Saturday, August 09, 2008

Satan's Third Suggestion: Don't Go Changin' on Me, and it Doesn't Matter Anyway

Kevin Lomax: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven", is that it?

John Milton: Why not? I'm here on the ground with my nose in it since the whole thing began. I've nurtured every sensation man's been inspired to have. I cared about what he wanted and I never judged him. Why? Because I never rejected him. In spite of all his imperfections, I'm a fan of man! I'm a humanist. Maybe the last humanist.
--The Devil's Advocate

The Ten Commandments are also inherently ten criticisms of Man, as they assume he will likely do the opposite in their absence. In other words, he will worship himself, work for a predatory subprime lender to satisfy his boundless greed, lie in court, plunder innocent OB GYNs with the use of bogus science, and cheat on his dying wife. He will be John Edwards, or Satan's Advocate.

Again, being that the prince of this world never "commands," the Ten Satanic Commandments would have to come in the form of flattery. They will essentially sooth man's conscience and tell him that he is just fine the way he is. For that very reason they will forestall cognitive, emotional, and spiritual evolution, since they undermine the end of each, which is to say, wisdom, love, and the One, respectively. They will be more like ten emollients, reassurances, or encouragements that keep man an entitled, self-centered, petulant, and misosophic child forever.

Last week we discussed the first two Satanic blandishments. Today we will revisit number three, and see if it still make sense two years on. If it doesn't, I will edit it in such a way that no one will ever know.

One of the purposes of this blog is to encourage serious people to take religion seriously. I was once a person who didn’t take religion seriously, although even in my antaganostic daze, I probably wouldn’t have objected to being called “spiritual,” since it’s such a bland and neutral description that essentially means anything you want it to. I have observed that most liberals feel this way. They will proudly describe themselves as spiritual, but draw a bright line at religious, as if it is an insult. Which to them it often is.

But this type of gelatinous, unstructured spirituality usually amounts to either solipsism or narcissism, because it is wholly subjective and makes no demands at all on the person. Furthermore, it usually alienates one from the very grace that is the true catalyst for change. In the absence of grace, either acknowledged or unacknowledged, man can do nothing but go around in circles. True, he might be able to expand the size of the circle, or even pretend that it doesn't exist, but he cannot enter the open spiral, being that the latter only exists because of vertical energies that transcend us.

In fact, authentic religions are frameworks for spirituality, in the same way that music theory is a framework for music. You can try to play music without such a frame -- you can be “musical” -- but with rare exceptions, you won’t be able to play much of interest. It will be a pretty vain endeavor. This is why, for example, regardless of what objection you may have to the Catholic church, it has produced more profound spiritual geniuses than the “new age” ever will. Frankly, there’s just no comparison in terms of depth, power and spiritual radiance. The new age can produce a demon such as Deepak Chopra, but it could never produce a Meister Eckhart. And Chopra is a demon precisely because he represents human evolution in the absence of vertical grace. Thus, he is more Nietzschean or even nazian than noetian.

I'm not taking a position for or against, but when you hear debates about whether or not the Ten Commandments should be displayed in schools or courthouses, you will often notice that liberals assume their typical superior tone of mockery and derision toward them -- as if some arbitrary laws thought up thousands of years ago by primitive people have any contemporary, much less universal, applicability. While they will grant that it might be bad under certain circumstances to steal (unless it is by the state) or kill (unless it is in self defense), they especially dismiss injunctions against making graven images (discussed in last week's post) or taking the name of the lord in vain. No one is going to tell a leftist what he can and cannot mock, since knee-jerk adolescent rebellion is at the core of leftism. If they can’t blaspheme, what’s left for them? Just so long as you don't mock their sacred cowpies, Obama being a steaming example.

You will also notice that no one is more literal-minded or “fundamentalist” than the leftist or atheist who rejects religion. That is, they reject only a caricature of religion that they have concocted themselves. Or perhaps, as often happens, they had a bad experience with a dysfunctional version of religion as a child, and are in perpetual revolt against it. While perfectly understandable -- in fact, to a certain extent, I was a victim of this myself -- there is no reason why it should pose a lifelong obstacle to opening oneself to the boundless depths of genuine religion.

