No one generation could link with the other.
Men would become little better than the flies of a summer.
- Edmund Burke: Reflections
In a world in which "things fall apart" by nature, man too falls apart.Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
In the empty and meaningless world of modern thought, the doctrine of providence has become remote and has receded even from the mind of ostensible believers. To be "scientific" means to view reality as a cold business of weights and measures which is best known by scientific instruments rather than Scripture. Science is contrasted to religion, as though science represents an intelligent and realistic view of things, whereas religion offers merely the blindness of faith. Of course, all thinking rests on pre-theoretical presuppositions, so that faith is the foundation of science as much as of "religion." Modern scientific theory is the outworking of a humanistic religion, not of observation or testing. It is a manifestation of faith, not reason, so that the conflict between "science" and Christianity is a religious war, not a battle between science and superstition.
Churchmen, however, as well as men generally, have been heavily influenced by the Hegelian-Darwinian perspective. As a result, churchmen may profess to believe the Bible from cover to cover, but in practice they move as though the world belonged to Darwin rather than to the triune God. Even where men are deep in religious experiences, they are commonly remote to the providence of God and to His government and law. Not surprisingly, in import many theologies see the government of God as withdrawn from the world, as though creation could exist or continue for a second apart from God's sovereign decree and government.
Because God and His providence are remote to modern churchmen, they see immediacy and relevancy in preaching experimentalism, not theology. This means more emphasis on being born again, a product, rather than on the objective fact and cause, God's work of atonement and justification, on His sovereign act of electing grace. Too doctrinal a sermon is held to be remote because God is seen as remote. If a doctrinal sermon is preached, it is abstract, because God is seen as abstracted from this world.
The Reformation saw a very strong and heavy emphasis on objective doctrine. At the same time, the Reformers were strongly and intensely involved in the social and political scene, and in the cure of souls. All this was seen as intimately and radically related. In the 17th century, we can see the rise of introspection, the emphasis on the psychology of conversion as against the theology thereof, and the emphasis on the subjective as against the objective, infiltrate the church. The older objective approach came to be regarded in time as dead orthodoxy and "Scholasticism." While some elements of Scholasticism are here and there discernible, usually this accusation means that the objective facts of God's nature and revelation are given priority over subjective perspectives and experiences. Certainly the common charge that the Westminster Standards are "Scholastic" is evidence not of any truth with regard to those documents but to the strident subjectivism and/or existentialism of the critics.
The doctrine of creation requires us logically to have a God-centered and objective world-view. In a lonely universe, with man as the sole thinker, man can become subjective, because he is the only intelligent point of reference. All else is at best a blind order, or perhaps a blind accidental order, and he alone can tell that tale, understand the universal meaninglessness and the cosmic surd. Meaning then is obviously subjective. In such a world-view, meaning requires subjectivity, because meaning cannot exist elsewhere by definition. Relevance in every area of life means subjectivity. If as modern philosophy holds, the world is man's will and idea, then to abandon subjectivity is to abandon relevance, meaning, and truth.
If, however, the doctrine of creation is exactly what Genesis 1 declares it to be, then subjectivism is a delusion. Any primary emphasis on my thinking, my logic or my experience is then an emphasis on a delusion. But the reality of things is God's absolute and objective creation. Not only then is a subjective emphasis a delusion but it is the delusion of sin.
If an evolutionary and subjective world-view prevails i.e., if the subjectivism of modern philosophy and modern life and religion prevails, then it logically follows that the government of all things is not upon God's shoulders but man's. We then have humanism and the belief in the sovereignty and ultimacy of man. In religion, this means that man can say no to God and can reject God's efforts to redeem man. Man in his sovereign free will can bar the door to God's plans and purposes. In such a perspective, no consistent doctrine of providence is possible. For the non-Church humanists, some vague "purpose" or direction in evolution can be assumed by faith, i.e., that it is upwards, evolution and not devolution. That future course, however, is at best problematic, and it may mean the elimination of man as another kind of dinosaur.
A strictly Biblical doctrine of creation not only logically requires an objective rather than subjective world-view, a theology rather than an anthropology, but is also requires a high doctrine of providence. Isaiah tells us of the Messiah, "The government shall be upon his shoulder...Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end" (Isa. 0:6,7). The God who is totally the Creator of all things is also totally the determiner and the governor thereof.
