Category Archives: Religion

Inquiry Into Consciousness Part IV – God

ARTICULATING THE PROBLEM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: THE SELF & FREE WILL

I experience my consciousness first hand. Without examination, I feel like I am a self, and should properly take credit for my thoughts and I have free will and am responsible for the decisions I make. Upon closer scrutiny, however, I do not know how my thoughts are created, nor can I predict my next thought. Because my traditional notion of self-hood (i.e., a creator of thoughts who has free will) has a great deal to do with my thoughts and my agency in their creation, I must question this notion of a self that I have heretofore assumed to exist.

If the experience of self is based upon a faulty assumption, what then is the experience of consciousness? Who is it that is experiencing consciousness and believes he has a self? The reality that exists in which a non-self entity can question whether he has a self, itself exists. That is, the process exists (because I experience it firsthand) but it is unclear as to whether there is or whether there necessarily has to be one who experiences the process.

Consciousness entails the awareness of this dynamic (and much else) but a definition of consciousness in its totality is elusive. Yet, we all seem to know instinctively what the word consciousness means. It is as if at its very nature consciousness avoids scrutiny. Questioning the notion of self illustrates this problem of consciousness.

MODELS OF THE UNIVERSE

This problem of consciousness seemingly exists within a universe (i.e., a physical realm). This universe consists of physical space in which to operate and physical objects within this space (including the body). This universe and all the stimuli within it can be interpreted in different ways. Each interpretation carries with it different implications as to the nature of the self and free will. Let us consider Monotheism, Non Duality and Atheism as examples.

Monotheism

Monotheism, including Christianity (of the non mystical variety) as well as Judaism and Islam (to the extent I understand them, not being of either tradition) espouse the belief in the self and a separate personal God who is also a self. This of course is a low level interpretation of the mind of God. Certainly Catholic theologians would speculate that the Godhead is so much more than what I would normally conceive of being a self. But essentially what I mean when I say that the Christian God is a separate self is that under this framework, God’s mind is not my mind and therefore God is a separate self. In the monotheistic universe, the universe itself is made of material stuff and is separate from the self. The self within this universe has free will subject to limitations. The self is also capable of creating thoughts and therefore morally responsible for those thoughts and any actions taken in response to thoughts.

Non Duality

By contrast, my understanding of the non dualistic spirituality described by Hinduism, Buddhism, Alan Watts and others espouses the belief that there is just one process going on. This process is God. My feeling of a separate universe, and a self within that universe is an illusion or a misunderstanding of the situation. This entire process is really God experiencing Himself in a limited manner through my eyes. The other people I interact with are also God experiencing Himself through their eyes. In this sense, the thoughts and free will I experience are essentially God’s thoughts and free will.

Presumably, God is experiencing Himself in these limited versions for a reason. Watts speculates that the only thing an infinite, omnipotent being would lack is limitation. Going through this process is the means for Him to experience this one thing He lacks. Put another way, God experiences the drama of existence through limitation. This conception of God feels unsettling and lonely to me, I suspect because that would mean that the only thing that exists is God. As such, God is all alone with Himself. There is something comforting about the idea that there are other selves other than my self. But perhaps this is only because I am not used to the non dual conception of God.

To a certain extent, non duality releases the self from responsibility. If the self is ultimately an illusion then there are no ultimate consequences for thoughts or actions. Of course, within the illusion there are consequences which may be unpleasant to experience in the moment. But this unpleasantness does not have the permanence it would have under the monotheistic system.

Atheism

Atheism is another option. A rejection of God seems to be an embracing of the physical universe as the ultimate reality. Under this model, the physical forces that created the universe and brought man into being are unconcerned with man’s consciousness. The phenomenon of consciousness would be a byproduct of the physical world perhaps an adaptation employed for survival.

Many scientists including Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking gravitate to the view that the universe can (and does) exist without God. One argument typically made by atheists is that if the universe requires a creator then so would the creator. As such, at some point there has to be a non created, existing thing. As such, the universe itself could be that non created, existing thing.

Under this model, the problem of consciousness is simply one problem among others to be solved. We, as humans may or may not possess the ability or potential to solve the problem.

Not being a scientist myself, I would think that being trained to only make conclusions based on verifiable data naturally orients the mind towards atheism. Or perhaps if one’s mind is naturally oriented to think in this way one would be more inclined to be a scientist. For the purpose of this inquiry I should consider atheism as a possibility, but if I am being honest it just doesn’t feel true to me. Although, it also feels true that I have a self, think my own thoughts and have free will. So if I question one, I should question the other. In any respect, from an evidentiary standpoint, God’s existence remains an open question (although my heart rests with God you might say.)

