Category Archives: scientific determinism

Memory Implants: Another impossible sci-fi trope

Implanting memories on some unsuspecting, or suspecting, victim or person…make them believe that they have done or said this or that by giving them a memory, from OUTSIDE of them. They thus accept it was derived FROM (or within) them. We’ve seen it more than once in fiction…and fiction is where it shall remain, I’m afraid.

Think about it…think about how this idea contradicts all rational consistency, and thus must contradict all practical utility. Before a memory implant could actually induce a memory one would need to implant, as a necessary corollary to the memory, a sense of SELF…an “I” to serve as the constant…that is, the existential frame of reference for the memory. For without this reference, there can be no memory. There may be an image—like a mental picture—but not a memory, which is a very, very different thing. A memory is a personal experience; and an experience, to be personal, needs one’s singular existential frame of reference. The memory is ACTIVELY manifest by the personal and singular experience of the ACTOR, not DICTATED to him by another…this is why it’s a memory and not merely a mental image. I can think of a green car, but the memory of the green car I saw parked at the store yesterday is a memory because it is in my mind not as an abstraction, but as an OBJECT which I physically ACTED upon to and of and from my SELF…I SAW it. The memory requires me to be an active participant/observer; the mere mental image does not. And for one to be an active (conscious) observer requires an “I”—a Self—and that can only come from within, not from without. MY singular sense of MY SELF, which is the crux of memory, cannot be implanted into me from outside of me. It is not dictated TO me, it IS me, and “me” (me qua me) is absolute, and absolutely necessary to make a memory a memory. The metaphysical ME is the foundation of all memory.  Memory is grounded in the ontological singular frame of reference, which acts upon the physical (through the senses) to create one’s wholly unique existential experience.

So, no, memories cannot be implanted from one to another. One, from THEIR singular ontological frame of reference, cannot experience FOR another, and thus cannot GIVE them a memory. There is no way to do this since by definition one cannot BE another FOR them. The idea of a “memory implant” is a fundamental violation of rational human identity, in which case, there is no “one” to whom a memory can be given. The idea of a memory implant collapses upon the very logical fallacy, making the whole endeavor a categorical waste of time. We can psychologically manipulate another person, control them by deception and suggestion, but we cannot BE them FOR them. An implant may one day control the mind of another through manipulation of the brain, but this is only euphemistically called a “memory implant”. You may be convinced that you experienced something you did not actually experience, but you cannot ACTUALLY experience what you did NOT ACTUALLY experience.  And this is the subtle, but profound, difference. One is psychological manipulation, the other is memory.

And this topic relates to why I have asserted, and continue to assert, that it is impossible for consciousness to be created OUTSIDE of itself…this is one of the great rational and philosophical paradoxes.  Consciousness, for a human, for a computer, for an android, artificial or organic (not that I accept that consciousness has been achieved “artificially”, or that it will or can be achieved) may involve the actions of humanity or nature or God, but it will never be CAUSED or CREATED by them, fundamentally. Consciousness represents a wholly singular ontological perspective…it is absolute, period, and thus is only and can only be a product of Itself. The root of man is his identity of SELF, and this is utter—absolute. There is no before it which can be claimed by it except FROM it; there is likewise no after. In order to speak of “before I was”, I must BE; in order to speak of “after I am”, I must BE. The ontological constant is the Self…and the Self is, was, and shall ever be.  It is infinite. And this is the mark of God upon man.

“I” cannot be function of “NOT I”; consciousness has no frame of reference for a cause outside of Itself. If it could be created or caused from outside itself it could not exist. To say “my memories were given to me”, or “my Self came from another”, is like saying “there is no such thing as absolute truth” or “it is impossible to know ultimate truth”. The claim completely nullifies its assertion. It’s rational madness; dead on arrival. Mouth noise.

For the same reason that “you” cannot also be “me”, and “me” cannot also be “you”, “I” cannot cause “you”, and “you” cannot cause “I”. This metaphysic may be paradoxical, yet it IS rationally consistent and, I would submit, even consistent with empirical reality. The very reason why man is able to exist and thrive is because the natural root of his powers of conceptualization and language is that meaning NEEDS a reference, and that MUST then imply “I”. “I am” must be BEFORE meaning can be determined.  “I” is not dictated, IT does the dictating. “I” is not created, IT is the creator.

