Monday, April 09, 2007

Tone Deaf Factsimians and Their Haudible Godlessness (4.19.09)

(written in haste -- forgive typos)

Needless to say, I am not impressed with the cognitive firepower of the militant atheist crowd, who strike me as being a few nails shy of a Palestinian ghetto blaster. In fact, in the absence of God, there is no reason to be impressed by anyone or anything, since 1) there is nothing we can know with certainty, 2) loveliness and beauty are simply illusions of the nervous system, and 3) believing untruth is morally indistinguishable from believing truth, since there is no ground for truth or morality anyway.

In London there was a recent debate on the motion, "We'd be better off without religion" (TW: Walt). On one side were three passionate atheists -- including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens -- on the other, three rather lukewarm sounding theists. They took a vote on the motion both before and after the debate. The vote before was 826 votes for the motion, 681 against, and 364 don't knows; at the end, there were 1,205 for, 778 against and 103 don't knows. In short, the number of people who felt we would be better off without religion started with a substantial majority which increased rather dramatically as a result of the debate.

Very well, then. It's official. God doesn't exist. An angry Marxist writer said so.

Cicero wrote that to not know what happened before you were born is to remain a child forever. Likewise, the ubiquitous problem with these clever atheists is that they haven't read the minutes of the last philosophical meeting -- or any meetings, for that matter. They actually believe that they are starting their inquiry into existence afresh, with no preconceptions borrowed -- or stolen is more like it -- from religion and metaphysics. They might look clever, but they are actually what I call "factsimians," that is, humans who reduce truth to fact and therefore sink beneath their humanness and want to pull you down with them.

Now, as I mentioned at the top, I am impressed neither with the intelligence of the atheists (for intelligence is not intelligent where it "knows" falsehood) nor with any of their arguments, which are all "beneath" the level of that which they are discussing. In other words, we are dealing with the question of "adequation," since the basis of all knowledge is conformity between subject and object. There are empirical questions for which adequation is not particularly problematic, although there are obviously areas where our senses do deceive us -- for example, the sun does not circle the earth.

Then again, perhaps it does. Our naked sense impressions tell us that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun does indeed circle it. However, rational scientific knowledge tells us that our senses deceive us, and that the earth actually revolves around the sun. However, if we adopt a post-Einsteinian view, it would be equally accurate to say that both views are correct -- just as it is equally correct to say that the earth "falls" to the apple, or that when we drive someplace, our destination arrives at us.

The rational view of the solar system tells us that our senses deceive us and that the earth is not the center of the universe. However, if we transcend mere 19th century scientific rationalism and consider the "post-rational" metaphysics of quantum cosmology, then we understand that the mystics are correct in their unanimous view that the center of the cosmos is both everywhere and nowhere -- or, to paraphrase St. Augustine, the cosmos is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference nowhere. Philosophically, this is an instance of "returning to the beginning and knowing the joint for the first time," for the premodern Augustine is perfectly in accord with postmodern quantum theory.

I am hardly anti-Science, but if we want to know God, we can just as well "cut out the middle man" of all of the intervening "-isms" down through the centuries -- empiricism, rationalism, positivism, materialism, Darwinism, what have you -- and, like Augustine, use pure metaphysics to arrive at universal theological truths that cannot not be. This is why no discovery of science will ever disprove the existence of God. To the contrary, to the extent that science converges on truth, then it is converging on Truth, which is to say, God. God does not embrace falsehood, whether scientific or religious.

Therefore, whether they care to hear it or not, the scientist's passionate quest for truth is a religious one, so that, with regard to the above debate, "God won." In fact, I would have to read the transcript, but it is even possible that if the theists had won, then God would have lost -- just as the theists win every debate in the Islamic world, thereby defeating God. Likewise, any small victory of Reason in the Islamic world constitutes a rare victory for God in that God-forsaken part of the world.

Now, the fact of the matter is exactly as Schuon says it is: if everyone were capable of understanding metaphysics, there would be no atheists. But they aren't and there are. I do not have to read the transcripts of the debate to know that these atheists are not philosophers properly so-called, and that they do not understand metaphysics. Rather, they're just "clever guys" -- perhaps even "very clever guys" -- with an inevitably incoherent metaphysic that knows how to aggressively and even cynically interrogate, but not how to comprehend, for comprehension takes place on a vertical plane, the existence of which subverts their entire argument.

