Monday, March 19, 2012

God's Endless Search for Man

The problem with the left is not a bad philosophy, but no philosophy at all. The left is truly "post-philosophical," which is what allows them to routinely hold views that are internally inconsistent, and more generally, to appeal to expedient principles -- an oxymoron -- as the need arises to defend what can only amount to raw power and self-interest.

No, this is not just polemical, because this is precisely what the more sophisticalated among them aver, without so much as a fig leaf over their straight faces. We are indeed in a "post-metaphysical" age, which is indistinguishable from a post-philosophical age, which in turn results in a post-serious thinking age, or what Dennis Prager calls "the age of stupidity."

When the tenured break out the "post-metaphysics" canard, what they really mean is post-Western civilization in general and post-Judeo-Christian in particular. The only way to jettison those two obstacles to their aspirations is to discredit them entirely. Not to seriously engage them, because to engage them would be to leave oneself beclowned (just as engaging the Constitution would put an end to the left's schemes).

Therefore, these more venerable ideas must be dismissed with a kind of a priori contempt, as if man learned nothing at all during his first 200,000 years on the planet. If nothing else, the mere presence of a species for 200,000 years argues for an essence or nature that defines the species. But this is not a problem if one's post-philosphical and post-intellectual outlook tosses aside the whole notion of essence.

Rather, if man is but the effect of wholly random causes, he has no essence. That being the case, we are free to turn him into anything we wish. For example, if we raise a boy as a girl, he will become one. For the left, the only thing in man that is absolutely fixed is homosexuality. That and the right to a dead baby. Unless the baby is homosexual. Then it's murder.

The only way to overcome what man has learned about himself over the eons -- much of it rather unflattering -- is to adopt an attitude of abject cynicism. Now, as we see in our troll, this attitude is one of extreme corrosiveness, in the sense that it naively prides itself on being able to dissolve any argument before reaching its conclusion. This is why I refer to it as "negative omniscience."

Unlike positive omniscience, or "knowing everything," this is the negative capability of knowing nothing. One routinely encounters it in clinical practice, among paranoiacs (in a more crude form) and narcissists (in more subtle forms).

Most of you have probably been around a hard-bitten paranoiac or conspiracy theorist with whom you simply cannot reason. If you carefully explain to them with facts, evidence, and logic, say, how implausible it is to suggest that George Bush "lied us into war" -- or, for that matter, that Bill Clinton is a mass murderer, or Barack Obama is an Islamist agent -- they will roll their eyes and dismiss you as hopelessly naive. But their blustering self-confidence is always brittle at the core, and rooted in fear and doubt, which is why they cannot tolerate ambiguity.

As Clarke discusses, "The very notion of constructing a unified systematic philosophical inquiry into being as a whole... has been abandoned by contemporary philosophers." An exception to the rule is Whiteheadian process philosophy, which is how I initially got into the racket. In fact, I don't think he can be surpassed if one is attempting to construct a metaphysic on merely scientific grounds, i.e., to draw out the metaphysical implications of modern science.

But man is obviously not restricted to the scientific mode of knowing. Rather, as Schuon writes, "One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world never measure up to the real range of our intelligence." For "Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing."

I don't regard this statement as remotely poetical, or romantic, or "in a manner of speaking." Rather, everything must have its sufficient reason, and the only sufficient reason for man's restless search for the Absolute is the Absolute. This is the real reason why science never rests content with any hypothesis (with the exception of manmade global warming, which, like homosexuality and the right to abortion, is another absolute).

But if man were only provoked to seek out the Absolute from the short end of the cosmos, this would be a cosmic itch he could never scratch, for it is not possible for a finite being to reach the Infinite.

Therefore, just as man is on a perpetual search for God, history reveals God's perpetual search for man. If one prefers, one may express it in abstract terms, and say that man, everywhere we find him, is characterized by (↑). But likewise, culture, everywhere we find it, is imbued with traces of (↓).

In the end -- as we shall see -- man's search for God is God's search for man, for there is no other way of looking at it, assuming God is God.

To put it another way, every culture is characterized by a search for the ground, the ultimate principle, the unchanging. As Norris describes, this is the "search from below." He references Cardinal Newman, who remarked that "all the nations" seek God, and that "by feeling their way toward him, succeed in finding him." However, it is necessary to discern the principial truth within "the corrupt legends" with which it is inevitably mixed.

