Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe

Mavor Moore, Nero Wolfe
Don Francks, Archie Goodwin
August Schellenberg, Dazy Perrit 
Cec Linder, Inspector Cramer 
Jayne Eastwood, Angelina Murphy aka Violette Perrit
Frank Perry, Fritz
Alfie Scopp, Saul

I can't recognize the rest of the players by voice and the recording cuts off before the credits are given.

I've posted a lot of this series produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the 1980s adapted and directed by Ron Hartman, I don't think this is one of those I posted before.  This series was about the only radio version of Nero Wolfe that stuck close to the novels.  I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't inspire the justly famous series starring the treat Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton and a great cast of actors - a thesaurus of great acting.  I don't know if they got the idea from the radio version but they also used some fine actors* to play different roles in the series.   

* Lally Cadeau, Jack Creely, Neil Munro, Eric Peterson, Fiona Reid, Jayne Eastwood, August Schellenberg, Maria Loma, Jackie Burroughs, Brian George, Arch McDonnell, Barbara Hamilton, Terry Tweed, Lynne Griffin, Sandy Webster, Martha Gibson, Charmion King, Budd Knapp, Ailine Seaton, Mary Peery, Patricia Hamilton, Meana E. Meana, Helen Hughs, Brent Carver 

Why I Am Not Expecting We've Bottomed Out Yet

The crisis that Trump brought American democracy to in his monumentally irresponsible declaration of an "emergency" which, in his declaration he declared  he "didn't have to do this" and from which he fled the White House to his golf course in Florida is only a formalization of the crisis it has, in fact, been in since Republicans took the entire government.  His declaration of "emergency" is a response to Democrats in the House of Representatives refusing to give him the wall that he promised the idiots who voted for him at the suggestion of Roger Stone.   The Republicans in the House and Senate gave Trump virtual dictatorial power for the first two years of his regime, though they and he ignored his wall project for that entire time.   It is only now that he is facing Democratic refusal to go along with his every whim and at the taunting of fascists in the media that he is pushing the issue and, in the process, well might be demolishing the last pretense that, under Republicans, the United States is a democracy or even a nation governed by laws and not TV created, billionaire financed despots.

The crisis that this is merely the last stage rot in has been developing for more than half a century, beginning with the Supreme Court allowing the corporate media the ability to lie the country into a state of deluded, paranoid, racist dementia in which an ignorant and fearful people will not be able to govern themselves.   In doing that, in giving the civil liberties industry - financed by the media - its wish of no responsibility to The People and their right to accurate information adequate to produce government of, by and for The People, the secular liberalism of the Warren Court stupidly and irresponsibly handed the oligarchs the tool they needed to destroy democracy.  It took them fifty years to do it but they have corrupted the minds of enough Americans that it has produced an American style Cesar as decadent as some of the later Roman dictators in an America which was made ready for one by Hollywood and the advertising industry.   And America's liberals got played for saps the entire time and compared to them the American left did everything they could to make things worse. 

The corruption of the American system went back farther than that, though, to its founding when the slave owners got together with Northern mercantile interests to write a Constitution which would have exactly those corrupting features, the electoral college and its exacerbation of regional resentment and regional interest and the anti-democratically structured Senate which would always insure that the least democratic of the elected parts of the government would be a useful tool of oligarchs and those who benefited from inequality. 

As the corrupt history of the Supreme Court proves, it, selected by a combination of the President and the anti-democratically structured Senate, has been an even more useful tool of corruption and prevention of government of, by and for The People, its history of rulings so often fruit poisoned by that corruption.  The whole thing could have been expected to rot, it was set up in corruption and it has certainly not, even in its relatively enlightened periods, such as the Warren Court, been a font of wisdom.  Its few good decisions are more than made up for by its corrupt ones and those, like the Sullivan Decision, which have turned out to be disastrously foolish. 

I am not optimistic because the worship of that corrupt system and the romantic falsification of its history is a delusion useful to its maintenance.  If Trump isn't the final stage in its corruption, he will certainly not be the last candidate to be that one.  In my lifetime I have seen a Nixon, a Reagan, a Bush I, a Bush II and now a Trump, roadmarks on that road to hell. It's been getting worse, not better.  Unless the corruption in our Constitution and the Supreme Court law which has flowed from it are basically altered, the next one will be all the worse.  Earl Warren is long dead, Roberts is there now and he'll soon have a sixth vote for Federalist fascism.  In the meantime, the left is pushing Bernie Sanders and already making noise about not supporting this or that Democrat in the Susan Sarandon fashion.  Good Lord, do I ever hate Hollywood lefties.

Friday, February 15, 2019

God is thus seen more or less as the guarantor of the rationality of human reason

I have decided to give the next section of Hans Kung's argument about the benefits that come with choosing to believe in God and the deficiencies of the choice to refuse to believe in God.  I think what Kung said is a good answer to the demand for a proof of God's existence because it demonstrates that atheism undermines any confidence anyone should have in the very reality such a proof would need to take for granted.  I don't expect most of the atheists one encounters, the kinds who demand such proofs will begin to understand the issues and, so arguments, they're a pretty stupid bunch and aren't interested in intellectual engagement.  That being one of the characteristics of such atheism is one of the surprises of my engagement with atheism. 

One of Kung's greatest contributions is in how he has taken not only a comprehensive view of the rational arguments in relation to choosing to believe in God into his discourse - especially in relation to having a trust in reason and even basic human perception of reality -  it is especially in his inclusion of the experience of choosing to believe in God in all of its continued questioning and testing.  The last part of this section is a virtuoso performance in that regard.

