Category Archives: Christian fallacy

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

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.

*

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.

END

Rethinking Prayer: Asking or telling? (Part TWO)

What do I think prayer is?

Well, this question cannot be answered without discussing what I think God is.  So, both questions will be looked at here, though not necessarily in any particular order…and I cannot say this will be an easy read.  These are complicated subjects, but if you apprehend the essence of what I mean then I’ll consider it a win for both of us.

*

Prayer, or more specifically the answer thereto, is the necessary response of reality—specifically its underlying RATIONAL philosophical apparatus, and this apparatus is God.  In other words, God is reality as expressed, and as possible (efficacious), through the objective rational principles which utterly imply it.  Starting with an irreducible metaphysical primary (which can only be Ability, because existence must be active for it to be possible, and all action must be underwritten by the Ability to act), and proceeding through epistemology, ethics, etcetera, etcetera, where all the root philosophical premises (epistemological premise; ethical premise, etc.) proceeding from the metaphysical primary are corollary to promote, affirm, and reinforce the primary (and therefore themselves) thus creating  what I call the Great Corollary…or the Many Truths (the premises) from the One Truth (the metaphysical primary).

Now, I know this explication is pretty abstruse (though less so if you follow my blog) and this is a function of the complexity of the subject.  And the reason, in large part, for this complexity is because the church has spent almost the entirely of its existence avoiding the question.  The substitution of truth by the Church, you see, with equivocation, tarted-up logical fallacy (contradiction explicated as Truth), mysticism, pagan and neo-pagan syncretism, despotic absolutism and collectivist authoritarianism, emotional blackmail and outright blackmail, spiritual manipulation, excuse-mongering, and plain old lying, has made getting to the truth of what God is, and thus what is meant by prayer to God, exceedingly more complicated and enigmatic than it ever needed to be if we could have avoided the past two thousand years of the intellectual error of the sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists and fools who have traditionally comprised Christianity’s ruling (priest) class.

If you have spent any time in the Church you will know, unless you are a child or have the spiritual mind of a child, or are blinded by or thoughtlessly committed to the Platonist propaganda which passes for truth there, that there simply does not exist any actual definition of God anywhere therein whatsoever.  And you will understand that this is precisely why no one in the church really knows what prayer is, means, or how to do it.  Oh, for certain there are some mildly clever attempts to provide a meaningful answer to the question “what is God?”, like “he’s the Creator”, which in reality tells us not what he IS but what he DOES, and this only vaguely and insufficiently; or we might hear “he is the Alpha and the Omega (first and last)”, which only obliquely describes his nature and utterly omits the relevant practical implications of such a claim, and does not describe how such a label has any meaning beyond the mere figurative and/or poetic.  Alpha and Omega implies an infinity of being, which is fine, but what is required, and omitted, is how one reconciles the paradox of an infinite Agent manifesting as somehow distinct (finite) in reality. I am not saying that such a paradox cannot be resolved, just that the church has never done so…and will NEVER do so.

Next, of course, we have the extra-biblical assertion that God is a “Trinity”…the “Three in One”—whatever that means.  And don’t bother asking, because NO ONE knows.  If you do dare put on your hazmat suit and wade into the fetid abyss of Christian apologetics and ask about the “Trinity” you will get a smorgasboard of  equivocation amounting to, in practicality, a big fat shrug.  All explanations of the Trinity are designed to dazzle, not inform, because the church realized some five hundred years ago that explaining a rank contradiction in terms was impossible, even with all the divine clarivoyance of the whole medieval priest class, including the Pope with his magic tin can and string direct to God.  Back then, of course, demurring from the orthodox interpretation of God as Trinity was apt to get one murdered for heresy.  Today, murder is not the church discipline de jure, as much as the modern priest class would ABSOLUTELY embrace that power being that it is entirely consistent with Christianity’s doctrinal premises, however, disagreeing with the unbiblical notion of God as “Three in One” indeed marks you as an outcast and a troublemaker, unsaved and evil, denying even the most basic of God’s “truths”.

