The Cognitive Dissonance of “Easy Contradiction”: Why I am accused of being too rigid and abstruse (PART TWO)

I am a “black and white” absolutist philosopher simply because I deny that black can also be white at the same time…that A is also B, that the square is also the circle, that what IS simultaneously IS NOT.  The fact that I reject rank contradiction, which is the bane and the intellectual, moral, and rational failure of pretty much ALL world philosophies, makes me much too petulant and pedantic and confusing to pass for a serious thinker.  I boil down to a thin, simmering layer of arcane (at best) ideology, selfishly demanding that 2+2 not equal both 4 AND 5, and throwing a temper tantrum when this childish demand is not met.

Hmm…

I must say I find it both ironic and hypocritical that so often this criticism comes from some of the most rigid ideologues the world has ever spawned:  Christians.  Usually of the orthodox pedigree.

Hmm…

If you are a church member today in good standing, I dare you to try espousing the virtue, or even the mere possibility of virtue, of any other doctrine or theology, be it from another religion altogether or merely a deviation from orthodox Biblical interpretation.  Suggest even a mild stray from traditional thinking, like, say, questioning the moral necessity and efficacy of abstaining from profanity, and watch what happens nine times out of ten.  You’ll be met with polite but utterly categorical disregard, and tacitly denounced as nurturing abject wickedness.  You’ll soon be tagged as a likely insurrectionist…one to watch out for, and there will be a hyper-vigilant monitoring of your presence and influence.  Now, dare stray from a truly cornerstone doctrinal issue, like the Trinity or Pedestination or Penal Substitution, and all but the very slimmest pretense of civility goes right out the stained-glass window.  You will be explicitly denounced as an emissary of Satan…an apostate of the worst kind.  Overnight those “Christians” who were once so emphatically and eternally devoted to you and your family become, effectively, total strangers.  You may retain a smattering of “rebels” who are willing to risk eternal damnation to send you an email now and again, or to get together for coffee, but make no mistake, the vast majority of your “church family” will have held court without you, denounced you as a traitor and a wolf, and will divorce you from their reality entirely.  You are dead to them.  No, worse than that.  You are never-born to them.

Don’t believe me?  Go ahead and try.  See what happens.  I dare you.  Walk up to your nearest member of the church leadership next Sunday and tell them that you have rejected the doctrine of Original Sin, Total Depravity, the Fall of Man, and/or the Trinity, as irrational and unbiblical.  When the leadership and its sycophants eventually engage you for the purposes of “gentle correction”, explain to them that none of those terms appear in Scripture, ever, anywhere.  When they mellifluously tell you that the spirt of scripture clearly implies that such doctrines be absolutely true, ask them when “clearly implies” stopped being an oxymoron, and where scripture implies that one also means three, God controls all things yet doesn’t control them because man is still responsible for his sin and sin nature, or that punishing the innocent for the sake of the guilty is a moral duty (with respect to Penal Substitution).

Watch what happens. After a merely ceremonious appeal to divine enlightenment followed by some rational equivocation, they’ll pull the “God’s chosen Authority” card and you’ll be banished as an imposter and interloper.  And then you will feel the stress of yet another completely irrational and unbiblical doctrine oft employed by Christians:  Excommunication.

So, yes, I find it just a little bit precious when I AM the one called “absolutist” and “unforgiving” for merely refusing to accept that “tree” also means “mailbox”.  In psychology, I believe they call that kind of thing “projection”.

*

I find it insulting and intellectually lazy when my ideas are labeled too abstruse or confusing…too full of enigmatic, circumspect rationalizations; too unwieldy for any practical use.  Just too damn hard to understand.

Okay.  Here’s a list of ideas that apparently are not too hard to understand, if you’ll indulge me.  And in this list you will see arguments and ideas I have encountered from not just Christian circles, but political and scientific as well.  And this is just a mere fraction of the conflicted ideas I have stumbled across in my attempts to get at a rationally consistent interpretation of reality.  And make no mistake, these ideas are taken very seriously by the most accomplished and prodigious intellectuals in the world, and are often also accepted wholesale as axiomatic by the vast majority of laypersons.

-Government exists to protect private property, and it obtains the resources to do so through the tax code, which takes one’s private property by force.  This is thought to be not only completely rational but many times a moral necessity!

-Libertarians want to reduce the size of government by running for office.  In other words, they intend to use the power of the government to reduce the power of government.

-God is infinite and man is finite.  This means hat the finite and the infinite co-exist.  In other words, what is infinite stops where finite begins.  In other words, “limited infinity” is a thing.

-Time and space were created at the Big Bang. In other words, the Big Bang never actually happened, since it has neither a location nor an instant.

-Space is a vacuum.  Wormholes are holes in space.  In other words, there are physicists seriously considering the reality of holes inside another hole.

-We often hear the phrase “beginning of time”.  Of course, time is the beginning.  In other words, there is such a thing as the beginning of the beginning.

-Atheists don’t believe in God, and assert that the concept of God is completely irrational whilst simultaneously appealing to omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite, untouchable, transcendent powers called the “Laws of Physics” which are invisible as distinct from the objects they supposedly control and create.  In other words, atheism is polytheism, soon to be monotheism once the geniuses at MIT and Cambridge get around to discovering the “answer to everything.”

-Scientists claim that the observer is a function of what he observers.  In other words, the observer observes himself from outside himself.

-Consciousness is a direct function of unconsciousness (categorically unconscious natural law).  In other words, consciousness is an “illusion”…which in this case is a euphemism for “doesn’t actually exist”.  So what exactly is it an illusion of?

-It is true to claim that absolute truth cannot be known, and that the inability of man to truly know anything absolutely is intellectually and morally meaningful to him.  In other words, its very important to know that you can’t know.

-Einstein’s theory of time travel implies that such travel is both to the future and the past,  depending ENTIRELY on the observer, making time travel so completely relative that it becomes functionally meaningless.  In other words, time travel is both possible and ABSOLUTELY irrelevant…which is to say, possible and impossible.

Now, this is what I have gleaned from that short list.  Apparently, for my philosophy to be sufficiently digested by the masses and made fit for practical employment, I must somehow find a compromise—in gentler terms…what is meant is actually a synthesis—between mutually exclusive concepts.  This will make me warm and fuzzy and comfortable and relatable and rational.

And here it seems I’ve stumbled upon yet another contradiction to add to the list.  It never seems to end.

*

All right, let us finally put away the rabbit and hat and reveal just how the logical magic trick of contradiction (often mislabeled, either deliberately or unknowingly, as “paradox”) is performed.  Humanity has for too long accepted that contradiction is a legitimately rational means of reconciling extremely complex or seemingly unresolvable concepts, or explaining observations (e.g. the wave-particle duality of light) that are not easily integrated into linguistic paradigms.  In other words, humanity has consistently revealed itself to be, in unfortunately typical fashion, intellectually lazy on the whole.  Or at least, too willing to accept intellectual insufficiency as the apogee of man’s mind.  The reason why it’s easier to “understand” contradiction as “truth” is simple:  because there’s NOTHING to understand.  And I mean literally.  To declare that A is also B makes both A and B…well, nothing.  A is also Not A; and B is also Not B.  By this methodology we get a complete vacuum of meaning…a hole in one’s consciousness instead of a truth.  The assertion that the square is also the circle is to admit that you cannot actually say which is which, and this, ultimately, only means that you have thrown up your hands and surrendered reality to…well, who knows?  You cannot say, because you’ve rejected the means by which anything is said at all.  And if you have surrendered your grip on reality by accepting even a tincture of contradiction as somehow commensurate with truth, then you have spoiled the entirety of understanding.  A pinch of leaven leavens the whole batch, so it is said, and this is true likewise of contradiction.  To claim even one contradiction as truth is to render the entirety of reality ITSELF a contradiction.

If you find my ideas too arcane and rigid, and too aggrandizing of human reason, then I humbly submit that this has nothing to do with the actual substance of my ideas and everything to do with the fact that you have become shamefully complacent in your thinking, and have compounded this error with ignorance.  That one who asserts that mutually exclusive concepts can be synthesized to form truth, or that truth is a measure of degrees, or that the key to understanding is realizing that humanity lacks sufficiency for fundamental understanding…yes, that the one who peddles this mystical, ethereal, esoteric, senseless, pseudo-spiritual bromide should suggest that I am the one whose ideas are much too far beyond the boundaries of human sensibility is exceedingly facile.  I might even say amatuerish.  If you struggle to comprehend the axiom that there can be no such thing as a square circle, then might I suggest you glance in a mirror to discover just which one of us is the real rational grifter.

And look, I get your oblique point.  Unraveling contradictions that have been accepted as axiomatic of reality and truth for often hundreds of years or more can seem exceedingly tedious, complex, full of ostensible random minutia, and just plain nonsensical.  But that this is MY fault is an accusation I refuse to accept.  I am not the one who built whole civilizations out of bullshit.  Civilization and all of its bullshit—from the Church to the State and all of the the little religious and scientific determinism bullshit in between—was already here when I got here.  And this is precisely my point.  It’s not okay to fault me, intellectually or morally, for a problem I did not create; nor is it okay to condemn me for the mess a fully ensconced contradiction makes when it is finally extracted.  Don’t blame the paramedic because the bandages get hella bloody.

END

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The Cognitive Dissonance of “Easy Contradiction”: Why I am accused of being too rigid and abstruse (PART ONE)

I have heard it a million times…it’s become simply a toll I must pay daily to make my commute to philosophy and back. I am too much of an absolutist (I love that one…makes me sound almost tyrannical); too “black and white”.  I am unwilling to compromise…things are either this or that, yes or no, there’s no room for negotiation, no allowance for mystery, the unknowable, divine intervention, truth beyond man’s mind; that there are notions and ideas which matter but which we cannot fully explain.  Which of course begs the question: If we can’t really explain them, then how do we know they matter?

But we won’t worry about the rational failures coming from my critics.  Rationality clearly isn’t a priority.  Pity.

By being labeled an absolutist, too committed to stark demarcation between truth and lie; right and wrong; black and white, it is insinuated that I reject the bell curve.  That I believe and assert that there is no such thing as degrees of anything, but all either is or is not.  This is ludicrous.  Now, I can understand how one might initially perceive this to be the case with me, as my focus is on rooting out contradiction from meaning and understanding…which is to say, to indicate what MUST be false, and from that determine what MUST thus be true, and then explain why truth then cannot be integrated with its own nullification (though I’m not sure why this needs explaining at all, exactly…once we know what must be false it seems to me a pretty direct and obvious line to the determination that it cannot also be true).  So, in the sense that contradiction is in fact NOT a bell curve, yes, I am an absolutist. For example, the contradiction that says that it is somehow relevant for us to know that God controls all things but yet we are still responsible for our own moral choices is COMPLETELY false.  Why?  It’s obvious!  Why does this even need explaining to anyone not five years-old or younger?!  You cannot integrate the concept of personal responsibility with an utterly determinist God.  To attempt to merge these mutually exclusive concepts is not “thinking in degrees” or some form of virtuous compromise, it’s complete bullshit and should be rejected out of hand by anyone with an ounce of intellectual integrity.