Belief in God rationally justified

After all this, it is obvious that there can be no question of a stalemate, of remaining undecided between belief in God and atheism.  It is clear, then, that man is not indifferent in regard to the choice between atheism and belief in God.  He is handicapped from the start.  Essentially he would like to understand the world and himself, to respond to the uncertainty of reality, to perceive the condition for the possibility of uncertain reality, he would like to know of a primary ground, a deepest support and an ultimate goal of reality;  he would like to know the primal source, primal meaning and primal value.  Here are the roots of religion as a primordial fact. 

Yet here, too, man remains free - within limits.  He can say "No."  He can adopt a skeptical attitude and ignore or even stifle any dawning confidence in an ultimate ground, support or goal;  he can, perhaps utterly honestly and truthfully, declare his inability to know (agnosticism with a tendency to atheism) or he can assert a complete hollowness, a groundlessness and aimlessness of the reality that is uncertain anyway (atheism with a tendency to nihilism).  

As with fundamental trust, so, too, here, without preparedness there is no understanding, without open-mindedness no reception.   And even if I affirm God, denial of him remains a continual temptation. 

But like fundamental trust, so, too, trust in God is by no means irrational.  If I do not close my mind to reality but remain open to it, if I do not try to get away from the very last and very first ground, support and goal of reality, but dare to apply myself and give myself up to it, then I know, not indeed before, not yet only afterward, but by the very fact of doing this, that I am doing the right thing, and even what is absolutely the most reasonable thing.  For what cannot be proved in advance I experience in the accomplishment, in the very act of acknowledging what I perceive.  Reality can manifest itself in its proper depth;  its primary ground, deepest support, ultimate goal, its primal source, primal meaning, primal value, are laid open to me as soon as I lay myself open.  At the same time, in all the uncertainty, I experience a radical reasonableness of my own reason.  Fundamental trust in reason is therefore not irrational.  It is rationally justified.  The last and first reality,  God is thus seen more or less as the guarantor of the rationality of human reason. 

If man, by believing in God, is doing what is absolutely the most reasonable thing, what kind of rationality is involved here?  This rationality is similar to that of fundamental trust. 

-  It is not an outward rationality, which could not produce an assured security.  God's existence is not first proved or demonstrated by reason and then believed, thus guaranteeing the rationality of belief in God.  There is not first a rational knowledge and then confident acknowledgement of God.  The hidden reality of God is not forced on reason.

-  It is an inward rationality,  which can offer a fundamental certainty.  In the accomplishment, by the "practice," of boldly trusting in God's reality, despite all temptations to doubt, man experiences the reasonableness of his trust, based on it as on an ultimate identity, meaningfulness and value of reality, on its primal ground, primal meaning, primal value. 

Has not the connection between fundamental trust and belief in God now become obvious?   From the material standpoint, fundamental trust is related to reality as such (and to my own existence), while trust in God is related to the primal ground, primal support, and primal goal of reality.   Nevertheless, from the formal standpoint, fundamental trust and trust in God display an analogous structure that has its roots in the material connection (despite all the differences) of fundamental trust and trust in God.  For, like fundamental trust, belief in God, too is

- a matter not only of human reason but of the whole concrete, living man, with mind and body, reason and instinct, in his quite particular historical situation, in his dependence on traditions, authorities, habits of thought, scales of values, with his interests and in his social involvement.  Man cannot talk of this "matter" and at the same time keep out of the "matter";

- therefore superrational:  as there is no logically conclusive proof for the reality of reality, neither is there one for the reality of God.  The proof of God is no more logically conclusive than is love.  The relationship to 
God is one of trust;

- but not irrational: there is a reflection on the reality of God emerging from human experience and calling for man's free decision.  Belief in God can be justified in the face of a rational critique.  It has a basis in the experience of uncertain reality itself, which raises the first and last questions about the condition of its possibility;

- not, then, a blind decision, devoid of reality, but one that is grounded in the related to reality and rationally justified in concrete life.  Its relevance to both existential needs and social conditions becomes apparent from the reality of the world and of man;

- realized in a concrete relationship with our fellow men;  without the experience of being accepted by men, it seems difficult to experience acceptance by God;

- not grasped once and for all, but constantly to be freshly realized:  belief in God is not secured against atheism unassailably and immune from crises by rational arguments.  Belief in God is continually threatened and  - under pressure of doubts - must constantly be realized, upheld, lived, regained in a new decision:  even in regard to God himself, man remains an insoluble conflict between trust and mistrust, belief and unbelief.  But throughout all doubts and precisely in this way, the affirmation of God is proved in fidelity to the decision once made, it becomes a tried and tested belief in God.

First Draft Of What?

If the Supreme Court backs Trump's power grab that infamous act should be used as the last straw to make radical change on the corrupt, reactionary, anti-democratic club, the least democratic branch of the government. 

It's tempting to say that even the degenerate, degraded Roberts court won't allow Trump, the worst and least legitimate holder of the presidency in our history to suspend the most basic of Constitutional provisions but anyone who believes they or Republican tools on the lower courts will certainly stop this is a sucker.  I wouldn't give you even odds on them doing that and that there is some question that they might back Trump's self-crowning with despotic power is all that anyone needs to know as to why the Court does have to be drastically changed.  

I have read and heard so many speculations as to how this ends that I don't know who to believe.  The one I heard on Lawrence O'Donnell of Nancy Pelosi passing a bill prohibiting Trump from spending any money which the Republican-fascists in charge of the Senate would have to take up is the most optimistic, though depending on even any Republicans to do the right thing is foolish.   I'm anxious to at least know that the House is doing their part of that as soon as possible.  If this is the golf green Trump's regime ends on, I'm prepared to be hopeful but I wouldn't bet on it.  

