Monthly Archives: August 2018

When “God’s Will” is a Moral and Rational Catastrophe

Recently some friends of mine made a very significant life decision.  I felt and feel that this decision is a dreadful one…one that places the family at serious risk.  What the decision is is not really important; and they are certainly well within their rights to make it…so as far as that goes it makes no real difference to me.  They can do what they want with their own lives; they didn’t ask my opinion and they aren’t obliged to do so.  I’m fine with that.  I wish them good luck and it’s not my problem.

Except that it kinda IS my problem, because it stems from an idea about God and the nature of reality that implicitly affects me.  Because how anyone in a system under which citizens are obligated to associate with each other—through the coercive power of the State to requisition property—thinks about reality is going to affect his or her neighbor…because it affects how they VOTE.  And to cast a vote is to proclaim a tacit desire to use force to compel others to your personal political ideals.  So…yeah, this problem affects me.

Once the decision had been realized and formalized these friends stated that it was wonderful to see how—and I will paraphrase here—God made it all happen.   God prompted their hearts and then secured the “desired” outcome…and the reason I use quotes around “desired” is because if God gives you the idea and the will then is the desire really yours? Umm…no, it aint. You don’t have anything to do with it.

And now you see the problem.

God did it.  Not them.  It was GOD, you see. It was ALL GOD.  And praise the Lord, because His divine Will has been accomplished.

Oh boy…I mean, where do we even start with this?  This is a terrifying and dangerous way to approach life and define reality.  To punt your own will and choice AND the outcomes into the intellectual abyss of “God did it all” is to position yourself where the ability to conceptualize reality based upon the rational notion of choices and consequences, and causes and effects, is entirely neutralized.  And this ABSOLUTELY guarantees your own destruction, sooner or later, in some form.  The painful outcomes of pursuing rational disaster may be as of yet unknown, but we can be sure of one thing:  those who do not take responsibility for their own actions will come to ruin.  And the intellectual bankruptcy of “God’s determinative Will” also unfairly and callously tempts others to join you in your folly, and your misery, and, perhaps even worse, to promote and disseminate the evil ideas which caused it.

Think about it for a minute.  If God does something…if God controls the situation lock, stock, and barrel, from its inception as a mere idea coupled with the requisite emotional response of desire, to its final realization in manifest reality, then at what point can we—the mere characters in the great and transcendent spiritual (sometimes called the “Gospel”) narrative—make a moral and rational judgment concerning it?  If it’s ALL GOD then how does what we think, and, of equal importance, how we feel, have any meaning at all?  And if our intellectual and emotional judgments are irrelevant in the face of the omnipotence of Divine Determintive Will then how can we know if the things we think and feel are good or bad?  Should we make this decision or not?  And once we’ve made it, should we change course or stay it?

And beyond being destructive and intellectually barren, the idea of God’s superseding Will is just plain old lazy thinking.  Lazy and irresponsible.  It cares nothing for humanity.  The ones who adopt the lie of “God does all things through me” have no real compassion or interest in themselves or anyone else.  They have punted their own moral and intellectual responsibility away entirely.  It doesn’t matter how BAD the decision is, or the practical destruction it wreaks upon one’s life and those around him, because it’s not up to them, it’s up to God.  It’s God’s responsibility to deal with the carnage, not theirs.  And since it’s all of God, who can really say that the carnage is actually carnage? That the disastrous outcomes are really disasters at all?  What do we know?  We see with merely human eyes, and gauge with only human understanding.  What right to we have to judge as evil that which God alone is doing?

If we make a bad decision and the predictably bad consequences manifest, and we have claimed that “God has done it, praise the Lord!”, then we are left with only two ways to evaluate the situation, and both of them demand that the evil continue:

  1. The bad is actually good, we just can’t tell the difference thanks to our “fallen” nature and our innate existential insufficiency to apprehend the “truth” of God’s universe.
  2. The bad is, in fact bad, but God wants it that way, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened, and thus we need to accept it and stop being so selfish.  Of course, if God WANTS it, then the bad is actually the good, and…see point 1.

And so we stop considering pain, in ourselves and in others.  We don’t use the natural tools we have to determine if what we are doing is right or not.  Once what we do becomes a function of not us, but God, then we are relegated to the status of mere observers of ourselves.  Ultimately pointless…all we think and feel being entirely without meaning.  The pain we feel, or that others feel, stops being a warning to us and becomes nothing.  The love we are to receive and give is rejected for some “higher truth”…some “divine purpose”.  The drained bank accounts, the detached children, the chronic stress of too much to do and too little time, the premature aging and sagging eyes, the added strain on the public purse…it’s all something we hope God deals with, but if He doesn’t, oh well…after all, it’s not about us, it’s about Him.

