Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Premises and Conclusions on the Way To God

In order to rearrive at the Divine Reality, one must begin with the proper premises. You know, garbage in, garbage out, which is the entire intellectual basis of misosophic atheism.

In other words, atheists "reasonably" conclude that God doesn't exist, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they have only proven that their conclusion follows from their premise. But all conclusions follow from premises, so they haven't actually proven anything, except unwittingly -- and that would be the fact that Man is the being who employs truth to arrive at reason, not vice versa. Or to put it the Schuon way, something isn't true because it's rational, but rational because it's true.

I've been rereading one of my favorite books by Schuon, Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism. The majority of his books are merely collections of essays, with no central, unifying concept or theme. However, that would be a rather superficial characterization, since Schuon is always writing from the center itself. It is as if each essay is a fresh consideration from the center of being to the periphery of language, or what we call O-->(n). Once you become accustomed to his style -- something most people apparently have difficulty with -- you understand that nearly all religious writing is actually (k)-->O. While the latter can be technically "true," it will be in ways that couldn't be more different from the former. (Naturally, when one dwells in scripture, one is attempting to have a similar experience of O-->(n).)

I notice that Dinesh D'Souza is going to take a crack at debating Christopher Hitchens next week on the existence of God. D'Souza (whose new book is entitled -- and it's not a question, but a statement -- What's So Great About Christianity) thinks he will make more heartway than the feeble pastors who have thus far been eviscerated by Hitchens, but I doubt it:

"So far Hitchens and his fellow atheists have had it relatively easy. Hitchens has been going around the country debating pastors. Pastors are supposed to be models of Christian charity. This means that Hitchens can call them names but they cannot call him names. Pastors are required to turn the other cheek, while Hitchens gets ready to kick them in the rear end. Moreover, pastors are not used to fending off attacks from people who deny the validity of the gospels and, in Hitchens’ case, even cast doubt on the historical existence of Jesus Christ. How can you quote Scripture to a man who denies the authority of Scripture to adjudicate anything? So Hitchens has a good game going, because he gets to make outrageous claims and they are going mostly unchallenged."

My guess is that D'Souza will merely employ a slightly more sophisticated version of (k)-->O, which is no match for the nihilistic passion of ø-->(k). "Nihilistic passion" seems like an oxymoron, but it definitely isn't, something that D'Souza doesn't seem to recognize:

"I’m surprised at the vehemence and nastiness of Hitchens’ atheism. I didn’t know he harbored these deep resentments. Yes, I know that atheists present their ideas as the pure result of reason and evolution and so on, but I cannot believe that Hitchens regards the idea that we are descended from the apes with anything other than bemused irony. I suspect that Hitchens likes Darwin mainly because Darwin gives him a cudgel with which to beat Christians.

"As he admitted in a recent interview, Hitchens calls himself an 'anti-theist' rather than an 'atheist.' Most atheists say that based on the evidence, they believe God does not exist. Hitchens’ position is somewhat different: he doesn’t want God to exist. He hates the idea of God’s existence because he thinks of God as a tyrant who supervises his moral life."

So straight away, we can see why "debate" is the inappropriate forum to adjudicate this question, since we are not in the realm of reason but of passion, and as that old Brit Hume noted in a broadcast a couple of centuries ago, "reason is the slave of the passions." In the end, my guess is that both men will merely be giving voice to their passions, which is fine. It makes for good infotainment, like an intellectual rugby match.

The "nihilistic passion" alluded to above is like a pneumagraphic negative of the mystic's passion. It is what makes the writing of a Nietzsche so bracing compared to the thin gruel of the contemporary middlebrow atheist crowd -- the Dawkins, Dennetts & Harrises. Hitchens isn't like them, in that he can muster some real satanic energy, irrespective of which side of an issue he is arguing.

Anyway... That's not what I intended to write about. Back to the epistemological foundations of God in the human psyche. Schuon's first principle is that "there are truths inherent in the human spirit that are as if buried in the 'depths of the heart,' which means that they are contained as potentialities or virtualities in the pure Intellect: these are principial and archetypal truths, those which prefigure and determine all others."

You can bellow no there aren't!, but that's just (-k) riding piggyback on a particular passion. It is a Lie, but as Bion observed, the Lie is very close to the Truth, since it must know the truth in order to lie about it. Hence the passion it can generate. Many lies can be uttered with great passion, whereas a truth can be quite feeble coming out of the mouth of a person who knows it only as (k), which is a sort of carbon copy of Truth, once or twice removed. Think of the direct passion of an Adolf Hitler, or of the Islamists, or of Dailykos.

The truths of which Schuon speaks "are accessible, intuitively and infallibly, to the 'gnostic,' the 'pneumatic,' the 'theosopher' -- in the proper and original meaning of these terms -- and they are accessible consequently to the 'philosopher' according to the still literal and innocent meaning of the word."

So prior to a debate on the existence of God must come a debate on the question of the existence of an Intellect which may know Truth directly. All else stands or falls on that question. But again, can that really be debated?

