Dogma?

“Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas.  As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human.  When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined skepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality,  when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass.  Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded” C.K. Chesterton.

The world is filled with ideas, and many of those ideas could be classified as dogmas.  Now, a dogma is an idea that has hardened to a point that is no longer thought about but just accepted on authority.  The word dogma is not used as much today, this may be because it sounds too religious for a secular age, which itself has accepted the dogma of secularism.  However, we do have a word or idea that is very close to it.  It is the word presumption.  A presumption is an idea that we take for granted without much thought or for the most part, without any or little thought.

In view of the above it is a self-event truth that all men have and live by dogma to some degree. One thing that can be said about the religious man is that he has accepted parts of his faith as dogma while the secular man is still in a state of denial, believing he is living by reason alone or in some neutral zone free of presumption or dogma.  He has reached the unconsciousness of grass and he glories in it calling it tolerance or enlightenment.

Of course, there are some men who have very little dogma.  Some of these folks fancied themselves as skeptics.  Skeptics claim not to live by or believe dogma according to their dogma. The only dogma that they can believe is the dogma of skepticism.  According to them, you must doubt everything except skepticism.  Then you have the agnostics who believe nothing because they believe that it is impossible to be certain about the truth.  Of course, they are certain agnosticism is true.  We should not leave out the relativist which believes everything and nothing, and that everyone is right except the person that believes others are wrong.  Of course, they believe that the skeptics, and the agnostics are right.  The only person that they do not agree with is the dogmatist.  They do not seem to like people who think they know something which is true.

Out of all of the above, the relativist is the one most likely to be tossed about by every wind of teaching that comes along, for they lack a foundation of truth by which to judge any new ideas.  As it has been said, “a man who believes nothing will believe anything.”  In fact, the relativist really does not believe in objective truth. What they believe in, is personal truth, i.e. truth is what you believe.  What makes it true is that you believe it.  Most of these folks belong to the same cult, the cult of personal opinion.

The relativist are also the most likely to become fanatical and completely out of balance. Many  progressive folks fall within this group always moving forward without knowing which direction is forward; always seeing a cause to give their meaningless life purpose.  To me, the really progressive person is the one that when traveling in a direction that is not working turns around and goes in a different direction, like back.  Of course, if you are a relativist you don’t know which way is back.

It may be time for all of us to ask some serious questions about some of our new dogmas.  Question like, are they really taking us forward or are they simply getting us deeper into the woods.  So, deep that we will never find our way out.  Why not try putting some of your dogmas, or the lack of it to the test?  Start with your religious assumptions using the Bible as an objective standard to judge your ideas.  You do not have to believe it, but simply use it as a source of information to compare your personal dogma with.  You also might try the same exercise politically with the Constitution and other founding documents.  In doing this you might find these source documents truly refreshing and challenging.

 

A Letter From An Young Atheist

A Letter From An Young Atheist

“So Lyle, you don’t believe that you can discover God through reason alone?  I ask then, what else does it take?  I would guess your answer would be ‘faith’, correct?  If it is as you say, that God cannot be discovered through reason and rationality alone; that is the ‘crux’ of the matter for me and it is not something that I can accept.  Starting with a conclusion/presupposition and working backwards is exactly what you are NOT supposed to do.”

You may find a god through human reason; however, it will not be the true God.  The true God is so far beyond human consciousness that human reason cannot comprehend him and only marginally apprehend him and his existence.  This is why theologians define him as the totally other.

I do believe that you have a neat and tidy view of science and how it works, which is  completely naïve and totally contrary to reality.  If you read Thomas Kuhn’s book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” you would see that science is not done as neat as you seem to think.  Do you think scientists are sitting around, talking about the scientific method like religious people talk about the ten commandments?  If they do they will respond to law (scientific method) the same way that religious people respond to the ten commandments.  They may give it lip service and then ignore them or use them as a general guide for doing science.  If they took them legalistically not much science would get done.

What you claim ‘you are NOT supposed to do’, is actually what is done much of the time in science.  It’s very common for scientists to form a hypothesis and then set out to prove it.  What is a hypothesis if it is not an opinion or a hunch?  Yes, it is a guess, but a guess with a lot of convictions behind it or what we might call  faith. You can bet more effort goes into proving them rather than falsifying or disproving them.  If they are disproven it will be by the community when they’re published. The same things happen in philosophy and theology.

When Darwin set sail on his famous voyage, he had a will to believe his hypothesis.  He was looking for evidence to prove a belief he already had held for years.  He was taught evolution by his grandfather and father.  Moreover, ideas on evolution were in the air  during his time and both his grandfather and father believed in some form of evolution.  What did he find?  He found what he was looking for.  He found some clues that there was evolution within the bird family, which he already knew.  He saw it on the farm with the select breeding of animals.  However, he found nothing that would prove his overall theories on his voyage.  Note this is not to say that I do not believe in some forms of evolution, I am just stating a fact about Darwin.  The finches (birds) of the islands did not in any way confirm the whole show of Darwin’s later theory of evolution.  I am saying this to point out that Darwin was not a legalist about the scientific method and to some degree ignored it.