GOD

In many respects my approach to God was shaped by the milieu in which I was raised (e.g., the Roman Catholic church as experienced in a suburban, New England parish in 1970’s and 80’s America. This was not the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism my parents grew up in which always seemed to be more serious, spiritually rich and on the whole more interesting to me. In a sense I felt gypped growing up in this version of the church.

My experience of Catholicism was somewhat disappointing. Those in charge of my experience never seemed to want to address what I found interesting about God. What they gave me seemed to be a watered down version of spirituality that seemed so sanitized it pushed me away. I longed for a more spiritual and transcendental experience of God.

I say all this only to provide the context in which I approach God. That is, I approach God from my own spiritual history. I have taken in Roman Catholic church history, iconography, music, literature and ritual for much of my life. In recent years I have explored alternative routes to God but I cannot deny the impact of my prior experience and my current thinking is that it would probably be better to use it rather than to fight it.

To me, God is the underlying force of consciousness. I cannot point to consciousness and say, “there is God” but I can feel God within consciousness. Some times this is more apparent than others. Ultimately, I do not know whether I create my own thoughts and therefore have free will. I do not know whether the monotheistic, non dual or atheistic model holds true. (I have my suspicious of course). Nor do I know if my notion of God is purely based upon my religious background. But I do know what feels right and harmonious. It seems that following this feeling is the proper future course of this inquiry.

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Inquiry into Consciousness Part III – The Self

There is the experience of consciousness. On the surface, it carries with it the assumption of individual agency. This assumption assumes that there is a self which experiences consciousness and that this self has some degree of agency or free-will.

In my last post I examined the “internal” experience of consciousness which consists of various kinds of thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations. This examination revealed to me that although the assumptions of self and agency seem obvious they tend to break down under scrutiny.

Say I have a creative idea and act on it (e.g., I write a novel, song or paint a picture). I implicitly want to take credit for this idea even though I do not know the process by which that idea came into being. Nor do I know that I am responsible for this process even on a subconscious level. The implicitness of this desire to take credit stems from the fact that the idea seemed to originate inside my head. My head is a part of my body and seemingly encasing the physical space where consciousness exists (i.e., behind the eyes and between the ears). Concurrent with this assumption of credit is the assumption that there is a “me” who is capable of taking credit. The implicitness of this assumption seems to primarily stem from the fact that I have a body which occupies physical space and that I have memories which form a continuous timeline of my experience. So there is a conflict that exists between my inability to control my internal experience and the assumption that I should nevertheless take credit for it.

I have been exposed to the idea of “no self” for some time but I cannot say that I totally understand it or feel it. The fact that thoughts occur and I want to take credit for them without understanding the process of their creation begins to shed light on this illusive concept. Not only do I not understand the process of thought creation but I cannot predict or control my thought creation. If I don’t understand the process by which something is created, nor can I predict or control that thing, can I really take credit for it? The self is intimately connected to my thoughts and internal experience, none of which I control. As such, can I really claim there is a self?

But still, the feeling of a self seems very strong and real most of the time especially when I do not directly place my attention on it. Perhaps I could say that there is a self but that this self does not control it’s thoughts and internal experience. In this respect, the self is more of a vessel for this experience. But the self I feel myself to be is not the vessel it is the internal experience. And much like my internal experience, I don’t control most of the functions of my body. I can control my breathing to an extent, but I don’t consciously control my pancreas (for example). If there is a self, I cannot define it as that which I control. It is really what I experience. But saying my self is my experience is different than thinking of my self as an autonomous, sovereign being.

Alan Watts talks about the self being an illusion and that there are only experiences without the need for a self to be the the one who experiences the experiences. This is a difficult idea to understand because as I said it feels like I exist and act autonomously. I have memories that connect my experiences into a life. I have a body etc. etc. I guess the best I can do is say that my self is my experience. This includes both internal and external experience (i.e., the world). Alan Watts says as much. If I am my heart beating then I am also the sun shining.