But friends, if it’s not about us then why are we here? If its not about us then why consciousness?  Why do you utter the word “I” if its not about you?  Why know who God is if you are merely a game piece to be compelled hither and thither by the Great Invisible Hand?  If our choices aren’t our own and the consequences cannot be morally judged then how do we even live?  How do we know what to do and what not to do?  What’s the difference between right and wrong? What IS REALITY?

It’s a void.

God will not be mocked.  He finds no pleasure in you outsourcing your own decisions to Him and throwing up your hands at your own moral responsibilities.  He doesn’t bathe in the false praise of those who will refuse to be their own person and live by their own choices, and accept and manage the consequences thereof.  You WILL reap what your dreadfully facile theology has sewn, and it will hurt.

Your life is YOUR JOB!  It’s not God’s!  What you want and need and how much and when and from whom…that’s YOUR JOB, not His.  God does not micromanage ADULTS; and those who think He does are bound for pain, misery, and perhaps even destruction.

Christian, it’s your job!

Damn well do it.

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The Difference Between the “How” and the “Why”, and Why This is Key

Oft times you will hear someone say this:

We don’t know HOW something works, we just know that it works.”

The examples given can be almost anything…whenever someone doesn’t fully understand the operation of something they will frame it as knowing it works but not knowing how.  It could be something profound, like consciousness or gravity, or, as I heard this weekend, sin.  But the “what” is a broad category…doesn’t really matter.  One might say “I know my car works, but I don’t know how it works.”  The “how” you don’t understand could be related to something as mundane as a fountain pen.

Normally, there isn’t any problem with this kind of assertion.  It makes sense on some superficial and ostensible level in everyday parlance…people know what you mean.  You’re not mechanically inclined, so you don’t know about cars.  You’ve never watched a YouTube video on how pens are made.  Last night I watched a video on how Red Wing boots are made….up until then I couldn’t have told you a thing about the process other than that leather is cut and sewn to a sole. Which isn’t half of it.

But, when we really examine the assertion, is it actually true?  Do we really not know HOW the car, or the pen, or gravity, or sin, or consciousness works?  Is that really a correct way of putting it, when we get down to the logical roots of the assumption behind the claim.

I submit no, and here’s why:

I don’t believe it’s rationally possible to claim that you know a thing works but that you don’t know how.  What does it mean…”how”?  It simply means that whatever the thing is in question is able to accomplish a particular objective as it has been defined by the user…that is, you and me, and also the maker, because the maker is also in essence a user.  That is, the maker has a specific obejective for the thing being made.

To observe the car achieving the objective of getting you from point A to point B is not only to know it works but HOW it works.  Simple empirical observation is all you need to explain how a car works.  You get in, use the wheel to steer it, the pedals to start and stop it, and it takes you to your destination.  If you can observe the car achieving the objective for which you have intended it, you can explain how it works.  Because the “how” is nothing more than the job for which the tool is designed.  Period.  How does the hammer work?

It drives the nail into the board when you hit the nail repeatedly.

How does gravity work?

I makes things hit the ground when thrown or dropped.

How does sin work?

It reminds the individual that there is no morality under law, because the Law is a legal ethic, not a moral one, and it stirs in man the desire to reject the Law, because he knows innately that the Law condemns him anyway.

Well…that last one is a biggie, and is a topic for another time.  Suffice to say, that’s my take on “sin”.

At any rate, that’s HOW those things work.  They do a thing.  That’s how.  They are a cause that produces an effect, which man then can use to either increase his understanding of his environment, or to achieve a specific practical objective, or both.

What people really mean when they say they don’t know HOW a thing works, is that they don’t know WHY.  I don’t know WHY when I push the car’s gas pedal the wheels rotate and move me from here to there.  I don’t know WHY gravity made the football hit me in the eye when it was thrown.  I don’t know WHY sin moves man to reject the law, necessarily, and innately.

Now, how and why are not entirely separate…in fact I would submit that they are not at root separate at all.  They are, in an intellectual sense, corollary.  If something accomplishes an objective (HOW), then there must be process…and this process is the why. When we are speaking philosophically or theologically or even scientifically to an extent, the process is the root metaphysics behind the issue. WHY DOES IT MATTER?  WHY is man inherently involved?

Now, practically, “why” and “how” may indeed be distinct.  I don’t need to know why the car works to know that it works.  I don’t need to know the process of the internal combustion engine to know how a car gets me to the store.  And like I said at the beginnning, conflating “how” and “why” is not often irrational…people get what we mean when we say we don’t know how a car works.  But if we are talking about things much more existentially profound, like “sin”, or “consciousness”, well, I think we really do need to be clear on the distinction.  We know that there is “sin’, and we know that there is “consciousness”, and we know how they work…otherwise, we could not see the effects and define these things at all.  But we cannot stop there.  We cannot reject or ignore the “why”; we cannot pretend the process doesn’t matter when it comes to forming our root understanding of the nature of reality and determining our understanding of Truth and Goodness.  Even worse, we cannot assume or assert that the process is unknowable; that the “why” doesn’t have an answer.  If we say that consciousness works, but that the “why” is non-existent or unknowable (which, practically speaking, there isn’t any difference between the two) then we cannot actually claim that it works at all.  And if we cannot claim that it works then we cannot claim that it exists.

