Monthly Archives: January 2019

Why “Jesus Loves You” Might be the Most Offensive Statement of All Time: The rational failure of unconditional love

It happens every so often.  You’re driving or walking along and you spy a bumper sticker, or a shirt, or a lapel pin sporting the (ostensibly) encouraging words “Jesus Loves You”.  Sometimes this proclamation is prefaced by “Smile!”, or punctuated with an actual smiley face.  My father in law had one of those stickers on his mini van for years.  He replaced it with a “Jesus is the answer” sticker.  That one was swapped out for a “Trump” sticker.  That one didn’t last on account of him discovering Trump’s affinity for whores and “pussy-grabbing” braggadocio.  Now I think he just sports the slightly jaded yet never truly out of style “Jesus saves”.  Yes, even my father-in-law finally came to see that for all of Trump’s virtues, avoiding fleshy hedonism isn’t one of them.  Of course if you think this means that he won’t be voting for the Donald again in 2020, you’ve got another thing coming.  Yet before we cry hypocrite, let’s remember that the left side of the political spectrum, which declares itself the true home of feminism, has never sufficiently condemned Bill Clinton for using the power of the Presidency to secure oral sex from a White House intern.  Clearly on both sides of the aisle there is a certain subjectivity we accept with respect to the moral character of our politicians.  I actually think it’s rather hypocritical to call Christians hypocrites for supporting Trump.  For Christians to shelve virtue in the interest of seeing their particular political aspirations realized in government doesn’t make them any more inconsistent than other constituency.  Christians, like everyone else, realize that you can’t always have your morality cake and eat it, too, when it comes to the fetid witches brew that is American politics.  All of us understand on some level (unless we are insane or idiotic) that government IS vice, pretty much by necessity, and this axiom isn’t lost on Christians, and rightly so.

So no, my devout orthodox Christian father-in-law sporting a Trump sticker on his mini van does not offend me.  The mini van might, but not the sticker.

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“Jesus loves you” is a statement I will not accept from a stranger on the street.  In that context, I find such a claim fatuous, vapid, and presumptuous…at best.

First of all, how do you know Jesus loves me?  You don’t even know me.  I mean, the presumption and fake sentimentality is so odious and so gushing that one almost chokes on it.  You don’t know anything about me.  Maybe I’m lovable.  But maybe I’m intolerable.  Maybe I’m a miserable prick (true); a misanthrope who would push you into the Grand Canyon just to see the face you’d make as you went over.  Maybe I cheat on my wife or girlfriend, or steal from work, or lie to get my way.  Without knowing anything about me or the company I keep or if I even believe in God at all, you claim that I provide value to the Almighty as a function of literally nothing more than the fact that I exist, because that is ALL you actually know about me.  Further, you insinuate me into a relationship that I might not want and might not have asked for, and even more egregiously you do the same thing to Christ.

I already know how you will defend your position.  And I know you think it is rational and encouraging, but it is truly not these things at all, and is likely even worse than you can imagine.  The fact that “Jesus loves you” is purely meaningless bromide when absent any frame of reference is the least of its problems.

You’re going to say that Jesus loves all of his children, both his loyal followers and his wandering strays alike, and that there is nothing about me, my life, my choices, or my actions that his love does not (as opposed to “cannot”…and this is very important) overlook.  “Jesus LOVES you” you say.  It is not that he will or would love me IF if I happened to repent of my wicked ways and embrace a new moral compass, with a commitment to his specific brand of religious ethics.  It’s that it DOESN’T MATTER, you see.  He loves me…now.  Right now.  He loves me not IF I repent of my evil and rebellious ways and embrace his version of righteous living, but IN SPITE of those evil and rebellious ways…meaning his love utterly ignores them.

Um…what?

Jesus might like to see me repent, in the interest of a broader morality and a desire for peace and harmony amongst humanity, as an expression of his recognition of the general value of humanity at large, but this is not the same thing as loving me, specifically, for nothing.  In other words, Jesus may want the asshole to repent in order to make life for the non-assholes better.  But this does not imply love for the asshole. It implies mercy on him, perhaps, from a general recognition of the worth of human life, but not love.