We recently discussed how leftism (and remember, when I use that term, I’m generalizing about the deep structure of an entire philosophical attitude or temperament, not this or that particular leftist) represents an upside-down and inside-out version of Judeo-Christian metaphysics, and how it manages to invert each of the commandments. In other words, they are not just against the Ten Commandments, but (whether wittingly or unwittingly) enshrine their opposite.

The third commandment is “You shall not take the name of the lord in vain.” There are even many Christians who believe that this means nothing more than refraining from cursing. If so, what’s the point? If that were all it amounted to, then liberals might even be correct in mocking something so seemingly trivial in the overall scheme of things. Why would the Creator of the Cosmos care that liberal blogs use 12 times as much profanity as conservative ones? True, it is a marker of barbarism, stupidity, and adolescent rebellion, but those aren't capital offenses.

First of all, this commandment has something important to say about metaphysical vanity, specifically, vain and fruitless talk about God, of which there is an overabundance. Much religious talk is entirely vain, in that it serves no purpose -- it is mere “pneuma-babble” emanating from the ego, not the spirit. For example, whenever our scientistic jester speaks of "God" -- and therefore reality -- he does so in a way that is devoid of content and therefore entirely vain. As you may eventually learn, there is no point in engaging him, because it only serves the purpose of making his apparitions appear more real to him.

The omninameable One has revealed several of his names to mankind, the most universal one undoubtedly being I AM. In fact, there are certain forms of yoga that consist of nothing more than meditating on the mystery of this I AM to which we all have inexplicable access. To do so is to engage in the deepest form of vertical recollection, for this I AM is not located in the field of time. Rather, it eternally radiates through the vertical now to which humans have unique access. To dwell in the primordial I AM -- or so ham in Sanskrit -- is to reconnect with the eternal ground of being. It is anything but vain. Quite the opposite. It is simultaneously fruitful and the very source of fruit.

As I was at pains to point out in the Coonifesto, the principial truths embodied in genuinely revealed religions must be experienced, not merely thought. In other words, they cannot be thought "about" but only thought "in." One doesn't look at them but with and through them.

In fact, this is really not much different than, say, psychology, or any other interior discipline that transcends the senses. You can read all about the criteria for a depression or panic attack in the DSM, but unless you have actually experienced a panic attack, the words don’t really convey the experience. If anything, they might even convince you that you understand it because you have the words for it, but the words are merely pointers or place markers. You really haven't lived -- or perhaps died -- until you've had a good panic attack.

Especially with regard to religion and psychology, words must be analogous to bank notes that one may “cash in” for their actual experiential value. Otherwise you are simply dealing with religious counterfeiters and with spiritual “funny money” that has no value at all. It is entirely vain. When you read Meister Eckhart or Saint John of the Cross, you know that their words are backed by the full faith and credit of the First Bank of Divine Reality. When you read Deepak Chopra or Tony Robbins, you know that their words are backed by the full faith and credit of their rampant narcissism. But Gresham's law means that bad spiritual money tends to drive out good, which accounts for their vast personal fortunes. John Edwards too. If you can't tell that every word that comes out of the mouth of this vain man is counterfeit, then you are a lost soul.

Perhaps the worst way of taking the name of the Lord in vain -- and the most spiritually catastrophic for the person who does so -- is to use the name of God as a pretext to commit great evil, as do the Islamists. I’m trying to think of a worse sin, but I can’t at the moment. What the Islamists are doing is beyond evil, for they are committing evil in the name of God, thus undermining the very possibility of the good. Deepak doesn't actually murder anyone, but he does reduce man's most precious birthright into something tawdry, stupid, and evil, so he too will have a lot of 'splainin' to do.

Contrary to popular understanding, these Islamist beasts of depravity are worthy of both divine wrath and our own unyielding righteous anger. True, under most circumstances it is appropriate to “hate the sin and not the sinner.” However, it is entirely legitimate to despise the sinner to the extent that he has not only completely given himself over to sin, but fully identifies with it in an implacable way. Such a person cannot be forgiven, since there is no man left to forgive.