To say that something works but that there isn’t a process, or that that process is unknowable, is to make that thing effectively a function of…well, magic, I suppose.  Supernatural intervention.  The grand Divine Will, or however else you want to label the pablum.  It becomes a fantasy, and moves man out of reality and into the realm of wishful thinking and hope-over-reason.  And we all know where that leads us. Intellectual disaster, eventually becoming real, physical, and visceral disaster.

In summary, when we are considering the profound scientific, philosophical, and theological issues of our day, or of any days past, let’s not conflate the “how” and the “why”; and for humanity’s sake let’s not assert one without also asserting the other.  To fundametally understand how IS to understand why.  Without both—an intellectual distinction of a practical corollary that gives real meaning and purpose to the issue—there is no understanding at all.

END

The Implicit Lie of Church Attendance Being Necessary to Salvation

Yesterday I found this meme posted by a friend on my Facebook newsfeed:

“So you don’t want to go to His house on earth, yet you expect to live in His mansion in heaven??”

Okay…hmm…where to start…

Here’s a good place:

This is bullshit.

That’s a good summary…if nothing else, that’s all you have to remember.  Even if you NEVER went to church again, ever, and never did, it has no bearing on your salvation.  None.  Nada.  This is a lie intended to keep the billion-dollars-a-year industry of organized Christianity in business, period.  Whether church officials are conscious of it or not.

What this is, is merely the usual fare of emotional blackmail we are fed by the ecclesiastical authorities.  Church-going is mandatory because justification (salvation) is progressive.  You must be constantly and regularly plugged into the collective Christian hive mind where the Pastoral or Priestly authority can micromanage your life, claim a divine right to your property and labor (the “tithe”, though the concept is bastardized for selfish gain), and where you receive regular infusions of “the Gospel”…because that’s what you still need.  You must, as my former head pastor over at the soft cult of Sovereign Grace Ministries used to say, “preach the Gospel to yourself every day”.  Because that’s exactly what Jesus taught…the saved STILL need saving. Suuure…

By the way, I love the irony of always appealing to the object and absolute truth of the Word, by which they (erroneously) mean “the Bible”, and yet NEVER actually teaching anything that’s in the Bible.  It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so destructive.

And THAT is precisely why it is implied that church attendance is “proof” of salvation…which is just another way of saying that if you don’t go to church regularly, then you can’t be saved.

Of course, rarely will any Christian be honest with themselves or you and openly admit this.  They will demur and say of course that’s not what they really believe…but then why the meme? Why are these kinds of facile statements so popular?  Why am I the only one as far as I can tell who called this meme out as bullshit and implying something unbiblical and unreasonable?

That’s easy.  Because this is EXACTLY what Christians believe.  Church attendance is “proof” of salvation.  To eschew church is to declare to the world that you likewise eschew Christ, Himself.  Because church, as the meme says, is God’s house on earth.  How can you say you love someone and yet never pay them a visit?  You can’t.  Christ doesn’t live in your heart…he lives in Church, you see.  When you leave church, you leave Him.  Stay gone too long, and you’re no longer in a relationship with Him.  You’re no longer saved.  Justification is progressive…you get a serving of it when you come to church.  And just like a meal you’ve eaten, eventually you need to return to the table.    Just like the well you drink from, you must return when you’re thirsty.  The whole “he who drinks my water will never thirst” that Jesus counseled…well, again, irony.  Those who worship the Bible don’t actually follow it.

I will say this unashamedly:  This is an outright satanic manipulation of the doctrine of Salvation in general and the Gospel in particular.  By declaring, even implicitly, that the Christain must be re-saved by endless repetitions of the Gospel message at church on Sundays is to make the believer a NON-believer at root.  You must continue to RECEIVE the Gospel because you are unable to actually BELIEVE it. Its power is finite, available only in doses, and your sin nature absolute.  You are not taught, you are exposed…not informed, but inculcated. This DESTROYS the Gospel by stripping it of reason…which is its very TRUTH.  Its power.  Instead of being a philosophy which can be articulated and defended on objectively rational grounds, it becomes relegated to the “transcendent” realm of God’s Unknowable Mystery.  It becomes a hammer of the Spiritual Authority (Pastor or Priest Class) to compel your obedience to “the Church” by threats of ostracism, spiritual failure and hell…it is emotional blackmail and pshychological abuse in perhaps their most pernicious incarnations.