And here’s something else about the Trinity, as long as we are on the subject…and this relates to my overall point in the article here anyway.  I submit that the doctrine of the Trinity is a thinly veiled ADMISSION that Christian orthodoxy has absolutely no idea what God is or how to describe his nature.  Thus, a contradiction in terms (Three which is simultaneously One) has become the final word on God’s essence…and it is assumed that  this makes him somehow awesome as opposed to ridiculous.  We are supposed be inspired to literal and figurative prostration at the thought of our Creator as that which man cannot possibly fathom by any cognitive faculty or conceptual framework.

And herein lies the whole damn problem.

In an effort to make God astonishingly vast and complex, and thus to inspire man to worship and tremble at his feet, Christianity has instead made him a farce—an arrant joke—by placing him utterly beyond anything rational, and thus (and most abominable) playing straight into the hands of his those who mock and scorn his existence.  God defined as “Three in One” creates an interpretation of the Father which has been punted beyond man’s cognitive, conceptual, and intellectual frame of reference.  By defining God as a contradiction, Christianity has ensured that man cannot possibly apply the Father’s existence to reality in any way at all, making him utterly irrelevant to man, and exchanging practical and rational theology for mysticism, superstition, spiritual despotism, and willful ignorance; and making these things virtues whilst mocking, condemning, and murdering as heretics those who nurture a pure, holy, innocent, and RATIONAL desire to know him.

And finally, it would do us all well to remember that the madness known as the doctrine of the Trinity saw its Protestant canonization punctuated with murder when the scoundrel and false teacher, John Calvin, had Michael Servitus burned at the stake for rejecting it.  And this is the spiritual primordium from which today’s Christians claim to know God?!  I think not.  Look not to the church, my friends.  God is not known there.  The church has ghosts, but they are not holy.

Needless to say, then, since Christianity contains within all its disputations, catechisms, liturgies, and doctrinal interpretations no description of God which may pass for even a remedial or marginally realistic definition of the the nature of the Almighty, it clearly cannot provide a definition of prayer to him, nor how one should pray, nor what one should pray for, nor when, nor what one may expect with regards to its efficacy and outcomes.

*

So what is prayer? Well, I will tell you…understanding that this is a summary.  Giving full attention to such a topic would, I think, necessarily fill volumes.

Prayer is an extension of man’s right not to be governed by deterministic cause and effect (cause and effect being purely an abstract rendering of what is an entirely relative relationship between objects when excluding the presence of the observer).  Prayer is an extension of man’s existence as a function not of abstract natural law, but of reason.  Reason extends beyond the mere physical/ontic parameters of the “laws of physics”, and demands that reality accommodate man’s RATIONAL will.  And this either by man’s physical OR metaphysical extension of himself.  That is, either by his hands or by his rational will—his understanding of his intrinsic right to witness his rational desires BEYOND those hands; that man’s will as it controls the object known as his body may likewise control ALL of that which is rationally obligated to affirm his absolute Self.  And because prayer is an expression of man’s categorical right to his own rational and absolute existence, he need not ask or entreat or beg or bargain with reality.  He commands it.  And then it shall obey.  God, you see, then, is not the worker of the effects of man’s prayer.  MAN, himself, is.  God, however, being an extension of the rational/moral (rationality and morality being corollary) existence of man (or, rendered more allegorically, he is Father and man is Son) is man’s PARTNER in manifesting the outcomes of that which is commanded.

END

Rethinking Prayer: Asking or telling? (Part ONE)

Prayer is both a thing and a concept with which I have struggled for quite some time now.  Probably like you, I have had my share of answered prayers, and also my share of unanswered ones.  And this I think naturally leads one to consider the actual efficacy and legitimacy of prayer.  If we observe that prayer is only inconsistenty answered at best, then how can we not say that perhaps it is the mere cause and effect machinations of normal reality and is nothing of prayer?  I would think this not only reasonable but obvious.  If prayer only inconsistently effects change as we may observe it, then it’s logical to assume that what’s really going on has nothing to do with prayer at all, but is merely a matter of probability.

