Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to Argue With Yourself, If You Must

Moving on to #2 on Oldbob's dogmatic list of barking points against Christianity. In addition to making me cringe, this one reminds me of Bacon's wise crack that "a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."

It also reminds me of one of Schopenhauer's central insights, that most men simply stop asking "why" at an arbitrary point, and then call it their "philosophy." My four year-old knows better than that, as he never stops asking why. Yesterday he asked me why we couldn't just paint the grass green instead of getting new sod.

But for tenured children, their philosophistry tends to breed a kind of aggressive defensiveness, because deep (really, it's not so deep, but we'll let it pass) down they know that their ideology is inadequate, since it isn't truly grounded in Reason. In my opinion, this is what makes leftists, Darwinists, global warmists, etc., so contemptuously hyper-aggressive and intolerant of dissent. You know, "if you disagree with Al Gore, you, sir, are worse than Hitler," or "if you see some problems with Darwinism, you secretly wish to impose a fascist theology."

I've noticed that this is the primary mode of argument of all the regular idiotiorialists of the New York Times -- FriedmanDowdKrugmanRich, et al -- who would never lower themselves to the level of actually engaging a conservative argument instead of simply hurling abuse.

Look at how Deepak Chopra characterizes Sarah Palin. Note that he cites no evidence for his kooky beliefs. Rather, since conservatives are self-evidently evil in the religion of leftism, evidence is beside the point. Thus, "Behind [Palin's] beauty-pageant smile lurk[s] the shadow, the dark side of human nature." Really? That's a pretty bold statement. Exactly what is that supposed to mean? Could you define your terms and cite an example?

"Her tactic of appealing to the worst impulses of the electorate had a long history in the Republican Party. Indeed, Palin inherited the selfish, mean-spirited values of another politician with a gleaming smile, Ronald Reagan."

This qualifies as pure hate speech -- a term I hate, but it is what it is. It is certainly not based on anything resembling fact, logic, evidence, or even reality. For example, just ask the millions of people in Eastern Europe if they think Ronald Reagan was a selfish and mean-spirited embodiment of the dark side of human nature. "Oh, sure. Worse than Stalin. And he was so mean to our kind overlord, the USSR, calling them evil and all that."

The term projection -- i.e., the defense mechanism of seeing one's own traits in others -- tends to be thrown out too casually, but what can you say about this gem from Deepak: "I hope the left will take a deep breath and stop treating Palin like a diabolical force."

Er, okay. You mean like seeing her has the embodiment of human evil?

Was Oldbob ever as dark and demented as Deepak Chopra? No. He never took himself that seriously. Truly, his number one priority was having fun. He was a frivolous popinjay, more to be pitied than censured.

I'm not sure where he came up with the next argument. Possibly from Bertrand Russell, who provides one of the finest examples of how genius and wisdom have no necessary relationship whatsoever. More often than not, genius is hijacked by narcissistic mind parasites; like politics, academia tends to be "show business for the unattractive."

At any rate, Oldbob claims that the apostles believed that the Second Coming would occur in their lifetimes, and since it didn't, the whole theological house of cards falls. But the apostles no doubt believed a lot of erroneous things, as they were only gradually instructed and transformed in the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, you might even say that human error is the default setting for the closed system of our animal nature. Only when something breaks in from the outside can we begin to see things as they are. So I don't assign any weight at all to this meager argument. After all, the truth doesn't become false just because you once misunderstood it.

Oldbob then brings up the question of everlasting punishment, which he calls a "doctrine of cruelty" full of "vindictive fury," which "outrages the most ordinary notions of justice and mercy."

Well, that's certainly one way of looking at it. But you will notice that atheists generally pick from the most literal of a variety of interpretations in order to vent their own abuse. I personally don't give any thought to medieval notions of hell. Undoubtedly they were valid in their day, as they addressed themselves to the mentality of the time.

In fact, I don't even give much thought to the afterlife, since it's inconceivable anyway. I see Christianity as a doctrine that teaches us how best to live in this world, not some other world. And since there can be no good in the absence of the Sovereign Good, simple logic dictates that a good Creator cannot be unjust. Thus, I have a kind of faith that we will all get what we deserve in the court of cosmic justice, but I don't bother thinking about it beyond that. Virtue is its own reward anyway. I don't need threats or rewards to obey the Law, any more than I need threats to adore truth or love beauty. It comes to me supernaturally.

