In one of her most recent posts, Dee of http://www.wartburgwatch.com declares that she vociferously defends the right of neo-Calvinists to believe what they want to believe, while at the same time making it plain that she rejects it, and would reject it to the point of becoming a giant nuisance. You can believe what you want, and she’ll say bring on the freedom of speech. But then, look out. It won’t come cheap. And she’ll take the cost of your right to believe right out of your ass.
I wrestled with this idea a lot yesterday. I wrote a post about it…but still, I found myself unsatisfied. I hadn’t found the core. I didn’t get to that place where all the contradiction and “mystery” unravels into a seamless progression of rational thought. Now I know that this does not always translate into a lucid, straightforward post…yes, I get that. I understand that what is first in my mind a seamless progressions of thoughts ends up on the blog as a convoluted, mosh-pit of ideas, spangled with parenthesis, hyphens, and logical roller coasters…with loops.
That’s fine. I don’t mind that. I have often thought that perhaps I need to invent new words for some of this stuff. My lexicon is sometimes an insufficient vehicle for what I want to express. But as long as I have it up here [taps head] straight, I’m happy.
And yesterday…hmm, I just didn’t go to bed happy. There was still something missing. And there was this little nagging feeling that perhaps I had been a little too hard on Dee. You see, I get what she’s trying to say, it’s just that I think she makes the same kind of connections in her thinking that we all do, but which are not really, when you think about it, rationally defensible. Since we have, I submit, wholly conceded, ipso facto, Platonism as utter absolute (we are merely extensions of some invisible primary consciousness which determines our lives, and require “gifted” men to lead us in the right direction), most of us give little to no thought of philosophy. Epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, art, politics…they all get crammed together into one soup, with all the parts and flavors mixing together until you really can’t tell one ingredient from the next. The answer to the question of politics tastes and feels on the tongue the same as your opinion on art, or morality. Every answer is from the same can,so the philosophical underpinning of each subject we engage in is exactly the same. We accept all the same “truths” at once, assuming they all click nicely together like Legos. You string them along in your arguments and you never realize that you just squeezed a Lincoln Log between two Lego pieces, and a few pieces down the line, you tried to connect the Legos to an Erector set. And that’s why your argument never really works, and falls apart as soon as you let go…that is, as soon as you allow it to leave the soup can of your mind.
And this is why philosophy is so important. If we are ignorant of philosophy, we will ultimately try to apply our entire belief system into a paradigm which will at best contradict itself logically, and at worst lead straight into moral relativism which always leads to the destruction of man because it leaves man without any epistemological anchor. And without an anchor, human beings simple crash around and get in each others’ way until the person with the biggest gun and no compunction about using it just forces everybody the fuck out of his way and into a corner where he can keep a Gestapo’s eye on them. You see, without a single, objective, undeniable and wholly reasonable (reasonably argued) standard of TRUTH, which is also simultaneously the standard for GOOD, which is also the standard of EXISTENCE (the fusing of the epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics of philosophy into one absolute standard of TRUTH, I submit) it will always boil down to violence. And that is why I spend all of my time savaging Reformed doctrine. Because when all the lofty standing on “orthodox” ceremony is gone and there remains only the quiet silence of the individual soul, alone in a room with a single bulb and a curtain-less window reaching out into the black, starless night there will be no comfort found in that philosophy. At the deepest and darkest places of life it ultimately abandons man to the feral, savage will of the forces of determinism. Once all the mystics with their phylacteries and books and worship bands and “care” groups and “gospel-centered”, “cross-centered” gnostic speeches are gone, and along with them the groping, salivating, brainless masses who follow them straight into a their black hole of existence, there will be only you remaining.
And in that small, bare room with its single blub and black windows there is only one question that will be on your mind:
If THEY aren’t here, am I still here?
And the answer to that question will either bring you comfort or naked despair.
I have said it once and I will say it again: Reformed theology is a vile, evil thing. It is merely another bastard child of Plato’s, with every doctrine pointing to only one “logical” conclusion. YOU do not really exist. You are part of a theo-Marxist collective and the existence-razing divine determining force…and absolutely nothing more. You owe your existence to forces outside of you, reducing you to a mindless brute by virtue of the fact that if you aren’t in control of you, and thus you cannot make any claim to knowledge at all. And that is how you are looked at and treated. The Bible is a rectangular, leather bound primary consciousness, whose authors have “special” access to dispensed knowledge (gnosis) that is simultaneously inaccessible to you as a function of your rote existence AND absolute TRUTH…which makes it, though you cannot possible apprehend it nor integrate it, absolutely relevant to your life.
And here is what Dee from Wartburg Watch says…paraphrasing: I will vociferously defend your right to believe what you believe.
And it is this kind of thing which perfectly illustrates the philosophical problem I mentioned above. In this one sentence, Dee combines politics, epistemology, and ethics into a single thought, and in the process creates a rational conundrum that seriously vexes. She makes no rational distinction between a right to believe and the rightness of that belief. I’m not saying she does this on purpose…but a failure to approach the issue rationally may indeed lead one to conclude, as it did me, that Dee is speaking out of both sides of her mouth. On the one, she applauds the fact that one believes an idea, and seeks to teach it to the masses. On the other, she declares her rejection of it on the basis that she concedes that it is so flawed that she could likely not remain on friendly terms with those teaching it…according to the right they have, that she defends, to do so. So, she fights on both sides.
So what is the conundrum? Well, that’s obvious. How in the heck can you make a moral declaration that you will support the politics of an idea (its integration into society) while at the same time declare the idea a rank epistemological failure; and so vile that you’d risk open confrontation with its proteges in order to check it? Yes, how do you do that without contradicting yourself…that is,without holding a contradictory ethic? The “good” right to believe and teach an idea AND the “evil” believing and teaching of that idea.
