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.

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