In other words, the Islamo-nazis are not just committing evil, they are willfully identified with evil -- more, they are absolutely committed to violent overthrow of the very possibility of the good. It is our sacred duty to despise these monsters in the proportion to which we love the Good. In no way does this mirror the illegitimate, passionate, and sadistic hatred of the Islamists themselves, for holy anger is dispassionate and does not surpass the boundaries of its cause. Americans do not chop off heads for fun; they only do what is necessary to stop the evil. (Obviously, the disproportionate and intoxicated hatred of the left is not legitimate; they are addicted to hate, to such an extent that they hate what is good, true, and beautiful, even if they don't chop off heads.)

There is one additional aspect of the third commandment that I had wanted to get into, but this has already gone on rather long, and I don't really have timelessness enough to expand upon it. That is the possibility of metaphysical knowledge which is both objectively true and operative, or fruitful, in the psyche. Virtually all postmodern thought is in agreement that objective metaphysical knowledge is not possible -- that it is intrinsically “vain.” Here again we see an exact reversal of the reality, for the religious view is that human beings most definitely have access, through the uncreated intellect, to objective truth. There are eternal truths that man may not only know, but without which man couldn't know anything, and wouldn't be man.


Oh, there are so many, I don’t know where to begin. How about this one: semantics cannot be reduced to syntax. Because it can’t, language is not just a vain epiphenomenon produced by a modified primate brain, including the mathematical language that governs the physical universe, the language of DNA, the language of music, or the language of Shakespeare. Ultimately, it means that meaning is indeed meaningful and not merely a vain existential pursuit. The cosmos is not just a tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying short hours and a nice paycheck. Rather, it is a vehicle of Ultimate Meaning, as it is a lifeline tossed down from above, not an ivory tower of babbling idiots built from below, prick by prick.

More memorable quotes from The Devil's Advocate:

--Who, in their right mind Kevin, could possibly deny the twentieth century was entirely mine?
--Freedom, baby... is never having to say you're sorry.
--I only set the stage. You pull your own strings.
--Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.
--Guilt is like a bag of fuckin' bricks. All ya gotta do is set it down.
--We kill you with kindness, that's our secret.

Friday, August 08, 2008

How Blind Lizards Make Nonsense of Darwinist Claims

I guess there are some creationists and ID people out there who maintain that the complexity of the eye is one of the strongest arguments against random mutation. I have no idea of the current state of that argument, only to say that it is ongoing.

I imagine that much of the debate is based upon intuition rather than cold logic, although the coldest logicians always imagine they are nearest to the flame. But there are some people who just refuse to believe that a thousand Kerouacs typing on a thousand typewriters while swallowing millions of amphetamines could ever produce the works of Suzanne Somers, let alone Rod McKuen or the bitter and pudgy cat lady with the tragic comb over, JAMES WOLCOTT.

But that argument doesn't really interest me, being that it takes place so far below the laughty peaks of the coonosphere. It's like watching a bunch of squares and moldy figs argue over whether cubop or thelonious spheres exist. If you're already spherical, the whole disrespectacle is simultaneously silly and insulting, since they would have us believe that our existence depends upon the outcome of the debate. But of course, we exist irrespective of what these easily soph-satisfied flat earthlings can prove to themselves with mere logic.

Likewise, suprasensible realities exist regardless of the outcome of a debate between, say Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza, or Petey and Queeg for that matter. A debate is quintessentially a linear exercise. I don't wish to debate. Rather, I want to demonstrate. Like Suzanne Somers, I would like to touch you, to help you change your life and show how fallen mankind can pick itself up, dust itself off, and start all over again.

Is this grandiose? Perhaps. But one cannot evolve spiritually in the absence of alignment with an unreachable star, and mine happens to be Suzanne Somers. For me, every day is a chance to somersize my brain and to be eternally slim and sexy. No, this is not a knock on Deepak. It is just that for me, Suzanne is the image of truth and the conveyer of the secrets hidden since the foundation of the world, or at least since Three's Company was cancelled.

Now, a month or so ago, I remember Queeg linking to another BREAKING STORY that proves the truth of Darwinism. I don't remember the details, but it had something to do with a lizard that lived in the dark for so long that it "unevolved" its eyes. What were once eyes were reduced to mere virtualities -- just a couple of empty sockets in the lizard melon. Now now, don't laugh at the irony. Not yet.

