Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Metagenetics, Part 3

In today's installment in my series on metagenetics, I turn my attention to the 2006 booklet entitled The Philosophy of Metagenetics, Folkish, and Beyond, currently available from Runestone Gifts. This article will be a bit different from the first two in the series, not only because the booklet at hand is not freely available on the Internet (so I'm not going to do a complete paragraph-by-paragraph analysis), but also because a lot of the contents have already been covered in the first two articles. I will limit myself herein to new material, ideas, and evidence presented.

The booklet begins with a section on "The Nature of Folk Religion." It lists three principle features of folk religion, contrasting them with the modern day image of religion in the West:
  • "The group nature of religion as a counterbalance to the individual aspect"
  • "Folk religions ... are inherently linked to a particular cultural and biological group... a people"
  • "Folk religions ... are strongly ancestral"
This is contrasted with what has been called the salad-bar approach to religion popular in the West today, where one can take whatever one wants, ditch the rest, and essentially craft a one-size-fits-me religion that is unique to oneself. Folkish religion is a direct counter to that approach, and offers a community of fellow believers, but even more than that. It is a community of people who are of the same type as we are; Asatru is merely the expression of that type.

It is also worth noting, and might be overlooked by some commentators, that not every religion is a folk religion. Not only are the big monotheistic universalist religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) not folk religions, but so too are many of the more recent religions such as Wicca and eclectic neopaganism in general, Neo-druidry, Satanism (both the theistic variety, which is largely a spin-off from Abrahamic tradition, and the atheistic variety), and even, I would argue, the Religio Romana, owing to the Romans' famous penchant for not only appropriating other peoples' religious elements, but also for exporting their own.

The case of the Religio Romana is a bit of an involved topic, and possibly something that I'll cover in a post of its own at some point, but as the Romans spread their culture to their conquered subjects, they also spread their religion, and the presence of temples to IVPITER OPTIMVS MAXIMVS in far-flung corners of the Empire is a sign that the Romans had no compunction against non-Romans honoring their gods, at least as regards the Religio Publica (the public religion, as opposed to the Religio Privata, which was the household religion, and which included rites to deities specific to the home and family, and which doesn't seem to have been exported in the same way, at least beyond Romans themselves living abroad).

There is no such evidence that the Germanic peoples, on the other hand, had similar ideas, probably owing to their more tribal nature. But back to the matter at hand. 

Next comes a section entitled "Your Ancestors Matter". This section brings up the importance of ancestors in non-Western religion, and the equal importance in pre-Christian European religion. I like the fact that it once again brings up the point that metagenetics is not something that is limited to people of European descent, and by implication to deny it (or actively fight against it) is also to fight against the same idea as it is seen in various indigenous peoples' religions and cultures, which is something that normally the SJW's would be horrified at doing. Ultimately, though, it is relatively unconnected to the direct argument for metagenetics, except in the more general sense that metagenetics is reliant on ancestors for its function. 

The next section is the one most relevant to the present study; "Metagenetics". It brings up excellent turns of phrase lacking in the previous articles, such as "Kinship is prized [in Asatru] for both practical and spiritual reasons, and the chain of generations is seen as a time-transcending unity, something not limited by our narrow perceptions of the past, present, and future."

It also brings in the results of more modern scientific research, such as Dr. Niels Juel-Nielsen's studies of behavior in identical twins, which supports a biological basis for behavior. I personally find such studies compelling, because they most definitely establish a biological basis for certain types of behavior, and the principle could well be (and perhaps more credibly be) extended to broader behaviors, such as aggression, in-group vs. out-group preference, and male/female gender role dichotomies. 

The rest of the section is a restatement of arguments from the previous two articles; Dr. Rhine's ESP experiments, Jungian archetypes, Dr. Freedman's work with racial based behavior in babies, and so forth. Those arguments have already been covered in the first two installments of this series. It ends with a restatement that none of this is intended to support any sort of racial chauvinism or claims of superiority. An emphasis that is often wasted on critics of metagenetics, I might add.

The next section, "Genetics and Beyond: the Ultimate Connection" is essentially a reprint of McNallen's 1999 article, which I must confess was a little disappointing. The next section, though, "In Defense of the Folkish View" is new to this publication, and seems to be a reaction to criticism that earlier expressions of metagenetics had received. Specifically, it addresses the four most common arguments presented against folkish Heathenry:
  • "The vikings spread their seed far and wide on an equal opportunity basis, with no regard to race, religion, or culture."
  • "All men and women are descendants from Ask and Embla, the primordial man and woman who were found as trees on the strand, by Odin, Hoenir, and Lodur and given life. Thus, Asatru is the legacy of all humans."
  • "The Gods and Goddesses have sex with all sorts of beings - dwarves, giants, and the like. This is more evidence that discrimination, particularly in the realms of sex and marriage, has no basis in Norse culture!"
  • Asatru is a religion, and joining it is no different than becoming an Episcopalian, a Muslim, or a Wiccan. Asatru is no more 'European' than Islam is 'Arabic' or Buddhism is 'Asian.'"
All four of these criticisms of folkish Heathenry are responded to with several paragraphs. Some of the responses are stronger than the others, and each could easily be given a multi-page chapter unto itself, but they do the job and provide adequate counter-arguments given the constraints of space. Interestingly, many of those arguments are said to come from a Christian background, as they are largely based on assumptions that come out of Christianity (religions are universally applicable, creation stories apply to everyone, etc.). I'm not going to go into the responses in detail, since they don't deal with metagenetics directly, but I might do another series specifically on them at a later date.

The booklet then ends with a brief conclusion (finished off by a quote from E.O. Wilson; "We are not compelled to believe in biological uniformity in order to affirm human freedom and dignity.") and an annotated seven-book reading list, many of whose titles are referenced in the booklet or the preceding articles:
On the whole, the booklet does a good job of expanding on the themes of the original two essays on metagenetics, but doesn't present any earth-shattering new evidence. The conclusion I drew from the analyses of the first two essays stands; metagenetics is consistent with the lore and modern science.


Read other installments in this series:

Metagenetics, Part 1
Metagenetics, Part 2
Metagenetics, Part 4
Metagenetics, Part 5

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