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Beyond Beyondism


Raymond Cattell, 1905–1998

702 words

E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology and Raymond Cattell’s A New Morality from Science: Beyondism were first published in the 1970s, although both writers were developing these ideas for many years before.

Wilson was a better writer, and arguably a better scientist, but Cattell had more creative courage. Cattell believed that a religion could be developed from science, which eventually became “Beyondism.”

Wilson said that religions are like other human institutions in that they evolve in directions that enhance the welfare of the practitioners. This is also the base of Cattell’s Beyondism.

Religion is the process, said Wilson, by which individuals are persuaded to subordinate their self-interest to the interest of the group. Cattell agreed and wanted to create ethical goals from science.

Cattell believed that evolution was the central purpose of mankind and he called for the continued selection of human groups. Human selection is governed by the natural selection of groups, and this in turn is based on the genetic and cultural selection of individuals. Cattell wanted to derive ethics from doing research on what behavior contributes to the survival of the group. He wanted ethics to become a branch of evolutionary science.

Cattell wanted to have a religion of “progress” and he thought that we have to go “beyond” what we are by way of evolution. Cattell saw a discernible direction to evolution—in spite of stagnation now and again—toward higher and more effective forms. Established science does not agree and thinks evolution is all a matter of random chance.

Cattell said that human races formed in the past due to geographical isolation and that genetic groups in the future will arise from self-conscious selection by each cultural group. Cattell pointed out that the true creators of modern societies begin with IQs of about 145 and above, which is less than 0.2 percent of the European population. Cattell wanted to select for greater individual mental capacity, but also for levels of altruism and character.

Cattell thought that in the long term the genus Homo sapiens would split into more than one species, which might involve genetic engineering, or solar system colonization.

Needless to say this sort of talk brought Cattell much trouble, along with his many scientific triumphs.

Wilson didn’t think a religion could be made from science. He thought science might explain religion, but it could not draw on the unscientific emotional strength of religion. Wilson thought Cattell and other scientific naturalists had too much faith in the power of knowledge over the minds of men.

My own project, Evolutionary Catholicism (EC), which I reflect on in my blog “Civilizing The Beast [2],” was influenced by both Sociobiology and Beyondism, but also by conservatives like Russell Kirk. My thinking shifted over the years from William Pierce to Wilmot Robertson to E. O. Wilson to Raymond Cattell to Russell Kirk and eventually to Evolutionary Catholicism.

When looking at Beyondism I could agree that evolution is the prime process of the universe, but I saw a divine urge in evolution which could be identified with the Holy Spirit, or the Will To Godhood of traditional religion.

EC does not remove God or Godhood from evolution, so we avoid some of the emotional austerity of Beyondism. We do not launch ourselves out on a goalless adventure of evolution, our goal is Godhood.

Conservative social values harmonize with evolution. Revitalized Conservatism can work along with evolutionary progress. To reject tradition in favor of radical programs like Marxism, or imperial racism, destroys societies sooner rather than later. Natural selection among groups and individuals requires variation, which the regionalism and localism of conservatism affirms. Decentralization and light federalism work in harmony with evolution. Each group can follow its own divergent path to Godhood in what Cattell called “cooperative competition” in a world of groups.

Ethics have been based in the survival of the group, but ethics are also essentially fixed by the goal of evolving from the material to the supermaterial and on to Godhood.

Cattell and Wilson said that survival is the natural test of ethics, I say that attaining Godhood is the primary test of ethics. I see no better alternative to the decline of the world.