Twilight

Twilight falls

Upon the Empire of the West

Truth recedes

And knowledge is forsaken.

 

Family is meaningless

Innocence is meaningless

 

The Wise Men have been deafened

Listening

As fools chatter

Into government-issued megaphones.

 

Life is meaningless

Sacrifice is meaningless

 

We hand our executioners the axe

And expect a welcoming hug

We erase history and geld our warriors

And think it makes us strong and wise.

 

Truth is meaningless

Knowledge is meaningless

Twilight falls

Upon the Empire of the West

–Jason Diederich, 27JUL2015, All Rights Reserved

House-Cleaning

I’ve done some house-cleaning with my blog; I’ve set up a FAQ (although not much is in it yet), and I’ve turned my poetry from a category into a set of pages.  Looks like I’m at 15 so far (God, I miss my old notebook)…  I’ve also divided my glossary into several pages, mostly in the hope of making me more likely to work on it in the future.  🙂

The Necessity of Negative Theology

In theology, regardless of religious background, there are essentially two types of statements which can be made.  The first is cataphatic theology, or positive theology; the practice of making positive statements about the nature of God.  God is good, God is love, God is universal consciousness, etc.  While this sort of practice can be useful to begin to gain an image of God, it also necessarily limits that image.  By defining God in purely human terms, cataphatic theology runs the risk of turning God into a mere supernatural anthropomorphism–just another of many gods.

The second, much stronger type of statement which can be made regarding God are statements of apophatic theology, or negative theology.  Negative theology holds true that for any humanly-comprehensible value (x), God is neither (x) nor (not-x).  That is, God is neither good nor not-good.  God is neither love not not-love.  God is neither universal consciousness nor not-universal-consciousness.

In modern American culture this type of statement is mostly associated with “Eastern religions” (through a nominal acquaintance with Buddhism and Sanatana Dharma (“Hinduism”)).  However, it has a strong tradition in the Orthodox Church, where cataphatic theology is rightly used only by recent initiates.  Re-introducing the practice of apophatic theology would do much to strengthen the Western Church, which has lost a lot of ground in the last century due to an over-emphasis on evangelism at the expense of mystagogy.

Conversations With Atheists 5

This conversation occurred in a discussion thread for a video by Dr. William Craig regarding the nature of First Cause.  The atheist in question posted an identical set of objections to basically everyone who did not react negatively to the video.  Unlike previous posts, this is not paraphrased; I have simply copied and pasted the final entry from the original conversation, italicizing the other person’s statements for ease of reading.

—–

Atheist: “1.) We don’t know if something can’t come from nothing. No one has been able to test this.”

Me: We absolutely know that NOTHING WHICH BEGINS can come from nothing. First, because the law of cause-and-effect is cornerstone of logic; if it were found to be untrue, then logic (and thus science) would be proved null and void. Of course, that’s technically an appeal to emotion, so we can also point to the fact that it is sustained by every observation of everything, by everyone, ever. It is by definition the most-tested hypothesis possible, and it has never failed.

Atheist: “The video shows examples of whole complex objects popping out of existence from nothing in order to make it seem more ridiculous, yet, all that is needed are extremely simple particles. Once you have the particles, you already have the necessities for a universe of stars, planets, rabbits, and magician hats. How do you know that these particles can’t come from nothing?”

Honestly, I didn’t watch the video. Presumably, you are referring to virtual quantum particles; these find their formal cause in quantum probability and their efficient cause in quantum vacuum energy, as well as the pre-existence of space-time itself.

Atheist: “2.) We don’t know if the universe had a beginning. We definitely have evidence that it began to expand, but we don’t know if it had an actual beginning.”

Me: The eternal universe model is irrational (since the universe could not be meaningfully used in ratio), illogical (since it allows a physical existence without beginning), and anti-scientific (being contrary to both general relativity and thermodynamics). Further, since thermodynamics informs us that the universe WILL end, and we already know that there are MINIMUM physical limits (Planck Time and Planck Space) it is counter-intuitive to assert that there was no beginning. Which is why ETU has basically zero support.

Atheist: “As for the energy issue, we don’t know enough about the universe before the big bang to answer that. We don’t have all of the facts, and therefore, cannot conclude that it must be God’s doing.”

Me: You misunderstand the nature of cause. The universe does not exist because God took an action; the universe exists because it is the nature of God (as First Cause), that the universe exist.

Atheist: “There are too many questions that are unanswered. How did the laws of physics work before the big bang?”

Me: The laws of physics describe the best-understood operation of human observation of how the universe works. By definition, “how the universe works” did not exist prior to the universe.

Atheist: “Is there something beyond our universe that supplies infinite energy?”

Me: If there is, it is not getting to us. Cf. thermodynamics.

Atheist: “Are there other universes that supply infinite energy?”

Me: Again, the existence of other universes does not affect us in any way, nor does it affect this line of questioning. Even if there were a multiverse (which is untestable, and therefore outside the scope of science or rational philosophy), it would not negate the requirement for First Cause.

Atheist: “As always, Christians want to avoid these questions, and just assume that it’s all from God.”

Me: There are two possible axioma from which we must choose to base our understanding of existence: either the universe has a rational organizing principle, or it does not. If the universe has a rational organizing principle, then that principle is God. If the universe has no rational organizing principle, then the universe is irrational; science, logic, and mathematics have no value, and human existence is meaningless. Being axioma, these two statements cannot be tested; you must simply choose. Nor are Christians alone in choosing a rational universe; 96% of humanity agrees with us.

