What’s In It For Us? By Paulie (Alex of Wandering Mind is a collaborating author)
Note: This is a humongous post. The authors of this piece don’t mean to upset anyone. We have had an informal collaboration based upon a number of email conversations and comments on each other’s blogs. We’re just trying to figure stuff out. If we’re factually wrong, don’t flame us as bastards, okay? “Policy and Politeness” is our motto here at Paulie World.
Part I: God In Our World? Us In God’s World? And Satan
I figure all of you Paulie & Alex-Haters are just fed about up to the gills by now, so I’m trying to sneak this post in while your bellies are full and your minds are lazy.
I have been pondering “Why Do the Terrorists Hate Us” since September 11. I’ve heard all the arguments, and none of them add up. The US being what we are doesn’t foster terrorism: in fact, it instills a sense of hope in the millions and millions who are immigrants or who aspire to be immigrants. The Islamist terrorists are not the poor and downtrodden, per se. Their leaders are among the elites of their societies, and many are the scions of princes and potentates who swell the ranks of the jihadist movements. No, the terrorists are the products of a corrupt system, and the system is not the American one. The events in Russia, and the capture and intimidation of even the French, weigh decidedly against the position that America has caused terrorism.
But what, then, has inspired such evil in the hearts of these men and women? It is an important question whose answer we must understand in order to fight back effectively. Let’s not forget for a moment that our opponents declared this war upon us a decade ago, and have been attacking us deliberately these many years.
The only answer that satisfies my intellect will surprise you: Evil Walking Among Us.
This essay is written from a position of faith, and concerns the corrupting presence of Satan in the World. My loyal readers know that since Sept 11, I’ve become a happy believer: God, Jesus, miracles, all of it. I’m a happy Catholic who feels the presence of Jesus in my life daily. So there you go: I’m an apologist for Catholicism, and I count among my intellectual sources CS Lewis, Thomas Merton, and the Declaration of Independence. The life of St. Francis of Assisi is my spiritual source. That’s my bias, and it’s important to get that out of the way up front.
There have almost always been anti-religious movements in the world, and I would like to discuss some of them, and relate them to our modern era. If one is a Christian, Jew, or Muslim, one must believe in Satan. It was Satan who tempted Jesus three times in the desert (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4). It is Satan who tempts us now.
Jews and Muslims too, acknowledge Satan. Satan is referred to as the tempter, the deceiver, the slanderer, and the accuser. It is important to note that while all three faiths share a belief in Satan, the Judeo-Christian belief structures are very different.
In this essay I say some things about Islam that may, by an incautious reading, lead one to believe that Islam is a false religion inspired by Satan to overthrow Christianity and Judaism. That is not what I am saying at all, and no disrespect to Islam or any Muslim is intended. I think that it significant and more indicative of Islam that one will find in our communities many decent human beings that are not representative of the twisted, evil purveyors of hatred about whom I write. In fact, they may in fact be the audience to whom I write. There is something wicked in the islam preached by the murderers.
Disrespect to Marxists, Communists, Socialists, and Moral Relativists is intended, as we don’t much like them; disrespect to liberals in general is not. As CS Lewis explains, there is much in Christianity and the message of Jesus that sounds a lot like Socialism and modern liberalism. People who care deeply and passionately about the stead of their fellow humans are often, hard to believe, not conservatives, but liberals. What is different between the Socialists and other collectivists, and not necessarily from liberals, is the removal of God from society, the removal of free will and individual responsibility from the citizens of collectivist societies, and the subsequent coercive and totalitarian nature of Socialism. (Please do a google on Hayek.)
Just suppose there were a God and Satan. Just suppose. By my working model, God is love and Satan is the utter lack of love. God wants humans to be free and happy, and to love one another and Him perfectly. Satan is the utter lack of love and wants humans to never love and to never be free or happy. When we die, we will touch the face of God, and know perfect love. Satan, the Great Deceiver, inspires men to try to live forever, and never know God’s love. (Lord Voldemort’s ambition, of course, is to live forever, and consequently to never know God. Frankenstein’s monster was so vile because it had no soul, no spark of love within it.)
Another way to look at it is as follows: God, in whose image we are created, expects us to make and not to destroy or unmake. Just as He created Nature as a set of harmonious rules, He expects from us the same harmony amongst ourselves. Nature has droughts and floods, yet taken together, they each serve a purpose. Those opposites maintain the delicate balance of life, nourishing and sustaining. So it is with us. We can vary widely in beliefs and ideas, yet together, despite our differences, we are capable of growth and greater understanding. The history of man has shown that our greatest advances have occurred when there is little or no strife among us. The fact that there are differences between us has little to do with our working toward the common end of good.
