Liveblog at the End of the Universe


Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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159 Responses

  1. Avatar J.L. Wall says:

    Wait, so what time, Central, is this supposed to start? I need to get the popcorn ready. (And where can I find out what time the world is supposed to end in Chicago? Because God’s cutting it pretty damn close to breaking that whole destroying/creating rule on the Sabbath, and if he’s holding me to it but not himself, well, that’s just TOTALLY not okay.)

    Also, there are two very significant pieces of evidence against the Rapture today/tomorrow that we need to consider:

    1) The Cubs are not threatening to do anything other than pray that they’re raptured so they no longer have to be booed by the Wrigley faithful every time they take the field. They’re trailing Pittsburgh in the standings — if anything, this should assure is that everything is AS WE ARE USED TO in the world.

    2) Ending the world today would prevent Kentucky from winning the NCAA tournament next year. Had it not been for Jim Calhoun, this Rapture theory might be plausible, but I think we’d better wait ’til next year.Report

  2. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Jason, being the editor/journalist, not to mention atheist you are, I’m assuming you’ll be mocking more religions, not just Christianity?
    I’ll be looking forward to you blog when you mock Islam. Frankly, I don’t think you have the courage to mock Islam. After all, they know your name, where you work, and probably can find out where you live very quickly.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      I tremble at our Islamic overlords, who are going to hunt me down and behead me the very moment they discover that I’m a godless homosexual who likes pornography, gambling, the state of Israel, and my nightly martini.

      I tremble, I tell you!Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Liking porn makes you one of them.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:


        You laugh now but I doubt you’d find the religion of peace so accommodating if you were in their hands.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          At least they’re enslaving him with a health care mandate.Report

        • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

          Why post this(both you and bob)?

          It could be your way of making a threat. But I choose to think better.

          It could be that you think we should fear your religion and are jealous that you don’t have your own violent thugs. Let us hope that that is not the case. Incidentally you Christians do have your own violet thugs. See Scott Roeder, all the gay bashers, and many more anti-choice terrorists. So no need for you to be jealous if you are.

          You honestly think that we think better of Islam.

          Finally, you just want to attack someone to feel better about Christianity being mocked.

          None of these explanations make either of you look very good so in the spirit of charity I’ll ask if not these then what?

          None of these explanations paint you in a flattering light.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          You laugh now but I doubt you’d find the religion of peace so accommodating if you were in their hands.

          Was that an earthquake? Or did the goalposts just move all by themselves?

          Bob dared me to mock Islam. I mocked Islam.

          Now I guess I have to march unarmed into an al Qaeda camp and piss on a Koran to make you happy. Well, whatever.Report

          • Avatar Scott says:

            No , there was no desire to move the posts on my part just an honest statement that some of those peaceful folks wouldn’t like your mockery.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              If I were a truly malicious person (Evil Jaybird, let’s call him) and I were going to go out of my way to mock Christianity, I would think about it for a while first.

              I am pretty sure that the most damage I could do would be *NOT* to make little jokes but to pretend to be a Christian… and not just a “one of us” Christian but a really, spectacularly *DEVOUT* one. And not just one of the devout ones who throws a “praise God!” at the end of my sentences, but one who talks about prophecy and Revelation.

              I would put together a discussion of how the rapture is nigh, and how, given my studies, I’ve narrowed everything down to a particular day and a particular time… a time that is kinda far out (a year, maybe) but definitely within the lifetimes of 99% of everybody who is likely to hear about it from me.

              I’d spend time talking about the Glory of God, the wonders of Heaven, how all tears would be wiped away, how we’d see our loved ones again, and how everything would finally just work the way we always knew that it should… once we are together again with God.

              And then the day would pass without anything much happening.

              Why would this work?

              Well, there’d be a handful of folks who would be so disillusioned from what I promised that they’d turn their back on the faith. The rest of the folks would be given a choice between this group of “the enemy of my enemy” (people mocking Christianity) and that group of “the enemy of my enemy” (people making Christianity look bad because of their own excesses) and count on the majority of Christians who are in it for social reasons to take the side of the anti-anti-Christians rather than risk anti-anti-Christianity being misinterpreted as anti-Christianity… and thus expose more people to the idea that Christianity is little more than a social phenomenon.

              Anyway, if I were looking to really mock Christianity, that’s what I’d do.Report

            • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

              Neither would Kim Jong-il take it well if mocked him. Thankfully I am not under his power.

              How does you referencing this make you look good or even avoid making you look bad?

              Btw my state has decide to prohibit teachers from acknowledging the fact of Jason’s existence. I am awed by the Christian love.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                At least you’re not allowed to mock me, because that would hurt my feelings.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

                But since they say you don’t exist I can’t share A-choc-alypse cookies with you 🙁Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                That, I admit, makes me want to mock Christianity more broadlyReport

              • Avatar North says:

                You live in TN pirate? My consolations.
                But where, then, do you pirate? Are you a scourge along the Mississippi? I suppose the recent floodings must have been a boon for your business. You can just drive the ol’ Black Pearl right in through the front door of the liquor store and plunder the grog. Yar!Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

                And the cookies. Never forget the cookies.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Btw my state has decide to prohibit teachers from acknowledging the fact of Jason’s existence.

                Not even to want their students about the evils of his way of life? That’s crazy. When they’re older they’ll be sitting ducks for the seductive siren call of “Taxation is theft.”Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Just get in the van, kid. I’ve got… vouchers.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Oh my, Jason, I expected better. A blog perhaps, where you spit in the face of their god at some sarcastic length and depth.
        Gifted writer/cynic that you are I’m sure you could generate gails of mocking laughter from our secular friends here.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Is mocking people who believe things like “the end of the world will be tomorrow!” necessarily a mockery of Christianity qua Christianity?

      I mean, it’s one thing to say “Harold Camping is making himself look so bad that it’s splattering on his religion” and quite another to say “Jesus can’t eat m&ms”.

      I mean, I make fun of Bob Tilton. Is *THAT* mockery of Christianity?Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        It might be worth asking Bob if he thought I was mocking his religion. Camping believes some really strange stuff for a Christian, including:

        –Jesus was crucified twice.
        –There is no Hell; the damned are annihilated.
        –No church anywhere has been a source of salvation since 1994.
        –The world is a little over 13,000 years old, neither more nor less.
        –We’re living in the Tribulation right this moment.

        If that’s what you believe, then yes. I’m making some modest fun of your religion. I promise… either way… that I will absolutely, no-questions-about-it stop after tomorrow.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “Jesus can’t eat m&ms”.

        Because he keeps on throwing away all the ‘W”s? (or was that St. Peter?)Report

      • Avatar dexter says:

        I never mock Christians. I only mock people who claim to be Christian and are actually followers of the harshest of the psychotic homophobes that ruled in the new testament.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I can’t speak for Jason, but I personally will start making jokes about the silly end of the world predictions of the loopier adherents of Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, etc., as soon as those groups begin to have the sort of impact on my daily life that Christianity does — big enough, at least, for the crazies among the believers to start to appear on my radar. Until then, the crazies in those other religion just don’t matter to me.

      Does that make sense? That the dominant religious group where you are would get more attention, including negative attention? Or are you like Tom, and convinced that this is some sort of anti-Christian bias born of… I don’t know what, but something.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke says:

        I don’t know what it’s born of either, Chris. Like the man said, it’s above my pay grade.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          If it’s a bias, it’s a bias towards the present, towards things that affect us clearly, directly, and frequently. If we were in a Buddhist country, people like me, or Jason, or Sam Harris, would focus on Buddhism, and your equivalent there would suggest we had an anti-Buddhism bias, as evidenced by the fact that we don’t spend even close to as much time talking about Christianity.

          I just meant I’m not sure where you think the bias comes from. I know quite well where it comes from.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            I agree.

            If I lived in a Muslim country while retaining the general attitudes and beliefs that I have about religion and politics, I’m fairly certain that my blogging would be much more about Islam — and very, very critical of it. I’d also very likely have to be anonymous.

            In the real world, I write infrequently about Christianity, because I see it as mostly domesticated into the liberal-democratic consensus about religion. For that same reason, I don’t need to be anonymous. Still though, I can’t help but find it an occasional subject of criticism. It’s a part of the culture, and so am I.Report

            • Avatar tom van dyke says:

              Ahmadinejad and his 12th Imam affect us more than this Camping guy, as I think about it, gentlemen.

              I fear there is something else going on here by giving this fellow attention.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I fear there is something else going on here by giving this fellow attention.

                Well yes, there is. I’ve never been able to watch and listen in on a doomsday cult before they had a disconfirmation. I find that very interesting, if a bit disturbing. People have given a lot of time and money to this, they’ve left their families, their careers.

                I find that remarkable, and when I find something remarkable, I blog about it.

