My Epic Debate with an Immature Atheist Assoul
It's actually from someone I used to know. In fact, we were once quite intimate, and shared a lot of good times. However, I hadn't given him much thought in a number of years, and for all I knew, the man was dead.
The letter is from me.
It seems that my brother was clearing out his dusty archives, and found this ancient screed among his treasures. I'm not sure when this demented memento was written, but it's pre-computer, since it was done on a typewriter.
I thought it might be fun to engage in a dialogue with this inappropriately confident metaphysical yahoo, by publishing his rant word for word, and then giving my response. How often does one have the opportunity to do battle with an original sincarnation of onesoaf?
One can only do so if one has actually changed, and changed dramatically ("to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often"). There has to be a pretty dramatic rupture or maybe even rapture, not just an evolution of one's views. After all, a linear evolution is easy to explain, if only because of the maturity that occurs with time and experience.
But in this case, I'm dealing with a jackass-of-all-tirades who holds views that are not just the polar opposite of mine. For that implies a simplistic linear map of psychic space, like the continuum of left and right. The problem is that the spiritual and worldly are not on a horizontal continuum; rather, as we discussed a number of weeks ago, they are on a vertical continuum.
Furthermore, this spiritual continuum extends above and below the empirical ego, so that few materialists are merely "a-spiritual." Rather, for reasons that we will discuss in more detail below, the a-spiritual tends to (and justifies) the anti-spiritual, just as the amoral soon enough ushers in the immoral, and the a-soul becomes the assoul. If man is not creatively ascending, he is usually frantically descending (cf. the three gunas, specifically, the unchecked tamasic quality of darkness, obscurity, delusion and ignorance).
Man being what he is, the staunchest atheist is nevertheless going to be situated somewhere on the very vertical plane he denies, since it is and must be prior to the horizontal plane to which the materialist has artificially confined himself. Here again, this is one of the intrinsic difficulties in debunking an atheist, for in order to do so, one must descend to their crude level of bunk, since they deny up front what they claim to disprove with their tin-eared reason.
But as we have said many times, reason cannot furnish its own material on which to operate. Rather, that involves a vertical act of judgment. Which is why one must be very cautious with that first philosophical booby step, for if not, one will be stepping into an abyss, or sacred cowpie, that will naturally be conflated with reality. In the absence of light, the darkness looks like a wall, and a tangled web can feel like a footbridge.
We get the occasional atheist troll who complains about my dismissive treatment of them, but I certainly don't treat them any worse than the alterbob who composed this rant, whom I thought I had killed and buried in an appropriately shallow grave. If nothing else, Oldbob shows that Newbob is completely familiar with all of the typtopical atheist sophistries, since he once believed them. Truly, there's nothing new under the sonofabitch. You could even say that Oldbob was just like Hitchens, minus the charm and drunkenness. No, wait. Just not that drunk.
The point is, I am at an advantage over Oldbob, since I know how he turned out. I know that his arguments, once so passionately held, are now as meaningful to him as, say, Teletubbies is to my son, now that he's moved on to Sponge Bob.
That may sound like a stretch, but it really isn't. At each developmental stage, we require external models in order to actualize the latent potential within us. If we do not have access to the appropriate external model, then it is likely that our development will stall at that stage.
Ken Wilber -- I think it was Wilber -- has discussed this idea, that the "interior collective" of culture only allows for a certain level of development, but no higher. Of note, it will tend to punish not only the people who fail to achieve that level, but also those who surpass it. Basically, the elites will attempt to delegitimize anyone who calls their ossified maps and mythic narratives into question (cf. Sarah Palin).
In fact, what did the Master say? A prophet is not without honor save in his own country.
Let's move on to the letter.