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The context-less claim that “Jesus loves you” implies that there is no cost to love…no value which must be provided in exchange for it.  Love is free; it costs one nothing at all; comes with no expectations of any kind; asks no committement to change, not even an attempt.  It implies that the love of God, and thus by extension love in general, is VALUELESS; and being valueless, is IRRELEVANT.  And being irrelevant, isn’t love, or anything else for that matter.

Unconditional love is unconditional precisely because it is completely meaningless.  It can afford to be unconditional because there is no practical difference between being granted it and NOT being granted it.  The outcome is the same.  That which requires NOTHING of me does not and cannot affect me.  It is categorically pointless.  Christians think that love is a cause, rather than an effect.  That is, once granted, it generates a character worthy of it.  They never seem to realize that if it is given away for free then there is no reason for the recipient to bother altering his character in the first place.  You don’t give money to someone out of the blue and then wait around for him to come back later, having conjured up something you want.  Why would he?  You’ve asked zero responsibility of him.

It doesn’t work that way.  You find the value you want FIRST, or you ask someone to manufacture it, or retrieve it, and THEN you give them your resources.  Love is not a magic potion…it is a currency that is given for something you want that the other party ALREADY POSSESSES and is a position to trade.  It is not unconditional.  Like any currency it is UTTERLY conditional upon the person with whom you are exchanging goods ALREADY POSSESSING or BEING ABLE TO POSSESS that which you find valuable.

Do you have any idea how evil and destructive this notion of unconditional love is?  Do you not understand the implied DEATH which haunts it?  To give love to those who need not earn it is a recipe for human annihilation.  If it is implied that love must be given unconditionally then what is to prevent it from being DEMANDED by the selfish and violent and manipulative among us?  And what is to prevent them from defining it in whatever way they choose?  Unconditional love is love that is at root valueless, and thus it is in essence meaningless, which means it can be defined in whatever way the oppressor decides is most efficacious to his wicked scheme…your money, time, property, or your life.  To consider it a moral imperative (because “GOD does it”) to give love to he who need not earn it is to concede that he thus has a right to demand your plenary sacrifice.  Mark my words, this philosophy enslaves humanity, and underwrites the logical defense of ALL manner of carnality, calumny, oppression, exploitation, and murder.

I submit that in addition to my father-in-law and other well-meaning Christians, there is someone else who desires that the random stranger on the street know “Jesus loves him”.

The Devil.

END

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What Ayn Rand Gets Very Right and Christians Get Very Wrong (and why Christian Orthodoxy is Not About Love but Loathing)

The greatest contribution to ethics in the twentieth century I submit is Ayn Rand’s popularization of the Virtue of Selfishness.  Because what she gets so very right, up to the point of being utterly axiomatic (if our ethics are indeed rational), is that one who acts wholly in his own self-interest cannot but help be concomitantly acting in the interest of his neighbor.  Without fully delving into the metaphysics behind this axiom, in the interest of time and context, the root of this perfect ethic is that others are the complete existential equal of the Self.  This means that the default root moral status of all others is existential equality to the Self, and thus when one’s Self is pursued and its interests sought, the interest of the Other is a natural consequence, and manifests to a qualitatively equal degree.

Allow me to explain. And here, understand, is where I will deviate from Rand’s specific metaphysics, and exposit my own defense of virtuous selfishness.  The following exposition very much depends upon a completely different metaphyscial primary than the one subscribed to by Rand (existence).  My primary is Ability, and from this I assert that individual consciousness is a proper and necessary component of any rational metaphysics; and, being the ONLY thing which can develop and apply reason (conceptual consistency), which is how reality and truth is established AT ALL, consciousness, itself, at root, is an ENTIRELY objective manifestation of reality.  Conversely, Rand rejects consciousness as having any particularly necessary function within reality taken holistically, and sees it as intrinsically subjective, as its primary function is, as Objectivism implies, to interpret that (existence) which is fundamentally exclusive of interpretation.

