Saturday, June 27, 2015

Boundaries Part V - Where Do We Go Next?

Return to Part IV - And Then There's Us

The boundary model is a powerful tool that shows everything clearly for what it is, including the future, while explaining why it is. Permit me to demonstrate.

It shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.”

Imagine a city. An enormous city, made of durable concrete, full of billions of people who’ve very nearly mastered the difficult challenge of eradicating the created boundaries. There’s absolutely no humor in this place—indeed the citizens even lack the ability to smile. They’re a miserable, haggard and restless people, being unable to sit, lie down, or afford even a moment’s comfort. Having given themselves over to erasing all the pleasurable distinctions, they’ve out of necessity banished even the basic maintenance pleasures like not feeling hungry or thirsty. 

It’s cold there. And while it’s true that they’re tormented by the burning, monotonous cold that pierces their ragged clothes, they still prefer the pain to having a distinction between cold and anything else. Were their bodies not impervious to death, the cold would’ve killed them instantly, but as it stands they're just barely able to endure it.

There’s no light of any kind either. By unanimous consent they’ve eliminated all light—both within and without the city—so that the distinctions between things can’t be seen. When they do stumble into each other by accident, they try to forcefully establish whose vision will be dominant. The violence continues until one of them gives up and shambles away down the senseless maze-like corridors out of earshot. When they’re alone again they wail, or gnash their teeth in anger. They are a deluded, unhappy, savage people. Their rejection of the boundaries is almost total.

Except for the one thing: they still feel the presence of the God they hate, and are aware at every moment of His existence. They’re still aware of His might, knowing that because that they’ve been made in His image they will live forever. They feel His wrath, breaking in against their pantheism, their desire to be Him. His will is there, always there, continually whispering, “My throne, My rule, Mine alone." They long to bring Him down, but barring that they’d be content to bring down the city upon themselves to obliterate themselves instead, but alas they can do neither, so simply sit in the dark and cut themselves, howling when they must, fighting when they’re not. Forever.

That’s the future for everyone who rejects, has rejected, or will reject even the smallest of God’s created boundaries, because as Bilbo taught us, “You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” The broad road is like a river in that respect—simply stand still and the current will carry you down into hell without you even being aware of it. Note that this isn’t a threat, or a warning to be perfect or else, but merely a description of reality. Once you’ve ruled out reconciliation with God as a solution and begin to transgress the created boundaries then it becomes inevitable you will transgress an increasing number of them until you arrive at the dark city. It is a certainty.

For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

What? Were you thinking I was going to predict something else with the model? Like which side will win the upcoming election? Did you think I would describe how the chattering classes will chalk up the victory to the excellent turn out the vote model which worked by appealing to people’s fears? Mention that the people will vote conservatives in only because they grew leery about how fast the progressives have moved, and only desire to tap the break and let society settle a bit? 

It takes absolutely no skill to predict that. As soon as the conservatives take control they’ll begin managing the government the progressives put in more effectively, content to freeze everything as it is. Soon after that the progressives will win back the seat of power as the people tire of moving so slowly on all issues. The progressives will appeal to their sense of self-righteousness; make them feel like better people if they join the ranks, and the conservatives will be turned out. The cycle will repeat, moving leftward each time until we’ve given up the boundary between life is worth living and who cares if we die or not, at which point we’ll abort, euthanize, and vote with our wombs that our society should not go on.

Of course there’s always the danger of God stepping in and arresting our slide with another great revival of true Christianity. There’s always the danger of Him putting hearts right and pulling men into His control. He is in the business of raising up dead men to life after all. But barring that the conservatives will whine about encroaching tyranny, and the erosion of liberty, thinking this is the same modernism movement as before, while the progressives will laugh at their backwards, hidebound vision and press on. They full well know that this time the tyrant is not without, but within.

