Sunday, August 10, 2014

Saving The World, Hating Your Dad, The Humanist Bootstraps

Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad Is a Right-Wing Asshole | Village Voice:

This is an excellent article by someone that has a lot of wonderful sentiments but I fear has not studied much of human history and has therefore a naive view of what is humanly possible. It is the ultimate division -- humanities perpetual hope that it can think itself to heaven on earth -- in this case by a "will to love", but no matter, the concept is that man unaided by any transcendent entity or factor can pull itself "up" (assuming man even has a clue as to which way that is) by his own bootstraps.

The basic pulling by bootstraps argument is old and common -- for Nietzsche it was "the will to power", for William James, "the will to believe".  For all our basic problems with human frailty including even getting up, procrastination, organization, weight, drugs, alcohol, etc, we humans really really want to believe in our "will".
The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist -- the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they're truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.
The mechanism that has moved masses of humanity in unison and at least for large groups of people converted masses to a common goal historically is religion. There is one world religion that comes very close to the paragraph above, although the author is loathe to mention it.  Christianity. The rest of them answer this basically as follows:

Buddhism -- Ignore the world, don't be attached
Hinduism - It's a big cycle, do good and it will get better eventually
Judaism - God has a plan, follow his rules and it will work out.
Islam - Win Baby win -- convert or kill everyone else and Sharia will be superb.
Secular Humanism -- Essentially the view espoused in this column. We are asserted to be very capable of loving one another (they may have to redefine "love" for you a bit)  ON OUR OWN if we just pay a lot of attention and focus on "love is the answer", "walk a mile in your oppositions shoes", or maybe John Lennon's "imagine".

Or to use the column authors words ...
So we must protect and respect each other, no matter how hard it feels. No matter how wrong someone else may seem to us, they are still human. No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no worse than us. Our beliefs and behavior don't make us fundamentally better than others, no matter how satisfying it is to believe otherwise. We must be tireless in our efforts to see things from the point of view we most disagree with. We must make endless efforts to try and understand the people we least relate to. And we must at all times force ourselves to love the people we dislike the most. Not because it's nice or because they deserve it, but because our own sanity and survival depends on it. And if we do find ourselves pushed into a corner where we must kill others in order to survive, we must fully accept that we are killing people just as fully human as ourselves, and not some evil abstract creatures.
The basic flaw in the authors wishful view aside from the insufficiency of "will"  is the existence of evil. Really? ISIS is "just as fully human as you are"? Hitler? Pol Pot? Your favorite serial killer? The authors view requires that man is "basically good". Christianity asserts we ARE all equivalent to ISIS, Hitler, etc -- equivalently evil at heart and 100% in need of a Savior to fix our broken condition.

Rejection of that Savior condemns the world to the condition that the columnist seems to abhor -- but he is clearly not willing to accept that, and instead fervently hopes that SOMEHOW the obvious result of what he recognizes as the characteristics of humanity -- the need for simple answers, the need to be on the "winning side", the apocalyptic view of the world engendered by our own mortality,  the oft proven insufficiency of our "will", our nature to each see our own personal views as "special",  etc can be modified by "will, thought and love".

He fervently wishes and hopes that somehow, good words and intellect can rise above the human condition with no transcendent God or religious practice/framework and manufacture "love".  It would be an interesting trick since we don't  have a handle on consciousness, and one hopes that the authors definition of "love" would require consciousness. We certainly can't manufacture consciousness.

I too fervently wish that children could manage to love their parents even if the parents were so backward to hold differing political, religious, economic or other views, but aside from Christ, it is simply not to be. I've seen it time and time again and way too personally -- children reject God, and very quickly they reject their parents in all but the most shallow of connection. "Honor your Father and your Mother" is just one more tired old doctrine to be rejected.

No, there is one division that counts. Christ. Those that have Christ have love, those that do not will always both hate Christ and his followers -- no matter how much they may claim to have "open minds", "love", "enlightenment", or some other high sounding thought or emotion, the reality of their relationship to those with Christ will always be something along the lines of hatred, avoidance, condescension, discomfort, etc, while those with Christ will continue to fervently love, hope and pray -- with a deep sorrow for those that they love that have been lost.

The world isn't BEING destroyed -- it WAS destroyed, by sin, and Christ and Christians have been trying to save as much of it as possible for two thousand years. There have  been long periods with a lot of success, and there are periods such as now when darkness seems to be ascendant, but ultimately the end will be according to plan -- not our plan, but Gods. Thanks be to God.

The author of the column would likely protest, "See, there is the problem" -- which is what humanists have been protesting for at least a few hundred years. The 20th century was a century of extreme optimism in the secular community. Their perceived historic foe of religion was seen to have been finally vanquished -- "God is dead" as Nietzsche shouted (although he was well aware of the terror involved in that phrase).

Communism, Fascism and Socialism were all seen as related and nearly certain to be successful utopian plans by the elite. Hopes were high -- human confidence for social and political science was as high as engineering confidence was in the early century for the unsinkable Titanic. By mid-century it was obvious to all but the most doctrinaire peddlers of "isms" that after 100's of millions dead, the project was at least going to be much more expensive in lives and treasure than any had imagined. The fall of the USSR near the end of the century might have given some social science alchemists pause in their plans to turn human nature into the embodiment of love -- but as we see in the column, such is not the case.

Secular Humanism, the religion ashamed to claim it's faith, continues as optimistic as ever in spite of the cosmic body count.

Humans WILL cleave to a religion -- one that explains their universe and transcends the day to day informational noise that seeks to pound all meaning from their existence. As we see above, it will be a religion like the great world religions listed (or some thinly updated variant), or it will be the modern biggie -- some variation of Secular Humanism  -- man as god, earth as heaven, with only a little more fervent wishing and appropriate education (or sometimes RE-education) required to close the deal. Let's call it "love".

Christianity begins from the other side -- with humility. "The Fear of God" -- acknowledgement that what the author of the column believes that we "ought to do" -- love those that hate us, realize that the world is WAY to complex to be understood by man, and accept there may well be more that exists than what we can even perceive  -- is just not possible without something that transcends our existence. Pulling ourselves by our bootstraps is futile, so God humbled himself to human form, died on a cross and rose as the first fruits of a life that is what the columnist dreams of. We ALL dream of it -- we are homesick for heaven, and many -- politicians, media people, self-help charlatans, and even the columnist in his own way -- prey on our souls yearning with false promises.

Christ is the side of love. Christ is the side of the ultimate open mind -- of belief in more than this mortal coil, which is the only way to rise above the constant noise of thousands of viewpoints demanding equal attention -- the authors desires for man are reachable, but not by man without Christ.

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