I recently listened to the audio book version of “Free Will” by Sam Harris. His basic premise is that human beings generally exist with the assumption that they have free will. That is, they believe they are to some degree consciously choosing the actions they take in life. Harris argues this assumption is incoherent in that thoughts appear in the human conscience out of nowhere and therefore the humans experiencing these thoughts cannot take credit for them. Moreover, human experience is shaped by external forces that are out of one’s control. For example, humans have no control over the family, social class and geographic location they are born into. To a large degree, the events in life are also out of one’s control and all of these external forces shape the decisions we make as humans. Curiously, Harris is a staunch atheist. But the idea of no self and no free will tends to tilt me more in the theist camp. After all, something is going on. The experience exists even though my self does not. Something has to be the beneficiary of this experience of consciousness.

The idea of no self can be disappointing because it goes against the implicit assumptions regarding the experience of consciousness. But if there is no me, then who is getting disappointed by the fact that there is no me? This is indeed difficult to wrap one’s head around. Perhaps the idea of the self is the wrong way to go about it. I do not claim to know the right way to go about it. Let us say for now, (1) there is consciousness, both internal and external, (2) there is experience of consciousness and (3) there is existence. Perhaps this is the implication of the statement “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14). There is simply pure “am-ness” and maybe it is only God that has a self and can create thought. I will explore this in the next blog post.

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Inquiry into Consciousness

Leo Gura of Actualized.org recently dropped a podcast entitled “How to Discover What’s True” wherein he suggests that the Truth of existence can be discovered by thinking and asking questions about existence methodically. He asserts it is possible to arrive at Truth in this way and that he has done this himself. It seems logical to first question the veracity of this assertion. I don’t know that it is true that I can discover Truth simply by thinking and asking about it. So then, the next step would be to test the assertion in some way. The most obvious method to me of testing his assertion is to assume it is true and then to follow it where it takes me. This is the inquiry.

Truth is a rather broad concept. As such, it would be helpful to break it down into more specific areas of inquiry. The truth of consciousness seems like a good starting point. After all, I have direct access to consciousness that I am experiencing it right now. I have been experiencing consciousness as far back as I can remember. But what is consciousness?

According to wikipedia, “Consciousness at its simplest refers to … awareness of internal or external existence”. I can say it is true that I am aware of internal and external experience because I am directly experiencing my internal and external experience. I don’t think I have to question whether I am actually experiencing these experiences because if I can’t trust that I am actually experiencing my experience then I cannot trust this inquiry in the first place. And really, what would it mean to say that I am not really experiencing my experiences? Even if they are hallucinations, I am still (on some level) experiencing the hallucinations. Certainly, my interpretations of these experiences could be untrue but the experience is still there as far as I can tell.

The definition of consciousness refers to two types of awareness: (1) internal existence and (2) external existence. On its face, my experience seems to accord with this bifurcation. But I have listened to enough Alan Watts lectures to question the veracity of this bifurcation. I can conceive of a reality where what I perceive to be external experience to be an extension of my internal experience. This is not solipsism per say. In the Watts explained conception of reality (which corresponds to Hindu and Buddhist thought as far as I know) there is a omnipotent and omnipresent deity that has decided to experience limitation (the one thing it lacks). It did this because it is impossible to have an adventure if one is omnipotent and omnipresent. Nothing could surprise such a being. Nor could it learn and grow from experience. And so it experiences this limitation by experiencing our lives individually. As such, my consciousness is really God pretending to be me. Likewise the experience of other people are God pretending to be them. It’s a big, elaborate hallucination that only God Himself could pull off because He is omnipotent and omnipresent.

Of course, this conception of consciousness is inconsistent with the Christian tradition (specifically Roman Catholic) which is the tradition in which I grew up and with which I am the most familiar. In this tradition there are individual consciousnesses which were brought into being by God and are therefore separate and distinct from God. There is also a real external reality in which these consciousnesses exist and interact.

If I am being honest, I cannot say (at this point in the inquiry) with authority that I know which model is true. It is interesting that Christianity requires belief in its model for salvation. I have explored this odd requirement in a previous blog post. A belief is something a person holds to be true. But how can a person believe something that he does not know with authority to be true? He could pretend to believe it but the belief system seems to require actual belief. And why would God require this belief from a person who is not in a position to know its veracity with authority? Two ideas come to mind to address this question. The first is the concept of faith which is a trusting attitude in the teachings of a higher authority. The second is that belief is akin to the placebo effect. That is, belief in a particular idea, in some real sense creates the reality of that idea. We see this most clearly when a placebo actually heals a person who believes it to work. But belief from a position of faith and as a placebo are not in the spirit of this inquiry which is to see if Truth can be discovered wholly through self-inquiry. I cannot speak for other Christian traditions, but Roman Catholicism is not wholly against the concept of self-inquiry or self-reflection. In fact it encourages it to an extent. But there is definitely a sense within Roman Catholicism that self-inquiry cannot take one all the way across the finish line. Anyway, the point here is that for the purpose of this inquiry, I will need to suspend any Christian requirement of belief. If it ultimately turns out that belief or faith is required then I would like to think that I would arrive at that point on my own through this process of inquiry.