And so what of all that? Does it really matter if we get a smaller or larger fistful of pleasure from our culture if we’re eventually forced to take up residency in the black land where all boundaries are banished? Does it ultimately matter if the conservatives win 12 of the next 25 elections when they could have easily won 16? No my friend, no it does not. You are infinitely more valuable than it, unthinkably more worthwhile. Compared to your eternal destiny those things aren't even worth mentioning.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

You and your eternal destiny matter, not the petty concerns of this world. So if you’re reading this and are still unconverted, then know that there’s a better option for you than to play out pantheism and flee from God until it traps you in hell forever. You can apologize and return to Him. It turns out that God only seems evil because we didn’t want to own up to the fact that we’re actually the ones who’re evil. We’ve been cruel, not Him. We’re the ones who want Him gone while He wants to save us. As proof, He’s sent His only son Jesus to take the penalty we’ve incurred, to pay the debt and damages we’ve rung up against Him. We killed Him because He’s good and we’re evil, but He’s risen from the dead because He's God. He’s mighty to save. The price He asks in return is for you to trust Him, draw near to Him, and let Him be your savior. Let Him transform your vision to see the real world He’s made, and one day He’ll take you to heaven, a place so wonderful that it's forbidden to speak of it.

Therefore turn from your pantheistic ways. Stop pushing against the boundaries and accept the truth of reality. Believe in Jesus to rescue you from your plight with your whole heart and He will. Take up your Bible this day and begin reading at the gospel of John to know more. You’ll be glad you did.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Boundaries Part IV - And Then There's Us

Back to Part III - The Characteristic of Boundarylessness

That’s the story of humanity. We don’t want the boundaries to exist, so we pretend they don’t. It’s resulted in us being mirthless, psychotic, violent, and self-deluded.
And now having written three posts on that by way of background, we've established a solid enough footing that I, a 21st century man of the west, can show how this model explains our recent history and current predicament.

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, ‘See, this is new?’ it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

In the mid 1800’s evolution gained enormous popularity as a brilliant solution to our boundary problem. What began as an observation of bio-diversity and the fragmentation of life due to death immediately became the antidote for God’s created boundaries. People were hungry to eradicate the lines and the theory of evolution offered a powerful tool to enable them to do so. Now at last there was no distinction between life and non-life, plants and animals: all things were in flux of becoming something else. Given enough time water will turn into a reptile and crawl upon the land. Give it more time and it will become a man, or even a god. 

In the late 1800s it became popular to put our hopes in a man without a conscience, a superman, someone able to do the heavy lifting necessary to create utopia for us. (See for example the book Crime and Punishment.) Unconstrained by conventional morality, the great man would break down the boundaries and achieve greatness for us, standing as living proof that boundaries could indeed be moved. 

In the early 1930s the movement of creating this superman with new morals and unlimited physical potential reached a fever pitch in Nazi Germany. At the same time Russian communists were busy building their own society without a number of the traditional boundaries, leading to a rejection of the capitalistic division of labor and the appointment of Trofim Lysenko to chief scientist. (Lysenko believed in inherited characteristics, that a man could lift weights, bulk up, have a kid, and the son would inherit incredible strength. It too is a complete denial of the created order, and unsurprisingly it didn’t pan out.) These societies share the common assumption that the best way to establish pantheism was through a top down approach. Unsurprisingly, the societies they created to fight against the boundaries were cruel, humorless, violent affairs that couldn’t be sustained.

We in the west sat that movement out, but since Christianity has waned we’ve decided to throw our hat into the ring and give banishing the evidence of God from existence a try. But whereas their modernistic notion of imposing a top down removal of the boundaries was a proven failure, ours is a post-modern, bottom up approach to pantheism. Sure we’re following in their footsteps of trying to get God gone, but this time we’re driving at it via democracy rather than oligarchy. With the mob rather than with the tyrant.