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Rot Of Carrion Under The Perfumed And Polished Surface

I did something I don't usually do, look at Twitter threads, I wanted to read the scathing, punishing response of people to the disgusting display of support for the convicted-pardoned war-criminal, genocidalist and liar, Elliott Abrams by such scum of the DC- foreign relations-stink tank-Kennedy School types like Kelly Magsamen, Max Boot, Jay Nordlinger, Dave Harden, Nicholas Burns . . . Defending him against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar inconveniently telling the truth to him the other day.   Seeing that crowd of entitled assholes getting it was satisfying but nowhere near as satisfying as it would have been to see Elliott Abrams imprisoned for his crimes.  

The fact is that that crowd of inbred, mostly Ivy-Ivy-Equivalent scum is seldom far from some crime against people they consider to not matter, that's a bi-partisan fact.   That some of Abram's defenders had been members of the Obama administration doesn't elevate them or their good buddy and mentor, it lowers Obama's status.   Congresswoman Omar's stock went way up with me for her calling him out to his face during a Congressional hearing, I hope it's not the last time the piece of shit in custom tailored suits is made to squirm.  I hope someday to see him doing it in a jumpsuit with leg irons on.  His buddies are scum, too, not only the entirely predictable ones like Max Boot and Jay Nordlinger, the Democrats as well are. 

Valentines for Billionaires

I especially liked them showing the "journalists" crawling after the billios like the grasping, fawning, insincere whores they are.   And by "whores" I mean journalists, not people forced into prostitution by our evil economic system.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

All this is true, of course, only if atheism is quite serious and not an intellectual pose, snobbish caprice or thoughtless superficiality

The next section of Hans Kung's arguments comparing the consequences of which choice is made, to believe or not to believe in God would probably be considered the most controversial yet.  If I felt any hesitancy in posting it it isn't because I find it unconvincing,  I think it's true and not only true for the choice for atheism, it is true in at least a similar way for the banal pose of agnosticism.

Belief in God is ultimately justified fundamental trust 

But does it not follow from the possibility of affirming or denying God that the choice is a matter of indifference?  By no means. 

-  Denial of God implies an ultimately unjustified fundamental trust in reality.  Atheism cannot suggest any condition for the possibility of uncertain reality.  If someone denies God, he does not know why he ultimately trusts in reality.

This means that atheism is nourished, if not by a nihilistic fundamental mistrust, then at any rate by an ultimately unjustified fundamental trust.  By denying God, man decides against a primary ground, deepest support, an ultimate goal of reality.  In atheism the assent to reality turns out to be ultimately unjustified:  a free wheeling, nowhere-anchored, and therefore paradoxical fundamental trust.  In nihilism, on account of its radical fundamental mistrust, an assent to reality is completely impossible.  Atheism cannot suggest any condition for the possibility of uncertain reality.  For this reason it lacks not perhaps all rationality but certainly a radical rationality, which lack, of course, it often disguises by a rationalistic but essentially irrational trust in human reason. 

No, it is not a matter of indifference whether we affirm or deny God.  The price paid by atheism for its denial is obvious.  It is exposed by an ultimate groundlessness, unsupportedness, aimlessness, to the danger of the possible disunion, meaninglessness, worthlessness, hollowness of reality as a whole.  When he becomes aware of this, the atheist is exposed also quite personally to the danger of an ultimate abandonment, menace and decay, resulting in doubt, fear, even despair.  All this is true, of course, only if atheism is quite serious and not an intellectual pose, snobbish caprice or thoughtless superficiality. 

For the atheist, there is no answer to those ultimate and yet immediate, perennial questions of human life, which are not to be suppressed by being prohibited questions [this was written at the height of that dismissive game of logical positivism] that arise not merely in marginal situations but in the very midst of personal and social life.  To return once more to Kant's questions:  What can we know?  Why is there anything at all?   Why not nothing?  Where does man come from and where does he go to?  Why is the world as it is?  What is the ultimate ground and meaning of all reality?

What ought we to do?  Why do what we do?  Why and to whom are we ultimately responsible?  What deserves forthright contempt and what love?  What is the point of loyalty and friendship,  but also what is the point of suffering and sin?  What is really decisive for man?  

What may we hope?  Why are we on earth?  What is the meaning of the whole?  Is there something that sustains us in all the hollowness, which never permits us to despair?  Is there something stable in all change, something unconditioned in all that is conditioned?  Is there an absolute in the relativity experienced everywhere?  What is left for us:  death, which makes everything pointless at the end?  What will give us courage for life and what courage for death?

These are really questions in which we are wholly involved.  They are questions not only for the dying but for the living.  They are not only for weaklings and uniformed people but precisely for the informed and committed.  They are not excuses for avoiding action but incentives to action.  They are all questions that atheism, in the last resort, leaves unanswered.  

Now for the other thesis:

-  Affirmation of God implies an ultimately justified fundamental trust in reality.  As radial fundamental trust, belief in God can suggest the condition of the possibility of uncertain reality.  If someone affirms God, he knows why he can trust reality.

Belief in God is nourished by an ultimately justified fundamental trust.  In affirming God, I decided confidently for a primary ground, deepest support, an ultimate goal of reality.  In belief in God, my assent to reality turns out to be ultimately justified and consistent:  a fundamental trust anchored in the ultimate depth, in the cause of causes, and directed to the goal of goals.  My trust in God as genuine, radical, fundamental trust can therefore suggest the condition for the possibility of uncertain reality.  In this sense, unlike atheism, it displays a radical rationality, which, however, must not simply be confused with rationalism. 