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Every individual human being exists metaphysically as a Self qua Self (YOU (or I) as a function of your SELF…the “you-ness” which IS YOU in the most fundamental sense); and the FACT of that existence is itself the PROOF of the propriety of one’s existence.  In other words, the FACT that one exists is the proof of the de facto NECESSITY of one’s existence—reality NEEDS one’s existence to be, in fact, REAL, you might say.  Reality cannot be absolutely real if its components—e.g. one who exists—are not essential.  For example, it is irrational to assert that one who exists could just as easily not have existed (been born); this means, effectively, that their existence is not fundamentally necessary to reality.  The reason this is irrational is simple.  We have NO frame of reference for the non-existence of what exists, because non-existence and existence are mutually exclusive contexts.  Or, simplified, IS and IS NOT are mutually exclusive frames of reference.  If I AM, then my frame of reference is from the place of WHAT IS (what is real, and exists, period, and absolutely).  Which means that I can ONLY observe and describe what likewise IS.  In order for me to talk of you, for example, not needing to exist, you NEED TO EXIST.  Do you see the contradiction?  I cannot claim that your existence is not necessary since it is necessary that you exist in order for me to make the claim in the first place.  Whatever exists, exists; whatever is real is real.  Period.  The hypothetical thought experiment of “what if X did not exist/had never been born” is INIFINITELY hypothetical.  It is entirely irrelevant to anything, except perhaps, a good science fiction story.  Now, it is quite tempting here to dive into the rabbbit hole of choice and free will, but I have to end this article sometime before retirement, so let’s just leave it at that for now.

As I was saying, the fact that one exists is proof of the de facto necessity of their existence.  And here is where it gets interesting…because here is where metaphysics inexorably incorporates what I call the Morality of the Metaphysical.  What I mean is that metaphysics, in order to mean anything, must have, itself, intrinsic value, and thus cannot be entirely cordoned off from eithcs.  It’s fascinating just how the five categories of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, aesthetics) incorporate and even embody one another so precisely.  Because one’s existence is necessary, one’s existence is necessarily GOOD.  Put generally, existence (or reality…the two are essentially equivalent, metaphysically speaking) is Good, because it MUST BE; and since man exists, he likewise MUST BE, and therefore he is, in his root existence, likewise Good.

Thus, all men being equal in their metaphysical value (Good), and understanding that the Individual Self is that from which and to which all men (being at root Individuals) act, and understanding that the Self is the reference for reality, communicating meaning with other Selves (other men) and drawing a consensus of meaning together, then all men who thus act in service to their own Individual interests will necessarily and concomitantly act in service to the interests of their fellow man.  And this is what is meant by the “virtue of Selfishness”.

For example, if I choose to marry and have children with a woman I note to possess virtues I find valuable, based upon a RATIONAL definition of virtue, then in keeping and fulfilling my wedding vows I am serving my own interests as much as I am serving the interests of my wife and children, who have entered into the relationship voluntarily (the only way a true relationship is possible).  And, yes, I know the children didn’t “choose” to be born, but (without going into metaphysical detail here) it is simply irrational to consider anyone, even children, as someone OBLIGATED to a relationship against their will.  It is my job as a parent to make sure that I provide my children with an environment that reflects their right to the sanctity of their own lives, body and property, with abundant displays of affection and genuine pleasure and privilege with respect to their company, so as to accurately represent the context of what a voluntary relationship should look like.  In short, I am obligated to provide my children with an environment that they could CHOOSE to be in, by all rational standards (love, resources, negotiation, the absence of corporeal punishment,  shared responsibility to whatever degree possible, shared input, respect, rejection of any Authority/Submission dynamic, etc.etc.).

Getting married and devoting resources to having children then is not sacrifice, it is selfishness.  It utterly serves me…and in rationally serving myself, I have served my family.  And this is precisely why there is virtue in selfishness.  If I build a business to serve myself, the corollary is provision of value to my employees and customers.  I never have to think about their needs and desires directly or explicitly.  Their needs are fulfilled as a function of fulfilling my own.  All notions of altruism, sacrifice, charity (in the “giving of one’s self” sense) are entirely superfluous.  Real moral utopia then is not found in sacrifice, but selfishness.  And as scandalizing as this may seem, this is, in fact, the ONLY true and rational morality possible for man.  Period.