You asked what else does it take beyond reason to believe in God?  As William James points out you need a “will to believe”.  Reason will come to the aid of the will, for it is often the handmaiden of the will.  It also comes to the aid of our passions, to justify them; you see this with those who are addicted to drugs.  Their reasoning will give them all kinds of rationale for using and then it will justify their using, and just about anything else.

Reason surely does not rule in human beings. The reign of reason is a myth of the Enlightenment and in much of western culture.  Humans will believe pretty much what they want to believe or what they have a will to believe[1]. The men of the enlightenment needed something to break the power and authority of the Catholic Church, so they created the myth of the preeminence of reason as the dominating force in humans.  So, they replaced the authority of the church with the authority of human reason.  The thinkers of the Reformation (Protestants) also needed something to supplant the authority of the Catholic Church, so they also threw in reason along with Scripture as the new authority.

The scientific method was created to try to keep the will and passions out of reason. However, it is doubtful that any method or law could keep the  human will and  its passions out of the human thought process.  An example of this is the atheistic communist party of the Soviet Union influencing and directing the scientific community. In communist countries the scientific method failed to keep ideological influence out.  You could say that the well was poisoned, even the scientific well by group passion and ideology.

Humans also reason within their cultural environment. In this, they think corporately as well as individually, i.e. the community controls their thinking and thus their reasoning. In this setting, science is no different from religion or philosophy.  In any discipline the various schools of thought argue and defend their party or community’s position.  Once you become a part of a community and turn into a true believer, with the help of the community, you will see the world through the eyes of the community. You will have acquired their world view.

I think you might want to spend some time thinking about this metaphysical force that you call reason.  Where does it come from and why should we trust it?  Can you trust reason totally when you believe that it comes from an unreasonable cause (evolution)?  If our minds are nothing more than blank slates, how can we know that the information that is written on them, including the idea of reason, is true? Could everything simply be created by our society and culture, even the idea of reason?  What about the concepts of freedom and virtue? Are these concepts real or just an illusion of  the biological illusion maker that we call our brain?  Could consciousness come from a universal consciousness, which exists outside of our brain and nature?

Therefore, I think a man should begin a search for God by asking why he does or does not will  to have a belief in God. It may be reason or it may be ones will or even one’s passion more than reason.

You say that you, do not believe because you want to believe the truth?  Well, atheism empties the truth of any real meaning[2].  In the end what different would it make? To the materialist or the atheist truth is nothing more than an illusion; that is, if their idea of truth is going to be consistent with their beliefs.  The only materialists who are consistent are those who have embraced nihilism.

Nietzsche was one of the few atheistic philosophers of his day and is still, to this day, one of the few that had the courage not only to embrace nihilism but to tell others of the consequences and the logical outcome of atheism.  He understood and believed rightfully so, that atheism will lead to nihilism and anarchy, if it is embraced and consistently lived out.  I believe that the French Revolution is an example of what happens when people lose their faith.

Nietzsche, said ‘truth is fiction’, and if you are a materialist you should either be honest enough to stop claiming truth in any fashion other than “my truth” because for the materialist, truth  only exists in each person’s mind.  At  best, reason can only define truth as what works for the individual and the tribe.

In your search for God by all means use reason.  However, do not make it an absolute,  for if you do you will find it chasing its own tail or falling into a series of unending doubts and questions.  Reason was given to us as a gift from God and is a fantastic tool and has brought many blessings, but if it is misused it is like a wild animal that can kill you.  It can bring you closer to God or it can cause you to fall into the abyss of unceasing doubting. That is if you have the courage to go there.

[1] I recommend the reading of William James essay on “The Will to Believe”.

[2] It seems that as atheism has increased, so has postmodernism.  Postmodernism is a philosophical position that teaches that true is a personal thing or is socially created, but has no real ground in reality. This questions the very concept of reason. Some investigation will demonstrate that most postmodern’s are unbelievers. It is extremely hard for the Christian to embrace such a philosophy that would deny human reason.

The One True Heaven

The One True Heaven

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”  So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel–because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. Gen 11:3-9

The intellectuals of the Renaissance were made up basically of  two groups of thinkers, those which were atheists who rejected the idea of God and organized religion and those that maintain their faith in God and yet rejected the corrupted forms of religion.  The former evolved into what we call the enlightenment and the latter evolved into the Reformation movement.  Looking back on these developments, we see these two movements traveling along through time side-by-side yet with an increasingly greater gulf growing between them.