Next, one of the oldest untruisms in the atheist ploybook, "either God cannot abolish evil, or he will not; if he cannot, then he is not all-powerful; if he will not, then he is not all good."

There are so many ways to approach this question. First of all, in a nihilistic universe of random Darwinian change, what cries out for explanation is not evil, ugliness, hatred and deception, but decency, truth, beauty, and love. Either the latter are ontological realities, or they are nothing. There's no in between, no matter how atheists try to spin it. And even the ability to distinguish between good and evil implies freedom and transcendence.

But more generally, religious metaphysics -- at least Judeo-Christian metaphysics -- begins (literally, for it is the first sentence in Bible) with the idea that there is a Creator and a created, and that these two are very different realities. It would be easy enough for God to abolish evil, if reality were "only God" -- i.e., if there were no creation.

But the world is not God, and we are not in heaven. Or, to be precise, the world is God, but God is not the world. As a result, there are ontological "degrees of distance" from God, and this is sufficient to account for evil. Again, free will is exercised in that vertical space between good and evil. To eliminate evil, one would obviously have to eliminate free will with it.

Which, of course, the left routinely does as part of its project to destroy the foundation Western civilization. Most recently we all saw how the Islamic terrorist at Fort Hood was instantly transformed into a victim of our own so-called aggression against Muslims. For the leftist, only white heterosexual males have free will, not blacks, Muslims, feminists, Palestinians, etc., or any other victim of those of us who do possess free will.

to be continued.....

31 Comments:

Blogger Anonymous said...

Bob, you're sweeping the floor with this guy.

RR

11/24/2009 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know. I'm not sure he understands a word I'm saying.

11/24/2009 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Ho!
But you didn't think you had anything to do with how he turned out, did you.

RR

11/24/2009 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed that this is the primary mode of argument of all the regular idiotiorialists of the New York Times -- FriedmanDowdKrugmanRich, et al -- who would never lower themselves to the level of actually engaging a conservative argument instead of simply hurling abuse. Look at how Deepak Chopra characterizes Sarah Palin.

Oh, nice! Instead of engaging whatever it is the NY Times columnists say, you choose to examine the snake oil salesman Deepak Chopra. And only one sentence after you accuse them of not engaging actual political arguments. Projection much?

11/24/2009 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

They all obtain their oil from the same snake, even though Deepak is admittedly a little more deep and coherent than those four.

11/24/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NewBob is different from OldBob. But is he better?

What is the value added from your changes? What results, aside from those you experience inside your mind, have come about?

Is the pursuit of verticality and spiritual enlargement, although valid in its own right as a source of personal satisfaction, "all that?"

I question it.


Was OldBob fun to be around? A decent human being? Did useful work? Was respectful to others?

If yes to all of the above, then what seemed like a seismic shift in your mind and emotions has had but a very subtle impact on life.

What good is NewBob?

Instead of grumbling about your profession you could determine the best way to serve your troubled clientele with raccoon wisdom and write a book about it; make an impact on that branch of human endeavor.

What can you do with your ever more vertical orientation?

I put these questions on the table for your examination.

11/24/2009 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And I overturn your table and chase you from the temple. But you'll be back.

11/24/2009 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Recovering leftist and Bob's fellow shrink Robin of Berkeley on The Wilding of Sarah Palin.

Has anyone seen The Exorcist recently? What would happen if we filled those big tanker planes with Holy Water and doused Berkeley?

11/24/2009 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I think it is more proper to say that 'Free Will cannot exist without the *possibility* of evil.'

For beings perfected in virtue (and this is of course, free beings) evil becomes no longer a possibility. Evil can be eliminated and freedom kept, but it can only be done by the person wishing to experience this state.

To *make* evil disappear would involve removing all of our free wills, but evil can be made to disappear if we all decide to become good. Why did God choose the latter instead of the former?

Easy one, the latter one (everyone choosing to be good by their will) is way better than everyone being made into 'good' automatons.

And if Maximus is right, choosing to be good does not mean giving up freedom in any ultimate sense, but involves sacrificing immediate freedom for true freedom. (This is lived out in ascesis)

The world of freedom without evil already exists: you can't make it. You have to find it and go there.

The political agitators are rushing to re-invent the wheel and square the circle all at the same time.

