Berlinski is a smart guy, but apparently not able to understand my historical model. I am sure the Discovery Institute dislikes me, but since they ignore me I hardly have to worry about them. In fact neither modernists nor conservatives seem able to understand my views.
The religious anti-modernism of many groups, e.g. Disco-tute true believers, is matched by the confusions of ‘secularists’ themselves who don’t understand their own foundations.
The issue of WWI and II is mostly hot air. As I have pointed out many times the Enlightenment is one episode in a larger ‘modern transition’, attacking it as responsible for war and the Holocaust is pointless. As a matter of fact the Holocaust was probably an occult conspiracy engineered by the very reactionaries Berlinski seems to favor. To blame the Enlightenment for the Holocaust is a peculiar distortion of historical understanding.
The macro model of WHEE shows how the idea of progress needs to be taken. There is a section on this in WHEE, not enough: http://history-and-evolution.com/whee4th/chap7_5_3.htm
To reject progress based on the failures of the twentieth century misses the point. Progress is some kind of measure or subjective evaluation of long term historical trends, and this is in turn requires a careful understanding of world history and the relevant time scales to evaluate anything. The model of WHEE exposes the problem at once: a system that reflects a discrete continuous system model suggests immediately how to evaluate progress: the discrete series appears to be a frequency pattern of 2400 years, so therefore progress must be evaluated in the rough measure of at least two steps in the series, and most obviously more would be highly desirable: the macrosequence gives us three such, or two and a half, and we see at once by that standard there has been progress relative to the rough markers 3000BCE, 600BCE, and 1800 BCE. Note that after 600 BCE progress waned and a long decline appeared to take effect for a long long period: a discrete continuous system is easily able to handle that: much of history is retrogression. Progress is measured over the long scale. The issue of the twentieth century might be another case of a local decline in the wake of a interval of advance. The next relevant interval would be 1800 + 2400 = up to 4200 AD. We shall see. By the standards of Occidental antiquity we in for a long period of decline! It is not enjoined as inevitable. I think that man is coming to understand his history and will be able to exit the system shown and become the director of his own future, and progress.
The frequency period shows how difficult it is to evaluate things in a series so short in length. If we add the Neolithic, but the data is thin, we see that overall in the past ten thousand years progress has been obvious. This debate gets befuddled by the issue of moral progress, but that it a different question, and may require a still longer interval: human nature is an evolutionary stage and may be relatively invariant over a long interval.