                Or maybe it’s because I hate your religion, Tom. Take your pick. But remember, it’s only your religion if you thought today was doomsday, that Jesus died twice, that there is no hell, that all churches belong to Satan…Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Jason, I wrote re your expressed agreement with:

                as soon as those groups begin to have the sort of impact on my daily life that Christianity does

                Which seemed off a bit, upon further review that Ahmadinejad [and certain strains of Islamic eschatology] certainly do affect both of your lives more.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Christianity has a long history of end-of-the-world predictions. Islam does too, but it’s tiny where I live, I don’t know nearly as much about it, and I frankly don’t find it as interesting.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Ah, but it’s sure affecting our lives.

                Just having a little go, mate. Can’t let the Philistines have all the fun. 😉

                As for my personal religion, I don’t discuss it publicly, and that of others only at arm’s length. The most I usually go is to defend the freedom of others to believe stupid shit out of pluralism, or that the case for theism is not philosophically unreasonable. Defending the ridiculous and the sublime, but not much inbetween.

                For the record. Cheers.Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke says:

            Yes, Chris, I know. May 21 is “Immantize the Eschaton Day!” Except for you and yours, that’s every day. 😉Report

    • Avatar Fish says:

      I believe this is what’s come to be called “fatwah envy.”Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    It’ll be an apocalypse if the Giants lose any more infielders.Report

  4. This story on earthquake prediction was one of the more interesting things I’ve read in awhile:

    If that theory is correct, then we can already safely say that we’re all, uhh, safe. Or at least that none of us are about to be saved, if you’d prefer that formulation.Report

  5. Avatar James K says:

    Well it’s already past 6am in New Zealand, and no earthquakes, raptures or so forth yet.Report

  6. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    It’s sooo embarrassing to be a Christian, at times like these, especially when the Rapture is scheduled to occur on my birthday. I have also never been able to determine if I am a Taurus or a Gemini.

    Is it possible to be a Christian and a rational person? I don’t know anymore, I’ve tried, God wot. So much of my faith has been coopted and transmogrified it’s getting hard to tell the difference between a raving lunatic and a holy fool.

    Life is not entirely encapsulated by the rational. Dostoyevsky would write from prison of The Peasant Marey, of himself as a child, terrified by an unseen wolf:

    “What do you mean, lad? There’s no wolf; you’re just hearing”, reassuring me. But I was all a-tremble and clung to his coat sleeve, more tightly; I suppose I was very pale as well. He looked at me with an uneasy smile, evidently concerned and alarmed for me.

    “Why you took a real fright, you did!” he said, wagging his head. “Never mind, now, my dear. What a fine lad you are!” He stretched out his hand and suddenly stroked my cheek.

    “Never mind, now, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Christ be with you. Cross yourself, lad.” But I couldn’t cross myself; the corners of my mouth were trembling, and I think this particularly struck him. He quietly stretched out a thick, earth-soiled finger with a black nail and gently touched it to my trembling lips.

    “Now, now,” he smiled at me with a broad, almost maternal smile. “Lord, what a dreadful fuss. Dear, dear, dear!” At last I realized that there was no wolf and that I must have imagined hearing the cry of “Wolf.” Still, it had been such a clear and distinct shout; two or three times before, however, I had imagined such cries (not only about wolves), and I was aware of that. (Later, when childhood passed, these hallucinations did as well.)

    “Well, I’ll be off now,” I said, making it seem like a question and looking at him shyly.

    “Off with you, then, and I’ll keep an eye on you as you go. Can’t let the wolf get you!” he added, still giving me a maternal smile. “Well, Christ be with you, off you go.” He made the sign of the cross over me, and crossed himself I set off, looking over my shoulder almost every ten steps.

    This memory came to me all at once – I don’t know why – but with amazing clarity of detail. Suddenly I roused myself and sat on the bunk; I recall that a quiet smile of reminiscence still played on my face. I kept on recollecting for yet another minute. I remembered that when I had come home from Marey I told no one about my “adventure.” And what kind of adventure was it anyway? I forgot about Marey very quickly as well. On the rare occasions when I met him later, I never struck up a conversation with him, either about the wolf or anything else, and now, suddenly, twenty years later, in Siberia, I remembered that encounter so vividly, right down to the last detail. That means it had settled unnoticed in my heart, all by itself with no will of mine, and had suddenly come back to me at a time when it was needed; I recalled the tender, maternal smile of a poor serf, the way he crossed me and shook his head: “Well you did take a fright now, didn’t you, lad!”

    And I especially remember his thick finger, soiled with dirt, that he touched quietly and with shy tenderness to my trembling lips. Of course, anyone would try to reassure a child, but here in this solitary encounter something quite different had happened, and had I been his very own son he could not have looked at me with a glance that radiated more pure love, and who had prompted him to do that? He was our own serf, and I was his master’s little boy; no one would learn of his kindness to me and reward him for it. Was he, maybe, especially fond of small children? There are such people. Our encounter was solitary, in an open field, and only God, perhaps, looking down saw what deep and enlightened human feeling and what delicate, almost feminine tenderness could fill the heart of a coarse, bestially ignorant Russian serf who at the time did not expect or even dream of his freedom. Now tell me, is this not what Konstantin Aksakov had in mind when he spoke of the advanced level of development of our Russian People? Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

      > Life is not entirely encapsulated by the rational.

      I dunno about this one, Blaise.

      Far too often people assume that “rational” == “able to be enumerated by a finite true/false decision tree”. They’re not the same.

      It’s all where you’re standing when you’re trying to move the Moon. Rationality is just a lever.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        Alternatively, if “rational” refers to “a set of mutually coherent explanatory models in our minds,” then the statement “life is not entirely encapsulated by the rational” just means “we don’t know everything yet.”

        No argument there. I don’t think that’s entirely what’s meant when most people say it, however.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke says:

          Jason, it means that not everything is knowable. “Why are we here?” is a starting point.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            The absurd is lucid reason noting its limits, as some French dude once said. The question is, how do you react to the absurd? For most, the answer seems to be, adding even more unknowable stuff, that is, more absurdity, on top of it in order to make this stuff feel a little less absurd. I find it somewhat amusing that Bob, channeling Voegelin, thinks that is the less disordered approach.Report

            • Avatar tom van dyke says:

              Or, dismissing as absurd that which one merely does not understand.Report

            • Avatar dexter says:

              For a while there I did not know if you were describing religious people or the republican party.Report

            • Avatar WardSmith says:


              The absurd is lucid reason noting its limits, as some French dude once said. The question is, how do you react to the absurd? For most, the answer seems to be, adding even more unknowable stuff, that is, more absurdity, on top of it in order to make this stuff feel a little less absurd.

              Immediately made me think of my favorite quote by George Orwell: “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

              I wish to thank all you “ordinary gentlemen” for having a blog so interesting that I am often obliged to actually Google something because my lazy vocabulary has gone lacking again. For instance when I read immanentizing the eschaton I vaguely remembered the term ala Buckley but you brought it all back in spades with an epistemological narrative to boot.

              As for Camping, of course he was wrong, he went out (Biblical scholar that he is) KNOWING he was wrong, but caring not at all. Too bad for his foolish followers. Camping is 90 yrs old, his comeuppance will come soon enough. A young man with 6 children who has made vagabonds of them all will have years of coming to terms with his own comeuppance.Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

            That I’ll agree with (not everything is knowable), for most values of “knowable”.

            One problem is that we don’t know what’s actually unknowable. Many things are knowable. Until we know it, we can’t be sure it’s not unknowable.Report

            • Avatar tom van dyke says:

              Which is cool and philosophical, Mr. Cahalan. “Why are we here?” is unknowable, but one can and should ask it anyway.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                If nothing else, it helps you figure out what you think is a decent way to act/treat other people if you keep some truth tables for your potential answers to this question in your head.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              And furthermore, if religion starts in with all this Mystery business, it’s getting in the way of progress. A better experiment is what’s needed, not faith in God. Can you imagine a creator so stupid and narcissistic as to demand his followers sing his praises all damned day long? Well neither can I. Such a deity does not deserve my time. If man has been created in the image of God, he is himself a creator, an investigator, a lover of truth in all its forms.

              I love that bit from Python’s Holy Grail where God says: “Oh stop grovelling!” Belief in God does not necessarily imply putting my mind in neutral.

              Christopher Hitchens wrote some while back on the subject of his illness:

              I have saved the best of the faithful until the last. Dr. Francis Collins is one of the greatest living Americans. He is the man who brought the Human Genome Project to completion, ahead of time and under budget, and who now directs the National Institutes of Health. In his work on the genetic origins of disorder, he helped decode the “misprints” that cause such calamities as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease. He is working now on the amazing healing properties that are latent in stem cells and in “targeted” gene-based treatments. This great humanitarian is also a devotee of the work of C. S. Lewis and in his book The Language of God has set out the case for making science compatible with faith. (This small volume contains an admirably terse chapter informing fundamentalists that the argument about evolution is over, mainly because there is no argument.) I know Francis, too, from various public and private debates over religion. He has been kind enough to visit me in his own time and to discuss all sorts of novel treatments, only recently even imaginable, that might apply to my case. And let me put it this way: he hasn’t suggested prayer, and I in turn haven’t teased him about The Screwtape Letters. So those who want me to die in agony are really praying that the efforts of our most selfless Christian physician be thwarted. Who is Dr. Collins to interfere with the divine design? By a similar twist, those who want me to burn in hell are also mocking those kind religious folk who do not find me unsalvageably evil. I leave these paradoxes to those, friends and enemies, who still venerate the supernatural. Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I’m not sure what Blaise meant by that particular proposition, but I agree with what you’re saying. Too often today “rational” becomes identified with “science,” which is to say, with measurement, causal explanations, probabilistic predictions, etc., and while the life, and the world in general, is certainly not encapsulated in that, this does not imply that there is not some other sort of order to it, some reason to it, where order and reason are more than just causal order and reason.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Well I dunno, either. I wrestle with it constantly. As Jason notes below, there’s so much we don’t know.