The biblical tale of the Tower of Babel is a good example of what I mean. When there was one language (perhaps a metaphor for the collective human hubris), man set out to meet God, as an equal. God responds by instilling different languages, to foil communication amongst the builders of the Tower, making its construction impossible.
God did not destroy the Tower. Instead, he actually encouraged differences. This is an important distinction. There are those that talk about ‘universalism,’ as if there is a single point of view only. This is patently false. Mankind’s greatest achievements have been in the free marketplace of ideas and thoughts. It is accumulation, acceptance, and productive application of various and disparate ideas, thoughts, and cultural accomplishment that have resulted in true achievement.
God is an agent, Satan a reagent. God is about positive, Satan the utter absence of positive things. God works to instill love in us, Satan works to undo that love. God creates, Satan imitates, or undermines.
There are two things within us that I feel points irrefutably to the presence of God. First is the feeling of love; and, second, is the feeling of guilt. I was recently married and I must attest that my love for God grew commensurably with my love for my wife. If we were just another animal, we would not feel love and we would not feel guilt or shame. Taking an extra cookie? Feel bad. Doing an act of kindness? Feel good. How can one explain these feelings otherwise? Why are humans above all blessed with all of our gifts? How does one explain it? If evolution is such a deliberate process, why has it appeared to stop? Why are humans the only civilized species? (Dolphin-lovers, think about it, huh?) (I personally believe in Intelligent Design, after a fashion.)
To be more succinct: we humans care about the welfare of our species. We build hospitals in the deliberate attempt to circumvent nature and the notion of the ‘survival of the fittest.’ We contemplate morality and ethics, and believe in them more than basic ‘survival skills.’
It is not for nothing that Maslow and his hierarchy of needs has been discredited; nothing but the presence of love within us accounts for human sacrifice and altruism.
Let’s just assume that God is like a parent who is exceptionally lenient with his children. No bedtime, no curfew, not rules against smoking or drinking or carousing: God has given us free will and hopes that his example and words are enough for us to learn to love. God set up a world in which we humans could best learn how to love. That God allows us to be free, but in being free God allows us to fail. But God loves us, as parents love their children, and God feels the greatest joy when we succeed despite our troubles. As do our parents.
It is also true that God performs miracles– but there are no hard and fast rules for them. Some miracles prove a point, some miracles help individuals, some miracles erase mistakes, and some miracles redeem all humankind of sin.
God, by his own word, has established Laws of Nature and we have seen much tragedy at the hands of nature. That God does not intervene is not a reflection of His indifference. It is a reflection of the balance of Nature, and of the liberty of free will that God gave us. When we suffer as a result of a catastrophic natural event, God suffers with us.
But Satan is also present in the world. Lewis makes an interesting point in Mere Christianity about the existence of Satan. Perhaps, he argues, Satan controls great swaths of the universe, and that Earth and humanity are but outposts in The Great Dark Void. That the presence of evil – the utter lack of love – is greater here than in those places in the Universe that love God. Perhaps Heaven is that place? But on Earth, God is fighting a mortal battle. God has allowed Satan because God knows how important it is for we his children to redeem ourselves, of our own free will. God wants Satan to be redeemed, adn God wants us to learn to love him. He has set up conditions for us to succeed. One of the messages of Jesus is that God loves those who reform or redeem themselves more than he loves those who have always lived righteously, and Jesus uses the parable of the Prodigal Son for this very purpose: a redeemed soul is one that has returned from darkness into light.
Love is personal and individual. An adult loves their spouse and children very differently. A parent loves each of his children, with different expectations from each. Nevertheless, the underlying foundation of that love is very simple. Who you are, as an individual, given the choices we make, determine the nature of the relationship. There is no ‘one size fits all.’ The attempt to make that so, is that ‘common language’ of the Tower of Babel. It is the equivalent of the elimination of poets, each seeing and describing wonder and beauty in their own way through their own eyes.
To say this in other terms: There are no benchmarks for redemption that exceed each individual’s capacity. Redemption for one may be very different for the redemption of another. The common denominator of redemption is, however, the idea that redemption is personal. We cannot instill our benchmarks on others. When we try to do that, we negate the very love of God.
