Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Fairy Tales of the Dead & Tenured

If the number of comments is any indication, interest in this debate with myself seems to be losing its fire, so let's trundle to the phoenix line. There are only four more arguments. Maybe we can quickly reduce them to ashes, and move on.

Oldbob says that Christianity teaches that the heart of man is "totally corrupt," and asks how then could religion not be marked by cruel practices and incredible beliefs?

Excuse me. Your point being? I believe the question answers itself: man is indeed not only "a" problem, but the problem; and not just with regard to religion, but in, oh, let's say, climate science. Weathergate is only the latest version of Applegate, of man eliminating certain inconvenient data in order to make himself a god, or obtain tenure, or rake in grant money, or win an Oscar, etc.

In fact, as I pointed out in my book, man is actually the only problem in the entire cosmos, is he not? Before the appearance of man, there were truly no problems (I hate to agree with the radical environmentalists, but they've obviously incorporated a warped version of the Fall into their neopagan religion). And I don't often find myself agreeing with Stalin, but surely he was right about his guiding credo: no man, no problem. The problem is, without the problem of man, there are no solutions either, least of all genocide.

Speaking of which, I'm currently reading a wonderful new book by George Nash (who wrote the classic The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945), Reappraising the Right: The Past & Future of American Conservatism. Among other virtues, it's full of pithy little gems such as this one by George Gilder, which sounds like it could have come straight from Petey's piehole: "Our greatest and only resource is the miracle of human creativity in a relation of openness to the divine." Or, you could simply say O --> (¶).

Or how about this beaut: Conservatism is "ultimately and essentially spiritual in character. The personal virtues it celebrates... require an 'openness to transcendence' and acceptance of the God-given nature of things.... [C]onservatism properly understood is not only a philosophy of government but of self-government," not simply a meditation "on what to think but on how to live." Not just a philosophy of liberty, but of what to do with it, for if freedom does not converge on truth and virtue, it is nothing. Just so -- and for the same reason -- "Man is what he is, or else he is nothing" (Schuon). God or nothing. Take your pick.

Not just what to think, but how to live. Does this not replace reams of superfluous left wing books, bumper stickers, and baccalaureates? For the essential difference between contemporary conservatism and vulgar leftism is that the former is interior and interiorizing while the latter is exterior and exteriorizing. Thus, conservatism is humanizing, while leftism is literally "animalizing."

And this inevitably follows from the metaphysical relativism of the left, which fragments into a multitude of omnipotent victims, all buffeted by exterior circumstances, with no spiritual locus of control and therefore human dignity. For the left, God is not dead. Nor is he the victim, who is more like the saint or prophet; rather, he is the creator of victims, for the power to confer victimhood is the royal road to leftist control. Victims are the bridge between political theory and political power. No victims, no left. Conversely, a world of "people who know how to properly live" would render the left utterly superfluous. Ironically, like a waterwheel, their power is generated by man's perpetual fall.

Oldbob next says that even if free will is used to account for moral evil, it cannot be the basis for natural evils such as birth defects and other tragedies. Yes, this is true enough. Free will does not account for accidents "below" the human realm. So why are there such things?

Frankly, I have never regarded this as a big mystery. Everything inevitably deviates from its ideal, or there would be no possibility of freedom, truth, and beauty. To ask "why is there evil?" is to affirm that there is good. Freedom and necessity are the warp and weft of the fabric of being, and again, nothing could go right unless there were the possibility of it going wrong. This is earth, not heaven. Thus we hope for "Thy will to be done," herebelow as it is thereabove.

Hoo boy. Where to begin?: "Morality cannot be based on religion.... It is our own moral insight which tells us if anything is worthy of worship. How do we know that God is good if we do not know before hand what good is?"

Well, we do know beforehand what good is, and it is not thanks to the random copying errors of natural selection. To suggest the latter is to abolish morality, precisely.

Again, I do not mind that there are scientistic Darwinians who elevate random error to the ultimate truth. It only bothers me that they do not have the courage of their absence of convictions, and instead steal from Christian morality, as if it is normative for the human species of their dark fantasies (I mean, as if morality is normative, not stealing).

All forms of existentialism -- which is to say those doctrines that reduce essence to existence, spirit to matter, and humanness to selfish genes -- postulate "a definition of the world that is impossible if existentialism itself is possible." Again, if Darwinism is true, it is false, for it allows for no adeqation to a transcendent but ontologically real dimension of moral absolutes.

Lastly, a brief diatribe on "the bizarre idea of immortality." Why bizarre? Here are some of the human realities that are truly bizarre and unexpected in a supposedly dead and closed material cosmos: life, consciousness, love, truth, beauty, virtue, selflessness, saintliness, poetry, music, humor, children. In the face of these realities that open us to the transcendent, it is the concept of absolute mortality that is bizarre and in need of explanation. Who said this is a fundamentally dead cosmos, anyway? I guess dead men do tell tales. Call it "perish and publish."

Farewell, Oldbob. See you in a couple of decades.


Blogger Anonymous said...

What an exit!


PS Been extra busy and on travel this week, so at least five of the missing comments from yesterday were mine.

12/01/2009 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

This is all good stuff. I've been trying to catch up, which I have sort of done today.

As you point out, for all their dismissal of the Fall, it is the left who cling to the fallen, sinful nature and celebrate its imperfections.

Government is for the imperfect. If we were all perfect, we'd have no need of it. To the extent that we can be perfected, we need less of it.

wv offers ratine as a new adjective to occasionally substitute for "ferret-faced".

12/01/2009 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Bingo: "Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free" (Burke).