But this is what atheists do -- the clever ones, anyway -- for it is what all intellectuals do. Because they are clever, they are very good at understanding and internalizing the fashionable abstractions of the day. As a result, they tend to live in their abstractions, and there is no theory more abstract than atheism, for it superimposes an ultimately sterile dogma over the mystery of being. While this ground of being is a mystery, it is not an absurdity because it is infused with the very same logos that illuminates the mind and allows us to comprehend it. We see beauty or know truth because both are logos calling out to logos. To paraphrase George Steiner, if all of the religious loans made to science were called in at once, there would be no science left standing. Most notably, science cannot operate without the principles of transcendent truth and the objective mind capable of knowing -- and loving -- it, for truth is not pursued for its own sake, but because it partakes of the beautiful and the good.

Atheism is not just "ignorance of God," but it inevitably redounds to ignorance of everything, since God is the seal of truth. To cite several obvious example, scientific materialism cannot tell us anything about what energy, or life, or consciousness actually are -- but this does not mean that they do not exist or that humans cannot know what they are by other means, for we have reliable testimony that they are three aspects that converge upon the same entity, sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss. You could proclaim this to a scientific audience, but it would have no meaning within the constraints of the abstract paradigm they superimpose upon reality in order to reduce it to scientific understanding -- which is to say, measurable quantities. You could also say that life is to matter as mind is to brain as God is to existence, but it wouldn't mean much to a scientistic atheist.

In his Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver summarizes the situation; I am paraphrasing from memory, but he wrote that without imagination the world is simply a brute fact -- there is nothing to spiritualize it. In the scientistic flight from the center to the periphery, one becomes lost in details which cannot be integrated in a holistic way. This "downward pull" puts an end to ideational life, as the resultant fragmentation leads to an obsession with parts, and with it, an inability to intuit the whole. Hyper-specialization leads to a kind of cognitive deformity, as the world shrinks in proportion to our quantification of it. As a pathetic compensation, modern man is puffed up with the vanity of being able to describe some minute portion of the world, but this is merely postmodern provincialism of the most naive sort. In the end, the separation of knowledge from religion is the separation of facts and knowledge from the metaphysics that explains them and gives them meaning.

Elsewhere Weaver observed (it is possbible that these are my own notes, not his exact words) that “Truth is an antecedent reality perceived by the intellect and not the senses," and that "immersion in matter makes man unfit to deal with the problems of matter. Facts are substituted for truth, but there is no knowledge at the level of sensation. Facts do not speak for themselves and experience cannot tell us what we are experiencing. The world is our primary datum, but we do not end our days with a wealth of sense impressions.”

But this is how science -- which should be the pursuit of universal truth -- evolves into metaphysical scientism, which denies universals transcending experience, and therefore ends in bonehead relativism. Put another way, science reduces the world to a coherent absurdity, while metaphysics expands it into a coherent non-absurdity. And there is no reason to take anyone seriously who believes existence to be absurd, since anything they can say will be equally absurd. And no one is more proudly absurd than the atheist.

Now, one of the reasons it is pointless to debate the existence of God is that higher realties do not stand out except to those who stand in them. Perhaps an analogy will be helpful. I subscribe to Stereophile magazine, which is the Bible of high-end audio. Some of the equipment they review is insanely expensive, and there is a never-ending debate in the audio community between the "ears" and the "engineers" as to whether the sonic differences detected by the reviewers actually exist. For example, the official view of a rag such as Consumer Reports is that there is no discernible difference in sound quality between a cheap CD player and an expensive one. Rather, the only issue that counts is reliability. Otherwise you're just wasting your money. Not only that, but you're probably either a fool or a mystagogue -- just like someone who believes in God without any empirical evidence.

In many ways, a debate between atheists and theists is between ears and engineers. Regarding the audio debate, the engineers imagine that there must be some kind of formal test or instrument that can objectively measure and quantify the supposed musical differences. However, as John Atkinson notes in the latest issue, "the very act of such testing appears to minimize the listener's detection of things that can be disturbingly audible under more relaxed conditions." In other words, "too often it is as if the listener is being asked to distinguish between subtle color casts on photographic prints while a bright light is shone in his eyes."

You could set up a double blind study, and rapidly shift back and forth between one sound system and another, but this hasn't the slightest relevance, because this is not the way we listen to music. While you might be able to detect sonic differences between the two, you would probably not be able to detect musical differences -- and those are the only ones that matter. To really tell the difference, you must immerse yourself in musical experience, which means "spending ample time engrossed in music that stirs [your] soul."

Since I know a little bit about audio and most people know nothing, friends will occasionally ask me for recommendations when they want to purchase a component. But I can no more answer this question than if someone were to ask, "what religion should I be? I don't want to waste time looking for God. Just tell me where he is, so I can get on with it."

But just as you can have sound with no musicality, you can have religion with no God. The other day I did an audio comparison between the new CD reissue of the American version of Rubber Soul and my audiophile vinyl pressing. But there was "no comparison." While the CD sounds very good, the vinyl just came alive. It did something to me, something tangibly real but undoubtedly immeasurable. There was an additional dimension that I am quite sure no scientific instrument would ever be able to detect. For it was a vivid quality of "life" or "presence" that I felt in my rubbery soul, not in my concrete ears.

