'The Present' - Stefan Molyneux in Conversation with Dr Duke Pesta - Transcript


0:00 - Introduction
1:15 - The Journey to The Present
2:31 - The Idea Behind the Book
10:42 - The Emotional Connections in the Characters
14:38 - The Evolution of Thoughts on Religion and Morality
23:09 - The Importance of Skepticism in Science
25:07 - Exploring Themes of Doubt and Faith
33:08 - The Importance of Marriage and Connection
35:51 - The Battle Against Vanity
39:03 - The Lack of Appreciation for Men
40:54 - Motherhood, Taylor Swift, and Christian Worldview
49:00 - Consequentialism and the Consequences of Atheism
59:13 - The Significance of Morality and Ethics
1:05:03 - The Power of Free Will and Choice
1:10:00 - The Concept of Time and Its Implications
1:13:55 - The Resolution of Choice and Free Will
1:18:48 - Encouragement to Check Out the Book

Long Summary

Dr. Duke is joined by guest Stefan Molyneux to discuss Molyneux's new novel, "The Present," inspired by his wife's suggestion for a contemporary narrative. Delving into themes of vanity, materialism, and prioritizing truth over politics, they examine the influence of Christianity and morality on society. Critiquing the materialistic worldview that often dismisses deeper truths, they also tackle the misuse of science as a false idol that can manipulate and control people, especially in the contexts of pandemics and environmental issues like global warming. Emphasizing the need for transparency in data and modeling, they stress the importance of critical thinking and access to accurate information.

The lack of transparency in scientific research, particularly regarding COVID and the virus's origins, is discussed, highlighting the repercussions of making moral decisions without access to essential source data. Expressing skepticism towards blindly following scientific narratives without understanding the methodologies behind them, the discussion contrasts faith in religion with faith in science, prompting reflections on which demands more trust. Themes of skepticism, faith, and doubt in Christianity and science are explored, underscoring the critical role of analytical thinking. The conversation extends to societal influences on personal choices, the significance of marriage, and a character's transformation in the book from vanity to deeper self-awareness and connection with others.

Delving into belief systems, morality, and ethics, the conversation explores the challenges of morality without a belief in God, recounting a journey through atheism in search of a secular ethical framework. Despite efforts to establish rational secular ethics, the speaker expresses surprise at the lack of reception from the atheist community, raising questions about morality's foundation without a divine anchor. The dialogue probes the necessity of morals for a functional civilization and the implications of disregarding ethical principles. Prompting reflection on whether belief in God is a prerequisite for morality or if alternative foundations can suffice, the conversation delves into the distinction between morality and ethics, recognizing the limitations of reason in guiding human actions.

Engaging with themes of deception, survival, and free will, the conversation contrasts atheism and Christianity in their attitudes towards lying and truth. Echoing Darwinian instincts and Christian values, the discussion explores the concept of pair bonding and trust. Through the analysis of a character's growth in the novel, the limitations of a solely materialistic worldview are highlighted, underscoring the value of embracing authentic choices over fleeting vanity. Concluding with a reflection on the power of storytelling to convey philosophical concepts and the transformative influence of art on shaping thought, the discourse leaves audiences with a deeper understanding of the complexities of belief, morality, and the human experience.


[0:00] Introduction

[0:00] This is The Dr. Duke Show. Hi, everybody. I'm Dr. Duke, and I'm joined today with one of my favorite guests. I really don't get to talk to him as much as I would like. He's eminently busy himself, but our conversations usually go on for a long time, and they delve fairly deep, and so I'm really grateful to have you back. This is Stefan Molyneux, and I know you have a great following that keeps growing. That you are. What I admire you about, admire most about you is that you are a commentator, you're a personality, but you are first and foremost, always, you are a philosopher. And I certainly, I'm a 30-year university professor, and I don't meet people who are philosophers. I don't meet people in the philosophy department at universities who are philosophers. So to have somebody who can put logic and truth and the pursuit of truth above politics and venality and.

[1:05] Selfishness, it's a pleasure to speak with you. So good to be back with you. Oh, thanks. I appreciate that. Great to be back again. We should try and schedule these more often, but we'll take what we can at the moment.

[1:15] The Journey to The Present

[1:16] Yes, sir. I'm all for that. And so we're here today to talk about your new book and the arc that got you here. The title of the book is called The Present, and this is the blurb for the book. The Present is a powerful new novel by philosopher Stefan Molyneux. As society slides into the abyss of moral paralysis and economic collapse, a reporter finds herself drawn to a man she was trained to despise. Almost too late, Finally, she tells the truth about the evil forces undermining the world and faces brutal blowback for showing the slightest sympathy for the underdogs of society. I got to tell you, the very first thing when I read that, I thought of That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis written in the 1940s, a book that is apocalyptic.

[2:07] A book that is talking about civilizational collapse, and a book that really does bring out a theological and spiritual argument that was much needed in the 40s and is much needed today. day. And so talk about these issues wherever you want to begin. Where'd you get the idea for the book and how to get put together?

[2:31] The Idea Behind the Book

[2:31] Well, sorry, just before we dive into it, I bought a little prop here because, of course, we've talked about some incredible literature over the course of our show from Shakespeare to Dickens to Dostoevsky and so on. So given it's my little humble novel, I have brought in.

[2:47] A helmet, so that when the feedback comes in, I can assume the crash position because I'm trying to take my place, a little wee place among the luminaries of, I'm just kidding. All right. So, but you know, getting feedback from you means a lot to me. And we've been talking about other people's books. So I'm just aware that in my own small way, I'm trying to contribute. So the idea for the book actually came from my wife, because she said, I wanted to write another other novel. So I wrote a novel about the future. So the novel about the present is called The Present. My science fiction novel is called The Future. I'm not always fantastic at book titles. I like to think the content is good, but yeah. So my contemporary novel is called The Present and my science fiction novel set a couple of hundred years of the future is called The Future. And I wanted to, when I published The Future some about two, two and a half years ago, people got, okay, well, how did we get there? How did we get from where we are to the world that you're talking about in the future, which is a free, stateless society, and I sort of describe how everything works and so on. And people said, well, how do we get there? And so I was mulling about writing a contemporary novel about how we go from where we are in the present to hopefully a better world in the future. And my wife said, you've never written a straight-up love story.

[4:02] And I'm like, well, yeah, because with my wife and I've been married 21 years, I'm straight up living a wonderful love story. And I'd never written one. So I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to write about a woman's, because, you know, the barriers, right? This is the basic Kurt Vonnegut thing with your characters. You just throw a lot of obstacles. And to me, the most interesting obstacles are inner obstacles.

[4:23] Vanity, sin, dissociation, distraction, materialism, all the stuff that bars us from direct connection with each other. I'm like, what if we have a character who is kind of propagandized by the modern world? And we know, we know, we know that single women are the target of most propaganda in the modern world for the simple reason that women who are unmarried prop up leftism. They generally run to the government for safety and security, often at the expense of the sort of future continuance of the economy, as we can sort of see from the national debt. And I really have a great deal of sympathy towards the women who are very much targeted by this. You don't need no man. Go it alone. Independence, careerism, and so on is part of a depopulation agenda and part of an agenda to just keep people lonely, to keep people shallow, to keep women in particular lost in the vanity of youthful beauty and sexual appeal at the expense of the second half of their life. When I was, I was very sort of prominent on Twitter, had like almost half a million followers. And I remember one of the posts that I made was, and it was, I think it was voted at one point, the worst tweet in history, which, you know, as a philosopher, it very much is your, uh, is your goal. It's your gold.

[5:33] And, um, one of them was, uh, you know, ladies, you live to be 40, uh, and you know, generally you can't really have kids after. So what are you going to do for the next 40 years? And then there was another one about Taylor Swift when she turned 30 some years ago. and I said, you know, it seemed to me a very nice tweet. I'm like, wow, I can't believe she's 30. She looks so young. I hope that she decides to become a mom because by 30, 90% of her eggs are gone.

