On Knowing How We Know Bill Maher is an Imbecile
It is hard to prove anything to a fundamentally dishonest man, or to a man who is not in love with Truth. A sociopath believes in nothing but his own power to deceive in order to get what he wants. A corollary of this is that the man who reduces truth to power is well on the way to sociopathy. One thinks of Bill Clinton, and now Barack Obama.
You cannot prove to socialists that the free market is superior to a centrally planned economy, thus proving that one must first be willing to be humbly convicted by truth. You cannot prove to a committed leftist that racial quotas are not only unconstitutional but harmful to their intended beneficiary. You cannot prove to a barking moonbat that President Bush did not "lie us into war," or to a multiculturalist that some cultures are more beautiful and decent than others.
I once tried that last one over lunch at a psychology convention. During the break, about a dozen of us were sitting at a table. Everyone was sharing a little about themselves (we were all strangers), so I started innocently witnessing some Raccoon mysteries and slackraments, and the reaction was swift, sharp, and girlish. The feman next to me actually got up, petulantly threw his napkin down on his chair, and said, "I don't have to listen to this!"
Okay, okay. Sorry. He sat back down, and the meal continued in a kind of awkward silence punctuated by inane chitchat. The power of political correctness. (A reader sent me a link the other day, documenting the extraordinary disparity in political Love Offerings from psychologists and psychiatrists. It's as bad as you'd expect. Not a single conservative on the list.)
I just began reading Bernard Lonergan's Insight, so soon I should be able to report back to you on what is occurring when a man is thinking -- not just about God, but about anything, i.e., "what is happening when we are knowing" and "what is known when that is happening."
It's really quite mysterious if you stop to think about it. Plato grappled with the question of how it is possible to recognize a truth we do not know, unless we somehow already implicitly know it. Really, knowing anything is a freaking miracle. It doesn't really add to, or detract from, the essential miracle to say that we can know God. You have to be pretty unimaginative to imagine otherwise.
This is what Schuon is referring to when he says that "Skepticism and bitterness have nothing spontaneous about them; they are the result of a supersaturated and deviant culture." A Bill Maher comes to mind, since he is a fine example of someone who is skeptical and bitter as a way to signal his self-satisfied belief in his own intelligence to others.
This is a profoundly narcissistic exercise, because the cynic cannot "build" anything, only undermine and destroy. He can only sneer at the work of other men, while affecting an attitude of pseudo-sophistication. Such a man -- just like a child -- has no earthly idea of what he is attacking, because he would never attempt to do so if he did (to say the least). One doesn't destroy what is precious unless one is ignorant or insane. (By the way, Bill Whittle does a fine job of carving up Maher in this video.)
Again, a rational proof of God is only understood to the extent that it transmits a bit of the "substance" of God in the proof. In other words, it is not just the proof itself, but an additional x-factor that is conveyed in the proof. Really, the proof merely clears a space and creates a gap where a kind of electrical "arc" can occur. I'm sure you all know what I mean. Again, we're just trying to understand what's happening when it happens.
What we call the "mystical experience" is simply first-hand knowledge of God. It is actually much more communicable than people realize, but even if it weren't, "there is nonetheless no justification for concluding that it must be false simply because it is incommunicable." Again, that would be pure sophistry of the Maharian type.
As we've discussed before, the radical can destroy in a day -- a moment! -- what it took centuries to build. Thus, a Bill Mahar sets himself in opposition to "the unanimous witness of the sages and saints -- throughout the world and down the ages."
In order to maintain such a preposterous view, one must be so deeply contemptuous of mankind, that it is impossible to understand how mankind could ever produce someone as great as Bill Maher. Do you see the problem? It's like trying to account for a dog that one day starts using toilet paper instead of licking its butt, pardon the French.
Only the man who has understood the mystical experience can begin to appreciate what a neanderthal such as Bill Maher wishes to throw away. For in the end, he wishes to do away with man as such, that is, the archetypal man that conditions us from above, and toward which our life is a journey. As Schuon writes, "there is no comparison between the intellectual and moral worth of the greatest contemplatives and the absurdity that their illusion would imply were it nothing but that." Meister Eckhart or Bill Maher. Shankara or Sean Penn. Tough choice.
Schuon goes on to say that this kind of hermetically sealed ignorance would lead us to believe that "no proof of anything is possible since every argument can be invalidated verbally by some sort of sophistry." In short, it is a reduction of integral truth to what the most common and vulgar minds are capable of understanding.
Housekeeping note: probably no posts for the next few days. It's the end of summer Labor Day reslackification.