At this point, I can say a few things with authority based upon this inquiry. (1) The experience of my individual consciousness (both internal and external) is transpiring at this moment. (2) On the surface, it appears that there is an external world inhabited by myself and other people who appear to have the experience of individual consciousness. (3) I do not know with authority how the experience of my individual consciousness came into being or to what extent it is separate from the external things it experiences. As I am approaching 1,000 words I will leave it at that for now.

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A Change of Heart

I have explored the topic of self love previously. Recently, I came to a deeper understanding of this concept while attending a retreat. It happened while I explored why I feel inhibited at times around other people.

This exploration seemed to be related to my mother who died two years ago. Since then, I puzzled as to why I do not really miss her. I asked God why this was so. The answer came to me very clearly. There was no connection between us. I assumed a connection existed but the more I examined it the more I knew that this assumption was false. Accordingly, when she died there was no connection to miss. In my heart, beneath my denial and “beliefs” I knew this was true.

This insight left me feeling a profound emptiness. I saw how because I had no motherly connection I had never learned to love myself. And so I looked for love from other people. I sought to look good in the eyes of others, to entertain them and be the life of the party. I see now how this was a clinging, covetous, jealous love that generated friends who were not good for me. It made me hurt those people in my life who were good for me. I sought girlfriends I did everything to get and then quickly felt trapped by them. I never knew what I actually wanted in life and made quick decisions that I later came to regret. None of this ever took me to a place I wanted to be. These experiences made me feel good in the short term but never in the long term.

I saw all this and saw how empty I was. So I asked God to fill my emptiness with his love. To my surprise, the very clear answer I received was, “Fill it yourself.” He was right. I had to love myself first before I sought love from an external source. Having never really loved myself in the past I was at a loss as to where to begin. This was a place where God could help me.

It was through intent that God created this universe in which we live in all its mystery and complexity. Intent comes from God. And so I intended to love myself. I made the conscious choice to do so. Then God miraculously transformed me, and my own love for myself welled within me. I felt it. I wore a yellow and black checkerboard cloak. “I love myself,” I said inside with a silly, bemused fascination. I felt love within me in a way I had not felt as far back as I can remember.

Then I felt a profound love and gratitude for God. I felt his presence deeply but I longed for him to reveal himself in some more obvious way. I held my hands in prayer looking at the ceiling. “I love you, I love you, I love you…,” I repeated over and over. “I am so grateful!” And tears of grief for all the hurt that led to this point streamed down my face. All the regret for the emptiness and missed opportunity I held in my life for so long became starkly revealed. But my tears were also tears of joy. I sobbed for what seemed like hours.

I saw how my lack of self love made me incapable of offering authentic love to anyone else because I needed their love to make me whole. It was a transaction. I was a hungry ghost. I saw how my lack of self-love inhibited all my aims because I felt I had no entitlement to achieve them. I saw how my lack of self-love drove me to addictive behavior to fill the emptiness. I saw how if I don’t love myself and need validation from others then I will be inhibited in my actions because I will fear failure and humiliation. For how can I be validated from another person if I am a humiliated failure? And I saw how my mother had no love for herself either and therefore could not give me authentic love. I asked her forgiveness for never having a connection and for my lack of compassion. I forgave her as well.

Over the course of that long night, the tears would leave for a time and then came back again and again. Finally, the tears subsided and I felt peace and the healing process at long last began.

To love authentically I must first love myself. When I love myself I don’t need the love of another to feel whole. When I love myself I am capable of freely giving love to another who can then reciprocate freely and authentically. And of course, that authentic love is what I do need. Loving myself is liberating because I am not reliant on others or external circumstances to feel whole. If I love myself and find joy in myself then I never have to feel like I must engage in addictive or self-destructive behavior to fit in. My  presence (in theory) will be a joy to others. If I love myself then I will not demand of others to be a certain way. I can teach and set an example and they may follow of their own accord. If they do then we will be in a superior harmony than if I compelled them against their will.