No, there is no stalemate between belief in God and atheism..  The price received by belief in God for its assent is obvious.  Since I confidently decide for a primal ground instead of groundlessness, for a primal support instead of unsupportedness, for a primal goal instead of aimlessness, I can now with good reason perceive in all disunion a unity, in all worthlessness a value, in all meainglessness a meaning of the reality of the world and man.  And in all the uncertainty and insecurity, abandonment and exposure, menace, decay and finiteness even of my own existence, in the light of the ultimate primal source, primal meaning and primal value, I am granted -given- a radical certainty, assurance and stability.  This is not simply an abstract security, in isolation from my fellow men, but always involves a concrete reference to the human "thou."  How otherwise is the younger person in particular to learn what it means to be accepted by God, if he is not accepted by any single human being?

In this way, those ultimate and immediate questions of man receive at least a fundamental answer with which we can life:  an answer from the very last and very first reality of God.  And to measure the whole import of the answer, it would be helpful to read over again the section:  What would be different if . . . "

In this secttion, the listing of the consequences of atheism are seen all through the literature of serious atheism though not in the more mindless panglossian propaganda based in ignorance and superficiality.  Nihilism, claims of meaninglessness, the ultimate meaninglessness of morality, . . . I find it in everything from the dismal poetry of A.E. Housman to the banality of absurdist theater, the nihilism of empty (and violent) sensationalism, the self-indulgent and self-pittying abyss of anti-intellectualism and addiction the attraction to the gangster governmental systems of fascism, Nazism Marxism, the empty stupidity of anarchism and so many other features of modernism.  I find it in the mindlessness of meditation as escape and, yes, I'll go there, the nihilistic forms of Buddhism that are so popular with Western atheists - even if they have remade it in their own image instead of that of the Buddha.

As of now I may or may not give you the next section of the book, I'd like to give it but I'm guessing that this is becoming a long argument, especially as I think the demand for "proof" that motivated me to give this argument is of the kind warned of in the sentence I used as a title for this.  This argument is certainly not for someone who is content with superficiality, it's meant for someone who has the courage to make a choice consistent with their professed devotion to reality and life.  I find Kung's argument not a proof but as a series of the best reasons to make that choice as I've ever seen.  It makes things like the famous "proofs" of God seem kind of beside the point, those for atheism utterly trivial.

Now, aren't you glad you tried to stick it to me on the matter of "proof"?

Before Going On

Before going on with Hans Kung's examination of the consequences of choosing to believe in God or to choose to not believe in God, I'll remind you that this started for me in the perennial demand that I provide a "proof" that God exists, something I've never claimed to have and, in fact, have never claimed is a possibility.   What I have given is Hans Kung's elucidation of what a choice to believe in God can give you in terms of an acceptance of and committed engagement with reality.   I didn't intend for this to turn into a series but it seems to have.  Here are the posts in order.

Post 1

Post 2

Post 3

Post 4

I did warn at the beginning that Kung's argument wasn't of the cut and dried type, that it was quite long.  Being a scholar in the German language tradition, he goes for as close to a comprehensive view as possible.   And it's set in a far larger argument, he starts with a comprehensive account of modernism starting with Descartes and the scientific revolution and going step by step of that ending with pretty much today, or, rather, when he wrote the book.  The part of the argument I'm giving you starts after more than five-hundred fifty pages of tightly written exposition and argument.  It goes on for quite a while after.  I will give you the next part of the argument later but will have to break off at some point.  The book is Does God Exist? by Hans Kung translated into English by Edward Quinn.  As qualified an author as Elizabeth Johnson says that it's about the best book dealing with atheism from the viewpoint of belief as there is. 

As I pointed out at the start of this, atheists who demand proofs of God never accept any burden of proof for their preferred things which, accepted, can provide a far more limited and contingent benefit than the belief in God does, as rather brilliantly demonstrated by Kung, including the possibility of so many of those contingent benefits so beloved of atheists being held to have significance and meaning and value, even as atheism undermines those things.  Atheists, of course, don't really believe their nihilistic declarations forced by the consequences of their materialism and atheism and - with the most supreme of ironies - scientism.  On the basis of materialism, alone, the ultimate significance and even the possibility of knowing the truth of science is impeached and any confidence expressed in it is held at peril of, at any time, the consequences that fall from materialism, forcing a crisis in belief in its significance and even Truth. 

Rupert Sheldrake often quotes someone whose name escapes me just now,  who says in effect that the modern materialist position is, essentially, give me one free miracle (the big bang) and I'll explain the whole of reality mechanically.  Only that's not the last miracle that the conventional materialist-atheist demands because they demand that things their own ideology impeaches must be held to be an exception for their entire framing requires its validity even as it also insists on the impossibility or, at least, the vanishing improbability of that validity.   Anyone who believes in God has no problem with that, as Kung so brilliantly reasons out at several points in his arguments.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A decision that must of course be faced on a deeper level than the decision for or against reality

I have decided to post the next part of Hans Kung's argument of persuasion as to why it is even more than a merely rational choice to believe in God, belief in God makes the matter of making rational choices make sense, have significance and gives a reason for someone to believe that their rational choice is right and true.  It contains a radical contention that that choice to believe is far more compelling and significant a choice than even the most seemingly universally acknowledged truths of simple arithmetic.  I won't mention the story of how many pages it took Whitehead and Russell to logically prove that 1+1=2, though it's fun it's also trivial.

What Kung points out in these arguments is that the consequences of the choice made are the farthest things from trivial, they are consequential not only intellectually but psychologically and practically, as well.  Though those will impinge on the thinking and thoughtful more than those who operate on the level of blog-thread, comment-tread invective and fashion and social bonding.  I'll have more about this on the other end of the storm.

God - a matter of trust

The alternatives have become clear.  Both affirmation and denial of God are possible. Are we not therefore faced with a stalemate, with indecision? 

It is just at this point that we find the knot which is decisive for the solution of the question of the existence of God, a solution we have prepared in extensive discussions on the natural theology of Vatican I, on the dialectical theology of Barth and Bultmann and Kant's theology of moral postulates.  We can briefly recapitulate here:

-  If God is, he is the answer to the radical uncertainty of reality.

