Give me Certainty or Give me Depth

Tell it to me straight, doc. I can take it. 

I can tell you that there is no reason to believe in God. That God provides no explanation that cannot be otherwise explained with evidence. That the burden of proof should fall on the believer and lo, they are yoked to a heavy burden. But it is unlikely I will be able to convince you. Either you already doubt and disbelieve or you cling desperately to you faith (and the notion of certainty you define it to provide). We are all always already called by our neurobiology and ideology. 

I could assert that climate change is real, man made, and likely disastrous (but how disastrous? and for whom?). All available evidence indicates we are, at best, on thin ice and quite possibly already drowning. Of course there is room for doubt. The point of science is to be falsifiable. But not inaction. And doubting the role of man in creating God and the role of man in destroying creation are not equivalent.

The same could be applied to the lethality of guns, the efficacy of vaccines, the demand for hospitality. People with guns kill (people). That is what they are designed to do. Vaccines save lives. Immigrants are welcome. 

Certainty is impossible. 

Ask Heisenberg. 

Ask Gödel. 

And yet. And yet. 

And yet, so many insist upon it. Demand it lest they never rouse themselves from inaction. Is it laziness? Is it ignorance? Is it brain chemistry? 

Does it even matter?

We must give up certainly in order to glimpse the hope for a better world in the no future to come. 

On Gun Nuts & God Botherers

Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there telling me I’ve got to beware. 

– B.S.

What’s the point? 

The lines have already been drawn. 

The line, the drawing of the line, the demarcation of inside and outside, of self and other is the origin of noise, the origin of exclusion, exception, & the failure to understand. 

And no one is backing down (compromise is for the weak and we must never show weakness — think of the children — unique not special). 

We revert to tribal behaviors. I don’t believe that I am a fascist or a terrorist, thus my desires must be universalized. 

Kant wept. 

I learned it from you (people). 

And nothing is being done.

I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t believe the way I do (if only they saw the facts [as I see them]). 

While the capitalists count their money. 

Semantic arguments based on the failure to understand synecdoche. Incomplete and inconsisten comparisons. (I’ve got a definition of ‘tool’ for you.)

Because we only preach to our choirs, only ask after Echoes.

Neither Good Host nor Effective Parasite, ever failing our Guest Right. 

And the capitalists count their money. 

But it’s not my fault. I was born this way. 

Blame it on the brain. (Gotta blame it on something). 

God is dead, God remains dead, and we love a good zombie. (Here we are now, entertain us. Send money.)

I don’t seek or claim certainty. But there is no convincing those who believe they have it that there is no such thing. 

The more I sneer, the more you fear.

And the capitalists count their money. 

The greatest American liberty

The greatest American liberty is to be left alone to do and say as one pleases (ending at (just the) tip of the other’s nose).

You can call this religious liberty or freedom of speech or any other sociopolitical semantic construction you desire. What many of the conservatives in the room seem to be forgetting of late is that this live and let die policy demands that you don’t get upset by what you see if you insist on being a voyeur and spying on your neighbors.

Exponentially worse than the linguistic decision to allow literally (because of such rampant misuse) to also be defined as figuratively, is the application of law to enforce ‘religious’ liberty. Liberty is based on what one can be forced to do or kept from doing (or, rather, the absence of that force). It is not (in any way) based on what one can be asked to tolerate, to accept, to understand, to learn about, or to accept as fully human. Religious liberty (or liberty of any legally enforceable kind) is unrelated to what one may or may not agree with (despite deeply held beliefs). Otherwise my religious liberty invalidates your capitalism and willingness to destroy the planet.

Given that so many of those ‘deeply held beliefs’ are based on modern interpretations of ancient, translated writing  (mythologic, figurative, and often marked by extreme poetic license) the claim becomes even more tenuous. Social reality is based on consensual construction and shared meaning. Liberty is not, and cannot, be based on the attempt to force shared meaning, especially such culturally specific (in this case evangelical) meaning. The inability to accept that meaning is constructed or the inability to believe that history did not happen the way one wants to believe it did is not a basis upon which to insist that others blindly follow the path of ignorance. One is entitled, in America, to be ignorant and useless. One is not empowered to insist that the government protect that ignorance or force it upon others.