One commenter who took issue with my interpretation of the meme explained that Church was a “house of sinners” not a “hotel of Saints”.

Forehead slap!

Do you see what I mean?  The church, where ostensibly believers in Christ gather, is called a house for SINNERS!  This, my friends, should shock and scandalize you.  This is a “Christian” who openly admits that the saved are STILL full of SIN! That despite the acceptance and devotion to the Gospel, Christians are and remain spiritually unchanged.  They are sinners…which is precisely how the Bible describes non-believers.  There is no difference then from one who accepts Christ and one who doesn’t.  Salvation has nothing to do with the Gospel and YOU believing it.  Your belief is completely irrelevant.  You are saved by “going to God’s house…for SINNERS…regularly, to receive your weekly injection of medicine.  To get your Gospel fix.  Stay away too long, and it wears off.

So what then separates the believer from the non-believer?  The believer is he who has been effectively blackmailed, threatened, and cowed into pledging himself, his family, his property, and his time to the Church Collective as ruled by the ecclesiastical Authority.  That’s it.  No truth.  No love.  No real existential change.  Just fear, fear, and more fear.  Come to church or go to hell.  And THAT’S the only thing that that meme can possibly mean. Period.

Here’s more irony for you:  Go to church and you will hear endless warnings to stay away from the “world”…that the devil is in worldly things.  But the truth is that if you really want find the devil, just look behind the podium.  The devil is always where God is placed furthest from His children…and the furthest distance from God is a doctrine which says that humanity is by nature incapable of really knowing Him. And THAT’S church, in a nutshell.

Oh, sure they will tell you that you come to church after you “believe” not to get “re-saved”…not to re-crucify Christ, which is exactly what they do, by the way…but to become sanctified.  To learn how to “walk or work out” your salvation, as if that’s some big mystery that you only discover after you devote yourself to belief; that somehow there is this giant separation between what someone believes and how they act according to that belief.

You see, you can be saved, they say, but unless you go to church you can’t really know what that means, so you can’t really act in accordance with your salvation.  Which means that for all practical purposes you aren’t’ really saved.

But, see, as the BIBLE SAYS faith without works is dead…if you claim to believe something, but never act according to it, then you don’t really believe it.  What this means is that to believe something necessarily means that you ALREADY understand how you must act in accordance with it.  There IS NO fundamental distinction between belief and behavior…they are corollary at the epistemological root.  If I relevantly and rationally belive that I would like to be an opthamologist, then I understand the behaviors in which I must engage in order to validate that belief…go to school, study hard, do a residency, cultivate a profitable patient base.  Similarly, to believe in Jesus is to understand how to act in order to validate that belief…and it’s not obedience, it’s simply the CHOICE to believe driving the corollary behavior.  I act because I ALREADY know how because I understand what I believe. I don’t believe, and then OBEY a demand that tells me where to go every sunday so that I can be TOLD how to act in accordance with my belief.  That’s NOT belief, that’s slavery.

If I have no idea how to act according to a belief, then I don’t actually know enough to believe.  And thus, to say that one must attend church in order to know how to act in accordance with salvation is false logic.  I cannot CHOOSE to become saved until I understand what that means; and to understand what that means is to understand what I must DO from that CHOSEN belief.

And so, no, you do not attend church to learn how to act according to salvation.  To know how you must act according to your salvation is a prerequisite for actual belief.  You attend church, as the meme implies, because that’s what saved people do.  Church attendance thus = salvation.  That’s the real point of the meme…and what Christain orthodoxy implicitly teaches.  Thus, salvation is not a function of faith, but of obedience.  Not of freedom but of Authority.  Salvation obligates you to a collecitve, which is ruled by an ecclesiastical authority which demands that you regularly offer up your time and resources to itself.  After two thousand years of Christ’s wisdom, we’ve boiled down salvation to blind obedience and the abject sacrifice of the individual to the collective ideal of “Church”.

Enjoy the meme.