-  The fact that God is, can be assumed not strictly in virtue of a proof or indication of pure reason (natural theology), not unconditionally in virtue of a moral postulate of practical reason (Kant), not exclusively in virtue of the biblical testimony (dialectical theology),  but only in a confidence rooted in reality itself.

Thus trusting commitment to an ultimate ground, support and meaning of reality 

- and not only the commitment to the Christian God  - is itself rightly designated in general usage as "belief" in God, as "faith in God." 

Corresponding to "fundamental trust," we might also speak in a general way of "trust in God," if this term were not too theologically and emotionally charged.  In order not to permit the term to fall completely out of use of the analogy between "fundamental trust" and "trust in God."  At the same time, it is obviously a question of genuine belief, albeit in a wide sense, in as much as such a belief must not necessarily be prompted by the Christian proclamation but is possible also for non-Christians (Jews, Muslims, Hindus and so on).  People who profess such a belief - whether Christians or non-Christians - are rightly described as believers in God."  On the other hand, atheism in so far as it is a refusal to trust in God is, again, quite rightly described in general usage as "unbelief."

It has been shown therefore that man cannot evade a free, although not arbitrary, decision, not only in regard to reality as such but also in regard to a primal ground, primal support, and primal goal of reality.  Since reality and its primal ground, primal support and primal goal are not imposed on us with conclusive evidence, there remains scope for man's freedom.  Man must decide without intellectual constraint but also without rational proof.  Both atheism and belief in God are therefore ventures, they are also risks.  The critique of the proofs of God itself shows that belief in God has the character of a decision and - conversely - a decision for God that has the character of belief. 

The question of God therefore involves a decision that must of course be faced on a deeper level than the decision - necessary in view of nihilism - for or against reality as such.  As soon as the individual becomes aware of this ultimate depth and the question arises, the decision becomes unavoidable.  As with fundamental trust, so, too, with the question of God, not to choose is in fact a choice; the person has chosen not to choose.  To abstain from voting in a vote of confidence in regard to the question of God means a refusal of confidence, a vote of mistrust. If at this point a person does not -at least factually - affirm God, he denies him. 

Yet unfortunately the "depth" (or "height") of a truth and the certainty with which it is accepted by man are in inverse ratio.  The more banal the truth ("truism," "platitude") the greater the certainty.  The more significant the truth (for instance aesthetic, moral and religious truth by comparison with arithmetical) the slighter the certainty.  For the "deeper" the truth is for me, the more must I lay myself open to it, inwardly prepare myself, attune myself to it intellectually, voluntarily, emotionally, in order to reach that genuine "certainty" which is somewhat different from assured "security."  A deep truth for me outwardly uncertain, menaced by doubts, which presupposes a generous commitment on my part, can possess much more cognitive value than a certain or even "absolutely certain" - banal truth (2+2=4).

As anyone with a functioning mind can see, Kung's arguments here are at such a higher level than those of, for example, Richard Dawkins, that to choose to be swayed by Dawkins can only be done on the basis of ignorance more substantial and sophisticated arguments or on an emotional basis too shallow to be touched by argument.  You don't have to accept them but if you are prepared to think them through and have the emotional maturity to accept that their advantaging of a view that reality is real makes accepting the belief in God not only legitimate but highly intellectually principled.

Yeah, That Kind Of Mail

Indeed, perhaps chaos, absurdity, illusion, appearance, and not being but nonbeing, are the last word - this is the claim of atheism with a tendency to nihilism.

One of the accusations against religion is that it's some kind of a scheme by the powerful to make the masses passive in their exploitation.  That, of course, is at odds with the idea that religion makes people violent and dangerous, that religious people are always killing each other over religion.   There is no lie that atheists tell about religion that they don't tell another lie that is logically inconsistent with the first one - in the game of atheist polemic against religion it doesn't matter as long as, in the end, atheism can be held to be the winner.  It's not that different from the dynamics of Trumpian fascism in that.

The opposite is the actual case, the Jewish law is probably the most radical of leveling economic programs ever expressed in terms of legal obligation and the Gospel and Epistles are a universal extension of that. 

The fact is that every successful struggle for rights that has succeeded in the United States has been far more characterized by religious content than materialistic-scientistic and especially atheistic content.  I've given the list often enough, the great abolitionist struggle, from the 18th, arguably from the 17th century, through the 19th century was, explicitly, made in claims from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, not based in the great sciency heroes of the "enlightenment".  It would be hard to do that since the major figures of the American enlightenment were, just about to the last one, slave owners, some of them enthusiastic slaveowners who had distorted the United States Constitution to support slavery.  The same is true of the struggle for the emancipation of Women, the great and ongoing effort for universal suffrage, the rights of the disabled, even the rights of LGBTQetc. has succeeded when it was inclusive of those whose devotion to those has been based in religion.

Go look at that quote from what I posted this morning and ask yourself, which thing do you suppose would be more productive of a real struggle, the kind of struggle that costs you, on behalf of other people, the denial of either the reality of reality or its ultimate significance or the religious alternative to that order instead of chaos, meaning instead of absurdity, truth instead of illusion, substance instead of appearance, and being instead of nonbeing, the idea that the rights and dignity of other people not only had significance but that you had a real, consequential moral obligation to struggle for the rights and dignity of others and for yourself?   Nihilism produces inertia and inertia is no help to the effort to change the status quo.  Nihilism is the best friend of oligarchic fascism, it discourages resistance.  Especially resistance that risks the life of those who resist. 

Note:  We're predicted to have a major winter storm start any time now, here.  It's always possible I'll be off line.  If so then I'll post more of this when the electricity comes back on and the internet lines are up.

