W W W W  World Wide Web Witness Inc.  Home Page   Contents Page for Volume  What is New

Pleasure and principle (*3)

It is one with some affinities to the topic just examined. Some assume that people are selfish or operate by maximising pleasure, and a few aspects of such thought need attention. As Professor Boyce Gibson, at one time Chairman of Philosophy at Melbourne University, pointed out: How can pleasure be 'the good', if we can have good and bad pleasures; and the sense of 'good pleasure' is not redundant (*4)! Obviously, 'good' prescribes what is non-identical with pleasure and what is not deducible from pleasure: it does not direct to the same as 'pleasure' terminologically; and an argument for the one will not ipso facto establish the other. For those interested, a substantial footnote is dedicated to analysing some of the features focussed in this domain.

It was Freud who made great play on this topic; we will in this setting revert to him. He wanted to relate the human mind to something deviously, dubiously or subterraneanly controlled from strange sources (not just pathological cases, but all minds, with minds limited to a peak with man). We have already seen that if this were so, then the mind (of Freud etc.) which says so has the same defect, which will automatically destroy in advance of any other thought, the Freudian theory to that effect. The objectivity of the thought of the theorist (say here Freud) is destroyed by his own theory, ensuring at once the invalidation of this psychology from its own heartland. Delving into our minds qua human, means allowing us to delve into his mind qua human, with the same "I really know" technique; or more realistically, with the same sense of subjectivistic invalidation. If he is right, then he is wrong...

This sort of theory 'can't win': it destroys itself before it can destroy anything else. However magnificent your 'gun', if it blows up in your face, you cannot use it.

Now just so is this prescription of pleasure. If you knew that these poor, deluded human minds were really motivated and activated by pleasure as the dominant, rancidly dismissing all other thoughts, then it is as easy for your victims to allege that if you were right, you would be wrong. The very weary-seeming cynicism which tiredly tasks man so, is so tasked itself; and the very sophisticated sounding assurance which knowingly dismisses all protest, is in advance dismissed itself; if men are wrong in thinking they are not so, then the theorist, once again, is just as invalid in making the theory itself, which must be dismissed just as radically, as it would lead him to dismiss contrary views. His distinction is very simple, and is this: he invalidates himself. Others may have no need to do so; and where logically worthy of thought, do not invalidate themselves in any similar wary.

In fact, just like the psychologies themselves, those say of Jung and Adler and Freud and so on, minds differ in their operative dynamics. For one person, sacrifice is brought to bear out of love; and for another, someone is sacrificed because of hate. Any endeavour to suppress or universalise the data (especially by the god-like illusion of 'I know it all') is non-scientific, and any endeavour to invalidate the minds which speak the data which don't fit into some theory or other, will do the same for the mind which says so, from its own a priori principles.

Very refreshing is a case like the world-famous Dr Spock, who gave advice to a generation on how to bring up children. Here one thinker differs from himself, when younger, to a vast extent, on becoming older ... and on observing the results which he finds to accompany that.

Some even hold that people ought to seek pleasure, or to 'avoid repression' - in the latter case, like Dr Spock in his earlier stance. Not so in his later awakening, when he surveyed with small pleasure the consequences of such approaches. Character is not the same as self-will; and self-control is not the same as repression.

What then 'ought' to be done ? We must consider the rather obvious fact that to establish 'ought' we cannot use merely descriptive techniques. 'Ought' cannot be wrought from mere observation. From description, one can merely see what is the case; from this, one cannot prescribe or lay down what we ought to do. A situation per se does not of itself create an obligation.

For this, values must be found; and for these to be objective, beyond the perimeters and parameters of relativity, conditioning and desire, one needs an absolute, access to an absolute (indeed a personal absolute would be needed, is needed to communicate effectively through to us); and this absolute for the same reason, and to be objective, cannot be of one's own making. Further, it cannot be merely preferred. If it were, then one would still have to say: I prefer this or that for you, or that you do this or that. It would not create the circumstance that one ought to do it.