11/24/2009 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

In fact, I don't even give much thought to the afterlife, since it's inconceivable anyway. I see Christianity as a doctrine that teaches us how best to live in this world, not some other world.

I think these ideas deserve extensive elaboration, though perhaps not until another more appropriate posting "cycle". For me a central truth of Christianity is that Christ conquered death on our behalf. Where do other 'coons come down on this rather significant matter?

11/24/2009 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

NB,
I don’t know. It’s been so long now since I last considered there might not be a God, I’ve sort of forgotten. But knowing His existence seems to be central. He IS existence itself. I place everything (when I’m being honest and not forgetful) in the context that God exists, plain and simple, and the implications of such a fact. I mostly just occupy these kinds of thoughts with the things which may or may not be in alignment with what He wants us to do. Those kinds of implications. And to know that His wants are actually gifts from Him. He doesn’t want us to suffer for no purpose or without meaning. Because our Lord certainly didn't, as you also say.
Consciousness does not end? Of course.
The two tones of I AM, sum it up for me. Which is why they are at “the beginning”. Or at the top of everything else. Everything else comes from that, so moves toward it, or doesn’t.

RR

11/24/2009 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blue Anonymous with the black shoe print, RR, you seem to have it down.

I am a troll, an easy target. I like Obama. I believe in climate change.

Care to take a potshot? Fish in a barrel.

11/24/2009 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

I will not smoke your dope.

11/24/2009 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Okay, let me adjust my eye here so I don't lose my balance . . .

>>In fact, I don't even give much thought to the afterlife, since it's inconceivable anyway<<

Maybe not entirely inconceivable, I think. We get a hint from certain dream states we experience - and there are certain high-frequency states of waking consciousness, those in which the contents of the unconscious spill over into the conscious, ie., hallucinationville, a purgatory-preview. I'm all for living in the earthly here and now, but . . . I think if one experiences a bit of a purgatory preview, then one can't help but give some thought to the afterlife, as in "Boy, I will do what it takes to avoid the worst of that."

Now, I think that if we are experiencing a universal quickening, a universal Kundalini, then purgatory is coming right down to earth. While still in the flesh, we may all get a taste of the inconceivable afterlife, conceivably.

11/24/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Bandit -

Christianity doesn't really have an instructional Book of the Dead per se, but I suppose the Book of Revs, interpreted esoterically, could serve as such. In a way.

Christ certainly conquered death, but that's a different issue from afterlife strategies, save for the fact that if we can overcome the world as He did, we can skip right by the purgatorial fires, whether in the flesh or not.

11/24/2009 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you planned to post the actual letter at any point?

While it's plenty amusing seeing you beat up on OldBob, it would likely be pretty easy for anyone to pick through and throw out all of the really obvious non sequiturs OB might use. Might be quicker to just publish the letter and let it refute itself.

11/24/2009 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Let him do it. I'm not going to fight his battles.

11/24/2009 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Oldbob said...

Er, just stick with the highlights. This is humiliating enough.

11/24/2009 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling all coons, if you haven't studied up on Rudolph Steiner, I request you take a look.

Not because of his philosophy, but what he did with it.

Inner accomplishments CAN be externalized. That is the ultimate trick.

"Steinerize" yourselves, coons. Win this thing.

11/24/2009 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Who said that spiritual accomplishment couldn't be externalized? That is the rule: assimilation and manifestation; first the vertical, then the horizontal. It's as natural as inspiration and expiration.

11/24/2009 04:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey other Anonymouser dude,

It's bad enough I can't get Gagdad (my least favorite tuning although it worked for Bensusan) to see Guénon for the nutcase he was. Now I have to contend with your Steiner nuttery too? There's a book called "Metaphysics contra Anthroposophos" also known as the "Summa" you should read.

11/24/2009 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not sure where you got the idea that I was a big fan of Guénon. I don't disagree with everything he said, and I do agree with some of it, but he certainly strikes me as paranoid and probably psychotic at the end.

11/24/2009 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

it's 'Rudolf'

wv= impio
-us

11/24/2009 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not sure where you got the idea that I was a big fan of Guénon."

You've quoted from him several times and never in the negative, so I just assumed. He went off the deep end alright. Reminds one much of Wilhelm Reich in that regard--someone who started off so promising and finished completely paranoid and ready for Hanwell.

