Monthly Archives: December 2018

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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