Atheists try to listen for God with their scientific instruments, when He can only be heard with discerning ears.

56 Comments:

Anonymous dilys said...

"immersion in matter makes man unfit to deal with the problems of matter."

The in-house lurking Coon just reminded me of Gödel's principle that a consistent system (as matter certainly is) can only be explained from outside the system (the explanation completing the system, but inevitably introducing inconsistency because it is, by nature and by definition, higher order than what is being explained.)

Sounds like the 411 on, if not God and The World, at least theology and descriptions of the hard-fact world. Not to mention Speaker Builder magazine, and instructions for what to do with all those pesky little rolling parts. Which aren't going to be assembled by yet another little rolling part!
__(*^.^)__

4/09/2007 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Ear, ear!

You speak the truth. Take for instance the electric piano of the finest sort -

and the grand piano. Or heck, even a well tuned studio; perhaps a Steinway upright.

The electric will certainly produce crisper, more tonally precise sounds than even the well-tuned grand...

But the electric does not have that 20,000 pounds of pressure pulling on the frame via steel wire. The tension is all 'imaginary', or digital, rather, and may mimic the sound wave perfectly!

But its only mimicking what can be picked up with the equipment.

It is that tradeoff. Why no matter how many blu-rays we have we'll still have vinyl, and why no matter how nice those Korgs get there will always be Steinways.

I prefer to use both; so that I may take advantage of either's benefits when needed.

Microvinyl would be awesome.

4/09/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Dilys:

Yes, I suppose I could have been more concise and simply said "Gödel." Interestingly, many postmodernists use him to support their belief that nothing can be known with certainty, when Gödel believed he had shown the opposite to be self-evidently true: that there are many truths that cannot be proven (i.e., he was attempting to vindicate philosophical realism, or Platonism).

(Good little book on the topic.)

4/09/2007 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Early this year I went on a quest to obtain very well preserved copies of the original Capitol rainbow label monaural Beach Boys albums. I have a turntable and a system that can dig just about all the music there is out of a record, and I wanted to see just exactly how the latest remastered CDs stood up to the original medium that these were issued on.

Well, surprise surprise. Some of the old mono records sound great. They're as pleasurable to listen to as the CDs. The advance perhaps is that back in 1963 very few had the money to buy the equipment necessary to get the music out of the records, whereas today anyone can buy a device that can take the bits on a CD and make a waveform approximating the source material.

There's still something magic about vinyl though, and I wish someone would articulate exactly why.

Eric

4/09/2007 09:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jwm said...
The CD/vinyl question reminds me of one of my favorite topics- monster movies. (?) I remember when I was a kid seeing "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad", and being scared out of my wits at the scene where the Cyclops comes out of the cave.
The old jerky stop motion animation didn't look real like the CG effects we've become used to. Nonetheless, those Harryhausen monsters were as scary, if not scarier than many of the flawless CG created ones. The old stuff was creepier than real. It had that same startling effect of coming on a snake in the wild.
I think the difference lies in the amount of investment that the listner/watcher makes in the process. An old vinyl may not have quality of a blu ray, but what gaps may exist between the perfomance and the recording are filled with the listners ear. The blu-ray has no gaps to fill. Like the GC monster on the screen, it leaves no work for your imagination.
(BTW I see I got added to the surly squad. Coonerific!

JWM

4/09/2007 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"factsimians," that is, humans who reduce truth to fact and therefore sink beneath their humanness and want to pull you down with them. "

That is so good. Soooo good!.

Back to reading.

4/09/2007 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Tromp tromp tromp tromp!

At first-read I could HEAR our trolls stomping their jackboots in unison, grunting & salivating to get AT you Bob, for your articulation of what makes them THEM. Think: Orcs gathered for the Battle of Helms Deep.

Expected to see at least several idiotic comments from them when I came back for a 2nd-read. Whaaaat? None?

Silly me. Just as you wrote, part of their problem is that they can't recognize themselves therein nor comprehend that they've been tagged.

Spot-on post.

4/09/2007 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous walt said...

Over the years I've been quite impressed by "cleverness," be it in writing, humor, art, or whatever. At some point though, I realized I was actually interested in "greater awareness," and that cleverness was only a (sometimes) symptom of it.

The more I have attended to awareness, the more I seemed attracted to "simple clarity," and have come to recoil from expressions that are too-clever-by-half, such as those put forward by atheists. So nowadays I am inclined toward "a religion for peasants and women," as the article mentioned.