        Nobody’s trying to move the Moon. The mind is not rational, despite our every attempt to pretend it is. The dissected rabbit never hops again. This does not give us the luxury of swanning about, sotto voce, declaiming great odes on the Mystery of Life without a working understanding of rabbit anatomy or the particulars of the lunar orbit. We know the Creation in Genesis is a myth: there is no excuse for using the Bible as a biology textbook. If God is Truth, we are obligated to live in that truth, coming to a fuller understanding of what we do not yet know.

        This much I do know: phrases like “far too often people assume” precede putting words in the mouths of the faithful. We are perfectly capable of speaking for ourselves. There is much you do not know about us, or why we believe. Yet.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          The mind is not rational, despite our every attempt to pretend it is.

          That statement is even more opaque than the first. What does it mean for the mind to be rational? It certainly obeys an order, even if that order alludes us, and may forever do so. And it’s a mistake to conclude, as many philosophers have done (at least in the modern era), that “emotion” or “feeling” is not rational, or that our heavy reliance on it, mentally, makes the mind irrational, because emotions are quite rational, as you’d expect from an evolved creature.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Explain why Bach’s music lasted.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

              It’s objectively, measurably attractive to the human brainpan.

              Here’s what will be interesting: when (if) we run into (create) another intelligence, will that intelligence find Bach attractive?

              Is Bach attractive because it’s attractive, objectively, to the intelligent brain? Or is it attractive just to the human brain? Insufficient evidence.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Attractive eh? Perhaps I’ll apply to the SIU for a new unit of measure, the calahan. A surface integral of pleasure flux over some finite body? The rest of the equation I’ll leave to you, but I don’t think you can get the electric constant in there.

                Insufficient evidence. Eet eez to larf. The dissected rabbit doesn’t hop any more, Pat.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                It’s “cahalan”, h-before-l. Don’t worry about it, everybody does it. Your brain is actually wired to do it 🙂

                Point of fact, I’ve seen someone make a partially dissected rabbit hop, sir. Two wires and a little current is all it takes.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                My apologies: there’s nothing quite so irritating as getting someone’s name wrong.

                Sure, you can hitch up the electrodes to the muscles, that’s part of every anatomy class at some point. And witness the progress we’ve made with the human spinal cord, truly wonderful stuff. But even Galvani observed the bunny stayed dead.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                Really, it ain’t no thing. It bothered me until I read enough neuropsych to know that the human brain pattern matches below the level of conscious thought. Everybody’s heard “Callahan”. Nobody’s heard “Cahalan”. You look at the print on the page, but you don’t see it until somebody points it out to you 🙂

                Speaking of spinal cords, in the news:


            • Avatar Chris says:

              I can’t, of course, though I find neuroaesthetics interesting as a line of inquiry.

              I don’t see how the question is relevant, unless you equate unknown with not rational, which would be naive.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                …though I find neuroaesthetics interesting as a line of inquiry.

                I do, too, Chris. It’s not a trick question. It’s got to have an answer. Bertrand Russell said music was counting without numbers (I think) and it’s well within the realm of computing to new create Bach-esque compositions.

                I’m sure, somehow, we’ll come to terms with the chemistry of life. It won’t reduce any of the mystery of life itself. It will only create fresh mysteries.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

          > The mind is not rational

          Generally, I’ll agree. The mind is rationalizing. That doesn’t mean that you can’t come arbitrarily close to rational, though. You just have to put a lot of work into it, particularly examining your own biases.

          > This much I do know: phrases like “far too often
          > people assume” precede putting words in the
          > mouths of the faithful.

          Oh, my apologies, I’m not trying to imply assumptions on your part, or even on the part of any particular subgroup of people, faithful or otherwise.

          It’s a general observation about humans, as a class. People like to say that they’re rational. People like to shortcut, and say that people that disagree with them are irrational. It’s intellectually lazy, but we all do it to some degree or another. It’s like rationalization, we have to work at *not* doing it.

          Usually, I find that the faithful just have different axioms than I do. I grok most of their axioms, I used to be one of the faithful. The fact that they build decision trees that come to different conclusions than I do is usually reducible to the difference in axioms, not in the fact that one of us is irrational and one of us *is* rational.

          All that aside, many of the End of the World people are going to reveal themselves to be irrational. It’s one thing to rationalize, it’s another thing to try to hold two diametrically opposed thoughts concurrently in your noggin. And many of the End of the World folks will be walking around tomorrow, building wonderfully crazy constructs in their heads that enable them to continue on believing in the End is here, even when the End doesn’t look like what they’ve previously said it would.

          But that doesn’t generalize to “the faithful are irrational”.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Well of course. We approximate rationality through reliance on math and logic, relying on each other (if we’re honest) to poke holes in our theories with ever-better experiments.

            I’d like to observe, from pity and embarrassment, the End of the Worlders suffer from an excess of hope. How often have we, who call ourselves so rational and reasonable believed at the end of some great endeavour we had achieved something permanent, only to realize we had hoped in vain? I have come to such realizations, very likely you have as well. We are only travellers, our lives are only journeys. We must have hope, however irrational, for our only other option is despair. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Report

  7. Avatar Francis says:

    Why are we here? Our parents had sex (or IVF). If a species fails to reproduce, it goes extinct. What is our purpose? None, so far as anyone has detected; it’s up to each of us to set our own corse through life. (btw, isn’t that far more exciting and interesting than some mushy notion of fate, or destiny, or divine purpose?)

    Rationality is largely in the eye of the actor. The Sistine Chapel ceiling took four years; the pyramids took decades. Utterly irrational from one perspective; completely logical in another.

    Why not fall in love? Seems perfectly rational to me; companionship feels good. (as one might expect even on a purely scientific basis)Report

  8. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    The key is the ‘nous,’ that definition of ‘reason’ developed by Plato-Aristotle that marked, as Voegelin tells us, an ‘epic’ in the history of our bipedial specie. As a result of this discovery, perhaps the most important ever, we have always seen a few of our kind who have alerted us to the disorders of our particular age and begun the battle of resistance. Interestingly, Voegelin tells us this discovery marked a ‘before and an after’ in history.
    The tension of order and disorder in our kind lies before us for our examination within the context of the Nous/reason. It is a truth, and one that was elaborated upon by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which I am a follower.
    Man has conjured other realities. Hegel for example and his goal of a phenomenal tension of the “dialectic process of immanent consciousness toward the goal of ‘absloute knowledge.'” It is a beautiful, complex, and demonic aberration of reality embraced by many of my friends, where his ‘system of science’ always results in man catching a familiar spiritual disease that ultimately ends with the bold proclamation of the ‘death of God.’
    In the end, it is unsatifying that my modern friends don’t even bother creating new symbols for their new myths. A real indication of the collapse of education in America and the true end, apocalyptic methinks, of the civilization: Though no man, not even the Christ, knows the hour or the day.Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke says:

      Happy Immantizing the Eschaton Day, Bob. I cued up your entrance music. You’re welcome. The stage is yours.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

      > In the end, it is unsatifying that my modern friends
      > don’t even bother creating new symbols for their
      > new myths.

      Feel the same way about the Church, Bob.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Voegelin tells us that philosophy and Christianity have rendered the ‘maximum differentiation’ of reality and consequently the ancient symbols serve, even now (to answer your question, Pat). The great problem with Christianity the man says, was the loss of the signal experiential Christian event by way of the separation of school theology and mystical theology at least for the church in general if not for those blessed individuals who have ‘rested in the Lord’ (I think of Edith Stein, Padre Pio, and Bonhoffer here).
        For the modern the story remains relatively stagnant for several hundred years wherein the divine ground of existence is categorically denied, man’s ‘openness’ in the primordial search for the ‘beyond’ is closed, and man becomes estranged from the Spirit(of course, Hegel addressed these issues).
        The problem is that truth never changes but the modern, in his short circuited, truncated spirit fails, with one result being his inability to participate in anamnesis.
        The modern then, in his turning away from God, his rejection of the metaleptic relationship, becomes, out of necessity, the ultimate narcissist.
        “It’s all about _______,” (fill in a name).
        The problem is exascerbated as our pride forbides a ‘turning back’ toward God (we are ‘moderns’ of course and very smart), and for the less modern we have the question of sin, hence we develope all the wonderful anxieties, psycho-pathologies, and interesting spiritual perversions that Cicero tells us about and that the modern has expanded so thoroughly that he has created “an immanitized world gone mad (forgive the redundancy).”
        Ironically, with this modern ‘system of science’ having prevailed within our institutions and slowly, like a malignant cancer, swallowing up the individuals there remains imbedded within essential being the flickering and dimming memory of the existential tension toward the divine ground. It is a constant gift, a part of who we are, no matter the condition of our psyche, no matter how successfully we have ‘closed’ existence, no matter how far we have turned away, no matter, even if we have engaged the greatest blasphemy, the folley of trying to make ourselves as God.
        Re: the demise of our specie, I really don’t know. Christ said, no man, not even He knows the hour or the day of that event, which Rev. Camping should find rather discomfiting.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

          My comment was whimsically directed at the Catholic Church’s propensity to absorb symbolism from whatever it ran into while it was seeking converts. But since you answered seriously, I’ll do you a turn in kind.