As if we didn't know that lizards who live in darkness will forget how to see! For Hitchens -- who is quite obviously frightfully intelligent but who is just as frightfully intellectually blind -- this qualifies as a Big Deal, even a MOMENT OF EUREKA and AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT ON A CONTESTED SUBJECT! But if Hitchens were actually capable of having an original thought about Truth, it would only prove that Truth exists and that reductionistic Darwinism therefore cannot be true.

A much more interesting question is how Darwinist creatures can devolve their eyes -- how, in Hitchens' words, "denizens of the underworld" can "lose the eyes they had once possessed." No, not physical eyes, but the spiritual eye that "sees" suprasensible realities.

You see -- and I know you do -- Hitchens, or Queeg, or Dawkins, or all the rest of the anti-spiritual hucksters, frauds and shills, aren't really hucksters, frauds, or shills at all. Rather, they are merely blind. Somehow they have devolved to the point that they cannot see what the vast majority of human beings have always been able to see and know. After all, this is why a blind human being can see infinitely further than a Lizard with perfect vision. It is why Ray Charles or Lennie Tristano are artists who could not ride bicycles, while Queeg is a bicyclist who can play a guitar. Indeed, it is why Beethoven had such fine hearing even without functioning ears.

Seriously. I mean, art does exist, right? Or are we going to argue that point as well? I suppose we could. In Hitchens' piece, he claims that the nature program that prompted his EUREKA moment also had some beautiful images that should "redefine art." He doesn't explain how, but I don't think it qualifies as a new insight to point out that the world is inexplicably beautiful in such a way that it defies any Darwinian explanation. After all, if Darwinism is correct, nothing is beautiful, precisely.

As I have mentioned before, when Future Leader is on the cusp of puberty, I'll let him in on the Darwinian secret to sexual happiness and harmony, which is to say that women aren't actually beautiful, so that there's no need to waste a lot of energy as I did, idealizing and pining over Suzie Campbell in biology class (of all places!). You see, their "attractiveness" is simply a trick of the genes designed to get you to reproduce. So ignore all that. It's just a ruse. Certainly don't "fall in love," love being another one of those tricks of the genes to make you think that lust has some higher purpose.

So the Darwinist is able to make quick work of anything that transcends the animal state, and thereby knock humans off their pedestal. It's not that we actually "fall" back to earth, since we never actually left it to begin with. To the extent that we imagine that things like beauty, or truth, or virtue, or justice, or dignity, are real, they are actually reducible to some genetic advantage that was conferred upon some furbear lost in the mists of our random walk through the morphic space of biological possibility.

But why on earth is there so much sublime beauty in all these random products of nature that we can't even have sex with? I mean, Darwin explains the physical beauty of Suzanne Somers, but what accounts for the beauty of her poetry? Or, if you are one of those smug sophisticates who thinks that her poetry is on the same level as, say, Nancy Pelosi's meager literary gifts, how did you arrive at that aesthetic judgment?

True, Pelosi's ugly, shrill, and tasteless book stinks, and I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. But I did not arrive at this conclusion with eyes, ears, hands, tongue, or nose. In fact -- and I'm sure this will be a controversial statement to non-Raccoon readers -- I didn't even have to read the book to know that it is devoid of truth and beauty. There, I've said it. My cOOnvision can "see" into a book without even reading it. This is in contrast to a blind lizard who can read a book without ever actually seeing - much less hearing -- it.

In yesterday's comments, I mentioned what amounts to a banality for Raccoons, that.... hmm, I see that Petey and I made a number of banal comments and quips that are relevant to today's post. For example, I mentioned something that never ceases to amaze, which is that "no matter where I go theologically, I find that some lofty Christian thinker has preceded me there." But not only Christian; also Jewish, Taoist, Buddhist, Vedantic, and yes, even Sufi. I won't rehearse all of the evidence here, since it would take 1044 pages to do so, and Perry has already done it anyway.

Now, the reason why such a book is possible is because spiritual evolution is convergent, not divergent. Just as eyes evolved through wildly diverse means toward a similar end result, the same is true of our psychic eye. The proof is there for anyone with eyes to see. Which, unfortunately, a priori excludes blind Lizards who see what they see and that's all they see. But they shouldn't presume to see for the rest of us. They may have stopped evolving, but for us the evolutionary adventure continues, 24/7/365.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On Keeping Faith Alive: The Intellect Doesn't Slump

You never know what will attract your attention. While idly shambling around the internet a couple of evenings ago, I found a link on Hugh Hewitt's site to a fellow named William Lobdell, a journalist who covered religion for the dreaded L.A. Times for eight years. However, in so doing, he found a cure for his misplaced faith, and has now published a book called Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America -- and Found Unexpected Peace. I'm sure the book itself is of no intrinsic value, except perhaps as a bad example from which we may derive something useful. Let us try.