The affirmation of God also rests, in the last resort, on a decision, which, again, is connected with the fundamental decision for reality as a whole.

A Rabbi, in arguing for Judaism as opposed to Buddhism once made the assertion "reality is real," a statement which had a profound effect on me, among other things it made me realize that what most of us would take as an absurdly obvious truism is not that, it is something which is accepted as a matter of choice, a choice that other traditions encourage rejection of on the basis of something that appears in this passage, something I've underlined.   I think I read that affirmation of the reality of reality before I had the disagreement with some Buddhists about the reality of justice and injustice, I think it must have prepared me for arguing for the reality of justice against its denial, something else which has had a profound effect on me.

Here is the next section of Hans Kung's argument for accepting God's existence.  It contains the truth that "proof" in such matters is not attainable nor is proof necessarily helpful, I think what is illusory is the idea that we operate in a world in which things are proven.  Almost everything which we accept, from the most mundane of situations in which we must make decisions about something to the most profound, we operate on something other than a mastered proof.   You have to be an especially stupid and pretentious atheist to pretend you operate on a proof-only basis, even most atheists aren't that stupid.

God as reality

If we are not to draw hasty conclusions, we must proceed step by step.  What are the alternatives?   If - as in the question of fundamental trust - the positions are set out antithetically, that does not mean that we are dividing human beings into good ("God fearers") and bad ("godless") or that we want to pass moral judgments on the decision for or against God.  However obvious the ethical aspects of the question of God may be, all the more must the alternative be first brought out in a fundamental confrontation. 

Both denial and affirmation of God are possible 

The discussion with Feuerbach,  Marx,  Freud and Nietzsche has shown that there is one thing that can never be disputed in regard to atheism:

-  It is possible to deny God.  Atheism cannot be eliminated rationally.  It is irrefutable. 

Why?  It is the experience of the radical uncertainty of any sort of reality which over and over again provides atheism with sufficient excuse to assert and maintain the assertion that reality has no primal ground, primal support, primal goal at all.   Any talk of a primal source, primal meaning, primal value, must be rejected.  We simply cannot know any of these things - this is the claim of agnosticism with a tendency to atheism.  Indeed, perhaps chaos, absurdity, illusion, appearance, and not being but nonbeing, are the last word - this is the claim of atheism with a tendency to nihilism. 

Hence there are actually no arguments for the impossibility of atheism.  If someone says that there is no God, this cannot be positively refuted.  Neither a strict proof nor an indication of God can prevail against such an assertion.  For this negative statement rests in the last resort on a decision, a decision that is connected with the fundamental decision for reality as a whole.  The denial of God cannot be refuted purely rationally. 

The discussion with Fruerbach, Marx, Freud and Nietzsche has, however, revealed something else, atheism for its own part, cannot positively exclude the other alternative. 

- Affirmation of God is also possible.  Atheism cannot be rationally established.  It is undemonstrable.  

Why?  It is the reality in all uncertainty which provides sufficient excuse for risking not only a confident affirmation of this reality, its identity, meaningfulness and value, but over and above this also an affirmation of that without which reality in all substantiation seems to be ultimately unsubstantiated, in all supporting ultimately unsupported, in all evolution ultimately aimless,  a confident affirmation, that is, of a primal ground, primal support and primal goal of uncertain reality.  

Hence there is actually no conclusive argument for the necessity of atheism.  And if someone says there is a God, this, too, cannot be positively refuted.  Atheism, for its own part, cannot prevail against such confidence imposed on us in the light of reality itself.  The affirmation of God also rests, in the last resort, on a decision, which, again, is connected with the fundamental decision for reality as a whole.  This, too, is rationally irrefutable.

This is so much fun I think I'll continue with it for a while.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Continuing on with Kung's argument.

I have had online atheist idiots tell me I should accept materialism because I wouldn't have my cell phone without materialism.  That I have never owned or carried a cell phone was only the first thing wrong with their assertion, you would have to be an especially stupid person to make such an argument, my experience, a surprise to me since going online and interacting with, literally, hundreds of times more atheists than I did in real life, is that atheists are generally that stupid.  And it's a widespread argument.  They use computers, vaccines, etc. etc. the same way.  But my point is that for many atheists their religious stand is some kind of scientistic cargo-cult which is based on whatever flashy tech toy they particularly like. 

It reminded me of the old anti-commie story about how in Soviet classrooms the children were told to close their eyes and pray for candy to God and none appeared on their desks but when they prayed to Stalin it did.   I don't know if that's true or not but reading about the level of stupidity in so much of Soviet ideological propaganda in the wake of its collapse, I wouldn't be surprised.  Look at what Trumps cult thought he was going to give them.

And that is only one aspect of the appeal for atheism based on what it allegedly gets the adopter.  The one that Ron Reagan jr. is pushing seems to be based on it allowing him to feel there will be no ultimate cost to him in the way of moral consequences, something which I am not above pointing out might relieve his mind in the matter of the terror wars his father financed in Central America which slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent people and supported brutal fascist dictators.  I make no apology for making that observation on the basis of those mass murders Reagan funded and supported and initiated. 

It's in view of that that I have decided to give you the next phase of Hans Kung's demonstration of the benefits of belief in God.  Not only does that include the possibility of belief in the significance of our perceptions and things we think and conclude and experience and value, it goes far deeper.  I don't think there is anything wrong with deciding to believe in God on these bases when the arguments for why to choose atheism are based in a far more vulgar appeal to self-interest and preference. 

