Possibly an Anarchist

Okay, Frankie T. has probably forgotten all about me after I got caught up with meatspace life and failed to deliver on my promise. Or maybe he’ll wander back over here to tell me how unsatisfactory and putrid I am no matter what I write.

I used to be very diligent about analyzing what people wrote, poring over every line like a tenth-grade English teacher and carefully responding to every point. I discovered that it is pointless to do that on other people’s blogs because either (a) they will treat me like a troll regardless, just because I am not stroking them hard enough and fast enough; or (b) they will complain that since I have not read all 10,000 posts they wrote over the last 15 years, I cannot possibly critique one particular post, and then they will treat me like a troll.

On this blog I tried to do the same careful analysis with a dimwit named Ed. He seemed so promising as a loyal adversary because he acted very sincere and knowledgeable, yet misguided. So I spent hours and weeks and months looking up all his citations, in print and on the web, through multiple library visits and Interlibrary Loan requests, only to discover that he was either brain-damaged or else alternately stupid and lying. I even boiled it down to a test case of a single claim from a single author, and he failed to pass The Atheist Test, that is, the standard test used by atheists to evaluate theists.

The Atheist Test is where I carefully consider your claim, and if I don’t think it is possible based on my personal gut feeling, I conclude that (a) whatever you claim to be true is false; (b) whatever you say is an attempt to manipulate and subjugate me; and (c) you are insane. So much for Ed.

I am not going to grant Frankie T. the free wash and wax like I implied, because I don’t actually care how misguided he is, or if he really is misguided at all. I’m just going to clarify what I wrote previously.

The main reason why I suspect that Frankie T. is wrong about Christian Anarchism is because he is in agreement with the majority of Christians. Any atheist who agrees with a majority of theists on a particular topic has some unexamined assumptions somewhere. It’s not my job to examine him if he can’t get his head out of his own assumptions.

On this page, I wrote an insufferably obsequious comment, which I will elaborate below.

Political hierarchy exists in this world to govern our behavior, perhaps even our thoughts, but it actually carries no metaphysical weight. It has no cosmic significance; it does not transcend human society in any way.

Therefore, all human political hierarchy is meaningless and will ultimately pass away; and I as a citizen of a transcendent kingdom am not subject to human political hierarchy at all.

The objection will be made by a Christian, although not by an atheist, that in fact God establishes authority on the earth to rule us, and we are to be subject to it so that we may enjoy peace and order while on earth.

I reply that I will suffer whatever consequences there may be for contravening authorities established on earth, since God has promised that I must.

However, I maintain that the law is for the lawless, whereas I have the law of Christ in my heart. I am not subject to the earthly principalities and powers; I am subject to the Lord alone. That, I maintain, is Christian Anarchism.

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The Impossible Anarchist

Here is Tremblay thundering about the impossibility of Christian anarchism:

There is a system of thought called “Christian Anarchism,” which I have always tried to confront, despite a lot of reticence from other Anarchists to do so. It seems that they have some reverence for Christianity which prohibits them from realizing how absurd the idea of “Christian Anarchism” is. I put it in the same hole as “anarcho-capitalism”: just pure conceptual nonsense mascarading as a coherent ideology. . . .

It is impossible for the “Christian Anarchists” to come out of this dilemma without implicitly dropping either Christianity or Anarchism. Ideologically, it is a dead-end. It needs to be dropped and we must make clear that Anarchism is an ethical ideology with an ethical foundation which is diametrically opposite to that of Christianity.

Tremblay further clarifies the point here and here.

Of course, most Christians are in full agreement with Tremblay in saying that “Christian anarchism” is impossible. That is the main reason why I suspect the logic of his argument.

Hating the Haters

Responding to Readers on ‘The Data of Hate’ – NYTimes.com

I have received a lot of great questions and comments about my article, “The Data of Hate,” which analyzed the makeup of the membership of America’s largest hate site, Stormfront.