Since he is now a bonehead atheist, it is odd that Lobdell still writes about "religion," being that there can be no such thing for an atheist. True, there is a phenomenon that goes by the name of religion, but it can only be a comforting self-delusion at best, a pernicious pathology at worst. Lobdell can have no genuine interior knowledge of the subject, being that there is no interior knowledge to be had. It is equivalent to saying that he blogs about his own ignorance, which hardly makes him unique.

One wonders which one it was for Lobdell, fantasy or sickness? And naturally, the psychologist in me wants to know what it is in him that is prone to pathological fantasies. The reason I say this is because these kinds of mind parasites endure, especially if one has no insight into them. You don't just wake up one morning and say "hallelujah, I'm healed of my delusion!" But that is exactly what Lobdell would have us believe. For 15 years or so he was a self-deluded religious nut. But now, all of a sudden, he has been healed of religion, and has something useful to tell us about God. But it's the same presumptuousness in a different garb. One would think a little humility would be in order from one so easily deceived.

In reality, there must be an underlying psychological continuity, religion or no religion. Whether writing about God or godlessness, he's really writing about himself. While he has every right to continue doing so, I wouldn't recommend it, because he will just dig himself into a deeper hole, while proudly elevating himself above that of which he admittedly possesses no genuine knowledge.

There is a baseball adage that speed doesn't slump. For those of you who are not baseball fans, it means that every hitter, no matter how good, will go into the occasional slump in which he just can't hit the ball. Baseball is a very difficult sport. It's not easy to hit a ball traveling 90 miles per hour, thrown from 60 feet away. But if you possess foot speed, you can always try to bunt for a base hit, or run out a routine grounder, or get a walk and steal a base, or be a pinch runner in a tight ballgame, etc. Plus, your speed can always help your fielding. The point is, there are all kinds of little ways a speedy player can help the team.

We could say that there is a parallel adage in religion to the effect that the intellect doesn't slump. Like baseball, religion is a very difficult sport; it is a long season, with lots of ups and downs. If you are more of an emotional than intellectual person (i.e, a bhakti vs. jnani), it's generally going to be more difficult, unless you possess an unusual degree of equanimity and emotional consistency. Otherwise, there will be times that your faith "goes dry," along with your emotions. In such a case, your faith will have to carry you through the rough patches. In a way, such a practice actually uses the emotions to cure them of their inherent fickleness. Sort of like marriage, in which one can elevate one's emotions by binding them to a single person.

Now, I'm oversimplifying here, being that there can be no gnosis in the absence of subtle emotions, just as a genuine, purified heartfelt faith is surely a kind advanced gnosis. Nevertheless, I imagine that Lobdell's story is not altogether uncommon. For one thing, if one possesses a modicum of intelligence, it will be very difficult to remain religious to the extent that one is only exposed to stupid religion, or if one has only a stupid and childlike understanding of it.

In such a case, any self-respecting intellect will reject religion, and properly so, being that there is no privilege higher than truth. By its nature, the intellect (because it is good) will assent to that which it believes to be true (truth is to the intellect what virtue is to the will). The problem is, for such a person, the intellect itself must be convicted and converted, otherwise it will continue to be one's biggest stumbling block, when in reality, it can be used as the key to the whole existentialada if properly developed.

Again, for the emotional person, his emotions can be either the barrier or the means to faith; likewise, for the intellectually gifted person, his intelligence can be either a wall or a door. Most atheists are of mediocre intelligence, but for those with superior intelligence, something has obviously gone dreadfully wrong (and I'm hardly excusing religion for often presenting itself in such a vulgar and stupid way, although the media plays a big role in this, and makes it easy for otherwise intelligent people to reject it.)