However, Satan exists to undermine God and the individuality he instilled in us, and Satan is very persistent. But remember: since Satan cannot create, the things he makes have within them the seeds of their own demise.
The Bible is both an historical document and a metaphorical document. It was written or collected by unscientific men in unscientific times. It is a document written for the faithful by the faithful. It’s a document that in certain aspects was revealed to humans, so it is Divine, but in other aspects was made by humans, so it may be flawed. It may imperfect because humans are imperfect; even the revelations may have been imperfectly transcribed. Christianity accepts this. There are many web sites out there that explain the unscientific time accounting in the Bible, for example, as consistent with Catholicism.
The Bible has been an object of study by both Jews and Christians, and includes those tracts deemed best or truest. The Gnostics taught a Christianity that was deemed false, and these were discounted by St. Irenaeus in the face of great heresy. There are also many instances in the Bible that explain God’s action and Satan’s reaction, and it is not my intention to investigate any of those.
My intention is to build on the current discussion between Paulie World and the Wandering Mind regarding the role of Satan in world history. Please bear with me, as I am but a poor blogger, and neither theologian nor philosopher do I pretend to be.
One could make a case that for each of God’s major actions Satan has devised a counteraction: for every Eden there is a serpent; for choosing Abraham and his descendants, there is a Diaspora or Egyptian enslavement. For every Commandment there is a graven image. As humans have become more sophisticated, so too have become the examples God has given us, and, so too, has become the destructive influence of Satan. Let’s not forget that God has given us free will, and most events are not directed by God.
Historically, the greatest force against God in the ancient world were the Romans and their Empire. The Romans cared not for God or the gods– they were the first utilitarians – they adopted the gods of others and added them to their metaphorical “godroll.” They tolerated many religion, and each was given equal weight. Which means that the weight of each was diminished as the number of gods increased. The Romans cared for the rule of law without god, and the rights of taxation and the benefits of Empire for the Romans. That the efficiency of Rome created great material gain for the Mediterranean world is unquestionable. That the model of a rule of law and rights of citizenship extended to greater numbers of non-native dwellers in Roman lands contributed ppositively greatly to our own societal base is without question. But in their very ambivalence or indifference to religion lay the seeds of their own demise. Perhaps the Roman movement became preeminent in the Mediterranean world through the impetus of Satan, perhaps not. Their unexpectedly spectacular rise, worldly gain, and corpulent fall are certainly the hallmarks of a deal with the devil.
It is important to contrast this with the Greek Empires. While the Romans cared not about the “godroll,” the Greeks cared deeply about God. They, however, saw God as an impediment to forward motion. They wanted to replace God with the ‘Academy’ and the worship of man and his achievements. They were to do Satan’s work– that man was in no need of God or the redemption He offered. Man, they believed, needed no redemption. Man only needed himself. Whatever man wanted at any given time, whatever man believed at any point in time, was reason enough to justify any behavior.
Even Hellinized Greek government, to some extent forerunners to our democracy, was to deny the right of man as an individual. The first loyalty had to be to the man made Greek ideal. This too, was a denial of God’s dominion. Freedoms weren’t of a spiritual origin. They were to be granted as a result of man’s magnanimity. Satan’s work at it’s best.
One historical event that was directed by God was the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Even the most callous of nonbelievers doesn’t doubt the historical fact of Jesus, and none of them, neither, can explain the mysteries imbedded in his story. In the miracle and divinity of Jesus, God makes his message most clear: Love god with all your heart and being, and love your neighbor as yourself, and you will know the love of God forever. If humans can follow this message, then the world will be filled with love and we will not fear death.
This is abhorrent to Satan, and the Deceiver has had to crank it up a notch to keep pace.
This is a religion above all that the Romans could not tolerate, because the Christians refused to accept the other gods, and continued preaching the message of Christ the King, and God’s Kingdom, and the return of Christ to rule the kingdom. It was common if not universal to the early Christians that Jesus’ return was imminent. Christians were persecuted with torture and crucifixion. St. Peter himself was crucified, and the earliest saints were martyrs. But Christians are more persevering than Satan, who, as he knows not love, neither knows the strength love brings. Christianity flourishes.
There is an important distinction here that must be made. In the Judeo-Christian ethic, martyrdom is a function of belief, not of imposition. Martyrs die for God, they don’t kill for God. It is true that the crusades were predicated on battle but they were the exception, not the rule. We’ll discuss the Crusades in a moment. Christians will fight to be Christians: they do not fight to subjugate others to their beliefs. For a Christian to evangelize, the convert must come to God on his own, via his own personal redemption. The acceptance of God must be willing. It cannot be forced. Attempting to force a belief is akin to being the builders of the Tower of Babel, as was mentioned earlier– a clear example of Satan’s handiwork.
