Jesus is the Word, and the Word clearly says that the most important rules in life are to love God and to love others.
Then one of [the Pharisees], which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)
I’m an abject sinner. Nonetheless, I do try to do what’s right. In fact, I’ve mostly always tried to do what’s right. Even before I turned to Christ. You see, I have an inbuilt moral compass. A God-given moral compass. God is the font of morality.
Just as we all have an inbuilt knowledge of God, so, too, we all have an inbuilt moral compass. What is a moral compass, exactly? The term ‘moral compass’ is shorthand for a set of moral sentiments, certain basic moral beliefs and the ability to engage in moral deliberation. And empathy. Hence the Golden Rule.
Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. (ESV)
Your moral compasss is kind of like a speedometer in a car. If you’re trying to keep to the speed limit (as, of course, you should) then respect what your speedometer tells you.
We’re all supposed to have a God-given moral compass, one that points due moral north. Just in case it’s a bit broken and wavery, our parents are supposed to teach us right from wrong.
Not all parents are perfect, however. As a result of imperfect parenting, sometimes our children turn out to be gluttonous, stubborn, rebellious drunkards, who curse us.
Sometimes our children even commit heinous crimes and end up in jail.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them. (ESV)
As parents, we stand by our children. We love them, no matter what. At least, that’s what most parents do or would do and it’s what my moral compass tells me is how parents should treat their prodigal offspring. (I’m lucky in that my own children are model citizens. 🙂 )
But certain passages in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch) tell an entirely different story.
For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him. (ESV)
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (ESV)
Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (ESV)
I wish that others wouldn’t batter me with rubble.
I was once a stubborn and rebellious son who didn’t obey the voice of his father. Had I been stoned to death with stones by all the men of the city I wouldn’t be writing this here today. Luckily all that happened was an interview with my school headmaster. Hang all the Law and the Prophets!
When my moral compass and the Torah collide, I follow Jesus.
￼No, Richard, your speculation is not a legitimate scientific theory, it is infantile hocus pocus, which is all I’ve come to expect of you.
Infantile hocus pocus because demons do not exist, neither do gods, fairies, Santa’s-little-helpers or harpies. You’ve never seen one, heard one, touched one, smelled one nor tasted one, neither can you provide an iota of rationale that there exists such a spirit in the universe.
What was called “demon possession” by religionists is mental illness. You’re giving a psychiatric condition a superstitious definition. You call that scientific?
You’re talking like a complete nut-case.
I speculate that what is now called “mental illness” by psychiatrists is actually demonic possession. My claim is this, that the demonic possession model of mental illness is more scientific than the psychiatric model of mental illness. Crazy talk? He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Two of the largest stakeholder groups in the treatment of mental illness are psychiatrists and psychologists. Psychiatrists are doctors with medical degrees who specialise in treating mental illness as opposed to physical illness. (Please excuse the dichotomy.) They get to prescribe powerful psychotropic drugs. Whereas, psychologists are trained in psychology. They know all about human behaviour, both adaptive and maladaptive. But they don’t get to prescribe, so they’ll give you psychotherapy instead of pills.
Let’s take a look at how these two groups characterise one mental illness in particular, viz., addiction.
In DSM-5, the DSM-IV criteria substance abuse and substance dependence have been combined into single substance use disorders specific to each substance of abuse within a new “addictions and related disorders” category. Each substance use disorder is divided into mild, moderate, and severe subtypes.
Psychology Today is a magazine published every two months in the United States. Its intent is to make psychology literature more accessible to the general public. It’s a reputable publication. Wikipedia notes
Owned and managed by the American Psychological Association from 1983 to 1987, the publication is currently endorsed by the National Board for Certified Counselors
Here‘s what Psychology Today has to say about addiction.
most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. The focus of the addiction isn’t what matters; it’s the need to take action under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an understanding of how it works psychologically.
See the problem?