[5:54] And, you know, I think she'd be a fun mom. I hope she considers it, you know, nothing major, but, you know, you know, the harpies descended with laser swords and all kinds of why, why are you creepily thinking about Taylor Swift's eggs? It's like really not thinking about Taylor Swift's eggs. Just, you know, it's kind of a fact that seems important for women to be happy. So I wanted to write a story where a woman had great temptations for shallowness and materialism and vanity and living in the moment and I wanted to contrast it with a woman who was still facing the same struggles but had gone more the traditional route with sort of a husband and family and so on I also wanted to write a character or two two relationships right Arlo and Rachel are the sort of two core relationships in the sort of more modernist progressive style and then Cassie and her husband Ian are on the more traditionalist side. And I wanted to see what it was like when the man had no authority in the relationship, which is Rachel and Arlo, and then when a man had some growing authority, which is Ian's interest in the men's rights movement and a more sort of traditional biblical authority, and then when a man had significant authority in the relationship, which is the Christian centerpiece, Oliver, of her, uh, and, uh, whether the woman could surrender to a man's will, because the fact that a man surrenders to a woman's will is, is sort of baked into, you know, having kids going to work and so on.

[7:19] And so I was like, will she be able to surrender her vanity? Will she be able to surrender her will? And will she actually start telling the truth? Uh, because what she does, and it's really, to me, I love characters that are hard to like, you know, where there's some appeal to them, but it's just like, oh, you behave terribly. This is sort of the Dostoevsky, almost all of his characters are very hard to like, but very compelling. And so when you have a character who's very flawed, you have to find a way to root for that character. You want them to get some happiness.

[7:50] But at the same time, it really can't be easy. They have to be significantly unlikable, but with some kind of path to redemption. So I think all of that stuff came together for me and wanting to write about, you know, the concerns, you know, my, my Christians friends are sort of saying to me, yeah, it could be end time stuff. You know, we've been training for this stuff since we were born. And as like, there is a real accuracy, I think, to that. And of course, coming out of the pandemic where Christians got skepticism of science, skepticism of vaccines, skepticism of government power, skepticisms of lockdowns, Christians got it far more right, almost infinitely more right than the secularists and the atheists did. And you'd think that would be of interest, right? This is kind of a scientific experiment. Who was right about being skeptical about what the authorities were saying? Well, the Christians were right and the atheists weren't and that's a big experiment that the atheists should have some humility about, but they didn't. So I think a lot of these sort of came together to me to want to write a story about how artificial our society is, artificially propped up vanity, artificially propped up youth and, um.

[8:54] How hard is it for us to be grateful when we're trained in, in vanity consumerism and materialism and so on and a lack of purpose, right? I mean, I love the scene. I've just been listening to the book in sort of preparation for this chat. So, I mean, it's a minor, a minor sort of interaction where Rachel is saying her boyfriend Arlo is okay. He's not specifically Satan, but he's not specifically the opposite of Satan either because he's very materialistic, lives in a no time, is incredibly vain and has no purpose and lives in the moment and just hides out in the world being pretty. And at one point, Rachel trying to gain some status is like, oh yeah, we're going rock climbing. He's such a fantastic rock climber. And Ian, of course, her sister's husband says, for what?

[9:43] He's not an athlete. He doesn't compete. He doesn't get paid. What's all the excellence for? And he's, of course, he's trying to gain excellence in his soul. He's trying to gain an excellence in his marriage and as a parent and so on. And so the pursuit of excellence for vanity is really at the cost of moral excellence, which, you know, from Aristotle onwards and Jesus, of course, would say that moral excellence is really all that counts and how many distractions are sort of put in front of us. So those are sort of the major themes. And the idea definitely came from my wife. And for me, what the great thing is about writing contemporary novels, and I usually do historical fiction and I've, I've done one science fiction book, but the great thing about, about contemporary novels is you don't have to do as much research because you're kind of living the life you're living the world, right? When I had to write, or when I decided to write about the lead up to world war two in England and Germany, the amount of research was staggering. Whereas this one is like things I've noticed, things I've lived, people I've talked to things I've seen. It's just so much easier. And, uh, so yeah, that, that was the general idea behind the book.

[10:42] The Emotional Connections in the Characters

[10:43] Yeah, and there's a lot of stuff to unpack there. And a couple of things that struck me immediately. One is for a philosophical mind like yours, and I've read other of your books, the deft way in which you communicate the emotional connections to your characters was really well done. I mean, it was, you know, you mentioned Dostoevsky. Writers like him walk a line when you're writing a book that is to some degree didactic, right? You're also warning about things. Making the characters believable and human is exactly what sells it, right? It's the old Horatian formula, going back to the Romans, that an author wants to teach and delight.

[11:27] It's one thing to teach, which is probably the easier of the two things, but to teach in a way that is artistic and moving, that's the hard thing. And I think you manage a nice balance of those things. I was very pleased about that. It's what made me immediately think of that hideous strength. It's all about marriage. And at the core of this demonic attack on the institutions of the world, from the beginning to the end, C.S. Lewis is stressing marriage and what that union means spiritually and how that is a real antidote to a lot of the problems, both for women and the single women problem and for men, too. On the other side of the line there, unmarried men become just really scalawags, right? They become like your character you just described, hanging out, living in the moment, very animal, very, um, um.

[12:28] Divorced from larger questions of existence. And so I think both on the male and the female side, Lewis made that very clear. And I think you did a wonderful job as it well. And I want to ask you as we, you know, move through this to start because you're thinking, I know that a lot of the ideas came from your, for your wife and I had the pleasure of meeting her once and she's a lovely lady. Um, but I'm the time that I've known you, uh, I think if we go Go back, it was 2015, 2016 for you and I when we first had our first conversation about Common Core all the years ago.

[13:00] And I have seen in you and what I see when I read your books and look at your videos, but especially in the way we have talked to each other, an arc that's brought you to a place where things like Christianity in specific and the moral meaning of Christianity and the – the purpose that comes with Christian worldview and the prescience to some degree about what evil is that you don't see. And one of my biggest complaints about the atheists, the secular atheists, is that they have reasoned away good and evil, right? Both good and both evil. And so they can no longer recognize them. And that's where I think what your great comment about COVID was. The atheists didn't get it because it was beyond their ken that there can be serious forces, huge forces that are pulling evilly, that are seeking to hurt, to harm, to use tragedy and suffering in ways to destroy and to control, not to ameliorate. I think that is one of the consequences of a materialist worldview that denies any of these higher ways of seeing.

[14:18] That's also a major, I think, subtext of your book. And I wanted to ask you to talk to us a little bit about your arc. How, in the last 10 years, you were thinking about religion, about morality, certainly about Christianity seems to have expanded. And I'd like you to talk a little bit about that and how that impacted this book.

[14:38] The Evolution of Thoughts on Religion and Morality

[14:38] Well, you know, I was raised as a Christian and then went through a very strong secular phase because the surface level of the secular worldview is we're going to be liberated from superstition. We're going to think rationally. We're going to think clearly without all these murky beliefs from thousands of years ago and so on. And so clarity and...

[15:06] Reason and a clear-eyed view of reality was supposed to be the goal, right? Now, of course, science, this is particularly true in my view over the pandemic, that science was used as a golden calf. It was used as a false idol. Trust the science. Well, the scientists say the same thing is true with global warming. 98% of scientists say, which is not even true according to the a scientist. But so rather than science liberating us from contradictions or superstition, it turned out that science has become a false idol that is used to bludgeon people into compliance because, you know, we would look at some witch doctor with a bone through his nose and say, well, that's just crazy. Why would you listen to that guy? But you replace the bone through his nose with a white lab coat and government funding, and suddenly it's an Oracle of Delphi that you any of this. You're doubting science. And science has just become this bizarre mystery religion that doesn't need to explain itself.

[16:06] And I just did a show about this recently about how, I mean, when it came to the vaccines and when it comes to global warming, where's the source data, right? I mean, when people were trying to make the decisions, right? So can we see the source data? Can we see everything that came out of the experiments of the COVID vaccines? No. Apparently, they wanted to hide this for like 75 years. You can't see it. And it's like, well, hang on. Christians have access to the source information, right? Christians have access to the Bible. I mean, a priest can be enormously helpful and people can certainly help illuminate the text for you, but it's not a mystery religion, right? Like a mystery religion is the priests, you can't talk to the God, you can't get the rules, you can't get the facts. All you can do is ask the priests and they'll have a communion or they'll take ayahuasca or something and then they'll tell you what it is you have to do. So that's a mystery religion. And science has become a kind of mystery religion in that the massive decisions that are made that impact people's lives, global warming is massive, global warming is trillions of dollars moving around the world and scaring the literal pants off children with endless tales of apocalypse that is a gateway through which the nihilistic demons pour into the human heart, right? You have no future.