Providence, the Greek word pronoia (Acts 14:2), sums up in a word God's government, guidance, care and purposive direction of all His creation. Pronoia means literally "perceiving beforehand" and is thus closely related to foreknowledge and predestination. However, foreknowledge and predestination stress God's direction in history of the acts of all men and of all natural phenomena. The purpose of providence is to effect God's eternal purpose in creation, and it does so infallibly, so that all things move to their determined end, to set forth God's purpose, justice, and holiness. This means, as Grintz has pointed out, "hence there is a connection between providence and the principle of reward and punishment."1
As Grintz points out, paganism held to a fixed order in the universe which was above the gods. The gods were themselves products of the universe, not its governors. Providence means rather God's unlimited and total control over all creation and also His personal relation with all men, and with all things, without exception. It means, moreover, that "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:13).
God's providence is cosmic: it embraces the whole of creation. It is national, in that it controls the destinies of all nations, peoples, tribes and tongues. It is personal, extending to every man in every age of history. It is natural, in that it includes the flowers and grass of the field, and the sparrow. It is total, because He is the sovereign Lord and Creator.
As Grintz notes, "It can be said that the entire Bible is a record of divine providence, whether general or individual."2
In Psalms and in Proverbs, the doctrine of providence is set forth with respect to the details of our lives and actions. Proverbs 16:33 declares: "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD." Nothing is outside God's government and providence. "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD as the rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will" (Prov. 21:1). All things are governed by God's providence in terms of God's objective and holy purpose, not in terms of man's subjective judgments and pleasure. Man's pleasure comes, in any true sense, in enjoying and glorifying God, Who is ever mindful of His own, and Who is the eternal Judge of all things. Thus, Solomon counsels,
Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let the heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. (Eccles. 11:9)This means that, because God is the Lord, there is no inconsequential act in all of creation. Romans 8:28 makes clear that God uses every event to His own good purpose, so that even man's wrath and evil shall praise Him, i.e., work to God's purpose and glory (Ps. 76:10). As a result, God's purpose can never be frustrated, and all things work together for evil to them who deny the Lord:
Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them, as thou has done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint. (Lam. 1:22)
For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heather: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. (Obadiah 15)
Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense here according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel. (Jer. 50:29)Because the universe is a universe of total meaning, and that total meaning is entirely the ordained purpose an decree of the absolute and sovereign God, the covenant people of the Lord have a glorious assurance in the face of all struggles, adversities, and attacks:
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness if of me saith the LORD. (Isa. 54:17)Clearly, only where the doctrine of God's providence is an essential aspect of a man's life is a true sabbath possible. A man may cease from his labors, but he cannot rest in the Lord until or unless he relies firmly on God's providence.
- Yehoshua M. Grintz, "Providence," in Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 13, 1279
[A]nother anti-racist activist, writing in 2007, shows this is a stock phrase [the phrase "a vast majority" when it is used as a bludgeon against those opposed to public opinion on any given subject]:
There should be a two-pronged attack on the fascists: dealing with their lies on the ground, and dealing with the social problems that lead to resentment and move people to vote for the BNP in a protest vote. We know the vast majority of people in this country abhor the racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic ideas of the party.
I was struck suddenly by the strangeness of the term "protest vote." Does anybody else find the idea of a "protest" vote sinister and Orwellian? Isn't all voting a form of assent or dissent? Perhaps it is the case that we generally vote the way we are supposed to and, when we don't, we merely demonstrate our unorthodoxy and reveal our impenitence to our smiling, khaki-clad, latte-drinking, platitude spouting, conformity enforcing, wannabe Torquemadas of the modern age?
The phrase "vast majority" when utilized in this fashion concerns me, as it rightfully should concern any person espousing a minority viewpoint. The anti-racist activist quoted above believes that there should be an attack, presumably carried out by the overwhelming or vast majority, on the fascists. These fascists, who are already marginalized by virtue of their political eccentricity, are now to be "attacked" by the numerical majority!
Generally, when a small band of people assembles for the express purpose of attacking others or engaging in criminal activity we attach to the group a label: gang, bandits, syndicate, mafia, etc. However, in circumstances where the gang is comprised of an overwhelming majority of the populace, we attach to the conspirators the very dignified sounding appellation, the public, and their crimes are sanctioned, their opinions received as wisdom and the blood they shed and tread on redeems.
The public has proven itself to be the greatest and most harsh tyrant of all. It exercises near total control in its wildly arbitrary and indiscriminately vast decrees that encompass nearly every human activity, subjecting even the minutia of the lives of the people to its dominion, ever expanding its empire by the pressure of peerage, it rules us through a network of informants from whom we can never secure even the smallest sanctuary or modicum of peace.
Who watches the watcher's watchers? The public is a petty and capricious bitch of a custodian. Woe to the man who casts his vote against the multitude! Who, after all, would protest the people save a lunatic?