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In order to employ virtuous selfishness we must eradicate Self-loathing from ethics entirely.  In other words, we must understand and accept the inherent value of man at his metaphysical root.  Because man is metaphysically Good, he must possess an innate and existential sufficiency to the apprehension of Truth (epistemology), and Truth’s corollary, Good, and then make choices in service to these things.  Man is by his nature able to define and apprehend the distinction between truth and falsehood and good and evil and then make volitional choices based upon that knowledge.  Man possesses AGENCY, which is capable and efficacious, as a function of his very metaphysical IDENTITY.  Man in his natural state is Good, and thus in his epistemology (capacity for knowledge) capable of Truth, and thus in his ethics (capacity for morality) capable of choosing Good, and thus in his politics (capacity for efficacious moral action) capable of manifesting (acting out) Truth and Goodness.  Man’s sufficiency to the knowledge of the true and the good is one with his root nature…it is not bestowed upon him post-conception by some external force, be it God or be it Nature.  Certainly, man is not born knowing…he is not born wise.  This is not what I am saying.  I am saying that man IS born ABLE to know, and ABLE to acquire wisdom.  He learns because he IS.  His abilty to think and do is HIS, from himself, by nature.  It is not given to him…it IS him.  And it is here where my apostasy with respect to orthodox Christianity comes to a fine point.  Orthodox Christianity rejects this metaphysic to the point of war, literally.  And it is why Christianity is an unmitigated disaster by any rational measure: social, emotional, intellectual, psychological, political…it is a shared psychosis that eats humanity from the inside out.  It HATES humanity with a red hot passion…it knows absolutely nothing of love at root.  But we will get to that.

For man to act truly morally, he must accept a root nature that has endemic/intrinsic moral value; and thus, from this, knowing it and knowing its ethical implications, when he acts (necessarily) from and to himself in his own best interest, he concordantly and concomitantly acts in service to the Interests of his fellow man.  This is the reason why those who accept their own natural moral worth are the ones who are the most compassionate.  In almost every case, on the contrary, those who loath themselves prove to be the most insufferable and vile of the species, either explicitly or surreptitiously.  Every narcissist and psychopath in the world operates from the metaphysical principle that declares themselves to possess no root worth, and thus neither does anyone else.  Their occasional sense of grandiosity is a mask for their terminal and inviolable self-hatred.  I submit that this is axiomatic.  There is no way you can despise your fellow man and love yourself, where “man” is defined RATIONALLY.  There is only one rational morality, and it begins with innate Self-worth and bestows that same worth upon others.

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Here then we can begin to see the categorical failure of the orthodox Christian Ethic.  It is an ethic that asserts obedience to Authority (the divine Ideal, the Church, and the State…the unholy trinity of Platonist ethics) as man’s highest moral obligation, not the making of moral choices; asserts punishment, not rational self-inflicted consequence, as the proper outcome for ethical failure; asserts fear, not love, as the primary form of human motivation.  Bear in mind that this is NOT what Christ ACTUALLY teaches, nor what the Bible declares in either of its Testaments (though I will submit that the Apostle Paul’s grip on rational ethics often gets quite tenuous).  But orthodox Christianity has about as much use for Christ as Tiberius.  Christian ethics of the last 1500 years or so is a derivative of pagan gnosticism, with its interpretive lense brought to bear upon Christ’s legacy first by Augustine of Hippo and formally canonized and organized by the Martin Luther and John Calvin.  My point is simply:  don’t blame Christ for the abject failure of Christian ethics.