[17:20] You're going to get killed by plant food, and it's all over. So, you know, when I was growing up, it was nuclear war. That was sort of the big boogeyman that was used to frighten people. There was this atomic clock, you know, it's three minutes to midnight, and you're doomed. And there were all of these movies that came out about what's going to happen after a nuclear war. It turned out they were actually funded by the communists in Russia to...

[17:43] Cripple people's desire to negotiate with Russia about ICBMs.

[17:47] But at least that was something that there was a small chance of, there was mutually assured destruction. And I was fairly sure we were going to make it through. Global warming is like inevitable and COVID was a massive disaster and it's all under the cover of science. And to me, it's like, okay, well, if you're going to say that you can model the weather a hundred years in the future, can a brother at least see some them algorithms and some data. You know, can I just have, because I actually, one of the, in my sort of past life as a software entrepreneur, I did modeling in the environmental sphere. I know a little bit about this kind of stuff and modeling is magic, right? Modeling is like, if you've ever been in a business environment and it's like, you know, my sales projections going out five years, you know, I mean, nobody's going to say that's money in the bank. That's just, you know, a finger in a cross and hopefully some data, but they'll always want to see the source data. You go to any kind of investors and you say, well, we're going to make this much money over five years, they say, okay, well, what are your assumptions? What is your competitors? How do you justify this? They won't give you a penny if they can't see the source data and a global warming, they hit the source data, they hit the algorithms, you know, not even many people know that a third of the data is made up. Like the monitoring stations are all gone and they just kind of average it out based upon what they want.

[18:58] And so if, uh, if you control the measuring and you control the data and you control the modeling, you can twist it however you want. There's no truth in any of that foundationally. And if there is truth in it, then at least allow the internet autists access to the source data and all the algorithms so that they can puzzle out the assumptions you're making and what's going on. But you can't see that.

[19:19] It's the same thing with COVID. You couldn't see the data that they used to claim that the vaccines were safe and effective. And with the AstraZeneca being pulled from circulation just yesterday, those who had doubts or they'd say, well, we know for sure it doesn't come from the lab in Wuhan, like I did a whole video called The Case Against China about all the reasons why it did in fact come from the lab in Wuhan. That was misinformation. And they said it comes from the pangolin. And of course, you know, years and years later, they haven't found any animal to human transmission vector. So it just because, no, scientists say, and now scientists say it has just become this mystery religion. And to me, that's blindingly obvious and not having access to the source data of massive of moral decisions because, you know, government force, which is involved in the pandemic, it's involved in global warming. Government force requires massive amounts of moral justifications. And if you can't see the source data, you just have to kneel before the guys in white coats who are thoroughly compromised by threats and bribes, right? If you don't go along with the narrative, you're going to lose your job. And if you do go along with the narrative, by the way, here's a $5 million grant. So they're bribed and threatened. they are utterly, utterly compromised, and yet we must kneel before them.

[20:32] And accept what they say when they won't even tell us any of the methodologies by which they came to their conclusions. And that's the exact trust. Science is an absolute oxymoron. So just to end up, because I know I could do this rant all day. But what bothers me is when I was growing up, what was I told? Well, you know, faith is just, you know, you've got to have proof. You've got to have evidence. You've got to have facts. You've got to have, it's all the experiments need to be reproducible. And you've got to share knowledge and share all of the data and share all the methodologies. Otherwise, you know, it's just faith. And it's like, okay, so faith in a personal being or being that you can personally talk to that you have direct experience with if you believe and you pray and you get answers. So there's that faith where you get the source data.

[21:20] But what is more faith? Is it believing in God? Is it believing that Jesus performed miracles when there are contemporaneous examples? And of course, a lot of people ended up being fed by lions, which you don't do for some sideshow charlatan or trickster. So is it more faith to believe in Jesus or is it more faith to believe in scientists who won't show their source data or prove anything? And so given that there's more faith required in science at a much higher cost, because it is the cost of your personal liberties, the faith that people had in the scientists regarding COVID and lockdowns was at the loss of significant personal liberties and families broke up based on faith. Based on faith in science. Like, families wouldn't get together for Christmas. They wouldn't get together for Thanksgiving. They wouldn't get together for birthday parties. And you couldn't go and see grandma dying because of faith in scientists. And I've never been punished for skepticism from Christians.

[22:19] But by gosh above was I punished for skepticism in the mystery religion called science that demands infinitely more faith because it hides all of its arguments. So I just was really repulsed by what happened in the realm of atheism and science and the fact that atheists should have been the most skeptical and were lining up like lambs to the slaughter.

[22:39] You know, that's a lot to process. And I go back to what I admire. Obviously, I'm a Christian and I am a humanities professor, but I've always admired science because of one thing. Real science starts with skepticism. And this is what you're pointing out, that the purpose of science up until recently was when somebody says, here's what's happening, here's a claim, here's something I've researched, then other scientists immediately try to debunk it, right?

[23:09] The Importance of Skepticism in Science

[23:10] That's healthy. Science without skepticism is like you say, it is pure faith and it is a warped faith. The other thing that I think people don't realize, every serious Christian thinker I know, and that includes in books, we mentioned Dostoevsky, for instance, every serious Christian thinker I know.

[23:29] Realizes that there can be no faith without doubt. At one point, Dostoevsky wrote about his own experience. It was not as a child that I learned to believe in Christ and to confess his faith. My belief, my faith came out of a huge furnace of doubt. Everything Dostoevsky wrote, C.S. Lewis is another one, right? That Lewis was like, you just explained, a complete skeptic who World War I turned into to an atheist until he realized what we just said, that real faith in God requires the same kind of skepticism to some degree that science does. Now, it's ironic to me that there are many aspects of Christianity that are skeptical, but we're not talking about the belief of.

[24:21] The unthinking man who just goes because he was raised Christian. I'm thinking about thinking Christians. Doubt is the razor flip side of the coin, right? Dostoevsky makes it so clear that the greatest non-believer is on the most specific cusp of the greatest form of belief. If you can believe so deeply in nothing, you are closer to believing in anything than almost anybody else. And so when skepticism, as you pointed out, leaves science, it becomes an ogre and a monster, and one that has more practical evil than the typical Christian can unleash on anybody at any time. And so this, I think, is a wonderful revelation.

[25:07] Exploring Themes of Doubt and Faith

[25:08] Can you explain a little bit about how you work that theme into your book? So one of the things that I wanted to explore, lore. And this, I've just finished a book on peaceful parenting where I did a lot of research into daycare. And I've been talking about daycare for many, many years, just how toxic daycare is for children. And in my experience, this goes back to the atheism Christian divide that atheists put their children in daycare and Christians in general, keep their children home and love and nurture and teach and instruct them. Right.

[25:44] And it's one of the questions is, okay, well, well, why would atheists put their kids in daycare and Christians in general keep them home? Because atheists don't have anything in particular to teach their children, and Christians do. And so for an atheist, it's like, okay, so it's a mechanistic thing. My child needs to be taken care of. My child needs to be kept warm and comfortable. My child needs food, and my child needs interaction. So it doesn't matter if I do it or some, I don't know, no person from a foreign country who can barely speak the language. It's just human being. It's just human being. It's like looking at galley slaves or something, like in the run, row, row, row. And it's like, doesn't particularly matter. One guy is kind of indistinctly, maybe just slightly more strong than the other, but the men are kind of interchangeable. And there's this terrifying interchangeability of people in a lot of the sort of secular world. And I think that this really interferes with pair bonding, Because of course, in the Christian world, it's two souls uniting under the will and morality of God. And so there is a real one flesh, right? Now, of course, the one flesh, the atheists say, well, what are we, Siamese twins? Well, one flesh. There were two people with two ideas and two arguments. And so...