For example, I have chosen to fly on airplanes dozens of times, and I’ve prayed for each flight, and all have landed safely.  However, to call this an example of “answered prayer” is, in fact, quite a stretch of logic since statistics clearly show that the percentage of flights that crash is so very low relative to how many flights have taken place in history.  This makes “safe flight” much more likely a function of human engineering favorably manipulating the probability of a safe outcome rather than divine intervention.  The safety of the flights may have something to do with answered prayer, but how can one really know? The only way to know even mildly is if one observed that all his prayers were answered all the time…and even this would be logically subjective, but at least it would make a strong circumstantial case. Logically subjective perhaps, unless we are speaking strictly of the miraculous, but certainly compelling.

My thinking on the matter of prayer has  evolved through several iterations.  I went through the neophyte version of God-as-genie when I was a kid…but not quite so disrespectful as that sounds.  My prayers as a young person were never overtly  irrational…I prayed to be ignored by bullies at school—or, as I like to refer to them:  the bastard spawn of the mass dysfunctional family wreckage which hallmarks  the worst generation in history:  the Baby Boomers—to recover from illness, to do well on exams.  That sort of thing.  I remember God being quite gracious back then, but this is perhaps just the positive memories of childhood rising to the top.  Maybe God answered my prayers, but as I had no rational working definition of God back then (most Christians don’t, in fact) I really couldn’t say.

During my fifteen years as a neo-Calvinist in the cult of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) I brushed up against the congnitive dissonance of prayer as it relates to object and abject divine determinism.  This view of prayer makes it merely ritualistic, signifying nothing of any real efficacy, since all things are up to God anyway, so it goes, and he has already decided what to do with everyone, from birth unto hell or heaven, whichever you happen to get.  You’ll never really know until the day God disposes of you into one or the other eternal receptical.

Is that just a peach of a belief?  And yet this is where most Christains today tread water with respect to prayer…in this arrant folly of reason.  And don’t let them tell you they don’t actually believe this.  If you are BORN evil, which is precisely orthodox when it coms to the Christian interpretation of man’s nature, then you are entirely insufficient to any good thing, and this includes knowing the difference between good and evil.  And since this knowledge is the root of ethics (how man values what he knows), and ethics is inexorably tied to epistemology (how man knows what he knows), then the eradication of man’s moral compass by the doctrine of “original sin” completely wrecks man’s ability to know anything at all.  Thus, God must necessarily determine man to his eventual eternal destiny, regardless if he be “saved” or not, because man, once you tease out the doctrine to its logical conclusion, is utterly mindless.  You may go to church and follow all the commandments and abstain from all worldly temptations and throw out your television and excoriate the idea of modern technology as merely the devil’s distraction, but to think that you can know you are saved…that somehow you, who is rotten to core from birth, can know the mind of God and what his grand plan is for you is something that in a different time would have gotten you burned at the stake.

And thus you see the implicit evil behind the notion of prayer as merely a ritual we do because God commands it: salvation is not a thing the church can offer.  It’s a lie.  No one knows where they will end up, be they found in church on Sunday or in a whore house.  The advertisement that there is actual salvation to be gained in the church is the greatest bait-and-switch scam ever perpetrated upon man.