In the comment section of the article, some readers asked about the role of religion. There is definitely a large contingent of the religious right on Stormfront. There are complaints that Jews are driving an increased secularization in society. But a not-trivial number of members say they are atheists. As I went through the profiles, this was quite striking. The Stormfront members who say they are atheists sometimes quote Nietzsche and express an interest in social Darwinism. Some posts on Stormfront hypothesize that white people have superior genes and, if they play their cards right, will win a Darwinian struggle against other races. Both Darwin and Nietzsche’s ideas were also distorted and used by the Nazis.

This observation, that a lot of racist bigots are atheists who love Nietzsche and Darwin, is only counterintuitive to someone who believes the post-World War II progressive liberal story about how atheism cleansed the minds and purified the hearts of the formerly narrow-minded and ignorant religious nuts in America. That postwar romanticism posits an ahistorical understanding of modern culture, in which unfettered rationalism and moral clarity sprung full-born from the heads of Marx, Darwin, and Freud, and were then gradually adopted as truth by the unwashed masses.

The rhetoric of “hate” and “phobia” further reinforce the implication that there is something terribly insane about anyone who doesn’t accept the sublime enlightenment of progressive liberalism. This is part of the bizarre, unempirical, anti-humanist perspective of the dimwitted left-wing political animal.

I hold many “liberal” viewpoints concurrently with many “conservative” viewpoints. My head doesn’t explode from the instability and dissonance of this fact, since I am a person, not a fake ideological robot. I have conflicting priorities and allegiances. My adversaries, if I can be pretentious enough to imagine that I have any, are not those with particular political labels. My adversaries are the fake ideological robots. Whether or not they are maliciously lying, they are still fake. They are robots that unburden themselves of their humanity in order to subscribe to an ideological algorithm dictated by a charismatic personality, an inchoate social entity, or a shiny little idea. They are human first, but they despise their humanity and deny it in order to have the comfort and transcendent gnosis of a rigid ideology.

The ideology doesn’t cause errors in thinking or immoral behavior. That is a popular theme among all kinds of political animals in criticizing their adversaries. The ideology is chosen by the individual because it suits their needs in rationalizing cruelty, hatred, political oppression, forced indoctrination, murder, torture, rape, and other infelicities. The ideology is a sign of corruption, not a cause.

Source, Please

The Internet Credo:

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: While discussing THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY…

Skepticism is a good thing in a medium fraught with lies like the internet, but skepticism means finding out the truth for yourself. Sitting on your ass whining for a source is not learning for yourself. It’s just lazy.

You should only ask for a source after you try to learn the truth for yourself and come up empty handed.

It’s true that the Internet is full of falsity, but the reason that is tolerated is because it is mostly open to discovery. It is a huge social experiment in the free market of information, to see whether the most open and decentralized system humanity can invent will actually result in an ideal market for information, and thus for other things, such as economic goods, political stability, or social justice. More likely, it will simply result in a human-developed-but-not-directed version of evolution by natural selection.

The problem arises where there is an assumption that the “truth” is known or is easily discoverable, or will naturally emerge as the strongest contender, in a system full of struggling, non-omnipotent, non-omniscient, contingent entities. Web forums demonstrate how a kind of social truth develops, an assumption of basic knowledge that defines entry and status in the group. Blogs tend to demonstrate faith in emergent truth, unless the blogger is totally solipsistic and arrogant, in which case the truth of their soulless egoism emerges.

But the only absolute truths on the Internet are truths about its functionality and its hardware backbone, things that may be ignored or faked, but only for people who are so totally immersed in the system that it doesn’t matter to them, which doesn’t change the truth of it. In other words, there are truths that supervene upon whatever “facts” may be found in the Internet, because they are independent of it, being determined by forces that are independent of it, and directed by beings who think independently of it.

Curiously enough, this is a demonstration of why ideas do not have consequences, that is, why any particular intangible fact (an idea) does not necessitate a tangible event. If there arose an Internet meme that Martians are using Coca-Cola molecules to configure Web protocols, that “idea” might have massive social consequences as netizens structured their entire lives around it, but it would have no effect on the actual function of the Internet, unless some Martians were thereby inspired to try implementing it, or some Earthmen were inspired to implement countermeasures.