Cross-posted in slightly edited form at Majority Rights: Watching for Signs of Public Anti-Fascism
Friedrick Nietzsche gives us a telling example of the infallibility concept and its inescapability. In Nietzsche we have a denial of the God of Scripture, and of the god of Hegel, the modern deification of history as it incarnates itself in the totalitarian state. Nietzsche is also hostile to all morality: good and evil, good and bad, must be dropped in favor of a life beyond morality. Even more, man and life must be negated, and the Superman is the one who negates all things. As Nietzsche observed, "The sight of man now fatigues - What is present-day Nihilism if it is not that? - We are tired of man."1
All the same, Nietzsche wrote; he spoke, and, however much he denied all other values, he did not deny the validity of his word. Nietzsche waged war against the idea of an objective, created and given world, and against the concomitant idea also of an objective, God-given and absolute moral order. In line with all modern philosophy, after Descartes and especially in terms of Kant, Nietzsche was emphatic in his denial of an objective and real world. The only world is the world of the mind of autonomous man and of the appearances his mind synthesizes. In Nietzsche's words:
It is of cardinal importance that the real world should be suppressed. It is the most formidable inspirer of doubts, and depreciator of values, concerning the world which we are: it was our most dangerous attempt heretofore on the life of Life.No "things-in themselves" exist, only the knowing mind.3
War against all the hypotheses upon which a real world has been imagined. The notion that moral values are the highest values, belongs to this hypothesis.
The superiority of the moral valuation would be refuted, if it could be shown to be the result of an immoral valuation - a specific case of real immorality: it would thus reduce itself to an appearance, and as an appearance it would cease from having any right to condemn appearance.2
It follows, therefore, that since there is no objective framework of reference, and no things-in-themselves, that the only error man can make is to assume that knowledge has an actual correlation with a real world which leads to an accurate understanding thereof. Knowledge is for Nietzsche the freedom of the mind from an objective reality and its ability, even as it is conditioned by things, to condition them in turn.
As a result, the more a man severs himself from God and the world as objective realities, the more clearly he speaks and, in fact, becomes infallible.
In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche wrote of his composition of Thus Spoke Zarathustra in these terms:
Can any one at the end of this nineteenth century possibly have any distinct notion of what poets of a more vigorous period meant by inspiration? If not, I should like to describe it. Provided one has the slightest remnant of superstition left, one can hardly reject completely the idea that one is the mere incarnation or mouthpiece, or medium of some almighty power. The notion of revelation describes the condition quite simply; by which I mean that something profoundly convulsive and disturbing suddenly become visible and audible with indescribably definiteness and exactness. One hears - one does not seek; one takes - one does not ask who gives: a thought flashes out like lightening, inevitably without hesitation - I have never had any choice about it. There is an ecstasy whose terrific tension is sometimes released by a flood of tears, during which one's progress varies from involuntary impetuosity to involuntary slowness. There is the feeling that one is utterly out of hand, with the most distinct consciousness of an infinitude of shuddering thrills that pass through from head to foot; - there is a profound happiness in which the most painful and gloomy feelings are not discordant in effect, but are required as necessary colors in this overflow of light. There is an instinct for rhythmic relations which embraces and entire world of forms (lengths, the need for a widely extended rhythm is almost a measure of the force of inspiration, a sort of counterpart to its pressure and tension). Everything occurs quite without volition, as if in an eruption of freedom, independence, power and divinity. The spontaneity of the image and similes is most remarkable; one loses all perception of what is imagery and simile; everything offers itself as the most immediate, exact, and simple means of expression. If I may recall a phrase of Zarathustra's, it actually seems as if the things themselves come to one, and offered themselves as similes. ("Here do all things come caressingly to thy discourse and ridest here to every truth,. Here fly open before thee all the speech and word shrines of existence, here all existence would become speech, here all Becoming would learn of thee how to speak.") This is my experience with inspiration. I have no doubt that I should have to go back millenniums to find another who could say to me: "It is mine also!" 4For Nietzsche thus, his writing was an expression of divinity, a revelation, and inspiration. Thus Spake Zarathustra apes in style the Bible and ancient epics; it is about as successful as Ossian and Joseph Smith.
As against "the immaculate perception" of those who want a valid scientific knowledge of things-in-themselves, Nietzsche offered the true way as "Dare only to believe in yourselves - in yourselves and in your inward parts! He who does not believe in himself always lieth." 5
In twentieth-century existentialism this means that the only truth is existential truth, the dictates of one's own being as expressed without the influence of God, man, society, morals and mores, or anything external to the biological impulses of the man. Infallibility now means total separation from the external world, and from the past and future. History cannot be allowed to condition the existential moment.