 

Don’t Let Them Fool You: Mystery vs Paradox vs Contradiction

The staggering degree to which these terms are conflated, either out of ignorance or a desire to manipulate, is shocking.  As I have mentioned many times on this blog, I was a reformed orthodox Christian for about 35 years, including 15 in the “soft” cult of Sovereign Grace Ministires.  At SGM, when they weren’t busy covering up first degree felonies, like the sexual abuse of minors, they liked to refer to themselves as “reformed charismatic”.  And this I suppose was the first time I became conscious of the great orthodox bugaboo: contradiction as Truth.  Some years after, when I began to ardently examine the doctrinal claims of orthodox Christianity through the lens of rational consistency, I started seeing this sophist tactic all over the place.  I mean, once you learn to find the contradictions, it becomes harder to discern what ISN’T a contradiction than what is.  I mean, name the doctrinal premise—double imputation, penal substitution, Original Sin/Fall of Man, biblical inerrancy and authority, faith alone, pervasive depravity and sin nature, forgiveness, salvific belief, the Holy Spirit and divine enlightenment, Total Depravity; Uncontitional Election; Limited Atonement; Irresistible Grace; Perserverence of the Saints (the five pillars of Calvinism, T.U.L.I.P.), complimentarianism, etcetera, etcetera—and you will find little more than a bubbling witches brew of contradiction and self-defeating arguments.  Once you know what to look for, let me tell you, the circus of Christian orthodoxy is quite a show.

And how does the Christain Ecclesiastic Authority, in whatever Catholic or Protestant form it may take, get away with this?  How do they convince masses upon masses of ostensibly intelligent and successful lay memebers to part with their hard earned resources and make Orthodox Christianity a billions-of-dollars-a-year-racket?  By intellectual make-believe.  Take a contradiction, put it into the transcendent context of “divine enlightenment” and, as Philospher John Immel oft says, “Alakazaam…poof!!”, we get God’s Mystery…the Holy Paradox.  The Holy Paradox being, incidentally, the fifth member of the Trinity, just after “Bible”.

In this article, I’m going to explain the real difference between these three concepts…contradiction, mystery, and paradox.  Understand the distinctions, and I can promise that you will avoid the intellectual, philosophical, and theological miasma that will permanently stunt your spiritual growth.  Contradiction-as-truth is the hard drug of Christian theology.  Break the habit and you will save your soul.

Just a quick note…I’m not going to quote dictionary definitions.  This tired and formulaic approach to academic discourse is, to me, a mark of the untalented and/or uninspired.  I will define these concepts in my own terms within the context at hand—specifically, but perhap not exclusively, the church—in the interest of keeping things more punchy and less clinical.  It’s more fun this way, trust me.

Contradiction:

A contradiction is merely the assertion that two or more mutually exclusive concepts are, in fact, compatible.  When we are speaking of ideas, doctrine, theology, philosophy, and so on, you will note a contradiction in some form or fashion this way:

A claim to know that something is true, yet that thing necessarily and/or by definition incorporates two or more mutually exclusive concepts, and predicates its “truth” upon the idea that these incompatible concepts are somehow entirely compatible.  It assumes and expects you to also assume that what are overtly and objectively opposite notions are somehow corollary.  Up is also down; black is also white; the square is also the circle.

Example:

  1. Total Depravity:  Man is responsible for his own practical moral failures and yet is born depraved in his nature.  (Incidentally, the oft-responded notion that Total Depravity doesn’t mean that we are as bad as we could be is also a rank contradiction in terms, by definition…”total” does not mean “partly”, but intellectual license is cheap and easy when you can appeal to “divine enlightenment” instead of reason.  Any old dope can claim to “know” things if he doesn’t actually have to explain them.  Telling people that they will understand once they “believe” (meaning when God reveals it to them by magic) is merely saying that they will understand once they agree.  Which is, again, a contradiction in terms.  Like I said…it just never ends.)  That man is BORN depraved is saying that man, existentially, IS evil, and thus in his natural, absolute Self, cannot do any good thing.  This is PRECISELY the argument for why all men need Jesus—-because all men have sinned because why?  Because they MUST sin!  Because of their nature.  Because they are born sinners.  All Good is a function of God’s divine power and enlightenment upon man who is existentially unworthy and, of himself, alone, unable to receive it.  And yet man is morally responsible for his evil as though he can know the difference between good and evil and can choose the latter over the former.  The contraction is this, in a nutshell:  Man IS totally evil, and yet man also responsible for his evil as though he had a choice, which is why God judges him.
  2. God’s Divine Will:  All which happens is a product of God’s omnipotence.  Yet man’s consciousness is somehow real and relevant, and that man can know something, like God’s saving grace and his own natural sinfulness.  This is a contradiction in terms because if God possesses ominipotence then all which occurs in reality is either a function of God’s direct causal power or his “allowing” something to occur, which…means the same thing.  Nothing happens that God doesn’t directly control either via “action” or “inaction”.  In this context, man cannot develop an independent self-identity.  All man does is in reality a function of God’s doing, in which case, there is no point to nor possibility of man actually BEING himself.  For “being” is an action, which is not of himself, but of God, because of omnipotence. If man does not possess his own self, then he certainly cannot be self-aware.