I said the healing began, but it is far from complete. I spent a life time not loving myself and it will take a while to build up an internal reservoir of self love to sustain me. It will also take time for me to learn the new patters associated with self love and to discard the old patters associated with its lack. Finally, it will take time for me to trust in the divine plan overseeing this transformation. Whatever it is and whatever it takes and whatever uncomfortable feelings I must endure to get to the other side of this I will do it. There are old internal forces of darkness within me who do not want me to change and will fight this process. But there is also an internal force of light that allowed me to love myself and that seeks my change of heart. That internal force is of course, the hidden one, the one who created the universe with his intent, the one I love and the one to whom I am eternally grateful.

 

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Taking on Responsibility

Jordan Peterson frequently makes the argument that life is made meaningful by taking on as much responsibility as possible. The idea of taking responsibility occurs frequently in “self-help” literature. Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, for example, talks about taking responsibility as opposed to being “entitled” and expecting success to be given without earning it. Jack Canfield and Dave Andrews talk about committing to their program 100% (integral to taking on responsibility as I will explain) as a means of cutting off the internal, mental debate that would ensure if one committed anything less than 100% to the 30 Day Sobriety Solution.

Although the idea of taking responsibility is approached from different perspectives by each author there is a common theme present among them all. That is, the best way to live one’s life is by taking on the responsibility of living it. Put another way, the best way to live one’s life is to embrace the responsibilities that present themselves rather than avoiding them, treating them as a burden or blaming them for your own problems. Whether this means deriving meaning through responsibility, accepting the consequences of one’s actions without excuses, complaint or blame, or simply deciding to leave no wiggle room to escape when one makes a decision, the taking on of responsibility brings forth an authenticity to one’s life that would not otherwise be there. This authenticity, in turn, improves the quality of existence because it is aligned with Truth.

One might reasonably argue that the aforementioned authenticity comes from both taking control of one’s life by actively deciding to take on responsibility as well as from submitting to the higher power that bestowed the responsibility upon the self. In other words, authenticity is found by navigating that middle ground between ego and selflessness. The ego is needed for survival in this world. But selflessness or service to a purpose other than the self is where meaning can be found. Obviously, meaning in this world cannot be found if one is dead, so one must first survive. So in a sense, it is authentic (or real or truthful) to acknowledge both the need for the self to survive and the need to be selfless to provide meaning to the self’s existence at the same time.

Manson talks about the difference between fault and responsibility. He asserts that we are not at fault for the situations in which we find ourselves much of the time. But we are always responsible for how we act in response to those situations. This means that we frequently find ourselves in situations not of our own making that we are, nevertheless, responsible for. In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, he provides the example of someone leaving a baby on another person’s doorstep. In this scenario, the person to whom the doorstep belongs is not at fault for the baby’s predicament, but once he becomes aware of the baby, he becomes responsible for acting to protect the baby or deliver it to someone else who can. In this situation he could theoretically avoid responsibility and pretend he has not seen the baby or in some other way ignore it. But (I assume few people would contest) that the right thing to do would be to take responsibility for the situation.

Notice, that pretending he has not seen the baby or ignoring the baby requires the doorstep owner to act inauthentically. He is pretending he has not seen the baby when he actually has seen it in order to avoid responsibility for it. Of course, one could argue that if the baby is not a member of the doorstep owner’s tribe (however he chooses to define it) he could authentically not take responsibility for the baby out of principle. That is, he is only responsible for those people he defines as inside his tribe. But this, in my eyes, would be denying the innocence and humanity of the baby who is neither at fault nor responsible for its situation and therefore, the doorstep owner’s denial would necessarily be another form of inauthenticity.

Now, it is not immediately obvious that the taking on of responsibility should be a proper aim in life. For example, many people often assume that happiness should be the proper orienting principle. But this would be a mistake from the position of those who hold that responsibility should be the orienting principle. Peterson argues that happiness is nice when it comes around but is not the proper goal because unbridled happiness is antithetical with survival in the material world. Manson argues that happiness is not enough because life is suffering and the only way for a person to grow and learn is by encountering problems and solving them. Happiness comes as a by product of solving problems but the problems, and solving of the problems, are integral parts of the process and should be accepted as such.