Ground, support and the goal of human existence

The same hypothesis can be applied even more pointedly to the special uncertainty of my human existence.  It would then run:  If God exists, then an answer has been found at least in principle to the riddle of my persistently uncertain human existence.  Which means for me:  If God exists,  

-  Then, despite all the menace of fate and death, I can with good reason confidently affirm the unity and identity of my human existence.  Why  Because God is the primal source also of my life;

-  Then, despite all the menace of emptiness and meaninglessness, I can with good reason confidently affirm the truth and meaningfulness of my existence.  Why?  Because God is the ultimate meaning of my life;

-  then,  despite all the menace of sin and damnation, I can with good reason confidently affirm the goodness and value of existence.  Why?  Because God is then the all-embracing hope of my life;    

-  then, against all the menace of nonbeing, I can with good reason confidently affirm that the being of my human existence:  God is then the being itself in particular also of human life.

Anyone who wants to do so can apply a counter test also to this hypothetical answer:

Why are the unity and identity, truth and meaningfulness, goodness and value, of my own human existence still menaced?   By fate and death, by emptiness and meaninglessness, by sin and damnation?  Why is the being of my existence still menaced by nonbeing? 

The fundamental answer consistently is always one and the same:  Because man is not God.  Because my human self can not be identified with its primal source, primal meaning, primal value, with being itself.  

Hans Kung, needless to say, holds himself to a far higher standard of argument than any atheist I've ever read does.*   This is hardly the last step in his thinking, the next paragraph is: 

It can scarcely be disputed therefore that, if God exists, then the condition of the possibility of this uncertain reality also exists, its "whence" (in the widest sense) explained.  If!  But there is an old proposition of logic:  Ab esse ad posse valet illatio, non autem viceversa.  We can conclude from reality to possibility but not conversely.    That is we cannot conclude from the hypothesis of God to the reality of God.  How, then, are we to get from the hypothesis to the reality?   The answer can now be given

I am leaving off there because it's not a pat or cut and dried answer of the type atheists crave.  I will continue. 

* I mean the Friedrich Nietzsches, Bertrand Russells and A. J. Ayers, the high points of atheist polemic, not the amateur hour figures like Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris, PZ. Myers, Jerry Coyne, the pseudo-skeptic industry, the Skepchicks and ThunderfOOts.  Those cult figures are idiots who don't even get into the argument. Atheism as most people use the term is not an intellectually rigorous phenomenon.  It's got more in common with the world of late-night cable TV ads than intellect.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Carla Bley Trio - Andando El Tiempo

Carla Bley, composer-piano
Andy Sheppard, sax
Steve Swallow, bass

The piece is about "addiction and recovery" as Carla Bley said in her clear but halting French introduction.  I have read that it is about one of her friends' alcoholism and recovery.  It hits home, powerfully. 

There aren't many other composers who composed at this level when they were in their 80s, none I can think of who not only composed but also performed their music at this level.  Steve Swallow who has played with her more and longer than anyone else has said that she has yet to play a cliche.  This trio has also been performing together for a long time, it's one of the great partnerships in the history of the music.

What People Can Get From Choosing To Believe In God

Back during the initial public phase of my Darwin apostasy, I was regularly trolled by an atheist who presented himself as friendly and reasonable, someone who called himself "Dan S" who I got to admit to the actual meaning of the viciously eugenic character of what Darwin, himself, had written and endorsed but who, nevertheless said I should stop talking about it for the good of science.  I have to say that the idea of "lying for the good of science" struck me as incredibly decadent and, considering it was a sciency atheist guy who was telling me that, incredibly hypocritical.  My months of interaction with "Dan S" on a number of science blogs and the blog I wrote for, back then, was a milestone in my disillusion as to the good-will and good-faith of atheists and the general phenomenon of English language atheism.

When I expressed my skepticisim about the validity of natural selection, "Dan S" fell back on an argument from utility, that natural selection was so useful for biological theories on so many topics, that it provided biology a framing which provided a sense of coherence and an explanation of how species arise.  The answer to that is that since that sense of coherence wasn't any kind of evidence that natural selection is an actual thing in reality, that sense of coherence could be as illusory as any other sense of coherence based on any other chosen framing.  I also expressed my skepticism that Darwin delivered what he said he had, that he had come up with an explanation of the evolution of species, what he had come up with is a demonstration that species evolve from other species, something which natural selection doesn't explain.  And the appearance that natural selection did explain it is based in an extremely naive conception of what that means and the irrational belief that the evolution of species is attributable to one single "force" or "thing" when that "thing" is an imaginary construct of calling far different events and things (the myriads of ways in which animals either die without offspring or leave fewer offspring than others of their kind)  the same thing.  The whole effort depends on buying a whole catalog of assumptions, unfounded beliefs, willful disregard of problems, etc. 

But it's that argument of utility that isn't all that rarely given as to why someone should adopt claims of science that, on inspection, aren't founded scientifically,  such a claim "works" to get you something or, more often, appears to get you something.  I have had that argument made to me as to why I should ignore the blatantly pseudo-scientific character of psychology and sociology as practiced at universities and research institutions and through reviewed publication.  What, I've been asked, are we supposed to do about mental illness if the very sciences that are supposed to cure them are held up to skeptical review and found wanting?   The answer to that is that psychology has had a dismal track record of success in treating mental illness, psychiatry has had some success in suppressing some of the symptoms of mental illness, at times, but the results in that aren't any validation for the psychological studies that fail to meet the most basic requirements of science.   I've seen a number of people get far worse under such scientific treatment, I've seen patients of such scientific treatment dumped on the street to either commit crimes and become the responsibility of the prison systems or to die.   Like they used to say of the old scientific regime of the Soviet Union, they bury their failures, or, rather, leave it to others to bury them.