Mystery:

A mystery is simply that which is unknown.  It is not, as Christian orthodoxy implies or outright asserts, that which is UNKNOWABLE.  The idea that God controls all things, yet man is morally responsible for his natural depravity and INEVITABLE evil actions; that God is in control of all things and yet simultaneously abhors the evil actions of men and demands sacrificial recompense…these things are not mysteries! These things are contradictions.  Christian orthodoxy labels its contradictions as “mysteries” because appealing to divine mystery is the most convenient way to conflate ideological folderol with God’s infinite wisdom, which, when presented in the context of soaring-if-not-insipid worship music, the histrionics and emotional blackmail of the pulpit, and the navel-gazing desperation of the congregation, can seem quite profound.  In reality, however, it is no more than pedestrian intellectual error of the kind found in the most nascent of human minds.  That is, in children.  It’s pretty sad.  And yet there it is, Sunday after Sunday, and making big money and casting a wide net of social and political influence.  So…perhaps it’s not so much sad as it is scary.

Example (of Mystery):

  1. How did the lion escape from the zoo when the cage was closed and locked? (A simple hypothetical mystery.)
  2. Why does the sun rise and set? (A historical mystery, henceforth solved.)
  3. How does an experienced hunter, tracker, and survival expert get lost and starve to death in terrain with which he is intimately familiar? (A hypothetical mystery which may never be solved.)

A mystery can be that which we do not yet know, which we did not know but now do, or that which only one man or a few men once knew and have taken the knowledge with them to the grave.  None of these things are “unknowable”…that is, the answers to the questions do not exceed the existential and epistemological boundaries of man’s identity.  Man’s identiy as “man”, and all that this naturally implies about his consciousness and cognitive capabilities, are the only frame of reference necessary to de-mystify the mystery.  The answers to the questions may rationally exist within man’s reality and will be defined according to reason.

Paradox:

This is, I submit, the most misunderstood and misused of the three concepts addressed in this article.  “Paradox” is not a synonym for “contradiction”…and yet this mistake has become so common that you find it almost as often as you find someone using the term “literally” to mean “figuratively”.  It’s become part of the common vernacular, and we don’t even bat an eye at the massive distortion in meaning it creates.  Paradox shares absolutely nothing in common with contradiction with respect to its own particular meaning, though it is true that one can be confused with the other based on incorrect assumptions or a lack of or misunderstanding about some amount of empirical evidence.

A paradox is something which can as of yet only be described by combining two or more mutually exclusive concepts, but which nevertheless MUST be true based on empirical evidence.  We might also say that a paradox is observably true, but conceptually false.  We cannot describe what we are seeing in terms that do not conflict.  Paradox, then, is only temporary…for any observed phenomenon can and must only be described in conceptual terms that are consistent.  To leave a paradox to a contradictory definition is, I submit, to divorce man from his own reality.  A reality which does not conform to man’s conceptualizing faculties (his reason) inevitably makes man irrelevant to reality.  The consequences of this are disastrous.  To claim that man can observe something he CANNOT and CAN NEVER describe is to drive a wedge between cognition/conceptualization and perception.  Man then, in the metaphysical sense, as a singular Self—the conscious Self, you you might say—becomes divorced from the determinative  cause and effect of “objective reality”.  Man qua man then becomes an imposter to reality, or at best an illusion…his awareness of Self—that by which he describes and defines “objective reality”  becomes, ironically, a paradox of nature—some determined cause of a determined effect prescribed by the blind and unthinking laws of nature.  The “I” of man—the individuality of the individual—is reduced to an ultimately irrelevant epiphenomenon of the utterly determined universe.  Man becomes a paradox which can have no conceptual solution because he doesn’t really, or at best, relevantly, exist.

And it doesn’t take a clairvoyant to see where this goes.

At any rate, a paradox, in summary, is that which is observed, and thus is real, but as of yet has not been explained in rationally consistent terms.

Example:

  1. The wave/particle duality of light.  That light is both a particle and a wave.  For light can be observed in both states, and thus is said to BE both, simultaneously.  As this is a contradiction in terms, we must assume that how light is observed probably has to do with the location of the observer and not with the idea that light both is and is not a wave and a particle at any given moment.
  2. That objects exist, an distinctly so, and yet all objects are comprised of a collection of parts, and thus no objects exist, because all objects are comprised of other objects, infinitely so.

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Douglas Murray and Jordan Peterson: The terrible and fascinating car crash of IQ and moral worth

I know in my last article I said would deal with the difference between mystery, paradox, and contradiction.  But alas, I must detour. Because yesterday I stumbled upon a video that I simply must address.  Thank you for your forbearance.