In the final analysis, the only way any individual can determine if taking on responsibility should be their proper aim in life and whether pursuing this aim will improve their life is to try it for themselves and to learn from it empirically. In a sense, taking on responsibility requires this empirical investigation because in a sense, taking on responsibility is itself an empirical investigation. That is, one who takes on a responsibility will necessarily learn from the experience. But again, the responsibility should be taken on willingly and not viewed as a burden or imposition. This is the connection with Jack Canfield and Dave Andrew’s concept of committing 100% to a process. Because any commitment that is less than 100% is not taking full responsibility for whatever is being undertaken. If a responsibility is not taken on with 100% commitment then it is not seriously being taken on. This, in turn, will open the door to the internal debate as to whether the responsibility should be taken on it the first place. Whereas, taking on a responsibility with 100% commitment eliminates this internal debate.

 

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Thordaddy’s Claim that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” accords with Christian Doctrine

This post is part of a series of posts designed to address the common topics brought by a frequent commentator to my blog named Thordaddy. Please see this post for an introduction to this series.

Thordaddy claims that Christianity is a “(S)upremacist” religion, therefore any white Christian must be a “white (S)upremacist”. There are two problems with this claim. First, (as always) Thordaddy’s unique terminology is vaguely and confusingly defined. Second, there is no scriptural basis for this assertion.

(a) The reoccurring problem with definitions

Thordaddy uses two definitions for white supremacy: (1) the mundane definition, and (2) the absolute definition. The mundane definition of white supremacy is the common definition that most people share. That is, “the belief, theory or doctrine that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and therefore should dominate society.” By contrast, Thordaddy argues that he practices the “absolute” version of “white (S)upremacy” which he defines as a “white man who believes in and therefore strives towards perfection.” Thordaddy admits that these practices are not mutually exclusive. That is, a practitioner of absolute white (S)upremacy will often also be a practitioner of mundane white supremacy.

Now, Thordaddy often argues that the “dull masses” abhor the practice of absolute white (S)upremacy because they cannot see past the mundane version of white supremacy. This, I believe is incorrect. First, I do not think anyone would object to a white person striving for perfection unrelated to the mundane definition. I certainly cannot think of an example of this happening. Second, if the mundane and the absolute practices are often “intertwined” (as Thordaddy has said) then this is very likely the reason why the “dull masses” cannot see past the concept of mundane white supremacy. Moreover, Thordaddy is unwilling or unable to provide a clear definition regarding what he means by “striving towards perfection.” When asked for a definition or example the best he could offer was his “spreading his righteousness” to people he encounters. I assume this means him communicating his racist message in his unique communication style which again seems to only reflect the mundane definition.

In conclusion, if we are defining “supremacy” as trying to be the best you can be and a “white (S)upremacist” as someone trying to be the best they can be who also happens to be white, then I suppose Thordaddy could legitimately make the argument that Christianity is a “(S)upremacist religion”.  However, if the mundane definition is employed, then there can be no doubt that Christianity is not a supremacist religion because there is no scriptural support to support this contention. In fact, quite the opposite, as we will discuss in the next section.

(b) The lack of scriptural foundation

In the past, when confronted with the argument that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” accords with Christian doctrine has no scriptural basis, Thordaddy has never once countered with a scriptural passage supporting his position. This suggests to me that he is not at all familiar with scripture. Further, I suspect his lack of familiarity with scripture is on some level intentional, because if he was familiar with scripture, he would then have to explain the discrepancies between his arguments and the scripture. There are many obvious discrepancies. The following are a few of the most glaring examples.

(i) “Love thy Neighbor as Thyself”

In the past, Thordaddy has taken the novel position that the Second Greatest Commandment does not instruct a Christian to actually love his neighbor as a general proposition. Rather the commandment is to love his neighbor only to the extent that he loves himself. Accordingly, if a person does not love himself he is under no obligation to love his neighbor. He uses this as a license with the blessing of Christian dogma to hate his neighbor if he so chooses. I find this a novel interpretation of the commandment chiefly because, it has been my experience that (with the exception of Thordaddy alone) all Christians seem to agree that there is an underlying assumption embedded within the Second Greatest Commandment that a person would naturally love himself.

