Friday, September 15, 2017

On the Rights of Man and Obligations of God

No doubt an ill-sounding formulation and not to everyone's taste, but it is meant somewhat ironically, and is more or less half-true besides.

This zinger by Thomas is a good one, because it shows the insufficiency of a sola scriptura approach, and the necessity of an integrated vertical-horizontal metaphysic:

It is quite clearly a false opinion to say that, with regard to the truth of faith, [that] it is completely indifferent what one thinks about created things, provided one has the right opinion about God; [for] an error about creatures reacts in a false knowledge of God.

We know that a false belief about God results in false knowledge about the world -- which amounts to saying that an inaccurate conception of the Absolute redounds to a skewed perspective on the relative.

Indeed, I don't even think we can speak of the One without giving the Many its due. This is my own personal belief, and therefore not an ex cathedra teaching from the Seat of Toots -- but I don't believe there can be a One without a Many, which simply means that God cannot help himself from creating. It's what he does; or rather, is: man can be creative because God is creativity.

A God without creation would be like the Father without the Son, i.e., unthinkable. God is omnipotent, but within the constraints, so to speak, of his own nature -- a nature that is being, love, truth, beauty, freedom, unity, and creativity. IMO.

Now, when we say "give the Many its due," it is obviously possible to go too far in this direction, which amounts to divinizing the world, AKA pantheism. Materialism is just covert pantheism, again, because it gives totally unwarranted godlike powers to matter. A little sense of proportion, please.

But also, a belief in God without reference to the world ironically results in an over-materialized view of God. Think, for example, of Islam, which is all-God and no-world: everything is a direct result of God, with no mediation or secondary causes at all. Ironically, this redounds even to a materialistic conception of the afterlife.

It is interesting that Churchill noticed this way back in 1898 or so, but only based upon his direct experiences with Islam and its faithful, before political correctness came along to block and deny what is present before our eyes: "A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity" (emphasis mine).

Among the "dreadful curses" which "Mohammedanism lays on its votaries" is a "fearful fatalistic apathy" that is only the logical corollary of predestination. "Insecurity of property exist[s] wherever the followers of the prophet rule or live," no doubt because everything belongs to God, nothing to man.

Except when it does: "every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property," and "the final extinction of slavery" must await the day that "the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men."

Why the slavery and misogyny? Because once you have determined that God is everything and man nothing, then it scarcely matters how you treat a person. Perhaps this will one day change, but not until such a time as they develop a correct conception of the limits of God (in the sense that he is constrained by his nature, as above) and the rights of man, i.e., the proper place of the Many in the overall scheme of things. (Note also that prior to man's rights are his duties, including especially those toward his Creator!)

The world is not nothing. It is not just maya (illusion), nor is it just God's footstool. To treat it that way is actually to mistreat God.

By the way, must Islam be the way it is understood and practiced in the Muslim world? No! Lest anyone accuse me of Muslim bashing, first of all, I'm only trying to help. Second, the mere existence of Schuon proves the point. Everything I have said above (before the Churchill material) is straight out of his playbook. Let me see if I can quickly back that up...

This is from the first book I grabbed, Logic and Transcendence. On the one hand, "Relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself." As with any form of existentialism it "postulates a definition of the world that is impossible if existentialism itself is possible."

Thus, a sole focus on the Many without reference to the One is a total non-starter. Tweaking what Schuon says above, it is literally the case that if atheism is possible, then it is impossible. QED.

What about the opposite error, of denigrating the legitimate rights, so to speak, of the creation?

"Man is what he is, or else he is nothing." And if God is what certain people believe he is, then Man is nothing on stilts. In reality our "capacity for objectivity and absoluteness of thought" prove that we have one foot in the divine reality; or that we are "in" freedom while being oriented toward the truth that surpasses us.

You might say that we have the right to freedom, but only on account of our obligation to truth. This is the very structure of the zigzag -- for all lines are straight in a deterministic cosmos -- journey we call Life. Freedom is nothing without truth, just as truth is unattainable without freedom. And God would not -- could not? -- give one without the other.


Abdulmonem Othman said...

