Commenter Greg (welcome!) reminded me of something I think that bears revisiting. In a comment posted recently, he mentioned the philosophical similarities between Calvinism (and Reformed theology in general) and atheism. This is completely true, and it is something I have addressed in detail in the past. But as we all understand, Reformed theology is like hemorrhoids. It may subside a little, but eventually you must run back to the ointment.
So, let this little post be the anointment which pushes back, yet again, against the raging rash of Reformed orthodoxy which exists to eventually make its way up everyone’s ass, and to stay there forever. You are the puppet, they are the hand…in your pockets and in your bottom.
Here is what I wrote in response to Greg’s comment:
They [atheism and Calvinism] really do [share the same philosophical presumptions]. Both suffer from the root assumption that human consciousness is purely an illusion. The Calvinsts maintain (no matter how they try to equivocate out of it) that you are ALWAYS a direct function of some determining force. This force is “total depravity” prior to what they call “salvation” (which is not really salvation…for if there is no YOU in the salvation equation, then YOU cannot be saved, by definition; and remember, you cannot choose salvation, it must be imputed to you in spite of you, and that is their whoooooole fucking theological point at the end of the day).,..so, yes, it is “total depravity” prior to “salvation” and God’s “sovereign grace” after it.
Notice how the volitional SELF of man is irrelevant…and they do not concede that man is volitional at all, by the way. No matter what they say. Your “choices” are a function of your metaphysical failure, which is absolute, and thus all choices are irrelevant because the root of each choice is your categorically evil metaphysic. So whether you choose left or right or up or down or beach or mountains or the red pill or the blue pill, all roads lead straight to hell. The ONLY salvation then comes in the form of God’s arbitrary election, which is in SPITE of any choice you might make. You cannot choose Christ since all your choices, no matter what they are, ARE ABSOLUTE evil. Even if you choose Christ, it is still an evil choice because YOU are the one making it. Christ must choose you for you; which, again, means in spite of you.
According to Reformed foundational tenets, your existence is why you are evil. This means that before you can be saved, YOU at your root must be made irrelevant. You must be declared non-existent in order to be saved. And this is easy once “total depravity” is conceded. If man is wholly determined by his depraved nature, then man isn’t really man at all; that is, ALL of him, right down to the thoughts in his head, are purely a direct function of the all-determining force of depravity, which is the entire sum and substance of his existential BEING. This makes choice irrelevant since the choice, whatever it is, is a direct function of absolute depravity. Voila! Man is saved by “faith alone”, and this faith is “not of himself” (a doctrine the Reformed Christian completely bungles and bastardizes). It cannot be from himself because man has NO SELF, for the reasons I already mentioned aaaaaaaaaand because man is not, of course, and cannot actually be, self-aware. Your “awareness” is a product of depravity, which is your absolute metaphysic. Thus, your awareness is an illusion.
So, what does Reformed theology (and atheism) then ultimately deny? If it denies SELF, it must logically deny that man can be self-aware, since there is no actual self to be aware of in the first place. So again, what is the ultimate lie of man’s existence?
Consciousness, of course. Like I mentioned briefly above.
This is a full on denial of consciousness at the core. And if you aren’t conscious, then you don’t really exist, because you are not able to define SELF unless you are able to make an actual and efficacious distinction between what is YOU, your SELF, and what is NOT you (and this is where choice comes in…it is a function of an epistemology rooted in the actual material existence of individual human beings). And this distinction can only occur in the case of the fully conscious agent. If man is unconscious, then there is no actual distinction which can be made between what he is and what he is not. And if he cannot make this distinction, then he cannot qualify himself as existing. You cannot be aware of what you are unless you can also observe what you are NOT. If you are “depravity” then you are an external determining force which is absolute and therefore infinite. And what is absolute cannot be paired with something it is NOT by definition because the only logical definition of an infinite absolute is that it IS. There is no IS NOT which can be juxtaposed to it. It is all you, as far as eternity goes.
There can be no qualification of SELF then which is at all relevant; which can have any actual value. The statement “is, is is, is is” is meaningless. “Self is self is self” is a circular definition which cannot go anywhere. You cannot qualify or quantify or value or “know” what just IS. A denial of consciousness then is a complete denial of human value. It takes man’s worth and imputes to it the functional sum of zero.
How this does not result in tyranny is an argument which is impossible to make. Once individual man has been relegated to ZERO existential value he will be utilized and terrorized and vaporized in service to whatever primary consciousness the tyrant invents to “explain” man’s “purpose”. And this primary consciousness always boils down to someONE’s will to power. Since the primary consciousness cannot by definition be apprehended by man, some “priest” must compel man by force to right behavior. Thus, the only arbiter of “God’s power” is violence, mandated by God and wholly given to those who somehow rise above their absolute metaphysical condition in order to rule the unwashed masses in God’s stead.
This. Is. Calvinism.
If man is absolute depravity, then man cannot be qualified as existing. Everything about you is a full on figment of the pointless, universal ether.
The atheists do the exact same thing. You came from a bunch of unconscious “particles” which form together according to invisible “laws of nature” which “govern”. These laws of nature include wholly unobservable and logically-contradictory forces of “space” and “time” which serve as the determining context for all the material objects in the universe, including man. Notice how material reality is rooted in unobservable forces which govern. This too denies consciousness as an illusion. You come from unconscious particles governed by unseen forces and then you eventually dissipate back into them. Life becomes a mirage; YOU don’t really exist. What you think of “you”, or “yourself”, is merely a conglomerate of all-determining forces OUTSIDE of you. Only the mystic priests which have been given the powers of perception, the “grace to perceive–in this case, the physicists and mathematicians–are able to truly understand the nature of reality and how you “exist”. Even though they wholly concede determining forces which destroy their ability to claim that “they” “know” anything at all, they will still address you and look you in the eye with that fucking smug tone and fucking smug look that only a numbers wizard can properly manage and declare that you aren’t really you at all. And what’s more, they have the math to prove it.
The math? The fucking math?! Absent the direct source of the material universe where in the hell can I observe math, exactly? And if it IS a direct function of the material universe then what does that tell you about math’s existence? It is totally conceptual! It is not actual! It is not causal! Material objects cause themselves; mathematics is a direct function of man’s conscious observation of their relative movement, nothing more.
But if you as the “genius”: where does math exist? He or she will essentially tell you that it is “out there” somewhere, in the unseen cosmic abyss, governing absolutely, from a place where the universal consciousness bestows it upon them because they were born special.
Does this ring a bell? Sounds a LOT like the teaching at the corner Reformed sausage-maker. And atheists and Christians think they are of diametrically opposed world views. How cute they are.
Of course, in both of these philosophies human epistemology is a total farce. And the claims to that there exists someONE to actually concede these beliefs about human existence and the nature of reality become outright laughable. For if YOU don’t really exist, as your consciousness is an illusion, then by definition you can’t KNOW anything. Who the fuck knows anything if there is no such thing as WHO in the first place?
It is outright ridiculous when you think about it.
Argo’s Universal Truth Number Two is worth pondering: What IS cannot be a direct function of what is NOT.
Which goes hand in hand with Argo’s Universal Truth Number One: Whatever is a direct function of something IS that something; there can be no rational or efficacious distinction.
If man is a direct function of absolute determining forces then man is NOT man. “Man is a direct function of governing forces, but is not actually those governing forces” is a contradiction in terms. Man can cannot be a function of what he is not. If man is man, then he is not subject to “laws which govern”. And if man is subject to laws which govern then man does not really exist.