For instance, a comment left yesterday by JWM suits my mood: "I am a believer. I don't know when, where or how I crossed that line, but somehow I realize that I have indeed crossed it, and am standing on the other side."

Straightforward.

4/09/2007 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Sometimes, everyone else already said it better.

Gagdad said "...In the scientistic flight from the center to the periphery, one becomes lost in details which cannot be inegrated in a holistic way. This "downward pull" puts an end to ideational life, as the resultant fragmentation leads to an obsession with parts, and with it, an inability to intuit the whole. Hyper-specialization leads to a kind of cognitive deformity, as the world shrinks in proportion to our quantification of it."

Walt said "...The more I have attended to awareness, the more I seemed attracted to "simple clarity," and have come to recoil from expressions that are too-clever-by-half..."

JWM said "...I am a believer. I don't know when, where or how I crossed that line, but somehow I realize that I have indeed crossed it, and am standing on the other side."

Well said.

4/09/2007 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ximeze,
You're probably right... but keep the Mythril ready.

4/09/2007 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Also, glad to be among the sir-ly, (k)-nights watchmen - clockin' dollars and watchin' out for all them coons.

Resemble!

4/09/2007 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Interesting annoyance for those of you with view/comment troubles,

I'm on my work pc with IE 6.0x, & went to check the 'Surly' list - it doesn't show at all, neither do the Knowa's Arkive nor any other tin-cup rattling sidebar.

But if right-click & check view source, all their html is there....
I'm betting it ain't just you old mac & IE users out there, it's sloppy blogspot programmers too lazy to enable features for 'older' (You one + year old Rellics!).

4/09/2007 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Gagdad said "...In the scientistic flight from the center to the periphery, one becomes lost in details which cannot be inegrated in a holistic way. This "downward pull" puts an end to ideational life, as the resultant fragmentation leads to an obsession with parts, and with it, an inability to intuit the whole. Hyper-specialization leads to a kind of cognitive deformity, as the world shrinks in proportion to our quantification of it."

Completely clicked in my mind about the idea of fetishes, and what is so disturbing and twisted about them.

4/09/2007 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

River --

That is a very good point. In psychoanalysis, it is called "part-object relating" as opposed to "whole object relating." This is not to say that parts are bad, only if they are not integrated into the ability to love a whole person. There are entire sexual communities that shall go unnamed that revolve around this or that part. Come to think of it, I know of a certain political party that revolves around the breast.

4/09/2007 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Van wrote: . . ."I'm betting it ain't just you old mac & IE users out there, it's sloppy blogspot programmers too lazy to enable features for 'older (You one + year old Rellics!)."

On the borrowed iMac, with IE 5, I'm using at times when I don't have wireless access from my mac laptop, all of the sidebar goodies are there on my blog, Ricky's, Robins and Bens',
but none show up on Bob's - just the text of the post from far left to the far right margins are on the screen. So I bet you're right about the programmers; Bob is using the older version of blogger and the rest of us the newer. I also can't login to my account using the old IE 5 . . .arghhhh.

4/09/2007 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

The need to reduce everything to something measurable is fine as far as measurable things go, but what factsimians don't appreciate is so much of the cosmos can not be measured at all. I just wanted to point out this idea applies in many areas considered non-spiritual. For example, how do you measure education, or pornography? I've met many people who consider themselves educated and intelligent. They have taken all the tests, and they have the skills that are measured, but frankly they are complete dinks. I work in higher education and the stereotypes are true. It seems like they have focused on the skills that can be tested and measured and haven't really thought about the big picture. Likewise, with pornography there is no scale or definition that can determine if something is pornographic or not, but you can look at media and instantly make a judgment if something is pornographic. I think a supreme court judge said something to the effect that I can't define porn, but I know it when I see it. This trend to measure everything and if it can't be measured or defined precisely then it isn't important creates other problems in society besides the loss of all things spiritual. (Although that is a big one!) What about the loss of human Judgment? I think a lot of trouble with our legal system comes from people following the rules and ignoring good judgment, or common sense. I'm not suggesting we ignore empirical evidence and return to the dark ages, but we have gone two far the other way. Perhaps the pendulum has reached the apex of it's empirical swing , and now it's time to swing back towards human judgment. We need a healthy balance, or a recognition that trying to measure the unmeasurable is folly. The factsimian mindset threatens civilization the same way anti-rational Islamists threaten society. We see one clearly, because we have the lens of history. The other we see darkly because we are living it right now.

4/09/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

The Great Blue Ballet continues:

battement fondu
conductor calls fermata
trees all clap their hands

4/09/2007 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger I R A Darth said...

Oh Deer Bob,

The second sentance of the first paragraph about made my haid explode. Fortunately, my haid didn't spin around. But now I have a massive headache.