          > The modern then, in his turning away from
          > God, his rejection of the metaleptic relationship,
          > becomes, out of necessity, the ultimate narcissist.
          > “It’s all about _______,” (fill in a name).

          To which the modern may respond, “The deist, then, in refusing to turn away from his silly infatuation with his limited understanding of his God, clings to a paranormal relationship with no grounding in empiricism… becoming, out of necessity, the ultimate apologist for the ultimate narcissist.

          “It’s all about (the greater glory of God).”

          > Ironically, with this modern ‘system of science’
          > having prevailed within our institutions and
          > slowly, like a malignant cancer, swallowing up
          > the individuals there remains imbedded within
          > essential being the flickering and dimming
          > memory of the existential tension toward the
          > divine ground.

          You know, Bob, you may be surprised to find that I agree with your conclusion if not with your causal train, here.

          Science is hard, and people don’t like doing it. Even the people who do like doing it don’t generally think too much about what it is that they are doing from a metaphysical sense. I know lots of scientists, but I don’t know very many who actually have much to say about the philosophy of science.

          Oddly enough, however, both scientists and non-scientists have attributed properties to the activity that it doesn’t rightly contain. Certainty. Axiomatic truth. Moral value.

          But honestly, I don’t think this is the fault of science being a malignant cancer or any such nonsense: it’s a process, it has no moral driver. I think it is a sign that people are intellectually lazy. Thinking about meaning requires uncomfortable analysis of one’s own biases and beliefs.

          And it truth, I think most people were like this before the enlightenment, too. There were far more non-theologians than there were theologians. And mostly they just did what they did, and went to confession when they did things that they were told were wrong.

          I’m not sure that defaulting the masses from “unthinkers who do whatever people in copies of Babylonian robes tell them to do” is better than “unthinkers who do whatever people in white robes tell them to do”. At least the white robes people aren’t part of a formal hierarchy with its own sense of dominant political power and self-preservation.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Pat, if it makes a difference, my use of the term ‘science’ was in reference to Hegel’s ‘systems of science’ (the means in which to seek ‘absolute knowledge’) which had more to do with his abandonment of the Platonic metaxy and his literal creation of a state of consciousness, a second reality that mirrored reality, that was to be the third religion, following Protestantism. It was not to denigrate or criticize those folks who work in various and sundry ‘scientific’ fields.
            This so-called ‘system of science’, and I think someone can come up with a better name/symbol, has permeated society: politics, media, education, the church, even into the ground of human relationships…Pat, I believe it is, indeed, a spiritual cancer that may very well result in a collapse of civilization, a secular/immanitized apocalypse. It’s very difficult NOT to find a culture that historically didn’t participate in some form or another of an apocalyptic event.
            Finally, and forgive me for going on so, it is about the ‘greater glory of God.’

            Your criticism of Catholicism is valid and the olde church, the church of my youth, has long been derailed since, at least Vatican II. I had hoped there might be a revival, a return to an experiential reality similar to the so-called ‘Charismatic Movement’ of the late 60’s that started up in Pittsburgh at, ironically, Duquesne Univ. if I’m correct? Perhaps it is to be so?
            The problem with your criticism of my analysis of the ‘narcissistic modern’ is that my analysis is predicated on the Platonic allegory of ‘The Cave’ which symbolizes man’s inherent yearning for the knowledge/experience of the ‘beyond.’ The narcissistic modern has not only rejected the philosophical requirement to search, seek, wonder but rejects the object of man’s primordial hope, i.e. the symbols are an effort to express a truth encountered, the problem for modern man is he fails to understand that these very important symbols “exist in the world, but their truth belongs in the non-existent experience which by their means articlulates itself.” (Immortality: Experience and Symbol, E.V.).
            I don’t disagree with your critique of the ‘average’ dude not thinking about stuff like this, though I’d be a little kinder since it really is a hard world out there and the commie-dems aren’t lifting a finger to hep put people to work or to strengthen their freedoms Also, I’d throw out the idea that PERHAPS technology is another factor that limits our indulgences in the higher things? Of course, that would be a critique of Silicon Valley so maybe I’m wrong?Report

            • Avatar mark boggs says:

              The narcissistic modern has not only rejected the philosophical requirement to search, seek, wonder

              Sometimes when you start speaking in Voeglin, I have a tendency to glaze over and lose any sense of comprehension, but first, what is a “philsophical requirement?” Second, you really think that all the research done in the world today is not done under the broad heading of “search, seek, and wonder?”

              To me, it almost seems the other way around. I get the feeling modern man (your narcissistic example) is the kind of guy who gets off his ass to figure out why the refrigerator light comes on when he opens the fridge or whether it stays on all the time, and he might go as far as to take apart the thing because he is so curious about it, so full of wonder. The type of man you seem to yearn for from some unkown era where the world was perfect sounds like the kind of guy who would just assume the light comes on ’cause God knows when he’s hungry and lights the way to sustenance.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Re: Voegelin Speak, I agree with your critique, he can be difficult but once you pick up some stuff he is absolutley fascinating. I can’t move beyond being a student of his simply because it would require a working knowledge of languages and science I haven’t acquired. So I enjoy reading him anyway.
                Re; you query’s one answer/illustration should suffice. The term ‘philosophical requirement’ means, for me, that the person engaging in the inquiry has to acknowledge particpating in the Metaxical reality, i.e. that the tension of existence is defined by the poles of immanence and transcendence. It’s a Platonic-Aristotlian thing and a fundamental requirement to, among other things, being a member of the human race, and it represents in shorthand the ground of philosophy. Hegel, for example, made it his project to, among other things, overthrow the metaxical analysis (and philosophy) “by the dialectics of self-reflective alienated consciousness.”
                In the world today there is much ‘research’ being done by individuals that hold both the classical perspective (just discussed) and the modern/self-reflective or ‘climate of opinion’ perspective, that I argue dominates our collapsing civilization.

                Here’s some examples bro Voegelin gave in comparing classic thought and modern thoughts:
                “C:” is classical thought, while “M” represents modern.
                “1.C:Man’s nature is imperfect.
                M:Historical Evolution can and will change the nature of man. Perfection, under the right circumstances, can be obtained in the future.
                2.C: Philosophy is the work of men to investigate the order of man and to move in that work from opinion to science.
                M:Only opinion defines the order of man; everyone has opinions.
                3. C: Society is man written large.
                M: Man is society written small.
                4. C: Man exists in erotic tension toward the divine ground of his existence.
                M: He doesn’t, I don’t; and I’m the measure of man.
                5. C: Man is distrubed by the question of the ground; by nature he is a questioner (aporein) and seeker (zetein) for the who, what, and why of his existence. ‘Why is there something and not nothing?’
                M: Such questions are otiose (Comte); don’t ask them, be a socialist man (Marx); questions to which the sciences of world-immanent things can give no answer are senseless, they are ‘Scheinprobleme’ (neo-positive).”
                Now there’s a lot more stuff here in EV’s comparisons, I just did the first few to give an example of Voegelin’s analysis of the modern sophists’ efforts to convert philosophy into philodoxy. It’s an age old conflict.
                Generally, we’re not talking about ‘scientific’ work/reseach (mechanical/electrical/ et al) and those that work in the fields (engineers/technicans). Rather, we’re talking about ‘systems of science’ (Hegel) dealing with metaphysics/philosophy etc.
                And, yes, ‘faith’ does enter into the discussion.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs says:

                I’d argue that his picture of Modern Man is somewhat a caricature, as I’m sure many pictures of religious people in the minds of secularists is caricature, e.g. my picture of believer just granting that God turns the light on in the fridge, no more questions asked.

                And the whole framing of the them is so binary as to render it meaningless. Is there no continuum? Do I have to either be the caricature or in full agreement with you? ‘Cause I’m neither. I am extremely skeptical about the existence of the kind of transcendent entity to the universe that major religions would like to posit as the source of all things. It was the questioning of who we are and why are we here that lead me to this skepticism. Does ending up a skeptic automatically default me into the category of Modern Man? ‘Cause that sucks.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > C:Man’s nature is imperfect.
                > M:Historical Evolution can and will change
                > the nature of man. Perfection, under the
                > right circumstances, can be obtained in
                > the future.