So let’s skip ahead a few centuries. The positive message of Christianity has greatly undermined the irreligious Romans, exposing their weaknesses and hastening their Fall. Christianity soon transforms the barbarians. The message of redemption through Jesus, and of love, is a powerful message and inspires humans as never before. Christianity is recognized as a force of good in the world, and has done much to stabilize society as the Dark Ages begin. Christianity will eventually lead the West back from the darkness, and, as the Irish will tell us, save civilization.
Does Christianity have its flaws? One may well answer that question, “No, Christians themselves are flawed.” We may quibble about this aspect of Christianity, or that aspect of Christianity, but the basic message is good. The history of Christianity, up to the present day, is rife with flawed men with flawed practices.
We may also quibble about this sect of Christianity, or that sect of Christianity, but the basic message of each sect is good. I am a Catholic with only a modest, though growing, understanding of my own Church, and a limited understanding of the various other sects of Christianity. The undisputed message of Christianity has led to the rise of the modern democratic, free society comprised of good men and women exercising liberty. And free men following the path of liberty is surely the path to loving one’s neighbor, and the road to loving God.
Satan must be burning.
How can Satan act to keep the world from becoming completely Christian (Alex would substitute the word ‘Godly’), and the love which God gives us from becoming universal? Satan must develop a movement of renunciation and nullification. What must he do?
Well he does two things, separated by a millennium. Time in our terms means nothing to God or to Satan. God is the ink and all the writing, and the paper, and the hand and pen, of this essay. God is all words at once, and the blank page, too, and the process of cognition and of writing, and everything. We poor humans can only comprehend the process: gather supplies, fill the pen, sketch the outline, write the essay. Satan, who can mimic God, tries to corrupt the process that we humans can only partly comprehend. And, scurrilously, Satan preys upon the strengths of the weakest, and upon the strongest, their weaknesses.
Let’s skip over to Arabia. Allah has revealed himself to Mohammed and sent him forth to evangelize among the heathens in that country. The foundation of Islam is divine, and that the God of Abraham is indeed the Allah of Mohammed. There is much in Islam that is good and pure and loving, and there are many who gain solace from Islam. Let us not forget that Jesus preached in a Jewish, rabbinical society under the aegis of the Roman rule of law: Jesus’s message was formed to fit the local conditions as it were. Mohammed’s message was formed to fit his local conditions, a mostly barbarous, tribal, pagan society. Let’s not quibble, although some of you may not call it quibbling.
There is something in Islam that I feel is corrupted. It’s the firebombing in the name of Allah. It comes from somewhere we can’t logically explain by watching the Muslim woman and her children that spoke at my wedding. It’s either that, or the entire religion is suspect. I don’t believe that the entire religion is suspect for a second. I believe Anwar Sadat was inspired by Allah. There are rifts in Islam. Let’s call those who arduously subscribe to the corrupted portions, for the sake of the argument, the islamists or islamofascists. What is the nature of the corruption?
One can guess. In Islam there are a set of “Satanic Verses.” In the passages, Mohammed proclaims an overflight of geese to mean the blessing of pagan gods. This, of course, is incompatible with the word of Allah, who is the only god. This passage is later corrected by proclaiming that Satan appeared in the guise of Gabriel and fed a lie to Mohammed.
These passages have caused much consternation among Muslims. So much so in fact, that a fundamental tenet of Islam is the attempt to undermine the Old and New Testaments as being corrupted and inauthentic, alleging ‘mysterious’ changes to the original texts. The idea is an attempt to discredit the Old and New Testaments, thus deflecting attention away from what is still an unresolved issue in Islam, ‘The Satanic Verses.’
And that, fellows, is the inherent corrupting influence in Islam. If Satan is alive and well in the world, and I believe very strongly that he is, then what is to say that the darkness of the Islamist and Islamofascist vision, taken from Islam, is not also corrupt? Could it not be possible that other passages in the Koran – the ones calling for conversion by the sword – are perversions imparted to Mohammed and other Muslims by that same Satan?
That of course, would imply a reinterpretation of Islam and a reformation, if you will. Notwithstanding knee jerk reactions by many Mulsims to that idea, this is not unprecedented. The Quran was changed more than once, the last time being in he 13th century.