It is God who satisfies this criterion; and on such a basis, perfectly logically, depending on the soundness or otherwise of the belief in the One concerned (religions do not become automatically right because they are religious! - or wrong), prescription or obligation is then possible logically. When such a sound belief is exercised, then a student is being consistent, a virtue all too uncommon academically.

In conclusion

All theories exclusive of a) God and b) the knowledge of Him, are necessarily invalid when offering advice on what ought to be: only the objective, self-validating God can give an obligation which is other than misnamed desire. All psychologies, sociologies, that omit this beginning and which offer any ideal, obligation or duty, including criticism implying it, are invalid; and in the second aspect, they remain so except the communication be God-given.

The finite cannot comprehend the infinite, or replace divine communication with hypothesis in such areas, and events do not create obligations or constitute ideals.

The only self-validating God, evidentially, and hence with academic relevance, is that of Christian theism; this we saw in Chapter 1 and review in Chapter 10; adding to the verification in Chapter 5, the general problem-saving power of the truth, uniquely belonging to it in the way shown, and in Chapters 8 and 9, in the area of prophecy, set forth in scripture as a God-specifying signal, in the setting.

End-notes for SECTION 2 - Part A (EN#)


The capitalism of Communism and the propagandist pollution of terminology

It is one thing to have restriction on God-given liberty: another to wallow in it. One of the most astounding exercises in self-destruct work that may be observed in official and academic affairs, is this matter of calling an economic system, which, however many its discrepancies, is at least in the direction of free enterprise ... by another name. That, in itself, to be sure, is no cause for astonishment. It is the question: Which other name ? which occasions interest.

If now you were 'Bruce Smith' and you chose to be called 'Calibre Smith', then the joy of this enlargement of your character through a nickname or given name from society, might be readily understood.

If however your 'society' name were: Stinker Smith, one might wonder at your using it, surmising your weakness of character or being terrorised or whatever.

In the case of using the term 'capitalism', for something which at least has gone to some quite extraordinary lengths to help real measures of free enterprise filter through, from the heavy taxes to the endued citizens, for indeed our own economic system: this is similarly rather amazing.

Is it some sort of social masochism ? of pandering to powers-that-be in the hope that this self-condemnation will assist their ready acceptance of our society ? Perhaps this would be on the part of such marvels of moral magnitude and brotherly love as the 'socialists' of Russia, or perhaps now more appositely, those of China, whose intense brotherly love erupted at Tiananmen.

Or is it merely a flatheaded servile submission to decades of stringent and hypocritical propaganda, coming not merely from avowed Communists and fellow-travellers, but from academically drugged denizens of the scholarly deep ?

Of course some have capital, as they do in Russia, if dachas by the Black Sea are more than... communal establishments, and cars have any personal ownership; as one hears to be the case. True also Russia is now seemingly scampering pell-mell towards forms of possession on an individual basis, as China did earlier when she sought the expertise and technology, not to say the money of the West. (Surprising it is still there, for such a bad system being shown the way by such economic paragons.)

Some in this land have lots of capital, and I for one would argue that there is far too easy an access to large borrowings of it from Banks on the part of scarcely qualified entrepreneurs during these last few years of the ... current brand of Labour government control. What the next brand of Liberals may do, may remain to be seen.

Still, the fact remains that here there are comparatively enormous freedoms to earn, accumulate and expend, to develop initiative in small and at times, in large scales; and this applies extensively to the choice of a job, a university career (much supported by the Government), even if you are against the government's sometimes outrageous religious activities. Your labour and your land and your entrepreneurial ability and your money (call it 'capital' if you will), and any means of production you may care to own or extend (think of it as 'money' if you will: you are merely valuing it, though it is not literally money - this is what you use for purchase of it)... all these things you may dispose, with comparative freedom; using if you will, enterprise in the process.