However, the story of the people of Israel is not just another story of (↑), but more importantly, a -- the -- story of (↓): "it is not we who seek God, it is rather God who seeks us out." And for Christians, (↑) and (↓) meet -- or Cross paths -- in the person of Christ, who is both ground and destiny: "Here the human search from below, in its many different modalities and incarnations... effectively meets the divine descending search..."

Thus, "the Eternal enters time, the Whole lies hidden in the part, God takes on a human face." More to the point, "dialogue" becomes the possibility of "union" when the Absolute crosses "the ontological abyss separating the infinite and infinite." Again, to say that man cannot accomplish this union in the absence of (↓) is a truism.

Which is where the Holy Spirit comes in, for he may be fruitfully thought of as an ongoing form of (↓), so that our sincere search is never in vain. The Holy Spirit "is the finisher and polisher of divine revelation with regard to us." Norris references an illuminating passage by the Orthodox bishop Ignatios of Latakia:

Without the Holy Spirit, God is far away,
Christ stays in the past,
the Gospel is a dead letter,
the Church is simply an organization,
authority a matter of dominion,
mission a matter of propaganda,
the liturgy no more than an evocation,
Christian living a slave morality.


(↓) is indeed the cosmic vertilizer spread over the ground. Which is why so much fruit grows in these parts. And why it just lays there uneaten, rotting on the grounds of your typical university, in favor of their highly processed, manmade junk metaphysics.

19 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Wow - that passage by bishop Ignatios is illuminating. The truth of it is everywhere, which I suppose just goes to show how very many people there are, even among Christians, who suffer such a lack of (↑) that he has accurately described their experience of life and religion.

3/19/2012 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

More on simplistic and brain-dead atheism.

3/19/2012 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

When the tenured break out the "post-metaphysics" canard, what they really mean is post-Western civilization in general and post-Christian in particular.

I've been thinking more about the Dunning-Kruger effect (many examples there; apparently I wasn't the only one thinking of it this weekend) and how it might pertain to leftists in general, especially in light of Stanley Fish's article from last week and the following observation from Protein Wisdom: "...liberals are (they’ll claim) morally superior by virtue of their very belief in their own political identities... That is, your morality is a function not so much of what you do, but rather of where you claim to stand, and with whom." In other words, they are right because they believe - or they feel - they are right. And because they feel it, it must be true.

More broadly, it seems as though the utopian impulse is driven by people who believe so strongly in their own greatness that they wish nothing more than to see the world made new in their own image. And of course the farther one is removed from the world as it is, the more deeply one believes that it can be perfected, and the more one believes in one's own greatness as compared to the rest of the world.

Here again, the problem is a complete lack of (↑), which means there is little possibility of (↓), and instead of seeking unity with the Absolute, one is engaging in a gigantic cosmic game of onanism...

3/19/2012 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the atheists, just wow. Do they realize they praise god with their faint damns?

3/19/2012 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

They have the same attitude toward God that trolls have toward me: "can't live with him, can't live without him."

3/19/2012 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

3/19/2012 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

"Rather, if man is but the effect of wholly random causes, he has no essence. That being the case, we are free to turn him into anything we wish. For example, if we raise a boy as a girl, he will become one. For the left, the only thing in man that is absolutely fixed is homosexuality. That and the right to a dead baby."

This strikes deep, because many of us seem to miss the implications here. There is more at stake than abortion in the abortion debate (as if killing for convenience was not heinous enough already). By condoning abortion, we effectively give the right to define what (and who) is human to the state, which is what the battle is really over. It's not merely the right to life for those not yet born, it's the right to humanity for those of us already out of the womb that this fight represents.

We speak as though eugenics was something the world tried once, had a big row over, and left behind as too horrific. In reality, it advances largely unhindered, infinitely more horrific than before, and largely within our own borders.

The difference is that instead of imposing it on us by force, we are lured to it with the promise of consequence-free orgasms where we want, when we want, how we want, and with whomever we want.

Men without chests, indeed.

3/19/2012 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it's a retreat from principle to desire or even just pleasure, hence a renunciation of humanness and a reversion to animality.

3/19/2012 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Paul - yes, exactly. With that in mind, I'll link again to this article I linked at the end of yesterday's comments, wherein another bioethicist argues for remaking man in a more perfect, less environmentally harmful image.

They envision a world in which man is not man, but something altogether different and more disposable. It would be fine if such folk were simply a bunch of assouls sharing a bowl and chatting around a campfire, but one wonders how much of world governmental policy is affected by such "philosophers."