You don’t have ANY frame of reference for the assertion that A is simultaneously B!  You can’t assert that such a contradiction is true without implying that you have NO MEANS by which you can EVER ascertain truth.  Because your fundamental epistemology is rooted in the fact that something can both be true (God controls ALL things) AND false (man makes his own choices and thus bears responsibility for them, which means that God doesn’t actually control all things) at the same time.  In which case truth is impossible, because it intersects with falsehood.  Truth is and isn’t true, in other words.  And THAT is nothing.  Just irritating noise coming out of your mouth hole.

But by making it a constant theme in my philosophy that contradiction cannot somehow pass for rationally consistent truth I am called too rigid…an absolutist.  Just too doggone black and white.  No compromise; no bell curve.  The only two flavors are chocolate and vanilla.  The only dinner options are Italian and Mexican.  The only breed of political ideology is American Republican or American Democrat.  By rejecting contradiction as in any way meaningful, I somehow reject the existence of strawberry; believe that Chinese food is a myth, and declare that Libertarianism is only practiced in Fantasy Land.  There are only dog people and cat people, no one ever owns a turtle; there are only squares or circles…the liar claims to prefer rectangles.  There is no gray…no spectrum of color.  My philosophy is fundamentalist in the most LITERAL and OVERT of ways.  EVERYTHING is an illusion that isn’t A or B.

C, D, E etc. are mere interlopers.

I show myself nothing more than an immovable ideologue…nothing but “black and white” philosophy, you see, because I DARE commit the OUTRAGEOUS intellectual sin of declaring that black cannot simultaneously be white.  This makes me a moral pariah to “learned” and “less judgemental” Christian acquaintances, who are much more versed in the holy and compassionate virtues of wisdom, compromise, temperance, and forgiveness than a recalcitrant asshole like myself could ever be.  I’m a prick because I won’t let people have their cake and eat it, too.  The bromide of soft contradiction is something I refuse to ingest, and that makes me a criminal.

Do you remember who it was that was so intent on convincing Adam and Eve that knowledge (truth) came from OUTSIDE of themselves, from a tree, and not from their own rational minds…not from living life as a thinking agent?  Do you remember who it was that was so enthusiastic about the idea that man’s own reason had nothing fundamental to do with reality?  That truth is a function not of man’s own innate ability to reason fact from fiction, and thus integrity  from perniciousness, morality from mendacity, but from some special,  magical, ethereal enlightenment granted from beyond?  And thus implied that man’s mind itself could not be trusted to SAY what is TRUE at any given moment because what man says “IS” might simultaneously be “IS NOT”, and so man should simply accept a DICTATED truth, rather than think for himself….do you remember who this was?

You who are so quick to judge me as stubborn and cruel and arcane and abstruse and exacting and pedantic and judgemental…why don’t you root out the serpent in your own tree?

END PART ONE

America’s Unfortunate Legacy: Why the United States is just another nation in decline

The most destructive thing American has perpetrated upon the world has nothing to do with the physical.  It’s an intellectual wound that has been inflicted.  Worse than any war, scandal, or coup d’etat is the legacy of America’s political philosophy.  And if it seems as though I am speaking of an America with her grand and halcyon days behind her, it’s because…well, I am.  And they are.  Of course they are.  The candle has burned down to a nub; the hour glass must soon be turned over.  Between the near 30 trillion dollars in debt and the trillions more in unfunded and un-payable liabilities, the hordes of third-world foreigners both legal and illegal rushing headlong for her borders, with millions upon millions of them already here and feeding off the dwindling supply of tax cattle (i.e. the middle class), the almost unfathomable grand scale of abortion rates and single motherhood, both of these decimating without a hint of mercy Amercia’s future…yes, between all of this and much, much more, America is now experiencing at the very least the first of many death throes.  She is wheezing…and soon shall be but a corpse.  And this, my friends, is mere evolution.  It’s not revolution.  It’s not avoidable.  It’s not anyone’s specific fault…Republicans or Democrats or enemies within or without…not specifically.  Those groups are mere characters in the passion play that is the United States, whose end was written with the writing of the beginning.  The premise of a nation is the Authority of the State, and that premise WILL find its conclusion.  It’s unavoidable.  As sure as night follows day there is no stopping that which the beginning, now long since accomplished, NEEDS in order to BE the beginning in the first place: the end.  There is no recovering…no unringing of the bell.  All that remains is to see just what this end shall look like, and even this is of no fundamental importance.  Like all nations before her, America will fall as an expression of her rise.  How this manifests is mere semantics, as it were, in the grand scheme of history.  Will there be rivers of blood?  Unlikely.  Her capacity for military violence is far to great for that to be realistic, I submit.  No, I foresee a sad, quiet descent into obscurity and irrelevance, governed essentially by little more than a skeleton crew of corrupt plutocrats.  They will drunkenly sail her out into the cold, still waters of a blackened sea and then scuttle her with their greed and incompetence.  The barnacles on the boat—you and I—will drift along with the wreckage on the currents far below for who knows how long. It’s been over 65 years for the British. Their empire is a footnote; today their influence only exists vicariously through the United States. Sure they still carry the name “Great Britain”, but a name does not a great nation make.

Like all other great nations before her, America is on track to run her course in the mere span of ten generations. This is typical of great nations and empires…nothing unique or exceptional about it.  This is the lifespan of the species, and America is surely of the species.  She’s not an evolutionary breakthrough; not anathema; she’s not a new animal; she’s not from Krypton.  Yes, for all the talk of American exceptionalism, for all the appeal to her unique expressions of individual liberty, for all the self-approbation of a government for, of, and by the People, where rulers, like everyone else, are subject to the laws they protect and enforce (an impossible contraction…there is no rule of law without rulers; the idea that those who for ALL practical and revelant purposes ARE the law are also somehow obliged to it is rank nonsense)…yes, for all of this, America will but go as Ceasar’s Rome, Britain’s Kings and Queens, the Mongolia of the Khans, and all the others.

Why?

The answer one would think is obvious…for it’s the only answer possible:  The KIND of governement is irrelevant to the evolution of empires.  The philosophical premise which underwrites government in general—all governments, in fact—is what matters.  History has shown us, from rise to decline, regardless of how citizen-friendly a given government may or may not be, that the average life span of nations is about 250 years.  And America turns 243 in 2019.  And she is quite clearly near the end of her time, well into the age of decadence, her culture and money both essentially worthless.  In defense of my timeline, here are some figures courtesy of “The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival” by Sir John Glubb, 1976, an excellent summary of the comparison of history’s nations, their rise and fall.

Assyria  859-612 BC, 247 years

Persia 538-330 BC, 208 years

Greece 331-100 BC, 231 years

Roman Republic 260-27 BC, 233 years

Roman Empire 27 BC-AD 180, 207 years

Arab Empire AD 634-880, 246 years

Mameluke Empire AD 1250-1517, 267 years

Ottoman Empire AD 1320-1570, 250 years

Spain AD 1500-1750, 250 years

Romanov Russia AD 1682-1916, 234 years

Britain AD 1700-1950, 250 years

Sir John also notes that the average life span of great nations and empires has not varied for 3000 years, and this I submit is due to the fact that there is no meaningful distinction, no important variable amongst nations, in their philosophical premise.  And it is the exact same premise which informs the American State.  So there is no reason to think that she should buck the trend.

When all is said and done, what will America have ultimately contributed to the great historical tome of world nations?  Her arts?  Her technological innovations?  Her moon landing? Her resistance to the spread of Communism?  Her military exploits?  Her cuisine?  Her intellectual fare and philosophical discourse—Noam Chomsky, Thomas Sowell, and Ayn Rand, for example?

Perhaps America’s most valuable contribution to the world and history will be her appeal to limited government…of, by, and for the People, with a poignant and purposeful emphasis on enlightenment principles like the natural rights of man and an implicit, if not explicit, affirmation of individualist metaphysics, where self-ownership and reliance becomes the most important and distinctive of all national virtues.

Well, if you said that last one, I would agree with you.  But not in the way you might think, or for the reasons you might think.  Additionally, I do not see this contribution as virtuous or noble; rather, I consider America’s legacy of a “limited” government by the people to be deceptive, at best.  I would not suggest that this deception is intentional, rather it is a function of the belief and acceptance that government can be limited and that it will stay that way.

America’s most important legacy is the popularization of the idea that a small, limited government is possible, sustainable, and benevolent, and that a representative structure is somehow a hedge against authoritarianism.  America is also responsible for popularizing the idea that the politicians do NOT constitute a ruling or aristocratic class, because ALL Americans are equally obligated to the Law.  These false ideas have led many to believe that America at its root is merely a cooperative…essentially founded and grounded in free association and value exchange between individuals, with classes of people, as far as the government is concerned, being entirely irrelevant, if not nonexistent.  All of this is arrant nonsense.  And through these ideals, America has committed another intellectual and moral error by proliferating the notion that to collectivize the Individual as “the People” is not actually collectivist.  In other words, that it is possible to synthesize two mutually exclusive metaphysical interpretations—reality as a function of individual existence as opposed to reality as a function of collective existence—by merely calling the collective as “the People”.  In turn, the implication is that morality and legality, two mutually exclusive ethical interpretations, may rationally be synthesized; that collective obedience to Law can mean the same thing as the individual making moral choices; that punishment for breaking the law is the equivalent of consequence for poor moral choice.

All of this is complete error, and yet by so aptly orchestrating such a political apparatus, accompanied by 150 years of industrial, cultural, and technological growth unprecedented in world history and almost single-handedly ushering mankind into an era of comfort-centered existence instead of subsistence-centered, people both inside and outside America have been led to believe that this nation somehow truly has something unique to offer in terms of how government should be structured; that the forceful coercion of humanity, as long as it is (somehow) limited, can create a truly free and prosperous society.  Which is in fact impossible, due to the implict reality that government authority is necessarily ABSOLUTE, because that is its nature.  One can no more limit the authority of the State than one can limit the tree-ness of a tree or the the frog-ness of a frog.  Government IS authority. Government absent absolute Authority is not government.  Period.  But by thinking that government can be stripped of its fundamental metaphysical principle which demands that it represent the practical manifestation of the absolute right of the Collective Ideal to compel the submission of individuals into it, I fear that the evolution of man from a coerced species to a free species has been set back by perhaps hundreds of years.  Thanks to America, I submit that humanity has been significantly stunted in its moral and rational duty to evolve socially beyond the immensely destructive cycle of rising and falling nation-states and into the bliss of pure peace through categorical voluntarism and a stateless existence.