So, only by the will of someone acting in meatspace would such an idea have any consequence that is not imaginary. But, sure, there could be lots of imaginary consequences, or lots of “consequences” that happen only on the Internet.

For those who have ears to hear, let them hear: The wrath of the engineer is revealed from tech support against all un-nerdiness and non-spec usage of men who suppress the truth in non-spec usage, because that which is known about the engineer is evident among them; for the engineer made it evident to them. For since the creation of the Internet, the engineer’s invisible attributes, his technical power and nerd nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew the engineer, they did not honor him as the engineer or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Attack Upon Christendom

I’ve done some consideration of my anarchistic and contrarian tendencies (which contribute to my rationale for blogging, of course), and come up with a classification scheme for “beliefs”, which I define as ideas which one considers to be true.

Beliefs are not ideas which necessarily are true, in an a priori sense; which is why some people say they have no beliefs, since they have only positive knowledge of truth. Beliefs as such may be true, but that is not a claim I am evaluating. Of course, all of my beliefs are true, but if you do not believe that my beliefs are true, that is not my responsibility; so, in that sense, we cannot agree that all beliefs are true, or even that any particular belief is true, but only that each person holds his beliefs to be true. I know this kind of subjectivism is disturbing to some Christians, but it should be less disturbing than the counterclaim, that any individual human possesses comprehensive, positive truth; which is explicitly heretical.

So, my tentative categories are Rejected Beliefs, Uncomfortable Beliefs, and Accepted Beliefs. The labels all pertain to my judgment of others’ beliefs; that is, whether I believe them to be true. My beliefs would therefore fall into the third category only, and I will have to work on clearly assenting to them. Whereas the second category would provide the most fruitful discussion with like-minded people, they are by definition uncomfortable to discuss: I am uncomfortable with the prospect of such beliefs being true, and so cannot assent to them, but I am also uncomfortable arguing against them.

Rejected Beliefs, however, are standard material for a blog post. Here I will attempt a nice list, but not a comprehensive dissection; and I am also trying to avoid the standard irony or sarcasm. Well, maybe I’ll use sarcastic labels, but not rants.

What I Hate About American Christendom

  1. Deism. Also called Intelligent Design or natural theology, and evident throughout US history in arguments about atheism and agnosticism. A waste of time–no different from pantheism.
  2. Civic religion. A form of Deism promulgated in the United States: God as the one who instituted our constitution, money, flag, etc., but has no particular identity or doctrine other than that depicted in 1950s TV shows. Evident in political coalitions combining Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Moslems, etc., where the only commonality is “belief in God” and “family values.”
  3. Theocracy. The desire for a “Christian nation” embodied in biblical law enacted at the US federal level. Absolutely without any basis in the Bible, absolutely not a Christian concept, and absolutely unconstitutional.
  4. Priest-kings. The anointing of the US chief executive as a religious leader. An absurd corruption and a sign of low intelligence.
  5. Creation idolatry. Not creationism or creation science, but rather the insistence that one cannot be saved without accepting an orthodox young-earth reading of Genesis, or that rejecting such is an unforgivable sin.
  6. Roman Catholic Protestantism. The yearning on the part of non-Catholics to defend the RCC or identify with it; evident in Protestant crusades surrounding The Passion, The Da Vinci Code, contraception, pedophile priests, etc. A sign of corruption and weakness among non-Catholics.
  7. Seeking after signs. Incessant numerology, conspiracy-mongering, miracle-seeking, and Beast-picking. A waste of time.
  8. Theurgy. Trying to invoke “the God within.” Fashionable among the ignorant emergents and Unitarians.
  9. Magical thinking. Association of one’s thoughts or actions with God’s actions, as if He is under the control of men.
  10. Proof-texting. Reading out pieces of biblical text as proof that one’s beliefs are valid.
  11. Confused identity. Evident among various “Messianic” or “Hebrew” Christians who wish they were ancient Israelites.
  12. Christian Zionism. The notion that the secular state of modern Israel rules the world now, and therefore all of its pronouncements require immediate obedience, on pain of suffering God’s wrath. A preposterous and unbiblical corruption.
  13. Institutionalization. The notion that the Christian church requires a bureaucracy in order to enact God’s will.
  14. Beatified people. The practice of declaring that certain people have attained a semi-divine status and are in the habit of answering prayers. Most common among Catholics, especially with regard to Mary.
  15. Sacred language. The notion that use of a particular language is a sign of special powers or a special mindset, or confers special access to God.
  16. Avoiding divisive doctrines. The notion that people are too stupid and superficial to be allowed to read the Bible and teach it in church.