[27:07] The economic efficiency of daycare, well, I'll go and make money. And if I like doing that and I make more money than I'm paying in daycare, yeah, it's okay, right? And so the two main females, of course, Rachel and Cassie, Rachel, I mean, very, very clearly say that, and it's confronted in the family in the middle section of the book, Rachel's a daycare kid and Cassie was not. And I actually, I know families where this has happened. The little experiment between two siblings has gone on. One sibling was in daycare, one sibling was not, and it has a big and significant difference in how things play out. And so connection is how we mature, right? Connection with our parents, connection with morality, connection with purpose, and eventually connection with each other, right? So you leave your parents' house and you cleave, right? The biblical language, you cleave to your spouse, you cleave to the mother or father of your child, and that bonding is how we grow up. And when we look at sort of the eternal adolescence of young people, you know, a girl still going clubbing in their 30s and guys still living at home playing video games in their 30s. Why? It's because they can't bond with each other to the point where they want to start families. And why can't they bond? Because they didn't have a strong bond with their parents and they're avoiding that. And, you know, the criminality that comes out of the daycare kids, Rachel, at one point when she's looking at the riots, says they're daycare kids.

[28:28] And she confronts her mother. Why did you put me in daycare? and the mother says because of propaganda and she doesn't want to talk about it because she's ashamed of it and so to me uh the just the interchangeability of people the lack of moral training that atheists have you know to to raise someone to be moral is a very deep and powerful challenge especially when you know social media the internet and the world sort of pulling them in the shallowest direction possible so i really really did want to have rachel's journey it's a a little bit of a spoiler, right? But Rachel's journey is from hedonism to sacrifice for the good. Because in the beginning, she's like, oh, look how pretty I am. Look how great my ass looks in this mirror. Look, you know, my boyfriend is so beautiful. And she has this vainglorious career that's not really going anywhere because she gets to say, I'm a reporter, I'm a change agent without actually doing that much. And then she runs into Oliver who has a depth and purpose and his whole family is with him and they homeschool their kids and they have, you know, I can't even tell you how long I put off writing that scene with Oliver and his family. Not only was it technically difficult because I got like 50 people in a scene, which is one thing in a movie, and it's quite another thing in a novel, but it's painful. It's painful to see people so connected. It's painful to see people so dedicated to their children and to their elderly. It's painful to see people whose elders have wisdom as opposed to some of this boomer, endless trips to Alaska narcissism that goes along with burning up the inheritance for their own vanity.

[29:57] So it's painful, painful for me to write that because I didn't grow up with much extended family because they're all, you know, destroyed in the second world war.

[30:04] So having that sense of connection, which goes on in that family, she's really drawn to that. And, but, but the price of trying to achieve that connection is to give up vanity. So vanity or thinking that other people want to be you or, or admire you or, um, not for your morals, but for your looks or whatever. Right. So wanting to be admired, usually by strangers and usually by very unwise people, is the poor substitute for an actual bond to virtue, to others, to self-respect from morality. And that's why Rachel is like, she's the very first scene, she's right walking in, she's observing herself in all the sliding squares of the mirrors over the bar and how good she looks and how her figure looks and she's all just about how she looks. And trying to provoke envy in others is a very sad substitute for falling in love. And so she has to find a way to get out of this sort of mirrored maze of vanity to actually connect now with someone. Now, the fact that society is kind of falling apart around her means she can't afford the indulgence of a silly, shallow man boy like Arlo. She actually has to have a guy who understands reality. She has to have a guy who's kind of tough and we can see Oliver is pretty tough. You know, I mean, he does not.

[31:19] Take any of her lies. When she lies to him, he just hangs up on her. He stands up to his mother when his mother demands that into their Eden, they allow a new kind of woke snake, right? Which is the woman Jada and her mother. And so he's a pretty tough guy and she's drawn to that, but doesn't even really know why.

[31:37] And it's that looming sense of danger that has women start to cleave towards men who can be safer and the massive avoidance of any kind of risk that is sort of modern femininity, like if you get pregnant out of wedlock, hey, no problem, we'll give you free healthcare, free education for your kids, welfare, and free dental care, and there are no consequences, so without any danger, women tend to move more towards.

[32:01] Shallower, prettier guys, you know, like the pin-up guys, rather than the guys who can actually protect and provide because they don't need any protection, and the government's providing for them. So, there's a sort of shallow part, even, of Rachel as she sees the the resources society will provide to her begin to slip away, she has a very strong unconscious drive to get to a place of safety, which is not Arlo, because Arlo cannot protect her. And this is in the deplatforming stuff that happens in the middle of the book. He's very clear about that. And so he can't protect her, but society's falling apart, which means risk is rising. When risk is rising, you need protection. And she can't get it from Arlo, so she's drawn more towards Oliver, of her but the price of getting all of his protection is to stop lying and stop manipulating and stop just making stuff up and actually connect uh with with him and uh that that's a tough road for her man and and anybody who's i mean i think we all fight vanity to some degree and uh it's it's a really it's a tough battle because it really is one of the worst curses in the mind to preen rather than become strong.

[33:08] The Importance of Marriage and Connection

[33:08] Yeah, I mean, go back to the Old Testament to keep our theme going here. The preacher in Ecclesiastes, right? Vanity, all is but vanity when it comes to separation from God. When you are purely materialistic and secular, everything becomes vanity. That's a wisdom that is 4,000 years old. And I also remind, I'm reminded again, and not to belabor this from what you just said about your novel, about that hideous strength by C.S. Lewis. In there, you have a wife, a young wife, who is not committing to her husband, a newlywed, because she's afraid of his masculinity and she's afraid that she'll lose herself and her career in him. And at one point, the main figure in the book, Ransom, says to her, ultimately, he says to her, you do not fail in love because you do not love. You fail in love because you will never consider obeying. And he says, he goes on to say something kind of like what you just said, that you must realize that the higher you get, the closer you get to God, you're going to experience masculinity in ways that are more real, that the closer we get to God, the male and the female become more exclusive, not more the same. And you see these natural roles play out, like they do in your book quite nicely.

[34:35] I don't know if you've meant to do this, but one of the main things your book left me feeling is how really important is marriage, right? How marriage is not just a contract, it's not just something that a judge can bang a gavel and give you a piece of paper. That there is a bond here that, for lack of a better word, has to be metaphysical for marriage to be real. That should where it start. That's not what you build up to. That's where the beginning is, that marriage is this spiritual and metaphysical union that then explains everything, including things like obedience that comes after it. And so I got a very profound sense that the necessity of marriage, how it is good for society, of course, and for culture, of course. But even as individuals becoming aware of who they are and what the truth is, you really need that as well, too. Well, and the bookend of the book for me is, the start of the book is Rachel's bottomless vanity, which comes out of the.

[35:43] Society comes out of the culture and comes out of the daycare experiences and the lack of connection she has with people. So the vanity, the physical vanity, look how pretty I am, look how sexy I am looking.

[35:51] The Battle Against Vanity

[35:51] And all she, she just works on her body. She doesn't work on her soul in the same way that I'm constantly reminding everyone that her boyfriend is doing leg lifts. He's doing sit ups. He's going to the gym. He, you know, I say that when he's climbing the mountainside, he, his, uh, his carbs are so muscular. They look like fat tad, pink tadpoles, you know, like, so So it's all about the physical. And when she starts to go through a crisis of conscience, realizing how empty and shallow her life is, her boyfriend literally grabs a banana, dances around like an ape and tells her to shake it out, man, relax, you know, just don't worry about it, you know, just we're going to have fun. And she's like, well, what's your life? What do you want to do with your life? He's like, well, I want to go surfing in Bali and I want to become a yoga instructor in Indonesia and I've never been arrested in Belgium. You know, like all of these things that just consume, it's all sense-based. It's all the body, the body, the body. He is the embodiment of the body, and she's just physical, outside in, outside in. All she cares about is how she looks. She doesn't care about what's good. Now, at the very end of the book, again, minor spoiler, at the very end of the book, when she says, basically, take me to Oliver, she looks like hell. You know, she's been attacked by dogs, and was this too subtle? My friend, was this too subtle?

[37:02] So she's constantly into the physical and so on, right, and away from danger, and then she ends up trapped in this convenience store chased by a pack of dogs and she's in a cross position, right? Because she's on a beam and the only way she can stay up is to be in the cross position and she's now terrified of the flesh, of the hunger, of the material, right? And then, of course, a bearded man sacrifices himself. Anyway, so that's a whole other thing. It's very, very subtle stuff. But at the end of it, she's run from the dogs. She's had no sleep. She's literally been crawling through shrubbery and bushes and trees. And she looks like hell. She hasn't done her hair. She's got no makeup on. She's scratched. She's bleeding. She's tired. She's hungry. She's got dark circles under her eyes. And she says, take me to Oliver. Now, that's in the humility that she has something to offer Oliver that's not just physical attractiveness. And that's really what he's been looking for. He's been looking for a woman with a quality of spirit rather than the prettiness of form. And so leaving the material behind and going to the place somewhat subtly named New Eden.