Orthodox Christianity espouses the metaphysical insufficiency of man.  He is not in his nature Good, but Evil, and therefore utterly incapable of apprehending Truth and choosing Good.  His very IDENTITY is antagonistic to TRUTH.  This is why Christianity asserts that all knowledge and morality must be DICTATED to man.  His natural insufficiency to Truth makes him capable of no real understanding.  He must thus be treated, fundamentally, as one would an animal.  He is to be trained, not taught.  He is to be motivated by threats and violence, and rewarded with condescension.  It is why the concept of “humility” has been bastardized by the Church to mean a rejection of the idea that one possesses an inntate, natural sufficiency to goodness and truth.  To take credit for one’s own success and accomplishments is viewed as “sinful pride”, because anything of true value comes not from within man, but from without.  Any moral behavior exhibited by an individual always occurs in SPITE of his humanity, not because of it.  It is why even “saved” Christians still speak of “needing the gospel”, and explain that they don’t actually do any good thing in and of themselves, but operate entirely “under God’s grace”.  It’s the whole false idea of “but for the grace of God go I”—an Individual making good choices according to his own volition, and reaping the benefits of such choices is anathema to Christian ethics.  In Christianity there is no fundamental difference between the unsaved criminal being marched to the dungeon and the saved Christian spectator observing from afar.  Both are criminals at root, as far as God is concerned, it’s just that by some divine mystery God decided to spare the Christian.  It has nothing to do with the Christian spectator actually CHOOSING to turn away from criminal activity and because of THAT avoiding a date with the iron maiden.  And even if Christianity might equivocate and concede that choice is possible, it is only because God grants one the “grace” to make that choice…so no, it’s not actually man making the choice at all, it’s God.  Left to himself, man will NEVER make the right choice.  And this assertion denies man any REAL choice entirely.

Christians understand, at least implicitly, because the doctrine declares it EXPLICITLY, that there can be no actual justification of or for that (man) which is absolute evil at its existential root.  The whole salvation process is very much an appeal to inexplicable mystical powers which transcend man’s “finite” reality; his intellect and his reasoning.  There are no answers to the paradoxes (rational contradictions) of Christian theology because they are utterly beyond the mind of man…beyond his very existence.  Man is saved, but he cannot say why beyond “grace”, and then a shrug as to what this actually means.  God chooses some people over others, seemingly at random.  There is some plan God has, we are told, but the wherefore and the why…who knows?  Christian metaphysics deny that a thing like salvation is possible, but somehow it happens anyway.  The whole philosophy is a massive boiling cauldron of contradiction simmering into a cosmic soup of “God’s mystery”.  Just take the cup and drink.  Don’t spend any time thinking about it.

So for all the talk of man receiving a “righteousness from God’, or a “new birth/new nature”, or being “Justified by Christ”, Christians implicitly understand that they are still Sin of Sin.  And this is why abject misery is so common in the Church. These aren’t congregations of broken people getting healed, as we are told.  These are execution chambers where people are slowly gassed into a brain dead stupor by contagious conginitve dissonance brought upon by the endlessly wafting sedative of rank mysticism.  The life of a Christian is not the fulfillment of the Self, but the sacrifice of it.  The Christian is not imbued with a sense of empowerment, but is instead entirely disarmed, intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  He learns not how to take upon himself true responsibility, but to hand off his duties and questions to God, letting “His will be done”, in yet another bastardization of the words of Christ.  The Christian does not learn to take up the mantle of his own cause and pursue his dreams with strength and confidence, but to utterly submit himself to “God’s plan”…outsourcing his brain to the Divine, as though God gave him a mind purely on a lark.  He is not given the freedom to exercise his own intellect, now unfettered by the lies of the world and the devil, in service to his own passions, but is sternly reminded that his greatest moral obligation is to obey Authority.  Once saved, the Christian soon finds himself under the “divine mandate” of the church leadership, who are expecting him to sacrifice his time and reasources in pursuit of not his own interests, but that of the greater Christian Ideal.  Of which, of course, they are in charge.

Thus the Christian, now saved and yet still lacking ANY REAL understanding of his own innate worth, is incapable of Self-love, and thus is likewise incapable of loving his neighbor.  The ONLY real, necessary, and ultimately relevant difference between one who is saved and one who is not is that he who is saved has recognized that the sum and substance of his life’s meaning and purpose is to annihilate himself in service to the Christian Authority placed over him, which is God and his Will as manifest by the ecclesiastical powers of the pulpit.  In other words, he is saved in order to sacrifice himself to the worldly ambitions of other men.  Period.