Do you you see?
What I am saying is that there is no way that Dee, nor any of us, can morally declare that we will defend the right of someone to believe and teach an idea/doctrine/theology/etc. that we find morally repugnant. Or even worse, that we can reasonably PROVE is morally repugnant. If we truly concede that the idea is destructive, then we cannot proclaim that anyone has a “right” to believe it. It is that simple, because that is a moral contradiction in terms. We are conceding that the idea is both “good” and “evil”, and that is rationally impossible. We are saying it is good to believe and bad to believe simultaneously. Like I said in the title, the right to believe does not make the belief right. And if it isn’t a right belief, then on what moral grounds do we declare that anyone has a right to believe it? On the contrary, we should demand that no one believe it, for indeed it is truly destructive.
Now, am I suggesting that people don’t have the right to believe what they want to believe?
No, I am not. What I am arguing is that when we approach issues we should not integrate the apples and oranges of philosophy as if they were the same, which is what Dee did. We need to focus on the relevant philosophical issue in question, which in the case of confronting evil and abusive church doctrines, is epistemological and ethical, NOT political. Like I said in my last post, declaring that the neo-Calvinist despots have a right to believe what they want is utterly irrelevant to the debate, and it simply confuses the issue and I think, gives false assurance to those espousing destructive philosophies. It allows them to confuse the “right to believe” with the “rightness of what they believe”. For our message should always an only be that we deny the doctrine categorically, as evil and destructive. The right to believe it is beside the point. We are making a moral and epistemological argument, not a political one. Meaning, we are not really discussing the “rights” question, as a function of the limits of a government’s authority (force/punishment) and/or the legal boundaries of individual citizens, when we take the neo-Cals to task for their rational larceny.
Further, what do we really mean when we say “you have a right to believe whatever you want”? We are not declaring that you have the right to foist upon the masses an unethical philosophy which has no practical purpose except to drive men and women and children to their knees in service to an ecclesiastical authority and their political agenda, and which at the same time strips them of their very humanity and drives God as far from them and their existence as possible by placing them in a total metaphysical vacuum of determinism. And further, MUST be rooted in lies and deception if it is not consistent with the only objective and rational standard of all TRUTH: human life.
No, the “right to believe” has nothing to do with making any belief right, nor demanding that any belief be tolerated.
The right to believe what you want is not a moral issue, nor is it an epistemological issue. It is political. Defending someone’s right to believe has nothing to do with defending the belief at all. I would never and will never defend anyone’s right to believe a wicked and destructive theology which I submit cannot stand the light of reason to be shone upon it. Because there is no such right. No one has the right to be a tyrant. And further, proclaiming that someone has a right to hold to totalitarian ideas which do nothing except feed human beings to the machine of abstract collectivism is a complete misrepresentation of the right of free thinking and free speech. The rights thereof have nothing to do with being a rank psychopath or ignoramous…for no one anywhere on earth, nor any Government can prevent a dolt from being a dolt and and a sadist from being a sadist. So why are we talking about people having a right to do something which no one and nothing on earth can prevent? It is ludicrous and irrelevant to consider THINKING a “right”. Thinking is what all human beings do. It is even impossible to wholly prevent someone from acting upon their assumptions. If one truly thinks a certain way, they will act a certain way…there will be some manifestation of it. You may prevent some behaviors by fear or force, but if someone’s thoughts define their reality, they will act. And you cannot stop them. You can punish them, perhaps, but you cannot prevent assumptions from becoming actions…at least not entirely.
And now we get to the point, then. Defending someone’s right to believe has nothing to do with curtailing or not curtailing an existential byproduct of a human life–thinking and volitional action (with exceptions of violence). It has to do with this: the right to believe is the idea that no one can FORCE you to believe something. I may not defend your right to believe John Calvin, but I do defend your right not to have your mind changed through violence…physical, psychological (fear, manipulation, deception, propaganda), or confiscatory (theft). And this is not the same thing as defending their right to believe what they believe. The do not have a right to sit back and never be held accountable for their destructive beliefs. They do not have a right to walk out their despicable ideas unchallenged and without criticism. In the public square, they will and shall be spoken of, their assumptions razed, and they may not use force to stop us. They have no right to force others to their beliefs.
And that is where Dee went wrong. As I said, the threat of force is not from those of us who hate abuse and understand that abuse is due to a theology of FORCE, which compels and threatens and punishes people into submission, utterly denying THEIR “right to believe”. The threat of this kind violation has always been from the Reformed crowd, and quite frankly, they are the ones who should be reassuring Dee about her “right to believe” what she wants, not the other way around. Dee should never have gone there. Dee is not threatening excommunication or church discipline (punishment) upon anyone disagreeing with her. I mean, as much as I don’t care for Dee’s disposition I will say that the worst she will ever do, I submit, is kick someone off her blog. That is hardly on par with the kind of appalling behavior the neo-Calvinist crowd inflicts upon its detractors. And of all people, Dee should know this.
Trust me, after 15 years in SGM, I can tell you they don’t give a shit about your right to believe. And it is my opinion that they would certainly use civil force to punish their members for incongruent or critical thinking or actions if they had the power.
So…the inherent right not to be FORCED to change your mind is what is confusingly called a “right to believe”. That phrase is counterproductive and obscures the real issue: changing thinking by offering better ideas. Like I said, no one has a right to be a manipulative tyrant, and they don’t have a right to proclaim the “divine gnosis” without being criticized and challenged publicly.
So…let’s keep up the good work. And let the Reformed crowd worry about OUR right to believe, instead of the other way around. For they are the epistemological and moral and political threat. Our strength is not fear-mongering, or epistemological charades, or moral relativism designed to confuse and subdue. Our strength is our ideas.