[38:08] That she is willing to say, she doesn't say, I got to clean myself up. I got to prepare. I got to look good. She's like, no, just demand, take me, take me to Oliver. I need to talk to him. And the fact that she would show up looking like that compared to where she was at the beginning of the novel, to me, the biggest character arc that you can possibly get and still stay believable, you know, like the serial killer doesn't get become mother Teresa. So the biggest character arc that you can make that stays believable. And, uh, you know, again, my, my boy Dostoevsky does this all the time, right? Raskolnikov from beginning to end. And so to me, I've always been like the farther you can shoot that canon of character arc while still remaining in the physics of reasonable psychology, that's the thing. And I think, you know, I think I did a fairly good job of that. It was fairly well. It's one of the few books that I plotted out actually chapter by chapter to make sure that it was all going to hang together and make sense. But yeah, that journey journey from vanity and lack of connection and just the material.

[39:03] The Lack of Appreciation for Men

[39:03] And, and she doesn't believe in, in anything. She doesn't, she doesn't believe in anything. She doesn't even believe in her own career, but she won't admit it. And then, and then what she does, and then what she does is she shows some sympathy towards men. And that's sort of the men's rights thing that that's going through there, the sympathy towards men. And the fact that she finally thanks her own father for his is 30 years of incredibly hard work in a work environment where he was abused. We talk about the screamer. And also where he had to, to some degree, compromise some of his morals, because he works in this t-shirt printing factory, and some of the stuff he had to print went against his ethics. But he still sacrificed himself. And the fact that women get a lot of appreciation in society, which is great, I mean, it's wonderful, but the fact that men are starved for appreciation. Like you have women literally on a subway saying, we don't need men. Okay, well, who dug the subway tunnel? Who made the subway? Who provides the electricity? Who provides, like, who's the farmer? Who's the truck driver? So this lack of appreciation for men is something that is a secular value because men were respected and treasured as the head of the household in Christianity.

[40:16] And in the secular world, because women can go and marry the state and they don't need to provide any thanks or appreciation for men. That's another thing that if men feel expendable, they can't pair bond because it's not safe enough. If you're expendable, I mean, the whole point of pair bonding is ride or die. We're together forever, no matter what. Right. That that's and if you just if you don't feel comfortable.

[40:38] That you are loved, treasured, and respected as your gender, rather than just as an individual, how can you pair bond? And if you can't pair bond, then you can't transmit any cultural values to your children.

[40:50] Sorry, go ahead. No, no, you're exactly right. I was going to follow up with that.

[40:54] Motherhood, Taylor Swift, and Christian Worldview

[40:54] We started this conversation talking about how you made some comments about, motherhood and Taylor Swift. I think this comes right back to it. It seems to me that we were made this way, and this is the Christian worldview as well, that to some degree, it is vanity for women not to have babies, right? The idea that choosing the world over a child in the context of marriage is a kind of deep vanity. It's also sterile. It's ultimately something that comes back for many women once they can no longer have children. It becomes a major point of regret. it's why we're having women because of science and technology having babies into their 50s now there's a so there's a sense in which women uh produce from inside right i mean uh not to say that women can't be business women or artists but they do their master creating internally to reject that is the worst kind of vanity more much more than the body the self-body expansion stuff. Men, on the other hand, because they look after women, they don't create internally, physically that way. Men conquer the outside. So your argument there about the subway is right.

[42:11] That's what men do. They build subways and computers and airplanes and houses and guns and safe rooms. They do that to allow the woman the venue, the safe space in which to do her form of creation. And our entire society destroys both of those. So you have this weird dichotomy that runs through all of this and your comments too too, about your long philosophical reflections on the family and about men going their own way.

[42:46] Men going their own way is, in many ways, an attempt to reclaim that outer space, that space outside of them, which they were made to have to bring under heel, and largely so that you can then support the wife who is bringing the children in the best possible world, not farming the children out to outside agents, but bringing it up holistically in that family. Christianity had that right, and nothing we've seen is better than that. And we're now really reaping the consequences of the attack on that form of marriage and family. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think you sort of ask about the character arc with regards to atheism. I, of course, went through a very disorienting and bewildering phase some years ago regarding guarding atheism in that I have worked very hard to create a rational proof of secular ethics. And, you know, I mean, it's very much in line with the 10 commandments, right? Rape, theft, and assault, murder, all banned and property rights are all affirmed by this moral framework. I call universally preferable behavior. Now, of course, this.

[43:54] Morals come from God in the Christian universe. There is no ought in the is, right? This is the Humean distinction. There's nothing inscribed in the nature of atoms that say you have to do or not do. Now, the law of physics say if you push a guy off a cliff, he'll fall and he'll die.

[44:11] But it doesn't say whether you should or shouldn't, right? You can't get the ought from the is, and that's sort of been the mainstay. And that's, to me, okay, let's say you're skeptical of Christianity and you say, well, you know, it's just a sky ghost and all of that, right? So there's no God in reality. It's like, okay, but you know, we can't have a civilization without morals, right? Like, you know that for a simple fact.

[44:32] So if you're going to say, let's, uh, you know, wet finger snuff out the candle of the source of all of our ethics in the world. There's no morality, no benefits to truth, no benefits to integrity. There's nothing. It's just atoms and space like the pensées, right, the terrifying thoughts. All I see out there is atoms in space, which is why people are interchangeable, and it doesn't matter where they come from, and people can just move in and out of countries, and they're completely interchangeable. They're just like, why would you care about one white Lego block versus another white Lego block? It doesn't make any sense, right? So if all there is is atoms in space, then you have just wet-fingered the candle of morality that has been the entire source of our civilization and the maintenance of our civilization. Civilization civilization as you know can only work if there's only a tiny minority of amoral people like most people have to self-regulate and we can see this happening with the court system at the moment like there's just so much wrong that's going on the court system can't handle it so you get these terrible plea deals and they bribe you with five years of your own life in order to get you to plea to something you maybe even didn't do so okay so you've just wet fingered out the entire candle of morality that is the entire basis of your civilization. Okay.

[45:49] Maybe, just maybe, what you should do is try to find a way to have it without God. Because if you get, like, is the atheist worldview there for science or hedonism, right? That's sort of the big question I've been wrestling with for the last number of years. And I keep accumulating more evidence that leans towards the hedonism argument. Because I produced and I've debated this topic, my sort of system of ethics. I produced it. I've written an entire book, tons of articles, presentations. I've done live presentations. I've done endless debates with people about it. And it is. It is. It holds firm. It is absolutely true. Okay, so it's kind of like.

[46:31] You come across a guy in a desert, and he's been crawling across the desert for like days and days, and his skin is parched, and his teeth are falling out, and he's just, I'm so thirsty. You're like, oh, here's some water. And he's like, I want that. It's bewildering, right? So it's like, well, by getting rid of God, we got rid of morals. And it's like, okay, so unless you want some Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome fallout scenario, you better find a substitute. Like it's one thing to say, oh, there's this terrible storm. there's hailstones as big as your head coming down but i think that the church is poorly designed and you you destroy the church and it's like now people are naked to the elements it's like shouldn't you build something that's a shelter before you say we don't need this shelter anymore because now people are just getting pummeled and killed by the hailstones and the storm and you got babies out there and you can't survive so i was you know one of the things that i did was to say okay well so no god there's no morals in the way that we would understand it so we really really really, really better come up with some morals here or everything's going to go to hell. Like, we're not going to have to wait to die. We're going to go to hell in the present world without morals. And so I was, oh, so young, naive, and pretty. So what I did was I said, oh, wow, you know, these atheists have been crawling across this desert without morals. Oh, look at this. From first principles, can't argue, fact-based, morality-based, reason-based, evidence-based.