No, that does not make our choice necessarily true, but it does make your statement false–and give the claim of theism the status quo.

Atheist: “3.) Supposing that the universe did have a beginning and a cause, there is nothing in this argument that points to God. “

Me: By definition, the cause of existence is God.

Atheist: “If you managed to make it past the first two mistakes, you’re still far from reaching a reasonable conclusion that God exists. This argument doesn’t even support the idea that any god exists. In fact, it doesn’t even argue that any being created the universe at all. The most that you could argue is for a supernatural event.”

Me: The supernatural has nothing to with the topic of First Cause. This is a discussion of metaphysics. They have nothing to do with each other.

Atheist: “4.) Even if God is the most reasonable solution, that doesn’t actually mean that it’s reasonable to believe it.”

Me: Actually, by definition it does.

Atheist: “Even the most reasonable belief is unreasonable if there is not enough evidence/reasoning to support it.”

Me: Then it would not be the most reasonable belief. Note again, however, that I am not arguing for a BELIEF in God, but acceptance of God as an axiom.

Atheist: “At the end of this argument, you’re still left without any evidence/support that God exists.You would need additional arguments/evidence for God’s existence, and you don’t have them. And unfortunately for you, we have too much evidence against his existence.”

Me: False; there is no evidence that God does not exist. The fact that we live in a rational universe, on the other hand, clearly demonstrates that God does exist. If you do not understand this necessity, it is probably because you are conflating mythology with ontology, and mis-defining God as some sort of mere supernatural agency.

My First Meme

image

…Okay, technically it’s my second.  But my actual first one wasn’t really very good… so…

Being a bit of an old fogey, I am sometimes slow to find things on these new-fangledy interwebs.  Yesterday, I discovered imgflip.com.  I think I’ll have a lot of fun there.

Conversations with Atheists 4

Paraphrased for brevity and clarity:

—–

Atheist: But you are assuming that there has to be some objective moral “truth”.  That’s just an opinion.  Morality is just about bringing the greatest good to the most people.

Me: Here is a fact: If your last statement were true, then it would be an “objective moral truth”.  Here is another fact: without a higher-than-human moral authority, any human “morality” is simply that person acting according to their own nature.  If “morality” is defined as “acting according to one’s own nature”, then “morality” becomes a meaningless term.  Since no human agency has greater moral authority than any other, the only way that morality has meaning is with the acceptance of the existence of God.  An atheist can certainly be ETHICAL, but he cannot be MORAL.

Atheist: You don’t need God to be moral.  It’s just about not increasing suffering.

Me: But without a higher moral authority, all morality—including that statement–become mere opinions.  I know of several groups which would disagree with your opinion VIOLENTLY; and without a higher moral authority, their opinion is every bit as valid as yours.

Atheist: Are you suggesting that ISIS has a seat at the table of a discussion on morality?

Me: Yes; if there is no higher moral authority than a human, then every human has an equal “seat at the table on a discussion of morality.”

On that topic, let’s discuss your fascination with 18th century utilitarianism.  You have made two statements regarding utilitarianism–let’s see how morally coherent they are.  We’ll start with the second: “it’s about not increasing suffering.”

Scenario: You come across a rape in progress.  Do you intervene?  Either way,  the victim has already been raped–but if you act to defend the victim, you risk injury both to yourself and to the rapist, either of which would increase suffering.  So, by your philosophy, the rapist should be allowed to finish–and in fact not prosecuted, since both prosecution and incarceration would cause him to suffer.

Or, how about murder?  Suppose you come across an indigent with no one to miss him.  By your philosophy, there is no moral argument against murdering him–he will no longer suffer anything after he dies, and no one will miss him.

Note that this also applies to any group of people large enough to close the circle of anyone close enough to grieve over a death; as long ENOUGH PEOPLE are killed, your philosophy has no moral objection.

But what about your first statement: “bringing the greatest good to the most people”?

Well, we still have trouble with stopping a rape-in-progress.  While we are certainly bringing good to the victim, we are also still posing the possibility of harm and even death upon ourselves and the rapist by trying to stop the crime.  Moreover, the sort of person who commits rape derives from it not only the physical satisfaction of sex, but the mental satisfaction of domination–both of which we would be denying them by interrupting the rape.  Our moral paralysis would probably result in the completion of the crime, regardless.

But an interesting thing happens when we look at the rape itself: we can say that pleasure of the rapist (as a good for that person), and the suffering of the victim (as a non-good for that person), roughly balance the scales.  Or, we may even put the balance on the side of the victim.  We may even do so by a significant margin.  But what if there are more than one rapist?  Now, many people can receive “gratification” from the same act, while only one person suffers.  Your philosophy not only condones this action, it CALLS for it.  And the more rapists, the more ethical this action is, in the view of utilitarianism.  It would also be more ethical to murder the victim after the fact, so that they no longer suffer…

What of murder in general?  Entirely permissible under utilitarianism, so long as the person was more disliked than liked.  But how about ETHNIC CLEANSING?  Sure, the minorities will object–until you’re done killing them–but their objections are irrelevant to the utilitarian.  The majority is, by definition, the greater number of people–so as long as THEY FIND THE ACTION BENEFICIAL IN ANY WAY, it is a moral action according to utilitarianism.

As much as progressivist-atheists like to whine about “internalized racism”, “internalized misogyny”, and all of your other made-up nonsense, your idea of an ethical system only works if everyone in the world behaves according the pre-existing code of conduct to which you are accustomed from growing up in a Christian society.  What you have just demonstrated is straight-up INTERNALIZED CHRISTIANITY.  Congratulations.