                I think the Classical view is right. I think half of the Modern view is right, but it’s incomplete (and the second half is certainly wrong). I also don’t know that many people think this way any more. There aren’t too many Progressives (in the early 20th century sense of Progressivism) any more.

                Evolution can and will change the nature of Man, on evolutionary time scales. More relevantly, human someones will change the nature of Man, certainly sometime in the next 150 years, likely sometime in the next 20.

                I don’t know that anyone whom I would regard as a serious thinker believes that perfection is attainable, however.

                > C: Philosophy is the work of men to
                > investigate the order of man and to
                > move in that work from opinion to
                > science.
                > M:Only opinion defines the order of
                > man; everyone has opinions.

                This sounds more like Classical/Modern vs. Postmodern. I’m all on board with you that Postmodernism is largely ridiculous.

                > C: Society is man written large.
                > M: Man is society written small.

                I think this is a fair comparison between the two. I think that they’re both incomplete, and both wrong. Society is a collection of individuals, and individuals are single entities in a society. However, no collection of people accurately reflects the single instance of each individual, and certainly no individual is a reducible bit of a societal group. It’s not entirely accurate to say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, but it’s certainly *different*. Organizations are inherently different from individuals; usually when we try and treat one like the other we’re making a huge class error.

                > C: Man exists in erotic tension toward
                > the divine ground of his existence.
                > M: He doesn’t, I don’t; and I’m the
                > measure of man.

                I’ll need a better understanding of “erotic tension toward the divine ground of his existence” to have something substantial to say about this. I don’t think the Modern man would make the mistake of saying, “I don’t, and I’m the measure of all man”, though.

                > C: Man is disturbed by the question of the
                > ground; by nature he is a questioner
                > (aporein) and seeker (zetein) for the
                > who, what, and why of his existence.
                > ‘Why is there something and not nothing?’
                > M: Such questions are otiose (Comte);
                > don’t ask them, be a socialist man
                > (Marx); questions to which the sciences
                > of world-immanent things can give
                > no answer are senseless, they are
                > ‘Scheinprobleme’ (neo-positive).”

                This part: “questions to which the sciences of world-immanent things can give no answer are senseless” <– yeah, I agree that many people take this view; that's largely what my last comment was about: "I think it is a sign that people are intellectually lazy. Thinking about meaning requires uncomfortable analysis of one’s own biases and beliefs. And it truth, I think most people were like this before the enlightenment, too."Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                I gotta cook dinner for the wife, so a quick comment/insight that just hit me.
                I’m cool with EV’s project in a general way. He’s nailed the truth of man’s order but we can debate/argue about particulars.
                For me the dichotomy between the classicist and the modern, explicated by EV, is thus:
                C: The true philosopher (not philodoxer)believes the ground of the tension of existence is understood as revealed in the noetic search for the ‘Whole,’ (Reason) understood as the Beyond/Good/God.
                For the the prophets, apostles, and holy men there is the response to the pneumatic/revelatory (Faith) of the “I Am” of ancient Israel, and the “Logos/Word” of the Gospel of John. And, thus we have not only rediscovered the anicent symbols but the conflation of Reason/Nous and Revelation in the right order of man.
                I’ve discussed modern man’s efforts at obviating the truth of reality above and belowon this thread.
                There’s one more point: In his resistance to truth the modern is seeking in philosophical terms to exclude that truth from the horizon of reality. It is an odious business because man is not capable of destroying God’s truth, he can only join with the Demon/gnostic to obscure, confuse, or lie. Consequently the results of these efforts is seen when the modern finds himself in a condition of alientation, or consumed in mental and spiritual disorders simply because that’s what happens when man moves in the direction opposite the horizon of reality and toward the Platonic ‘doxa,’ which is the opposite of rational thinking.
                Stuffed peppers dudes, fresh from the market!Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                RC, this very good discussion has clarified yr use of “gnosticism,” in short, a “knowing” that is inside man, not outside him, not “transcendent, etc. [And if man does not know x yet, he will eventually figure it out, hence the notion of “progress.”]

                If man has all the necessary knowledge “locked” inside him—a necessary premise for gnosticism—then revelation is unnecessary, even God is unnecessary for any and all practical purposes.

                Only man is necessary; God is redundant.

                Therefore, “immantizing the eschaton” is man’s task, not God’s, not even nature’s. [Technology, man’s mastering of nature, also being a component of much modern thought.] The “perfecting” of man is to be accomplished by man’s will alone, via eugenics or technology or philosophy or politics or all of the above.

                [Yes, “natural selection” could be said to play a part in the more perfected future that will be populated by the “new men” fit to live in it. However, natural selection is contingent upon adaptation to particular environmental conditions, and it will be man’s will that creates this new social environment that the “new man” must adapt to or die.]

                Again, the question returns to whether man is the necessary being or a “contingent” one. The classicals—and certainly classical theism—see man as a contigent being; modernity sees him as the necessary one, so as such the measure of all things, for only man can do the measuring!Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                TVD, congrats, that’s smart stuff, but I ain’t buying it.
                Something’s wrong with your analysis or I’m wrong…really, really wrong.
                It may be the internalization of the gnostic idea, or not.
                And, if it’s externalized how is it …an idea?
                Is it the ‘inversion, demotion, contraction’ of the idea, or God’s Will, or a Satanic impulse/insight to burden man and to add spice to the drama of immanest reality?
                Does the gnostic impulse work to obfuscate the parrhesiasts, thus crippling society and turning it toward a Soviet style tyranny?

                Consequently, you’re gonna have to prove that the gnostic phenomenon is ‘internal’ and just how.
                With that said your comment are excellent and provide a foundation for a discussion.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Just trying to hep, RC. Voegelin’s “Gnosticism” can work without the Manichaeanism, I believe. It merely substitutes man’s desires for his telos, or in its “benevolent” form, humanism or utilitarianism for teleology. What it means for man to “flourish” is recharted. [Benedict of course, notes that “freedom” becomes its own end, not a means to “flourishing.”]

                As for the critique of modernity and its “immantizing” project, I believe I’m consistent with EV, or so the internet tells me.

                When Voegelin writes that impatience to immanentize the eschaton constitutes the essence of Gnosticism, he refers to the petulant dogma that one need not wait, without schedule, to be translated into Paradise, but that one can, by his own self-salvaging activity, realize Paradise in this world. The skeptical claim that such a work is impossible is more of a focus for the Gnostic than the Gnostic’s own claim that such a work is actualizable because the first, the standing, the intuitive and plausible claim is what blocks and scandalizes the Gnostic’s own project. From this mis-priority of arguments stems the desperate nastiness of the Gnostic towards those who criticize or disagree with him. What does it mean, however, when Voegelin asserts that, “on the basis of this fallacy, Gnostic thinkers, leaders, and their followers interpret a concrete society and its order as an eschaton; and, insofar as they apply their fallacious construction to concrete social problems, they misrepresent the structure of immanent reality”?


                BTW, is the opposite of a gnostic an agnostic? No matter. ;-D

                The Manicheanism of your approach [hell, you’re talking about Satan so that’s at least demonization!] risks duplicating “the desperate nastiness of the Gnostic towards those who criticize or disagree with him,” per the above.

                I think that’s an unfair ascription of motivations. If there is no god, no natural order of good and evil to speak of, if man’s NOT busying himself with immantizing the eschaton, he’s just a lazy sybarite.

                So give the existentialist some credit. Absent a “divine” teleology, human progress is the only worthy thing to labor upon. Success in achieving it is secondary or irrelevant. The means is its own end.Report

              • Avatar WardSmith says:

                Marx said “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes” and he said it because religion handed easy answers to the difficult questions. Any man of any era struggles with the unanswerable questions of: “Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Is this all there is?”. The rest, the list above and billions of words written by famous and unknown philosophers are just jazz rifs on that three chord theme. Atheists remove religion (and God/gods) from the equation so they can struggle with those questions and then like Nietzsche get lost in the tumbleweeds. Man-centered philosophy devolves into society-centered philosophy and speculations on Übermensch ideals. Man becomes the measure of all things and the superior man creates the superior society. Then real-reality rears its ugly head and utopian becomes dystopian as we got to see with Nazi and USSR social “experiments” and our schadenfreude at their (not expected) failure.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Welcome, Ward, smart stuff!
                Albeit rather nihilistic. Are we a Marxist? Or do we prefer nothingness?
                I would be interested in your analysis of the line(s) of meaning that happily arrive at the latest version of Russian ‘Messiaism’ found in Marx.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Really, Mr. Godwin? Man-centered and society-centered philosophies did not lead to massive violence and atrocity during the era of classical Greece. I do not see a cause and effect relationship between abandoning belief in God and adoption of a bloodthirsty and extreme political philosophy.

                Let me ask you this: if the proposition that God exists were objectively disprovable, having seen such an objective disproof, would you nevertheless urge people to continue believing in God, something that you knew to be untrue, because of the positive moral effects you claim result from that belief?