I was listening to Dennis Prager on the way to work yesterday, and he was talking about how the intrinsic stupidity of the left helps to keep his religious faith alive. I fully agree that when you see the absence of light and wisdom in the left, it makes you appreciate even more the timeless wisdom embodied in religion. As Prager was saying -- and I agree with him 100% -- good religion is an inoculation against all kinds of philosophical and political stupidity (and evil). In turn, this realization always prompts a kind of heartfelt gratitude for the light I have been given by so many God-inspired intellects. Not only did I receive nothing during the course of my liberal indoctrination, I was contaminated. Only exposure to the real Truth can undo this worldy contamination. And who wouldn't be grateful for that?

Lobdell has published the story of how he lost his "faith" here. Let's see how many errors we can chronicle in this cautionary tale, in the hope that some other poor sap doesn't fall into them and end up cashing in truth for atheistic sophistries.

Lobdell says that "when the Times editors assigned me to the religion beat, I believed God had answered my prayers. As a serious Christian, I had cringed at some of the coverage in the mainstream media. Faith frequently was treated like a circus, even a freak show. I wanted to report objectively and respectfully about how belief shapes people’s lives. Along the way, I believed, my own faith would grow deeper and sturdier."

Now, Lobdell's first big mistake was presuming to write about religion so soon after he himself had come to it. A more modest person would have given it, oh, I don't know, a good two or three decades before even picking up the pen. Otherwise, there is an overwhelming likelihood that you will only be capable of transmitting error, or superficially blathering about weakly grasped principles. Look at it this way: truly understanding religion takes much more time and commitment than, say, obtaining a PhD in physics, being that the subject is infinite. But what kind of person would presume to write about physics shortly after an emotional experience of "hallelujah, physics exists!"

One can also be sure that if the L.A. Times offers you a job writing about religion, something's wrong. That's like Pravda offering you a job writing about capitalism. Only certain people will be "qualified," if that is the right word.

So that's mistake number one: a kind of hubris that conceals the fact that something very central has eluded his grasp. But even prior to that, there were some red flags. Lobdell says that he came to religion in 1989, when "I was 28 and my first son was less than a year old. I had managed to nearly ruin my marriage (the second one) and didn’t think I’d do much better as a father. I was profoundly lost." A friend suggested that he needed God in his life, and recommended that he attend one of those "mega-churches" that are devoid of either intelligence or barakah, but which rake in millions by fleecing their flocks.

Now, if this were the only kind of religion that existed, I can assure you that I would be an atheist, probably a militant one. Again, the intellect can only assent to what it believes to be true, and for mine to assent to Paul and Jan Crouch, or Bennie Hinn, or Joel Osteen, or Tammie Faye Baker, I would have to be brain damaged (and I don't intend to give the brain-damaged a bad name). I don't even consider these people religious per se, any more than I consider most of what calls itself art to have any right to the name. Yes, some religiosity inevitably gets tossed into the mix, and I am quite sure that many decent people get involved in this kind of thing, but their decency -- or God's mercy -- protects them from becoming completely lost and deceived. I place these people in same category as Deepak Chopra and his ilk. Just two sides of the same coin mint.

Along these lines, a friend of mine at work is turning 40. Since graduating medical school, he has worked hard at becoming successful and obtaining some degree of financial security. Now he wants to focus on his spiritual development, and was asking for advice. It is somewhat difficult to give advice to an absolute beginner, especially someone who will likely have to overcome a kind of scientistic hyper-rationalism that often results from medical school (which selects such types to begin with).

I'm still thinking about the question, but in general, the one piece of advice I might offer is to always look for intelligence and barakah, or light and grace. If you do this, you won't go wrong, because this is what your intellect and heart are hungering for, a kind of light-filled intellectual certitude, plus a grace-filled warmth where your soul finds its home. In short, you are looking for a sanctuary for the heart-mind.

Back to Lobdell's anti-spiritual autobiography. He says that the pastor of the mega-church "had a knack for making Scripture accessible and relevant. For someone who hadn’t studied the Bible much, these talks fed a hunger in my soul. The secrets to living well had been there all along –- in 'Life’s Instruction Manual,' as some Christians nicknamed the Bible."

When he says that the pastor had a knack for making scripture "accessible," I'm going to take a wild guess and say that he probably had an even bigger talent for vulgarizing it. After all, truth is truth, and if he had been conveying anything deep and useful, Lobdell would still believe it. It would have "stuck."