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Divine Creation and Evolutionary Process are Philosophically Identical and Therefore are Identical in Their Philosophical Insufficiency

Not being designed by God or evolution for flying, man flies highest; not being designed for digging, man digs deepest; not being designed with thick fur, man is warmest; not being designed with fangs or claws or camouflage, man is the deadliest and best defended.

This is because man has not been designed, you see, it is that he is the designer. And this is the Divine Image in him.

*

It is an impossible task to rationalize the claim that man is designed by God or Nature to observe or conceptualize himself as specifically and absolutely DISTINCT from these things. Because by “design”, the root assertion is that man is NOT in fact, himself at all, but is a DIRECT function of the powers which have designed him. In other words, “designed by” really means “entirely created by”, which really means “absolutely a function of”, which means that all that man, and his reality, is and does is utterly DETERMINED by the Creative Force.

And just like that science and religion utterly unite in metaphysics.

How can God or Nature determine that man should observe God or Nature, and all of that which is a function of Him/It—that is, Reality, Itself—from OUTSIDE of Him/It? For he who is absolutely determined by divine or evolutionary Force can by no rational means observe and conceptualize a distinction between himself and that which determines him.

Determinism, you see, is not a physical phenomenon or an adjunct religious doctrine, but a METAPHYSICAL premise. It asserts that whatever IS, does not, in itself, exist, but is merely an expression of the Determining Force, either God or Nature. It is scientifically “proven” by appealing to empirical “cause and effect”, but the the presupposition which makes determinism in fact deterministic, and thus “cause and effect” a thing which is said to be efficacious and practical in reality, is that there is no ACTUAL distinction between the two. The cause utterly creates the effect; which means, at root, that the cause IS the effect. For if the two are separated, intrinsically, then they cannot exist.

Determinism as a metaphysic, whether ceded to be a function of God or Nature, despite what you might hear, allows for NO distinction of any kind between the Determining Force and the determined thing. To make a distinction is to concede that the thing which is being determined possesses a root essence, or really, an existence, which is of ITSELF, and not of that which determines it. In this case, the thing which exists of itself is caused upon by the Determining Force fundametally because IT is ABLE, intrinsically of ITSELF, to be caused upon. Without the inherent, endemic ability of the “determined” object to be acted upon by the “Determining Force”, there is no determining action, and thus there is NO Determining Force. Meaning that the Determining Force is entirely subordinated to the inherent and endemic ability of the object to be acted upon.

So here is the root, self-nullifying contradiction of Determinism, whether divine or evolutionary:

Without a distinction between the Determining Force and that which is determined, there can be no determinism because there is NOTHING (no thing OF ITSELF which is being caused upon) to determine, and thus by definition no Determining Force. Yet if there IS a distinction then there can likewise be no determinism, and thus no Determining Force, because what actually—that is, fundamentally—causes the object to “react” to the force which compels it is not the Determining Force but rather the root ABILITY of the object to be caused upon by the Force in the first place. It is this ability, and not the Determining Force, which is the source of ALL of its behavior, including EXISTING, which makes its very existence a thing of itself, and to itself, and nothing else, at root. Which means that the Determing Force is not actually determining anything at all, which means it, unlike the thing it is said to determine, does not actually exist.

Due to its inexorable, intrinsic, self-nullifying rational contradiction, the Determining Force, be it God (as religion currently and for the most part defines Him…which is wholly irrational and therefore a lie) OR Nature, is relegated to the category of pure abstraction; utterly useless with respect to any philosophy of virtue and integrity and intellectual honesty/consistency. As a determining force, God or Nature is not REAL in the ontological, empirical, physical sense, and therefore is irrelevant in the metaphysical sense (the metaphysical being the substrata of the physical). All that is said to be determined actually determines itself, we might say (and human consciousness (will and choice) is THE practical manifestation of this, I submit).