Concerning the drift: the separation of evangelicalism

At what point does American evangelicalism become recognized as a wholly separate religion, as different from early Christianity (even post-Nicean Roman Christianity) as early Christianity was from Second Temple Judaism?

Perhaps this is not a new idea, but here are some brief elaborations of the point as they have become prominent in current news trends:

  • “Traditional” identity politics
  • Young Earth creationism
  • Prosperity Theology
  • Biblical ‘literalism’
  • Millenarianism
  • Theocratic ambitions
  • Martial inclinations

 

It is not that there is not a certain basis for these teachings and practices within the Bible or the history of Christianity but rather their confluence that sets evangelicalism apart. The Bible maintains a number of “traditional” marriages that are not between one man and one woman (Abraham relationship with Hagar comes to mind, or, more pointedly, Jacob marrying sisters Leah and Rachel, or Solomon’s 700 wives plus the 300 concubines). Opposition to marriage equality is thus not based on Biblical tradition as such, but an interpretation thereof. Prosperity theology seems to directly contradict Biblical references to camels and needles or upsetting the moneylenders. Millenarianism and Young Earth creationism both stem from a certain literal interpretation of what historically been understood as figurative passages (in the books of Revelation and Genesis respectively). The martial inclinations and theocratic ambitions are not unique to modern evangelicals – the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the Conquistadors provide some historical analogs. Of course those historical incidents have their own significant deviation from the red letters.

What seems relevant, then, is the efficacy or validity of such historical/theological appeals. If what qualifies as an abomination is selectively applied, if who qualifies as a neighbor is not universally extended, appeals to “God is Love” seem misplaced and may explain their ineffectiveness. Christianity broke from Judaism in, among other things, a selective application of scripture and law. Is this not a manifestation of the same?

This is idea is already given weight in the way that modern polls and surveys are conducted. Routinely, evangelicals are separated from Roman Catholics and “mainline/mainstream” Protestants. This is likely not even a devision that evangelicals would themselves protest (as it is a common enough belief that they are not of the same faith as Catholics). What would seem contentious about this claim, really, seems to boil down to a single issue – who retains the name “Christian”?

On not being special: privilege, flags, religion

 

You are not special.

&&&

My thought is a wide ranging mélange of conflicting, contradictory, dissonant ideas juxtaposed to bring out the beauty of noise. There are reasons I study what I do in the ways I do it.

&&&

Recent events (do I need to bother linking to whichever version of these stories you have/haven’t read yet?) have once again brought (White/cis/male/hetero/American/Western/capitalist/human/etc.) privilege under attack. Deservedly. Privilege needs to be continually acknowledge and its dismantling is not an easy or straightforward process but a necessary one. What privilege essentially claims is that you are special, you are exceptional, you are exempt, you are good-better-best. This is simply and obviously untrue. For numerous reasons. I will note here, briefly, one that stands out to me, that fits with my perspective and position as a knowing bearer of privilege, aware and desirous of its decay.

&&&

Privilege requires power to be implemented and there are plenty of sources in which one can research the forms of power (institutional, ideological, religious, historical, martial, etc.) and how they have been and continue to be used to establish zones and forms of privilege and exception. This is an example of those who make the most noise, who have the power to make the most noise, are allowed (or allow themselves) to make the most noise.

Privilege requires authority, though, if it is to be conceived, if it is to be thought and articulated as a political/philosophical position. Appeals to god(s), Science, Nature, Force, etc. are used to develop and explicate this necessary bedrock of authority from which privilege and exception (and violence, and oppression) can emanate.

However, as a nihilist, I acknowledge no authorities-as-such. There is no purpose, no prima causa, or principle of sufficient reason to the universe. Things exist. Indifferently. Thus, we (and this ‘we’ can include any grouping of anything) are not special. We are unique in that everything is unique and hyperdifferentiated. It doesn’t matter.