*

America has been quite successful in obscuring the truth that there is no such thing as a small government.  Likewise, though, it should be mentioned that there is no such thing as a large government, either.  For both “large” and “small” are fundamentally meaningless qualifiers.  There is no large government nor small government nor tyrannical government nor free governement nor representative government nor hierarchical government…there is only GOVERNMENT.  Government by nature—that is, according to the metaphysical principles from which and by which government is established—is necessarily all-encompassing, encapsulating every facet of man’s existence with either explicit or implicit supreme authority.  In other words, government, by its natural purpose and implied right to force man’s behavior in service to the Collective Ideal which represents reality IDEALLY, becomes, as far as man is concerned, reality itself.

The chief metaphysical principle upon which government is based is one we all understand, even if we have never put it into words as such: that man, himself, left to his own volition and choice, absent a coercive external authority wielding supreme violent power, is utterly  insufficient to his own existence.  In other words, if men are left alone to do things according to their own will, they will destroy themselves.  Man’s nature makes it thus that he cannot LIVE unless government is established.

*

Government is authority and authority is FORCE; and force, because it, by (political) definition subordinates man’s will and therefore his behavior as a function of his own choice, renders man’s very mind moot, making individual understanding of reality ultimately irrelevant, which as a consequence leading to the eventual collapse of nations, makes man himself irrelevant.  Man, absent his ability to interpret reality from his own individual existential frame of reference (according to reason, not the subjective relativism which defines collectivist epistemology) has no identity.  And with no identity, man is no longer definable and efficacious to reality; and this is why government always, always, always wrecks the societies it supposedly exists to serve.

Absent man’s individual mind we lose reason.  Conceptualization itself and concepts themselves serve the “reality” of State power.  Force, then, supplants reason…or, it could be said, force becomes “new reason”.  It becomes the “truth”, the “right and the proper” (the ethics of legality (force) in place of the ethics of morality (choice)); it becomes the sum and substance of political action and political discourse; it is how men are taught pfundamentally to socialize with each other…individual sacrifice becomes the grandest of virtues—children grow up understanding that it is their existential duty to form and/or belong to groups and devote themselves to the promotion of their particular tribe or team or gang or club or business or any other collective that happens to float one’s boat, looking at rival groups as a threat to be pushed away, rather than as individuals with which to cooperate.  Force becomes the reason to live and the reason to die.  Force is everywhere, from the determinist laws of physics/nature to the compulsory commands of God, and the supreme expression of all of it is the State.  Or we could look at it this way:  the Laws of Nature and/or God and the Laws of the State become man’s bifurcated existence.  The former is the context, while the latter is the practical application.

By undermining man’s will, understanding, and choice, Authority makes morality, which is dependent on all three, with choice being the most obvious, impossible.  Morality is only relevant in the context of will, and eliminating will from the fundamental ethical framework by subordinating it to the force of Authority…that is, demanding obedience instead of cooperation as THE PRIMARY MEANS of achieving ethical outcomes, makes ALL of man’s behavior as far as the State is concerned DICTATED, not chosen. And this is precisely how all governments supplant moral ethics with legal ethics.  Their very nature is rooted in Authority—government is not government unless it has Authority to compel behavior by FORCE, and the argument for the ethical legitimacy of this force is the LAW.  Instead of individual choice being exercised for the good of one’s Self (and this in no way implies ethical relativism…no rational moral ethics can affirm the morality of one’s own Self whilst rejecting the morality of one’s neighbor) man’s ethical obligation is OBEDIENCE to the Law, which functionally means obedience to the State. For without Authority, there is no law. This is axiomatic.

And so I say again that there is no such thing as small government, or large government…no specific KIND of government at all which is ultimately relevant.  There is only government.  The point of government is to compel man against his will.  Man is a willful being…will is the cornerstone of man’s identity.  It is absolute.  It cannot be parsed.  You cannot, say, have 75% free will and 25% compelled behavior.  Government implies categorical submission of the will.  Period.  If the government happens to not specifically dictate a given behavior, it doesn’t mean that that behavior is free.  The implicit reality in this case is that such behavior is merely ALLOWED.  And being allowed to do something is not the equivalent of having the freedom to do something.

*

Government is not and cannot be representative of the individual, because its nature and purpose is to suppress and supplant individual will.  Government is representative of the Collective Ideal, and it exists as the practical incarnation of this Ideal.  The Collective Ideal thus is by definition incompatible with the individual at root (at the primary level of metaphysics), and thus the individual must necessarily be subordinated and ultimately sacrificed to it.  To oversee and compel this sacrifice is at root the ONLY real and relevant function of government, period.  And understand that the destruction of the individual by the State is most often not consciously inflicted by the ruling class.  It isn’t that the State is full of pernicious fat politicians rubbing their greasy hands together and fiendishly devising new ways of mass murdering individuals, per se.  I mean, yes, some rulers do spend time consciously conjuring up new and exciting ways to massacre the populace in service to their power and wealth, but understand that at the level of government it isn’t actually PERSONAL.  The government ALWAYS represents a Collective Ideal…even if that Ideal is simply “My Power” as in the case of some Stalinesque autocracy.  A Collective Ideal is a root simply an interpretation of reality that obligates ALL individuals to be subordinate to it…to be SACRIFICED to it.  It requires the COLLECTIVE destruction of humanity in the interest of an Ideal that represents the ethical and epistemological reference for reality OUTSIDE of the individual.  The destruction of human beings then from the point of view of the State is not actually individual-centered or focused.  It is not pointed and acute in that sense.  Collectivism, being metaphysically exclusive of Individualism, doesn’t consider the Individaul to actually EXIST in the first place.  The destruction of the individual thus is merely a necessary consequence of the existence of the State, which is mutually exclusive, ultimately, to the existence of the individual; the reality of the State is necessarily INCOMPATIBLE with the reality of the Indivdual.  The two interpretations of reality cannot be synthesized.  And as government is Force qua Force, EVERYONE is to be annihilated in some form or other by mere virtue of its establishment.  Enough people then are eventually murdererd or rendered impotent to the point where the State is not longer viable as an authority because there is no one left over which to rule, and concomitantly it will have squandered enough resources to the point where it is no longer able to practically wield authority.  And it is THIS common denominator—the necessary rejection of the existence of the individual via a collectivist and authoritarian interpretation of reality—which is the root of why all nations and empires rise and fall, in relatively the same number of generations, and in almost the exact same evolutionary stages.

The uniquely American aspect of the philosophy of government is the contradiction that declares that the Collective Ideal known as “We the People”, or simply “the People”, is somehow in service to the Indivudal.  But of course the Individual, unable to possess any existential value to collective, because he is a function of a mutually exclusive interpretation of reality, is nothing.  And thus, even if the government wanted to serve the indiivudal, it could articulate no actual INDIVIDUAL NEEDS for which it could provide.  Because, again, it does not view humanity as a collection of individuals, but as a COLLECTIVE…that is, a Collective qua Collective. The presence of the State then guarantees the destruction of individuals, even if the Ideal the State serves is said to be INDIVIDUAL life, liberty, and happiness.

It makes no difference what the Collectivist Ideal is called…it’s merely window dressing…semantics.  Superficial.  Fundamentally irrelevant.  Authority and Force is all that the State ever represents and manifests in practicality, in every context and in every time.  Whether we call the Ideal the People, or the Nation, or the Race, or the Church, or the Proletariat, or the Individual, or the Fuzzy Unicorn, Authority is all that matters and Force is all that is real.  The formation of government ultimately demands the destruction of the Individual in favor of the Collectivist Ideal by appeals to Authority and through the application of force.  It is not about reason, or morality, or honor, or chivalry, or virtue, or patriotism, or principle, or purpose, or destiny, or love, or equity, or charity, or equality, or rights, or life, or happiness, or liberty, or prosperity, or pride, or God.  It is about Authority and Force; Force and Authority.  It is about the destruction of meaning by relegating the individual to existential irrelevancy, impotence, and illusion.

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Government, of any kind and in any place or time, metaphysically implies absolute Authority…that is, the right to own reality, itself.  In this sense one may consider government fundamentally solipsistic.  All pretense of individual rights and liberty are just that…pretense.  All of the freedoms one might suppose American’s enjoy, or at least enjoyed in greater measure during the more libertarian halcyon days of the republic’s rise, prior to the introduction of federal reserve and the income tax, for example, are merely an expression of the State’s power.  Under the auspices of governement authority, ALL behavior is at root merely a function of what the State happens to allow or demand at any given moment.  Will and choice is mere perception…there is no actual substance to these things.  Under a legal ethic (the Law) they have no functional meaning.  The ethical demand is obedience, and the ethical means is force, and the ethical hedge is death…meaning that the State has the natural right to destroy those who ultimately fail to comply with their legal obligation to obey.  But since obedience is a metaphysical rejection at root of man’s will and thus his ability to choose (making the claim that one can “choose to obey” a contradiction in terms), the Law ultimately destroys humanity as opposed to promoting it, because man, by simply BEING HIMSELF (an Individual) is EXISTENTIALLY and thus PERPETUALLY in violation of the Law. So, whether the law is used by “honest” autocrats to force collective compliance at the openly-admitted expense of all Individual considerations, like personal wants and wishes, property and ambitions, or by dishonest and/or ignorant rulers who claim to wield the Law  in service to Individual life and liberty, the outcome is the same.  Because in both contexts, and in ANY manifestation of governments, the law demands the EXACT same thing from man: that he reject his own will in submission to the Collectivist Ideal asserted by the State.  But since man cannot possibly do this, because he cannot choose to reject his own choice, man as an Individual is eradicated, either physically or psychologically, or by the categorical restriction of his self-ownership and self-expression.  That is, if man cannot fundamentally own anything, even his own body, because ALL belongs to the State, explicitly or implicitly, then he for all practical intents and purposes, is dead.  And the nation collapses, because there is no one and nothing left to rule.

So simply because the State happens to allow you to do this or that, does not mean you are FREE to do this or that.  Implicit permission is needed from the State to do anything…this is the very point of government authority.  Your very existence continues only at the pleasure of the Authority; this is hardly freedom.  Expressions of the Self do not necessarily equal the freedom of the Self.  Not at all.  Under government, your “willful” self-expression is ironically just a manifestation of the State’s right to compel and control you.