Thank you for the help but little sense of proportion please. First I like to make some change in the title of the post to address your fear, to read, the duties of the humans toward their obligation to god. The whole story of religions is to avoid the falsification of god narrative and to be honest in delivery. Nature is the language of god through which and through consciousness given to humans is to be read with understanding the limits of the humans in their relation to the timeless first cause. God is one in essence and many in names that are the source of all the diversities. God can not be constrained and do whatever he wills. God enforces limits on the humans and humans can not do the same. Do not associate anything with god but those who degraded god to the humans level or raised humans to god level, find easy to associate any things with god but even degraded the divine message of doing truth and justice in the earth to dominance exploitation and thievery. Do you think, what is going in the world has nothing to do with god. It is complete aware surrender to him and those who want to work outside his message let them face the consequences of their choice like the false story of the pharaoh. Our history bears witness and the oppressors will face their deserved fate. Nothing in the world of god that does not carry in itself its revengeful burden. Every thing has its own predetermined scheme,its ongoing modification and final resume. The freedom of the humans is not absolute, it has its limit and humans are programmed to pay severely for their violations. It is a game of wait and see and prophet are charged only to bear witness and to wait for god involvement. It seems we are living in a similar time of those oppressors who past to receive' their reward abundantly. Just look at the mess engulfing the globe specially the so called civilized developed countries.

Anonymous said...

God is love, right? So practices that are unloving are not Godly. Slavery? How could that ever be OK? I mean even back in the day? Funny how people don't get that....and it says so right there is the Bible.

Likewise, the treatment of animals. Cruelty to animals, how could this ever be Godly? And so on.

Easy, so easy, ethical guidelines are. Too easy. Love all.

That being said, God is responsible for a most stuff that happens. She should not be let off the hook. It is OK to stand in judgement of God. God can handle it. People blame themselves for anything and everything, without looking at the set-up they've been placed in by the Creator. Stop being a chump. Not that it will help.

Good post. God does have obligations, the main one being to own up to the nasty, nasty stuff that goes on due to "human nature." But we love you anyway.

Ann K. said...

It's rare that the comments are laugh-out-loud funny. It's like they didn't even read your post.

Gagdad Bob said...

Just now reading Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity, and it is outstanding. Only up to p, 117, but it is full of thought-provoking insights & information.

It deals with quite fundamental metaphysical questions, since the "we" is every bit as mysterious and problematic as the "I." There is no doubt whatsoever that we are in a civil war involving two collective "we's" with irreconcilable experiences, memories, histories, and conceptions of America. And with Antifa, BLM, and other left wing groups, it is obviously becoming a violent civil war....

julie said...

Interesting question. Politicians on both sides of the aisle love to try to keep certain (usually deplorable) behaviors/arguments in check by intoning, "that's not who we are." Well, what we? And who elected you to dictate who we are, anyway?

Rick said...

Really good Uncommon Knowledge interview with Scott Adams:

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob:

Regarding the "civil war" you alluded to in your comment: I think its peaked and is waning.

BLM came about to protest a perception trigger-happy cops were plugging black people in haste. After viewing some of the media clips, I saw a few instances where this was in fact the case. The rise of the use of police body-cams has already dampened this spate of shootings. Police are being re-trained to get a grip on their fears, and this is working. The BLM has no other agenda, and does not meet or organize unless it has some fresh outrage to protest. Right now its just on standby.

Anitifa is not a movement. It is simply an impromptu vigilante mob cobbled together whenever Nazis show the swastika or Tiki torch, or some alt-right talking head starts babbling. It has no existence or agenda, otherwise. No "Fa," no "Antifa." A purely reactive thing.

If there is to be a war, then troops must assemble and stuff must happen, and right now there's not much going on.

Maybe some flat-earthers will have a meeting and concerned tech nerds can protest. Who knows.

Gagdad Bob said...

So long as conservatives surrender, there will be no war.

julie said...

Via Insty, looks like a war zone to me.

Anonymous said...

Bob, Julie, and others here:

Conservatives and leftists bicker and spar off an on, an ongoing balancing act that keeps our nation somewhere in the center. I believe it is a healthy thing these two factions debate. There needs to be a voice for everyone.

Talk of conservatives "surrendering" seems unrealistic. Why should they surrender? Everyone arises in the morning, drinks a cup of coffee or what have you, and is ready to renew the debate and spar as usual. There is no end to the supply of energy or motivation for this work.

So, "business as usual" is a good thing, as our largely centrist nation surges towards its glorious future as a space-faring, ultra high-tech juggernaut of a culture that historians will marvel about for 3,000 years.

The two extremes, left and right, won't get what they want. Boo hoo. But they will drown in lucre as they cry about it. Is that not cool as hell?

So, viva the culture wars, a phenomenon that keeps us balanced in the sweet spot. And yes, Trump for 2020. Turns out we bet on a winner.

Van Harvey said...