And when he says that these talks "fed a hunger in my soul," that is surely true, just as Twinkies will feed a hunger in your belly. But just because Twinkies are devoid of nutrition, that hardly means that the stomach doesn't exist or that it doesn't have real needs.

That's another point I would emphasize to my friend at work: you may have difficulty with the idea of God, but that can be overcome if you focus on the other end of the line, the human spirit that is a "divine spark" of God. By locating, identifying, articulating, and expanding this "part" of oneself -- what Aurobindo calls the "psychic being," but which every tradition recognizes -- you will have your own "proof of God." That is, as this part of you develops, God naturally comes more into view. In fact, there can be no stable spiritual practice in the absence of this soul development; it is simultaneously means and end.

Lobdell's next big mistake was confusing (!?) with (¶), or transient states with enduring traits. As he writes, he attended a three-day religious retreat. I guess like any other cult, these are "designed to grind down your defenses and leave you emotionally raw -- an easier state in which to connect with God. After 36 hours of prayer, singing, Bible study, intimate sharing and little sleep, I felt filled with the Holy Spirit."

Hmm. Being that he is now an atheist, he doesn't say what he believes actually happened to him. Presumably it was just some sort of altered state brought about by the unleashing of repressed energy. I'm guessing that this kind of experience isn't too difficult to obtain under such circumstances. Isn't that what the '60s was all about?

Well, running short on time.... The End.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Truth vs. Power in the Life of Solzhenitsyn

... [W]e are not only living with the truth of Gödel but also the truth of Darwin. Our minds are the blind product of evolution. Still, many scientifically minded, post-Gödel thinkers have testified to hearing, within the strange music of Gödel's mathematical theorems, tidings about our essential human nature.... Gödel's theorems tell us, according to this line of reasoning, what our minds simply could not be. In particular, what our minds could not be..., are computers. --Rebecca Goldstein, Incompleteness

Odd that LGF should post a tribute to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for whatever else he was, he was a stern voice against postmodern nihilism in all its varieties, whether it be Marxism, Darwinism, western style consumerism, or narrow-minded Queegism. A Raccoon knows precisely what Solzhenitsyn meant when he said that That which is called humanism, but what would be more correctly called irreligious anthropocentrism, cannot yield answers to the most essential questions of our life, and that One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.

But what can these things possibly mean to a middlebrow Darwinist? It's just vacuous rhetoric. To a Darwinist, Solzhenitsyn's life can make no sense. Why would he risk his genes for ideals that the Darwinist knows are illusory? (Solzhenitsyn was a devout Russian Orthodox.)

In looking back at the horror of Soviet communism, Solzhenitsyn remarked that "if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

I wonder if Solzhenitsyn could have more effectively survived his ordeals if he had adopted the Lizard's credo, that "One word of natural selection shall outweigh both the soul of man and its Creator," or that the atrocities of communism occurred because "Men have forgotten Darwin; that's why all this has happened."

There are several pillars of postmodern deconstruction, and these include Marxism, philosophical Darwinism, and a crude form of Freudianism. Taken together, these constitute a "hermeneutics of suspicion," through which an inferior mind may imagine itself superior in its omnipotent ability to undermine the foundation of things that infinitely surpass it.

In the barbarous hands of a Kosling or Queegling, these are like all-purpose corrosives to the foundations of civilization and to any ideal that transcends our narrow self-interest. But they are emotionally satisfying tools, since the person who wields them can instantly elevate himself above people and institutions far superior to himself. For example, Cornell West or Jesse Jackson need only remind themselves that Jefferson owned slaves, and they are superior to him! Likewise, Queeg need only link to a Penn and Teller routine on creationism, and he is superior to Thomas Aquinas or Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

As I have mentioned before, the Queegling is so powerful that his weaponized ideology is capable of destroying in a single comment what it took 3000 years of spiritual genius to build. Can you imagine the abject idiocy of such a person? But this is what we see in comment after comment at LGF. These "terrible simplifiers" are proud of their ability to render the suprasensible meaningless and reduce existence to a horizontal wasteland.

