’s ill-gotten £100,000 bought a silver Mercedes hearse and eight other Mercedes limousines. A caravan and a flatbed truck followed, bearing numerous floral tributes, one of them in the shape of a vodka bottle.

The mourners in the cortège provided the appropriately solemn accompaniment by rolling the windows down, sticking two fingers out and screaming obscenities. The bereaved crowd of onlookers responded with a barrage of rocks.

After the service, 100 of the thug’s family and friends, most of them sporting hoods and balaclavas, used similar projectiles on the crowd of journalists and photographers preserving the event for posterity. A full-blown riot ensued, the police ignored their social responsibilities and charged the poor socio-economically disadvantaged youths, yet only one arrest followed.

Had I witnessed the fun, I would have been scared – not so much of the riot (I’ve seen a few) as of what it said about our society. Growing segments of it feel sympathy for the victim of the crime, and I mean Vincent, not Osborn-Brook and his ill wife.

For them it’s the burglar, not his victim, who must be protected. And if a burglar is killed committing his crime – sorry, doing his job – he becomes a martyr at the altar of modernity. Before long scum like that will indeed be buried at Westminster Abbey.

It’s this kind of moral catastrophe that has made London more crime-ridden than New York. Johannesburg must be our next target.

In the spirit of fashionable humanism, I’d propose some immediate action. First, law-abiding subjects of Her Majesty must be told that, rather than being punished, they’ll be rewarded for killing a burglar. The new law should be communicated to the populace on television, to make sure the news reaches potential house-breakers, most of them less than avid newspaper readers.

And, should a thug be killed while burgling a house, no funeral procession should be allowed. The criminal should be buried in a nameless place at an unknown location to avoid any possible pilgrimage of mourners and their champions.

Meanwhile, the Osborn-Brooks will probably have to move: they’ve received numerous death threats, and the police aren’t going to protect them. They’re too busy doing their day job of social engineering.

Atheists should learn from Eastwood

Eminent philosopher Prof. Callahan

I’m specifically referring to one of his Dirty Harry films, in which Clint’s trigger-happy hero offers an excellent piece of advice: “A man must be aware of his limitations.”

Being aware of one’s limitations means being able not to let them show. And the best way of conducting such a concealment programme is to steer clear of the areas beyond one’s competence.

This is what otherwise intelligent atheists fail to do when proffering arguments about (and especially against) God, religion, theodicy or some such. Taken out of their customary intellectual habitat, they resemble a beached fish no matter how brilliant they may be otherwise.

Now, I regard atheism as an intellectual failing. Intelligent atheists would disagree with this blanket statement, but, smart as they are, they know how to practise intellectual self-defence by bypassing the subject altogether.

Sooner or later they’ll be found out anyway: the cat will eventually scratch its way out of the bag. But ‘eventually’ is the operative word. By sticking to purely secular subjects, such as politics, social commentary or stock market quotations, they’ll be able to avoid immediate detection.

However, the moment they trespass into the forbidden area, they fall headlong into the holes in their own logic, a tool they may wield with virtuoso dexterity when discussing unrelated topics.

Such holes are easy to point out, and many have done so. One of the most brilliant expositions of atheism’s inanity I’ve read in recent years is David Bentley Hart’s book Atheist Delusions.

However, I do have an axe to grind with Bentley Hart: he is an unsporting man. After all, he chose as the focus of his offensive Richard Dawkins who presents too easy a target.

Dawkins, not to cut too much of a point about it, is staggeringly ignorant and not very bright. He knows nothing at all about either religion or philosophy, and is incapable of spotting self-refuting lapses in his own narrative. In one of his books, for example, he uses mathematics to prove that we all descend from a single female ancestor – only then to deny any validity at all to the story of Eve.

This brings me to the book Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray, in which he, a devout atheist himself, scourges every celebrated atheist thinker with a mercilessly swung whip. Equally lacerating strokes land on the back of religion, especially Western teleological creeds.

There’s nothing unsporting about taking Prof. Gray on. Unlike Richard Dawkins, he’s a manifestly clever and learned man, which makes him a worthy opponent. Yet worthy doesn’t mean hard to beat.

For, despite his towering intelligence and erudition, Prof. Gray provides an excellent demonstration of the dire cerebral failings he shares with all other atheists, including such intellectual nonentities as Dawkins.

This starts with the word ‘religion’, which he consistently uses as a full synonym of ideology. This is a solecism on many levels.

First, no such thing as religion in general exists, unless Prof. Gray uses it to illustrate the validity of Dostoyevsky’s maxim that “the thought expressed is a lie”, meaning that language is inherently too imprecise to contain thought.

The umbrella word ‘religion’ is well-nigh meaningless even when describing creeds to which it’s normally attached. Polytheism, Christianity, animism and, say, Buddhism have so little in common that they simply refuse to be squeezed into the same rubric.

That rubric can’t contain both the creed whose founder taught the profound and subtle concept of transubstantiation (“He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him”) and, say, the Aztec cult actually calling for eating human beings, or perhaps the Carthaginian one involving human sacrifice.

Given the will and a certain amount of mental agility, it’s possible to find indisputable similarities everywhere. For example, the tricycle and the airliner may be grouped together because they’re each made of metal, have three wheels and can transport people. Yet neither the ultimate truth nor the proposed rubric can be stretched far enough to accommodate both those objects: for all the trivial similarities, they’re too different in essence.

Prof. Gray stretches the rubric of religion to bursting point by also jamming into it just about every secular creed, from Enlightenment humanism to Bolshevik or Nazi monstrosity to modern adoration of science. When a word is supposed to mean just about everything, it ends up meaning just about nothing.

Prof. Gray applies the term to any system of belief that starts from a fideistic premise, especially one with a teleological dimension. For example, he correctly spots a fideistic aspect in the modern worship of science as a potentially redemptive creed.

However, any mental activity aimed at uncovering truth has to start from some act of faith. For example, all major scientific discoveries, even those that aren’t supposed to have redemptive value, start from a fideistic premise, in that context called a hypothesis.

A scientist doesn’t use a scatter gun approach. He sets out to prove that what he believes is true, and then holds it to the test of experiment and analysis. So is science qua science, not just the worship of it, a religion too?

It’s equally unsound to describe as a religion every ideology or philosophy that puts forth a teleological proposition. An ideology, even though it starts from an act of faith, is more nearly anti-religious than religious.

Ideology is a mock faith without God, mock rationalism without reason and mock morality without morals. As such, it can’t touch even the outer edges of truth: virtual reality is at best a parody of the actual kind, at worst its perversion.

The similarities between a religion and an ideology are of the tricycle-airliner variety: irrelevant if true. And any philosophy attaching itself to an ideology is merely an attempt to prove to infidels that a lie is truth and truth is a lie.

Prof. Gray, while laudably castigating such ideologies as socialism and its communist or fascist derivatives, is clearly attracted to solipsistic metaphysical creeds like Buddhism, which are philosophies and practices that don’t require an act of faith, have no concept of Creator God and don’t aim to explain the origin of man or his world.

This he sees as their clear advantage over Christianity, which according to him, is “liable to falsification by historical fact”. Freddy Ayer would suggest that this makes Christianity true: liability to falsification was to him a sine qua non of verification.

Ayer was of course a proponent of logical positivism, which Prof. Gray spares the soubriquet of religion, probably by oversight. At the risk of sounding like an illogical negativist, I see no value in that philosophy. As a Christian, however, I’d point out that countless attempts to debunk Christianity by appealing to historical fact have failed.

Christianity, however, can be falsified, and Prof. Gray makes a good fist of it. Jesus, he writes, never meant for his teaching to become a universal religion. That was all Paul’s doing.