In the beginning of the Renaissance, there was an emphasis placed on a return to reason and freedom. In order to accomplish this goal the old authorities of dogma, tradition and church had to be overthrown and replaced with the concepts of reason and freedom.  However, the two different branches of the Renaissance, the enlightenment and Reformation would develop these two concepts of reason and freedom differently.  The enlightenment side would enshrine reason and human knowledge as the ultimate authority, reason and science would become God and bring heaven down to earth.  Man would be free from all authority and be self-directed.  Out of this, thinking came the later systems of  philosophies known as humanism, liberalism and communism.

The other branch of the Renaissance, the Reformation, believed that there were limits to reason and knowledge and that in order for man to be truly human he must live within those limits. They believed, without limits mans freedom would generate into chaos and the loss of freedom to his uncontrolled passions and his own finiteness.  They believe that those limits were set forth in the revelation of God in Christ.  The Reformation, therefore, believed that there were limits to the development of culture and that any attempts to bring heaven to earth would only end in misery.  They were skeptical about the enlightenment’s blind faith in progress and in human goodness.  In this, they rejected the twin myths of unlimited progress and the innate goodness of humanity; myths that still shape the vision of liberals and progressives to this very day.

After hundreds of years, we can clearly see the movement of both  groups. The reformation group has lost its hold on Europe, symbolized by the French revolution that had its slogan “No God No king” which could be interpreted as no authority other than the individual.  The failure of the Reformation in Europe could be largely contributed to its association with the ruling class and its failure to follow through on its attempt to reform organized religion and the culture.  Its failures allowed the men of the enlightenment to hold out a secular hope to the people and actually create a brand-new faith, a faith in progress (heaven on earth) and human knowledge (science).  The populace which had already lost their faith in religion were eager to accept this new faith even though there was no historical grounds or empirical evidence for it.

The question arises, How did the enlightenment thinkers believe they would  accomplish bringing heaven down to earth?  Well, it’s not a hard question, they simply had to bring God down to earth. That is exactly what the thinkers of the enlightenment did. They created the modern state.  As one of them said,” the state is God walking on the earth.”  This idea was set forth in varying degrees by a number of enlightenment thinkers and perfected in the writings of Karl Marx.  In Marx, you see the state exalted to the place of God and the animosity of the enlightenment towards religion and any moral authority other than the state (human authority).  For in the new heaven, no other authority can exist but that of the state which is nothing more than a human oligarch of authority.  Of course, that authority should be based on reason alone and science, the two demon gods of the enlightenment.  However, we also see in this system of unbelief a denial of free will and of human dignity.  Man is nothing more than an animal predetermined by biological forces; life is not scared but is expendable for the higher good. Of course, the state is the higher good.

We now know that reason is never alone, and that science is limited and controlled by many things other than reason, such as money and the ideological taint.   We also know from experience that the state never really promotes individual freedom, but rather it oppresses freedom.  Though history has shown us the failure of the secular movement; those that have placed their faith in it continually are on the same course today, just as their ancestors of the enlightenment did. How do you explain this blind faith?  I personally believe that it all comes back to their first presupposition of unbelief.  Once you get on the road of unbelief, there is nowhere to go other than statism (God walking on the earth).

It only takes a glimpse of the last century to see what this new heaven on earth looks like.  It looks like Russia and communist China.  Where 100,000,000 people have been killed, and untold numbers persecuted for not bowing down to the new God of the state.  Could it be that the materialist of the enlightenment promised one thing (heaven) and created the very opposite on earth?  If we are the heirs of the enlightenment, what do we have to look forward to?  It seems, if we continue on the same course of the enlightenment, there can only be one end; the ultimate state, a one-world government and George Orwell’s 1984.

 

The Great Myths of Modern Man

The Great Myths of Modern Man

The lawless man is produced by the spirit of evil and armed with all the force, wonders, and signs that falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world, he will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil’s delusion, so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their play-fellow. The Apostle Paul

Before we can have a rational discussion on the subject of modern myths, we need to understand the terms and concepts we are using.  When I use the word myth, I am not referring to something that is false, but rather to a large explanatory story or narrative that gives us some insight into what stands behind the way we view the world.  In science they are called models or paradigms.  In religion they are called shadows, types, or parables.  In essence, myths are large metaphors that we use to talk about the things that we cannot see and yet believe they are there.  They are believed to be the truths that point to the truth that stands outside of man’s grasp.  All true myths in some fashion and to some degree, depict reality.  If this were not the case, they never would have been elevated to the place of myth.  With this in mind, we are ready to talk about the great myths of modern man.

In order to understand the making of the great myths of modern times, we have to understand the time of the Enlightenment in Europe which gave rise to the great myths of Western civilization.  The Enlightenment was a time of great upheaval and change in the thinking of man.  The old authorities in every area of life were being challenged and being replaced.  Feudalism was being replaced with democracy, magic with science, capitalism with socialism, and faith with atheism.