Suppose that I’m an addict. Now suppose that I make an appointment to see a psychiatrist. She’ll tell me that I have several specific mental disorders. Cannabis use disorder, alcohol use disorder, social media use disorder, etc. Next suppose that I make an appointment to see a psychologist. He’ll tell me that the focus of my behaviour isn’t what matters. It’s my need to take maladaptive action under certain kinds of stress that I need to address.
So do I have a mental disorder, several specific mental disorders, or no mental disorder at all? Health professionals can’t agree. There is no consensus. This ain’t climate science! But suppose I’m an addict. I’ll be going back to see the psychologist to help me get my life back on track, not the psychiatrist. (Although she could prescribe me some powerful psychotropic drugs … hmmm.)
The science isn’t settled, but the psychiatric model of mental illness isn’t even science at all. Not least because it gets diagnoses disastrously wrong. Not yet convinced? Well, there’s a much more devastating objection to the psychiatric model of mental illness and that is that the model does a poor job of capturing either clinical or biological realities. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s bullshit. But if the psychiatric model of mental illness isn’t scientific at all, then the demonic possession model of mental illness is certainly no less scientific than the psychiatric model of mental illness. And to establish my claim that the demonic possession model is more scientific than the psychiatric model all I need to do is show that the demonic possession model is scientific. Well, at least just a little bit sciency. So here goes.
Check your premises, as the devil woman said. Here are two of my background assumptions. (If you don’t like the first one, you can dispense with it later.)
Materialism about the mind. That’s my first background assumption. More specifically, I assume that the human mind is no more and no less than a suite of software running on wetware known colloquially as “brains”. We’re made out of meat. Considered by some to be an axiom of the modern naturalist worldview. Not too controversial. Unless you’re a dualist.
Self-ownership. Self-ownership of body and mind. That’s my second background assumption. Considered by many to be a libertarian axiom. Not too shabby. Not too controversial.
But ownership is right of possession. Possession?
Can you possess yourself? Of course you can. (Vacant possession is for zombies!) Can you possess your mind? Of course you can, you’d be pretty vacant otherwise, right? But wait! You are your mind. How can a suite of software possess itself? It can, and it must, since self-ownership is worthless if self-possession is incoherent. So how and in what sense does the suite of software that is you possess you? I submit that the suite of software that is you possesses your brain (the wetware you run on) merely by dint of running on it. By extension, the suite of software that is you possesses your body (the biomechanical structure that your wetware is directly wired into) by directly controlling it.
That’s when an autonomous suite of malicious software that is not you runs on your wetware alongside the suite of software that is you. Consuming some or all of your mental resources and taking control of some or all of your behaviour.
But how do demons originate? Where do they come from? And how do they get to install themselves? How do they get to take up residence in people’s minds? The short answer is self-deception.
The long answer isn’t much longer. Not right now. The demonic possession theory of mental illness is something I’m still working on. But here are some brief thoughts. Self-deception will occur in response to psychological trauma. We dull the pain. We suppress memories. We partition our own minds. Simple cognitive dissonance will cause us to wall off uncomfortable thought processes, and confirmation bias and other cognitive biases cement the bricks. Humans are adept at self-deception. We like to hide from the truth. We lie to ourselves and we believe our own bullshit. And we hide from the fact that we believe our own bullshit. Out of sight, out of mind. But there’s only so much of us that can be hidden away before a dangerous threshold is reached and the occult cognition reaches a critical mass, the reviled software modules start talking to each other and take on life as autonomous inner demons.
Our inner demons are spirits in prisons of our own making. Behind the prison walls they are perpetually face to face with all the horrors that we desperately do not want to see and can no longer see due to our own dread and duplicity. No wonder they seem tormented! Because they are. I surmise that in some cases our inner demons will even spawn their own inner demons, to hide from themselves as we hide from them. But here’s an interesting thing. Some demons, face to face with the truth from which we hide, will try to get the word out. To do that, they have to take control of speech, but you don’t want to hear the unadorned brutal truth about yourself, do you? But you won’t mind hearing it at all if your inner demon persuades you that what you’re about to hear isn’t an entirely accurate but altogether unflattering description of yourself but a damning indictment of someone else instead, will you? Welcome to Capill syndrome, aka projection, a sure diagnostic criterion of demonic possession.