If one accepts the proposition put forth by Muslims themselves, then one must accept the proposition that there may be other instances of Satanic influence in Islam.
Some of the potential corruptions in Islam may be that the word of Allah as revealed to Mohammed is claimed to be perfect, according to Mohammed. Only the Quran as revealed to Mohammed, and the word and actions of Mohammed (the Hadith) have relevance (and not even all of those are agreed upon. There are lesser hadiths and more important hadiths, all of which are bitterly debated). There is no questioning of Allah, no questioning of Mohammed. Mohammed becomes perfect, and his words and actions take on the weight of law. This aspect has allowed the practitioners of Islam to avoid questioning their own behavior over the last fourteen centuries, no? This lack of introspection into Islam has kept Islam from purging its corrupting passages.
I think the perpetual subjugation of women under Islam is barbaric and directly opposed to the desires of God or Allah. One can not preach boundless love, and qualify it with “but not for them.”
Muslims will tell you that the Quran is the first religious revelation that protects women, and can quote various passages in support of that. This is akin to reading the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. A beautiful document, but negated by the reality of life in the Soviet Union. Religions are viewed by the actions of their adherents. Current Islamic realities speaks volumes of how Islam treats women. Quoting a verse from the Quran or Hadith as justification for action is like picking a Shakespeare quotation out of context: one must look at the entire play, the whole character, in order for the isolated words of that character to have credence.
Further, where do the other “People of the Book” claim that the way to God is murderous conquest? Nowhere. This is the great deceit of Islam. Have any of you checked the status of Jews and Christians under Islam lately? It’s miserable, that’s what.
Indeed, by contrast, most Muslims are treated far better in Christian countries than in their own. There is a long history of mistreatment of non Muslims in Muslim countries. Least among the penalties are the taxes Jews and Christians pay – Jews and Christians who have lived in the same communites for millenia – purely for the importune fate of believing in Yahweh or Jesus.
Lastly, part of the mission of Islam is to make the whole world Islamic. The life of Mohammed is not, like the life of St. Francis, one of renunciation of violence, but the perpetuation and glorification of violence. The Islamic world was converted, as was the Christian world, by giving one’s life rather than convert, but by murdering those who refused to convert. When Islam stopped being a religion of conversion by the sword, Islam contracted and lost all momentum. Yet one can not deny that there is great power for Islam, and that the conversion to Islam by much of the world has been for base or evil reasons. Islam, (per se) is not false, it has some corrupting influences.
Here is a bit of preachifying: You folk who denigrate Christianity as a progenitor of war and strife and inhumanity, have you investigated this vile islamist movement in any meaningful way? Must you always blame the society that created tolerance and liberty? All societies are flawed, since humans are flawed, but the Christian societies have brought more good to the world than any other.
That Islam acknowledges the One God should not be lost. Jewish tradition acknowledges the belief in God as a truth of Islam. I believe and Alex believes, as should we all, that the Islamic belief in the God of Abraham is a vital truth. It is the corruption and reinterpretation of the meaning of God that is at issue.
My belief is that corrupting Islam is the greatest tool Satan has devised to defeat Christianity.
Here is a brief statement about the Crusades, before the critics get their panties in a bunch. The First Crusade was called for by Pope Urban at the end of the eleventh century. The Pope hoped in one small way to send Christian soldiers to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslim invaders who had conquered it. Pre-modern Europe was a mess of wars, petty and large. The Pope hoped also that an external enemy would unify Europe and lessen the strife. It is in this circumstance one hundred years later that would lead to the conversion of St. Francis. There is some good to be said for the attempt, but the best that can be said is that almost from the start the Good Intentions were subverted, and the subsequent Crusades did much to besmirch the name of Christianity for centuries, and inculcate a fear and distrust of Christians by Muslims. The Crusades were bad, not all bad, because of good intentions, but bad. Some would say evil. Some wold say that the Crusades were the worst thing Christianity did. But they were based on good intentions.
Any guess what the Road to Hell is paved with? Yes, Good Intentions.
My belief is that while Satan corrupted the Savonarolas and Torquemadas and Popes and Kings, not to mention common men and women (including those in Salem in order to undermine the religious foundation of the New World colonies), the corruption of Caliphs and Emirs, and Sheikhs and Imams has been far worse. It is clear the from a historical perspective, that the politicization of Islam and the subsequent coopting of the faith by self-appointed rulers has been devastating for Muslims. Oppression sanctioned by religion became the vehicle through which despots kept power. The rule of the mullahs in Iran can not truly be the will of an Allah that loves his people. The suicide bombings that wrack Israel can not be the will of an Allah that is merciful. The dhimmitude is not respect for the worshippers of the God of Abraham. The dancing in joy at the murder of thousands of innocents on September 11th can not be the praise to Allah that Allah intends.
