Category Archives: Determinism

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.

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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.

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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

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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)

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Contradiction:

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

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

Example:

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

Mystery:

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

Example (of Mystery):

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

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

Paradox:

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

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

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

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

Example:

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

END

There is No Such Rational Thing as Amoral Reality…it is Impossible

For something to be true, it must have value. Hence, for reality to be real—as reality and truth are in the existential and ontological sense equivalent—it must have value. And by value we mean a degree of moral worth…the degree to which it affirms the reference for reality.  That is, reality is only relevant if it has relevance TO that which can give it meaning or purpose…that is, the Observer—the individual, like you and me. Reality and morality are corollary. This is because reality, for it to be defined meaningfully (relevantly and efficaciously) as such, requires a conscious (self-aware) Observer—one who conceptualizes, and integrates concepts to create ideas. But determinism—any flavor of determinism (e.g. scientific platonism; Christian platonism—which is basically the whole of protestant and catholic orthodoxy) rejects this. It asserts reality, truth, meaning without value. This is completely irrational. It is a total lie.

Why Athiesm is Exclusive of Morality

Morality and ethics are not equivalent.  Morality is, in fact, simply a TYPE of ethics. Therefore it can be logically asserted that not all ethics are moral.

The other day I was watching a debate between Walter Block and Stefan Molyneux, both atheists and libertarians, on the Non-Aggression Principle, a specious code of libertarian ethics that includes both morality and legality.  Which…should tell you right there that libertarians either A. Haven’t thought their premises through, or B. They HAVE thought them through and simply don’t see the contradictions.  I’m not sure which is worse.

You can’t do that.  You either have moral ethics or you have legal eithics.  You can’t have both.  You cannot ethically obligate man to BOTH obedience AND choice.  Man cannot be free to choose how he shall act AND be forced to obey a legal code under pain of punishment.  And this is just one of several disturbing rational contradictions evident in libertarianism.  It may not be the most egregious, but it’s certainly rank.

During the course of the debate, the topic of morality came up, naturally, and Walter said something that was quite startling to me, and quite interesting as well.  He said he “didn’t understand this morality thing”…or something to that effect…if not those words exactly then it was pretty darn close. And it got me asking myself.  Does Walter not “get morality” because he’s a libertarian, or because he’s an atheist? Or both?

Well, I figured it couldn’t be libertarianism because libertarianism asserts the existence of moral behavior. So that left me with atheism…as a hypothesis, I mean. I understand there could be other reasons, like ignorance or personal experience or a different definition of what constitutes libertarianism, but going on what I can truly know for a fact about the man—that he’s an admitted atheist, and having some understanding of what that means in the formal sense—I decided to examine atheism.  I had some free time on my hands…my daughter was in a two hour dance class, so I slouched down on the stiff leather couch in the waiting room and had a think.

And it hit me.  The Christians are right.  Atheists cannot define morality.  Atheism, in fact, utterly precludes morality. Now don’t get me wrong, Christianity (as practiced by Christians in the Augustinian sense, which is pretty much all of it) precludes morality, too, and for the same fundamental reasons, just with different semantics.  But of course in this article we are discussing atheism.

Without going into the minutia of metaphysical premises (reality from fantasy) leading to epistemological conclusions (truth from lie) leading to ethical principles (right from wrong), I will, to keep things relatively short and accessible here, simply define the terms this way:  Morality is an Ethic which is referenced to the individual; Legality is an ethic which is referenced to the Law. At the root level of Ethical principles these two are completely incompatible, for the reasons I gave above. Man cannot be ethically obligated to both choice and obedience.  Moral action demands man choose his behavior for himself.  Legal action demands he obey an authority which dictates behavior.  In other words, morality is chosen good and legality is dictated good.

Morality demands thus that man must own himself, based on the premise that the individual—the Self qua Self (the singularity of “I”)—is the epistemological reference.  Reality is true because the individual is the Constant—that is, the reference for truth—which in turn makes the individual also the reference for ethics, as epistemology and ethics are corollary (truth has meaning and meaning has value; meaning is epistemology and value—the extent to which a thing is considered good—is ethics).

Legality on the other hand demands that an authority—the most obvious example being the state—must own the individual, based on the premise that there is no such thing as the Self qua Self, but that the individual is a function or product of some external-to-the-Self process or power, which makes epistemology and ethics entirely beyond the individual’s INDIVIDUAL (singular and conscious) frame of reference.  These processes or powers can be anything from the Laws of Nature or Physics to God’s Divine Will ex nihilo to some form of collectivist Ideal—the Nation, the Race, the People, the Workers, the Church, the Chosen, the Enlightened, etc.. Man thus, as an individual and the singular consciousness which he possesses (manifest through the natural use of the pronoun “I”), is an illusion, and all his thoughts and his will are therefore irrelevant and, more importantly, inadequate to EXISTENCE. This being the case, he must be compelled into ethical behavior by force.  And so with legal ethics, man’s obligation is obedience to the law, the law being whatever principle(s) the authority has decided to codify so that the metaphysical premise (natural law, collectivist Ideal, etc.) can be practically (socially) implemented. The law then is dictated in order that man can know those behaviors which he must perform, upon threat of punishment, in order to properly exist.  As a side note, notice the inherent irony here.  Man is given a law so that he can know how to behave. But if he needs a law to know how to behave then obviously “knowing” is an activity for which he is entirely insufficient.  The whole point of the law is to circumvent what I call the collectivist or determinist “Lie of Man”…that is, his irrational and illusory consciousness.  Thus, appeals to his “knowing how to act” are entirely hypocritical.  And you get this from Christians all the time, too, it’s not just a statist thing.  Man needs God to tell him what to do. But if God needs to tell man what to do then it’s implied that man cannot fundamentally know what to do on his own, which really means that he cannot know truth for himself.  In which case, he cannot really know ANYTHING, so God telling him what to do is hypocritical, irrational, and pointless.  Not exactly the characteristics of God I would pick, but that’s just me.

With moral ethics, man’s ethical obligation is to the individual. Thus, he himself, being an individual, is the ethical reference, and so he cannot obey a law OUTSIDE of himself, but instead CHOOSES to act in ethical ways within the context of his individual, not collective, existence.  That is, ways which do not violate the individual (and we will save the specific explication of what those ways are for another article). In short, moral ethics demand choice and preclude obedience; legal ethics demand obedience and preclude choice.

And, by the by, obedience is NOT a choice, or a form thereof.  You cannot choose to obey; because if you are choosing, then obedience is a moot concept; and vice verse.

*

I submit that atheism cannot be moral because it cannot recognize the existence of the individual qua the individual. Atheism MUST appeal to empiricism as a means of defining reality. For an atheist to assert that reality is rooted in anything other than the tangible, the observable, and the material is to assert that reality must be INTERPRETED, which means to appeal to a power or truth—that which provides and defines the interpretive lens—beyond what can be known by human observation. And as soon as we concede that reality is interpreted, not de facto as it presents itself ostensibly, then we must concede the reality of such an underlying power or truth. We could even claim it “transcendent”. Such a power/truth can indeed RATIONALLY be called “God”, whether it be God in the Christian sense—that is, in the sense of a deterministic, omnipotent, creative and causal agent—or simply as a general reference to that which utterly informs reality beyond mere perception.  In either case, “God” is a perfectly acceptable nomenclature for such a thing, despite the fact that most atheists, being on the whole average thinkers like most people, usually only think of  “God” in the narrow religious orthodox sense.

Now, here is where I will need to get a bit technical, because Athiests are very specific—pedantic even—about their definitions, so bear with me.

It is impossible that one concede the existence of an aforementioned power or truth whilst simultaneously claiming a lack of a belief in God.  Now, the reason I put it this way—a LACK of belief—and not merely a disbelief, has to do with how atheists, themselves, specify their position. Atheists do not disbelieve, as they explain it, but they LACK belief.  It may seem a merely semantic difference, but it’s actually quite profound. To disbelieve is to say that God does not exist. To lack belief is to say that God CANNOT exist.

“Does not” implies that whatever you’re referring to possesses some kind of underlying ability to act, making “ability” a possible root metaphyscial premise. But “cannot” takes ability out of the metaphysical equation. You see, if a thing doesn’t do existence, the subtle implication is that it DOES do other things. This naturally legitimizes the thing by tacitly conceding its inherent it power to act. Which in turn tacitly subordinates existence to the power to act, rendering the claim that it does not exist of no fundamental significance. But if a thing CANNOT exist, then there is no tacit concession that it does something else because “doing”, or “ability to do” never factors into the claim.  In other words, “does not” metaphysically subordinates existence to ability, whereas “cannot” makes ability existentially moot, and thus ipso facto makes existence the metaphysical premise, which is important since the whole point of atheism is to propagate the idea that God’s existence is a lie. If “existence” isn’t the plumbline for reality and truth, then atheism itself is basically irrelevant. Again, it’s technical, but VERY, VERY important, and allows us to make some extremely important assumptions about atheism, particularly with respect to morality.

When atheists claim that God CANNOT exist they are tacitly admitting that they define reality as entirely empirical. How on earth can they KNOW that God cannot exist? How on earth can they demand that only the theist is on the hook for giving proof for his assertions?  Simple. Because the atheist accepts only an empirical framework for reality. They make a metaphysical assertion and then demand that everyone accept it or they reject your ideas out of hand. This is an example of incredible intellectual dishonesty and hubris, not to mention hypocrisy, but it explains why their platform is first and foremost established upon a negative—what they DON’T believe, or beliefs they lack, instead of what they do or have. And why they focus on being disproved instead of proving themselves. It’s easy to claim a metaphysical primary and demand everyone agree to it. It’s much more difficult to prove your metaphysic and make THAT, not merely what doesn’t fit into it, the root of your movement.

*

Atheism by its very nature must assume that reality is empirical.

Now, merely proclaiming empirical reality doesn’t ACTUALLY EXPLAIN anything with respect to reality. Saying reality is empirical is a metaphyscial premise; the reasoning behind it is what matters, though. And this is why I have told atheists a thousand times that I don’t care about what the don’t believe, or what beliefs they lack, but what they DO…and by that I mean I want to know specifically WHY they believe that I should accept THEIR metaphysic. “Observation is truth” is not, itself, an argument. At all.

“Seeing is believing” begs the question: Seeing what? Of course, atheists cannot ultimately rely on concepts generated by mere human consciousness to define things, as consciousness not only says a tree is a tree but also spawns fantastical and irrational notions like “God”.  Consciousness is much too subjective, in other words, to provide an objective definition of what IS. Thus, atheists instead appeal what they accept as empirical systems of measurement, such as the scientific method, which allows the observable to be organized mathematically in order to give specific things common values…values which then can be transferred from one object to another, and from one place and time to another, with predictable results.

But find it a remarkable oversight of reason and common sense to presume, as atheists do, that A. Mathematics, though an utterly cognitive process, is somehow outside of human consciousness, and B. That mathematics is somehow a part of observable reality, when it exists precisely to translate the observable into ABSTRACT terms. And that’s translate, not transliterate. But I’m not sure they understand the difference.

It is so strange to me that atheists do not understand the scientific method and mathematics are a product of human consciousness. And to compound the flaw, this allows scientists to commit blatant fallacy by making the observer a product of what he observes. Somehow mathematics gets exempt from human consciousness and exists “outside” of man, even though it, like “God”, is, in such a context, infinite, omnipotent, and thus, utterly beyond the scope of human perception.

But what’s a little hypocrisy going to hurt, right? After all, 99% objective truth to a paltry 1% contradiction is a ratio that any reasonable person can live with. We can’t be expected to know everything? I mean, in our own narrow dimension and with a whole multiverse thing going on out there the complete truth is bound to be to some degree a perpetual mystery, right?

Hmmm. Now where have I heard that before?

Oh yeah. In church.

Anyway, the point I’m making is that empiricism naturally leads to science and mathematics as atheism’s de facto apologetics given that these are understood to be the plumbline for what constitutes objective reality.  And thus the assumption is that at root reality can ONLY be valued by mathematical measurement.  Math, the “language of the universe”, becomes for the atheist, the ghost in the machine…what gives all things their true essence. And yet somehow, in this case, it’s perfectly rational and empirical to believe in spirits. Through the  “Holy Ghost” of mathematics man can somehow know and define himself OUTSIDE of himself, which proves that there is no actual “outside” of himself at all, because “himself” is just a fluke. An illusion.  All things that ARE exist empirically and objectively. And “empirical” and “objective” do NOT include you qua you.

It’s an amazing display of rational gymnastics. Believe me, it’s not a trite, cute little argument to say that it takes as much faith to be an atheist as it does to believe in God.  It’s an axiom.

*

Because atheism = science = mathematics = scientific determinism, there can be no morality compatible with atheism because atheism precludes choice. It makes consciousness a product of natural law, which renders the individual’s will moot.  Thus, ethics cannot imply moral responsibility because determinism is about what you MUST do, not what you SHOULD do. And what you MUST do is an obligation, and obligation is not choice, but OBEDIENCE. He who is obligated to act in a certain way—because he is not a willful but a DETERMINED creature—cannot then be called “good” for acting that way. From the atheist’s point of view, you don’t choose to act, you simply act.  And the way in which you act you MUST act. You are FORCED to act by powers beyond the illusion of your Self. And this being the case, whatever you do, then, is ethical by definition. It’s not moral…that is, it cannot be given a value of good or bad, or right or wrong. But it is behavior that affirms the metaphyscial premise, and thus it IS ethical.  It is what is necessary; what is SUPPOSED to be.

The “natural law” of atheism thus necessarily strips morality from ethics.  And in the absence of morality, the only practical application of ethics is legality.  And this is why ethics debates amongst atheists like Stefan Molyneux and Walter Block are always centered either explicitly or implicitly around CODES of conduct…that is, ethical principles that are COLLECTIVE, applying to all men, because all men are, by virtue of natural law, ONE…that is, individuality becomes collective “oneness”. Ironic.

Some call these codes “laws”, and others, like Molyneux, call them “Universal Principles”. But they all mean one thing: obedience to authority. Atheists debate distinctions between “criminal behavior” and “moral behavior”, as if somehow these behaviors can co-exist at all, let alone in a single socio-political context. As I have already said, you can define behavior as legal or moral, ethically speaking, but you CANNOT define it as both. It is a rational impossibility.

Finally, I submit that since the notion of “law” implied by the empiricism of atheism is implicitly collectivist, any eithical system derived from atheism must also be collectivist. And collectivist ethics always manifest as an authority-submission dynamic, which demands that man COLLECTIVELY obey the law, not choose for himself to act morally.

Thus, atheism is tyranny.

Stefan Molyneux’s Noble Failure Definitively Explained: Why Universally Preferable Behavior is not a System of Ethics

Scattered within Stefan Molyneux’s voluminous monologues and conversations are references to his “defense of secular ethics” which he has organized into a formal work he calls “Universally Preferable Behavior” (UPB). I have taken issue with UPB before on this blog, but my arguments have never fully satisfied me.  But neither has UPB ever fully satisfied me either.

The more I thought about it, something continued to feel off…specious, about his arguments, yet for all my articles, I still struggled to put my finger definitely on the problem. For a while I was content to let the issue go, satisfied that I had rebuffed enough of Stefan’s ethical system to at least cast a reasonable doubt as to its rational consistency.  Still, the more I listened to Stefan and the more he promoted UPB to the various viewers and listeners of his podcast and YouTube channel, I felt compelled to put the issue to rest once and for all.  Stefan seemed (and seems) so confident that UPB is the answer to the problem of secular ethics, and yet the more he talked, the more confident I became that there was something seriously wrong with it. His arguments sounded reasonable, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was missing something crucial…that he was, as Sallah said to Indiana Jones, “digging in the wrong place”. So I put my nose to the grindstone, determined to root out the issue once and for all.

Here I go.

Stefan, a self-admitted atheist, argues, rightly, that atheistic philosophies inevitably boil down to hypocritical scientific determinism. He then also rightly points out that before atheistic philosophies can be considered fully legitimate, let alone provide any real value to humankind, they must address the problem of scientific determinism nullifying morality by removing will.  Because without will there is no moral choice.

Stefan attempts to correct this discrepancy by providing a “defense of secular ethics” through his own system, Universally Preferable Behavior (UPB).  He gives us, as he says, an ethical system “without God”.  Which is weird because what he really means is “without Authority”, because “God’s ethics” are the ethics of a supreme Authority which possesses the infinitely superior power to compel human behavior by force.  Interestingly, though, this ethic is adopted by ANYONE who concedes that the State is a legitimate means of organizing human behavior, as the State is such an authority.  Which naturally includes both those who hold secular beliefs and those who are religious, as anyone can see by merely perusing a cross section of the population of almost any nation on earth.

Stefan’s fundamental defense of his secular ethics is rooted in the following example: Stealing isn’t stealing if you WANT to be stolen from.  Stealing, he says, is not a mutual agreement.  Therefore, it cannot be preferred by all parties.  But, conversely, the voluntary exchange of property IS, and thus voluntary exchange of property IS a universally preferred ethic.  Of course, this argument also works if we substitute “theft” with fraud, murder, rape, etc., because “property” rationally includes one’s truth and one’s body, and this is how the example of theft can be extrapolated to apply to volition vs non-volition as the essence of ethics, which is implied by UPB. Stefan asserts that he’s successfully argued an ethic without God, because we can use pure human reason to prove that theft cannot be ethical because it cannot apply to all individuals at all times.  Corollary to this, voluntary exchange of property has simultaneously been proven to be ethical because it DOES apply to all individuals at all times.

But has Stefan really argued successfully for a UNIVERSAL ethic here?

No, he hasn’t. And here’s why:

Now, it is true that I cannot WANT you to take my property without permission because giving permission—which is implied by “wanting”—and not giving permission is a contradiction in terms.  The operative concept in Stef’s example is not really “theft”, then, but “permission”.

You see, the concept of theft inherently assumes the existence (reality) and legitimacy (morality) of private property.  The fact that I cannot WANT you to steal from me doesn’t have anything to do with theft, in particular, at all.  “Theft” is merely one of virtually any activity you could use in Stef’s example, because when I say that I cannot want you to steal from me I’m merely saying that I cannot give permission for a thing and NOT give permission for a thing at the same time.  I cannot both give you permisssion and not give you permission to mow my lawn, or to sell me a teapot, or to offer me a cookie, or to tell me your favorite color.  In other words, Stefan makes “theft” the primary issue and sews a whole Ethic out of it, when the primary issue is really the implied contradiction in “desired theft”—the inability to want and not want/to give permission and not give permission at the same time.  “I want you to take without permission that which can only be given with permission” is not a root of Ethics but merely a contradiction in terms. Period.

The very claim that “I want you to steal from me” implies that the speaker assumes that private property exists, and thus he must ALREADY accept it as legitimate.  You see, if I say that I think theft should be ethical I’ve already implicitly contradicted myself by legitimizing  private property through my very use—and thus corollary acceptance of its meaning—of the concept of “theft”.  Through the concept of theft I concede the existence and legitimacy of private property, thus OBVIOUSLY I cannot also claim that theft should be ethical.  That is, I’ve already conceded, by calling theft by its name, that it is UNETHICAL by tacitly admitting the existence of private property.  The contradiction of desired theft, is, as I stated above, the contradiction of “giving permission” whilst simultaneously “not giving permission”.  Desired theft is nothing more than the contradiction that says private property isn’t private.

There is nowhere else to take the idea of “desired theft” beyond the contradiction. The contradiction is its own end.  By definition contradictions are circular and thus nothing can be inferred.  You cannot formulate an entire ethical system from that which is meaningless. All you can do is simply point out its meaninglessness. The fact that theft cannot be universally preferred is not an ethical claim but merely the stating of the obvious fact that it is a contradiction in terms to say that both private property AND theft are moral.

*

Not stealing can only be a universal ethic if we accept the existence and legitimacy of private property. But if we don’t, then the “universally preferable behavior” of not stealing is meaningless.  If I reject the existence and legitimacy of private property then there is no such thing as an ethic of “not stealing” because according to my philosophy there can be no such thing as stealing in the first place.

What Stefan is arguing is simply that private property exists and thus has legitimacy, and thus is ethical, and in HIS SPECIFIC philosophical context theft MUST be unethical and illegitimate in order to be rationally consistent TO the philosophy as a whole. Which is fine, but again, this point holds no relevance for those who reject private property. UPB is not a rebuttal of divine ethics, it is really an obvious and unremarkable commentary on his own personal ethical beliefs and implicitly appealing to a metaphysical premise he never explains.  Those who believe that God fundamentally owns everything and IS everything don’t believe in private property.  They don’t have any real frame of reference for theft, so they don’t care that it’s an ethical contradiction in Stef’s personal belief system. In other words, Stefan’s “universally preferred willful value exchange” cannot possibly be preferred by those who do not concede the existence of private property. And this is why universally preferable behavior is not in fact universally preferable. It’s only CONDITIONALLY preferable. It depends on your metaphysics.

Now, the problem isn’t that Stefan’s implicit claim that private property exists is necessarily false, the problem is that he extracts an ethic from a metaphysical assumption that must be accepted BEFORE the ethics can then be said to be universal.  That is, the problem is with the use of the term “universal” to describe an ethic that is only universal to people who concede the same metaphysical premises Stefan does. To call your ethics UNIVERSALLY preferable without first proving your metaphysics is to implicitly demand that people accept your metaphysics before you’ve actually proved them. This smacks of arrogance.

Further, it’s uneccesary and presumptuous AND contradictory to refer to your ethics, or anything about your philosophy at all for that matter, as universal. If your metaphysics are truly consistent then your ethics are true. Nothing else should be said. Period. I mean, Universally Preferable Ethics implies a Universally Preferable Reality,  because you don’t get ethics without metaphysics first. But Universally Preferable Reality is simply another contradiction in terms…on top of the arrogance. “Reality is Universal” is redundant, and thus the universal ethics stemming from this universal reality then are also redundant. So, if reality is universal (redundancy) and thus the ethics are universal (redundancy) then preference is impossible (contradiction). Any way you slice it, it doesn’t work.

To conclude: Stefan’s argument isn’t really that theft is unethical, but that private property EXISTS.  But “private property exists” is not an ethical claim, it’s a metaphysical one.  And believe me, “Universally Preferable Reality” is an entirely different ball of wax…not to mention an inherent contradiction. In summary, Stefan is digging in the wrong place. He’s thinks he’s rooting around in ethics when he is really in the land of metaphysics.

Metaphysically, though, I can tell you that Stefan is no closer to any sort of universal truth than he is to a universal ethic with UPB.  Because if he was, he would not be appealing to a contextual assertion about the nature of reality stated as a contradiction in terms in defense of an ethical system with a redundant title.

Reason, Not Physics: Why miracles are possible

Say we have a medical issue…an injury, for example. If we accept the Laws of Physics as the arbiter of what is possible or impossible, and accept that these laws are the determinative mechanisms which govern all of reality (which is implicit in the laws themselves), then we must concede that we can only correct our injury according to the same rules which caused it.

So far so good…ostensibly.

The problem, however, is that in such a case, while it may seem a perfectly natural, logical, and efficacious assumption—intuitive even—we cannot make an OBJECTIVE moral value judgement between the injury and its remediation. Since they are both created, caused, and manifest by the exact same determinative rules, which, due to their necessary corollary relationship are at root a singularity, the only value judgement which can be rendered is entirely subjective—arbitrary—and therefore fundamentally meaningless.  For it is not possible to claim that one manifestation of the absolute governing mechanisms which define and compose reality is better or worse than another. Different manifestations of natural law observed by the individual are, fundamentally, morally indistinguishable, and thus any value judgements are completely subjective.  And if value judgements are subjective, then any epistemological (meaning/definitions) judgements are irrelevant, because morality and truth are corollary…for if one cannot morally value distinctions, then the definitions of those distinctions are ultimately useless to the individual. And this being the case, no actual distinctions—like “injury” or “healing”—can really be said to exist at all.

To summarize: Once moral distinctions can no longer be made, because all events are products of the same absolute, determinative natural laws, then no distinctions of any kind can be made. And if no distinctions of any kind can be made, then nothing can be said to exist, because it has become impossible to tell the difference between what something is and what something is not.  Natural law, thus, is entirely inadquate as an apologetic for objective existence, and thus it cannot rationally be said to serve as the plumbline for determining what is truly possible or impossible.

You see, once the perspective of the individaul has been rendered moot by subordinating his powers of perception and conceptualization to the absolute determinative forces of natural law, then the very thing which gives natural law any meaning and relevance at all—the observer—is pointless. And without the observer, there is no one to claim that natural law is actually true, or actually exists in the first place.  Natural law, itself, serves no purpose, because it wrecks the observer, who is the ONLY reference—the only constant—by which natural law can be said to have meaning and thus have value.  Purpose, value, and meaning are not a function of natural law, they’re a function of the observer.  That means MAN.  And that means you and me.  And that means we are NOT products of natural law…because the observer cannot be a function of what he observes.  This is a contradiction in terms, and is objectively impossible.  An observer who is a function of what he is observing is by definition NOT OBSERVING.

The very fact that the laws of physics can be defined at all is proof that they are not the root of objective reality.  They are a tool that man, the individual, the observer, uses to organize the distinction(s) between himself qua himself, and his environment (which also includes his body…but man’s body is not himself qua himself, but is ultimately and rationally a part of his environment…but this is quite a complex subject and is best left to its own article). The very fact that man can and MUST make a moral distinction between injury and healing is proof that the laws of physics cannot be the true arbiter of reality and thus are not the arbiter of possibility and impossibility.

I submit then that only that which violates the identity of the individual (the self qua the self) is impossible.  And since identity is a matter of reason—where reason is defined as rational consistency…the non-contradictory combination of concepts (X cannot simultaneously be Y, for example)—we can generalize this assertion to say that a violation of reason is the only impossibility, because contradiction cannot be made rational; and what cannot be made rational cannot ACTUALLY be defined, which means it cannot actually  exist.

So…you want proof that miracles are possible?

I give you the apologetics of reason.

 

The Difference Between Representative Government and Autocracy is Experiental, not Fundamental

The difference between an autocracy and a representative democracy is like the difference between a slave master who lets you do nothing you want to do, and one who lets you do something or things you want to do.

So, which one is better?

Hmm…

The answer may not be so obvious as you might think. We’d want to say the latter, but is it really? Well, yes and no.

Of course being allowed to do some things which please you is technically, and even practically, tangibly, and viscerally preferable to being allowed to do nothing which pleases you. But the point on which I want to focus is that whatever it is you do, when you’re doing it because someone else is letting you do it, you are of course acting entirely under the auspices of someone else’s authority to command you to act. You fundamentally act as a function of the will of another. Period. When you are governed (or ruled…the difference is semantic, not fundamental) all you do is in essence at the pleasure of someone else. And the hard, unpleasant truth of this then is of course that you aren’t really doing what you want to do, but what they want to do, as your behavior is ipso facto a necessary extension of their Authority, which is inexorably corollary to their will. And this means that you’re behavior is fundamentally an expression of them, not you.

Ouch.

Think about it. It’s perhaps not immediately accessible, but it’s a point worth grasping.

Now, to the individual, an agent of himself, who by nature expresses himself according to his own will, this is practical death.  It is the rejection of the Self (e.g. You qua You), which means the metaphysical erasure of the individual human being. And this results in an inevitable social psychosis, where the sacrifice of the individual to the State, whether overt or tacit, via the ostensible morality of social justice (common good, necessarily subjectively defined), results in the fundamental inability of individual denizens to see themselves as the natural, rational root and reference of what is both true and good. This is brought about by the perfunctory collectivization of the individual which happens when the individual is governed along with a number of others (that is, ANY State; ANY government); and it’s worth pointing out that this collectivization is fundamentally the subordination of the rational and the objective (the individual) to the fundamentally irrational and the subjective (the collective–the Nation, the Common Good, the Workers, the Volk, the Zeitgeist, the Ideal, etc.). In tandem with collectivization is the ipso facto moving of the moral (or ethical–we can interchange them here) standard away from the Individual to the Law (and they are mutually exclusive). One’s moral obligation becomes obedience to the Law rather than the choice to act in service to the sanctity of the Individual (obedience precludes choice by definition). Consequence for moral violation becomes punishment (an irrational consequence) by the State rather than the Self-defense of free people (a rational consequence).

In such a context individuals will see themselves as decidedly indistinct and ultimately superfluous products of intangible abstractions, like as I said the Nation, or the People, or even–and this may surprise you– the Laws of Nature, which have no practical, tangible, empirical essence, or any relevance distinct from those objects they are said to govern (control; which means create, though this fact is never admitted), or the Divine Will…it could be just about anything really, because these are merely semantic variations of the root collectivist metaphysical premise which perpetually and inexorably defines and rules the subconscious mind of a governed (ruled) people. Once people accept that they are not fundamerally of themselves and do not fundamentally exist to themselves, they, under the artifice of “freedom” in, say, a representative democracy, will naturally gravitate towards whatever collectivist flavor they happen to find appealing. And this suits the ruling classes just fine, whether they know it consciously or not, because for whatever else it might mean, it necessitates that the people never question the foundational premise of all governed peoples: they have no root Self, and therefore their existence is only possible via the control of some outside authoritative force. And what’s more obviously authoritative  than Government? Government, we are led to understand, is the natural social and political effect of the infinite determining Cause…be it God or be it Nature, etc. etc.. And now you know why there are so depressingly and embarrassingly few sociopolitical Voluntarists (“anarchists” you might say, though I despise that label). Because collectivism has so many shiny and fetching and complex and colorful varieties, and individualism only has, well…you. Lol.

Once the collectivist metaphysical premise has been conceded (and entirely synthesized) people wake up every day willingly accepting that life is in every way and in every context the inexorable march of Death…of the inevitable nullification and eradication of their minds and independent persons. Which they are told are illusions, but don’t really feel like it; and this is why Death is so terrifying and why people never talk about it. It just is and must be, we are told, like the State, and so the terror and emotional anguish that its felt contradiction wreaks are perfunctory aspects of its “truth”.  So the thinking goes: why compound this with debates which challenge assumptions? Why compound anguish with uncertainty? And this is another reason why there are so very few Voluntarists. They must reject the assumptions undergirding…well, everything. Of Being itself. To get there is a hard and naturally lonely road, filled with those of all ideological pedigrees who will hate you and wish you’d just shut up, and those who claim fealty to ancient insufficient philosophies who will call you everything from a fool to a commie to a pantheist to a peddler of solipsism. And who really wants to walk that road? Not. Many.

At any rate, what happens as a consequence of this broad social Stockholm Syndrome (to the collectivist metaphysical primary) is a boiling and fetid cauldron of collective mendacity, idolatry, psychopathy, narcissism, suspicion, ignorance, hate, fear, and violence, which necessitates from the ruling classes ever increasing control and deception. But I must add that I do not fault the ruling classes directly for this; for they, too, are human, and have been suckled on the Ideal by which they govern. I do not hate them, and I do not loathe them, and I do not ascribe to them  any necessary overt evil intentions. For as they say ’round Buenos Aries, it takes two to tango. Remember, it was the Jewish people that demanded God give them a King. So, in some sense ironically, I admit that we are all in this together. Even the rulers are ruled by their ideas.

 

Illusion and Existence as Ersatz, Postmodern Philosophical Primaries

If anything is said to be an illusion, the following two questions are begged:

An illusion of what?

An illusion for whom?

Both “what” and “whom” must be actual things, and must be distinct. They are, in fact, a prerequisite to illusion. Unless some actual one is experiencing an illusion of some actual thing (that is, unless a real person is experiencing an illusion of a thing or things derived from, and apprehended via the reference of, reality) then there can be no illusion. Therefore, illusion itself cannot be a (philosophical) primary; and I know that this statement may seem obvious, but when you hear the scientific determinists–the post modern priest class as I like to call them–implicitly or explicitly refer to the illusion of human choice and by extension the illusion of consciousness, it seems that obvious statements are no longer so obvious. When leading neurological scientists like Sam Harris and Nobel Prize winning astrophysicists like Stephen Hawking can’t seem to follow basic rational consistency or utter a single coherent philosophical statement, one is forced to explicate the obvious, unfortunately. (As good as these guys are at science is as bad as they are at philosophy, is what I mean to say.)

Interestingly–and this will annoy the Objectivists and others who nod to Aristotle–“Existence”, as a metaphysical primary, is like “Illusion” as postmodern philosophy’s (e.g. scientific determinism) epistemological primary. It begs the same two questions:

Existence of what?

Existence for whom?

As with illusion, both what and whom must be actual things and they must be distinct. Which means they must have a root that precedes existence. If what and whom are both metaphysically identical (both absolute) products of Existence–which Existence as a metaphysical primary implies–then there is no root distinction between what exists and who observes it to exist (“who” being the rational frame of reference for that which is). And therefore there is no one to define what exists. And if what exists cannot be defined then who exists cannot either. Which renders Existence as a metaphycial primary entirely absent meaning. Which it is.

(Side note: You see, all definitions of what exists are products of man’s consciousness, which by the boundaries placed upon truth by Existence can have no fundamental, objective bearing upon reality, which is entirely ALL of Existence, including consciousness itself. Existence doesn’t just subordinate consciousness, it makes it entirely irrelevant and redundant…that is, impossible, and…that’s a problem.)

My point here is that postmodern determinism such as averred by atheistic and scientifically rooted philosophers proffers the idea of Existence and Illusion as metaphycial and epistemological primaries, respectively. And in both cases these primaries beg two questions which must be answered and then when answered undermine those primaries entirely. “Whom” and “What” cannot at root be products of Existence or Illusion. It’s actually the other way around.

Or you might say that if “Of what?” and “For whom?” have no answer then Existence and Illusion as anything but subjective assumptions are nullified. And if they have an answer then Illusion and Existence as anything but subjective assumptions are nullified.