You might as well call it a labourist system, or a landist system, or an entrepreneurial system... it is all there; some have more talents, land and entrepreneurial ability, but - within the facts of freedom to will your property to others or give it, and so on - the significant distinguishing point is the relative freedom of action. It could be improved, and as Communism has shown so eloquently, it could be drastically reduced. How absurd therefore to use Communism's term of abuse, its 'Stinker' epithet, when it has State monopoly, at its worst in everything humanly available.

Communist monopoly is one including that of capital, very largely, while we believe in seeking means of enabling the use of the various means of production, neither compulsively by the State nor exclusively by the strong, but with considerable liberty.

A desire for liberty is not served by a servile surrender of fact to an acutely compulsive and highly monopolistic society, like that that follows in the train of the Communist system. Managerial entrepreneurship in the abuse of terminology may be easier for Communists to perform in the relative freedom of our nation; but it is not a productive exercise, where truth is a criterion.

An allied confusion

While we are on confusions in this economic sphere, intended or other, verbal or actual, let us note a point often confounded.

If a group of private parties wish to operate individually, that is free enterprise; if they wish to operate in the general interest, in some fashions, as bridges or defence, that too may be in the spirit of free enterprise. Thus they may elect some people to do this general work, which appeals to them as better done by those specialising on their behalf, in these general areas. They might therefore commission them to operate like a corporation with considerable freedom; and this indeed often happens in free enterprise. It could be that they give them directions, like a business, or direct them to fulfil specifications in their own way.

Whatever method be chosen, there is ample scope for this generalised, public aspect of a free enterprise system; which ought not to be confused with private enterprise, in that public bonding to perform generally needed tasks is as much a display of enterprise and initiative, as are more individualised works.

What is private is privately done; what is joint, jointly; what is public, publicly - in a system where the capacity of individuals not to be overmastered by some 'State' is held important; and where the capacity of individuals to study jointly, general and public matters, and to take steps for their study and resolution, is also held important.

Slavery to a system, which socialism aids by eroding private safeguards and giving the 'State' somewhat ultra-mundane powers, and which communism performs, is antithetical to enterprise within a system, designed to allow it. Nor is there any reason, as elsewhere shown, why private, individual or enterprising people should be 'selfish' any more than 'State' people should be. Private power, State power, it has all been abused. It is not the amount or size of the thing which determines its morals, but those in it. In history, morals and men have changed this way and that, and governments likewise.

Thus public works are no denial of free enterprise: it is simply a matter of how and why and on whose behalf they are done; or of how many political equivalents of what legally is called a 'fictitious person' are given monopolistic powers which, given error, can become first an erosion, then a dilution, then a deluge to sweep away restraint and assault godliness. It is accordingly notable how in history, 'Caesar' so often finds Christ's power with the individual and the Church intolerable, backing this feeling with force. (The final 'Caesar' Biblically predicted - Daniel 7, II Thessalonians, Revelation 17 - will have this distinctive, that the world will be his scope, not an empire within it. The second and here highly relevant part of the prediction to be noted is this: he will start very small...)

Freedom, in short, may be personal, social, group or national. It is not bulk which determines its kind, but the spirit back of it.

2 Isaiah 61:3 shows a supernatural process the reverse of this. It provides instead, surpassing renovation in terms of re-creation:

To appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.
The reverse procedure - so dismally depicted by Bloom, with no small need - is this:
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground ..." (Ezekiel 28:15-17). . . This has grave national implications; nor do these stop with America.
3 Pleasure.While on this topic, let us add a point of discrimination at the theological level for the sake of clarity of definition of our topic.

Does Job fear God for nought ?  Satan exclaimed in his conversation with the Lord, in Job. The implication, in view of the statements following, is that Job had a good deal and finding none better, stuck to it! The Lord covered the case - the challenge, which can be made in principle, whoever indulges in it - by allowing Satan to put Job to the test so that any creaky self-seeking, hidden in the inward joints of his mind, could be discovered.