3/19/2012 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

What's worse, and what the partakers thereof don't seem to understand, is that the "sex" that they're being sold in exchange for their humanity doesn't even rise to the level of sex. Rather it is more like masturbation. Sex at least is based on a recognition of another person as a human being and a desire for them, however unhealthy. What we are being sold instead is a conviction that our pleasure is the only thing that matters. It's not another person, it's simply a means to your pleasure. I cannot think of a more masturbatory, sterile, and demonic mindset.

To paraphrase Lewis again, when we speak of a prowler as "wanting a woman", in reality, a woman is the last thing he wants. What he wants is a particular sensation in his own body for which a woman happens to be the necessary implement. We are becoming a society of just such prowlers.

As Bob (and many others) has pointed out many times previously, by renouncing our humanity, we don't just become animals, we sink far below that into the realm of the demonic, capable only of destroying and consuming. What did you think power rushing in to fill the void would look like? Kings? Tyrants? No.

Cannibals.

3/19/2012 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the implications of personhood are devastating to all ideologies.

3/19/2012 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

YES!

Especially with the first half I was thinking (yet again) that I couldn't have said that better myself (dammit). But then I started thinking wait a minute, I'm in the midst of at least giving it a try, right now... opened my .doc, yep, there it is...

"When the tenured break out the "post-metaphysics" canard, what they really mean is post-Western civilization in general and post-Judeo-Christian in particular"

and 'If you carefully explain to them with facts, evidence, and logic, say, how implausible it is to suggest that George Bush "lied us into war" -- or, for that matter, that Bill Clinton is a mass murderer, or Barack Obama is an Islamist agent -- they will roll their eyes and dismiss you as hopelessly naive."

, yep, just what I'm writing, well, yeah, it's shorter, sure, and yeah, yeah, said better, but... and then I realized what must have happend - Petey! Please stop cribbing notes from my posts before I can post them... wait... what? 'The Truth is an open book for everyOne who bothers peaking at the answers?', yeah, well... whatever, stop peaking anyway... wha? 'Start saying it shorter then'? 'and pithier?' and 'more humorously'?, oh heck, who asked you anyway Petey. Well then don't listen to me either then!

Sheesh.

3/19/2012 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

All that Jazz. It's good.

However, it is necessary to discern the principial truth within "the corrupt legends" with which it is inevitably mixed.

Yes, if you see only the corruption, the legends poison the truth. If you see the truth, it redeems the legends.

We do appreciate what the Holy Spirit does.

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

3/19/2012 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Skorpion said...

@Paul Griffin: I think Karl Kraus summed up that mentality with the quote, "Intercourse with a woman is sometimes a satisfactory substitute for masturbation. But it takes a lot of imagination to make it work."

3/19/2012 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Verdiales said...

Let's call it the Onann-y State.

Hard to imagine being satisfied with that life, but this weekend I saw plenty of 50+ year old men with paunches, tattoos, and red solo cups. They were drunk and getting misty-eyed over college girls. I reckon prOn sites did well on Sunday.

Life generally supplies the cluebat that education fails to provide, but not always, and not it seems in sufficient numbers.

Nice post, Bob. You'll get some head-scratching about the "God seeking God" thing. I like to think that our search for God is more like evidence of our "rising in Love," but just try getting that past the fleshpots' smell test.

Cluebat of Life, forcefully applied. There's nothing like a genuinely-sighed "I tried that" to make a man change direction. That, and the threat of losing everything, so that he walks around feeling posthumous.

The change you're talking about is radical, going to every fiber of the root.

3/19/2012 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I don't think Christians should have a problem with "God seeking God" -- the Trinitarians, at least.

After all, when Jesus was explaining to His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He spoke of Another like Himself who would be with and dwell in them. The Spirit, who is God, dwells in believers and reveals truth to them.

True prayer is prayer by the Holy Spirit -- see Romans 8. Just a couple of verses, 15, says, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

And even more so, 26 & 27, Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Bob is frightening orthodox at times.

3/19/2012 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I'm tired -- "frighteningly". Frightening, too, though.

3/19/2012 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Verdiales said...

Mushroom

Absolutely. Maybe I'm just too paranoid about pantheism. There is no love without real differences. Yes, the Spirit moves, and we participate in it -- but we participate as distinct persons. That's all I want to maintain, and it is orthodox, too.

I watched some recent Pat Condell videos last night. I wonder what happened to that guy to make him so thoroughly sneering and emotional when it comes to Christ.

But I don't worry about it.

3/20/2012 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Yes, the implications of personhood are devastating to all ideologies.

Much to ponder, in that.

(Nice to see my favorite Paul here!)

3/28/2012 04:29:00 AM  

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