No. It would be analogous to debating the existence of sight instead of simply seeing. How would you even know about vision unless you already see?

Or, as Schuon writes, "if there were no pure Intellect -- the infallible faculty of the immanent Spirit -- neither would there be reason, for the miracle of reasoning can be explained and justified only by the miracle of intellection. Animals have no reason because they are incapable of conceiving the Absolute; in other words, if man possesses reason, together with language, it is because he has access in principle to the suprarational vision of the Real and consequently to metaphysical certitude."

In other other words, "The intelligence of animals is partial, that of man is total; and this totality is explained only by a transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned." As I was at pains to point out in my book -- then again, it only hurt a little -- human intelligence can never be explained "from the bottom up." To attempt to do so merely generates absurdity. Rather, it can only be understood from the top down, or from the absolute to the relative. There is no Darwinian explanation as to how an animal can escape contingency and know absolute truth absolutely. Our minds are not merely "proportioned" to the archaic environment, as Darwinism would demand, but to invisible, transcendent realities, i.e., the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, those realms that may only be seen and comprehended directly by the intellect, not by an animal's nervous system.

Likewise, Hitchens resents the idea of the Creator because he thinks it interferes with his "freedom," when it is the only possible source of real freedom. Again, to quote Schuon, free will "proves the transcendence of its essential goal, for which man has been created and by which man is man; human will is is proportioned to God, and it is only in God and by Him that it is totally free."

Seems like a paradox, but only to those trapped in (k), for just as knowledge is only possible if it is constrained by Truth, freedom is only free if it is canalized toward the Beautiful and the Good, aka, the Real.

Ah, but these are just words. The only appropriate response to a Hitchens is to concede that there is no God and that he is His prophet -- or, shall we say, blacklanded complement.

21 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

"Many lies can be uttered with great passion, whereas a truth can be quite feeble coming out of the mouth of a person who knows it only as (k), which is a sort of carbon copy of Truth, once or twice removed."

Reading this, I couldn't help being reminded of all the vampire movies where the fallen priest holds up a crucifix, to find that it does not repel evil as he had hoped. The more his faith falters, the closer the vampire gets, and the priest is defeated. Then along comes the innocent, who gnos that God Is, and the vampire is repelled. It's not the symbol they hold that matters, but rather the connection with Truth.

10/16/2007 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Bob,

Good Stuff. You don't get many comments when you stick with theology , because people ether don't understand what your saying, or they see it and gno that it is the truth, so there is nothing to argue about. Bring politics into a post and everyone has an opinion. Funny how that works.

10/16/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Johan (cosmic swede) said...

James is right. I have a lot more knowledge about politics (or politic philosophy to be more accurate) than religion, theology or spirituality. All that is very new to me.

And one thing, it's a bit emberassing, but it has been bothering me all the time, since I finished Bobs Magnum Opus (I'll do have to read the last chapter again after this, acctually you lost me around page 217). The thing is that I never grasped how (or IF) you were about to pronunce all the symbols/symbolism. I think it's time I ask openly, maybe there are others with the same questions?

I think I get the basic concepts, but how do you say them out loud: "(k)-->O" or "O-->(n)", and so on...

10/16/2007 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Johan said "...how do you say them out loud: "(k)-->O" or "O-->(n)"..."

'coon?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

I had to read that section over and again. Ticked me off at first... 'What's with the friggin symbols!? Why not use words?!" I kept having to look at them, flip back the pages to look at what they were supposed to be again and again, and then finally while reading one of the page again, the ol' racoon frontal lobe swirl kicked in and I got it and the point (I think) of having the symbols in the first place - they meant what they meant on their own, not a recycled words retread meaning.

10/16/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Bob should be debating Hitchens, or else someone of Bob's caliber. At the risk of giving the Dear Leader a swelled noggin, there simply aren't too many people of Bob's caliber around when it comes to elucidating theological concepts.

Hitchens impresses a lot of middlebrows (mass atheism's most fertile soil). He needs to be knocked down a few pegs. He's a talented scribbler who happens to be on the right side of history (for a change) on some issues. However he's a blockhead when it comes to anything spiritual. No coincidence Hitchen's spiritual life comes pre-packaged in a nice purple velvet bag with a gold drawstring.

I guess I can't really have what I want: widespread acknowledgement of the ideas in OC. It never really worked that way historically, so why should it now?

Our grand-raccoons, however, they will know Truth!

10/16/2007 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Johan (cosmic swede) said...

Van:
I guess I understand how you mean... And as I said, I got really lost after p 217-18 something. The "friggin symbols" almost outnumbered the accutal words and I couldn't keep them all in my mind anymore.

So yeah, let's re-read a couple of times and see what happens :)

10/16/2007 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

van:

You should have a handy wallet-sized laminated card made up. I have a laser-printed one, but it isn't laminated.

Hence my desire to capture the distilled essence of Raccoonology in a digital format suitable for:

1. searching
2. cross-referencing
3. display on small devices
(phones and PDAs)

Wonder how Ricky's coming along with the download/collation project?