Job - despite some difficulties and wanderings - at length, as indeed at the very first, came out with solid spirituality in these words:
i) ''The Lord gave, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord,'' said the trusting Job (1:21), who found goodness in the Lord such as inspired devotion, rather than devious counting; and
ii) ''I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another'' (19:25).

While Job required correction, he still, even when feeling that injustice was getting away with things, believed God in his ultimate crisis, and made personal trust in the Lord, in piety, the ultimate over personal satisfaction, real or imagined, current or future.

The truth is the criterion, not the experience, not the hedonistic units: that is, imaginary units that could - one might for sport imagine - be measured, showing how much pleasurable self-satisfaction one was gaining. The sybarite, incidentally, is the indulgent fancier of pleasures, while the hedonist simply wants to maximise pleasure, of whatever kind. The first appears corrupt even in experience; the second, only in morals.

Corrupt! in morals ? the hedonist ? What then of those who say: If God will only give me now or then, sooner or later, in this world or the next more pleasure than pain, a better pleasure-pain mix than anything or anyone else will, good enough! Are such views irrelevant to Christianity ? Of course, but not irrelevant to all those who use the name. Some seem perhaps pre-occupied with the celestial interest-rate, as if to say: "Well, I am deferring such a lot of nice pleasurable things now, and hoping to gain more in the next life, so that on the whole, this is the most excellent way, this is spiritual entrepreneurship at its best!"

Quite apart from the small problem of making qualitative assessments of different pleasures, and analysing out what is pleasure, joy and happiness, self-fulfilment or aesthetic resultant, and making intensity specifications to allow comparison, which things pre-suppose all knowledge, and knowledge far past what is employed in practice: there is nothing remotely like this for the Christian. It is even impossible, strictly, for anyone at all of this race. We return then to the spiritual aspect. Is such a thing a virtual aim, for the Christian ? Was not the test of Job to demonstrate the contrary!

But let us test this: Christians must be like Christ in spirit (Ephesians 5:1-2). Did He want a pleasure-pain surplus ? The answer is not unclear. He so loved, He who is the word and the expression of God who so loved, came and experienced an illimitable horror in feeling forsaken by His intimate, infinite divine Father, with whom from everlasting (Micah 5:1-3, John 17:5, 1:1- 14, I John 1:1-5, John 17:26, 13:1, 15:9), He had been in company. To the end, sharing and exposing His love, when bearing in love, the sins of those who should come to Him, He cried (Matthew 26:46, Psalm 22:1):
"My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!"

This He did just as the Scripture showed He would do, for on Him would fall the sin of all who believed in Him (Isaiah 53:3-6), whom He would heal, bearing this worst of diseases, sin to the very death, so that they might be free (John 8:32-36, Galatians 3:10-13, 1 Peter 2:22-24, 11 Corinthians 5:19-21).

Now if He had omitted this little jaunt, as it were, what then ? Then, if He had not suffered, had declined to suffer, felt unmoved to suffer this, what then ? Then He would not have suffered such pangs and embroiling shame, the shame that sin always confers, nor suffered it as bearing judgment on it. Then, being intrinsically joyous (John 15:11, 16:22, Isaiah 35:10, Nehemiah 8:10, Proverbs 8:30-31), this being a fruit also of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22), He would have had less pain, while still utterly felicitous. Nor does it avail to say there could have been a diminution of joy, in that love desires the welfare of its own; for that merely shows the love, not pleasure, as the criterion; a love willing to dispense with joy for the sake of the fulfilment of the needs of its own. God is such that suffering was actively chosen before pleasure to secure the needs of His people, of anyone who would receive Him. As Paul puts it in Romans 15:1-3, Christ did not please Himself:

''For Christ also did not please Himself;
but, as it is written,
The reproaches of those who reproached Thee, fell upon me."

If God's nature were such that pleasure was to be maximised (and He has no constraints but is as He pleases), then no pain, let alone anguished grief would be His; simply nothing could cause it to be! Expressly the contrary is the case: God so loved the world that He gave... and in giving, elected to suffer that anguish which led to the joy, everlastingly enmeshed in the hearts of His children, that would be given for those delivered, to whom also in love He first provided the freedom which permitted such joy. Thus: "The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing to Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

But whose joy was this ? My joy, He said (John 15:11). How did they receive it ? He so acted as to confer it (John 17:13, 16:24).

