Testing the Limits of Nonsense
Which, if there's no truth, actually makes sense. However, this was back when I was a business major, before I discovered my gift of being preternaturally ill-equipped to handle my business. In other words, I flunked out. One day I just stopped going. (This would have been in the second semester of my junior year.)
In the business world, unlike the academic world, a BA in BS will only get you so far. In academia, so long as one operates outside the STEM -- science, technology, engineering, and mathematics -- one's ideas need never come into contact with reality. One may relax in the comfort and safety of one's own delusions, even -- or especially -- at the taxpayers' expense.
Speaking of which, there are some harrowing -- but scandalously typical -- tales of academic malfeasance in this eye-opening book on how racial preferences harm their intended beneficiaries. Whatever you think about the anti-science academic left, it's even worse than you think. (Non-STEM) academia is a cancer on truth.
Anyway, I have so few commenters these days, I was wondering if I could just crank out a bunch of nonsense to see if anyone's paying attention? I've dropped out before. Don't think I won't do it again!
"Science," according to Schuon, "is the experience of that which we do see, or at least of that whereof we can have an [at least hypothetically] empirical knowledge." I love science, but science can only take us so far -- really, to the edge of the senses. Everything beyond the senses is up for grabs, except you can't grab it with your hands or any other sense organ. We can grasp it, of course, but with what exactly?
Faith, in contrast to science, is a conscious relationship with and "acceptance of that which we do not see, or rather, of that which transcends the experience of the average man."
Yesterday evening I had one of those long theological hot-tub discussions with my newly minted nine year-old. Here he is sitting in the light on his birthday last Sunday:
He was asking me some really difficult questions, more difficult than you get from the typical adult, and harder to answer in a straight-forward way, with no evasions, dissembling, special pleading, or deepaking the chopra.
He's very much preoccupied with the existence of evil, and why God allows it to persist. In particular, he loves animals, and is quite concerned with animal suffering (I don't even have the heart to tell him what chicken McNuggets are made of).
(I might add that he was tired, and when he's tired he starts to dis-integrate, so a lot of affect-laden stuff which is absent during the day bubbles to the surface. He's normally quite cheerful, but is subject to troubling questions when exhausted.)
In the end, the best I could do is to say that both theism and atheism engender puzzles, but that theism is by far the more satisfactory view, since atheism explains nothing. Of the two theories, there is simply no comparison in their explanatory power, despite the admitted conundrums of religion. Stick with it, I advised. It will make more sense as you continue to "live it" as opposed to merely thinking it.
Also, I told him that he needs to narrow his focus a little, and consider the concrete reality of his life as opposed to the nonlocal abstractions of "suffering" or "evil." He has precisely no direct experience of these, so it's good that he thinks about them, but one cannot do so in a disproportionate manner. Nor can you save the world except one assoul at a time, beginning with oneself. Much if not most of the evil in the world is caused by assouls who presume to save everyone else, Obama being one more nauseating example.
Speaking of whom, it occurred to me that this malevolent being makes no apologies for undercutting our most basic values, i.e., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness -- not abstractly or theoretically, but concretely and intimately, all the while pretending that he is promoting these same values.
How, you ask? Let's take Obamacare. This monstrosity was promoted with the explicit promises that it would preserve our liberty -- "if you like your doctor/plan, you can keep your doctor/plan"; advance the Pursuit of Happiness (AKA property) -- a savings of $2,500 a year and a general reduction in healthcare costs; and allow Life to flourish -- more people covered, and with better care for all.
In reality, we quite obviously have (or will have) far less freedom, wealth, and health. Now, wouldn't you feel bad if this were the signature accomplishment of your whole worthless life? You know how you think back on something embarrassing in your life, and you inwardly cringe? If I were Obama, I'd never be able to stop cringing. So, how does he do it? How does one miss out on the cringe gene?
Since man existed for 100,000 or so years before this thing called "modernity," I wonder if we aren't really adapted to modernity, or whether the old adaptations persists under the surface? Actually, I don't wonder about it. I'm sure of it. Much of the attraction to religion is due to the fact that religion is proportioned to human beings and human experience, whereas science deals with abstract worlds that no one can or ever will directly experience.
This does not mean that scientific knowledge itself is somehow "bad." It only becomes so when we attempt to superimpose it on man, or attempt to force man to conform to it, because the person always escapes its reach. Thus, Schuon writes that
"many forms of knowledge can be harmful in practice as soon as they cease to correspond to the hereditary experience of man and are imposed on him without his being spiritually prepared to receive them; the human soul finds difficulty in coping with facts that are not offered to its experience in the ordinary course of nature" (emphasis mine).
Thus, for example, man has never before lived without God, so it is truly a radical experiment to try to determine if this is possible on a widespread scale, or whether human happiness and flourishing are possible in his absence. Could be. But I seriously doubt it.
It reminds me of something in Vanderleun's snidebar describing all these pathetic old feminists who were "the first to abandon the way of life of their mothers, which meant they pursued careers, married and had children late, had affairs then got divorced, all in the name of liberation, are now imprisoned in debt, alcohol abuse and loneliness, wishing they could die, and do it soon."
So, how's that non-conformity to divine-human reality working out?