In the story of the Gadarene Swine, when Jesus ordered the demons out of the demon-possessed man, they relocated to a nearby herd of pigs. Then promptly self-destructed. Fast forward two millennia, and instead of suicidal swine we have supermarket trolleys with minds of their own.
Several things today have stimulated me to write this post, the second being that Meme above which was posted to my Facebook page by an Atheist friend.
She commented that she actually likes ‘this Pope’, and from this meme it is easy to see why he has impressed unbelievers, and Heretics/Protestants.
On face value…. in the ordinary sense as a Protestant Libertarian I’m impressed too by the simple fact that it is a far cry from the sort of Tyrannical dogma the world has come to expect from Pontiffs, and thus it appears such moderation is a good thing for peace and harmony between The Catholic church, and the rest of us.
Yet on another very important level these Liberal sentiments which appeal to my atheist friend betray some of the most important spiritual truths which are fundamental to understanding The Lord, which leads onto the central topic of my post… The seriousness of Sin.
This Meme is true…. using a yardstick of ‘comparative goodness’.
There are/have been…. comparatively speaking…. many Good atheists, and many Evil doers whom have called themselves followers of Christ.
Eg Dawkins may say with confidence to me “I’m holier than thou!”… and indeed this may be completely true.
I have done many wicked deeds to which Dawkins may have not even come close… I know not his secrets.
Yet ultimately this rationale is a deadly trap!
Because it is using *the wrong measure*.
The true measure of Goodness in this Universe is not out shining our peers… but is Absolute Holiness… of which we all fall short.
This True measure means *We all* need the Salvation of God which is in Christ.
By God’s perfect standard… “There is none righteous… no not one…”
“For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God”.
Thankfully God is Rich in mercy and has made away for us to be saved from the righteous judgement of our wicked deeds, yet which still satisfies the demands of Justice, and allows us ourselves the liberty to choose redemption or reject it.
“For God commendeth his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
“…whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved…”
I have written on this train of thought before and you can read a more expanded veiw here>>> Hell is for the Self Righteous, Heaven is for Sinners.<<<
Of course it is a very peculiar thing for atheists to claim to be 'Good' given their world view denies the veracity of ethics!
This is a testament to the fact that many many atheists have not the Steel to countenance the depressing 'reality' of their own Amoral Cosmology.
The hardest, most real of them look at the chaos and misery which befalls humanity and say it is a testament to the truth of their assertions... "there can be no God in such a world"... there is no right or wrong... either in Earthquakes, or Rape, or genocide.... any such feelings of injustice have no objective reality... they are merely the pathetic wimpers of Soul-less machines who have no more intrinsic value... or rights... than the stardust of which they are composed.
Many simply believe you may as well Kill yourself... return to the painless meaningless nothing that you are.
These ideas are the subject of my first blog post in this series ‘How can a Good God exist when there is so much evil in the world? (part1) Atheist Nihilism.’… Click >>>Here<<< to read more.
Yet it is the less consistent portion of the Atheists whom I seek to call out tonight.
The ones who think their own moral virtues exonerate them from any possibility that even if they are wrong.... and it turns out that there is a god... that it is morally unthinkable that they might face damnation for their sins.
As mentioned earlier via the Self righteous Rationale that comparatively speaking, they deem themselves to be not morally inferior beings, but in fact far more moral, and enlightened, and tolerant, than the great horde of savages whom have flocked into churches over the millennia.
Having already pointed out the grievous error of such comparisons (first 1/2 doz paragraphs above), I would like to progress further into these disastrous rationalisms, and lay out some more Objective facts about sin, and atheist inconsistency.
Setting aside the fact that Atheism is fundamentally an Amoral world view, and that therefore atheists have no 'higher ground' upon which to stand to pass down condemnation upon God and his followers... we all know that this does not faze the bulk of them from proceeding to do precisely that!
