What is Man For? (5.03.10)
Of course it is.
Regarding our cosmic evolutionary future, St. Paul wrote that "the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage to decay into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now," just as human beings "groan within ourselves" for our spiritual redemption (Rom 8:21-23).
Human beings are not matter and they are not God. If we were matter, we could not evolve, and if we were God, there would be no need to. But in reducing himself to matter, the secularist covertly elevates himself to God, since nothing is higher or lower than anything else -- thus, with a single metaphysical error, the humanist makes a God -- and an ass -- of himself. You will have noticed that this is one of the contradictions at the heart of both scientism and leftism, and which ramifies into countless other errors.
(I don't want to get sidetracked into cataloguing all of these contradictions. Suffice it to say that the secular left is "the essence of contradiction" and can never be expressed in a metaphysically coherent manner, for it is a strict impossibility. Until the leftist awakens to his own internal contradictions, there is no hope for him -- not even -- or, shall we say, especially -- cognitively, for he is a talking contra-diction and thus "anti-word." Or, we might say that leftism represents language deployed against itself for that very purpose. Now that I'm thinking of it, it reminds me of Roundup -- you know, the weed killer. It is quite effective if you want to kill a single weed. But I once tried it on some unwanted ivy, which only kills a few leaves, leaving the complex root system intact. Leftism kills the leaves, but not the roots of the Word.)
(In fact, it is unnecessary for me to list all of the contradictions, because I just remembered that a dear reader, J., gave me a link to them. Hmm. Link no work. I've listed some at the bottom.* I'll get the link later.)
We should not automatically exclude the religious from a similar sort of fallacy, in that they often make the opposite error and deny our materiality. But as Schuon points out, the object of human existence "is to be in the middle: it is to transcend matter while being situated there." While "other creatures also participate in life," only man, from his intermediary level, "synthesizes them: he carries all life within himself and thus becomes the spokesman for all life, the vertical axis where life opens onto the spirit and where it becomes spirit. In all terrestrial creatures the cold inertia of matter becomes heat, but in man alone does heat become light."
Another way of saying it is that, just as life is "matter become divine heat," human existence is "life become divine light," so to speak. The reason this is so is that sparks of the divine light permeate matter, but only man is able to mediate the divisions both within the created world and between the created and uncreated worlds. As Nesteruk writes, coming at it from an Orthodox Christian standpoint, "The restoration of animals and matter to union with God will come about through the salvation of man, for it is only humans who can change the order of things in nature through their own perfection, leading ultimately to union with God, to deification."
Yes, it is a heavy burden to be responsible for the salvation of the cosmos, but there you are. Someone has to do it, but it can only be saved one human at a time, at least until a certain "tipping point" is reached. No one knows the day or the hour of this trippin' point, as it could be in 10,000 years or it could be happening right now (being that it can only happen now, while you wait).
Or, it may never happen, at least not with the current edition of the human being. Just as we may fail individually to become what we are meant to be, we have to entertain the possibility that we may fail collectively. Otherwise why do anything? There is a certain type of religious person who says, "what, me worry? The outcome is certain. It's all in God's hands," etc. This is wrong movement, crasshoper, for it is an absence of faith. Faith means that we have hope in such an outcome. Conversely, to have certainty of it is to eclipse the faith that abides in our uniquely intermediate human station.
Now, the "interior order" of the human being mirrors the interior order of the cosmos itself. Here it must be emphasized -- for it is another common error of secular humanists -- that we are not responsible for our own order. In other words, this order cannot be imposed -- which the left always tries to do in a thousand ways -- but can only be discovered. It is given, meaning that it is a gift, or a grace. The reverse is also true: to receive this grace is to find oneself -- or at least to find oneself on the path back to oneself -- one's nonlocal self.
Can I get an amen?
Yesterday I linked to an article that is a case in point, The Real Solution to Poverty, and which explains the apparently non-obvious relationship between free-markets and the spiritual evolution that can only be discovered, not imposed -- in other words, the necessary relationship between free market libertarians and spiritual traditionalists. Kling writes that
"The capitalist solution to poverty is unsatisfying to many people, because it is not planned or intended. Policy makers and anti-poverty programs per se are not involved.
"The phenomenon of unplanned results exceeding planned outcomes is quite widespread. As Nassim Taleb points out in his new book The Black Swan, and in this fascinating interview, human planning tends to work poorly when compared to trial and error. He argues, for example, that many medical discoveries are serendipitous, while systematic efforts such as those of the National Cancer Institute often yield disappointing results.
"In Hayekian terms, we say that order emerges, and often this order has little to do with the intentions of planners.... The intentions of the anti-poverty crusaders are good. However, the results of centrally-planned anti-poverty efforts are small, and perhaps negative (certainly very negative in the case of Communism). Decentralized capitalism, in which no one sets out to broadly reduce poverty, is the best anti-poverty program."
In short, there are rules for evolution, one of which is that there are no rules -- at least those that can be imposed from the top down by spiritually endarkened human beings.
Similarly, some 1500 years ago, St. Athanasius of Alxandria noted that "if things in the universe were to exercise the power of ordering themselves, we would see 'not order but disorder, not arrangement but anarchy, not a system, but everything out of system, not proportion but disproportion'.... Athanasius uses the existence of life on earth to conclude, in a similar fashion, that there exists a principle of 'arrangement and combination' in the world that is ultimately granted by God" (Nesteruk).