And thus is the irreconcilable schism, at the most fundamental level, within the ideal of a divine or evolutionary creative force. Because of the contradiction inherent in the proposition (that that which exists is intrinsically a function of an all-determining Force), the proposition, though it may have some practical utility (e.g. science as a means of technological progress), this utility is  limited, and substantially so, I aver. Man may progress only so far as his metaphysical premises will take him, and the overwhelming and prevailing determinist metaphysics underwriting virtually all of science and religion/spirituality can and will NEVER rationally nor efficaciously describe reality qua reality. And if man doesn’t truly understand reality he doesn’t truly understand himself. Which ultimately makes ALL of his ideas fundametally destructive, because they necessarily affirm the notion of the insufficiency, irrelevance, and incongruency of man as a CONSCIOUS being. And this means that the only rational purpose of man qua man (man AS HIMSELF) is to die.

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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”.

*

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

 

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.

(Part Two: Why UPB Self-Nullifies) The Multitudinous Problems with Secular Ethics: A critique of Universally Preferable Behavior

[I apologize in advance for the tedious and highly technical nature of the following article. Bear with me. There really isn’t an easy way to do this. Thanks.]

1. If UPB is simply a set of possible choices, but does NOT reference an absolute moral Standard which makes compliance with UPB not simply preferable, but necessary in order to avoid some kind of irreparable existential contradiction, which thus implies and necessitates some irreparable existential injury (however that is defined…if it even needs to be defined at all), then UPB cannot claim to be either universal nor preferable, since there is no fundamental existential difference between compliance and non-compliance. In which case, UPB self-nullifies.

2. If UPB IS considered an inexorable natural law–referencing itself as its own absolute moral Standard–to which the individual is obligated or face some form of irreparable existential injury (however that is defined…if it even needs to be defined at all) then UPB is not preferable, but necessary, and perfunctory, and it self-nullifies.

3. If UPB is a legal (as opposed to ethical or moral) Standard–that is, Law as defined by a legal Authority, like the State–then by definition the individual is legally obligated to comply, and non-compliance results in punishment which, though legal, is, for all practical purposes, existential in its effect, since the manifestation of the ownership of oneself–i.e. free will/choice–while under State sanction is impossible. And therefore, UPB is not preferable and therefore self-nullifies.

Now, to expand upon point number two; and the reason is because this argument is, as I observe, the primary argument utilized by apologists for secular ethics:

If UPB is considered merely a de facto parameter of (one’s) Existence–that is, the perfunctory behavior of (one’s) Existence which affirms that (one’s) Existence actually exists, then UPB is nullified. Meaning, if we use the argument that because we observe that species or the individuals of that species behave in ways which are consistent with survival and reproduction and then claim that this behavior is actually preferable…we’ve contradicted ourselves and shown that such behavior cannot possibly be preferable, let alone ethical, and is only universal in that it is simply a de facto function of Existence qua Existence. In other words, if we remove choice–moral agency–from ethics entirely, or make it purely a function of the laws of nature, then a choice is never actually chosen. However, removing choice contradict ethics as meaningful in any rational or practical way, because amoral ethics imply behavior which doesn’t make a distinction between good behavior or bad behavior. So…why would any given behavior be preferable? It wouldn’t.

Also, notice how in scientific terms, which are the secularist’s terms of epistemology, ALL action is merely “behavior”…”choice” as a vehicle is sophistically smuggled in later–a bromide meant for and used by the small minority of non-communist atheists as a nod to the non-aggression principle; but UPB pairs with the NAP like salad pairs with Guinness.

If we accept Existence as the Metaphysical Primary, and therefore objective (empirical) reality and natural law as its practical Ethical and Epistemological derivatives , then we must admit that one cannot act via his Existencee in a way which contradicts his Existence…so regardless of what one does, and therefore what one chooses, one must necessarily always be acting ethically. To claim that one can somehow violate the terms of his or someone else’s (absolute) Existence by Existence, itself, is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, if UPB is said to be an Ethic derived from Existence, it is impossible for one to violate it, since one cannot violate the very thing that makes all behavior–like the “violation” itself– ultimately possible.