For Sartre this means freedom from personal history. He denied Freud's idea of the unconscious, of the Id, Ego, and Superego, in favor of "a free, translucent consciousness."6 Psychological determinism could not become for Sartre a primary factor in the mind of man. It is the free mind of autonomous man speaking in the existential moment that has true knowledge. In fact, Sartre held, "Knowledge puts us in the presence of the absolute, and there is a truth of knowledge, But this truth, although releasing us to nothing more and nothing less that the absolute, remains strictly human."7
Sartre and Nietzsche did not use the word infallibility, but this is what they were talking about. For Sartre, the goal of man is to become god, and this is attainable only on existential grounds, although a meaningless and futile passion even in attainment. The same is no less true of Nietzsche.
In fact, basic to the drive of modern philosophy is this goal of philosophers to become gods. As a result, modern philosophers, like the Greek thinkers, and Aristotle's pupil, Alexander the Great, have hated or avoided women as a a drag on their divinity. This was emphatically true of Nietzsche, who despised marriage, and no less true of his follower, Adolph Hitler, whose life and works are echoes of Nietzsche. Nietzsche wrote:
It is an accepted and indisputable fact, so long as there are philosophers in the world, and wherever philosophers have existed (from India to England, to take the opposite pole of philosophic ability), that there exists a real irritation and rancor on the part of philosophers toward sensuality... There similarly exists a real philosophic bias and affection for the whole ascetic ideal; there should be no illusions on this score. Both these feelings, as has been said, belong to the type; if a philosopher lacks both of them, then he is - you may be certain of it - never anything but a "pseudo"... Every animal, including la bete philosophe, strives instinctively after an optimum of favorable conditions, under which he can let his whole strength have play, and achieves his maximum consciousness of power; with equal instinctiveness, and with a fine perceptive flair which is superior to any reason, every animal shudders mortally at every kind of disturbance and hindrance which obstructs or could obstruct his way to that optimum (it is not his way to happiness of which I am talking, but his way to power, to action, the most powerful action, and in point of fact in many cases his way to unhappiness.) Similarly, the philosopher shudders mortally at marriage, together with all that could persuade him to it - marriage as a fatal hindrance on the way to the optimum. up to the present what great philosophers have married? Heracleitus, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Kant, Schopenhauer - they were not married, and, further, one cannot imagine them as married. A married philosopher belongs to comedy, that is my rule; as for that exception of a Socrates - the malicious Socrates married himself, it seems, ironice, just to prove this very rule... So many bridges to independence are shown in the ascetic ideal, that the philosopher cannot refrain from exultation and clapping of hands when he hears the history of all those resolute ones, who on one day uttered a nay to all servitude and went into some desert; even granting that they were only strong asses, and the absolute opposite of strong minds. What, then, does the ascetic ideal mean in a philosopher? This is my answer - it will have been guessed long ago: when he sees this ideal the philosopher smiles because he sees therein an optimum of the conditions of the highest and boldest intellectuality; he does not thereby deny "existence," he rather affirms thereby his existence and only his existence, and this perhaps to the point of not being far off the blasphemous wish, pereat mundus, fiat philosophia, fiat philosophus fiam!...8In the above passage, Nietzsche also cites Buddha favorably with Buddha's contempt for life. Nietzsche is emphatically the great yea sayer to death and destruction, not to life.
Nietzsche's savage hatred of women, because the pull of sex is a reminder of humanity and of dependence, a difficult things for a would-be god to admit to, is apparent in work after work after work. In Thus Spake Zarathustra, he gave as women's only use "recreation" for the warrior's play: "all else is folly." However, Warrior-man, or Superman, should go in to a woman only with care: "Thou goest to women? Do not forget thy whip!"9
This latter remark was apparently commonly used by Nietzsche before he wrote Thus Spake Zarathustra, because a year earlier a woman he loved intensely, but who did not return his love, Lou Salome, had Nietzsche and Paul Ree assume the place of animals in harness to a cart, while she sat in the cart with a whip!10 Moreover, Nietzsche's contempt for marriage was in part dishonest; women had repeatedly refused his marriage offer.11 usually this means, however, that a man has asked where he is sure of refusal, so that he can cherish a resentment against women.