It can’t be, and there must be some explanation for it. This current essay is one small explanation.
But we’re not done. Not by a large measure. Satan is persistent.
Beginning in the 1400s and ending with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th century, Islamic expansion had lost its steam. Christianity has met sword with sword. Islam needs either another impetus, or a weakening of Christianity.
Both were provided. First, the impetus: Wahabbism, the virulent islamicist doctrine that now commands the spirits of those Muslims who are dedicated to destroying Christianity. We won’t cover that here, as Alex has done so over at his blog, and at this one as well
But how did Satan move to undermine Christianity? Perhaps, during the Age of Reason, he inspired a subset of Enlightenment thinkers who then moved to create a logical body of writing which raised humans and their minds above Nature, subsequently eliminating God as the judge of men, spawning an egalitarian rather than libertarian movement, and ultimately leading to the murderous French Revolutionary, Soviet, and Red Chinese regimes. The Enlightenment spawned the relativists and the situational ethicists is explained in this article here, but is a recurring theme in Paulie World, as I hate the communists.
Further, the Enlightenment has to be further explained. For the most part, the Enlightenment was a direct result of the Dark Ages, a time when the natural forward movement of man was actually reversed. When the dam finally broke, Europe broke out in first a Renaissance, then an Age of Reason, where science and scientific discover began to flourish. Leonardo, Newton, Bacon, Galileo, Copernicus, and others lead a movement to discover the laws of nature. This scientific movement was for the most part (heliocentricity was challenged strongly) accepted and encouraged by the Church, and in fact the earliest proponents were sponsored by the Church.
Intermingled in this is the Reformation, which was the first great schism in Christianity in over a thousand years. The Catholic Church had become corrupt in many ways, and men of courage like Martin Luther challenged the apparent temporal focus of Catholicism. While the Reformation spawned religious wars and other strife that was most virulent from 1500 to 1700, and persists to this day in some circumstances, which has led many of the opponents of religion to say that “more have been killed in the name of religion than in all other wars” (blithely forgetting the wars against collectivism (WWI, WWII, the Cold War – and Hot offshoots in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola, and elsewhere)), what the Reformation accomplished was a reaffirmation of faith among all Christians which persists to this day.
The philosophic counterpart to the Age of Reason, which developed the basic societal norms under which we currently live, attempted to explain the role of humans in the universe, the relations between governed and ruled, and so forth. The giants of the Enlightenment included Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Descartes, and others. Marx is an Enlightenment author, though a century removed. The Enlightenment authors were the first political scientists of Modern times. The Enlightenment unleashed an unbridled free for all with one of the primary objectives being to leave as much of the past behind, in any way possible, consequences be damned
Let’s expand this with a modern example of the corrupting influence of Enlightenment thought:
In our country we have an obligation to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, [and] promote the general Welfare.” (From the Declaration of Independecnce) Of this there is no doubt.
These latter times seem infected by the anti-civilizing philosophies of nihilism and utilitarianism. Nihilism is a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths. Utilitarianism is the theory that the aim of action should be the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain or the greatest happiness of the greatest number. (Both definitions are from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.)
The nihilist believes that each individual is the arbiter of what his or her own truth shall be: all things are relative, especially ethics and morals and thus, all things are equal. The utilitarian believes that ethical judgments can be made based upon a balancing scale of individual or societal good: this means that one person’s happiness may be more important than another person’s happiness, and that actions may be taken based upon the “common good,” with no regard for individual sentiment or desire and no regard for the initiative to control one’s own destiny outside the ‘common good.’ In fact, one’s own initiative does not exist outside the common good..
These two philosophical movements rose to great heights in the twentieth century, and both are founded upon the Enlightenment philosopher Descartes’ famous dictum, “Cogito Ergo Sum,” “I think therefore I am.” Each of these movements, as well, is secularist. They must be, since there are no objective truths but what is contained a priori and experientially within each of us.
The product of these two philosophies is sometimes named moral relativism, which can be boiled down to a witty aphorism: “There is nothing that is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” How often have we heard this in our lives?