[47:57] Predicts why communism doesn't work, predicts why marriage is important, predicts why capitalism works, predicts all of these wonderful things and allows you to go back through history and apply this lens and everything pops into focus. Boy, the atheists are going to be thrilled about this. You know, there's a guy in the desert, man. I'm here, man. I got the whole water cart. I get bubbled water. I don't care. You want flavored water? I got the whole thing. And he's like, oh, gross. I don't want any of that. And so the thunderous lack of interest from the atheist community community, in the proof of ethics, was wild to me. I wasn't expected to be paraded through like the Pope or anything, but it was just like, oh, wow, you solved the problem of ethics without gods or governments. That's kind of been the holy grail of philosophy for thousands of years. Thanks, man. I'm really thirsty. And you hear infinite supply of water. And it was just like, no, they got mad. They ignored it. They put it down. They insulted it. They strawmanned it. And I'm like, so basically you don't want morality.

[49:00] Consequentialism and the Consequences of Atheism

[49:00] And the way that you don't get morality is you disprove God. And it is about hedonism. And it is deviling. Because if you say, well, the price of getting rid of God, regretfully, is getting rid of morality. And then I come along with the proof of morality and people are like, oh, gross. I'm like, okay, so you don't really care about God. You just want to get rid of morality. And if I come back with a secular morality that you can't disprove, well, you don't want that. Because what was the point of getting rid of God if you can't also get rid of morals? And, yeah, that was a fairly tragic being dragged through the bramble bush backwards naked kind of process of really understanding what the secularists, the atheists are kind of all about, because this should have been the oasis in the desert, and they just fled.

[49:49] You know you mentioned dostoevsky a number of times he said it very succinctly in his words, if there is no god then there is no morality and everything is permissible even cannibalism i mean that was as far as he saw that and i've always made a distinction between morality which requires god and when we say god when i say that morality requires god what i mean is there has to be an anchor for your morality. There has to be an absolute that justifies you believing one thing over another. And that's what God is just as a placeholder. It's better if you believe in that God. It's more sincere. It's more efficacious, but you don't need it. But then the ethics is the other thing. And then Dostoevsky, like you in your book, also make this point subtly.

[50:39] If there is only ethics and ethics is is is um guaranteed by reason not by god it is rationalism not revelation that you have there so to begin with it's not authoritative completely like god would be if he exists number one and number two the problem with reason and this is dose this is the purpose of the brothers karamazov the entire book his greatest work is that when reason is the the only anchor we have for our beliefs, there are all kinds of reasons to kill, all kinds of reasons to do utilitarian things to people that are horrible. And there's no logic behind Christianity, which demands the strong have to bow to the weak, but the strong should make their life's mission the uplifting of the weak, not the exploitation of it. Reason can't get you there. And I've had many people try to argue, there's rational reasons why the strong should care for the weak, but they're all as thin as paper. And even the people making the arguments don't believe it themselves. You're right. Your desert analogy is 100% correct. So let me ask you this then, on the basis of what you said, and both for your novel, and I suppose for you too.

[51:58] The question then becomes, Knowing what we know philosophically, does that mean then that we have to believe? Does that mean then that, for lack of a better way of stating this, Stefan, is it at the point where we have to believe in God now? Or is there still a degree where God can be useful but not true that you would argue is the truth here? I guess what I'm asking you is, where are you now with regards to belief? belief.

[52:31] Well, I have too much respect for the idea of deity to say that I can consequentialize myself into that. Well, it's practical and it's useful and it's productive and it's positive and it's necessary. It's like, no, no, no, that's not love, right? I mean, if you look at your wife, you look at your husband and you say, well, you know, practically it's positive and, you know, we get to share expenses. Like that's not love, right? So I can't get to love from practicality. I can get to love for morality. And so I'm obviously hanging in, you know, dusty, iffy square of space, you know, little square of space. Hey, I'm out of the bathroom with the spiders, so that's a plus, but I'm still in the square of face because I cannot warm my heart with consequentialism. And you're right about, so again, if we go back to atoms in space, atoms in space and biological imperatives, right? This is Darwinianism, right? So one of the most powerful commandments to me, if not the most powerful commandment is thou shalt not bear false witness, right? Don't lie, don't lie. And this is what Rachel is trying to learn. Rachel takes the path of least resistance. Why? Because that's what animals do. Animals take the path of least resistance. And even if you say, well, but the birds fly out and get all the worms for their babies, it's like, but that's because they're compelled to do that by their biology, evolution, and hormones. They're still taking the path of least resistance. So Rachel goes from taking the path of least resistance, and that's the question of, am I going to write about the men's rights movement?

[53:54] Am I going to write? Because that's not the path of Lee's resistance. Now she has a cause that is not hedonistic, and she knows that ahead of time. Because everybody, even her aunt, who's a famous reporter, says, don't do it. And I love the bit, and some of the dialogue to me when I was writing it was kind of surprising, because you want the characters to be as alive as possible. When Arlo says, Rachel, you can't write about this. You know how photogenic I am. And she's like, what? And he's like, well, pretty people doing bad things. Like that's what the world lives for. And he's like, he's right. You know, he is pretty and there'll be all over and pretty people doing bad things is like the Kardashians and all this kind of crap, right?

[54:34] So thou shalt not bear false witness. She goes from taking the path of least resistance, which is animals. Lions don't chase for exercise. They chase for food. And when they're full, well, they lie around, they're lying around, they're lions, right? So they just lie around and they take the path of least resistance. My daughter keeps ducks and ducks are not the most seductive creatures in the known universe. They basically just rape each other. And, or I guess the males rape, the female dolphins do it too. So how do you get your seed into the female's eggs? Well, they don't, you know, if not taking the duck or the dolphin out for dinner is how it's going to work, then that's what you'll do. Just path of least resistance. sense. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Nature is founded on falsehood, right? Nature is founded. I mean, the lion pretends to be just, I'm just grass here, man. I've got the stripes. Don't worry about me, man. I'm just grass. And the sharks are, you know, with their dark tops and light bottoms and trying to stay hidden and the cuckoo is laying its eggs in other birds' nests and it's all just deception and the butterflies look like different creatures and the snakes try to camouflage themselves and the trapdoor spider sits under the sand and only jumps. It's all about deception. Hey, there's nothing here, man. No predators. I'm going to stay upwind and hide in the... So nature is all about deception. Deception is how you survive.

[55:51] It's how you survive. It's how you live. And there's no other way to do it. If you had some lion saying, okay, I'm hungry. Okay, if you guys could line up like youngest and oldest and sickest first, man, that would be great because it's really hot out here and I really don't want to have to run. So if you could just do me a solid and just get where I need to get, like, just give me a buffet of zebra butt. That's all I'm looking for. It would die. It would die. It would not survive.

[56:18] So nature is founded on deception and so is rachel rachel is founded on deception right she says well i mean it's kind of funny to me she says well i work more on my butt than my stomach because i can suck in my gut but i can't push out my my butt right so even that's a form of deception right her makeup is a form of deception everything about her is a form of deception the other thing too Two, Arlo's value to her is that he makes her look good because he's more handsome than she is pretty. He's a 10, she's like an 8 or a 9. So she's like, and she says this explicitly, I get the radiant glow of his beauty that makes me look better. So she's with Arlo to a large degree because it makes her look better. And so they look cooler and they look happier than they are, which is like lifting the lid on the Kardashian hellscape of like, well, I guess you look pretty, but your life is hell itself. Self. So even she's entirely about deception, right? And she says, you know, they lied to me about my degree. They said, oh, here are all of the standards for journalism. And it turns out the exact opposite is how it plays out. They say, and this is also when she starts talking about wanting to do the men's rights thing, she throws one scrap of sympathy into the men's rights movement and nobody wants to touch it, even though journalism is supposed to all be about balance, right? And so, and she gets deplatformed for having something mildly sympathetic towards men. She is a non-person. She's completely deplatformed. It's great to be able to write from vivid memory myself, having gone through that myself.

[57:43] And I just consider it now all research and very vivid research, I might add, as well.

[57:48] So, you know, like when Jonah wants to write about the inside of the whale, he doesn't want to just pick up a textbook, you know, go get swallowed and hold up a candle and make some notes. So it's all about deception. So when atheists say, all is nature, all is atoms in space, and evolution is why we're here, what they're saying is, deception is survival. And then they say, well, don't lie. And it's like, what are you talking about? If the only reason we're here is because of lying. I mean, how many times did someone walk up to somebody else pretending not to want to fight them and then hit them on the head with a club? They're lying. They're not coming up and saying, hey, man, I'm going to hit you on the head with a club. Right? If deception is why we're here, according to evolution…, How do you suddenly draw a line when there is only evolution and say, well, you shouldn't lie? Like based on what now? Christianity answers that question. Like it or not, like faith or not, it does answer that question. You shouldn't lie because God says it's wrong and God is all perfect. And you can make the practical arguments. But the practical arguments are, if it's advantageous for you to lie, nature says and evolution says you should lie. Now, what atheists do is they say, well, I can think of situations where it's not advantageous to lie.