How can you plumb the inexorible lows of their philosphy and not suffer rapid hyper-craninal expansion (RHCE), complete with head spinning?

(tho RedHat Certified Engineers might not appreciate my appropriation of their acronym ;-)

4/09/2007 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Bob,

You wrote:

Atheists try to listen for God with their scientific instruments, when He can only be heard with discerning ears...

Which makes me recall a hymn we used to sing when I was a kid, which included the line:

All nature sings, and round me rings, the music of the spheres...


I started out life as a molecular biologist/ physical chemist (well, to be truthful, I started out life as an infant, but that's another story!), and I suffered from many of the prejudices one acquires in that field. But even then I wondered: Suppose we did succeed in the ultimate dream of molecular biology, and we somehow had in our hands a complete description, down to the level of atoms and molecules, of every detail of every organ system of the "machinery" of a given organism -- say, of a Rhesus monkey, not to make the thought experiment too close to home -- would that suffice to adequately describe the "being" of the creature we were attempting to describe?

Isn't there something more "there" than just the machinery? Is there not something that breathes life into the machine, even if it is "merely" some "emergent" quality deriving from the complex and effective organization of such a complicated mechanism?


And suppose we were able then to describe in detail the nature and functioning of these "emergent" qualities, whatever they were, would we not then be compelled to account for the organism's place in its larger environment, in its ecosystem, and would not such a further description call out for another description on an even higher level, and so on, in a kind of reverse or obverse of the old (Jonathan Swift?) doggerel:

Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,

And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum?

And if each level of description calls out for yet a higher level, where does the process end?


Jamie Irons

4/09/2007 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

"many postmodernists use him to support their belief that nothing can be known with certainty, when Gödel believed he had shown the opposite."

Same thing happens with Rene Girard's luminescently subtle work on victims. The usual suspects turn it into identity politics -- when of course it is the identity politics of the envious that create the function of wrongful victim that M. Girard discusses.

Sigh. (I accidentally wrote "sign;" and this po-mo twisting of sense is a kind of sign of what we're dealing with, the deconstruction of the higher sense-organs that detect and sort truth, the better to be made without them undefended red meat to certain discreetly un-named forcefields).

4/09/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

James, re: pornography...

A working definiton?

(warning, this is obscene.)

- Pornography is anything you lose interest in after masturbating.

Which is to say, pornography lies in the world, not the earth...

Obscenity is somewhat different. (though not entirely.)

This is why no 'law' can keep our kids from porn. It is subjective in nature.

The best we can do is outlaw stuff that is criminal (really breaks the law - as in, murder, prostitution, etc.) and inoculate our kids against the rest. Trouble is, we never can be too sure (I think) what will have the pornographic 'pull' on different people. The more scattered we become as a people the more difficult it is.

The best exercise I think is to guard them from it until they can know what it is, and then tell them what it is and why to avoid it.

And give them the truth about why you avoid it - don't sugarcoat or tell them it is for adults only.

Tell them it kills the soul.

Just like drug abuse.

(PS- I'm libertarian on the drug issue, but my opinion is that we are not ready for legalized drugs, simply because we do not have a society strong enough/education system good enough to make sure people actually understand and act on the values necessary to avoid addiction. Then again, such may never be the case. God knows.)

... *trying not to reveal too much about himself here...*

4/09/2007 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Discerning Ears: I have a sonata to share.

4/09/2007 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Mention of RedHat above gave a jab to tell ya'll what 'solved' my posting comments on OC problem. Might be of use to someone, who like me, can read this but not get the comment box to publish.

Under Konqueror it would load, could type comments but preview/publish did not work. Each click made the status bar show 'javascript void (0)' or something like. The Geek who's machine this is kept telling me that notice was unrelated to the problem.

Me, not being Geekish, believed Le Geek, tho why would it always display that message? Anyway, under Tools found 'Javascript' with a check next to it, so I unchecked it & voila' the buttons work. Preview 'works' but edit does not display. Publish works fine.

IE6 still locks up completely when trying to load 2blogger redirect.

4/09/2007 01:10:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Is this what Jamie remembers? [warning: low-fidelity alert!]

It's especially moving at this season, as the words link man's pleasure in Nature to the Logos, the perduring principle of created matter. The familiar domestic religious Narrative serves just fine to make that link.

A certain kind of thing, "it kills the soul." Others, a different result. It's an empirical matter, observed on a long enough time(less) horizon, beyond which, unfortunately, there is no guarantee the experiment will be replicable or reversible.

4/09/2007 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Jamie Irons said "Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum?

And if each level of description calls out for yet a higher level, where does the process end?"

Simple. It ends by saying the problem doesn't really exist, it's just an illusion.