By preaching to gentiles, Paul wilfully distorted Jesus’s intention, who only meant to convert the Jews. The inference makes one wonder why our religion is called Christianity and not Paulism.

Now, even discounting Paul’s revelation, which made him an equiapostolic saint, he did know all the apostles personally, and so perhaps knew what Jesus really meant even better than Prof. Gray does.

He probably heard John refer to the same quotation of Christ that was later recorded in the Gospel: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

To paraphrase Euripides ever so slightly, whom God would destroy he first makes him sound ignorant. And illogical, come to that.

For, as Prof. Gray points out with his sterling erudition, the Middle East in the first century abounded in various prophets and seers, such as John the Baptist. Only one of them, however, created a universal religion that then produced by far the greatest civilisation the world has ever known.

How come? Not being blessed with Prof. Gay’s agile mind, I’d pick up Occam’s razor and carve out the simplest of answers: because Christianity is true. But that’s too simple for Prof. Gray to understand.

His explanation is more complex, so much so that it requires not just the suspension of disbelief but its eternal obliteration. Christianity’s assent was down to an endless list of coincidences.

“As we know it today, the Christian religion is a creation of chance,” he writes. “If Paul had not been converted… If the emperor Constantine had not adopted Christianity, and Theodosius had not made it the official state religion…,” presumably we’d all be Buddhists or Mithraists.

That’s another lesson he should have learned from Dirty Harry. As an expert investigator, Harry knew that, if coincidences number more than two, they aren’t coincidences.

Prof. Gray is absolutely right when sneering at the notion of progress. He correctly remarks that science and technology are the only areas in which any progress can be observed.

In fact, I’d go even further and suggest that developments in science and technology on the one side and those in morality, intellect and social organisation on the other are vectored in the opposite directions.

Progress in one side is accompanied with a clear regress in the other – unless one is prepared to argue that a modern professor of philosophy is an improvement over Aristotle or a modern poet over Shakespeare.

Yet Prof. Gray’s inference from this irrefutable observation is wrong. Because mankind clearly isn’t progressing in any area that matters, he suggests that history has no meaning and human life no purpose. This, he believes, debunks Christianity that preaches a steady moral improvement in this world.

That’s another example of falsification, two kinds of it, one major, the other minor but still telling.

First, Christ never taught that human perfection could be attained before the end of the world. In fact, he taught something exactly opposite: “My kingdom is not of this world”. But from that it doesn’t follow that human life (or history) has no purpose.

Saying so means mixing two unrelated systems of thought, thereby creating an unsavoury mongrel. There is indeed no noticeable moral progress in history, quite the opposite. This makes perfect sense within the secular system of thought.

But this doesn’t preclude the possibility (to a Christian, the certainty) that mankind will achieve ultimate perfection at the end of history, when Christ comes again to judge the quick and the dead. That makes history a ladder to perfection, even though each step may be caked in blood.

Of course, it’s possible to deny, as Prof. Gray does, the validity – or indeed existence – of this system of thought a priori. But committing logical errors along the way isn’t the right way to go about it.

The minor falsification is Prof. Gray’s assertion that Darwin never said that evolution presupposes any incremental improvements. Evolution is as haphazard as history, another game of chance expressible in the subjunctive mood.

I wonder when was the last time Prof. Gray opened The Origin of Species or The Descent of Man. The whole theory of evolution is about a steady progress from some cell of uncertain provenance all the way to a man as brilliant as Prof. Gray.

Surely he doesn’t believe he isn’t an improvement on a chimpanzee? Darwin certainly didn’t.

While I quite enjoy, in the Schadenfreude sense, watching a nincompoop like Dawkins tie himself up in intellectual knots, watching an unquestionably intelligent man like Prof. Gray do the same upsets me. His book is actually informative, and I for one learned quite a few new facts.

However, he and other atheists could do worse than follow Clint’s advice and stick to something they know. In Dawkins’s case, it’s very little; in Prof Gray’s an awful lot. But when they venture into this area, the differences between them fade away.