For the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and their have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”

Today we are broadly characterized by two political groups: the right and the left. The left thinks the right is a bunch of cruel hypocrites who have no regard for the well-being of their fellow man, while the right thinks the left is made up of bunch of brain damaged lunatics who are completely out of touch with reality. The left is trendy, controls the media, the arts, and places of learning, because those are key to shaping a worldview and culture. The right controls finance, business, and certain legacy industries because they’re more practical and therefore more successful. The left believe the best thing for society is to progress as quickly possible, while the right believes we should be cautious lest we carelessly make things worse.

Now I’m not being misleading or hyperbolic, this is actually what they think. It’s not a slur one gives to the other to demonize them, the man on the left really believes the right is evil, and the right really believes the left is crazy. Why? Given what I’ve said earlier about boundaries it should be evident.

The progressive movement is passionately committed to taking the boundaries down right now. (They’re the kind of people who prefer do a cannon ball when getting into a cold pool.) As such, they’re characterized exactly as you’d expect.
Their comedy routines are sanctioned and approved, which means they’re neither funny nor insightful.
They have become deluded into thinking fathers bear children, men can be mothers, and the deciding factor between a mother or father is in the mind. They believe the difference between a child in the womb and parasitic strand of DNA lies in whether or not the baby is wanted. They believe a gay marriage and a straight marriage are identical, because it’s the words and feelings that matter. They believe the Earth is warming, that everyone should have the right to free stuff like money and healthcare, and in the dangers of genetically modified foods.
They’re angry against the right because they believe them a hindrance to fixing the boundaries. In fact, so long as the right exists, so long as the boy laughs at the emperor’s new clothes, they will be unhappy and will do everything they can to ensure doctrinal uniformity to their religion, which they call science. Even if it means fining people they disagree with, silencing them, or putting them in jail. What matters is the power to create uniformity, because it’s only through unified belief that the boundaries can be denied, and therefore, undone.

The conservatives on the other hand are only somewhat committed to taking down the boundaries, being people who prefer to get in cold water one step at a time. As a rule they’re more individualistic, more libertarian, and believe things shouldn’t change too fast, lest we slide down a slippery slope we can’t get back from. They believe science is made up of observational and repeatable phenomena, but also acknowledge the creative power of evolution. They believe some criminals can’t be cured and should instead be disposed of, socialist states fail because they run out of other people’s money, and using Earths natural resources is a good thing. They distrust wild animals, cults, other people, and see in the left’s vision casting a return to poverty and tyranny. But for all their talk of individual freedom they adapt well to a changing culture and continue on about their business of making a living, because pantheism is where they’re also going; deep down they feel alright about it, they just tend to feel uncomfortable about using the express lane to arrive too early.

Together these groups make up about 88% percent of the population. The remaining 12% are Christians, a conspicuous group that always seems to be walking around yelling “stop” to everyone, and reminding them of the God they don’t want to hear about. They believe in tearing down exactly zero boundaries, reject pantheism completely, and think man is fatally and irreparably flawed, unfit to be worshiped as God.

And that’s where things are today. That’s why news of abuse for Christians should be absolutely no surprise to anyone. Neither should it surprise us when the next mega-welfare program is being proposed by the left (and not because they want to gather for themselves enough government power to reestablish the Soviet gulag, but because it attacks a created boundary). This is why the right always folds in a political debate, and why the left is clever in their innovation and steadfast in its refusal to compromise . The left is doing its level best to bring in the pantheism which they hope will allow them to push God away, the right supports this goal but wants to move cautiously. On the fringes are the Christians who have two hands on the door-frame, holding on for dear life.

In the last post, I’ll tackle where we go from here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boundaries Part III – The Characteristics of Boundarylessness

There are two things that happen when you commit to removing Gods created boundaries from the world in an effort to get rid of Him: the first is that it makes everything simply unpleasant, the second thing is that it makes everything an insane religious fight. To the extent a society or people decide to remove God’s boundaries they will experience equivalent measures of both of the following.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”

The lesser problem with trying to erase God from our minds by eliminating His boundaries from the universe is that boundaries are nice; which makes this endeavor decidedly not fun. It’s a sober and serious work, fit only for the iron-hearted, since it means the pleasurable distinctions, and therefore the pleasures of life, are eradicated.