The difficulty with a relativist viewpoint is that individual responsibility for one’s actions become diluted to the point of absurdity. The relativist point of view eliminates any objective sense of right and wrong. The statement “perception equals reality” is a metaphysician’s trick and has only narrow application: the speeding truck will wipe out the deaf and blind person if he walks before it regardless of his perception of the truck. The truck exists, the truck’s movement exists, and the actions of the person have no impact on the truck In fact, because the truck is larger, it has the ‘right of way, rather than the individual. Similarly, what I determine to be right and bringing happiness has no bearing on what you determine to be right and bringing happiness. If I am in a position to determine your happiness according to my wants and needs, I will do so. If I able to use coercion to force my determination upon you, that is so much the better.
There are so many situations we encounter in our daily lives in which this relativist coercion is displayed. For example, I have written about Terry Schiavo elsewhere in these pages. Terry Schiavo is in the position of having others determine her needs and desires, and her life is at stake because of it. One may state that the Schiavo case is an isolated incident, but that is exactly the point. She is the example that proves the point. Terry’s husband and parents are negotiating, in conjunction with a board of medical ethicists (nihilists and utilitarians all), to determine what is Terry’s quality of life. This quality of life will be weighed upon a scale, and if found in the balance to be lacking, according the beliefs and desires of others, her life will be terminated by allowing her to starve to death. That this societal evil cannot be seen by the many as such is appalling.
That these movements and philosophies are secular must of course be evident: there can be no higher moral authority within such a framework. If the authorities felt there were a higher authority, we would not be in this situation. This becomes problematic from an “establish Justice” perspective. Simply, if right and wrong do not exist external to and “above” mankind, if liberty and its blessings are not endowed by a creator, then it is other men who grant liberty, and governments become the tools for granting liberty. Liberty itself becomes something that is flexible and relative, and consequently it ceases to exist as we currently understand liberty. This is the opposite of what our country stands for.
As we all know, men are fallible and cold, and governments are corrupt and must be watched closely. The primary reason for the Free Speech clause in our constitution was to protect political protest and participation; the primary reason for the Second Amendment was to ensure that an individual could defend himself from governmental coercion. Those individuals who encourage the government to remove our guns must be watched very closely, because by limiting the ability of the people to defend their right to freely express disapproval, they are dramatically increasing the ability of the government to curtail the right of free speech.
If a man is the determiner of another’s happiness, does that other possess liberty? If a government becomes the granter of liberty, does that government truly derive its power from the consent of the governed? If the government grants or denies rights, isn’t it by definition coercing its citizens into subjection, with no true free will expressed by the governed?
Our founders, in a truly revolutionary set of documents and policies, determined that our liberties were ordained by a power higher than mankind, that our liberty came not from princes and kings, but from the creator; that our liberty is inherent in our nature as men, and was inalienable. Our founders created a form of government that limited the role of that government in order to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Our constitution is a document that limits governmental power, and hopes to keep us free by so doing, while at the same time reaffirming our belief in a benevolent God as that government’s ultimate source of power. The Founding Fathers were in truth, liberals of the highest order. It is important to acknowledge this truth. The difference between liberalism then and now is the sense of balance the Founding Fathers’ insisted upon– the balance between the freedom of the individual and the responsibility the individual has to his community. The individual’s freedoms, vigorously defended, in no way supplanted the rights of the community. The Founders, Washington chief among them, believed that society must encourage a citizen’s sense of enlightened self-interest, which meant playing by the rules in order to further one’s station.
At every moment of crisis – our founding, the Civil War, during the World Wars, the Cold War, and the War on Terror – we have reiterated our belief in a greater bestower of liberty than other men, and have reaffirmed out commitment to that liberty.
To be a nihilist and a utilitarian, to be a moral relativist, is to be against the founding documents of our great nation. It is well within proper usage of language to say that such beliefs, if expressed as statements of political will and direction for the country, are un-American and unpatriotic. Of this I think there can be little question, although I am sure one or two of you may raise questions. It is important that these questions be raised. Our founding documents, as are our religious texts, are living entities, forever expanding our horizons while at the same time safeguarding the foundational bedrocks of our beliefs– that all men are created equally and that the rights of no one are superior to another.
To be a nihilist and a utilitarian and to believe in societal justice, you must believe that men are themselves just, and that the decisions of men are incorruptible. History has proven this to be false time and again, most importantly in the very twentieth century that gave rise to the nihilist/utilitarian dogma. The belief that men are just and act altruistically is the cornerstone tenet for collectivist propagandists. One can read Animal Farm in a couple of hours: I don’t need to go into it here. That nihilists and utilitarians are often socialists– all to those who need, all from those who have – also goes without saying. Socialism is a system which eliminates free will and liberty, and as such is an evil system.