Moreover, Thordaddy’s interpretation of the Greatest Commandment is logically inconsistent with his unique interpretation of the second great commandment. His interpretation of the Greatest Commandment is to give all love to God such that there is no love remaining for the self and less still for the neighbor. In other words he sees love as a zero sum game in which there is a finite amount of love to go around and if all of a person’s love goes to God there is none left for anyone else. I would argue that the plain meaning of the Greatest Commandment speaks to the intensity of love and not to the percentage of love available. Furthermore, Thordaddy’s interpretation of the Greatest Commandment eliminates the need for the Second Greatest Commandment. That is, it would not make sense for Christ to specifically emphasize the Second Greatest Commandment in the gospels if the Greatest Commandment effectively rendered it moot.

His unique interpretation of the Second Greatest Commandment is made more peculiar still by the fact that he is obsessed with the concept of the (presumably sinful) act of self-annihilation which he seems to take delight in accusing other people of committing. I asked him point blank if he loved himself and he repeatedly dodged this question which surprised me. I would think a person who feels so strongly that the act of self annihilation is so morally wrong would naturally love himself. I assume, however, that he does not want to admit to loving himself because by his own logic he would then be compelled by the Second Greatest Commandment to also love his neighbor. In this light, his reluctance to admit to loving himself seems to prove that even he is dubious of his unique interpretation.

(ii)  “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”

From its inception, Christianity has been a racially ecumenical religion. This is expressly stated in the Gospel of Mark:

Afterward [Jesus] appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:14-15)

Here we see Jesus himself commanding his disciples to preach the good news of his resurrection to “every creature” in “all the world.” He, by no means instructed them to limit their teachings to their own kind, let alone exclusively white people,

(iii) “The fruit of the spirit”

Racism is also at odds with St. Paul’s conception of the “Fruit of the Spirit” he writes about in his letter to the Galations:

[T]he desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh…  Now the works of the flesh are evident: … enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, … and things like these. (Gal 5:19-21)

Racism, seems very much in accord with what St. Paul describes as the “desires of the flesh” particularly including “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy”. By contrast, Saint Paul describes the fruit of the spirit:

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… (Gal 5:22-23)

I must say that I do not see these qualities in any of Thordaddy’s comments. This is one of many reasons (beyond his incoherence and his illogical arguments) I hold his contempt and judgment of his fellow Christians suspect. Accordingly, if he intends to hold himself out as a righteous Christian, perhaps he should reconsider the spirit behind his message. And if the spirit behind his message cannot be reconciled with his message perhaps he should reconsider his message.

 

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Thordaddy’s Concept of White Supremacy

This post is part of a series of posts designed to address the common topics brought by a frequent commentator to my blog named Thordaddy. Please see this post for an introduction to this series.

(1) The Ambiguous Definition

Thordaddy has defined what he refers to as “white (S)upremacy” in the following manner:

White men who believe in and therefore strive towards objective (S)upremacy are white (S)upremacists. … [T]he definition of objective (S)upremacy is (P)erfection. What is (P)erfection? HE WHO WILLS ALL (R)IGHT.

This definition, however, does little to clarify what Thordaddy has in mind when using these terms. Declaring “objective (S)upremacy” means “(P)erfection” means “HE WHO WILLS ALL RIGHT” does not give me an understanding of what these terms mean or what a person would do to strive towards “objective (P)erfection”. I assume the “HE” Thordaddy refers to is Jesus or perhaps God the father. But if one were to imitate Jesus, it seems very unlikely that they would act as Thordaddy does particularly his hostility towards other races. Ultimately, a person trying to understand what he is attempting to articulate is left confused which he then claims is evidence of “radical autonomy” and “self-annihilation”.

(2) Thordaddy’s claim “white (S)upremacy” is distinct from “white supremacy”

On a general level, it seems to me that the “definition” above is an attempt by Thordaddy to distance his concept of “white (S)upremacy” from the commonly understood concept of white supremacy, which by its plain meaning promotes the idea that white people should be supreme over (and thus hostile to) other “nonwhite” races. Thordaddy, however, denies this by saying:

This is exactly what I AM NOT TRYING TO DO. The “commonly understood concept” of “white (s)upremacy” is the liberated concept whereas my articulation represents the absolute concept. … [T]he liberated concept has perversely illegitimated the absolute concept in the minds of the degenerately dull mass. And those who participate in this deception are almost certainly hell bound without repentance.

As we have established supra, the “absolute concept” of “white (S)upremacy” is white men who strive towards perfection. Although Thordaddy has consistently resisted defining what he means by perfection, or what one would do to achieve perfection, we can assume that he means something along the lines of “white men trying to be the best they can be morally and in other dimensions.”