                Before you answer, please consider that overtly theistic belief systems and governments based on those overtly theistic belief systems have committed a very long list of moral atrocities. Christianity has given us the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Thirty Years’ War; Islam has given us also the Crusades, jihads, and state-sponsored religious terrorism — an easy list to continue filling out but you get the idea.

                Now, I’m not saying religion is morally bad. I’m saying that bad people do bad things and good people do good things. Religion gets otherwise-good people to do bad things, to an extent unlike anything else in human history; extreme political ideologies are the only thing that come close.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Aargh, Mr. Likko, the dreaded laundry list of religion’s crimes!

                To which the reply must be communism, most of man’s bad ideas all rolled into one [even if you count religion, which was rolled out!].

                The Inquisition[s] were politically motivated, BTW. King Ferdinand, not the pope, started the Spanish one. The state had much better luck co-opting the church than vice-versa. The pope has no divisions, at least not for quite awhile now.

                As for “massive violence” from the “human-centered” Greeks, I believe Rufus and Thucydides might have something to add.

                About the same time the Melians again took another part of the Athenian lines which were but feebly garrisoned. Reinforcements afterwards arriving from Athens in consequence, under the command of Philocrates, son of Demeas, the siege was now pressed vigorously; and some treachery taking place inside, the Melians surrendered at discretion to the Athenians, who put to death all the grown men whom they took, and sold the women and children for slaves, and subsequently sent out five hundred colonists and inhabited the place themselves.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Engels has a great deal to say about False Consciousness and its role in each stage of intellectual progress. No matter how many iterations of ideology are produced, ideology never gets outside the realm of thought.

                It’s patently unfair to assert the atheist resorts to man-centered philosophies or reverts to vile utopias. The atheists I know are refreshingly free of cheap idealism: for this reason they’ve rejected the False Consciousness of the Big Guy Upstairs who periodically hurls a thunderbolt at some especially egregious sinner in a fit of divine pique. That’s for rubes: if that’s all they’ve heard of religion, well, people of faith have long since rejected the same simplicissimes.

                Why should anyone substitute Man for God? Common sense dictates we’re all in this proposition together: the atheist is perfectly capable of understanding mercy and philanthropy and every other expression of the enlightened existence upon this earth.

                Nietzsche is a very bad place to rest your conclusions about atheism. He is endlessly contradictory at every turn. His great genius was to force the thinker to think for himself. Far better to resort to Bertrand Russell, the Apostle of Doubt: If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.

                If there’s one situation I would correct if I could, it would be to dissect away all the stupid things said about atheists and the faithful alike. It’s just impossible to make progress while everyone’s building and burning their Straw Men.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                I’m here to hep. I do what I can.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                Tom sez:

                > Aargh, Mr. Likko, the dreaded laundry
                > list of religion’s crimes!

                To be fair, most of the things on the dreaded laundry list of religion’s crimes rightly belong on the dreaded laundry list of monolithic power structure crimes.

                I’m sure that during the time of the Crusades, one can find writings by theologians who thought the whole thing was bunk. When religion is tightly coupled to the state, and the state is looking for something to do with power imbalances (gotta get all these uppity barons out of my hair), it’s not unexpected to see theological justifications to send a bunch of those power imbalances out of the country.

                I’m sure that during the time of the colonization of the New World, you’d find tales of missionaries who were far less concerned with forcing the natives to give up their culture as some sort of evaluation of their moral degeneracy… and more concerned with giving them sanitation and Latin so that they could read The Word. The Law of Unintended Consequences has been around for a long time, as has regulatory capture.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                …most of the things on the dreaded laundry list of religion’s crimes rightly belong on the dreaded laundry list of monolithic power structure crimes.

                That’s more than fair, provided that the atrocities of Stalin/Pol Pot/the French Revolution are handled similarly.

                What bugs me is when atheism is held to be the critical causal link between politically extreme power structures and the atrocities they commit, while the causal relationship between atrocities committed by religiously extreme power structures and the religious ideology motivating them gets excused.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > That’s more than fair, provided that
                > the atrocities of Stalin/Pol Pot/the
                > French Revolution are handled
                > similarly.

                That’s generally where I put ’em, myself.

                “Failures of ideology in practice” are really common, regardless of the power focus of the ideology. Usually, it’s because the language of the ideology is co-opted by people who want to control the power.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                It is not the failures of ideology we must fear, but its successes.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                Heh; now you sound like Jaybird, Blaise 🙂Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                If so, I’ll take that as a compliment, Pat.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If only the right people were in charge of telling other people how they ought to live, maybe not so many people would have to be killed.Report

              • Avatar WardSmith says:

                Aye, there’s the rub. Imperfect people are in no position to tell other imperfect people ‘how they ought to live’. Religion looks skyward assuming the “Other” has a better handle on this. Society looks at reality and says the “Other” isn’t doing such a great job. So there must be another “other” who is monkeying with the works. RC’s “demon/gnostic” looks to be a good fit.Report

              • Avatar WardSmith says:

                @Blaise, RC, Likko, The system doesn’t let me reply to you (ie there is no “Reply” icon), I suppose because the formatting will quickly end up single character columns if this continues. The line of discussion is fascinating to me and I’d request a revamp under a top level discussion thread if such a thing is possible. I regret I am too much of a newb to know how to accomplish same on this site. 🙁Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Ward, do a blog and submit to the powers that be, who are rather considerate. And, we can have another go at it.Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                Mark –

                I think you have it half right, here.

                I’m not sure that I know what exactly a “Modern Man” is – though from what I am reading here it seems to be a verbal proxy for either someone with skepticism, or someone who focuses on the tangible world rather than the metaphysical one. Perhaps I am wrong? If not, than the term “Modern Man” seems terribly lazy – as if all who came before us thought and believed only as those old thinkers we have chosen to read. The notion that either doubt or the desire to focus on the “here and now” is a brand new thing, or – as seems to be a common thread with Bob – that before the 20th century everyone sat around and thought about philosophy all day seems akin to Fall From the Garden thinking.

                You are correct with your fridge light metaphor, of course. But when I said above that you were only half right is that I think it puts the focus on the wrong line of thinking. I find it, for lack of a better phrase, a smoke and mirror trick.

                I know that Bob is a smart guy, both from his comments here as well as from back in the day when he posted to his own blog. (Which I miss reading.) But those smarts, and his ability to wax rhapsodic in a philosophical way, also allows him to be right while being wrong. For an example, I have noticed that in the past when he comments about Obama’s grandmother’s interview being proof positive that the president is in fact a nefarious sleeper “other,” someone almost always posts a link to the actual unedited interview. I also notice that he never clicks the link and listens to it; rather, he falls back to arguments about the state of Modern Man such as this one to prove himself right, citing many Big Thinkers to add weight to his argument. He can’t magically make the actual unedited interview say anything different than it already does, but he can cite Voegelin like nobody’s business. If clicking on the link proves him wrong, then Bob changes the argument to why the desire to click on that link itself proves some kind of existential “disease” suffered by the Modern Man.

                What Bob does – and what most philosophically minded people do, I think – is change the playing board from the issues at hand to one they feel they can more easily win. Hence, in this post: Jason makes fun of a kook that is getting a lot of media attention, and Bob makes a rather bizarre point that Jason must hate Christianity and (for some reason) loves Islam. (Or something… I confess it was so obvious that Bob hadn’t really bothered to read what Jason was saying I had no idea what the hell his Islam point was.) Jason replies be pointing out what he DID say has nothing to do with Bob’s argument, which is not only true but – this being a blog – amazingly easy to check. Bob falls back to making this a battle of who can quote theology better, where he is imminently qualified to win.

                Problem: his original comment was still bizarrely wrong, and easily proven so. All the Voegelin references in the world don’t change that.

                The question that should be being asked in this thread, I believe, isn’t what is the problem with Modern Man. It’s why can’t Bob just admit he wasn’t paying attention to what Jason wrote, erred, and move on?

                I would argue, by the way, that this is not just a Bob Thing. It’s the trap of all people who follow dogma and philosophical thought at the expense of the real world.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs says:

                I get what you’re saying, Rtod, and tend to agree. I guess what gets under my skin is what seems to be the implication that, because I’m skeptical, seems to necessarily imply that I “don’t get it” and am the “Modern Man” of which Voeglin speaks. I’ll bet I’m every bit as curious as Bob or Voeglin, I just haven’t arrived at their endpoint. And oddly, I have no yearning to get civilization to collapse on itself through my skepticism. I would hope that some of this skepticism breeds a bit more tolerance due to knowing that I don’t have the answers, which might actually help sustain civilization.

                As an aside, and Bob, maybe you can help me if you read this. There really has to be an easier way to explain Voeglin than with the way you put it forth. I sometimes think this is why I glaze over when I read you talking about it. It’s like reading antiquated poetry that is barely comprehensible due to word choice and structure. But maybe that’s your point.Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                “I’ll bet I’m every bit as curious as Bob or Voeglin”

                And I’d bet that, one single topic aside, you are much more curious than Bob or Voeglin.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Voegelin is fundamentally a historian. Don’t think of him as a philosopher, perhaps he’s roughly akin to Will and Ariel Durant with a fleshed out running commentary. Where the Durants laid out the historical facts, Voegelin expects his readers to know all this already (and half a dozen languages) which makes him extraordinarily difficult to read. To further complicate matters, Voegelin takes great liberties with ordinary Greek words and thereby earns the narrow squint of scorn from a competent reader of Homeric and Koine Greek.