[59:13] The Significance of Morality and Ethics

[59:13] That's not an answer. You know, thou shall not kill unless you're a hitman, you're being really well paid. Like there's no asterisks, right? And the atheist saying, and how on earth? And this comes back to the pair bonding. So she moves from the secular world to the Christian world and she's capable of pair bonding. Why? Because Darwinianism and pair bonding are antithetical. Because if someone says, well, of course I'll tell the truth when it's advantageous, you can't trust that person. How can you trust that person? Because they'll lie when it's advantageous.

[59:49] It'll be, well, you know, I guess I'll have an affair if I can totally get away with it. And, you know, my wife's unwell or whatever it is, right? But you can't trust people. You can't pair bond with people who have in their list of things to do lie through their ass. Like you can't pair bond. The pair bond is based on the trust. And there's zero trust between Arlo and Rachel. And that comes out in this Valpergesnacht, this horrible scene between the two of them when their lack of trust manifests and they pierce through the shell of physical attractiveness and get to the hellscape of the actual foundations of their relationship, which is contempt and hatred because they're trapping each other in vanity. And the only way they can break out is through, I've sort of had these echoes of some absolutely terrifying plays like Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf is one. John Osborne's Look Back in Anger is another where people just tear each other to shreds. And that is because they don't have a commitment larger than the interest of the moment to anything positive. And you contrast that with Oliver, who is able to resist her charms and who.

[1:00:56] Actively resists and rejects her when she lies. She calls him up and the moment she starts manipulating, he's like, no, I'm out. And he senses it, and he's very strict about it, but because he's Christian, when she starts telling the truth, what does he say to her? He says, it's nice to hear from your soul, because her body lies, because it's Tarwinian, and he says, the moment she starts really telling him the truth.

[1:01:22] So when she first meets him, she gets a call from her boyfriend. She turns the phone over. Doesn't say it. Later, she says the truth. And he says, it's nice to hear from your soul, because the soul is thou shalt not bear false witness, which goes against all the Darwinian imperatives for falsehood and manipulation.

[1:01:41] And he accepts her when she's honest, when her soul speaks to him, not the manipulation of her Darwinian body. I hope that makes some sense. No, it absolutely does. And to reify what you said, if there is only nature and there is only reason, then survival, living, carrying on is the highest imperative. And so therefore, lying and cheating and even killing is logical, right, in many times. But Christianity and religion generally, Christianity gives you something more important than existence. There is something more important than survival. And that's what this is, right? And that's where there's no way in my mind that the atheists can replace that, what God offers if he does exist. Well, I'm sorry, I just want to interrupt real briefly, and the purpose of the removal of Christianity as well is so people won't make any sacrifices to maintain their freedoms, because to survive is all that matters. So if you get threatened, you'll just comply. Sorry, go ahead. And as you see now, Christian virtue is now considered evil.

[1:02:51] Bible-believing Christians have been rebranded by the atheist left as Christian nationalists, right? In other words, the great sin of Christians is to believe what the Bible says and not what the atheists say. And so now we're turning this into a kind of fascism. But what struck me about Rachel, your character, one of the great lies of material evolution is there's not really a good example or a good reason or in any other animal besides man an example of free will. What Rachel does is she engages in a radical act of free will, despite her prettiness, despite the gorgeousness of her husband, her consort, right, and the shallow, vain material world they live in, to choose to move beyond that. That is it's, it's, to me, it's the, the, the major point of your book is that is a, is a huge act of free will. And this begs that question, doesn't it? If we indeed do have free will, and only if we have free will the mother bird, as you say, we'll defend the, uh, the, the children from the owl, but notice what the mother bird never does. She never lets the owl take her.

[1:04:07] Right? And fly away. She lives to fight another day. She lives to have another brood if she needs to. So there's that survival imperative of nature that even won't be violated, but the ability to choose something other than yourself and to choose something radically different than what you have been acculturated to, that is free will. And as I point out to my university kids with regards to to free will. If there is a God like we're talking about, the Christian God, for instance, then what makes us human is our free will. It is that ability to choose for ourselves. And you talk about the hellscape that she runs away from. Hell is that divorce, right? To surrendering to the imperatives of the body and downplaying. I love how you phrased it in your book, it is nice to hear from your soul.

[1:05:03] The Power of Free Will and Choice

[1:05:04] It is an acknowledgement that free will and the soul are effectively one in the same thing. And then up until now, anyway, reason and nature and science has no answer for this. And Christianity does. Well, and the scene that for me was very powerful to write. And I think like most people, I have had some bad experiences with dogs. When I was in Africa, my father and I were chased by packs of rabid dogs, and we had to kick and fight, and so I was getting endless research from all this kind of stuff.

[1:05:34] But the scene where I.

[1:05:38] Rachel is hunted by the dogs. So to me, why that was so powerful for me is she treats herself as a piece of meat. She's a piece of meat. Her boyfriend is a piece of meat. She only cares about the looks. She only cares about the flesh. She scalps her flesh. She is a piece of meat, right? And then when the dogs treat her as a piece of meat, she realizes how horrifying that is. That if all you are is atoms in space, then being food for dogs is perfectly apt. She's just a piece of meat. Let me tell you why that was so wonderful for me, too. Something you haven't mentioned yet is not only are the dogs primal and they're an example of dog-eat-dog, right? It's how you survive.

[1:06:23] But dogs are animals for about a million years that human beings have trained to love us, not nature. And so I think your choice of dogs was absolutely brilliant because even an animal like a dog that for a million years has been bred and evolved to worship us, we know that dogs go feral all the time. And we know that dogs are really wolves still. There's always in every dog a little wolf. So I thought that was a brilliant illustration by using the dogs that all of our scientific ability to even influence evolution only goes so far because you can't completely erase the wolf from the dog. Right. Right. And then she has her vision. Her religious vision occurs when she smashes a clock and she goes, she has to move beyond the material. She has to move beyond being a piece of meat and she has to move beyond time.

[1:07:19] And the contemplation of eternity is utterly denied by the material worldview because we are merely mortal. And when we die, everything's gone. She has to smash the clock. She has to move beyond time.

[1:07:31] And through that, she's able to get out of the city, which is the artificial environment, and get into nature. And to me, also a fascinating thing as well, she lies constantly.

[1:07:41] Compulsively, repetitively, obsessively throughout the course of the book. And the only time she escapes is when she tells the police officer the absolute truth she does not manipulate him she does not bat her eyes she's just.

[1:07:55] Like i'm desperate to get out here's what's going on my heart here's so she speaks honestly from the heart from the soul and she actually gets what she wants all her manipulations in the past got her nothing she wanted and all of the and she does exercise free will and everyone else when society begins to collapse the government says stay home and everyone's like well we'll just stay home we'll wait you know we're just gonna hang out and and someone's gonna come someone's gonna come and save us and her salvation is not coming from outside right and and that's this is everyone in the in the book as a whole except for oliver and his family and clan and racial everyone just waits i mean that this is the uh the secular aunt uh she crystal she waits she just waits until she's too weak to leave and the fact that she says i have to find my way against reason against the passivity of waiting against any external salvation i have to find my way past the meat to the soul right the past the dogs to new eden that's very powerful because it's hard to make that case uh for from just a secular standpoint the question of of sacrifice and the fact that she wants to start creating life because as you point about the women who don't have kids it's like they say well my life is too great and it's like.

[1:09:13] But your life is only great because your parents had a kid. And so the idea that you would take the greatest gift in the universe, which is human life, human consciousness, and hoard it all yourself is like an inheritance that has been growing for billions of years or hundreds of millions of years. You just squander it all yourself and don't pay it at all forward is kind of incomprehensible to me. Again, if you have the possibility. If you don't, you can do the goodbye Mr. Chips thing and you can teach and help other kids and then be part of life cycle that way. But to just be selfish, hedonistic, neither train nor teach nor mentor nor instruct nor have children. I mean, it's like watching a snake eating its own tail, thinking it's getting a meal.