This begs the question as to how “absolute white (S)upremacy” has been “perversely illegitimated” by the commonly understood form of white supremacy? For example, I don’t think anyone equates the 2019 white supremacist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand with other white men trying to act morally in other contexts. The two have nothing to do with each other as far as I can tell. But Thordaddy seems to believe the two are connected and that liberals have somehow conspired to make them connected.

(3) Thordaddy’s claim “white (S)upremacy” has nothing to do with other races.

Thordaddy has at times argued that “white (S)upremacy” has nothing to do with other races and that “striving towards objective (P)erfection” is something akin to white people trying to be the best they can be on their own, and not related or in comparison to other races. He becomes very dodgy when asked what “perfection” means in this context nor does he seem to be able to provide concrete examples of what a white man would do whilst in the act of striving towards perfection. For example, he stated the following in the comment section to this blog post:

If I offer every individual who crosses my path my righteousness then I have expressed a desire for (P)erfection. It need not be anymore complicated than this.

If a group of white men share this desire, the horde of orcs call it “white (s)upremacy” (or racist a [sic] Christianity).

In the quoted passage above we see Thordaddy give an example of his “striving towards perfection” as him “offer[ing his] righteousness”. I assume the literally hundreds of comments he has posted on my blog is an example of him “offering” me “his righteousness”. If that is the case, then I am unclear as to what is “perfect” about this. On the contrary, it seems obsessive and maladapted. Moreover, if he really wanted to offer his “righteousness” perfectly, I would think he would be able to communicate it in a manner that could be understood.

Further, I am unsure why he believes his acts of “offering his righteousness” to be unrelated to other races when his “righteousness” is replete with racial epitaphs. His own logic seems to betray him on this point as well as is evidenced in the following quote:

So when I say that my offering of righteousness to whomever crosses my path has nothing to do with other races, this is no different than saying that my offering of righteousness is not contingent upon the existence of other races.

I think what he is saying here is that when he offers his righteousness (i.e., insults other races, or labels those who question this behavior “radically autonomous” or a “self-annihilator”) it has nothing to do with other races because he, himself is white. He seems to believe his “white (S)upremacy” and his hostility to other races are unrelated and coincidental. But I think any reasonable person would find this argument dubious at best. The dubiousness of this argument is further reinforced by the following comment he posted:

I need only point to the single instance of the entire socio-political “spectrum” being against [a] white man desiring “supremacy.” IOW, the dulled, mass desire for “equality” JUST IS animus for white men desiring (P)erfection. [The] “Equality” dogma JUST IS the reaction to white man’s desire for objective (S)upremacy.

Why is desire for (P)erfection racial?

Because desire for “equality” is anti-racial.

Here we see Thordaddy explicitly contradict his own claim that his concept of “white (S)upremacy” is unrelated to other races. He says quite clearly that the “desire for (P)erfection” (i.e., his concept of “white (S)upremacy”) is racial. And that “equality” (i.e., the opposite of a “desire for (P)erfection”) is “anti-racial”. One marvels at the mental gymnastics he must put himself through to make sense of all this.

Ultimately, it is obvious that Thordaddy is racist according to the common understanding of this term but is unwilling to fully own his racism as is evidenced by his attempts to philosophically or “intellectually” justify it. Moreover, the fact that he is incapable of clearly defining what he means by “striving towards (P)erfection” or what one can do to accomplish this state (besides trolling my blog with hundreds of comments) is also telling.

(4) Thordaddy’s Queer Assertion – “Your Race is Your Father”

Thordaddy often makes the claim that a person’s race is his father and that a line of fathers extends back to God the Father. The implication to this assertion is that a white person’s line of fathers is different from a non-white person’s line of fathers. Therefore, because the lines of fathers are different between races, there is no requirement to love a person of a different race. In fact, to love a person of another race is an act of self-annihilation according to Thordaddy. Of course one glaring problem with this theory is that “race” is not so easily defined and certainly blurs around the edges when examined closely. Moreover, a recent study has shown that every living person on Earth today shares a common male ancestor. Accordingly, every living person shares the same, ultimate line of fathers.

What also makes this claim strange is that Thordaddy apparently does not believe women to be a part of a person’s race. He asserts this even though women are required to procreate just as much as men are. This is yet another example of Thordaddy taking an obvious concept, claiming the opposite is true and then justifying it with a line of complicated mumbo jumbo.

 

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