Incidentally this is a key reason why we attempt to remove boundaries only when we have sufficient numbers on our side—because without a group (or mob, or a fanatic leader) pushing us onward when we grow timid we’d never have the courage to fully sabotage ourselves and vote for misery. Left to our own devices we might loudly trumpet how there’s no God, but we’d follow it up with going to a comedy club and laughing at the differences between men and women. Or we might settle for having a delicious dinner, and happily settle down to bed with a full belly. Or worse, we might see on our TV the squared jaw scientist who’s produced the latest medical discovery, and right then and there decide to throw in our lot with him and romp through God’s sandbox together, until one day we came out in favor of Intelligent Design. That’s why we need each other, because it’s only as part of a group that we have the strength to agree there’s no difference between men and women. Only with help can we be shamed into believing food should be nothing more than dirt flavored tofu because of obesity, or organic, or cruelty free reasons.
But regardless of the crowd, with the help of our fellow man or without, it stands true that tearing down the boundaries necessarily turns the dance of life into a dreary mechanical shuffle. Walking the road where pleasure is forbidden out of spite quickly turns ones existence into a grim and colorless death march.

And that’s only the first problem of trying to push creation around. The second is much, much worse.

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

Once the realization that we’re finite and incapable of moving the boundaries hits, a strange and unsurprising thing happens: we become insane. I don’t mean the word colloquially either, I mean it clinically—we begin to deny the fundamental reality around us. Once we can no longer pretend a man is invincible, say when we come face to face with a hungry wolf or a grumpy bear, reality breaks in and reminds us just how much bigger it is than us. Whatever the event happens to be, hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, storms, or even sunlight, we eventually feel enough pain that we’re forced to surrender the idea that we have the powers of God which are required to eliminate the boundaries and make the plan work. 

But rather than give up at this point and admit we are puny creatures who need to apologize already, we cling steadfastly to our pride and instead redefine what deity is. If we can’t individually be fully God, then we will settle for being partly God. We’ll begin to console ourselves with thoughts like, “there may be a limit to a single man, but collectively there is no limit to us.” Man by himself is nothing, mankind taken together is God.

(Aside: this means of course that our modern, secular humanism is exactly equivalent to pantheism, and it once again reinforces why there’s no such thing as atheism. Since boundaries are so powerful and wonderful that they cannot be denied, the argument is no longer over if they exist but who put them there. Our universe is so finely tuned and marvelous that it’s not a question of “did a god do that”, but “which God did that?” And because of our fallenness by god we’re not going to let that be Him when it can be us.
Here again this is proven out by experience. As much as the nihilist may say he believes we are accidents devoid of meaning and prolonging ourselves by chance, he doesn’t really believe it. To even utter the words are to disprove them. That’s why when the philosophers pointed out to each other that Nihilism gets exactly nowhere and the boundaries were still there, the solution was to shrug, pass the booze, and revert to Pantheism.)

So Pantheism is the result of a determination to eliminate the evidence of God, and that in turn leads to the two closely related side effects of delusion and violence.

Delusion becomes necessary because the only practical way to make Pantheism work is to retreat into our minds. Reality becomes no longer that what persists when we close our eyes, but that which we agree on. It’s not a thing pressing in on us from outside, it’s what our minds choose to accept, like how a pick up soccer game doesn’t happen unless we make a point of showing up. Belief creates reality. Boundaries only exist because we recognize them. If we all chose to disregard an obsolete boundary (like the definition of marriage) then it ceases to exist. If we recognize a boundary it’s because we find it nice to, because we choose to. As an extreme example, gravity pulls us down not because it’s a property of matter, but because we don’t want to float into space. Because we don’t want to float away, therefore we don’t. Laws are a convenience.
Our words serve as a lubricant in this delusion, helping build up the wall in our minds to keep reality at bay. Words are not grounded on objective things, but are only the names we agree on, which allows us to more easily pretend like we’re in control. So long as we remain committed to breaking all the things God stamped His image on, we will be forced to break our ability to reason, communicate coherently, and see the world soberly. To free ourselves of God we must become God, and to do that requires us to become delusional. 