It was a discussion between Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray, two of arguably the greatest libertarian (I mean ideologically, not politically) social commentators of our time.  (If you don’t know who they are, just look them up on YouTube…you’ll find as much information as you want.) They were discussing, adroitly, as is expected, a myriad of things, among which was the controversy of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and race.  Unsurprisingly, the notion of some races performing better on IQ tests than others came up, and with that, the concern that this information may cause some manner of genetic superiority collectivism to rear its ugly head and begin to categorize human worth based on quantifications of intelligence. That this method of collectivizing humanity is so particularly scandalous seems at first surprising, given that humanity has been collectivizing itself, to disastrous moral effect, for thousands of years, based upon almost any reason at all.  Since any group characteristic can be and has been used to classify humanity into superior and inferior classes and castes since time immemorial, why is this so particularly shocking to heady thinkers like Murray and Peterson?

Well, the reason is pretty straightforward, and you’ve probably already figured it out.  You see, intelligence is a scientifically proven and statistically verified means of predicting future life success, even correcting for race, language, social context, socioeconomic status, and any other factor you can think of.  It has been used since the early 20th century and has never failed, as a general instrument of measure, to gauge intelligence and then empirically verify the results through objective evaluations of life performance.  Put simply, IQ tests are overwhelmingly effective at predicting life success (where “success” is defined according to socioeconomic scales in a given sociopolitical context), no matter who is being tested or where or when.  Okay, not so controversial…so far so good.  But here is where intellectuals and moral men like Peterson and Murray get the vapors, and you saw this coming a mile away.

Which groups, pray tell, score highest on IQ tests?  Asians, Jews, and Whites.  Now, in this day age of rampant, insatiable, and insidious social Marxism in the West, the first two aren’t much of a problem.  But the last one…the Whites…well, to say that Whites are more intellegent than Browns is like saying the Devil is more powerful than God.  The argument that “Jews and Asians are smarter that’s Whites” is irrelevant to the rabid masses of Marxist ideologues rampaging through the West with their bike-locks-turned-cudgels and their Malotov cocktails, both literally and figuratively.  The fact that a white person is more intelligent than a brown person on average is the problem, and is a fact that must be denied, and is just one more example of Western “institutional racism” and the white man’s inherent existential proclivity towards deception and manipulation and of course his endemic natural evil; and just one more reason white people need to be destroyed en masse. And make no mistake, to marginalize any group by claiming an inherent existential moral deficiency, which is exactly what the left is doing with whites, is to declare the need to wipe them out.  Regardless of what anyone tells you, if you concede the root existential moral failure of a group of people, the only rational means of dealing with them to murder them.  If the white man is evil because he is white, which is a function of nothing more than his birth, then he has no right to live.  If the existence of the white man means that he is inexorably White at his very natural root, and White is evil, then the white man has no right to exist, period.  The logic is clear, it is simple, and it is utterly consistent if we concede the metaphysical premise that Whitness = inherent moral depravity.

Now, as I said, the left explains the discrepancy of IQ between whites and browns on institutional racism, social manipulation, and outright perfidy and mendaciousness on the part of the western “White Patriarchy”, due to the natural depravity of white people, who are born this way.  But see, Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray know that this is not the case.  At the same time, the empirical and statistical evidence cannot be ignored.  The scientific fact is that, on the whole, white people are more intelligent than brown people.  And because it is a fact, there is some concern amongst both Peterson and Murray, that this information will be used by some right-wing ideologues to declare whites a superior class, and, necessarily, to seek to demonize and politically (and eventually, ACTUALLY) eliminate the inferior classes.  Because, well…let’s be honest.  It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

As a hedge against this kind of argument, Peterson quickly, and rightly—for morality obliges him—points out the fact that the level of one’s intelligence does not determine the level of his moral worth.  And “moral worth” means the value of an individual’s life qua life…of their root existence.  And with that, all the controversy dissolves into mist, right?  It seems logical, after all.  Only a fool would deny such an obvious assertion.  How much your brain can do has no bearing how good you are as a person.  And…well, this is true.  I’ve no problem asserting that as an axiom.

But here is where it gets messy, and here is where I DO have a problem with the assertion.

Both Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray know that this is true, but they do not know WHY it is true.  And this is where it gets so, so interesting to me.  Because there is nothing more fun and fascinating than watching men who are geniuses in their fields venture into intellectual areas where they are so very clearly NOT geniuses.  Whilst there, they make some observations, and then never, ever address the gaping rational errors behind their ideas.  They talke about IQ and morality, utter an axiom, and then never address the problem of their premises not actually leading to the conclusion that the axiom is in fact axiomatic.  And you can hear the uncertainly in their voices…the cold, sharp claws of that thing digging into their brains telling them that no, it is not actually resolved at all.  That they haven’t any idea how to handle this.  And why?  Why?  They don’t know…it’s a big blank space.  Nothing is there…but is that because nothing is there, or something is there and they just can’t see it?  The axiom is clear:  Intellgence doesn’t define your moral worth as a person.  This is so intuitively true.  And it IS true….so why the hesitation?  Why is there no satisfaction in asserting something so true?