Pesky people like Aristotle who said "... for not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education. " are then easily despensed with by saying that they're just antiquated dead whyte guys with non-quantitative pre-post modern outlooks who are no longer relevant. There. Presto, problem solved.

This also solves the dilema James noted above "This trend to measure everything and if it can't be measured or defined precisely then it isn't important creates other problems in society besides the loss of all things spiritual."

No it doesn't. Not a problem at all. Without the spiritual realm, they Aren't problems anymore, just alternate choices.

Very flat. Very tidy.

As I noted elsewhere, it's Disneyland for the Devil.

4/09/2007 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

River wrote:

"The best exercise I think is to guard them from it until they can know what it is, and then tell them what it is and why to avoid it. And give them the truth about why you avoid it - don't sugarcoat or tell them it is for adults only."

You describe to a tea, the method my mother employed. Back in the era before the internet, I was enjoined from even thinking about buying a pulp fiction magazine like "True Confessions". Just yesterday when I glanced at the first line of a film review of Grindhouse: "Gratuitous nudity, exploding bodies, wild car chases, lesbians, tattoos, cleavage, cussing, and pointless violence" I had no interest in reading further. BTW,I heard it tanked at the BO this weekend.
Last night I spent reading my most recent acquisition, written by our anon Friend. Thanks Mom!

4/09/2007 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Dilys,
"This is My Father's Home" ranks high on my hit parade, but not until I heard it sung by Cynthia Clawson with the a cappella choir Conspirare did it's simple beauty penetrate my soul.

4/09/2007 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Mizze,
I heard that about the Grindhouse... maybe I missed them, or maybe just because it's not a hit, but I didn't notice the strident denunciations over it's graphic nature, as was served up for The 300.

I did notice in a quick look for that, soemthing else that points to the lefts Quantity over Value mindset - this headline from ABC News "Will France Miss the Chance for First Female President?" ... not will they frech choose well, but only will desirable quantities of groupism be met.

Sheesh.

4/09/2007 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

sigh.
"not will they frech choose well" = "not will the french choose well"

I gotta give up trying to type in this comment box.

wv:yiqyygoy - yicky goy?

4/09/2007 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

River,

I think your definition of pornography is spot on, and true 99% of the time. But my point is the classification of something as pornography is a judgment call. It is something that you know or gno, like much of spirituality. When factsimians take away the validity of the judgment call they corrupt not only spiritual matters, but also corrupt other aspects of life as well. For example, in our legal system, the famous hot coffee case. Someone spilled hot coffee while they were driving. They sued and won millions of dollars for coffee burns. They didn't sue the people who made the coffee they sued the corporation behind it, because they had the money. Why didn't the Judge throw the case out? Justice was not being served with a million dollar verdict, but the letter of the law was used instead of a judgment call about what would be fair compensation, or if there would be any compensation at all. Hot coffee while driving = risky. My point which Bob and other can express much better then I is the cult of factsimians hurts us in other ways besides just the spiritual. The more I think about it the more unsustainable that mindset seems. If the factsimians take over completely it will be the end of civilzation on every level.

I hope I'm making sense.

4/09/2007 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

River,

PS Thanks for the comment. This is fun.

4/09/2007 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

james said "...The more I think about it the more unsustainable that mindset seems. If the factsimians take over completely it will be the end of civilzation on every level."

The one ray of optimism is that reality is on our side. Eventually Truth will out. Course, the slightly larger ray of pessimism, is that Eventually can be a very long time.

As Jamie Irons noted,"Suppose we did succeed in the ultimate dream of molecular biology, and we somehow had in our hands a complete description, down to the level of atoms and molecules... would that suffice to adequately describe the "being" of the creature we were attempting to describe?".

Eventually, even solid (was) Objectivists like me, come up against that question and begin to wonder what it is that's missing from the equation?

The Good, the Beautiful and the True, if contemplated, will eventually bring thought up to the realization that there is something verticaly up there.... I suppose the question for us is can a society get so drenched in mind parasites as to completely wipe out the contemplation of The Good, the Beautiful and the True - not just out of public discussion, but private as well. Perhaps that's the point where the parasite wins, the host dies, The Huns come in like societal carrion and clear the way for another people to try.

yeesh... that's cheery isn't it? I'm actually not that concerned. Unlike all the other instances in history, this time around, the elites aren't able to control information... yet. I as long as people have avenues available to talk freely, discuss, contemplate what is important to them, such as questions like "The more I think about it the more unsustainable that mindset seems.", then through sites such as this, they will - and Reality will eventually lead them around to contemplation of The Good, the Beautiful and the True.

It is hard to get around that word eventually though... but we will.

Eventually.

hmm. wv:rlgvn - religion 'ventually?

Is WordVerif some kind of techno I-Ching?