I have an intimate acquaintance with the wisdom of this innate "principle of order" in the form of my type I diabetes. It is something of a full time job trying to mimic the inconceivable wisdom of a pancreas. In other words, I must consciously endeavor to do what it does completely naturally supernaturally.
Nesteruk writes that the deep rationality of the universe proceeds "from the Word (Logos) of God, who unites all principles of existence (that is, the logoi of things) in himself in a harmony and order that penetrate into creation and are contemplated as the order and rationality of the universe."
In this regard, two things to bear in mind: 1) as above, so below, and 2) man is mirror and image of God. For these are the "keys" to being a normal human, which is to say, a realized human (as in "made real" and "really made," which is not a contradiction, but a paradox).
Nesteruk notes that the affirmation of the incarnate logos, "though being in a body locally at a given point in the vastness of cosmic space, is still co-inherent at every point in space because he is in everything as the Word of God," which in turn "provides an implicit principle of order in the universe that ensures that every place in the universe, as a place of the 'presence' of the Word, is co-inherent with the place where God is bodily incarnate, on earth."
Speaking of Sons and Words, I thank God for allowing mine to sleep in until 7:00 AM this morning, thus permitting this spontaneous raid on the wild godhead which otherwise would not have been.
In other words and melodies, we thank him for our sacred slack, without which nothing could happen.
New Finetunes setlist: Songs of Slack:
(It was hard to think of 45 songs off the top of my head, so I had to stretch a bit and include some titles that have more to do with "bad slack," or aimless bummin' around.)
*That there were no charities before welfare,
that there was no art before federal funding,
that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding,
that taxing the use of gasoline or other energy will reduce the use of gasoline or other energy, but taxing work and investment will not reduce work and investment,
that all generalizations are false,
that there are absolutely no absolutes,
that you can be sure that nothing is certain,
that it's really bad, even evil, to make or pronounce moral judgments,
that all cultures are equal, but ours stinks; that no race, class or gender is superior, but middle class white males are clearly inferior, that no books are superior, except, of course, those by third-world authors,
that it's good to support minority, homosexual and women's rights and to simultaneously make common cause with Islamofacists, who would attack all of them,
that identifying individuals by their uniqueness is "racist," but identifying them only as a member of a race is not,
that the independent broadcasters who give us 500+ TV channels can't deliver the quality that PBS does,
that good economies are caused by politicians and not by entrepreneurs,
that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity,
that any person or any country which has a higher standard of living than any other must have achieved it as a matter of luck, not freedom, opportunity, foresight and work -- and must feel guilty about it -- but if they're not, they must be forced to "pay" for their good fortune in a manner which we (who feel guilty for them anyway) will decide is best,
that the correct view of the state is one that sees citizens as children who need nurturing, and bureaucrats and politicians as the only adults who can do the nurturing,
that there is no such thing as a "sovereign citizen." In fact, there is no such thing as "inalienable rights," only permissions from government,
that trial lawyers are selfless heroes and doctors are overpaid,
that recessions and depressions are caused by businessmen, and not by politicians and bureaucrats,
that FDR must be remembered for "ending the great depression," even though he didn't (in fact he made it worse), and for giving half the people "hope," even though he decimated the Constitution and gave the other half despair,
that you can acquire self-esteem without actually doing something to earn it or living up to a code of ethics,
that public schools must be given ever-more money and protection from competition, no matter how poorly they perform,
that intolerance may be horrible, but "zero tolerance" is wonderful,
that it is racist to be color-blind and that good policy is to be color conscious -- in fact to identify people ONLY as a member of a group,
that all cultures are precious, must be preserved at all costs, and must all be treated as equal, not because of their outcomes, but because we say so,
that it's shocking -- and worthy of detailed, damning and deliciously horrifying exposes -- to find that free-market scholars are actually able to fund their work with voluntary donations from wealthy individuals and businesses -- while it's pleasing to find that socialist scholars are able to fund their work "virtuously" with tax money (extracted from their opponents -- and victims -- by government coercion),
that CHANGE is good -- but ONLY so long as it is change TO liberal values FROM other values,
that black people can't succeed without your help, but those who do, or tell others they can, must be vilified as "Uncle Toms,"
that guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans are more of a threat than U.S. nuclear weapons technology in the hands of Islam-fascists,
that even though there are 54,000,000 children under 16 in the U.S., and you can never achieve "zero" accidental deaths from drowning, choking, fires, falls, poisoning, motor vehicles and medical mistakes, you can somehow achieve zero from firearm accidents (perhaps because there are always so many fewer such accidents every year),
that corporations are more dangerous than governments -- even when they haven't been sold a government-protected monopoly and can't make you buy from them, and even though the federal government is hundreds of times the size of the largest corporations and has guns, jails, IRS kangaroo courts, and can and does make you buy from it or deal with it,
that the quantity of wealth in all of existence remains fixed, and always has from time immemorial, so only people in government should decide how it's allocated,
that businessmen are parasites, but politicians and bureaucrats are not,
that people who work in the private sector are evil, but people who work in government are saints,
that private citizens are too stupid to make their own decisions about anything, but people in government are too smart not to give them dictatorial powers over everything,
that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried, is because "the right people" haven't been in charge,
that the only answer to the millions of problems caused by government -- is always ... ("ta-da!") more government (of course!),
and last, but definitely not least -- that good intentions are all that are needed to pave the way to utopia, especially if all your friends have the same good intentions.