Freud -- who also had no feel whatsoever for religious truth -- believed that religion was nothing more than a giant collective defense mechanism rooted in childhood fears, while for Marx it was the "opiate of the masses." Likewise for an orthodox Darwinist, religion must have once had some genetic survival value, but in itself it is pure nonsense. In other words, we believe religion not because it is true, but because we are genetically programmed to do so. Which begs two questions, 1) how the atheistic Darwinist has transcended his own religious genes, and 2) whether we are simply genetically programmed to understand science, which in itself has no truth value.

Now, the postmodern revolt is all about power. Since there can be no appeal to truth, no ultimate way to adjudicate between competing agendas, this means that raw power must come in to fill the void. Things like multiculturalism and moral relativism are just masks for pure power.

This is why scientistic rationalism necessarily leads to the kind of totalitarian impulses we always see from the left, whether it is in the form of campus speech codes, political correctness, assaults on religious freedom, judicial tyranny, resurrection of the "fairness doctrine," etc. It is why Queeg must ban dissent from his blog, since no one is allowed to freely discover truth, being that the incorrect truth might be discovered. Therefore, doctrinal truth must be enforced from on high. But at least Queeg is consistent, in that he is behaving just like the survival machine he claims to be.

The entire basis of our rationally ordered liberty is that we may freely appeal to a truth that transcends us. The absence of this arrangement results in hell, one way or the other. For a truly free soul to have to live, move, and think within the narrow constraints of Darwinism would be hell on earth -- like a kind of intellectual and spiritual gulag.

For blind faith in Darwinism results in a kind of violent spiritual dismemberment; these people are crawling around with limbs missing, an eye gouged out, deaf in one ear, for they cannot see, hear, or touch the divine. Now, I'm all for extending rights to the "challenged" in order to make their lives easier. Nevertheless, I don't go as far as the extremists who claim that a disability is an advantage -- for example, advocates for the deaf who are against the cochlear implant, or the "fat is beautiful" movement. For the same reason, we know that "Darwinists must be." But we shouldn't flatter them by calling them "intelligent," much less "wise." Rather, it is a spiritual infirmity. After all, they know far better than we do that they are not intelligently designed. (Again, I am speaking of the Darwinist metaphysician, not the mere intellectual worker bee who knows his limitations, especially if his biological research is in service to a higher ideal.)

Of necessity, Darwinism reduces the Subject to an object, i.e., spirit to matter. But as Polanyi explained, "if all knowledge includes the personal participation of the knower, then the ideal of strict detachment is false. And clearly, if this ideal is a false one, science and religion stand on similar grounds -- or better, they stand on a continuum, with one leading naturally to the other" (Mitchell).

Do you see the problem? Either the Subject is ontologically real and therefore able to arrive at truth, whether scientific, religious, aesthetic or moral; or, if it is reducible to matter, then it renders any kind of immutable truth a mere illusion. In short, what's bad for the religious nous is bad for the scientistic panderer.

Polanyi wrote that this kind of crude scientistic reductionism deprives "our image of man and the universe of any rational foundation. All men, scientists included, must seek and hold on to a reasonable view of the universe and of man's place in it. For acquiring this we must rely on a theory of knowledge which accepts indwelling as the proper way for discovering and possessing the knowledge of comprehensive entities. I believe also this may open up a cosmic vision which will harmonize with some basic teachings of Christianity."

Hey, no kidding! Polanyi continues:

The book of Genesis or the frescoes of Michaelangelo "remain a far more intelligent account of the nature and origin of the universe than the representations of the world as a chance collocation of atoms." Why more intelligent? Because the former view draws great significance from the fact that the world exists and that we may comprehend it, and that the whole existentialada is "linked to our own calling as the only morally responsible beings in the world"; whereas the scientistic view necessarily "denies any meaning to the world, and indeed ignores all our most vital experience of this world."

You see, life is not meaningless. It is an achievement. Likewise, real manhood -- not the mere genetic kind -- is an achievement. It is not conferred by the genes, but by transcending them. Just so, Alexander Solzhenitsyn achieved things of eternal worth on this temporal plane. His life was not just a case of genes looking out for their own interests, like the monsters who oppressed and tortured him, and whose only interest was power.

For two thousand years, philosophy and religion had held up before Western Europe the ideal figure of man, as man, and had claimed for it a supreme worth....

Biological science drew the conclusion that the destruction of individuals was the very means by which advance was made to higher types of species.... As applied to human society this theory is a challenge to the whole humanitarian movement.
--Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas