Thursday, July 15, 2010

Atheism Is Not Great! Or Good. Or Beautiful. Or True. Or Anything, Really.

Continuing with the theme of Cosmic Love, Pieper writes that even those "who declare human existence to be simply absurd, or who see it gloomily unfolding under the decree of blind fate, still have an inkling of that all-embracing love whose absence they lament or denounce."

In other words, God may be absent for these blind folkers, but he is always oddly conspicuous in his absence, as if he should be there. Indeed, if this were a cosmos worthy of the name -- that is, a vertical and internally ordered totality -- there would have to be someone or something at the top, dammit! So where is s/h/it?!

God Is Not Great. This is fine example of Matte Blanco's symmetrical logic, in which an assertion implies its converse. Of course God is great, by definition (certain assouls' and heterodicks' definitions notwithstanding). That's not Hitchens' problem.

Rather, his problem is God Is Not, full stop. But if not, why not? It can only be because he is in denial of the whole in his head, the whole without which there can be no coherent parts, including the parts that deny cOherence.

The God he is rejecting is not great, and therefore not God. Because God is surely great, even if he doesn't exist -- just as unicorns have a single horn even though they don't. Something needn't exist to have a strict definition -- for example, "patriotic leftist."

The trinocular Raccoon simply begins with God Is, or O. The rest is our problem. Unlike some of our competitors, we do not deploy reason to explore the mysteries of faith, but gnosis or intellection to explore the mysteries of Reason.

In ether worlds, once you realize that O cannot not be, then that's where the f-f-fun begins, i.e., the Adventure of Consciousness. You can insist that this adventure is "not great." But how would you know, bonehead? It's like someone with agoraphobia insisting that Rome is not great! or the French Riviera is not great! Sounds a little defensive to me.

It is the same way when the retardenstia trot out the existence of evil to reject the Creator. Here again, they know somewhere in their withered soul that it "shouldn't be," but why shouldn't it be? "Good without evil can exist; but evil without good cannot."

For in reality, evil should pose no mystery whatsoever to the tenured. Rather, the mystery in a Darwinian world is virtue, or love, or beauty, or truth, or extreme selflessness, or sainthood. Such things have no right to exist and should not be in a wholly material cosmos. Darwin is not great! Or good! Or beautiful! Or true! Or any other transcendental category.

For if there is a first cause - a Cause at the beginning of the chain of causality -- so too is there a "first lover," and a capital beauty and a Truth of truth.

O, if only t'were so easy to dismiss man's cosmic Obligations! But we are again condemned to transcendence: "We may well wish sometimes that 'God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny'" (ibid), but that would be a different creature with a different creator in a different cosmos.

This is this cosmos, where we have the terrible responsibility of knowing what is true, doing what is good, and creating what is beautiful. Anyone who tells you otherwise is certainly other than wise, and probably just compensating for the fact that what he knows is false, what he does is wrong, and what he creates is ugly.

Our cosmic responsibility reminds me of something Captain Beefheart once said: "Yeah, I'm a genius, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it."

In the absence of God, a man can believe himself to be just as wise, good, and creative as anyone else. As someone once said, if you can't do anything else, you can always call yourself an artist, and no one can tell you different. But you can also call yourself a philosopher or an ethicist or a guru or a priest or comedian.

To escape these transcendental demands is to flee from our humanness. In rejecting God, we reject man, for man only is what he is in relation to that which transcends him, that for which we are always striving, and that to which we point like eros shot from the origin to the center, alphatomega and back again.

This is not a new problem. Rather, it was "so familiar to the thinkers of the past that they cited it among the seven 'deadly sins' as acedia" (ibid), which we discussed a couple weeks ago. This is the despair "of man's not daring to be what he is" -- less than or all-too human, depending on how you look at it.

Thus the paradorks do not understand: "God's love can be a thousand times sterner and harsher than his justice" (ibid), in particular, for the man who imagines himself to be a closed and self-sufficient system. For such a person, hell is other people, for they remind him of his dependency and his responsibilities. D'oh!

But hell is also other gods, for they remind him that he is not God. Only if God exists are you actually free to reject him. If there is no God, then there is no freedom at all, just arbitrary lateral movement this way and that. There is no God and you can't know it.

Indeed, to affirm this primordial denial -- to say Yes! to no -- is to affirm that one is not affirmed, and that one therefore doesn't really exist at all. Or, one absurdly exists as non-existence, a hungry parasite on nothing.

Mal appétit!

26 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

Love! It!

"..but that would be a different creature with a different creator in a different cosmos.

This is this cosmos, where we have the terrible responsibility of knowing what is true, doing what is good, and creating what is beautiful."

Man, did that need to be said. And so well.

7/15/2010 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

A truly poetic rendering of unbelieving lard.

7/15/2010 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Lard help us!

7/15/2010 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Something needn't exist to have a strict definition -- for example, "patriotic leftist.""

Good point.

;-)

7/15/2010 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Come now, there are plenty of patriotic leftists! Granted, their patriotism extends mainly to Cuba, Iran, "Palestine" and the like, but they still exist!

7/15/2010 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"For in reality, evil should pose no mystery whatsoever to the tenured."

Yep, just one damn thing after another. Including our insisting on it being done otherwise... why bother with our bothering? It's not as if one could be good, and the other bad, right? Just go smoke a bowl, stare at the wall, and let us worry about our silly notions of Right and Wrong... chill... it ain't no thang.

"Rather, the mystery in a Darwinian world is virtue, or love, or beauty, or truth, or extreme selflessness, or sainthood. Such things have no right to exist and should not be in a wholly material cosmos. Darwin is not great! Or good! Or beautiful! Or true! Or any other transcendental category."

Oh... now you've harshed their mellow. Good, Truth and Beauty?

How can you dismiss all of your cares with those rolling around your noggin?

Sheesh.

7/15/2010 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

NB said "...Granted, their patriotism extends mainly to Cuba..."

And seriously, what's not to feel patriotic about, what wouldn't swell the leftist breast with pride, when considering the reality of human rights in Michael Moore's glorious workers paradise and health spa,Cuba:

"Rats and diseases infested Cuban prison cells so badly that some inmates tried to kill themselves and other did themselves harm, according to freed political prisoners who spoke Thursday in Spain."

Marxism, truly a love story.

7/15/2010 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Since love is the force that joins together, it must necessarily become stronger the closer we come to The One.

Perhaps this is also the reason for the characteristic "hardness" or "solidity" of the higher realm, the very thing decried by those who reject them. "Where is the love?" they cry when ancient rules will not bend to their whims. And yet it was love that gave those rules in the first place. If the law of gravity varied on a case by case basis, we would be thrown into chaos. So also are the laws of spiritual life an expression of love, and those who successfully flee them sink into Dissolution.

Or that's how I see it right now. Hopefully it will be clearer later.

7/15/2010 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Magnus, that's an interesting observation. It rings true from where I'm sitting, anyway.

7/15/2010 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I keep trying to cut back on my internet time, and you keep putting up posts like these. Just so beautifully put.

7/15/2010 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's the problem with having a cult that people can't join but can only leave... maybe I should rethink that policy.

7/15/2010 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jason T. said...

Can we get a Hitchens vs. Gagdad Smackdown Showcase? Could be hosted as a live television event: hmmm, Bill Moyers as moderator? HA! Brought to us by viewers like you.

Seems to me that Hitch is always looking to 'peck a fight' (so quoting that raging looney Mel Gibsom from Braveheart) with anyone of a spiritual orientation, and I get the feeling he would get a little more than he bargained for from Bob and his team of non-local quipsters.

Let's get the ball rolling on this!

7/15/2010 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I appreciate the sentiment, but I don't really have any interest in debating anyone, only sharing my own little adventure with those who are interested.

7/15/2010 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Dear Bob,

"Rather, the mystery in a Darwinian world is virtue, or love, or beauty, or truth, or extreme selflessness, or sainthood. Such things have no right to exist and should not be in a wholly material cosmos."

Quite right! Were we truly emergent from the slime by purely random molecular interactions, we would not feel the alienation from the purely material that we do. We would not see the joy and tragedy in every day.

Despite those who would attribute altuism to a selfish gene, the fact that we experience that alienation, and can understand truth, beauty, and love, demonstrate that our souls have an origin that is beyond this material world, anchored in the Divine.

Gandalin

7/15/2010 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Our baby got her blue eyes from her mother. According to this guy, our cosmos got her temporal direction (time's arrow) from her mother, who was a black hole.

The theory apparently allows for the initial "inflation" of the universe (which could not have reached current size using conventional physics) without requiring a different theory of gravity. Something to do with torsion, which heretofore I thought was a particularly painful football injury caused by an ill-fitting cup. Live and learn.

7/15/2010 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Torsion? I thought that was a congenital thing. I know a kid who had to have surgery for that this year. Ouch.

7/15/2010 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Congenital? Could be for all I know. Whatever it is, it sounds about as pleasant as a room full of patriotic leftists.

7/15/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

hey--
it's almost the day before the weekend! here's
a folksinger's folksinger i had never even heard of: [a na'ber turned me onto him]

quite a voice & pen

,
,
,

7/15/2010 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the universe article, the whole premise strikes me as rather suspect. I like the first commenter's observation over there: "This stuff is not even wrong."

7/15/2010 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Meanwhile, the "roomfull of patriotic leftists" link appears to be a wormhole.

wv says: nosifi. It prefers science truth.

7/15/2010 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

Well I think Darwin is good. Better than you.

And you, Mr. B., are going to debate whether ye like it or no.

Got it?

Workers of the world unite.

Comrades.

7/15/2010 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

And Hitchens is a weenie. Don't invite him here.

7/15/2010 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Oops -- leftist link was just a thing about a symposium this week featuring Van Jones, George Soros and other lefty luminaries. They're trying to figure out how to fleece the American public for trillions of dollars to support the green economy.

As for the physics link -- well I am not qualified to comment on advanced physics (although about 10 years ago I managed to get a reasonable handle on the topic for a while) but it seems to me physics is somewhat "stuck". There seems to be an inordinate amount of "science" being done which has as the primary goal obtaining proof that the cosmos was not Designed with Mankind in Mind.

I'd also note that the link came from Glenn Reynold's site. He's one of those guys who I really like and respect, however I also realize that as an atheist(?) he is pretty much only right accidentally (well, by virtue of the conservative company he keeps), and often links to stuff which is half-baked at best.

Julie's coon-sense picked up on the problematic article immediately. It didn't smell all that great to me either, however as I said I have little real idea what the state of the art is these days so it's a bit hard to separate the wheat from the chaff as a layman.

7/15/2010 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Jason T, this one's for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFl0nlHaWa4

Be kind to others, and be kind to yourself.

7/15/2010 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

NB, I don't know about the physics details either. It just seems to me that what is posited - that our universe is "born" of a black hole in another universe - is deeply unsatisfactory as any kind of explanation as to how it all came to be. It seems like a bigger version of the "life on earth was seeded by aliens" theory.

The physicists' complaint is that inflation after the big bang is an ugly theory, requiring additional explanations. The alternative (or is it an additional theory) posited here doesn't strike me as being a particularly beautiful explanation. For one thing, even if it describes how our universe came to be, it does nothing to explain the mother of all universes; in fact, it conveniently relegates such knowledge to the realms of the utterly unknowable, horizontally or vertically. To me, that's the brown bag hiding the face of a very ugly solution.

7/15/2010 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

The cosmos is not consciouss. It is rocks, stardust, and energy.

There is no purpose behind the cosmos.

Aliens did seed the eath with life.

Don't look inside or to the supernatural for explanations.

Trust Bh. I know what's best for you.

7/15/2010 08:16:00 PM  

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