I will tell you why:

Peterson and Murray’s declaration of the truth that intelligence is exclusive of moral worth flat out contradicts their assertion that IQ is, in fact, an objective measure of objective outcomes. Because you cannot have it both ways.  You cannot divorce intelligence from morality AND claim that intelligence has objective VALUE.  Because value is, itself, at root, a function of morality…it is a matter of ethical truth, not epistemological truth.  To claim that something is objectively useful to reality, in some context or another, like, for example, the prediction of one’s socioeconomic performance via intelligence levels, is, in fact, a claim of objective moral worth.  In other words, to say that intelligence is objectively useful to man is to imply that it has value.  And value judgements—the degree to which something is good or bad, which can also be rendered as “useful or degrading”; “helpful or harmful”—are judgements at root of morality (meaning, they fall into the philosophical category of ethics, which deals with the distinction between what is good and what is not).  If high levels of intelligence are objectively useful to objective success then high intelligence must be said to be objectively GOOD.  Which in turn must mean that low intelligence is objectively BAD.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the rub.  You cannot divorce the “OBJECTIVE usefulness” of high intelligence from the “OBJECTIVE morality” of high intelligence.  The fact that having high intelligence produces “objectively” good outcomes for people and societies means that the people who possess high intelligence must be morally superior to those who possess low intelligence. If, of course, you accept the premise that the “success” intelligence predicts is objective. Which I promise you Murray and Peterson do.

And THAT is the nagging, gnawing thing in their brains which torments them.  They know, somewhere inside, that this must be the case (that intelligence = moral value) but the abomination of such an idea offends, and rightly so, their sensibilities as good and honest and kind and empathetic men, which they clearly are.  They know there’s a monster in the woods, but they have never seen him, so can they be so sure?

The answer is: Yes they can.  But I promise you that they will not like the reason.  They will very likely not and never accept the reason…so it goes.

The truth, which reconciles the moral dilemma, is that the “life success” which intelligence predicts is, in fact, not objective at all.  And this means that intelligence is nothing more than a character trait, which, like skin color or the size of one’s nose, may or may not have any meaning or value to the individual, his life, or reality.  Intelligence, you see, being divorced from morality, which it must be in order to avoid the  very real ethical dilemma Peterson and Murray discuss (valuing an individual according to his intelligence) doesn’t really have anything to do with knowledge, and I mean in the philosophically primary sense.  Because the knowledge of what IS is inexorably bound to the knowledge of what is GOOD; and furthermore the knowledge of what IS and is GOOD is only relevant and therefore objectively meaningful if it drives behavior.  Since IQ does not and cannot incorporate the relevant knowledge of objective truth corollary to objective moral truth BY also incorporating actual observed objective moral behavior, then intelligence indeed has NOTHING to do with one’s moral value. This being the case, intelligence is not the equivalent of what we might call “wisdom”.  And wisdom is where the Truth is.  Wisdom is knowledge, and the knowledge of what IS includes the knowledge of what IS GOOD, and is made manifest—made REAL—by one’s actions.  Wisdom is really all that matters when it comes to OBJECTIVE success, I submit.  And by that I mean, success absolutely, existentially, forever and ever.

See…I told you they wouldn’t like the answer.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that you don’t like it either. Which one am I?  A fool?  Deluded?  Possibly both?  Lol…I take no offense, dear reader.  Correct me where I stray, and if you cannot, then accept it.  Those are your only two rational choices

Here is my point in summary:

“Intelligence has nothing to do with one’s moral worth” is the assertion made my Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray, and it is a correct assertion.  What this means is that intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with morality, in general, at all. Intelligence, in other words, having nothing to do with man’s moral value, cannot itself have any moral value, because MAN provides the only rational reference for morality.  MAN decides the value of intelligence, not the other way around.

What DOES have something to do with man’s moral value, and incorporates morality, itself, in general, is knowledge of the Truth, or Wisdom. Because wisdom is the understanding of Truth and it’s corollary, Good, and is made REAL and meaningful through man’s behavior.  How do we know whether or not a man has moral worth, or to what degree it is?  Watch his actions and gauge them against objective morality…objective morality being that which references the individual, and thus does not violate his sanctity.  Does not kill him, steal from him, lie to him, abuse or threaten him.

Intelligence then becomes a subjective predictor of success, which makes the success which it predicts necessarily subjective also.  In such a case we are forced to consider intelligence, again having nothing to do with morality, as little more than a character trait which may or may not have any actual value, depending on the individual in question.  It may have value, if one’s definition of his success is that which intelligence can predict, but OBJECTIVE success—that which is manifest by the implementation of wisdom—is not a function of intelligence.

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