Are Christians expected to maximise pleasure in this-world-plus-the-next, then ? Hardly. What of this ? "I am crucified with Christ ?" Is crucifixion pleasurable ? Yet it is the continual state of Paul (the perfect tense is used, meaning in a continuing state following an initial action - that is, becoming a Christian).

How relevant is pleasure to a person being crucified ? It is a different language. A different sphere is its home! Thus Paul in Romans 15 tells us that we are not to please ourselves. Life is lived not by using our pleasure-pain criteria, but by God's desires. To fulfil His will is the acme. Now His desires are not the same as ours; so that there is no relevance for the Christian in fulfilling his own desires, his own values (as distinct from those of God).

Hence there is not even a standard of reference for maximising his own pleasure, his own satisfaction, for it is another person whose standards, whose will, whose wishes, whose values are the summit. Hence any social, economic or psychological view (really only a philosophy - statistics do not make men, merely reflect them - if accurate!), that has all men maximise either pleasure or satisfaction, is merely a false generalisation, omitting all consistent Christians, all Christians in principle, assuming we define Christian (as done in detail in Chapter 7, Section 3 A infra) as the Bible does. Such a pagan generalisation simply omits, for the Christians, the character of their living, when the very endeavour is to generalise on that topic.

Hence what is aptly called theological hedonism (the view that, expressed in a theological setting, would look for the maximisation of pleasure) is not a Christian perspective; and those who would act on it, tend to become a sub-species of hedonists! One must of course, in all charity, make allowance for the difference between what some say (failing in their analysis), and what they do! However, in the end, Christians are a sub-species of no philosophical '-ism' of man, but are first, fully, formally, and functionally, citizens of the kingdom of Heaven (Philippians 3:20): "for our citizenship is in Heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform our body..."

You notice the sense of spiritual unity: forms changing, facts the same. It does not say our citizenship will be, but is! The division is categorical and it is also present. It affects the spirit of the person concerned, and all the perspective, including the principle pleasure, which as a category, is a result, not a cause of conduct.

4 Put conversely: a bad pleasure is by no means a contradiction in terms.

Part B: The Voiding of Authority (EN#)

One of the 'nicest'- to use a legal turn of phrase- phases of cultural assault on religion, academically attempted, comes from the quarter of 'models'.

We are not referring to the concept of childish satisfaction from little trains, but something nearer to trains of thought, the impact of which however can be dangerously childish. Cast in the modish form of models (and 'models' can be helpful, if used legitimately), these can oppress, confuse or misdirect the budding academic, or be used as an assault weapon on the unwary student.

First there is the neutral model. In this, the sociologist (philosopher, whatever it may be) states: 'I am trying to be neutral, but you, O student, are not. This will not do and you must be marked down if you do not relent and 'see' it my way, at least as an ideal; or move in this direction commendably...' Thus a student may give reasons for presenting a religious approach on a topic, and be met with this all-purpose, all-weather assault weapon.

It has advantages for the user: it is easily adapted and requires no research.

Answer: 'To be 'value-free' is to value this (state of mind that is desired, or imagined), since it is selected to be valued; and that involves the dogma that specific value systems claiming to be uniquely correct, are in fact unacceptable a priori, in their claim. This in turn would appear to be every bit as dogmatic as any other claim, with the difference that this particular religious variant - the 'value-free', is both misnamed and unevidenced.'

(As we saw earlier, it is also irrational as a prong of relativism: How can it both be that there is no absolute truth, and yet that one is able to announce the truth that relativity is true ?)