The existentialist faith, however, stresses this goal of independence for men and women, and the result is not only a studied immoralism but a sense of infallibility and a radical self-righteousness. The modern mood is the ultimate in phariseeism as a consequence. In the various men's magazines which stress nudes, the brief interviews with the nude models almost always stress existential humanism with all its self-righteousness. As one such girl of 21, describing her deliverance into the new faith, declared:
I'm discovering my own integrity in L.A., discovering that I'm really a very honest person. And I like that. I like almost everything... In fact, I love everything! I have no hang-ups about sex. With the right man and with the right, relaxed attitude, sex is the most exciting thing I know. There's got to be more to a man, of course, than just a nice body: I've been to bed with men who were incredibly good-looking and said goodbye to them the next morning not ever wanting to see them again. When you're just horny and want to get laid, you find the best-looking, most virile man you can. But to get it all together, you need the body and the mind.13For Nietzsche, the fear of involvement with woman was very great. For contemporary existentialism, sex, for man and woman alike, is depersonalized; it is a form of masturbation with another being, and some have held solitary masturbation to be the highest form of existential sex. Betty Dodson has praised masturbation, writing, "Socially institutionalized dependent sex is depersonalizing... Masturbation can help return sex to its proper place - to the individual." A professor, Dr. Joseph Lo Piccolo, has "written a nine-step masturbation program."14 For many others, fornication and group sex are best without emotional involvement, i.e., when impersonal and physical in the main. However, in using and depersonalizing others, such people have only depersonalized themselves. Their pure fountain of existential infallibility is the old fountain of sin and self-righteousness. The end of Nietzsche was madness, but, as Lou Salome saw very early, his philosophy was always madness.
The dependent creature can speak only a dependent and fallible word.
- F. Nietzsche: The Genealogy of Morals, First Essay
- F. Nietzsche: The Will to Power
- F. Nietzsche: Ecce Homo
- F. Nietzsche: Thus Spake Zarathustra, Part II, XXXVII
- Hazel E. Barnes, in "Translator's Introduction" to Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness
- Nietzsche: The Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay
- Nietzsche: Thus Spake Zarathustra, Part I, XVIII
- H.F. Peters: My Sister, My Spouse [See photograph]
- Theophile Gautier: Mademoiselle De Maupin
- "Georgia Girl," in Penthouse, vol. 5, no. 10, June, 1974, p. 86
- Linda Wolfe, "Take Two Aspirins and Masturbate," in Playboy, vol. 21, no. 6, June, 1974, p. 164
After Travolta's character has just killed an assortment of Chinese gangsters his young and inexperienced partner asks him how many more he thinks there are lurking around.
Travolta says, deadpan, "According to the last census, about a billion of 'em."
“We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do, only we believe that they would best serve these interests, which are as dear to us as to them, by advocating the purity of all races, and not one alone.”
Gandhi also stated in his Indian Opinion newspaper, referring to a then-current issue in multiracial South Africa :
“The petition dwells upon ‘the co-mingling of the colored and white races.’ May we inform the members of the Conference that so far as British Indians are concerned, such a thing is particularly unknown. If there is one thing which the Indian cherishes more than any other, it is the purity of type.”
Nothing could be more intelligent or natural than this mistake. Any one looking for the first time at the trees might fancy that they were indeed vast and titanic fans, which by their mere waving agitated the air around them for miles. Nothing, I say, could be more human and excusable than the belief that it is the trees which make the wind. Indeed, the belief is so human and excusable that it is, as a matter of fact, the belief of about ninety-nine out of a hundred of the philosophers, reformers, sociologists, and politicians of the great age in which we live. My small friend was, in fact, very like the principal modern thinkers; only much nicer.
In the little apologue or parable which he has thus the honour of inventing, the trees stand for all visible things and the wind for the invisible. The wind is the spirit which bloweth where it listeth; the trees are the material things of the world which are blown where the spirit lists. The wind is philosophy, religion, revolution; the trees are cities and civilizations. We only know that there is a wind because the trees on some distant hill suddenly go mad. We only know that there is a real revolution because all the chimney-pots go mad on the whole skyline of the city.
Just as the ragged outline of a tree grows suddenly more ragged and rises into fantastic crests or tattered tails, so the human city rises under the wind of the spirit into toppling temples or sudden spires. No man has ever seen a revolution. Mobs pouring through the palaces, blood pouring down the gutters, the guillotine lifted higher than the throne, a prison in ruins, a people in arms -- these things are not revolution, but the results of revolution.
You cannot see a wind; you can only see that there is a wind. So, also, you cannot see a revolution; you can only see that there is a revolution. ... The wind is up above the world before a twig on the tree has moved. So there must always be a battle in the sky before there is a battle on the earth.
- G.K. Chesterton