10/16/2007 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Is it not just a dark narcissism that sets out to remake everyone else into one’s own image? Hitchens reminds me a little of Saul of Tarsus (it remains to be seen if he will ever become a Paul). Although I’m not one to view arguing or debating the existence of God as necessarily productive, here is a little something helpful I found on dealing with atheists.

10/16/2007 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Great post Bob. Thanks.

Smoov,
I believe I volunteered for Executive Editor.

10/16/2007 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Van, Johan,
The symbols are to re-store the meaning by replacing with a symbol what has been lost by overused or ‘saturated’ language. Or maybe even to give a ‘name’ to something you don’t or no longer have an accurate word for. So the meaning can transcend the saturated word. For this reason I actually think it would be better to not try to pronounce them. In other worlds, pronouncing them may make words of them again.

10/16/2007 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Coonified said...

About the symbolism.

There is no proper pronunciation. You can call (n) n, or (k) k, or you can just infer from the image without any verbal intervention that (k)=ordinary knowledge, or that (n)=facts outside the normal periphery. They're just variables, or unsaturated placeholders for meaning and definition, so that we can get outside the conventional and conditioned norm of thinking.

If I would have never had (?!)'s, I probably wouldn't have sought out (k)about O to get out of the prison of my (•) and )(. Luckily, I did find out enough (k) about O to begin the process of (▬▬)so as to reveal more (+n), since the (?!) was already itself new (n). Finally there came (↓)(it's a down arrow) like dove descending from heaven, and I thanked this (↓) that was the force counter part of (n), which somehow got through my (•). Thank O. And thank O also for the (¶)which enabled my to see (+n) in the first place.

I then found that (▬) wasn't enough, and required (○) and (↑) as proper and necessary for the constant quickening of (↓) into me! Wonderful! Eventually (¶)became more intense from the quickening of (↓) and what used to be new (n) became (k) about the
))((. I hope to get to )))((( and beyond, but this damn (•••) halted my progess to almost a dead stop. Thank O for this blog so that in my stagnacy there can still be a constant inpour of healthy (k) about O, which is for the most part(n) for non-coons.

Well that was fun. Hope that helps a little. :)

10/16/2007 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

You can see that Hitchens is not a Reasonable man, in the sense that matters, so why attempt an engagement on that level? He must be met on his own level, and defeated there, before he can be moved up to a Reasonable discussion.

Hitchens has a weakness, and it seems no one is looking for it where it actually is; everyone is looking in their own light to find the lost keys for ol' Hitch and everyone like him.

Read his latest writings about a young war hero who went to war based on Hitchen's own Moral Reasons for War. Quite telling. There is more there than all of his silly book.

I hope he doesn't let the moment get too far behind him.

10/16/2007 06:55:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Sigh, I'm sure Bob & Smoov are right. Likely Dinesh will be too 'polite' to deal with Hitchens. Nihilistic passion indeed. DD does seem a bit low in the umph-department. Rats!

It's just that I'm dying to witness Christopher getting it in the shorts. Even tho I feel sorry for him after that 3hrs on CSPAN, he SO needs a reajustment. Lets say the scenario appeals to my sense of Justice.

Ok, re-cue the Just Deserts fantasy. Bob v Chris: now we're talkin!

10/16/2007 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Coonified said...

Don't guess alt keys work here. Oh well, the symbols were accurate with the coonifesto when i wrote it. Now it just looks like a bunch jargon. Sorry.

10/16/2007 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Coonified said...

Or, maybe it's on my end.

10/16/2007 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky said "The symbols are to re-store the meaning by replacing with a symbol what has been lost by overused or ‘saturated’ language. Or maybe even to give a ‘name’ to something you don’t or no longer have an accurate word for."

I do get it now... the funny thing was that I understood what they were for then, but it took awhile before I Knew what they were for... quite an interesting sensation when a few random symbols suddenly became meaningful. It was worth the effort.

10/16/2007 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Smoov said "Wonder how Ricky's coming along with the download/collation project?"

Things are beginning to slow down again... (I think I might even get a post up tonight or tomorrow on my site again - been about a month!) - Gagdad, did you finish tagging your posts? As soon as I do have a few free hours again, I'll finish up my OC Utility that'll put the OC in a digital format suitable for:

1. searching
2. cross-referencing
3. display on small devices
(phones and PDAs)(Most Definitely!)

If I do get done first, I'll run it by Bob & if he approves I'll toss it into the Racoon Den.

10/16/2007 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

coonified - l(*)ved that!

10/16/2007 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

I should be able to attend this debate, since I work in midtown Manhattan.

I predict both of these gentlemen will win. Their aim is to sell books.

10/17/2007 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

CrypticLife:

Good point!

10/17/2007 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Well, I've given up on Hitchens.

Anyone who would debate him would be brought to a level lower than necessary.

10/18/2007 05:07:00 AM  

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