Atheist Manifesto

Sunday Sacrilege: So alone – Pharyngula

We have killed our heavenly father, demolished that cozy personal (but imaginary!) relationship with a great and caring being. We are alone, orphans in an indifferent universe.

That is a touching characterization of atheism, evidently evoking Nietzsche.

Reality doesn’t just destroy the patriarchal model, it gives us new and better ways to visualize our relationship with the universe. Father and child is inadequate; we have to think in terms of populations and species interacting (not dominating), of being part of an environment. There is more to life than the father and child bond. I am the outcome of a trillion coalescing possibilities, with a vast population of brothers and sisters acting out our brief lives on a background of gas and stone, water and light, grasses and fishes, and my responsibilities are far greater than obedience to a father figure.

Hierarchy disappears with a wave of the skeptical wand by the Reason Fairy. Not just theological hierarchy as a metaphor for social hierarchy, but actually all hierarchy is destroyed, in a sort of grand apocalyptic vision of existential millenarianism. Nothing dominates anything else, and there are still “responsibilities”, in an odd Kantian sense.

If you’re a well-adjusted person, once you’ve discarded the unhealthy fictitious relationship with a phantasm, you can look around and notice all those other people who are likewise alone, and you’ll realize that we’re all alone together. And that means you aren’t alone at all — you’re among friends. That’s the next step in human progress, is getting away from the notion of minions living under a trail boss, and onwards to working as a cooperative community, with no gods and no masters, only autonomous agents free to think and act.

Cue the John Lennon music, and segue into a loving assertion of a pan-being categorical imperative [sniff!].

This piece actually endears The Squidlike One to me. It is much more honest and less frothy than most of what I’ve read from him. It is no more convincing, but it is more revealing.

Elsewhere, we have seen Squid attacking evolutionary psychology and the evolution of complexity by natural selection.

Atheist Spirituality

I have been thinking about atheist spirituality because of a lecture I recently heard by Alain de Botton. Unlike many Christians, I don’t see any contradiction in terms. When I was younger, it seemed to me merely a matter of finding one’s affinity, as follows:

  1. I could know my affinity already and assent to it
  2. I could discover my affinity and assent to it
  3. I could be searching for my affinity and therefore assent to none, or assent only provisionally
  4. I could have surveyed all possible affinities and decided that I have no affinity, and therefore cannot assent to any
  5. I could know my affinity and, despising it, refuse to assent to it
  6. I could reject the notion of affinity altogether

This paradigm may seem familiar, as it can apply to different kinds of psychological situations. Here I use it solely in reference to spiritual affinity; that is, formation of identity.

The first case is acceptance of a cultural identity without self engagement. It may be common, but I reject it out of hand as not requiring reflection.

The second case is the happy coincidence of personality and situation normally called certain belief.

The third case is agnosticism or cautious acceptance, which are really the same state of mind.

The fourth case is misanthropy. The sixth case is like it but rooted in ignorance rather than arrogance.

The fifth case is the sad condition of the conflicted soul who resents the world for imposing unseemly demands. This, I later realized, is the condition I sought to avoid by honestly reflecting on possible affinities.