                Voegelin asks why we believe the things we do. Obviously, politics has much in common with religion and Voegelin makes no real distinction between the two, for they influence each other.

                But more importantly, Voegelin attempts to reconcile mankind to what he believes. Each of us approves of certain philosophies based on what they believe to be important. But we live in an imperfect world: reality never meets up with our expectations: how do we react to this dichotomy? Do we sublimate these gaps by yearning for the days of yore or resorting to politics or war or separatist movements?

                Carl Jung talks about the world after the Protestant Reformation, how Europe rejected its sacred symbols and was left alone without its gods. The shadows within the Collective Unconscious were still there, if the statues weren’t.

                In our commendable urge to drive off superstition, we found no working substitutes for the sacred and therefore found ourselves in a world without meaning. This is the quandary of Modern Man.

                Now I believe Voegelin has erected a straw man in his depictions of modern man. The atheist can love his fellow man, find beauty and joy in the world, do a hard day’s work and live his entire life without the need for the sacred. I believe in a God of Truth: the truths of science are therefore just as surely revelations as the angels over the shepherds of Bethlehem with the added benefit of peer review. But when the atheist is confronted by the question of meaning, (at least the ones I’ve known and respected) they’ve told me the question isn’t relevant: in our attempt to Make It All Mean Something, there are no answers, at least not answers we’re going to like. The symbols are, after all, only idols made of wood and stone.

                But isn’t philosophy the task of extracting meaning from what we know about ourselves, our existence, our history, the nature of knowledge itself? That’s the question Voegelin asks, and he says it’s one we’ve ignored since classical times. The need for the Symbol has not gone away, however much we might wish it to be so.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs says:

                But when the atheist is confronted by the question of meaning, (at least the ones I’ve known and respected) they’ve told me the question isn’t relevant:

                I would say the only reason the question might be irrelevant is because the answers are so relative.

                If the meaning we find in this world has to, for Bob and Voegelin, end at some point where we must believe that there is some greater plan concocted by some greater being and that we are special or chosen in some way, especially if this same being is supposed to have all the benevolent characteristics ascribed it by its adherents, then the question has already and forever been answered. And not to my satisfaction and not because I hate God or Christianity or because I think it’s all about me.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                What is meaning if not some indirect encapsulation? I can point to the sign on the men’s room door in Japan and explain to you “That’s OTOKO. It means male, but notice it encapsulates the character KA, which also means force, and that window looking thing is DEN, which means rice paddy, and as a curious factoid the emperor plants a plot of rice every year as a sacred ceremony” and I’ve already told you more than you ever want to know. That’s meaning, and it’s a problem in the West, because we don’t have the deep symbols at our disposal.

                Here’s where I think we need to take Voegelin at face value and forget all this numinous hooey: symbols do matter. You are reading this courtesy of software rendering ASCII into something intelligible to both of us. Symbols are the protocol of meaning. By extension, if I say “platonic” you could go several ways with it, a “platonic” friendship or a philosophical shorthand for some doctrine of Ideal Forms.

                Voegelin tried to put meaning back into philosophy, not into life itself. He’s trying to explain why people act the way they do, working back from what they did to the people who did it. For far too long, philosophy has gone the other way. And for my money, the question of meaning is still relevant, now more than ever.

                The answers might be relative, but so are the interpretations of symbols. A competent reader of Japanese would also recognize OTOKO in YUU, bravery, OTOKO wearing a helmet. The sacred is only one way to contemplate symbols.Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                “But when the atheist is confronted by the question of meaning, (at least the ones I’ve known and respected) they’ve told me the question isn’t relevant”

                I think what you’ll find is that they will tell you that *your* answer to that question has not relevance to *them*. There is a rather large difference.

                Believers of religion always seem to make this error when dealing with religious non-believers: You do not believe what I do, therefore you must believe in nothing. Those things that I believe give my life meaning do not speak to you, therefore you must find your life has no meaning.

                For a side that so often argues that non-belief is itself simply callous arrogance, this seems like the very definition of hubris.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Well exactly, RTod. But that’s rather the point, I could thrown in some Japanese characters here and they would be rendered as ????? characters on your end. I could make up a fictitious universe where 2 + 2 = 5 because in that universe the counting sequence is 1,2,3,5,4,6….

                Believe me, I’m quite content to acknowledge what I believe is true only for me. The atheist is usually the only honest man in the room in such discussions, and more’s the pity.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Voegelin’s challenge was perhaps more ‘philosophical’ than any of the modern philodoxers, in that it was the restoration/recovery of ‘classical and Judeo-Christian philosophy where the modern thinker can begin, a reinvigorated, process of restoring human order. It is nothing less than restoring the idea of philosophizing grounded on the knowledge that the Logos has not only spoken the immanent world (an non-existent reality) into existence but allows man to understand the order of realty both in faith and in the philosophers’ noetic inquiries.
                In general we may say, with some hope of accuracy, that ‘the modern’ is engaged in an egophanic revolt against God, while the ‘true man’, as Bro Voegeln argues understands that ‘…true human existence is self consciously lived in collaborative partnership by every man in his own unique measure with God.”
                Bp, I trust you don’t really believe that “In our commendable urge to drive off superstition, we found no working substitutes for the sacred and therefore found ourselves in a world without meaning. This is the quandary of Modern Man.” Dude, you had a decent critique going and you stumble into this, like some drunkard rounding Taylor’s Bend. “To drive off superstition” was the goal of the ‘modern’, please, you know better. Now, go back and give us a decent objective analysis. The object here isn’t to ‘win’ the discussion but to move toward the truth of stuff.
                And, the ‘atheists’ that EV was talking about are not the atheist we find on these hallowed threads, they were those thinkers who sought a ‘system of science’ to replace the truth already revealed and acknowledged.
                In stark contrast, your final paragraph was spot on. Further, I would like to see what program you’d employ to symbolize modernity?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Voegelin was a historian with some rum ideas about the Ancients. In a sense, Voegelin recapitulates the failures of the Renaissance with its quasi-deification of the Greco-Roman world. The world order of those times died in a sordid welter of emperor worship and a buffet style approach to belief.

                And all this Logos business is highly suspect. We can abstract the Word from its Meaning and that’s as far as Reason allows us to go, at least in alphabetic systems. Ideograms give the writer more punch, a point seeming lost on you. If man has revolted against God, it’s as the old Chinese peasant observed about bandits and government corruption: tien gao huang di yuan “heaven is too far above and the emperor is too far away”. For too often, what passes for Revealed Truth has proven to be Dogmatic Baloney and the Enlightenment was a long slog in the entirely necessary task of debolognafication.

                We who believe in God have shown ourselves as wretched exemplars of O Logos. If John saw in Jesus Christ the light that shone in the darkness, it shames me to consider what others see in my example. If Christianity is ever to return to any semblance of relevance in the hearts of men, it will be when men see that light in us.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                RTod, I love ya man, you’re the dude. May I use the “Bob Thing?”
                You point out with clarity some of my flaws that I’ve worked assiduously to keep opaque. Well, I’ve been found out and good for you.
                I knew this business with Barry’s grandma (not to mention his BIRTH CERTIFICATE) would come back to haunt me, alas.
                RTod, I truly enjoyed the critique, and thanks. BTW, fellow Leaguers I am not happy about that OBL thing. Not happy at all.Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                I can never tell if I’m being slammed with sarcasm by you or you are offering an olive branch.

                Someday, Bob, this is a conversation I would actually enjoy having with you. Not the Bob Thing, but the place of philosophical thought in the world, what it means and offers, and if can you convince me that it has non-academic value. (All areas I would be happy to have my pragmatic line of sight challenged, and even moved.)Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                RTod, my friend, you may have any conversation you want with me and I will avoid snark and trolling. I’ll even do my best to be of hep. But, please be advised that much of this ‘higher’ thinking stuff is above my pay grade…just to be honest.Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                Also, I really did enjoy your blog. But I always got to it by clicking the link on your avatar here. If you wouldn’t mind sharing the address, I would be appreciative – and would promise to err on the side of “lurker” rather than “troll.”Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                continuing from above, please keep in mind you’re already aware of my Christian worldview!
                Re: ‘my’ blogsite, well it wasn’t really mine, it’s the creation of Mr. Poulos who, about six weeks ago, or so, suspended me without pay, over a series of postings (both blog and comment) on the question of ‘secession.’ My best guess is that a number of prominent people had a hernia reading my defense of a federated republic, the political philosophy of the CSA, and a somewhat vitriolic critique of the failed statist policies of Father Abraham that ol’ Bob was given the bums’ rush, as it were. Well, keep that to yourself and here’s the link, where sadly you may only read my stuff in the archives:

  9. Avatar sidereal says:

    45 minutes to the destruction of Christmas IslandReport

  10. As I drove into Boston yesterday, I was stuck on the merge onto Storrow behind six vans advertising the end of the world and We never pulled up beside them, so I didn’t get to see what they said on their sides, but it was an amusing fillip to my day.

