Biohistory Meets Oswald Spengler: Gerhard Meisenberg`s In God`s Image
A couple of months ago, I by accident came across a book
called In God`s Image: The Natural History of Intelligence and Ethics.
One of the blurbs on the back was written by
Lynn, so I thought it might be worth a look.
However, I was unable to find a single book review
online. At Amazon,
In God`s Image had only three copies in stock as of
Wednesday, February 10.
This is unfortunate.
was written by
Gerhard Meisenberg, [email
professor and chairman of the biochemistry department
at Ross University in Dominica. Although the book was
published in 2007, before
Cochran and Harpending`s seminal work on biohistory,
In God`s Image is one of the few books that take genes seriously
when analyzing the rise and fall of civilizations.
two thirds of the book are about how our brains work and
mistakes people make in thinking about important issues.
Why can`t we get people to wake up to the
demographic crisis America is facing? Mostly because
prehistoric man gained little from thinking about the
There are only a few evolutionary reasons why one would
commit altruistic acts. One is kin selection. But it
makes much more sense to care about your four children
eight potential grandchildren. Without the direct
offspring being fruitful, the more distant descendants
Also, before private property, there wasn`t much you
could do for those more than one generation removed from
you anyway. So evolution selected
those who looked after themselves and their own children,
and against idealists who dreamed of changing the world.
also commit altruistic acts hoping to get paid back, but
when the issue is sacrificing for future generations,
reciprocity doesn`t apply. Thus, even when the elites
agree on the importance of an issue—like tackling the
Social Security deficit—nothing can get done if people
are asked to sacrifice the present for the future.
Eugenics probably falls into the same category.
We make similar mistakes when thinking about history,
both the written and evolutionary kinds. For example,
when we hear that proto-humans
the Neanderthals in Europe, we think of conquest and
genocide. But another kind of replacement has always
been much more common. Meisenberg asks us to assume that
1,000 Cro-Magnons invaded a
continent of 100,000
Neanderthals. If the former raised 2.1 children to
adulthood per woman, and the latter 1.9, then in only
100 generations, or 2,500 years, there would`ve been
130,000 Cro-Magnons and just 600 Neanderthals!
rather than advancement is the fate of most species.
In modern times we`ve watched races and ethnies replace
each other through differential fertility.
Northern Ireland used to be 80 percent Protestant
and 20 percent Catholic, but now the two religions have
about an equal number of adherents. The white
population of South Africa stayed constant over the
twentieth century while the number of blacks doubled
every few decades. The whites are now being
driven out of the country that they
Meisenberg believes that he`s come up with a theory
about the workings of history. Think
Oswald Spengler meets biohistory. It works like
At the most primitive level of development, people have
only magical explanations of the workings of the
patriarchy are in style. Intelligence is selected
for, as the very weakest die out.
The intelligent tribe`s population grows. More people
means more inventions. The population then grows
further, because people still have their old habits and
haven`t yet realized that more children means a lower
standard of living. The
an absolute rise in IQ likely caused by
improved nutrition, takes hold and people become
although high intelligence is no longer selected for,
improvements in environment mask any decline in the gene
pool. The society`s higher IQ leads to even greater
But this doesn`t go on forever. There is only so much
that nurture can do to improve cognitive functioning.
So, although IQ improved by about thirty points in the
twentieth century, with most of the gains coming at the
middle and left of the bell curve, the Flynn Effect
has now hit its limits in the modern West.
Finally decadence sets in.
materialism are the preferred values. Faith
declines, and scientific (or at least
scientistic) arguments replace religious and magical
ones. The population drops as people smart enough to
plan ahead limit their fertility in order to have more
money for self-fulfillment.
do not happen, not because children have become
impossible, but principally because intelligence at the
peak of intensity can no longer find any reason for
their existence…When the ordinary thought of a highly
cultivated people begins to regard `having children` as
a question of pro`s and con`s, the great turning point
has come. For nature knows nothing of pro and con.”
this video from Iranian TV
mocking Westerners for treating the decision to have
children as one treats the decision to buy a dog or cat.
stupid and irresponsible continue to breed away, as
compassion and medical advancement make sure that almost
anyone who is born lives to pass on his genes. Instead
of the eugenic Flynn effect, we see dysgenics.
Civilization collapses and people go back to their
original primitive state.
calls this yo-yo evolution.
In the early twentieth century, the Polish
Bronislaw Malinowski made an interesting
observation. While studying Melanesian people living
off the coast of New Guinea, he saw one a man came back
year`s absence and greeting his wife and his new
son, whom he embraced. Malinowski was surprised and
asked another islander why the man wasn`t upset about
his wife`s infidelity.
out that the residents of the island had no idea that
sex led to pregnancy. Teenagers had sex as soon as they
could and would do so into adulthood. Some would get
pregnant, but there was no way of knowing why. Besides,
it couldn`t be sex that leads to children because after
a young unattractive girl had gotten pregnant, all the
men in the island had denied having relations with her!
Meisenberg reasons that, since some contemporary tribes
never figured out the connection between pregnancy and
sex, this understanding must have come very late in our
evolutionary history. From there, we may assume that
evolution never selected for a desire for children
per se. Women desire sex and desire to mother once they have
children, but don`t think ahead and desire the creation
of the baby.
according to Meisenberg, is like the military and works
on a need-to-know basis. This helps explain the low
birth rates in the modern world.
In my view, one can only come to such a conclusion by
ignoring obvious evidence to the contrary. Young girls
all over the world fantasize about having children. The
author must`ve never seen the teenage mothers who appear
on the Maury
more solid ground are Meisenberg`s theories about the
rise and fall of civilizations. He is able to draw on
much circumstantial evidence for his theories.