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SUMMARY

Philosophically, and thus fundamentally (that is, beyond the superficial aethestetic distinctions of time and place), all nations do the same thing.  They begin, rise, and fall in essentially the same amount of time, all experiencing essentially the same stages of evolution.  But why must they fall?  Why must they not be perpetual?  The answer is found in the natural collectivist philosophical principles which underwrite government.  Collectivism is metaphysically exclusive of individual will.  It is purely, in any and all forms, utterly about the Collectivist Ideal.  And the implementation of an Ideal, which is entirely abstract in its essence, and therefore OUTSIDE the individual, requires force, not choice, as THE means by which the Ideal is realized.  Force then is the Authority, and the Authority is the State…the political ruling class is the practical incarnation of the Ideal to be inflicted upon the world.

The State, being Force incarnate, is exclusive of human reason.  But since reason—the non-contradictory combination and application of concepts to form ideas unto language—is how man defines and organizes his environment (how he devises his notion of Reality) the exclusion of reason is necessarily and fundamentally destructive to man.  And once enough men have been physically, emotionally, psychologically, and/or spiritually corrupted and/or demolished by the innate authoritarianism of government, the nation inevitably falls.  Because it no longer functionally wields authority OVER anyone, and thus does not possess enough resources to rule, it is no longer a practical authority.  And since the State IS the nation, and the State is Authority, the State, absent enough people and resources to rule, is no longer existent, for all intents and purposes.  As the “State” then wallows in impotency and corresponding incompetence, it loses its grip on its fabricated reality.  New men then rise and take power, from within or without, with or without overt violence, installing a new government entirely or perhaps reanimating the corpse of the old one with a new personality, keeping the name, but asserting what functionally amounts to a new Ideology.  For what its worth, I suspect this is what is currently happening to America.  We use the “liberties” and “rights” of our Constitution as a prop…a convenient window dressing, maintaining the appearance of old virtues for political purposes, but the Constitution is little more than a husk at this point.  Or a death mask.

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America is and shall be no exception to the outcome of the metaphysics implicit in her government.  And yet in the face of arrant evidence that it cannot possibly be so (unmanageable debt, unfathomable abortion rates, rampant single-motherhood, rank cultural hedonism, child abuse, unfettered third-world immigration, open/shameless political corruption, politicizing the media into a propaganda ministry, etcetera, etcetera), many Americans continue to think and speak of their nation as exceptional.  But the only thing exceptional about any ruled people is that they continue to persist in the seemingly endless cycle of the rise and fall of nations, with an unshakeable acceptance of the spectacularly ironic idea that government is infinitely necessary to human existence.  And the fact that they continue to persist in such a belief even in the face of plentiful current and historical evidence to the contrary, is something exceptional to behold, indeed.  That humanity on the relative whole perpetually refuses to question the philosophical rationality and legitimacy of government is, in the realm of intellectual and moral error, an unquestionably exceptional brand of disaster.  It is a constant recycling and reliving of the Matrix…saviors rise to the cries of “freedom” and “truth” and “justice” and “progress”, based upon whatever collective ideal happens to form the context for these palliative virtues at the moment, only to have freedom et. al. inevitably undermined by an emphatic and hypocritical devotion to State Authority, if not in name then at the very least in principle.  Even those who say they oppose a given state on the grounds that it is or has become too oppressive simply appeal to either a new state altogether, or a reimagining of the one in existence.  Almost no one ever seriously asserts that the State qua State IS the very Authoritarianism they oppose.  The collapse of the nation then in some form is inevitable as economic and moral chaos accompany the necessary and steady increase of government tyranny.  Then the cycle begins all over again.  And again.  And again.

In reality, the truly exceptional people I submit are those who finally unplug themselves from collectivist philosophy entirely, in all its forms, and begin to interpret reality according to a metaphysics which in no way does or can imply that humanity is in some form at root a function of a collectivist ideal or process, whether political, religious, or natural.  Only when the absolute and categorical right of the individual to own himself has been acccepted by enough people will—for the first time in history on a meaningful scale—humanity commit itself to genuine rationally consistent reason and morality.  Only then will we escape the disaster of national rise, fall, rinse, repeat.

END

The Objectivist/Empricist Confusion Between Perception and Interpretation

I get it.  I really do.  Of course we want to be sure that reality can be objectively defined…that it is not open to whimsical opinion about its nature and operation; that there is an absolutely objective essence to it, because this is quite clearly necessary to the formulation of truth.  And truth is to man what divides life from death, both physically and spritually.

What I don’t get is the relentless devotion so many otherwise brilliant men and women have to ideas about the nature of reality and how that nature is accessed and described which are so clearly irrational.  I don’t understand how it is felt that the key to objective reality is appealing to subjectivity.  That is, appealing to a rejection of the ONLY thing which can render an objective definition of anything:  human consciousness.

I will tell you what I mean.

The other day I heard an Objectivist on YouTube explain that the key to epistemology (truth) was understanding and accepting that reality existed separately from man’s perception of it.  Now, this sounds similar to the way other Objectivists I have heard and known explain it, and I assume that this person would certainly know, given his (apparent) depth of knowledge on the subject.  I, myself, am no expert on the intricases of Objectivism so I will accept that this is an accurate distillation of its metaphysics.

In my mind I stammer.  I am uncertain as to how to reply to such a facile and, no insult intended, imbecilic description of reality relative to man’s consciousness.  It’s like when your six year-old angrily asks why she cannot stay up late like mommy and daddy do.  If mommy and daddy can stay up late then why can’t she?  And you just stare at her stupidly and blinking for a few moments as your mind searches through its collection of arguments and finds that it possesses no readily available resource to deal with a question so infinitely obvious.  You would no more expect to be asked a question that stupid as you would to be asked how to drink a glass of water.

And that is how I felt when I heard that objectively understanding reality was to make a distinction between it and one’s perception.  It punched me in the face with its arrant nonsense, and yet the conviction and, er…the forgone conclusion-ness with which it was spoke froze my brain.  Immediately I knew it was madness, but it took me a few moments to manufacture a response in my mind.  Ask me how to drink a glass of water, and I promise I will look at you as though I’M the total idiot for a minute.

Reality is independent of one’s perception of reality?  I mean, as though that were somehow possible, even though the very fact that we are naturally self-aware means that a frame of reference for such a distinction cannot be had.  For if one’s perception is exclusive of reality, as is implied, then “perception of reality” is a contradiction in terms.  If perception isn’t real, then it doesn’t exist to perceive anything, including reality. So the notion of a distinction between perception and reality is ludicrous, especially when it is ALREADY implicitly conceded that perceiving reality IS REAL.

So, what are we dealing with here?  Well, clearly this is an attack on consciousness.  We all undersand that perception qua perception is nothing.  To perceive something, to sense it, yet to be unaware of it, is utterly redundant.  Perception itself thus must mean consciousness.  The efficacy of perception is awareness, period.  We all know this.  And from consciousness we get interpretation, and this is what the whole thing is all about. The fear of subjectively interpreting reality is what leads objectivists and empiricists to declare that reality is not actually open to interpretation.  (This is ironic in that Christians do the same thing with the Bible.)  It simply is.  It’s prima facie.  It’s de facto.  It is what it is and it does what it does.  And I understand the fear…of course we need reality to be objective.  To let everyone define reality as they choose is to make truth itself subjective, which makes it impossible for truth to ever actually be true.  And history has shown us, most recently in the form Marxist political revolution, that such ideology does nothing but turn mass murder into a virtue, and makes monsters of all men.  But you cannot protect reality by making a boogey man out of consciousness.  Consciousness is nothing more than man’s natural ability to conceptualize his environment; to make a conceptual distinction between “Self” and “Not Self”, and to act in service to Self as such an ability necessarily implies.  This is the root of man’s very identity…it is WHO HE IS.  To banish consciousness in the name of “Objective Reality” to the realm of absolute illusion is to strip from man everything that makes him what he is.  To claim that consciousness is subjective and reality objective is to dig an impassable chasm between man and his existence, which necessarily destroys man.  Thus, the Objectivist/Empiricist solution it seems is to eliminate humanity in the interest of protecting reality.  But then, who shall be left to declare the victory?  If there is no one left to experience reality, then is reality actually real?  If there is no one left to know anything objective, then is there really anything objective to know?

The fact is that whether we like it or not reality IS indeed subject to interpretation.  Man’s ONLY means of ascertaining truth is through his consciousness…his powers of conceptualization.  He pairs concepts to create meaning, and from this we get language, and language is how reality is declared as BEING REAL in the first place.  Period.  Reality and man’s ability to describe it through conceptualization, which is the foundation of consciousness, are utterly inseparable.  In order to perceive reality, you see, perception MUST BE REAL.

The only way then to arrive at an objective definition of reality is to make sure that its interpretation is rationally consistent…that is, organized and described via concepts (in language) that do not contradict.  The difference between objective and subjective reality is not perception, but IS INDEED INTERPRETATION.  Having the right—that is, absolutely reasonable—interpretation is what makes reality objective, not disparaging consciousness as a mere fluke of natural law (i.e. scientific determinism, which is a nonsense rooted in a philosophy that predates the nonsense of most of the religions it pretends to depose).

You show me a rationally consistent, non-abstract (i.e. non-mathematical) description of reality and I will give you a mirror and show you what a TRUE Objectivist looks like.  A true Objectivist uses his consciousness OBJECTIVELY—that is, rationally—he does not pretend it is a figment.  After all, a seeker of the truth doesn’t throw away the only tool by which the truth is found.

END

 

Can 2+2=5 if the Bible Says So?

A couple of months ago I was debating an acquaintance of mine on the rational merits of the doctrine of Original Sin. After describing some of the logical failures and destructive consequences of the doctrine, I concluded by saying of Original Sin, “That’s impossible”. To which he replied, “That’s Bible”.

His reply is an example of the rational fallacy known as “argument from Authority”. The definition is pretty self-evident. One asserts a thing is true based not upon the internal consistency of the logic, but upon what, or who, happens to be asserting it. In this article I shall explain why the argument from Authority as it pertains to the Bible in particular is a rational disaster, and, due to its relentless prevalence and promulgation amongst today’s Christian apologists, makes these apologists the laughing stock of pretty much any and all intellectual discourse. I will do this by attacking the issue relatively obliquely, posing a hypothetical contradiction.

*

If the Bible said that 2+2=5, would you accept it as true?