4/09/2007 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

“I am hardly anti-Science, but if we want to know God, we can just as well "cut out the middle man" of all of the intervening "-isms" down through the centuries -- empiricism, rationalism, positivism, materialism, Darwinism, what have you -- and, like Augustine, use pure metaphysics to arrive at universal theological truths that cannot not be.”

I love that. As in many interactions, the middle man often serves to divert attention while increasing his cut, adding little real value to the transaction. But, since he “does it for a living” and is an "expert", those of us on the receiving end often can’t even tell what kind of deal we ended up with. Interestingly, it is without these -ism middle men that most believers have come to believe down through the ages.

Here is a paraphrase of something I found on Augustine that I really like - As one of the first classical Christian apologists, he believed that God was the source of all knowledge, that direct awareness was a gift of God, and that the gap between direct awareness and human consciousness was mercifully bridged by the Bible and its marvelous proliferation of imagery - a direct awareness that humans could acquire only in flashes of insight. Augustine advocated a path to truth that was traditional in the long history of religion: imagination.

Yikes, wv: rkionjzd (are you?)

4/09/2007 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous a theist said...

And we should be concerned with what atheists believe because why?

4/09/2007 04:43:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

If you have to ask, you'll never know.

4/09/2007 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous toojpu said...

Your first troll arrives on scene, to defend atheists--but lo, a problem--it seems that trolls are not atheists nor do they defend them.

I don't know any atheists, and I run with a crowd so leftist that at their kiddie track meets they shout "on you Marx, get set, go."

Atheism is rare, sweethearts. It came and went in the twentieth century. Nowdays your enemies believe in Gaia, The Great Spirit, Wankantankan, Izjiberoo, the Manitou, or what have you.

Bodhisattavas, incarnations of Krishna, the Dalai Llama and Nirvana.

But atheists? No longer in style, babies. The few that go that way are considered 1950's cretins.

4/09/2007 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

toojpu said... "But atheists? No longer in style, babies. The few that go that way are considered 1950's cretins."

Apparently leaving you with nothing to add.

4/09/2007 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Gaiaism - the new way of believing the 'right' thing without having to actually change the way one sees the world in any significant way...

Or suffer the pains of the consequences of such a change.

In that way, it is no different than atheism.

As for your Great Spirit, if you believed in him, you would understand what Bob is saying.

Or what Schoun has said.

But, alas.

4/09/2007 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous walt said...

Note to Troll:

In life, as in sports, timing is everything. A mere two days ago,
us male Neo-Coons were...well, we was an Army...we was "surly"....we was ready for ya!

But after Easter, we became merely "mischievous."

I ching wv sez: upuyuak. (Fitting.)

4/09/2007 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Sorry to ask, but could one of you link me to the most pithy online explanation for the failure of socialism you can think of? One of my sons needs some final thoughts for a college paper. I'm certain I've seen some great thoughts while perusing some of your excellent websites, but can't relocate.

Thanks!

4/09/2007 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy J. said...

"Atheists try to listen for God with their scientific instruments, when He can only be heard with discerning ears."

Reminds me of that old Internet story. An atheist sees a young boy coming out of Sunday school.
Thinking to have a bit of fun, he says to the boy, "Hey kid, i'll give you a quarter if you can tell me where God is."

The young boy stops, looks the man up and down, then replies, "Hey mister, I'll give you a quarter if you can tell me where God ain't."

The boy has discerning ears for sure.

4/09/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Nomo,
Hope it's not too late, Walter E. Williams is tough to beat for pithy.

"According to Marxist doctrine, socialism is a stage of society between capitalism and communism where private ownership and control over property are eliminated. The essence of socialism is the attenuation and ultimate abolition of private property rights. Attacks on private property include, but are not limited to, confiscating the rightful property of one person and giving it to another to whom it doesn't belong. When this is done privately, we call it theft. When it's done collectively, we use euphemisms: income transfers or redistribution.
It's not just left-wingers and Democrats who call for and admire socialism but right-wingers and Republicans as well.
...
Can a moral case be made for taking the rightful property of one American and giving it to another to whom it does not belong? I think not. That's why socialism is evil. It uses evil means (coercion) to achieve what are seen as good ends (helping people). We might also note that an act that is inherently evil does not become moral simply because there's a majority consensus. "

If you click the link and then his name his archive is pretty extensive including a very good 9 part mini course on economics. He can also be produce frequent bouts of coffee snorting, so read at your own risk.

one of the oddest wv's:eogrslkt

4/09/2007 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Excellent, Van. Somehow I knew you would come through. Thanks.

4/09/2007 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

;-)

4/09/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Yes, thanks Van.
Mr. Williams is a great one. Often fills in for Rush L. and does have a great sense of humor, combination great voice delivery on the radio.