12/01/2009 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Oldbob gave way to current Bob. A rather obvious improvement in movement along the vertical axis!

Some folks though just keep digging deeper the grayer the ponytail gets. Queeg just "formally" announced his split with the Right. Not much new, except this howler:
22 Charles
Tue, Dec 1, 2009 10:37:10am
re: #14 exelwood

Had you had your current opinion of the right wing in '04 would you have pursued Rathergate?

Yes. Fraud is fraud.


Yup. Fraud is fraud for old Charlie. Except when that fraud is meticulously documented, global in scale, and a threat to Western Civilization. Then it's just about "deniers".

What a brazen lowlife.

12/01/2009 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He is indeed nuts -- like Andrew Sullivan, but without recourse to AIDS-related dementia to account for his downfall.

12/01/2009 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Gradus said...

Bob, didn't Adam Smith say something similar to Burke? The future of the capitalism he described would depend, he said, on the moral environment. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of his _Wealth_ near the desk.

12/01/2009 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question is not how to live, it is how to love. The second makes the first blossom properly as a sequelae.

12/01/2009 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

And don't forget to wear some flowers in your hair.

12/01/2009 02:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you break down life thoughtfully, you will see that all of the juice is in relating. Good relating is love. Bad relating is everything else.

Actually, there is nothing else to do but love. Do that and you are doing everything.

So, to live well, one becomes proficient at loving oneself and other people. Putting flowers in the hair may help with the atmospherics of this.

Good loving consists of being fresh, beautiful,and artistic about about. Put the true and the good in how you love your mate and yourself and other people.

One thing to do is to avoid "relationships," which consist of repeated patterns of relating. Keep it fluid to avoid staleness.

Marriage is not a relationship; don't fall for that idea. Each morning your spouse is someone new; relate accordingly.

So, having spouted this nauseating pabulum, I can honestly say I do it out of love for the readers and the writer of this blog.

I know what you're saying: Yeechhh.

But, I could be a beautiful woman, absolutely stunning. Does that change how you feel? Even a little?

Think it over. Mull it.

12/01/2009 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Actually, there is nothing else to do but love."

I'll take a wild guess and say you have no children. If not, keep your little monsters away from mine.

12/01/2009 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous homely skank said...

Anon 3:14 said,

"But, I could be a beautiful woman, absolutely stunning. Does that change how you feel? Even a little?"

Wouldn't matter, as soon as you open your mouth, your breath still smells like shit.

12/01/2009 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Moe said...

You said,

"Good loving consists of being fresh, beautiful,and artistic about about."

WTF does that mean?

wv; obuffens
Sounds like someones nickname down at the bath-house.

12/01/2009 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Desi said...

Looks like someone's ^ been hitting the sauce.

12/01/2009 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Another triple homer! :^)

12/02/2009 12:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Desi said...
Looks like someone's ^ been hitting the sauce.

Or the sauce has been hittin' them.

12/02/2009 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Weathergate is only the latest version of Applegate, of man eliminating certain inconvenient data in order to make himself a god, or obtain tenure, or rake in grant money, or win an Oscar, etc."


12/02/2009 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Not just a philosophy of liberty, but of what to do with it, for if freedom does not converge on truth and virtue, it is nothing."

Yes! And the attempt to offload the application of that freedom and liberty, giving the 'what do do with it' to someone else to tell you and others what to do with it (helpful hint to trolls: Leftism)... only corruption can follow.

Truth and Virtue require your active choice in what to do with it - skimp on any aspect, and lose it all.

12/02/2009 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Victims are the bridge between political theory and political power. No victims, no left. Conversely, a world of "people who know how to properly live" would render the left utterly superfluous. Ironically, like a waterwheel, their power is generated by man's perpetual fall."

Poor oldbob... he hadn't a chance of surviving.

12/02/2009 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gradus said " I don't have a copy of his _Wealth_ near the desk"

If you're at your computer, you're as near to your
Wealth of Nations as you can be.

If you haven't seen this site before, click the "Authors (by period)" link and see your accessible library of wealth bloom.

12/02/2009 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous homely skank said...

^ Twisted freak ^

12/02/2009 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Retriever said...

Great post, and love the title. I am asking for some of the books you review for Christmas. And will actually have a few days off to read them...

The same people who affect to despise Christianity because its practitioners are "hypocrites" (ie: miserable sinners when the agnostic thinks they can only prove the truth of their faith by being perfect) rationalize their own immoral behavior by basically toddler taunting God "You're not the boss of me!" Or else regressing even further, and covering their eyes so as not to see the evidence everywhere of His presence. If I can't see it, it doesn't exist.

One can tediously explain with cliches like "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven". But the fools just snicker nastily about reformed sinners proving that religion is ridiculous. Would they rather that we had all continued in our previous sins?? I joke sometimes that "You think that I'm bad now, but you have no idea how much worse I was before I believed..."

Essentially, if one can't be God (ie: perfect) the scoffers have no use for the faith that has redeemed us. A kind of splitting? Because they will maunder on about how WONDERFUL a Mother Theresa is, much the way readers of the NYT magazine alternate between intense schadenfreude reading about piteous Third World orphans and careful study of the Ferragamo ad on the facing page. Because I am such a fine compassionate member of the chattering classes I deserve those shoes...

To emote, to admire from a safe distance, and to say "If all Christians were like her, I would go to church" is a way of avoiding the light on oneself. Much like roaches in a city apartment who scuttle away when one turns on the light. Sorry to rant (still bruised from argument with college kid of mine who is dishing out usual stage-specific bilge about the stupidity of faith).

12/02/2009 05:32:00 PM  

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