Well, there are three ways we can answer this question.  One is the best; one is the worst; and one is okay. The one most Christains use is unfortunately, and of course, the worst one. Why? Because it’s lazy AND contains no null hypothesis, either implicit or explicit, and thus it ironically allows them to claim infinite moral and intellectual superiority without ever having to consider critically nor defend or debate…well…ANYTHING about what they say they believe. This approach is VERY appealing to many because, among other things, it pretends to provide truth to those who for whatever reason are incapable of achieving it on their own. By offloading moral and intellectual responsibility to the Bible (that is, the Authority), absolute truth is (somehow) INSTANTLY accessible. This is intellectual and moral egalitarianism at its penultimate worst, behind only Marxism, and should be regarded by anyone with an ounce of integrity and self-respect as completely embarrassing.

At any rate, here are the three ways we can answer the question: Can 2+2=5 if the Bible declares it?

1. No. Of course not. If an assertion defies rational consistency and logic then it cannot ever be true. The source is irrelevant. For even if we assume that God himself could make 2+2=5, humanity would have no way of confirming its veracity. Human beings organize their reality according to the non-contradiction of concepts, period. We call this reason. If black is also white and up is also down and blue is also red and a square is also a circle then correctly interpreting reality is impossible for man, and his very mind is totally irrelevant and contrary to existence, itself, which means he cannot possibly know God let alone claim that God can defy reason. Concepts must mean one thing and one thing only for ANYTHING to be defined. If 2+2=5 then conceptualization itself is impossible, because concepts which contradict cannot generate meaning. Thus the very notion of “to conceptualize” is categorically defunct. And without concepts there is no language, and without language there is no meaning, and without meaning there is no knowing, and without knowing there is no God as far as man is concerned.

2. If the Bible says so then it must be true. Man’s wisdom is irrelevant; we must accept what the Bible says without question. After all, this is what it means to have faith. Because God is its author, the Bible’s veracity is not dependent on man’s finite capacity for reason.

The problem with this answer is that it implies that man must accept what is irrational as nevertheless true if God says it. But if you ask why, you will ultimately be told either explicitly or implicitly that because God is who He is, he is able to do things man cannot do, including claim “truths” that are inherently contradictory and thus ultimately self-defeating. In other words, the one making the argument from (God’s/Bible’s) authority is appealing to his insinuated RATIONAL belief in God as a defense of his IRRATIONAL belief that 2+2 can equal 5. It is REASONABLE, in other words, that God’s message is UNREASONABLE. Or, put most simply, the unreasonable is defended by appealing to reason.

Do you see the MASSIVE problem with this? We cannot argue that it’s rational to believe in the irrational, because we are obligating irrationality to rationality, which is a complete contradiction of the concepts. The entire argument then falls apart. If our understanding of God (even if we should claim it “incomplete”) is based on reason then we must likewise base our understanding of what he declares on reason. The method by which we understand who God is cannot be mutually exclusive of the method by which we understand what he says. If our belief in God is reasonable then our belief in what he says must also be reasonable. Of course we can attempt to jettison reason entirely with respect to God and his message but then we are left without a means to claim that we can know him or anything he says. Which makes God and his message meaningless to us. Man uses reason to arrive at truth, period. There is no other method. Even if we say we have pure faith we must be able to say WHY; otherwise it’s not faith. It’s “faith”…as in just a noise from your mouth hole.

3. I need to examine the issue further. It is possible that the Bible is speaking metaphorically or allegorically or poetically. Or perhaps I am interpreting the Bible incorrectly…perhaps I hold an erroneous assumption about what the Bible is actually saying, or have misunderstood the context somehow. Perhaps my own logic is flawed, so I will examine my own assumptions to see if they are indeed consistent with reason before I offer a verdict..

As for the last point—the possibility of flawed assumptions on my part—I offer the following example:

The Bible is often criticized as erroneous for teaching geocentricity due to many passages referencing the sun rising and setting. Though this provides little hard evidence for such a complaint, let’s assume that yes the Bible does clearly assert geocentricity. Now, we might be quick to dismiss such an assertion as impossible. After all, science has long since proven that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around. But has it really?

Before we reject the passages which speak of geocentricity and chalk them up to error and ignorance, perhaps we should examine our own assumptions to see if our rejection of the Bible’s claim is actually warranted.

In a vacuum all objects must move/exist relative to one another. No object in a vacuum possesses in itself an endemic natural and existential property which makes it the “center” or, conversely, which makes it “that which revolves around”.  In a vacuum ALL positional references must be defined by an observer (one who is self-aware). This is utterly axiomatic.  An observer writing in the time of the Torah and New Testament would indeed perceive the sun as revolving around the earth. And, as bodies in space all move relative to one another, one could not declare this observer objectively wrong. Simply because geocentricity is not mathematically useful does not make it utterly false as a concept in EVERY context. Thus, the Bible would NOT necessarily be asserting a rational error by claiming that the sun revolves around the earth.

Thus, my first instinct when asked if I would accept as true 2+2 equaling 5 if the Bible claimed it so would be to examine the Bible, the context, and my own assumptions and conclusions before giving an answer.

Answer number three then is the best; answer number two is the worst; and number one I would say is okay, at least as a gut reaction.  The point is that if we stay away from number two, we stay away from foolishness. And then maybe we can legitimately and with integrity begin to  insert the Bible into mature intellectual discourse once again.

END

The Inherent Authoritarianism of the United States Pledge of Allegiance

The United States Pledge of Allegiance presumes a collectivist metaphysic, and this is because it affirms an inherent collectivist ideal—the “people” as the “nation”, as if what is naturally singular (the Individual…the Person) can be made a “singular collective”, which is a contradiction in terms, in addition to being an arrant RATIONAL contradiction.  Thus, the Pledge is inherently tyrannical.  And this is pretty disturbing when we consider how utterly canonical it has become in United States society and in our cultural tradition.

Think about it for a moment…I’m not sure it is possible to devise a way to more precisely and effortlessly reject the ostensible individualist metaphysical foundation of a nation built for, by, and of the People, and replace it with a vapid, capricious collectivist one.

”I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…”

Allegiance.

Literally speaking, and in the strictest sense of the word “allegiance” means to renounce your own will in exchange for that of a master…to give or sell yourself to the whims of another who presumes to know, or presumes he has a RIGHT to know, more about your needs and wishes than you do.  And since the context is the usurpation of your own determination of your needs and wishes, we are talking about authority—authority being the practice of one person (or a few people) deciding just what another person (or other persons) shall do and shall possess.  Yet your will and your exercise thereof in service to what you need and want is inexorably bound to your very singular consciousness.  That is, your absolute sense of your own Self, which is, in fact, the Self which makes you an individual and not fundamentally a collection of body parts and cells and atoms and molecules, is utterly corollary to your agency…your will, and the exercise thereof.  Because of this, your needs and wants cannot actually be serviced by a nation (or a flag…the nation’s symbol…same difference) to which you pledge allegiance, because by rejecting the OWNERSHIP of yourself—that is, your will and the right to determine your own needs and desires—you have rejected YOURSELF ENTIRELY.  You cannot outsource your will to that to which you swear allegiance and yet somehow retain ownership of yourself, both as a body and as a soul (“soul” meaning You qua You—the Self of you).  By uttering the Pledge then, you do nothing honorable.  You willingly reject your very existence and give it to the State on a silver platter…without protest, without grudge, without fight, without condition, and without morals, reason, or truth.  In a few trite lines of vapid patriotic nonsense you sell your individual soul to the devil’s collective: the political ruling elite.  With hand to breast and the recitation of a Godless spell you magically transform a government of, by, and for the people into an infinite Slave Master of millions.

As for the ruling elite to whom you pledge allegiance…and yes, it is to these ruling politicians you pledge your allegiance, ultimately, not some ethereal notion like “Country”—for if you pledge allegiance to merely an abstraction like “the United States” then you have wasted your breath and your time and made yourself look even greater a fool because you do not realize that for any pledge of allegiance to mean anything some ONE will have to tell you just what that allegiance shall LOOK like when exercised practically.  And the “United States of America”, the abstract IDEAL, does not speak.  It’s politicians do.  The government IS the United States.  There is no practical application of the ideal “the nation” without its rulers who apply its abstract meaning practically, though the Law, as its incarnate.  Take away the government and there is no “United States”.  Take away those who enforce the Law which dictates individual behavior in service to the ideal ‘the United States”, and you take away the Law entirely.  For if there is no one to punish you for breaking the Law, then there is no Law.  This is axiomatic.  And if there is no Law then there is no nation.  And thus, you do not pledge allegiance to the United Sates of America, you pledge allegiance to politicians.

How is that for a punch in the face with cold, hard reality?

So again, as for the ruling elite to whom you pledge allegiance:

It is nothing but lip service at best—not to mention a contradiction—to suggest that one can reject the existential legitimacy of the individual by assuming the legal authority to compel his behavior through government violence, and yet also suggest that the individual’s needs and wishes can be serviced BY that government which CONTROLS and thus (at least) implicitly OWNS him.

The politician asks you to pledge to him your allegiance in return for protection, and material and emotional provision, as if that provision can go to you AFTER you have been rejected BY the politician through the collectivist metaphysical foundations of the State, and likewise you have rejected YOURSELF via the manipulative political bromide of the Pledge.  Once you have dismissed your right to self-ownership and agency you have dismissed your right to say what your needs and wishes are.  In other words, if the State owns you, thanks in part to you pledging yourSELF away to it, then whatever you think your provision is or should be, is in reality the STATE’S (the political ruling class’s) provision.  The State gives you what IT wants, not the other way around.  It does not and cannot give you what YOU want because YOU (You qua You—you the individual) don’t exist.

*

Without the individual, there are no individual needs and wishes, by definition.  And here then, notice the logical fallacy and complete absense of reason—not to mention the mockery it makes of nature—with respect to an individual pledging allegiance to the State…to an authority OUTSIDE of himself:

You cannot give away yourself ACCORDING to yourself.  You cannot choose to be ruled, which is what you do implicitly when you “freely” pledge your allegiance.  Your free will (a phrase which is basically redundant) is inexorably and inseparably bound to your SELF, and thus to abandon your will is LITERALLY to abandon your SELF…You qua You.  You cannot choose to be a slave, you see, because a context of human choice contradicts a context of human slavery at the basic existential root, not to menation the fact that the very semantics are incompatible; and thus when combined (“chosen slavery”) make nonsense.  “Chosen slavery” is an arrant, and I would think obvious, oxymoron.  To choose to become a slave is to reject that you EVER had a choice at all…an admission that your entire existence as a natural agent of volition is and has always been an illusion at best.  You cannot choose to be ruled because you cannot choose to have no choice; you cannot outsource to the ruling classes by a pledge that which NECESSARILY demands SELF ownership.  You cannot grant ownership to another that which only YOU can own:  your mind; your will; your LIFE; your SELF.