4/09/2007 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob said much earlier today:
“what religion should I be? I don't want to waste time looking for God. Just tell me where he is, so I can get on with it."

But I can think of one in particular they probably shouldn’t be…
And I’d sleep better to boot.
Often referred to here and also as a non-starter, or shouldn’t-starter.
Rhymes with ‘religion of peace’.

4/09/2007 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Toojpu said,
“… and I run with a crowd so leftist that at their kiddie track meets they shout "on you Marx, get set, go."

I’ve never heard this one before – can I use it?
Laughed too loud for this hour.
More like a stampede of lefties here. I’d like to use it on them if you don’t mind. Just to see if they notice.

4/09/2007 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Gagdad Bob,
RE the vinyl experience, I’ll add, the near ritual experience in:
the way you delicately handle a fine vinyl treasure as you prepare it for the felt
and the ever so delicate treatment when placing the needle,

knowing in some small way, beyond sight, the needle is wearing down your treasure, and this makes you sad,

but then again, you can hear the effects of this wear and it reminds of how many times you enjoyed the recording.

I swear, the vinyl, sleeve and the equipment have unique smells too. Probably different from equipment to equipment – just as from album sleeve to album sleeve.

All these things are different from a digital, distinguishing them from it, and in so preserves the unique quality of the vinyl recording in time. They simply ‘are’ and as well as all those other things above, more like the actual hand written letter is to the Xerox of the letter.

Just a few things the CD can’t replace, but it doesn’t have too. Like my ipod they can be portable reminders of earlier times – and I can’t help but fill in between the digits with my imagination.

I haven’t performed the vinyl ‘rituals’ in many years – but I sure can re-call them.

4/09/2007 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous cosanostradamus said...

nomo said...

"...the gap between direct awareness and human consciousness was mercifully bridged by the Bible and its marvelous proliferation of imagery - a direct awareness that humans could acquire only in flashes of insight. Augustine advocated a path to truth that was traditional in the long history of religion: imagination."

Yeah baby. That was worth repeating.

Use it or lose it.

I read the Bible often
I try to read it right
As far as I can understand
It's nothing but a burning light

[Bruce Cockburn - Soul of a Man]

4/09/2007 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous USS Ben said...

"...for truth is not pursued for its own sake, but because it partakes of the beautiful and the good."

You really can't have one without the others, in a comprehensive way.

In a horizontal sense, it is merely 'aping of God' at best. A pale imitation that cannot shine the light of Truth.

The atheist can't even comprehend the horizontal in any meaningful way without the vertical.

4/10/2007 01:11:00 AM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

Nice link, Van!
Thanks!

4/10/2007 01:13:00 AM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

Jim-
Ha ha! That was good!

4/10/2007 04:17:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

An atheist here, an atheist there - that was sad but almost necessary (though mostly inconsequential) fact . . . once upon a time.

But there is a new atheist offensive in the works at present which I think is not so inconsequential. Fractured minds, minds that are proudly mired in atheistic materialism are - as superstitious as it might sound to some - given over to demonic influence. We saw this in the 20th century in parts of the world other than ours, but now it's coming to our doorstep.

The clever minds spearheading the new atheistic movement may make a show out of being calm, rational, even good-willed, but don't underestimate the frothing hatred they are going to generate in their new acolytes. It will be a hatred of the same order that inflames the Bush-haters, but I have the feeling it's going to be even nastier - because it's really getting down to basics, finally. And when you get down to basics, the real opposition is revealed, and the gloves come off.

4/10/2007 04:40:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I have plenty of harsh judgements for the busy people in this article...

And I will certainly disagree with Kant.

I would say an important part of recognizing beauty is the ability to see it in any context. Without this, someone has to tell us it is beautiful (a la Hume's argument) - in a materialistic sense this is entirely true.

And if such be the case, what if they replaced all beauty with ugliness and all skill with sloth? Would most know the difference?

... nope.

4/10/2007 05:28:00 AM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

I concur, Will.
Increasingly, I hear leftists (atheist or not) saying that religion doesn't bother them as long as it doesn't have any power or influence.
Afterall, religion has caused terrible wars and untold death, re: religion is the root of all evil is how most atheists and leftists see it.
They actually advocate new laws to prevent any religious 'influence' in politics, but they never openly define what that means or how that would work.
Religious special interest groups and lobbyists would be the first to go.

On a different note, there is a growing movement to squelch talk radio and bloggers.
And that's just a few examples...

4/10/2007 05:44:00 AM  
Anonymous cosanostradamus said...

River -

An amazing social experiment, with sad but not unexpected results. Thanks for the link.

4/10/2007 09:18:00 AM  

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