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.
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.
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”.
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.