In our American culture we love to heap vast sums of gilded praise upon the vapid patriotic pretense of “allegiance”, and laud a citizen’s self-sacrifice to the abstraction of the “U.S.A.” as the most sublime and noble of all virtues (as though self-sacrifice isn’t an existential impossibility and a contradiction in terms since ALL one does is from and thus TO the Self).  The “sacrificing citizen” (or “what one can do for his country”…an arrantly Marxist phrase if there ever was one) is in reality, completely irrelevant and irrational.  Those with ALL the violent compelling power of the State—the rulers to whom we pledge our allegiance, whether we want to recognize that it is to them we pledge or not—are Authority; and because they are Authority they cannot and will not and do not sacrifice anything at all, let alone themselves…for all they can ever fundamentally do by virtue of their political position is promote the collectivist ideal of the “nation” at the EXPENSE of the individual, whether these politicians accept or are even aware of this or not.  It is those who do NOT hold positions of government power, explicit, or implicit (implicit in the case of, say, the corporate plutocrats who manipulate  government through wealth and threats to take it elsewhere) who ARE SACRIFICED.  And I say “are sacrificed” because, again, by pledging allegiance you are pledging your will to the ruling classes, and thus are conceding that you have no choice at all, of your own, at root, and thus cannot choose to sacrifice yourself, but rather sacrifice must be done TO you, FOR you.

In summary, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance is to make the quintessential rational error, and quite frankly one of the the most obvious and primitive:  to reject oneself and one’s natural and endemic self-ownership in favor of a false collectivist ideal—e.g. the “Republic”  (“for which it stands”); the Nation; the “Race”; the “(Political) Party”; the “King”; the “Tribe”; the “Church”; the “Team”; the “(socioeconomic) Class”, etc.

The United States of America (i.e. the ruling classes; the government) should be pledging allegiance to YOU and to ME, not the other way around.  The only pledge anyone need make is to the rejection of ANY and ALL pretense of government tyranny, which certainly includes the Pledge of Allegiance.

END

Rethinking Prayer: Asking or telling? (Part TWO)

What do I think prayer is?

Well, this question cannot be answered without discussing what I think God is.  So, both questions will be looked at here, though not necessarily in any particular order…and I cannot say this will be an easy read.  These are complicated subjects, but if you apprehend the essence of what I mean then I’ll consider it a win for both of us.

*

Prayer, or more specifically the answer thereto, is the necessary response of reality—specifically its underlying RATIONAL philosophical apparatus, and this apparatus is God.  In other words, God is reality as expressed, and as possible (efficacious), through the objective rational principles which utterly imply it.  Starting with an irreducible metaphysical primary (which can only be Ability, because existence must be active for it to be possible, and all action must be underwritten by the Ability to act), and proceeding through epistemology, ethics, etcetera, etcetera, where all the root philosophical premises (epistemological premise; ethical premise, etc.) proceeding from the metaphysical primary are corollary to promote, affirm, and reinforce the primary (and therefore themselves) thus creating  what I call the Great Corollary…or the Many Truths (the premises) from the One Truth (the metaphysical primary).

Now, I know this explication is pretty abstruse (though less so if you follow my blog) and this is a function of the complexity of the subject.  And the reason, in large part, for this complexity is because the church has spent almost the entirely of its existence avoiding the question.  The substitution of truth by the Church, you see, with equivocation, tarted-up logical fallacy (contradiction explicated as Truth), mysticism, pagan and neo-pagan syncretism, despotic absolutism and collectivist authoritarianism, emotional blackmail and outright blackmail, spiritual manipulation, excuse-mongering, and plain old lying, has made getting to the truth of what God is, and thus what is meant by prayer to God, exceedingly more complicated and enigmatic than it ever needed to be if we could have avoided the past two thousand years of the intellectual error of the sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists and fools who have traditionally comprised Christianity’s ruling (priest) class.

If you have spent any time in the Church you will know, unless you are a child or have the spiritual mind of a child, or are blinded by or thoughtlessly committed to the Platonist propaganda which passes for truth there, that there simply does not exist any actual definition of God anywhere therein whatsoever.  And you will understand that this is precisely why no one in the church really knows what prayer is, means, or how to do it.  Oh, for certain there are some mildly clever attempts to provide a meaningful answer to the question “what is God?”, like “he’s the Creator”, which in reality tells us not what he IS but what he DOES, and this only vaguely and insufficiently; or we might hear “he is the Alpha and the Omega (first and last)”, which only obliquely describes his nature and utterly omits the relevant practical implications of such a claim, and does not describe how such a label has any meaning beyond the mere figurative and/or poetic.  Alpha and Omega implies an infinity of being, which is fine, but what is required, and omitted, is how one reconciles the paradox of an infinite Agent manifesting as somehow distinct (finite) in reality. I am not saying that such a paradox cannot be resolved, just that the church has never done so…and will NEVER do so.

Next, of course, we have the extra-biblical assertion that God is a “Trinity”…the “Three in One”—whatever that means.  And don’t bother asking, because NO ONE knows.  If you do dare put on your hazmat suit and wade into the fetid abyss of Christian apologetics and ask about the “Trinity” you will get a smorgasboard of  equivocation amounting to, in practicality, a big fat shrug.  All explanations of the Trinity are designed to dazzle, not inform, because the church realized some five hundred years ago that explaining a rank contradiction in terms was impossible, even with all the divine clarivoyance of the whole medieval priest class, including the Pope with his magic tin can and string direct to God.  Back then, of course, demurring from the orthodox interpretation of God as Trinity was apt to get one murdered for heresy.  Today, murder is not the church discipline de jure, as much as the modern priest class would ABSOLUTELY embrace that power being that it is entirely consistent with Christianity’s doctrinal premises, however, disagreeing with the unbiblical notion of God as “Three in One” indeed marks you as an outcast and a troublemaker, unsaved and evil, denying even the most basic of God’s “truths”.

And here’s something else about the Trinity, as long as we are on the subject…and this relates to my overall point in the article here anyway.  I submit that the doctrine of the Trinity is a thinly veiled ADMISSION that Christian orthodoxy has absolutely no idea what God is or how to describe his nature.  Thus, a contradiction in terms (Three which is simultaneously One) has become the final word on God’s essence…and it is assumed that  this makes him somehow awesome as opposed to ridiculous.  We are supposed be inspired to literal and figurative prostration at the thought of our Creator as that which man cannot possibly fathom by any cognitive faculty or conceptual framework.

And herein lies the whole damn problem.

In an effort to make God astonishingly vast and complex, and thus to inspire man to worship and tremble at his feet, Christianity has instead made him a farce—an arrant joke—by placing him utterly beyond anything rational, and thus (and most abominable) playing straight into the hands of his those who mock and scorn his existence.  God defined as “Three in One” creates an interpretation of the Father which has been punted beyond man’s cognitive, conceptual, and intellectual frame of reference.  By defining God as a contradiction, Christianity has ensured that man cannot possibly apply the Father’s existence to reality in any way at all, making him utterly irrelevant to man, and exchanging practical and rational theology for mysticism, superstition, spiritual despotism, and willful ignorance; and making these things virtues whilst mocking, condemning, and murdering as heretics those who nurture a pure, holy, innocent, and RATIONAL desire to know him.

And finally, it would do us all well to remember that the madness known as the doctrine of the Trinity saw its Protestant canonization punctuated with murder when the scoundrel and false teacher, John Calvin, had Michael Servitus burned at the stake for rejecting it.  And this is the spiritual primordium from which today’s Christians claim to know God?!  I think not.  Look not to the church, my friends.  God is not known there.  The church has ghosts, but they are not holy.

Needless to say, then, since Christianity contains within all its disputations, catechisms, liturgies, and doctrinal interpretations no description of God which may pass for even a remedial or marginally realistic definition of the the nature of the Almighty, it clearly cannot provide a definition of prayer to him, nor how one should pray, nor what one should pray for, nor when, nor what one may expect with regards to its efficacy and outcomes.

*

So what is prayer? Well, I will tell you…understanding that this is a summary.  Giving full attention to such a topic would, I think, necessarily fill volumes.

Prayer is an extension of man’s right not to be governed by deterministic cause and effect (cause and effect being purely an abstract rendering of what is an entirely relative relationship between objects when excluding the presence of the observer).  Prayer is an extension of man’s existence as a function not of abstract natural law, but of reason.  Reason extends beyond the mere physical/ontic parameters of the “laws of physics”, and demands that reality accommodate man’s RATIONAL will.  And this either by man’s physical OR metaphysical extension of himself.  That is, either by his hands or by his rational will—his understanding of his intrinsic right to witness his rational desires BEYOND those hands; that man’s will as it controls the object known as his body may likewise control ALL of that which is rationally obligated to affirm his absolute Self.  And because prayer is an expression of man’s categorical right to his own rational and absolute existence, he need not ask or entreat or beg or bargain with reality.  He commands it.  And then it shall obey.  God, you see, then, is not the worker of the effects of man’s prayer.  MAN, himself, is.  God, however, being an extension of the rational/moral (rationality and morality being corollary) existence of man (or, rendered more allegorically, he is Father and man is Son) is man’s PARTNER in manifesting the outcomes of that which is commanded.

END

Debating Substantive Issues is Fruitless

I think debate is a waste of time.

I know that this proclamation may be quite puzzling coming from someone so committed to reason and cooperation.  And I know how valued debate is in our culture…though less so in our current political climate, which is trending solidly toward violence.  But given the number of debates I have had and seen during my lifetime, and especially since my break from Christian orthodoxy, which put me at odds with the majority of my friends and family, it is impossible not to notice how people simply NEVER change their fundamental positions—their premises and conclusions.  If anything, the more rationally consistent one participant is, the more stringently the other commits to his intellectual error.  So after years of witnessing this both directly and indirectly, in thousands of instances, I am forced to come to the disturbing conclusion that regardless of my commitment to voluntarism and idea exchange, debate is simply an irresponsible way to spend one’s time and emotional and intellectual resources.  It just doesn’t work.  You can’t drive a railroad spike into the ground with a rubber mallet, and you cannot reason someone into or out of a position by argument.  You just can’t.