[1:09:57] Let me magnify what you said about the clock because I noticed that immediately.

[1:10:00] The Concept of Time and Its Implications

[1:10:00] I think it was a really great symbol that you used because time is a concept that only matters to man, right? Animals don't worry about it. Plants. The only creatures, as far as we know in the universe, that are aware of time are human beings. And time is the problem, right? Time is really the problem that we're talking about here. The believer, the Christian, the person who believes in something bigger than reality or materialism, they have an answer to the question of time.

[1:10:31] The great truths that we've received from God are timeless, right? We talk about, you know, how can you believe this 2,000-year-old sky god, because whatever else he was, he gave us an argument that allowed us to defeat time, right? There's an answer to time. The god we worship is a god who created time. He's not limited. This is the problem with paganism, right? And here's the thing, and I know you know this because we've talked about it. We're not filling the world by denying God, monotheistic God. We We are not creating more atheists. We are repaganizing the world. And the big problem with paganism is all the gods of the pagans were trapped in time. The Greek and Roman gods knew that they would be outlasted. They replaced the titans, and they knew something was going to replace them. Odin in Norse mythology knew that the time of the Norse gods was subjected to time, that That all the pagan gods, including the new secular pagan gods, you mentioned science. Science is one of those pagan gods that you just mentioned. And so consequently, paganism... Is bound by time. The monotheistic God liberates us from that, and that's the difference.

[1:11:55] Philosophically, it opens every door. Without it, everything remains speculative.

[1:12:02] Even from the best reasoners that we've had in human history. So basically then, the problem with time is that there is no way to solve it, right? Even the pagan gods we've created bow before time. But what we have in Christianity and the monotheistic religions is an escape from time.

[1:12:22] One psychiatrist, I can't think of his name, I think it was Bruno Bettelheimer, he said that all psychosis, all neurosis is nothing more than the human animal having to come to grips with the fact that it's the only animal knows what time is going to do to it, right? That if we were foxes and death for us was five seconds in the jaws of the tiger, well, we wouldn't worry about it. There wouldn't be these psychological stresses, but time provides that issue. And one of the reasons I became a professor of Renaissance literature, of all the areas that I could have picked, is because the period of Renaissance Renaissance literature is the most fascinating study of time. If you read The Fairy Queen by Spencer, you read Milton's Paradise Lost, you read many of Shakespeare's plays, over and over again, the great poets of the people like Hooker and John Donne, they're deeply, deeply concerned with time.

[1:13:28] How do we create Shakespeare's sonnets? How do we create a love that outlasts sickly time? And that is the big modern problem. And so the image that you had of Rachel breaking the clock and literally turning a corner had very, very metaphysical suggestions to me, because what she was rejecting here is the very limited worldview that imprisoned her to begin with. It was very nicely done.

[1:13:55] The Resolution of Choice and Free Will

[1:13:55] And the last thing I wanted to mention, this is people, I've got a lot of feedback about the ending of the book, because she says, I'm here for Oliver.

[1:14:06] And then you turn the page, does the couple you've been now listening to and reading about for a long time, do they get together? And you don't know. Now, right choice, wrong choice, a very conscious choice. So I don't want it to be right for her to do what she do, or do what she does, if she gets the guy. Because that's consequentialism. And then bribing women to do the right thing by saying, you get the hunkasaurus Christian guy who's going to save you in a world of chaos and decay, right? So what matters is that she wills, chooses, abandons vanity, and...

[1:14:45] Stops lying now whether she gets the guy or not doesn't matter it doesn't matter because if you say well i'll do the right thing in order to get a good effect that's not doing i mean this is back to count right i mean if you get some personal benefit out of doing the right thing then you're not aiming for morals you're aiming for a benefit and so i mean in my view she gets the guy but i didn't want to write the scene about that where he enfolds her in his arms you know fabio style and And it all works out and so on because that's to bribe people with a positive outcome. And that's why they should do the right thing. So to me, the story is that she gets there and says, I'm here for love. I'm here for pair bonding. I'm here out of passion. I'm here out of honesty. I'm here out of authenticity. What comes out of that?

[1:15:36] You know, my entire career has been, regardless of consequences, I'm going to tell the truth as far as I see fit. And, you know, I've alienated Christians in the past. Now I'm alienating atheists. I've been deplatformed. And it's like, because if I was working for consequentialism, I'm not a philosopher because the whole purpose is to tell the truth. You know, this is how I was raised. I mean, and, you know, I take a little bit of, you know, moral praise for the integrity. But I was raised like thou shalt not bear false witness and tell the truth and shame the devil was another thing that was really deep for me. And there was another thing which really rejected consequentialism that I was raised with was tell the truth, though the skies fall. Tell the truth, though the skies fall. To heck with consequentialism. It's the virtue that matters. And when you get out of consequentialism, you get out of time. Because time is calculation of benefits, short or long term, whereas telling the truth is an eternal act of virtue that has to exist independent of time because the moment you start calculating time, then you've got to start self-censoring for fear of negative consequences and then you're back in the cuckoo clock that Rachel smashes.

[1:16:42] Yeah, and I like the ending. You think about how many great works of literature end that way. Think about Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, where she's got to make a choice, but you don't know what choice she's going to make. The Brothers Karamazov ends that way. So I think, go back to my comment about free will, which is one of those things that really defies the atheist secularist position. I tell this to my university kids. Isn't it interesting that the farther biological science goes, the more it insists that we don't have free will? Now we're processed, our biology, our genes, our genetics, our chromosomes. Now not only do you have scientific determinism, you also have cultural determinism. What little freedom that may be left, right?

[1:17:30] Your environment, your education, your economic circumstances, social determinism, swallows up any free will you might've had. And so the more science progresses, the more it tells us we're just animals. And civilization tells us, no, we are least like animals than we ever have been in our civilizations, our creations, our ability to replicate life, to create life in test tubes, to get to the moon. So it comes back again to me at the end of your book. Book it's a great act of free will that breaks rachel free from the box of of of materialism and at the end of the book she's left with the choice right that we don't need to know what happens then because the resolution is not the hug or the kiss or the marriage or the baby the at the the the denouement as far as i read your book is that choice so i think it's a nice place to end it, right? Beautiful. It could go anywhere, but choice is the key.

[1:18:34] Well, I appreciate that. And I, of course, encourage people to check out the book. You can get it at freedomain.com slash books and just scroll down to the fiction sections, a whole bunch of books there. It's free. It's a Mobi and EPUB format.

[1:18:48] Encouragement to Check Out the Book

[1:18:48] The audio book is free and I hope that people will, you know, my original training was as a writer. I was a playwright and I've written a bunch of novels. The philosophy stuff came later because I couldn't quite figure out why novels I considered pretty good were having a tough time getting published. And then it's like, oh, that's right. The leftists are in control of the means of production, so to speak. So that's why I went the philosophical route, which I think was better for the world in the long run. But I've never lost that love of novels. And the great thing about writing novels is you are so close to the characters that you know them so well. And it's a really intimate, it's a kind of weird, intimate kind of thing. So I hope that people would check out the novels. I also wanted to mention, of course, FPEUSA.com if you wanted to mention to my listeners the work that you're doing as well.

[1:19:35] Thank you, and we are Freedom Project Media, Freedom Project Academy, FPEUSA.org. Check us out if you're looking for a good way to educate your kid or to help you partner, educate your children. And I want to close by saying what I really like about what you've done is you've taken a lot of thought and you've crafted it into art that still thinks. And that to me is the mark of a novelist, not just a teacher using tropes, right? Plato's a great thinker, but his stilted dialogue is kind of transparent. You've told a story, and its storytelling ultimately is the way that people who aren't logical thinkers learn. Taking philosophical ideas, giving them exciting stories that are interesting, that's why I think the novelist, at the end of day.

[1:20:34] At the end of the day, the novelist is more important than the philosopher because he gives the philosophy with that teaspoon of sugar that everybody can swallow, not just the philosophical minded. So I became an English professor, not a philosopher. So I appreciate that in what you've done. And thanks for this talk today. I too urge your audience, please get a copy of the present, download it, read it. I think if you do, if this is the first book of yours that people read, I know they're going to want to read more. So I hope that happens. Yeah, I appreciate that. And thanks a lot for your time today. It was always a great pleasure and a really fascinating experience to talk about something I wrote. So I really appreciate that.

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