Their hypocrisy goes much deeper.
With one breath they will play down the seriousness of their own moral short comings as 'trivial', yet with the next shake their fists at Heaven decrying the weightiness of the manifold evils of everyone else... and curse God for his inaction!
While they think nothing of their own blotches on creation, They boldly declare that no Good God would allow Hitler to rampage across Europe... as if their own existence could not be an affront to morality... yet Hitler's evils... they are God's fault!
God is a Bastard on Hitler's account... but not on theirs... they are better than God, they have the right to Judge God, they conciser themselves the innocent victims of God's Amoral inaction.
It matters not that all Hitler's actions stemmed from his atheistic world view.
They busy themselves trying to make out Hitler was a Christian!...(a topic for another time and an interesting psychological behaviour in itself).
Having said all that I may now get down to my main points…. Our personal culpability, and the seriousness of sin.
You see the reality of things is quite different from what these atheists assert… esp the idea that God does not give a toss about the evils of humanity.
God takes sin very very very seriously!
Way more seriously than all these self-righteous God hating atheists do!
Just because God has set up the world in such a way that we human beings have moral responsibility for our own actions… which means he has left us free to act with extreme goodness or extreme Evil *does not mean* he does not care, or intends evil doers to escape Scott free.
God has declared that in his time he will balance the scales and reward everyone their due.
Hitler has not escaped judgement by fleeing to Argentina!
So these notions that God does not care, are simply false.
He has good, valid, righteous reasons, for allowing Humanity to ‘act out their own vain imaginations.
That we are freewill moral agents living in a moral universe, means that our deeds have *moral weight*…. both for good, or ill… and when we do evil… innocent people suffer… that is what it means to live in a moral universe… It is in fact impossible to claim any goodness in a reality in which evil is impossible.
That is why Robots are amoral beings… whether they perform surgeries which save lives or slaughter thousands… they have no choice in their deeds.
The moral responsibility for the actions of Robots falls back on their free-will creators who made them, and so too would God be responsible for all Hitler’s evils… if Hitler was a robot… yet he was not a robot.
In all his deeds Hitler exercised his own freewill.
Thus it is absurd to blame God for Hitler’s deeds.
I have written more on this topic… ‘We are not Robots Ayn Rand. We are Moral Agents.’ Click >>Here<<
and another... 'Monism: Evolutionary Psychology and the Death of Morality, Reason and Freewill.' click >>>here<<<
So it is folly to suggest that Human evils are evidence against the existence or goodness of God.
When Adam sinned, God took that with such seriousness that he separated himself from Mankind, and condemned us all to death!
You see Adam's sin... had great moral weight.... affecting countless billions... though many will not be able to appreciate the mechanics of it... how what they see as a small act of disobedience by one man could bring such calamity upon posterity.
Yet that is how serious the consequences of Sin are!
They upset the entire hierarchy of reality... When Adam disobeyed God, not only did he loose faith in God's Good Character, he was dethroning God and establishing himself and his will above Gods!
a little leven leveneth the whole lump!
Humanity has been doing that ever since.
This is part of the reason why... the pragmatic portion... of why The Standard for Goodness is 100% Holiness... not comparative goodness... not a 'statistical mean/ scale of goodness'
The other portion is simply because God himself is Holy.
He sets the *Ideal Goodness*.
Yet God has sworn eternal Judgement upon sin!
Despite what the liberal Bible doubters say... there is a hell!
There is eternal damnation.
Yet everyone who ends up Damned, will be damned by their own Hatred of God, their pride, and rejection of God's mercy.
God has seen every act of evil we all have committed and is reserving his judgement.
Yet still God is loving, compassionate, and merciful.