This admission, finally made, while disturbing and disappointing given the amount of energy I have spent trying to change others’ minds, and they trying to change mine, is also somewhat freeing.  I can now evolve as an intellectual and an academic, and put my resources into more productive and fulfilling activities.  For instance, I have committed to no longer debating in the comments section of this blog, or others, or on facebook or any other social media platform.  Instead, I will spend more time and energy writing articles, pursing questions and finding answers, and less time caring too much whether or not anyone agrees with me.  I understand that the integrity of the ideas is the most important thing, and that my focus should be all about getting to the truth of each and every question, not maximizing agreement, and not even about presenting ideas in the most appealing or un-abstruse manner possible (not that I can really be accused of doing that anyway on this blog).  Because—and please understand that I am not saying that I have ALL the answers or am the paragon of intellectual consistency—rational and intelligent people will grasp my meaning, or at least apprehend the question I am trying to answer and see why doing so is important—and the more obtuse and complacent amongst us, let’s be honest, won’t get it and won’t care no matter how directly or simplistically the argument is made.  And bye the bye, I think that putting complex arguments into simplistic conveyances isn’t a very good idea, anyway.  Bumper sticker philosophy can be a fine way to affirm the opinions of those who ALREADY agree with a certain ideal, for whatever that’s worth (the laughably facile and ubiquitous “COEXIST” sticker comes to mind immediately), but this seems like a general waste of time.  Better to formulate the argument as comprehensively as possible, despite it being perhaps more arcane and involved, than to leave out a bunch of details which are inexorably necessary to the argument’s root veracity.

In other words, real understanding doesn’t proceed from the ass-end of a car.

Additionally, foresaking any concern with HOW to convince someone of an idea makes studying the idea more fun and relaxing.  Realizing that people who hold contrary premises and conclusions simply cannot be convinced by debate to agree or disagree with a certain idea puts YOUR understanding front and center, where it should be, not the understanding of others.  Now, I’m certainly not arguing that we shouldn’t have an utterly rational foundation for whatever we accept as truth, just that arriving at this foundation doesn’t need to appeal to anyone  else, not because other people don’t matter, but because it CANNOT be MADE to appeal to them, no matter how you develop it—they either accept it or they don’t, you need not spend much time on the aesthetics of your argument.  It only needs to be rationally consistent.  Further, the HOW you arrive at your conclusions and premises, though complex perhaps, WILL I believe necessarily be appealing and ultimately understandable to those who are are already rational.  The rational and intelligent among us are first and foremost committed to truth, as oppposed to the mysticism, sophistry and contradiction which underwrites most peoples’ root thinking, and at the end of the day rational and intelligent people don’t really care how complicated the path is.  Getting to the truth is what matters, not how comfortable or direct it Is for them.  The rational and the intelligent, who understand the deep moral relevance of the truth, WILL pursue it through fire and fury and hell and high water to get to it.  The lazy and/or the stupid and/or the cowardly will not be compelled to apprehend it even if given a map that points them in a straight line to an X which is marked merely across the room.

Now, having said all of that, let us get to question begged here:  Why is debating (issues of substance, in particular) such a waste of time?  Well, let’s talk briefly about philosophy.

Philosophy is cumulative as well as corollary. What I mean by this is that each philosophical category (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics) except for the first (metaphysics) proceeds from the one before it (cumulative). Epistemology of course proceeds from Metaphysics, metaphysics being the first category, dealing with the nature of reality, itself.  The metaphysical premise is the fundamental Primary of the entire philosophical paradigm which all other premises infinitely imply and from which they are infinitely implied (corollary).  Epistemology considers how man knows what he knows…or more specifically, how man can say what is true and what is not.  In this article we are mostly concerned with the epistemological premise (occasionally I may refer to this as the epistemological primary) but for the sake of clarity it’s important to know all of the philosophical categories, and how they line up and their basic symbiosis.

Whether we realize it or not ALL of us hold basic philosophical premises. If we did not, we simply could not function.  For example, that you know that you don’t brush your teeth with a banana at least obliquely implies a basic interpretation of reality, which implies a philosophy, which implies premises and a metaphysical primary.  In our example you must make a distinction between you, the toothbrush, and the banana.  A is not B is not C, in other words.  Thus, you accept a practical plurality of reality…these objects exist separately.  Yet because they are relevant to you (that is, they have equal practical meaning) you accept that they also exist in a single existential context. Thus, I already somewhat know your basic metaphysical assumption: reality is both plural and relative. This is very important. Your metaphysical premise is the basis for WHY you do what you do and think what you think.

Next, because you know that a banana is NOT a toothbrush (A is not B), the plurality of (relative) existence implies that specific objects in reality have distinct definitions.  The metaphysical idea that A is not B implies a difference in meaning, and the specific meanings elucidated are epistemological. Metaphysics says that A is not B. Epistemology says that A is a banana and B is toothbrush.

Next, you know that it is irrational to brush your teeth with a banana.  Another way of saying this is that it is not good (where “good” in this case is defined as “productive”) to use A to do a job reserved for B based upon its practical definition. This is a form of ethics—how you value things in a given context depending on their meaning and the nature of their relativity and relevance to you and each other at the existential level.

And here I could go on to politics and aesthetics, but you get the idea. However, I wish to make it clear that no one should ever assert it is a simple thing to determine the sum and substance of a given individual’s philosophy, for such a thing can be extremely complex, full of nuance, ostensible and/or subtle contradictions, and even rank delusion.  Not to say that it is impossible to determine with relative certainty the nature of someone’s philosophy at a detailed level, but it takes quite a bit of experience with and observation of their behavior, not to mention listening to what they actually say about what they believe, which is, unsurprisingly, probably the best way to figure it out.  So, while I can get an oblique picture of one’s ideas, philosophically speaking, by simply observing them brushing their teeth, there is a great depth to one’s understanding about the nature of their existence which reveals itself much more fully the better one knows them.  I cannot tell the difference between a collectivist and an individualist by their teeth brushing beyond the fact that they on some level accept an existential distinction between and contextual relativity amongst themselves and the toothbrush (and everything else involved in the process).  But I cannot see where those philosophical assumptions may give way to the contradiction and delusion of, say, a theocratic socialist state, in the case of the collectivist, or provide a simple but sturdy framework for the argument of property rights and self-ownership, in the case of the the individualist.

At any rate, the point is that we all have a philosophy and we all hold philosophical premises in all five categories.  We simply must, because such a thing is endemic to our identity as thinking creatures, period.

So back to the issue at hand.

Let us focus on the epistemological premise, because this deals with how reality is specifically defined and interpreted, and so it deals most directly and most substantially with the topic of debate.

I submit that one’s epistemological premise isn’t chosen, but is simply known—and this is very important because it provides the fulcrum for my entire argument here.  The epistemological premise is either inculcated by one’s environment, such as in childhood, and reinforced by experience and perhaps instruction; or it is realized, again through experience, but perhaps later on in life—such as in my case where the hypocrisy of decades of Christian orthodoxy left me with the realization that my spiritual “belief” was, at the irreducible root, a distinction between a “truth” that is madness  (truth within the church) or a truth that is reason (truth outside the church). I left the church because experience forced me to realize that real truth could not be found there, and thus morality dictated that I abandon it.  Which I did…to great emotional harm to my family, and emotional and physical harm to myself.  This realization amounted to a categorical shift in my most fundamental philosophical assumptions, and I mean consciously.  In order to make a move like that, trust me, you have to understand the ENTIRETY of why, and ALL of the implications for the nature of your existence for the rest of your life, both this one and the hereafter.  I and my family lost 99% of our friends and aquaintances by realizing that the church is built on a lie, and that the devil, as always hiding in plain sight, was meeting us every Sunday morning at the podium on the stage in front of the big, comfortable auditorium.  You don’t make a sacrifice like that unless you know the profundity of it exactly.  And you simply cannot leave that much behind unless your philosophy utterly changes.

And it isn’t a choice.  Because one cannot choose to be insane any more than one can chose to be rational.  Once you are punched in the face with rank evil and you recognize it and realize it, you instantly become apart from it.  In that sense, I didn’t choose to leave the church.  I REALIZED a new premise, reason instead of madness, and was obliged to follow it.

*

So the epistemological premise is not a choice.  And neither is it learned, in the strictest definition of the word.  Choice is a function OF the premise, it does not precede it.  Choice is impossible unless one knows the nature of it at any given moment, and the nature of the choice depends on what what you believe about truth.  Choice is NOT how you decide what you believe about truth.  The epistemological premise is lived and subconsciously accepted, or perhaps later in life circumstances change and a new premise is realized.  But it is not something which can be merely communicated to one another by language; it is not something one can reason another into, because the epistemological premise is that FROM which reason springs, and that which reason itself thus necessarily implies.

Reason, you see, is only REASONABLE if one ALREADY has a premise which serves as the plumb line for what makes reason meaningful and efficacious.  And this is why one never changes the mind of another during argument or debate of issues of any real substance…because both parties must have the SAME epistemological frame of reference in order to actually have an argument or debate on any sort of equal platform of reason; for otherwise their frames of reference for MEANING in general are incompatible, and debate is necessarily impossible.  But the paradox thus becomes that IF they do hold to the same epistemological premise—implying, remember, a metaphyscial premise—then debate is likewise not really possible.  Because “debate” amongst two people who share the same frame of reference of meaning (reason—epistemology) and reality (existence—metaphysics) don’t debate so much as merely exchange information. That is, one or both parties simply lack certain knowledge that if they knew, WOULD have them accept the SAME perspective with respect to the argument…and debate over.  Once the information discrepancy is corrected, then reconciliation—or agreement—is inevitable (again, assuming the argument is regarding something of substance, and by that I mean, objective, as opposed to, something like, say, whether Gene Simmons is cooler than Ace Frehley).  The “debate” in this case isn’t at root a difference in how reality is interpreted, which is the foundation of any true and worthwhile debate, but again merely a deficiency of information.  In other words, the parties debating already agree with each other, they just don’t know it yet.  But if the epistemological premises are different—if there is a descrepancy between the parties’ interpretive lenses with respect to meaning, then agreement on ANY issue of substance is impossible, because each party intellectually (and thus emotionally) occupies utterly distinct realities at root, which obviously makes these realities incompatible, and agreement ultimately impossible.

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One’s epistemological premise is either reasonable (adhering to categorical conceptual consistency (e.g. a square cannot also be a cicle; black cannnot also be white; man cannot possess a depraved nature and yet be on the hook for making moral choices)) or it is not.  And again the premise is not chosen.  It is lived and unconsciously accepted or (later in life perhaps) consciously realized.  Choice I submit springs from and leads back to the premise, and thus choice is always relative to it, and therefore is in a sense superficial, all choices fundamentally and equally affirming the premise, which guarantees a particular MEANINGFUL conclusion, which may LOOK different depending on the given practical context (the context of routine daily life), but will be, when viewed in terms of the epistemological (and metaphysical) foundation, equal to ALL the conclusions of ALL of one’s choices.