If there are no transcendent authorities (no gods, no monolithic True Science, no actual Pristine Nature) and Force maintains a tenuous grasp once decoupled from mythos, then there can be no privilege. I am no better than, no more important than, the couch I am sitting on, the river I can see from my bedroom window, the molecules that make up the air I breathe. Note here, even in my posthuman musings, I am still bound to a certain anthropocentrism. I am human; I can only think and act as human. It is my effort to push my thought (and actions) away from privileging my status and standpoint (as white, as male, as cis, as human, etc) but those categories remain and (some are not fully escapable, constructed though they may be). But I will never be able to know how a rock (or a Vampyroteuthis infernalis) thinks, understands, or æffects the world (note how anthropocentric the terms of relation already are).

After that, perhaps distracting, digression into a vague ontology, let me bring this back to what set this post rolling.

Breitbart (who don’t need more links) has a post up demanding the taking down of the Gay Pride flag because it is “Fascist” and “Anti-Christian.” I am sure that they believe that this is a very apt and clever response to the demand for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from state and federal property. The fact that it isn’t should be more than obvious. A symbol of struggle against oppression is not the same as a symbol of oppression. Funny how phrases that use some of the same words don’t always mean the same things (that is why I like to work with contextomy as an attack on authority and entrenched power but it doesn’t work as well as a straw man argument). But what the claim surrounding this retort amounts to is that these conservatives and christians want to be treated like they are special, like their hurt feelings matter regardless of their position as privileged.

Now, you might begin to see a slight flaw in this argument. I noted its potential and am thus now, again, digressing. If all things were equal, the desire to remove the Confederate Battle flag would be just as much a claim for a special exemption as the desire for the removal of the Gay Pride flag. All things are not equal. No one starts the race from the same point. This brings us to a question of values. As there are no inherent values in an indifferent universe, societies must choose and establish values. For me, the drive towards equality is an important one. If everyone were equal, had equal opportunity and equal access, got equal pay, and was treated as equally human we (as a human society) would be a lot better off and arguments about flags and racism would be irrelevant. But we are not equal and pretending that we are does not erase that fact. Pretending that racism is gone is something only those in a position of privilege can think that they do (even as they exercise the privileges established by institutional racism).

It is because there are no authorities that we have the freedom (and duty) to make a better society. It is also why we have the freedom and duty to make a better world (which would require denying human privilege and exceptionalism, but perhaps that is another post). Of course it is also why we have the freedom to be colossal fuckups using force, violence, oppression, and mythology to establish unequal societies that rape and pillage the land, the planet, the Other, the environment, etc. etc. etc.

&&&

We are not special. We are to blame.

On a question concerning a topic most nearly approximated as ‘religion’

It would seem (after considerable thought, deliberation, and opposition) that I am a religious man. Naturally, such a comment needs considerable qualifiers. I am not a man of faith. I do not ‘believe’ as the term is most colloquially rendered. However, I find it necessary to consider myself bound to religion. 
I was raised in religion. It is not thing that one ever fully extricates oneself from. Not that I did not try. It’s part of the family business along with teaching.
Religion is a quagmire but given its prominence, its sway over popular opinion and widely believed facts, it is a sweltering pit that cannot be ignored. 

And so I come to conclusions. 

I have long called myself a ‘prophet’. This is not because I have felt a special bond with the almighty:

Stephen: In order to find his equal, an Irishman is forced to talk to God.

(Despite all the requisite kissing, I cannot claim to be Irish)

Rather it is a more archaic and secular Usage of the term. I do not cry out in the wilderness for the world to repent of its sins lest if burn in fiery damnation but rather to change its wicked ways lest it destroy the only world we have. Repent because if we keep on like this, earth won’t be fit for human habitation and, unlike for Jake Chambers, this is the only world we’ve got. 

Furthermore, I am priest. I am not an evangelist, I do not seek converts. I can’t take the stress of banging my head against those walls. But I will take on disciples. And thoryvology is an all-encompassing/non-totalizing methodology. There is a path I am attempting to cut, the success of which is likely not mine to judge. 
In the beginning, Noise is. 
Let us pray.