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According to the ethics of Christian orthodoxy, Self-loathing, not Self-love, is one’s default ethical frame of reference. Through the instruction of accepted orthodox doctrine, consistent in its essence amongst all protestant denominations and Catholicism, man is taught to hate his own existence as an act of his own First Sin (his birth) and thus concomitantly the existence of his neighbor.  He therefore implicitly yearns for the destruction of both.  In other words, as the orthodox Christian proclaims his love for God he implies his disgust for humanity.  The relationship betweeen loving God and hating man is indeed direct.  And this is scarcely surreptitious amongst Christians today, though perhaps not said quite as bluntly.  I have heard it stated this way:  that as one’s recognition of God’s glory (i.e. God’s supreme existential moral superiority) grows, a recognition of one’s own moral insufficiency (i.e. man’s supreme existential worthlessness) likewise grows.  And THIS, it is said, is the mark of a true Christian.  The mark of true salvation is that he continues to grow in the understanding that he HAS NO RIGHT TO EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE, because his very existence at root is an offense to God.  And from this we can extrapolate further to see then the FOUNDATIONAL mark of one’s salvation:  the growing knowledge that he, being evil incarnate, is unable to possess a frame of reference for SALVATION AT ALL.

How is that for a kick in the crotch with irony?

It is this basic orthodox Self-loathing which is the reason Christians are so in love with rules and obsessed with punishment.  Man, being morally defunct in his existence, is insufficient to truth and to moral behavior.  And thus control, not freedom, and dictated behavior, not choice, is how the ethics of one’s salvation are to be worked out.  It is why Christianity has always promoted corporeal punishment for children, and has lusted endlessly after the power monopoly of the State—the Church almost ubiquitously imitates their own brand of absolute power (dictating behavior, punishing rulebreakers and wrongthink), routinely implementing Authority-Submission polity to the greatest extent it can get away with.  It is why churches are so often brothels of the worst kinds of moral degeneracy imaginable, like blackmail, child rape and all other varieties of sexual abomination, extortion, manipulation, deception, indoctrination, intimidation, oppression, theft, and murder.  It is why Christianity holds excommunication over the heads of the laity like the sword of Damocles, and why church schisms occur as often as Communion.  It is impossible to show love to others or one’s self when the metaphysics of one’s philosophy declare man’s very birth an act of moral corruption and a violation of God’s perfect creation.

Love, you see, is the desires and behavior generated by employing rational ethics.  Rational ethics places the Self as the moral frame of reference.  Rational ethics recognizes the legitimacy of man at his natural root, and understands the Self to be the singular essence of each human being, and which is necessarily good, and thus shall not be violated.  It shall be free to exist, not enslaved to Authority.  And since all men are equal Selves at root, making the SELF the reference for truth and morality (virtuous selfishness), it is ensured that an Individual, unfettered by the false chains of Authority, who will thus freely act in service to his own wishes and wants, will necessarily act in service to those of his neighbors in the form of cooperation.  All interactions with one’s fellow man will result in the mutual benefit of value exchange.  But again, notice how this—how this rational love—demands that man have intrinsic natural worth.  It concedes that man’s birth is an act of Divine Expression, not an offense to the Divine.  Since Christianity asserts that the birth of a human being is an expression of one’s natural depravity, and as such is an act of rebellion against God, rendering unto man an existential worthlessness to an infinite degree, love by any measure is simply impossible.  Man possess no frame of reference from which to give love or receive it.  And this is why salvation comes from God to man in SPITE of himself; indeed, all expressions of “love” from God or from others comes to man in spite of himself.  And all his acts of “love” are never done BY him, but THROUGH him, by the Spirit.  In other words, man qua man (man, himSelf) is merely a bystander to love and morality in general.  He is a two-dimensional character in a predetermined bit of theater, written and directed by the Divine Author.  He, himSelf, thus, being wholly unnatural with respect to God’s perfect and perfectly moral reality, doesn’t actually exist at all.

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In order to truly love—that is, in the way that Christians cannot—humanity must accept its own innate natural worth, and reject the satanic notion of innate moral failure.  This is the difference between Self-love and Self-sacrifice (or Self-loathing)…and yes, these are mutually exclusive concepts.  The former always acts in love whilst the latter never does. The former always saves, the latter always murders.

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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”.

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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

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