I bring all of this up because, as happens once or more every week or two, I am challenged to produce a "proof" of the exitence of God, something which I'm tired of pointing out, I've said I don't do because God is not susceptible to "proof" as some object or event or principle of mathematics is held to be. Though atheists are nothing if not persistently stupid in exactly the same way.  So, inspired by my study of Hans Kung's great book,  Does God Exist?  I'm going to give you something from that.  In the book Kung goes into the matter of "proofs" of the "existence of God" and more effectively than I can imagine any but the smartest of the current crop of atheists doing, he gives their strengths and defects, showing that, in the end, all such proofs are a matter of persuasion, not of arriving at a truth which one is compelled to accept, even against your own preferences.  Really, everything we accept as true is accepted on that matter, including mathematical proofs, the human gold standard in the business of proof.  After doing that, however, Kung rather brilliantly gives a very good reason why even atheists might want to believe in God, something right in line with the smarter atheists favorite argument from utility, in fact, a far more persuasive form of it than I've ever had an atheist present for something far more contingently hoped for.

Does God exist?  Here we want to address expressly even the unbeliever.  For even someone who does not think that God exists could at least agree with the hypothesis of which the inner meaning has become clear in the previous section and which nevertheless by no means settles the question of the existence or nonexistence of God.  The hypothesis runs:  If God exists, then a fundamental solution of the riddle of persistently uncertain reality is indicated, in the sense that a fundamental answer - obviously  needing to be developed and interpreted - will have been found to the question of the source of reality.  This hypothesis, of which the implications have become clear from our thoroughgoing discussion with atheism and nihilism, can be set out in a very succinct form:  

-  If God exists, then the grounding reality itself is not ultimately groundless.  Why?  Because God is then the primal ground of all reality.

-  If God exists, then the supporting reality itself is not ultimately unsupported.  Why?  Because God is then the primal support of all reality.  

-  If God exists, then evolving reality itself is not ultimately without aim.  Why?  Because God is then the primal goal of all reality.

-  If God exists, then reality suspended between being and nonbeing is not ultimately under suspicion of being a void.  Why?   Because God is then the being itself of all reality. 

When we recall in particular Nietzsche and what was said about the scholastic "transcendentals"  (the one, true and good), this hypothesis can be stated more precisely both positively and negatively with reference to the ambivalent reality of the world and man.  First the positive questions will be raised, and every word should be noted:  

Why, if God exists, can we assume with absolutely reasonable fundamental trust that in all disunion there is ultimately a hidden unity, in all meaninglessness, in all worthlessness ultimately a hidden value of reality?  

Because God is the primal source, primal meaning, primal value of all that is. 

Why if God exists, can we assume with absolutely reasonable fundamental trust that in all the void there is ultimately a hidden being of reality?  

Because God himself would be the being itself of all reality.  

It should of course be understood that reality does not then by all means lose its actual hollowness.  But a reason would be indicated why, despite the hollowness, man can commit himself to reality and rely upon it. 

And now the counter test!  If God exists, then the negative aspect of reality, it shallowness, can also be understood:

Why does the grounding reality of the world and man appear itself to be ultimately groundless, supporting reality that is itself ultimately unsupported, evolving reality that is itself ultimately unsupported, evolving reality that is itself without aim?  Why, then, is its reality repeatedly threatened by disunion, its meaningfulness by meaninglessness, its value by worthlessness?  Why is reality suspended between being and nonbeing, ultimately under suspicion of being unreality and hollowness?   

The basic answer is always the same:  Because uncertain reality is itself not God.  Because the self, society, the world, cannot be identified with their primal ground, primal support and primal goal, with their primal source, primal meaning and primal value, with being itself. 

This is part of a far longer argument on this point made by Kung, in a longer series of arguments demonstrating the reasonableness of believing in God, I'm certain I will try to give more of it.

After this point in the book Kung discusses the nihilism of Steven Weinberg which is based in his scientism, itself inconsistent with his belief in the comprehensibility of the universe which his scientism leads him to believe is pointless.  I think his nihilism, like that of all of the other scientist-nihilists is influenced by them wearing the blinders that they need to advance far in their career,narrowly focused on exactly those things which Kung identifies as giving the appearance of meaninglessness and worthlessness.  Their narrow focus becomes their reality.  But that, itself, doesn't explain it.  I think in most cases it also has the strongest component of emotional preference attached to it, sometimes based in false historical narratives, bigotry, vainglory and conceit.  But on an intellectual level, in terms of utility, there is every reason for a professional scientist to accept God because with a belief in God there is the possibility of them actually finding some measure of actual truth, part of an actual unity of the kind which Weinberg's ideological, emotional atheist commitment leads him to deny.

I don't believe that people just come to believe or disbelieve in God, I think they choose whether or not they will believe. Some might put it in terms of whether or not they accept the grace to believe which is constantly offered, though that can be explained in other ways, too.  I don't think that anyone should withhold their belief on a matter of proof anymore than they should base their belief on any supposed proof because it will always deny the essential act in their choice.  If they want to argue about something as problematic and likely illusory as natural selection on the basis of it being necessary for the current consensus of a small area in one branch of science,  Kung has given them a far greater motive to believe in God because that belief provides the possibility of validity and significance of all of science, indeed of all of intellectual activity. 


The current decadence in the United States is a radical demonstration of a world without significance or purpose or truth, a world governed by debased preference and created desires.   It is a result of even "evangelicals" falling from real belief and into a pantomime of it, there used to be a time when evangelicals had some sense of the dangers of adopting the nihilism of the elite materialists.  They got duped out of it by TV hallelujah peddlers and appeals to their basest instincts designed with the greatest efforts of social scientists - who have turned lying to the public into, if not an actual science, a skill informed by malignant insight.  Jesus said by their fruits you would know their actual relationship with the truth.

What can be said of science being brought to a crisis of faith is probably even worse in academic philosophy which strikes me as having been stuck in a rut of decadence for most of the past two centuries.  When I started reading theology a few years back, I was astonished how alive it was as compared to the deadly awful stage that so much of philosophy is in.