During this Enlightenment period there was a tremendous effort by the skeptics of religion to move the masses away from religion.  To do this, they would have to convince the masses that heaven could be created on earth by man and a transcendent God and a heaven up there was no longer needed.  If you recall, mankind had once tried to build a tower to heaven, which ended in Babel[1].  If man could not storm the gates of heaven, he would simply build his own on earth, while shaking his fist in defiance at the God of the true heaven.

However, to storm the gates of heaven and bring heaven down to the earth, mankind would need a huge amount of power; he would need a machine that could replace God.  He found his machine in the creation of the modern state.[2]  The state would be God walking on the earth creating heaven on earth, a heaven in which the God of heaven was no longer welcomed.  In the new myth of the state, it would be God who is banished from the new paradise, not man.  In this, we see the birth of the modern state and atheism, which are the two greatest myths of modern time.

In order for the modern state to become a god in the eyes of the majority of people, they would have to believe it had the power to save them and deliver them from the forces beyond their control.  These forces would include natural disasters, diseases, the very forces of nature, even death.  In order to accomplish this, the state would need to have a mechanism to convince the people that it was their true savior and not religion.  It would also need a discipline that could be used to support it. That discipline was found in the new field of science.  It is self-evident that science and the state have grown together and are very much dependent on each other.

And since the time of the Enlightenment the state has continued to annex more and more of the scientific enterprise for its own selfish ends, those being ultimate authority and domination.  In the last few decades science has been increasingly controlled by the flow of money provided by the state to support its research.

Another great myth of modern man is Darwinism.  The thinking of the Western world has been controlled by the concept or myth of undirected evolution since the time of Darwin.  In fact, it has become the dominating concept behind most science and thinking in general.  For many, the concept is now a self-evident truth.  To most, everything is getting bigger and better, moving from the simple to the more complex.[3]  Of course, this concept fits well into the ideological concept of progress that was implanted in the midst of the Enlightenment by Christian millennialism[4] and was the foundation on which they built the humanistic project of replacing the concept of a heaven up there with a heaven down here.  It also fit well as it supported the ideology of a capitalistic system, which was the prevailing economic ideology during the time of Darwin.  Darwinism has always been strongly supported by the ruling class, which maintains its place through the educational system of the state.

You could say that Darwinism was the missing link that the humanist skeptics of the Enlightenment (not science) needed to banish God from the earth.[5]  They needed a theory of how things could be explained without an appeal to a deity.  So the maxim was created that everything in the new discipline of science must be explained by natural causes without an appeal to a deity.  Of course, this sealed the faith of the new discipline of science as the weapon of choice for the skeptics and atheists to support and spread their unbelief or should I say their new belief?

However, true science was not created to banish God from the earth and many of the greatest scientists have been believers.[6]  Science as a discipline is the study of nature and has little to say about the existence of a God who stands outside nature.[7]  Science can make the statement that it has not found God in nature, which is a statement that theologians could make as well; on the other hand, many men of science can and do say that they see things in nature that seem to point to a deity who had organized all things.

To the thinking person and the person who truly understands science, science explains nothing; it only describes things.  It answers the “how” question not the “why” and “what” questions.  For example, when it speaks about light, it does not explain it but rather describes the way it behaves.  Sometimes it behaves like a wave and sometimes it behaves like a particle, but these are metaphorical descriptions and do not tell us what light is.  In fact, if we where to ask science to explain itself, it could not give an explanation without the aid of philosophy; in itself it could only tell us what it does, not what it is.

What are the great myths?  They are the myths of the mega state and the myth that it has the power to save, which is the myth of modern science-ism.  It is the belief or myth that everything in reality can wholly be explained by the theory of materialistic evolution.  Evolution is surely a large part of the circle of existence, but it is not the whole.  It may help us with a number of how questions, but it never answers the why questions of existence, and it is the why questions that gives life meaning.

In view of the above, the question must be raised as to how many of the new myths really square with reality and how many of them are simply illusions.

[1] Babel means confusion.

[2] Note: The Myth of the Machine by Lewis Mumford.

[3] This view of evolution is not based on science and is believed by the masses.

[4] The Christian faith believes that everything is moving toward perfection and completeness.  This concept evolved in the West into a strong belief in the concept of progress.  Without the Christian faith, the question must be raised as to whether or not there are any grounds for a belief in progress.

[5] Of course, true science explains nothing; it simply describes things.  When it slips into explaining things, it ceases to be science and becomes philosophy or something else.

[6] To name a few: Nicolas Copernicus, Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Galileo, Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein.

[7] The US National Academy of Sciences has gone on record with the following statement: “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world.  It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes.  Science can say nothing about the supernatural.  Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”  This was taken from Who Made God?: A Searching for a Theory of Everything by Fay Weldon.