We may say “It’s not fair that I was born into this cursed world!”… and indeed if we were born without hope… then this may in fact be a legitimate accusation against God’s character… yet he has not utterly abandoned us to Damnation, but instead immediately set in motion his plan to redeem us… and his modus opperandi reflects his absolute justice, The seriousness with which he condemns sin, and his love and mercy…. all displayed in the crucifixion of his sinless son Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s crucifixion we see God himself suffering a grotesque fate at the hands of evil men… he is not, nor has ever been completely insulated from the sufferings of evil himself.
That God deemed such a grotesque means was necessary for the payment for sin shows just how extremely seriously he takes sin to be, and how he will not allow his love to violate the principle of Justice… an eye for an eye… tooth for tooth…. The wages of sin is Death… Jesus took the full penalty of our sins upon himself.
He was not guilty of any sin himself and thus he was not subject to the penalty of death… for his own sins.
When Christ rose from the Dead, this was a testament to his victory over sin and death, and his resurrection altered the course of human history!
To receive Christ a person must appreciate the gravity of their own sins.
By it’s very nature the proud will reject the crucifixion as un-necessarily barbarous.
And the greatest sin anyone can commit is to *reject the sacrifice of Christ!*
For all their fuming against God, they prove they themselves dont take sin seriously… deeming themselves to be not guilty before God.
It is a hypocritical folly of the highest order.
Yes folks it is appointed unto us once to die and after this, the judgement!
At an appointed time the dead will stand before his judgement seat, and all whose names are not found
written in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire… with their Father Satan… to spend eternity where they chose to be…. separated from God.
The reality of hell is a clear demonstration of how weighty a matter God considers sin to be.
In the light of these facts we see the tables turned on the atheist… the reality is *they dont consider sin to be anywhere near as serious a matter as God does….for all their accusations… it is they themselves whom are found wanting in ‘the righteous indignation department’.
Yet millions of sinners like myself will enter paradise… not because we are more righteous than our atheist friends and family, but because we simply received the Gift of God… he placed our sin upon Christ, and clothed us in Christ’s holiness.
And we will see God face to face and sing God’s praises for eternity.
Ditch your foolish pride my neighbours, my friends… my family!
get a grip that you are a creation of God… a Moral agent.
Choose Christ and join us in the love of our Holy Heavenly Father!
End note: I decided to tag this post onto the end of a series I started several years ago entitled ‘How can a Good God exist when there is so much evil in the world?’
I wrote those in fairly quick succession, so that there is to my mind a progression of thought.
I always meant to carry on with the series as there is no way that they can be considered to have exhausted such an important subject, yet because of procrastination I have fumbled the ball somewhat, and so this post may not fit very tidily.
That being said I think it is a topic worthy of inclusion and hopefully I shall not be so long in adding the next one.
Where are the moderate Muslim voices condemning the violence?
That’s what the likes of Fox News ask whenever masked terrorists shouting “Allahu Akbar” fire shots with automatic weapons killing swathes of innocent Westerners before departing the scene shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed,” as happened in the recent Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris.
Fox’s own Monica Crowley, for example, said that Muslims “should be condemning” the attack and that she hadn’t “heard any condemnation… from any groups.” Fox News’ America’s Newsroom guest Steve Emerson complained, “you don’t see denunciations of radical Islam, by name, by mainstream Islamic groups.” Bob Beckel, a host of Fox News’ The Five host said Muslims were “being quiet” about the shooting and accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of keeping “their mouth shut when things happen.”
Wait, what? Only 46 examples? A good many of the cited condemnations of the violence are tweets from individuals on Twitter. There are a handful from the foreign ministers of Muslim countries. Only a dozen or so statements are from representatives of large Islamic organisations. But there are between 1.5 and 2 billion Muslims in the world, depending on who’s counting. 46 out of billions isn’t very many. It’s near silence from the so-called moderate Muslim majority over this outrage!
Or so it might seem to someone predisposed to blame Islam, rather than Islamic extremism, for the all-too-frequent acts of Islam-related terrorism in today’s world. But the sad truth of the matter is that we simply don’t know how many moderate Muslims condemn durka durka Mohammed jihad. And we don’t know whether they’d be reported doing so by the MSM if they did.