From the tenth to the sixth centuries B.C., the
Greeks were able to form colonies from Spain to the
Caucasus. Geneticists can still find traces of this
colonization across the Mediterranean basin. When
Ancient Greece was at its peak in the fifth and fourth
centuries B.C., writers considered the city-states
overpopulated. But by the second century B.C.,
Polybius would write:
own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low
birth-rate and a general decrease of the population,
owing to which cities have become deserted and the land
has ceased to yield fruit although there have neither
been continuous wars nor epidemics…For men had fallen
into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice and
indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they
married to rear the children born to them, or at most as
a rule but one or two of them.”
As Greece fell, Rome rose. The evolution of that
civilization seems to have been similar. After Hannibal
and his troops wiped out 80,000 Roman soldiers in the
third century B.C. there was no trouble in raising a new
army. But only two centuries later
is in our time [the woman]
who wants to be a
in hoc aevo est quae velit esse parens.]
The emperor Augustus passed laws to increase fertility,
but they were a failure. The rulers of the
Antonine dynasty remained childless. They were able
to maintain good governance that way because there were
no incompetent or evil sons to take power.
Unfortunately, there would soon be nobody to govern.
Actually, not everybody stopped breeding. There was one
small cult the encouraged its flock to
“be fruitful and multiply”.
That cult was, of course, Christianity.
To have a
respectable hypothesis about why Christians displaced
pagans, all we have to do is use the same logic that
might explain why the Cro-Magnons replaced the
Neanderthals. If from 50 A.D. to 450 A.D. Christians had
a 20 percent higher fertility rate than Pagans,
Christians could`ve gone from two percent of the
population to 20 percent. And the difference in birth
rates was probably much larger.
In Europe today,
whites are the new Pagans and Muslims the new
Meisenberg brings the same analytical tools to
discovering why Muslim civilization fell while Europe
has dominated the last few centuries. The degeneration
of the Middle East has been dramatic. In an encyclopedia
of Muslim scientists, 64 percent produced their work
before 1250 and none did after 1750. The
Middle East IQ is today 85 and it`s hard to
understand why the region was more advanced than China
or Europe a thousand years ago.
blames Islam`s fall on contraception. While Muslims have
always reproduced in great numbers, there was no
restriction on what a couple could do to limit
fertility. Even abortion in Islam is accepted as long as
it takes place within the first 120 days of a pregnancy.
And, as in
Ancient Greece and the modern West, those with more
smarts and foresight had a greater tendency to take
advantage of ways to get out of becoming a parent.
Meanwhile, in Christendom Thomas Aquinas would
teach that to
“depart from the inseminating use [i.e.
coitus interruptus, accepted in Islam]
of the sexual act is to
offend God directly.” The Church was so
effective in stomping out knowledge that contraception
methods known to the Ancients were lost until the
Renaissance. Even after science overcame religion among
the elites, Western thinkers still thought that the
availability of information on preventing pregnancies
was harmful and that such knowledge needed to be
concludes with the idea that Westerners will eventually
either take control over our reproduction through
technology and progress in a positive direction—or go
the way of the Ancient Greeks.
impossible that there will ever be a regression in
technology. As Francis Fukuyama wrote in The End of History and the Last Man,
genie is out of the bottle and there will always be
information on how to make cars,
conditioners, medicine, etc. available to anybody
with enough time to study and a high enough IQ to
understand complicated texts. The proportion of such
people may be shrinking, but it`s going to be a long
time before there`s any sort of complete collapse.
So, like Richard Lynn (and myself), Meisenberg sees the
future of the West in the long run as a tug-of-war
between technology used for eugenic purposes pulling us
one way, and dysgenic differential fertility and
immigration pulling another. (The
patriotic immigration reform movement might be
included on the first side).
But I find
this unlikely. The lower classes of the future are going
to be a diverse lot and thus unlikely to work together
towards any goals, even if there were any smart people
left amongst the poor to lead them.
perfect. Meisenberg`s writing style grated on me. He
doesn`t seem able to go a paragraph without making a
joke. I`m all for making a work lively, but there is
such a thing as over doing it.
Another annoyance is how often Meisenberg reaches
for Hitler or the Nazis to make his point. For
example, to show that idealism is more dangerous than
selfishness he quotes Himmler calling for great
sacrifice. Nazis are referred to at least ten separate
times. About two hundred pages in, I told myself that if
I read one more reference to them I would throw the book
against the wall. Thankfully, it was interesting enough
that I kept reading anyway.
Finally—in his chapter on
intelligence, Meisenberg claims that according to
his computer simulation, a person with an IQ of 120 has
a 70 percent chance of getting through medical school
without failing a semester, but that with an IQ of 70 a
person has a 20 percent chance. But all calculations
have to be checked against common sense. Since an IQ of
70 is technically retarded, the odds of someone with
such an IQ becoming a doctor is more like zero.
Despite these faults,
In God`s Image is worth reading for those who think that historians
have ignored genes long enough.
Harpending and Cochran hoped to found a new field called
biohistory with their 2009 The 10,000 Year Explosion.
a half century of
American Lysenkoism and the race deniers`
Reign of Terror, most theories about how culture and
genotypes have interacted throughout recorded history
are necessarily underdebated and sketchy
But we have to start somewhere. In my opinion,
In God`s Image
is that start.
Richard Hoste (email
him) writes prolifically on race, immigration, political
correctness and modern conservatism. His articles have
The Occidental Observer,
Occidental Quarterly and
TakiMag among other places. His blog is
HBD Books, where he
regularly reviews classic and modern works on these