On the other hand, if we were to place UPB outside of (one’s) Existence and then argue that, as an Ethic outside of Existence (which is its own giant fallacy, given that Existence is the Metaphysical Primary for all apologists for UPB, I think), failure to follow UPB somehow amounts to an Ethical, and therefore moral, violation, and therefore is evil, and therefore obliges men to “prefer” UPB,  then the individual–as a rank existant–could neither be the source nor the reference for UPB, which makes whatever the individual prefers, and thus ultimately chooses, entirely besides the point…since his choice and preference are a function of himself. This again, as I asserted above in point 3., relegates UPB to the status of a Legal Code–the Legal Law–which means that coercion by a legal Authority, not preference, is the only legitimate and rational means of fulfilling the Law.

Now, if we claim that (one’s) existence is not in fact absolute, but somehow transient–an effect and not a cause, as it were, or a function of some Absolute Cause outside of (one’s) existence, then we would have no logical reason to conclude that behavior which promotes one’s existence is preferable to behavior which does not. For (one’s) existence, being non-absolute, is no more valid a state of nature than is his non-existence. Non-existence, because existence is not absolute, does not violate the Absolute Cause (that of which (one’s) existence AND non-existence is a direct effect), and therefore it can be no more rationally nor morally preferable to behave in ways that promote existence–of either oneself or others–than to behave in ways that do not. And therefore by what basis can we argue that UPB is actually preferable at all? No basis.

Interestingly, I have noticed that those who promote Existence as the Metaphysical Primarily DO, irrationally, make the distinction between Existence, the Primary, and one’s individual existence–because they understand that individual existence necessarily incorporates consciousness, and therefore they reject it as having anything to do with Existence qua Existence, because consciousness they assert is not objective, because it’s not empirical. But you see as soon as one makes the distinction between conscious existence (consciousness) and Existence the Primary, then whatever the individual consciously prefers--and all preference is conscious by definition–is beside the point. When you reject consciousness as fundamental to Existence you necessarily reject choice. Which means that you reject choice as fundamentally meaningful, which not only wrecks UPB but wrecks morality entirely, and makes any discussion of Ethics pointless.  I submit, however, that if we oblige consciousness to rational consistency, which is entirely logical (and a separate article), then reason alone serves as a perfect and categorical guide to Ethical behavior, because it makes Truth actually and objectively possible.

Part three very soon.

(Part One: Introduction and Ironic Metaphysical Roots) The Multitudinous Problems with Secular Ethics: A critique of Universally Preferable Behavior

There’s no short way of doing this. At least not one that I prefer (see what I did there?), so I will just get to it. A while ago I was introduced to something called Universally Preferable Behavior (UPB). This, I understand, is more or less a formal apologetic of what is termed “secular ethics”. Which really is simply an Ethic derived from the metaphysics of Atheism (which are the metaphysics more or less of Aristotle…more on that later). There is no God to declare what is good behavior and what is evil behavior. Without such an arbiter of morality, it is assumed, there is no anchor for moral behavior.   Enter UPB stage left. UPB purports to fill the role of Arbiter, and hence the term “universal”. Which is an odd term when coupled with “preferable”. I understand that in the handbook of UPB some attempt is made to address this oxymoron, but the explanation left me pretty unsatisfied. It qualifies itself by claiming that behavior is only universal once a given objective has been defined. Like, IF I want to get to work on time, it is preferable that I drive, not walk. And within that context, it is universally preferable to drive and not walk. Of course the inconsistency is clear. Since the preferable behavior is contextual, it isn’t universal. It is only contextually universal…which is a contradiction in terms.

Here are some links that you can examine to give you some reference for this article. The first is the handbook for UPB (you may have to copy and paste this link into your search bar), by Stefan Molyneux, who purports to be the progenitor of UPB…I have some doubt about this, however. I think most of his apologetic for secular ethics has been around for some time. I could be wrong, and ultimately I don’t really care. Perhaps he coined the phrase and then added his own spin. Whatever. He can have the credit. It’s okay by me. The second source is a very condensed version of the basic assertions and conclusions of UPB. It gives you a good summary of what secular ethics is all about.

http://cdn.media.freedomainradio.com/feed/books/UPB/Universally_Preferable_Behaviour_UPB_by_Stefan_Molyneux_PDF.pdf

https://rudd-o.com/archives/the-twelve-principles-of-universally-preferable-behavior