This abysmal version of prayer never really took hold in me.  I always found it terribly specious..and while I paid lip service to it, not wanting to cause a stir (SGM doesn’t take doctrinal disagreement with much levity…regardless of the degree, it’s pretty much stomped out with ferocity), I used to despise it when people would pray for me and top it off with “if it be thy will, Lord”.  Because that presupposed that God had already decided what should happen to me, and that what I wanted and intended was besides the point.  And this is the crux of what I want to talk about in this article.  The notion that what I desire for my life through prayer is infinitely subordinated to an outside will, even God’s, doesn’t sit well with me.  Not because I crave control, or lust sinfully and selfishly after what is God’s power alone, but because it is at root utterly irrational.  If God has predetermined for me my experiences, and possesses the ultimate veto on all my choices, and shall tell me whether or not my prayers contain any merit whatsoever, then what is the point of prayer?  What is the point of my having any ideas at all about anything?  God will do what God will do…my very existence then becomes entirely meaningless.  My mind is an illusion of a mind which cannot actually exist because it’s infinitely irrelevant.  And this is a contradiction in terms.  And I may not know everything about God, but I know this:  He cannot be God if his very existence is utterly incompatible to my own, or vice versa, and if what he asks of his children contradicts itself, thus rendering the very words he uses to communicate himself and his intentions utterly meaningless.

But even more superficial than all of that…I mean, we can get into the root philosophical contradictions, and that’s its own brand of fun, but we can put it in more pedestrian terms:  Would you continue to ask favors of someone who has told you to freely ask him favors if you never knew whether or not your favors would be granted; if there were all these stipulations about what could be asked for and when and how and that it really wasn’t going to be up to you and that you couldn’t be trusted to know what you really wanted or needed, and therefore the asking of favors became this tedious and exasperating task of self-examination and naval gazing and groveling and bemoaning your own infinite existential inadequacy and ignorance, and then when confronted with a desperate circumstance like a child with a terminal illness or the loss of a career or a sexual assault you found yourself groveling and prostrating yourself before this giver-of-favors, wailing and begging him to just this once give you relief; and then to forgive you for thinking what YOU want actually matters?  In other words, you are told to ask favors, but then told that you don’t possess the intrinsic wisdom or foresight to know which favors should be asked for.  So favor-asking becomes this giant farce…a facade of love.  Because the giver of favors is going to do whatever he’s going to do whether you ask for it or not.

Needless to say, most of us, if presented with such a clearly ludicrous waste of time would pass on it, and many of us wouldn’t hesitate to scold the snake oil salesman for his wicked deception.  Nevertheless, this is what prayer has become.  It is nothing more than the dance of a medicine man around the fire of primitive, polytheistic superstition.

So what, at root, is the error?  Okay.  Wait for it.  And prepare to be scandalized.

We ask instead of tell.  We politely request instead of demand an answer to our prayers, which I submit as children of God, with all the responsibilities and complexities and challenges that this implies, is our divine birthright.

Now hold on. Let me explain (in part two). This is not without its reason; it comes with much understanding and responsibility.  I promise, it is not a return to the genie in the bottle.

End (Part ONE)

Debating Most Christians is Basically Pointless

Here’s why debating (orthodox) Christians is so tedious, and virtually impossible to do productively:

[NOTE: When I refer to Christians I am speaking of the orthodox variety, not those like myself who differ categorically with almost every doctrinal premise and Biblical interpretation found in the Church today, from Original Sin to Christ’s Resurrection.]

“Faith” by Christian definition contains no null hypothesis.  What this means is that the doctrinal premises Christians accept and assert are not beholden to any sort of rationally consistent plumb line.  Indeed, I submit that for a Christian to accept that reason is efficacious, or even worse, NECESSARY, to “God’s Truth”, is heresy, at least implicitly.  Faith is beyond reason because God is beyond reason, so it is assumed.

This is of course entirely false, as God is, I would argue, perhaps THE most rational Ideal out there when defined correctly (“correctly” meaning: In a way which does not endemically contradict him). Anyway, the relevance of this is that it is impossible for the rational person to disprove Christian doctrinal assertions or interpretations because proof by definition is a matter of reason…of consistency and non-contradiction.  And reason is mutually exclusive of  “faith”.  Of course this also makes it impossible for the Christian to prove HIS assertions.  The standard of disproof for the critic is also the standard of proof for the Christian (and vice versa).  And this is another reason why debating Christians on matters of doctrine and interpretation is an almost entirely fruitless enterprise.