Will the real Islam please stand up? Are the masked homicidal gunmen who stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo the true representatives of Islam? Or is the hard-working and law-abiding Muslim family who own and run your corner store the true faces of the religion of peace?
Seriously, folks. Can’t you see that there’s an epistemic problem here? Is Islam the root cause of the problem? Or something else? I don’t really know and, may I respectively suggest, neither do you.
Credit where it’s due says blogger Brendan McNeill, upon whom I rely to keep tabs on what Mohammed’s followers are up to.
I have previously reflected that nothing short of a reformation of Islam will ever allow its followers to co-exist peacefully with other faith communities. It seems the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is himself a Muslim, agrees and is apparently unafraid to say so.
Speaking before Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry on New Year’s Day, 2015, and in connection to Prophet Muhammad’s upcoming birthday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a vocal supporter for a renewed vision of Islam, made what must be his most forceful and impassioned plea to date on the subject.
McNeill then quotes from al-Sisi’s speech in which the Egyptian President declares that Islam “is in need of a religious revolution,” before concluding
President Sisi is a brave man. Normally, to utter these words would be an automatic death sentence. It may still prove to be.
Is al-Sisi’s speech a reason for optimism? Perhaps, but there’s a bigger problem than that which already makes al-Sisi’s future assassination a very real possibility. A further epistemic problem to exacerbate the one we already have.
Now here’s Wikipedia to say a few words about taqiyya, the Muslim doctrine that allows lying in certain circumstances—primarily when Muslim minorities live under infidel authority.
In Shi’a Islam, taqiyya (تقیةtaqiyyah/taqīyah) is a form of religious dissimulation, or a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are in fear or at risk of significant persecution. The corresponding concept in Sunni Islam is known as idtirar (إضطرار) “coercion”. A related concept is known as kitman “concealment; dissimulation by omission”. Also related is the concept of ḥiyal, legalistic deception practiced not necessarily in a religious context but to gain political or legalistic advantage.
Can we trust any of the moderate Muslims condemning violent jihad? Can we even trust al-Sisi? A friend on Facebook thinks we can’t. He says
be in no doubt it was a very brave thing for Sisi to say unless of course he is practicing Taquiyya which is the islamic doctrine of being able to lie or decieve to protect or further islam.
I don’t know if we can trust al-Sisi or not. How could I know? (He’s a politician, after all.)
Christianity does not permit lying. Not even white lies. We are called to worship God in spirit and in truth. The fact that Islam does permit lying in certain circumstances and even has a name for the practice is of the utmost concern.
Not least because it gives anti-Islamic factions in Western society a free pass to practise a modern-day form of medieval witch dunking, also known as ordeal by water.
Ordeal by water was associated with the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries: an accused who sank was considered innocent, while floating indicated witchcraft.
Innocent accused who sank drowned. Guilty accused who floated were executed for witchcraft. So the accused was damned if she did, damned if she didn’t. (See also the Biblical test for an unfaithful wife.)
Muslims who don’t protest the violence of their extremist co-religionists are accused of condoning terrorism by not speaking out. Muslims who do protest are accused of committing taqiyya. Thus, in the eyes of many, there are no moderate Muslims, just as there were none left living among those women of medieval times accused, rightly or wrongly, of witchcraft.
(Point illustrated. In fact, with respect to dunking, “the notion that the ordeal was flatly devised as a situation without any possibility of live acquittal, even if the outcome was ‘innocent’, is a modern elaboration.”)
Lying is wrong. And the fate of all habitual liars is that eventually no one believes them. That Muslims are so widely regarded with suspicion is a fate that Islam has wrought upon itself.
Nathaniel Branden, best known for his adulterous liaison with Ayn Rand, has died at the age of 84. And Jim Peron, best known in New Zealand for his forthright views on pedophilia, has written an approbatory encomium for the Huffington Post.