Anyhow, I saw that someone linked to one of my videos here and wanted to see what was up. I used to read your blog at one time but, quite frankly, got turned off by all the "troll" bashing. More importantly to me, you seem infatuated with the whole unity/oneness supposition which strikes me is ass-backy. A quick glance at Bohm's concepts of quantum potential & nonlocality along with the photon splitting experiments that followed ought to be enough proof to anyone that there is a connectedness in all things. But, as Chesterton said, "There is in the world a very aged rioter and demagogue who breaks into the most refined retreats with the dreadful information that all men are brothers." Point being that the connectedness of all things isn't the trick. That all beings are within the whole yet can still remain quite separate, take divergent paths, and act with extreme variance is the more interesting and inexplicable phenomenon. One day I'll probably blog about it. Right now I'm still grappling with--sin and the art of telecaster maintenance.

PAX

11/24/2009 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Retriever said...

I liked this:

"you might even say that human error is the default setting for the closed system of our animal nature. Only when something breaks in from the outside can we begin to see things as they are. So I don't assign any weight at all to this meager argument. After all, the truth doesn't become false just because you once misunderstood it."

Perhaps I am just making a virtue out of necessity, but it soothes my perpetual anxiety about being a rotten Xian because I cannot argue intelligently to prove the existence of God, indeed, such arguments bore me silly. It is not simple intellectual laziness or stupidity. It is the sense you describe that the Truth and the Light of God are bigger than we are, they dazzle us, and are so beyond us that we can't even measure them. They illumine the dark corners of our lives, but the path they light is a tough one and we can't see where it leads.

Great new series of posts. Could especially relate as one of the kids reminds me of my own asinine sophomoric political contortions. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny...

11/24/2009 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Occasionally I come upon the question: If God is almighty, can he create a stone so heavy that he can't lift it?

This is actually a wonderful metaphor. The stone is called "free will". Do you have it, or don't you?

If you do, this fully explains evil and lots of unpleasantness all around. If you don't have free will, you can't help babbling about things you don't understand. So which is it?

In short, there is no reason to involve God in the "problem of evil". It can be understood by simple basic introspection.

11/24/2009 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Bacon's wise crack that "a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.""

I certainly revealed the truth of that to myself.

"It also reminds me of one of Schopenhauer's central insights, that most men simply stop asking "why" at an arbitrary point, and then call it their "philosophy.""

Oh... sooo so true.

"philosophistry"

AHH!!! Excellent!

"This qualifies as pure hate speech -- a term I hate, but it is what it is. It is certainly not based on anything resembling fact, logic, evidence, or even reality."

Does passionately emotional dislike, without recourse to supporting Reason... have any real choice but to become Hate? I don't think so. The choice to be satisfied with your 'answers' without reasons for them and to fight off reasons against them, truly determines the blackest of ends.

"Possibly from Bertrand Russell, who provides one of the finest examples of how genius and wisdom have no necessary relationship whatsoever"

Got that right.

"To eliminate evil, one would obviously have to eliminate free will with it.
Which, of course, the left routinely does as part of its project to destroy the foundation Western civilization."

Exactly.

11/25/2009 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

River said "I think it is more proper to say that 'Free Will cannot exist without the *possibility* of evil.'"

Ehhh... I disagree for two reasons.

One, that assumes Evil to be an actuallity, rather than an absence, a deliberate absence, of good. Free Will allows for the possibility (unlikely, but possible) of Evil never being chosen. Evil has no substance of it's own, it can have or 'existence' or power without being chosen. Choice can be chosen all day long, and errors made, without ever resulting in Evil.


Which leads into the second reason, Free Will means the possibility of error, but simple error is not the same as evil, true Evil is a chosen assault upon the Good, the Beautiful and the True... and that is not a necessary effect of Free Will, in fact asserting it would actually be a denial of Free Will.

11/25/2009 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

trolls.

Too boring to bother bashing.

11/25/2009 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Was OldBob fun to be around? A decent human being? Did useful work? Was respectful to others?

and if the answer is "no" there what is the response? Time to x him out?

Do people not have an intrinsic value?

11/26/2009 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oldbob definitely performed useful work, having been a retail clerk for 12 years. And he was always a bit of a live wire, so he was fun to be around. But it took a bit of rewiring to properly channel the energy flowing through him.

11/26/2009 07:55:00 AM  

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