I was tempted to ask my readers if they could spot the big problem right off the bat, but the more I examined UPB the more I realized that it was so terribly fraught with inconsistencies that this amounted to a trick question. It also makes it difficult, at least for my scatter-brain, to know where or how to begin, so I apologize in advance if this article seems somewhate disconnected. The more I wrote, the more I had to go back and add things to the margins of my notebook. So…I’m going to start and hope that some semblance of order reveals itself. In any case, all my points will here, somewhere. 🙂

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One of the first problems I noticed with UPB was that it doesn’t explain why preferential behavior is good behavior. That is, it doesn’t provide a convenient moral reference. This is a troubling and stark omission for a behavioral code which claims to be a universal Ethic. But I think I understand why the omission is there. A. Because it presumes “Objective Reality” as an ipso facto epistemological primary (that empiricism is proof of itself…which is a contradiction); and B. Because to include it highlights some serious inconsistencies with “Objective Reality”, which atheists and others, like those with Objectivist sympathies, don’t want to discuss (though they love to rant) and never resolve. Ever. And C. Because Atheism simply has no place for Good. It has an Ethic, but this is not the same thing. Behaving ethically does not necessarily equal behaving morally. And that’s the whole disaster of secular ethics in a nutshell. Not that religious ethics are any better. It’s just that they aren’t worse.

We understand that an Ethic gets its moral value from its foundational Metaphysic–metaphysics being the nature of what exists, and ethics being behavior that is ultimately consistent with the metaphysical primary, what I simply call the Metaphysic…and in between them is epistemology, which answers the question “What is Truth?” where Truth must be a necessary and ipso facto derivative of the the given Metaphysic. For example, Aristotelian philosophy essentially assumes that the Metaphysic is Existence, and its Epistemology thus is Objective Reality; it’s Ethic then is behavior which affirms the existence of Objective Reality–and of course one very common behavior is known as “being atheist”…and “being smug” is usually a corollary to this.  Unfortunately Aristotelian philosophy implies that Objective Reality is utterly empirical, which it’s not, and cannot be–which is why I respectfully reject Aristotle’s philosophy–and this presents a big problem for UPB because it implicitly relies upon the Aristotelian Metaphysic for its apologetics.

UPB seems pretty clearly to imply that the individual is the moral reference. That is, that UPB is “good”, or really, ethical, because it serves and affirms the individual. Unfortunately, while this sounds “so far so good”, this is as far as any semblance of rational consistency goes…at least for anyone who then has the intellectual foresight to ask the question thus begged: What is the individual? Or asked another way, what is the root nature of an individual’s “individual–ness”? (What is the nature of “I”?) This question naturally brings us to metaphysics, where atheism–remember, UPB’s roots are fundamentally atheistic–relies upon “Objective Reality”, which itself relies upon Scientific Determinism…which ends up being what is really meant by “Existence”. Scientific Determinism is the causal Platonic offspring of Science…the “why” to science’s “how”. Which is pretty ironic given how atheists love to name drop Aristotle as the philosophical father of their ideology. Ever since science decided to masquerade as philosophy and people decided to worship at the feet of lab-coated priests, we’ve gotten Scientific Deteminism as the Great Transcedant Cause in the Sky. Which is exactly like Divine Determinism. Oh, how the rivers of irony flow deep and thick and wide ’round here.

Part two real soon.

 

How the Observer Actually Relates to Truth: The Observer is NOT Ontologically Identical to what He Observes

The relationship between Self(Observer)/Perspective, and Truth/Reality is as follows:

Observer + Observed = Truth

NOT:

Observer = Observed = Truth

The former is a rationally consistent equation based upon a metaphysic which asserts Ability as the Primary, and is the result of years of philosophical study of and thinking upon rational absolutes. The latter is a rationally inconsistent equation–and the one most popularly assumed, at least in the West–and rooted in an irrational scientific and “objective” (or empirical) metaphysic which aasserts Determinism (often asserted as material “cause and effect”) as the Primary (though Objectivists will claim “existence” as the Primary, which functionally means the same thing), and is the result of years of popular abdication of discursive logic and the detrimental dismissal of REASON, as opposed to observation or the premise ITSELF, as that which must dictate intellectual conclusions, both practical and ideological.

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