Dear aninnymouse, regarding "Right now its just on standby" they and their fellow fascists in antifa, have have been destroying my city, St. Louis, for a complete non issue, the justified shooting of a heroin dealing thug at the end of a high speed chase, reaching for his gun, a case that the FBI & even Obama's DOJ passed on. Up yours.

Van Harvey said...

Probably less didn't read, than couldn't read. :-)

Anonymous said...


BLM doesn't act up unless there's a shooting; so maybe they got the shooting you mentioned wrong. Oops and big deal. Facts are facts, and no charges will be filed.

BLM "Facist?" What? By definition, fascists form a right wing government which rules by force. How does BLM fit fascist in any sense? It is reactionary, politically speaking.

Antifa is college kids with black T-shirts. They are not fascists. They reflect the fact that American citizens despise fascists. You despise fascists, don't you Van? Why aren't you in the ready with your black T-shirt? That is what you should be asking yourself.

You don't like BLM, you don't like Antifa, but you perfectly safe from them in your city. Get a concealed permit if you're concerned about safety. Keep a 12-gauge in the house. Common sense practices with a long tradition in this country. That's all you need.

Let the citizen focus groups perform their good works and stay clear.

neal said...

Technically speaking, fascists are just the reaction to the other reaction: redshirts, brownshirts, blackshirts, white hoods, yellow perils, whatever.

Anyone with a smattering of historical knowledge would know that has involved college kids for over a hundred years.

Yeah, I'm perfectly safe. Just roving gangs pooped out by mystery cults trying to make their bones by killing a Jew, or a Christian, or a cop.
Or just each other. What's for dinner?

Van Harvey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse "...BLM "Facist?" What? By definition, fascists form a right wing government which rules by force. How does BLM fit fascist in any sense?..."

To start with, your 'definition' came from Stalin & Co., who were, one, focused upon putting down their close competitor for socialist extremists, and two, realized that there was too little differentiating communism, from fascism, so they did what Pro-Regressives always do, they made a full assault upon words in order to evade reality, redefining a scale which still smells the same (and on a European scale which has no comparison to the what applies in America).

Communists and Fascists are both fully totalitarian ideologies, denying individual rights, and asserting the unquestioned power of the state. Their key difference, is that communism focuses upon economic class distinctions, and fascism focuses upon a cherry picked set of cultural traditions. And no, in practice, their economics varies very little. Both deny Property Rights, and while fascists publicly allow some to retain marginal control over some possessions and means of production, it is only as long as they comply with the state's orders and pleasures. Communists did the same in practice, without announcing it outright. 

As for "fascists form a right wing government", are you saying that until the Nazis became the govt, they weren't fascists? They were fascists long before they came to power, and what defined them as being fascists, was their belief in using power to forcibly all to endorse and comply with their ideology, or be beaten into submission - Force, over freedom of speech and thought.

BLM, antifa, etc, tolerate no dissent, and advocate violence to quell dissent ("...fry 'em like bacon...", "no cops no USA..." and so forth. The BLM are every bit as fascistic as nazis, kkk and antifa, not because of insignificant skin deep appearances, but from their deep conceptual identities - they all believe, endorse, and practice, violence to enforce ideological compliance, and the belief/demand that what they say is 'true' must be accepted. Fascist and evil.

"Get a concealed permit if you're concerned about safety." Don't need one in Missouri. Come on down and ask someone to 'Show Me'.

Anonymous said...

Jeez Van I was just going by the Oxford English dictionary definition of fascism. I see you have your expanded definition, but that has not been vetted by anyone else. You're a party of one.

US GI's believed in and practiced violence to destroy Nazis in the Hurtgen Forest in '44, so was that a bad thing? They, like Antifa, were not enforcing ideological compliance to anything. They were destroying a noxious adversary. Our youth are constantly handed the job of confronting Nazis in person. The older gents like to hide in their drawing rooms and read books.

The BLM folks just don't want to be shot. What's this about tolerating no dissent? What kind of dissent are we talking here? They should relax about getting shot? Stop shooting, and they go away. They don't demand what they say is true...they rely on audio-video footage to do the talking.

You want BLM and Antifa to go away? Get out there and cleanse your community of poorly trained or underfunded police units, and disperse Nazis immediately so our kids don't have to do it for you.

Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse squeaked "You're a party of one"

That's One, to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Van:

I am familiar with the One. You sir, are no One.

Cheers, you've just been defeated on the cyber-battleground. Crash and burn.

Van Harvey said...

LOL, as with having to explain a joke, if you have to tell people you won....

Bless your heart.