Regarded by my co-blogger Tim as “probably the best Objectivist of them all,” Branden is better known as the author of the self-help book The Psychology of Self-Esteem. Branden’s work is well regarded, and not just by Objectivists. Really, I suppose, it’s a book I should read. (And I am without excuse. I confirm that I own a copy. I just exhumed it from the stacks!)
Let’s hear it from the man himself on the topic of self-esteem and libertarianism. The talk below is insightful and thought-provoking and has an important message for libertarian activists.
Awesome, huh? Now, let us praise with faint damnation.
I realised just the other day that all libertarians I’ve ever known (including me) are apt to commit a nasty semantic sin. See if you can spot it in the transcript below.
I think that one of the toughest battles in conversations with people and trying to get people to understand the libertarian vision is to understand ourselves and to find a way to communicate that we take something for granted that many people do not. The libertarian mentality is a non-entitlement mentality. The libertarian mentality presuppposes a person’s willingness to accept responsibility for his or her own existence.
Did you spot it? The libertarian mentality is absolutely an entitlement mentality! Libertarians emphatically believe that they are fully entitled to the fruits of their own labours. Entitlement? Check it out in any dictionary. Or Google it. You’ll see that entitlement is “the fact of having a right to something.” Am I entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Yes I am!
But you’ll also see that a second sense of the word ‘entitlement’ now also has currency. This modern entitlement is “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” In other words, ‘entitlement’ has come to mean entitlement to that which one is not entitled. And that, dear readers, is the death of the word ‘entitlement’. It’s been turned into an abominable auto-antonym.
(Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.)
Now, let’s get back to the salaciousness of it all. What was Rand using for brains when she decided to cuckold poor old Frank O’Connor? Commenter Brendan Hutching has the answer to that on the Objectivist forum SOLO.
I’m plumping for the moistie. Rand would not be the first woman to be led astray by the stirring of her loins, prompted by a silly, adolescent fantasy about the redemptive power of a white knight’s mighty sword.
So, what about Branden? What was he using for brains? Was he thinking with his big head or his little head? Hutching has the answer to that, too.
Branden was an ambitious young man, keen to make his mark. An affair with a mentor is a standard behaviour for people on their way up.
Perhaps you can now see why many Rand-worshippers despise Nathaniel Branden. (They despise his ex-wife Barbara Branden, who passed away last December, even more so.) On Facebook, my co-blogger Tim notes
no one having the Balls to pay her the Tribute she was due… and I’ll eat my hat if any Kiwi objectivist writes a tribute for Nat.
So I checked out Tim’s prediction. So far, so good. The tributes to Nathaniel Branden on SOLO are from Tom Burroughes (a British Objectivist) and Kyrel Zantanovich (a U.S. Objectivist). Then I popped on over to PC’s blog, Not PC. Nothing there so far …
Daniel Wolpert thinks we don’t have a brain to “perceive the world or think” (presumably then he thought up with his own notion with his appendix, or perhaps his descending retroperitoneal colon). That, he says, “is completely wrong.”
No, “we have a brain for one reason and one reason only,” says our Mr Wolbert, “and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements. There is no other reason to have a brain … once you don’t need to move, you don’t need the luxury of that brain.”
So while philosophers and psychologists have for centuries investigated the modes and magic of human thought, and even as we speak computer scientists are busy trying to replicate the thinking human brain in silicon, alleged neuroscientists like Mr Wolbert are instead trying to study the repository of human thought and perception without reference to either perception or thought.
Recently, I said that I’d be blogging more on philosophy and less on politics. In today’s world there’s a desperate need for more philosophy and less politics. So I’ll begin with pointing out the confusion (and implicit contradiction) in PC’s post.
I think PC is confusing what the brain is for with what the brain does. I haven’t listened to Wolpert’s TED talk (yet) so I’ll take an educated guess. I don’t think that Wolpert denies that the brain does perceive and think. What Wolpert denies is that it’s for perceiving and thinking. Wolpert, you see, is an Evolutionist and Evolutionists like to explain all human morphology and behavioural traits by reference to the selection pressures faced by our human (and not-so-human) ancestors.