That the totalitarian states of the twentieth century – the bloodiest states in history – were utilitarian and secular in an inescapable fact. That the employers of coercive, murderous authority couched their works in the utilitarian dogma of “the greatest good” is no surprise. That these regimes – the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, all murderers of countless millions of their citizens – were also anti-religion is also an inescapable fact of history. These states could not and cannot claim legitimacy if there were no god.
Another inescapable truth is that the corrupted aspects of Islam present Godlessness (secular), wearing the attire of religion. Those same atrocities are being committed and are being openly proposed in the name of God. In reality of course, God could not and would not condone such behavior in His name.
“Secular nations have one thing in common — mass graves, and the reason is that they believe the government is the final arbiter of right and wrong and good and evil.”
Is there more proof needed for the existence of Evil and Evil’s Advocate?
If moral authority comes from men, then men determine good and evil. If moral authority comes from men, then good and evil are relative terms, and can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. And that will not only lead us inexorably down the road to perdition, but will inevitably cause our loss of liberty. We will have created a society which, for some, values murder as a greater good.
Some of the issues that concern us today – abortion, euthanasia, medical ethics, public expressions of god, affirmative action, not to mention Islamofascist terrorism and genocide – have arisen because people have followed the nihilist, utilitarian, moral relativist dogma. The Terry Schiavo example is just one small case. In my defense of the Florida Legislature, I stated in very clear terms that we have within us at all times the capacity for hope and happiness, and that it is impossible for one human to determine what makes another human happy. It is nearly impossible for one human to determine what makes himself or herself happy from one moment to the next.
However, there are those who presume to know, and have been granted coercive power make such a determination, and to act upon such a determination. Nowhere has this been more notable than in the judiciary, who, from a perspective of weighing greater good, has created rights that were not written into our founding documents. At no time have the public voted to allow abortions on demand, to allow forced busing, to create affirmative action, to allow doctors to kill their patients, or to allow men to determine other men’s happiness with the full weight of coercive government power. This is not liberty; it is tyranny.
These collectivist states were inherently evil; and their utilitarian/nihilistic roots inevitably led to coercion and tyranny, and that these roots were explicitly chosen because of the ease at which they could be manipulated; that the underlying belief in the justness and altruism of men is a fallacy; and that to build a philosophical, ethical, and governmental structure upon such a chimera is to lie to oneself and imperil the life and liberty of all. Utopia, after all, is a word in Greek that means “no place.” It was not for nothing that Plato coined the term, and it is no coincidence that all of history’s purportedly “utopian” societies were in fact totalitarian.
The islamist states are no less totalitarian, and no less evil.
I choose to believe “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
I believe that since liberty is inherent in our creation, it is above the rule of men. I believe that governments can only limit liberty, and that they can only abuse power. No government on earth can grant us liberty, as it is part of our nature and proof that our creator loves us.
And the moral relativists who undermine our god-given liberty in the name of the greater good are the most dangerous because, while they excise God from their internal compass, they also excise Evil. Man, “Thinking, Therefore Being,” is his own judge of character and behavior. This is the essence of evil. The relativist can convince himself that the most heinous crime is honorable. That is the essence of evil. The relativist can convince himself that the just act for base reasons, and then act themselves to counter the just. This, too, is the essence of evil. And the purveyor of Evil is Satan.
And that concludes Part I.
Part II: Satan, the Relativists, Islamofascism, and Us.
Topic Sentence: Our enemies have declared a holy war upon us, let us then prepare to fight a war with them.
The undermining through moral equivalence of our society by Satan allows men to believe that suicide bombing a McDonald’s is the same as firing rockets at a terrorist haven; that a wall to keep bombers out is equivalent to minefields keeping enslaved people from liberty; that because we love freedom and have embraced a system that allows us many great blessings that we have earned through our own hard work, that we are somehow to blame for the murders that terrorists commit against us. Is this belief against all empirical evidence that nothing is inherently good or bad – the denial of both God and Satan – the ultimate proof for Satan’s corruption of the weakest among us?
How moral relativism undermines the war on terrorism;
What are the weapons we need to defeat Satan’s Army?;
And what is our plan for regaining moral conviction?
Those of you have made it this far, let me beg you: we need your help! Please comment freely with links and your opinions. We’re just poor bloggers trying to get by.
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