    Maybe I’ll use this as an excuse to skip my training run this afternoon. No point in putting in the miles if the world will end before I can run my half-marathon, anyhow.Report

  11. Avatar Jon Rowe says:

    “Though no man, not even the Christ, knows the hour or the day.”

    I know the Bible says that; and to Trinitarians, as CS Lewis admits, this is one of the most embarrassing passages. How can Christ have been an Incarnate, Omniscient, Omnipresent, God of this Universe if HE didn’t know something?

    This is one of the biblical unitarian’s proofs that the Son is created by and subordinate to the Father. Hence not fully and very God.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      No *MAN*.

      Maybe the feminine Christ knows. What is the spear in the “side” of Christ if not an allegory for sex? What is the blood and water if not an allegory for menstruation? What is the dead for three days and resurrected on the third an allegory for if not childbirth?

      Your problem is that you don’t see the Bible as a living document.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I bear a charmed life, which must not yield,
        To one of woman born.

        Despair thy charm;
        And let the angel whom thou still hast served
        Find thee the book thou shouldst have read: “Macduff,
        Two Daddies Hath”..Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      I dunno, try this Jon, to see if it addresses your query:

      If not it’s off to Stein, Plantinga, et al and an analysis of quid, essential being, actual being, Ousia, and the ever popular Wesenform.Report

      • Avatar Jon Rowe says:

        “It wasn’t until after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection that omniscience is attributed to Jesus.”

        But if Jesus — 2nd person in the Trinity — existed at the beginning, that is there was never a time that He was not, what about before He was Incarnated as a man? I know John MacArthur got into trouble when he posited the notion that the 2nd Person — always the Word of God — didn’t become the Son until He was Incarnated. But the pre-Incarnate 2nd Person — did Jesus know then? Is it like, to use an analogy, you and I having past lives but not being aware of the exact details of them. But once we die we might go to a place where we can remember, perfectly, all of our past lives.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          I really dunno. The Logos existed at the beginning but not in human form..yes/no? A question of potential being and actual being? Not to mention the form and substance of being, both finite and, in this case, Eternal.
          A question for Thomas Aquinas? At that moment when Christ assumes the mantle of the hypostatic union, man/God, stuff changes because He must now ‘be less than the angels.’ At the moment He is explaining that only God/the FAther knows (gnosis) the end of time he is telling the truth in his human/God, form/substance. He knows the answer to the question as the Savior/Redeemer of mankind, but his nature at this point is that of man and he confesses that ‘only God knows the hour and the day’.
          I’m pretty sure The Gospel of Jesus Christ and past lives mix like water and oil.
          I’ve been perusing my Edith Stein’s “Finite and Eternal Being,” wherein she notes that “…the soul is destined for eternal being, and this destination explains why the soul is called upon to be an image of God in a ‘wholly personal manner.'”
          Christians believe that one must, spiritually, accept the Christ as Savior and Redeemer of the soul.
          Stein continues, “The union of the two natures in Christ is the basis of the union of other human beings with God. By virtue of this union of the two natures, Christ is the mediator between God and humanity (Mensch), the one and only ‘way’ that leads to the Father J(Jn 14:6).
          Christ then, is the way back to God in the face of Original Sin, his sacrifice is the atonement for the sin of man.Report

          • Avatar Jon Rowe says:

            “I’m pretty sure The Gospel of Jesus Christ and past lives mix like water and oil.”

            I’m not so sure. Are there proof texts in the Bible against the idea of reincarnation? I know orthodox theology posits a Gospel of grace not works. But, as I’ve learned, the Bible a thick book, given to unorthodox, as well as orthodox interpretations. There are many passages in the Bible which suggests a works centered view of salvation.

            It takes only a little leap to conclude: If I don’t get it in this life, I’ll keep “working” on it. 🙂Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              My Christian faith has been exercized in the Roman Catholic and Free Methodist traditons, and I’m in agreement, essentially with their orthodox interpretations. I don’t think God wants to be all that complex. Dealing with a diety and the ‘imago Dei’ in man is enough work for the layman.
              In terms of Bible interpretations, one can go in many directions and end up with a myriad of results. For me, the questions is How does one read the Word of God. If it is done in love/freedom, in adoration, then many spiritual gifts are given. If it is done in the hope of outsmarting the Pope or some poor, backwoods Baptist minister, well, I’m figurin’ it ain’t gonna’ turn out too good.
              For me, the ground for Biblical scholarship is the ‘Great Comandment’ where it is read in its entirety (the word ‘all’ is of significance). It’s none of my business, but you may have a orthodox theologian at your university who migh accomodate you in your inquiries.
              Voegelin tells us that the Gospel holds out its promises of aphtharisa (imperishing) to those who are ‘poor in spirit’, where man’s search may reach culmination or it may be missed. The result has a certain eternal implication to it.
              Re: mysticism, I’m all for it. I believe I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions that the church and philosophy got themselves into significant trouble(spiritually) when the ‘search’, quest, and seeking had been captured by ‘late-medieval, radical doctrinization of both metaphysics and theology.’
              It was during this period that the Christian dogma began to move away(the conflict between the fideist and nominalists), in the public mind, from the experience of the pneumatic event that propagated the truth symbolized by the event. Of course, there’s more with so much of it beyond my limited academic abilities and far beyond my pay grade.
              Re: Gnosticism, there are so many strands of it. I’m trying to take notes with the hope that I can legitimately associate gnosticism, both ancient and modern, with evil/the demon. My only insight to date has been that gnosticism is the ground of all sin. Whatever it is, it is a permeable, parasitic seducer, and anti-love/freedom, and consequently, anti-God. But, it is not the Demon, it is not Lucifer or his minions.
              The challenge is the movement of God, in love/freedom, in the reality of immanent existence. My problem is I need von Schilling’s work to help me along. All things in time.Report

              • Avatar Jon Rowe says:

                Lot for me to try and take in here. Esp. when my grades for 7 classes (21) credits are due tomorrow.

                So I’ll focus on one question re Gnosticism. What do you think of the so called “gnostic” gospels? Like the Gospel of Thomas?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                The big question at the advent of Christianity was the nature of Jesus. Was he a prophet, like Moses or Elijah? Or was he more like the appearances of other spiritual beings, the angels for instance? The Hindus had the notion of an avatar, God Incarnate. Trying to square Jesus with this Son of God business was tough and the Holy Spirit issue was an even tougher issue.

                The Gnostic gospels weren’t exactly rejected, they weren’t included because they couldn’t be squared with the orthodoxy of the times, which decided the notion of an avatar couldn’t be integrated with an actual death and resurrection.

                qui non ex sanguinibus neque ex voluntate carnis neque ex voluntate viri sed ex Deo nati sunt et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis et vidimus gloriam eius gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre plenum gratiae et veritatis

                Who are not born of blood, nor of the will of the body, nor of the desire of man, but of God and the Word was made in flesh and lived among us and we saw in his glory the only son of the Father full of grace and truth.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                What I want to know is why you wasn’t Raptured Away? Or me, either.

                I have a theory here: the angels reminded Yahweh the Rapture was on his calendar for yesterday and he took a good hard look at what was goin’ on down here and decided nobody was worth Rapturin’ Away. Talk about immanentization of the eschatological.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Did any actual Christians in the wild believe that yesterday was IT (capital I, capital T)?

                I suspect that it was just a case of one kook in Burbank buying ad space and everybody subsequently painting “all of them as believing this” like they were Muslims.Report

          • Avatar Jon Rowe says:

            I know you are, for whatever reason, against Gnosticism, and probably mysticism. I was interested in Rufus’ research on Meister Eckhart because it shows the mystical tradition is part of Christendom as, I guess, a heresy, like Arianism. Studying the political theology of the American Founding I’ve developed an affinity for heresies within Christendom and am open to THEM as possible Truth claims as much as I am to orthodoxies.

            I haven’t found a whole lot of answers yet in life. But one I think I’ve stumbled on is that fight or flight emotional reactions — however important they were as survival mechanisms to brute creatures — are always wrong, always irrational, always get in the way. That means the ideal person feels no anger or fear no matter what happens. You get a lot of this in Buddhism and the other Eastern religions; but I’ve discovered there is also a tradition of Judeo-Christian mystics who teach the Bible, properly understood teaches this as well. That Jesus never got angry because anger, in an emotional sense, is always a sin. No. We should have emotionally detached righteous indignation when we stand up for ourselves and strike back. And these mystics argue, this is exactly what Jesus did when he chase the money lenders out.Report

  12. Avatar RTod says:

    Worst. Rapture. Ever.Report

  13. Avatar Matty says:

    Update: It is now half past ten in the evening in the UK. Britain’s entire population of True Christians (Sid and Dorris Bonkers) did indeed float up into the air but were refused clearance by air traffic control to proceed to heaven and had to return to the ground.Report