Violence follows from this because it must. Left to itself the mind would come to rest and accept reality as it is—it’s only with a continual application of force that an alternate, contradictory reality can be imposed over it. As a result the pantheist is restless, he cannot stop moving, cannot afford to give ground or his work will be undone. The inner violence and need to apply force everywhere spills outward and his job becomes making sure everyone agrees on the reality he desires so that his desired reality will materialize. Lions are dangerous because some people believe they are, all we need to do to make lions tame is convert or eliminate the people who believe otherwise. People are poor because the greedy don’t want to share. Eliminate them and we can all be wealthy.

As Doug Wilson points out, the pantheist is likened to a man holding a beach ball under muddy waters. He wants to pretend the ball doesn’t exist because he can’t see it, even though he’s forced to exert pressure on the ball to keep it from becoming visible again. That’s our predicament.

And with that, we’re in sight of the runway.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Boundaries Part II – The Genesis of Our Insanity

Back to Part I – Foundational Principles

“Well" you say, "you may’ve proven to me that I believe in boundaries, but I certainly don’t admit to believing in God.” Ah, but you do. It’s more accurate to say you dislike or hate God. Allow me to explain why. 

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’”

After creation God set up one last boundary for Adam—a moral one—and warned him to not trespass it or their harmonious relationship would be shattered and God would permanently withdraw His blessings of life and happiness.
This arrangement seems cruel or impossible to obey because we are on the opposite side of the fall, but on Adams side this boundary was an unalloyed good that allowed him to experience the joy of obedience. In every other matter Adam was free to do what seemed good to him, which rendered voluntary obedience impossible. It was only when God made a prohibition that Adam could feel the pleasure of submission. The command not to eat was a new kind of goodness, a new way for Adam to be happy. Because boundaries are good things that bring us joy.

“And unto Adam He said ‘Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’”

But rather Adam chose to defy rather than obey. He broke our relationship with God by consciously and deliberately eating the forbidden fruit, and plunged all creation into misery, ruin, and death. When his actions were politely pointed out by His Creator, the Author of Life, Adam responded by blaming God for the rebellion, arguing if He hadn’t put the woman here everything would be just fine. He knew he’d offended a loving, innocent, personal God, ruined everything and forfeited life, but he couldn’t own up to it. And this is the genesis of our insanity. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it to them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.

Ever since then we’ve been angry at God, knowing we’re in the wrong and unwilling to say sorry, finding it easier to just pretend we didn’t offend Him because He doesn’t exist. We want to push Him out of our minds entirely, and this continued obstinacy makes Him even angrier at us, in turn making us even more desperate to forget Him—but it isn’t an easy thing to do since we’re being constantly reminded of Him by the physical world He put His fingerprints all over. The great immovable boundaries still testify to His might and power, His goodness and joy, and as much as we by nature like them, we also hate them because of our moral fallenness. It’s a little like breaking up with your boyfriend because you were cruel to him: you know deep down you were in the wrong, but rather than own up to it it’s easier to take down all those pictures of him and pretend it never happened.

In short, because we resent Him we also resent His created boundaries. We long to tear them all away, cast them aside, put them somewhere safe where they can no longer remind us of what we did.
And to this end we bring our power over the physical universe to bear.
But there are some bad side effects of this plan.

Arrival, Humanity, and Jesus

I recently rented Arrival (a worthy movie about aliens coming to Earth to communicate with us) and was immediately struck by the forcef...