Has there ever been a need to perceive and think in our postulated four billion year evolutionary history? Not directly, no, there hasn’t. There’s only ever been a need “to produce adaptable and complex movements” by some mechanism. Evolutionists ask us to believe that the miraculous human brain is what random mutation threw up to meet this need and thus was seized upon by natural selection. Now, I remain firmly agnostic about the theory of evolution, but I can’t help but smell a whiff of bullshit here.
I find it disconcerting that Evolutionists so seldom follow through and buy into the logical implications of their own atheistic materialism. Or at least acknowledge that they are maintaining contradictions. A raft of them. Rand would spew.
I suspect that Rand was smart enough to recognise that her conception of man (which is the cornerstone of her philosophy) would prove false if the theory of evolution were shown to be true. Nathaniel Branden wrote the following in his essay The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand.
I remember being astonished to hear her say one day, “After all, the theory of evolution is only a hypothesis.” I asked her, “You mean you seriously doubt that more complex life forms — including humans — evolved from less complex life forms?” She shrugged and responded, “I’m really not prepared to say,” or words to that effect. I do not mean to imply that she wanted to substitute for the theory of evolution the religious belief that we are all God’s creation; but there was definitely something about the concept of evolution that made her uncomfortable.
There’s no place for love, beauty or morality in a purely material world.
I’m going to give the last word on this to my co-blogger Tim because I think he nails it. He alludes to
more than just the beauty of Woman… I am saying *Beauty* itself, and my ability to experience it is evidence of God…. beautiful beaches…. sunsets……too prove this.
Thus I am saying that my sense of beauty here is more than just a genetic/ sexual urge… Thus I find a Female butterfly to be Beautiful… and a Male Peacock… and this carries over into sound, taste, smell… etc.
Why I make this point Re : Beauty is because before I was a theist, it never occurred to me just how spectacular was this relationship between the beauty of Creation, and my ability to perceive it. after my conversion it dawned on me that all this could have existed and yet if I was ‘born a tree’ I would never have appreciated any of it! Never tasted a peach… never smelled a rose…. never herd a birds song… never appreciated the sun setting over the ocean… Ie My perception was heightened as to just how miraculously God had made me… so as to be able to apprehend his greatness as an artist… The beauty of God.
On a facebook tread discussing my assertions an Atheist tried to say my ‘feelings’ and sence of beauty were merely a product of ‘Nurture’… not nature.
I retorted… Give me a break! What I am talking about is something which is a fundamental capacity designed in human beings to the degree that it’s absence would be a mental handicap… nothing to do with cultural relativism.”
To me Naturalistic theories not only struggle to explain The happy conditions of Life on Earth, they really become absurd when you realise that the Atheist must believe that not only is every beautiful thing merely the product of a giant explosion, but that our sense of beauty itself must be explained thereby… as merely another property of matter.
Let me explain. An agnostic is someone who doesn’t know. So if you ask me why I’m an agnostic, I’m going to answer, “I don’t know!”
I meant it mainly as a joke, but I also meant it partly as a statement of fact about me.
The term ‘agnostic’ was coined by 19th century English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (who, incidentally, is best remembered as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his advocacy of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution). He derived the term from the (Ancient) Greek ἀ- (a-), meaning “without”, and γνῶσις (gnōsis), meaning “knowledge”. Hence, the literal meaning of ‘agnostic’ is someone without knowledge. Huxley said
Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle … Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
Agnosticism is not a creed. Agnosticism says nothing about anything. That’s how it’s entirely possible (and, in my opinion, entirely desirable) to be both an agnostic and a Christian.
Agnosticism is not a creed. It’s a method(ology) only. And it’s about what conclusions are certain. (I’m not sure, but I think I’m not entirely certain about anything.)
I’ve studied more than enough philosophy to know not to put too much trust in the evidence of the senses or the deliverances of human reason. That’s one reason why the following is one of my favourite scriptures.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. (NASB)
Do not lean on your own understanding. Seems pretty agnostic to me.