Here’s the paradox:  In order to truly debate a Christian, the Christian must have first ALREADY rejected the “no null hypothesis” root of their arguments.  And this necessarily means to reject those arguments, in essence, which equals a rejection of the doctrinal premises and interpretations—as these simply do not survive alongside a null hypothesis.  In either case, null hypothesis or none, the debate is pretty much over before it begins.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that debating Christians is a complete and categorical waste of time; there is a lot to be said for the manner in which persons engage one another.  You might be surprised at how successfully you can evangelize a Christian by simply not being a dick about things. (In other words, don’t model your approach after asshats like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whose patronizing and irascible manner could turn off the Devil himself (and they are both completely wrong about everything, by the way…they pat themselves on the back for dismantling the object farce that passes for Biblical doctrine in orthodox Christianity—a task even my 10 year-old can do with facility—and think they are actually dismantling the scriptures, themselves…embarrassing.) But don’t expect to dazzle Christians with logic.  They punted that away a long time ago.

END

Argument From Authority: the Christian’s go-to move

Last week I had a heady discussion/debate with a friend of mine at the home-school cooperative my children attend.  Beginning with some marginally interesting/relevant social issues, in particular the NFL kneeling-for-the-anthem controversy, and then proceeding in due course to the meatier topics of Christian theology and doctrine, it went on for well-over an hour.  Happily, we found ourselves in agreement about a great many things.  It was turning out to be quite the satisfying and encouraging yarn.

Or so it seemed.

In reality, I suppose it was no real shock to discover that we actually had nothing in common, theologically speaking.  Since my full-on commitment to heterodoxy seven years ago, I have had these sorts of conversations with Christians—99% of whom are orthodox—many, many times.  And they ALWAYS end the same way.  Always, always, always.  Without fail; without distinction; without caveat; without ambiguity; without doubt.

Any theology/doctrine discussion, given enough time, will eventually terminate at metaphysics: the nature of reality; the nature of man.  And once we get down to metaphysics, there are really only two directions you can go:  Reason or Mystery.  That is, do we define man according to an innate existential ability to apprehend Truth, make moral distinctions, and then choose good over evil (or vice versa); or do we define him as merely an epiphenomenon…his consciousness and his will merely an illusion, purely a function of some great, transcendent determinative Force, which we may define as God (or the gods, or the Universal Mind, or Natural Law/Evolution, and so on)?  In other words, can man truly KNOW by what means and to what measure he exists, and can he be certain of what is true and what is not, and from that what is good and what is not, and from that CHOOSE on his own behalf to manifest his existence in a way that is utterly and objectively REAL? Or is Truth infinitely beyond him, because he is not, at essence, himself, but a direct function of some Ultimate Power which controls all things, as all things are, in fact, an absolute function of this Power, Itself.

I don’t expect it will come as any surprise to learn that my friend ultimately appeals to mystery metaphysics.  He is, after all, a consummately orthodox Christian, whereas I have rejected orthodoxy on the grounds that it indeed projects this very brand of metaphysics.  I have rejected the idea that real knowledge is the knowledge that one cannot ever actually know.  And any definition of God which makes everything fundamentally an extension of Himself by hermeneutically wrecking the distinctions between Him and the iterations of His creation, is at root an appeal to Nothing as the root of Truth.  Because if everything IS God, then we cannot ever actually know what God is…because we cannot tell what He is not.  It’s like when we are told that nothing happens which God does not allow.  If this is true, then human choice is impossible for obvious reasons.  And if human choice is impossible, then knowledge is meaningless, which makes “knowledge” itself a contradiction in terms, and thus makes it impossible to KNOW God.  Which means you cannot declare that nothing happens which God does not allow.  Because…who is God?  Shrug.  That’s a mystery.

Now, this is all interesting and is all well and good, but it’s not really the point of this article.  The point of the article is to examine the way in which my friend defended a particular metaphysical assertion towards the end of our discussion.  I questioned the veracity of his claim that man was “fallen” and that God did not consider any “unregenerate” person’s actions to be moral, regardless of whether or not they WERE, in fact, moral. In other words, my friend conceded that man is born with the innate capacity to apprehend Truth and is therefore capable of making moral choices, but that as far as God is concerned, ALL the choices of those who have not confessed Christ as Savior are evil choices.