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Reasoning as an argumentative strategy is only effective on reasonable people (and the converse is also true…that is, irrationality as an argument only works on irrational people).  And a reasonable person is one who has already accepted a reasonable epistemological premise, which in turn means that he has accepted a reasonable metaphyscial premise, which is his very assumption about the root of reality itself.

Now, as I said earlier, the epistemological premise to which one holds is not a function of choice, but indeed it is the other way around.  The circumstantial context of choice in daily life may make specific choices seem fundamentally meaningful in and of themselves, but all choices are simply equal expressions of one’s premise, which isn’t chosen.  And this is why I find choice so fascinating and a little enigmatic.  I belive in conscious agency and thus choice, but I also understand that choice doesn’t play a very significant role in determining one’s actions…choice is basically superficial when it comes to fundamentally understanding WHY people do what they do.

In order for me to choose, I must already have a premise by which I devise a  working definition of what “me” is, as “me” relates to the environmental, emotional, and psychological context in which “me” finds itself, and this definition of “me” is a function of the subconsciously assumed or consciously realized epistemological premise.  To say I choose this premise is thus putting the cart before the horse.  The premise is the substrate of the meaning (to me) of reality, itself.  Thus, this primary, not my choice, is the ROOT of my ideas, and thus is WHY I make the choices I do (why I do what I do).  Therefore, if people holding mutually exclusive epistemological premises attempt to debate an issue of substance, then the absolute best that can be achieved is a stalemate.  Because I cannot CHOOSE to accept an argument which is rooted in an epistemological premise that I do not choose.

END

 

 

 

 

Rethinking Prayer: Asking or telling? (Part ONE)

Prayer is both a thing and a concept with which I have struggled for quite some time now.  Probably like you, I have had my share of answered prayers, and also my share of unanswered ones.  And this I think naturally leads one to consider the actual efficacy and legitimacy of prayer.  If we observe that prayer is only inconsistenty answered at best, then how can we not say that perhaps it is the mere cause and effect machinations of normal reality and is nothing of prayer?  I would think this not only reasonable but obvious.  If prayer only inconsistently effects change as we may observe it, then it’s logical to assume that what’s really going on has nothing to do with prayer at all, but is merely a matter of probability.

For example, I have chosen to fly on airplanes dozens of times, and I’ve prayed for each flight, and all have landed safely.  However, to call this an example of “answered prayer” is, in fact, quite a stretch of logic since statistics clearly show that the percentage of flights that crash is so very low relative to how many flights have taken place in history.  This makes “safe flight” much more likely a function of human engineering favorably manipulating the probability of a safe outcome rather than divine intervention.  The safety of the flights may have something to do with answered prayer, but how can one really know? The only way to know even mildly is if one observed that all his prayers were answered all the time…and even this would be logically subjective, but at least it would make a strong circumstantial case. Logically subjective perhaps, unless we are speaking strictly of the miraculous, but certainly compelling.

My thinking on the matter of prayer has  evolved through several iterations.  I went through the neophyte version of God-as-genie when I was a kid…but not quite so disrespectful as that sounds.  My prayers as a young person were never overtly  irrational…I prayed to be ignored by bullies at school—or, as I like to refer to them:  the bastard spawn of the mass dysfunctional family wreckage which hallmarks  the worst generation in history:  the Baby Boomers—to recover from illness, to do well on exams.  That sort of thing.  I remember God being quite gracious back then, but this is perhaps just the positive memories of childhood rising to the top.  Maybe God answered my prayers, but as I had no rational working definition of God back then (most Christians don’t, in fact) I really couldn’t say.

During my fifteen years as a neo-Calvinist in the cult of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) I brushed up against the congnitive dissonance of prayer as it relates to object and abject divine determinism.  This view of prayer makes it merely ritualistic, signifying nothing of any real efficacy, since all things are up to God anyway, so it goes, and he has already decided what to do with everyone, from birth unto hell or heaven, whichever you happen to get.  You’ll never really know until the day God disposes of you into one or the other eternal receptical.

Is that just a peach of a belief?  And yet this is where most Christains today tread water with respect to prayer…in this arrant folly of reason.  And don’t let them tell you they don’t actually believe this.  If you are BORN evil, which is precisely orthodox when it coms to the Christian interpretation of man’s nature, then you are entirely insufficient to any good thing, and this includes knowing the difference between good and evil.  And since this knowledge is the root of ethics (how man values what he knows), and ethics is inexorably tied to epistemology (how man knows what he knows), then the eradication of man’s moral compass by the doctrine of “original sin” completely wrecks man’s ability to know anything at all.  Thus, God must necessarily determine man to his eventual eternal destiny, regardless if he be “saved” or not, because man, once you tease out the doctrine to its logical conclusion, is utterly mindless.  You may go to church and follow all the commandments and abstain from all worldly temptations and throw out your television and excoriate the idea of modern technology as merely the devil’s distraction, but to think that you can know you are saved…that somehow you, who is rotten to core from birth, can know the mind of God and what his grand plan is for you is something that in a different time would have gotten you burned at the stake.

And thus you see the implicit evil behind the notion of prayer as merely a ritual we do because God commands it: salvation is not a thing the church can offer.  It’s a lie.  No one knows where they will end up, be they found in church on Sunday or in a whore house.  The advertisement that there is actual salvation to be gained in the church is the greatest bait-and-switch scam ever perpetrated upon man.

This abysmal version of prayer never really took hold in me.  I always found it terribly specious..and while I paid lip service to it, not wanting to cause a stir (SGM doesn’t take doctrinal disagreement with much levity…regardless of the degree, it’s pretty much stomped out with ferocity), I used to despise it when people would pray for me and top it off with “if it be thy will, Lord”.  Because that presupposed that God had already decided what should happen to me, and that what I wanted and intended was besides the point.  And this is the crux of what I want to talk about in this article.  The notion that what I desire for my life through prayer is infinitely subordinated to an outside will, even God’s, doesn’t sit well with me.  Not because I crave control, or lust sinfully and selfishly after what is God’s power alone, but because it is at root utterly irrational.  If God has predetermined for me my experiences, and possesses the ultimate veto on all my choices, and shall tell me whether or not my prayers contain any merit whatsoever, then what is the point of prayer?  What is the point of my having any ideas at all about anything?  God will do what God will do…my very existence then becomes entirely meaningless.  My mind is an illusion of a mind which cannot actually exist because it’s infinitely irrelevant.  And this is a contradiction in terms.  And I may not know everything about God, but I know this:  He cannot be God if his very existence is utterly incompatible to my own, or vice versa, and if what he asks of his children contradicts itself, thus rendering the very words he uses to communicate himself and his intentions utterly meaningless.

But even more superficial than all of that…I mean, we can get into the root philosophical contradictions, and that’s its own brand of fun, but we can put it in more pedestrian terms:  Would you continue to ask favors of someone who has told you to freely ask him favors if you never knew whether or not your favors would be granted; if there were all these stipulations about what could be asked for and when and how and that it really wasn’t going to be up to you and that you couldn’t be trusted to know what you really wanted or needed, and therefore the asking of favors became this tedious and exasperating task of self-examination and naval gazing and groveling and bemoaning your own infinite existential inadequacy and ignorance, and then when confronted with a desperate circumstance like a child with a terminal illness or the loss of a career or a sexual assault you found yourself groveling and prostrating yourself before this giver-of-favors, wailing and begging him to just this once give you relief; and then to forgive you for thinking what YOU want actually matters?  In other words, you are told to ask favors, but then told that you don’t possess the intrinsic wisdom or foresight to know which favors should be asked for.  So favor-asking becomes this giant farce…a facade of love.  Because the giver of favors is going to do whatever he’s going to do whether you ask for it or not.

Needless to say, most of us, if presented with such a clearly ludicrous waste of time would pass on it, and many of us wouldn’t hesitate to scold the snake oil salesman for his wicked deception.  Nevertheless, this is what prayer has become.  It is nothing more than the dance of a medicine man around the fire of primitive, polytheistic superstition.

So what, at root, is the error?  Okay.  Wait for it.  And prepare to be scandalized.

We ask instead of tell.  We politely request instead of demand an answer to our prayers, which I submit as children of God, with all the responsibilities and complexities and challenges that this implies, is our divine birthright.

Now hold on. Let me explain (in part two). This is not without its reason; it comes with much understanding and responsibility.  I promise, it is not a return to the genie in the bottle.

End (Part ONE)

Debating Most Christians is Basically Pointless

Here’s why debating (orthodox) Christians is so tedious, and virtually impossible to do productively:

[NOTE: When I refer to Christians I am speaking of the orthodox variety, not those like myself who differ categorically with almost every doctrinal premise and Biblical interpretation found in the Church today, from Original Sin to Christ’s Resurrection.]

“Faith” by Christian definition contains no null hypothesis.  What this means is that the doctrinal premises Christians accept and assert are not beholden to any sort of rationally consistent plumb line.  Indeed, I submit that for a Christian to accept that reason is efficacious, or even worse, NECESSARY, to “God’s Truth”, is heresy, at least implicitly.  Faith is beyond reason because God is beyond reason, so it is assumed.

This is of course entirely false, as God is, I would argue, perhaps THE most rational Ideal out there when defined correctly (“correctly” meaning: In a way which does not endemically contradict him). Anyway, the relevance of this is that it is impossible for the rational person to disprove Christian doctrinal assertions or interpretations because proof by definition is a matter of reason…of consistency and non-contradiction.  And reason is mutually exclusive of  “faith”.  Of course this also makes it impossible for the Christian to prove HIS assertions.  The standard of disproof for the critic is also the standard of proof for the Christian (and vice versa).  And this is another reason why debating Christians on matters of doctrine and interpretation is an almost entirely fruitless enterprise.

Here’s the paradox:  In order to truly debate a Christian, the Christian must have first ALREADY rejected the “no null hypothesis” root of their arguments.  And this necessarily means to reject those arguments, in essence, which equals a rejection of the doctrinal premises and interpretations—as these simply do not survive alongside a null hypothesis.  In either case, null hypothesis or none, the debate is pretty much over before it begins.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that debating Christians is a complete and categorical waste of time; there is a lot to be said for the manner in which persons engage one another.  You might be surprised at how successfully you can evangelize a Christian by simply not being a dick about things. (In other words, don’t model your approach after asshats like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whose patronizing and irascible manner could turn off the Devil himself (and they are both completely wrong about everything, by the way…they pat themselves on the back for dismantling the object farce that passes for Biblical doctrine in orthodox Christianity—a task even my 10 year-old can do with facility—and think they are actually dismantling the scriptures, themselves…embarrassing.) But don’t expect to dazzle Christians with logic.  They punted that away a long time ago.

END