I demured, saying that if God decides that what is moral is in fact immoral, then he has contradicted Himself by contradicting reason.  How can God value Himself as Good whilst at the same time denouncing man’s good choices—whether he is “unregenerate” or not—as being fundamentally evil?  No God worth his name would conflate evil with good and then have the audacity and lack of self-awareness enough to simultaneously proclaim Himself a MORAL being,  Furthermore, if ALL of man’s choices are evil, then man can never be in a position to accept Christ as Savior, because THAT choice is, to Christians, the apogee of moral action.  God must choose FOR man.

So…let me get this straight.  God must choose Himself, BY (or OF) Himself (that is, from His own will), and somehow this means that man, who has absolutely nothing to do with THAT Choice can now make choices that God now considers to be moral?

Er…

I’m sorry, but this kind of theology is madness, and doesn’t come within a thousand miles of reasonable.  It’s magical thinking…the stuff of children’s fairy tales and old wives tales and superstition.

And yet, what did my friend say in reply?

Exactly what you’d expect.

”But, that’s Bible.”

And that, my friends, is called an argument from authority.  And it is the Christian’s go-to move whenever they find themselves backed into a theological corner.  Always.

You see, it doesn’t matter that the idea is completely devoid of reason, and that it is impossible to explain because how do explain a square circle?  How do you convince someone with words that black is simultaneously white or that up is down or that a bird is a cloud?  You don’t.  Because there are no words for such a task.  Words are the audible expression of ideas, which can only exist if contradiction is excluded from the process of formulating the concepts which are connected together to form those ideas.  If A is NOT distinct from B then neither can be said to exist.  Man cannot express “tree” if “tree” also means “shoe”.

Once Authority has been injected into the discussion, then there IS NO LONGER any discussion because words have become entirely meaningless.  You accept what the Bible says because it’s the Bible and because it’s the Bible you accept what it says.  This is a tautology, and it specifically falls under the category of “argument from authority”.

You see, the argument from authority removes any “why?” from the equation.  There is NO “WHY?” because Authority is FORCE, absolutely, and therefore becomes its own “why?”.  To ask why is to assume you have the right to have something explained to you…but that explanation has been punted entirely out of the realm of Truth.  You OBEY, you don’t ask questions.

So what my friend did, and I like to think unwittingly, is completely nullify the hour of discussion that preceded his declaration that what is an utterly ridiculous, impossible, and intellectually treasonous description of man’s metaphysical state is nevertheless true because the Bible says it.

Well, A, no the Bible doesn’t say it…YOU say it.  I know the Bible, and I can assure you that it makes no such assertion, period.  Full stop.  THAT foolish and evil metaphysic has been smuggled into the pages of the Bible by the gnostic paganist roots of the Augustine/Luther/Calvin theological death cult.  And B, according to your very own admission, the Bible cannot actually say anything because clearly words don’t matter.  The Bible is force, and therefore is not obligated to EXPLAIN a damn thing to you or me or anyone else.  The Bible is nothing more than an idol or a talisman which demands your categorical obedience under threat of terrible punishment.  So how dare you deign to attempt to explain it to me.  How dare you decide that it SAYS something…as if the Sword “says” anything other than “obey or die”.  As if meaning matters.

And this…was sad.  The whole conversation was a bust, I believe.  His declaration was a tacit admission that he has no real interest in what he says he believes, let alone in convincing me of its rational and intellectual integrity.  The point of Christianity is to force the world to obey, nothing more.  Which in actual fact makes its theological apologetics of no more relevance nor interest than any old random jumble of words.  The entirety of Christian orthodoxy has been reduced to mere mouth noises.

So the next time someone says “But, it’s Bible”, take a glance upwards.  See up there?  That’s where you’ll find the guillotine dangling when the political conclusions of that statement are finally realized.

END

 

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.