'Let us put it differently. If someone elects to disbelieve in an objective supernatural for whatever personal reasons, one to whom there is access, and if such a person conceives him/herself to be a cultural product, the concept of neutrality seems obscure. How is a product neutral ? Do not its dynamic (or for that matter static) forces of 'propagation', biological, cultural, moral, ethical and so forth, make it tilted . . . away from what it could have been to what it is? On this basis, it is a kaleidoscopic convoy of meaninglessness, relative to objective truth.

'A product without such access to the supernatural: it is neutral - from what ? With such social bases operative upon it ? Where is the basis for asserting anything to be true from something wedged meaninglessly into a system of dynamic forces, as constitute the character of its determinate life ? Can a cog draw up diagrams, or read and present them with engineering objectivity and perspective ? Can an enclosed, conditioned participant be an impartial observer of the forces moulding it (doing so from an 'outside' viewpoint or station, which is not there) ? Can it 'see' with objectivity the process by which it is impressed into being what it is ? How can you present the truth if you can't find it; and if you have it, where did you get it! And if you cannot get it, how present it!! As C.S. Lewis, the noted Cambridge scholar muses: Can we expect smoke curls from his armchair to obey the laws of physics and chemistry ? Yes, but not to deliver lectures on the topic...'

Let us consider the issue.

Can particles, to envisage the system, operate over all the system, unmoved by the system, have a sound line on it; or can what is systematically meaningless acquire meaning, as a visionary victor over the vanquishing motions of interaction, and rising above mere specific function in the interactions, study unmoved the character of all interaction ? Can the particular act as universal ? Can it forget its ancestry and activity and particulate character and, rising above mere heredity and environment, unconditioned by it all and free from all dominion and domain, as from the definitively partial confinements of it all, generate from the viewpoint which does not exist, an overview which is not there!

It is more than humorous how men delude themselves into using God's premises, while insisting that neither is He there, nor are such premises there, nor can anyone go there. Only by being there, could they know; and knowing, they would have to say that they are there. As always, to be able to affirm such things objectively, one must affirm God: or to be able to deny God, one must first constantly affirm Him. This, as has been shown, is merely one of the intrinsic validations and verifications of the truth the Bible affirms; nonsense results in the denial of such things. The additional pre-requisite of knowledge, as noted before, is also this: that one know God. This is decidedly ... a problem for those who refuse to acknowledge Him.

Again the academic might question: Is your religion the only right one! How angry is the overtone, how much pride is imputed, and how near to failure the Christian student may feel. But what may be said ?

Answer: 'First your relativistic assumption - by virtue of which you assume it either bad or appallingly so, in some academic or moral or psychological or sociological or maybe purely personal way - this, as already shown, is not possibly correct. Why then should I not hold to a system of beliefs, which are gloriously and demonstrably and immensely consistent, in which nothing, quite uniquely over against other systems, yes nothing is to be found amiss logically ? What is this ?

'Are you, an academic assaulting my religion because yours is not logical, and mine is ? Or if it is not your religion which is driving you to this, then substitute 'philosophy', or whatever compartment or compartments of opinion are the basis for the assault: but the question remains.'

Again, it might be put by an academic: 'Do you not understand models! Do you not realise that the acceptable (venerable, delightful... whatever is the jargon) model has religion as a part of culture, and that therefore all religion is derivative, dependent, conditioned and historically wholly relativised ? It cannot (must not - one of the social commandments of the social gods currently being processed...) be asserted just now.'

Now the more sharing sort of lecturer might proceed.

'That sort of thing might have been all right once, but now we are having a new, wholly automated religion with power steering, which we manipulate, and all must buy it. You must be part of your culture!'

Answer: 'Yes, I understand models as an academic picturing or depiction, having zero logical validity as such, but needing to be established point by point from evidence and logic, before being implemented at all. They can be expressive and perhaps manipulative devices, except rigorously well-grounded; but I do not intend to be manipulated by any device.

'First establish the rationality of your device, and then I will heed it. As I do not worship the Community (which in any case is obviously mis-named, and is a disunity), I do not care for its gods. I worship the logically required God whose words, by definition, are not culturally conditioned; though they may be expressed with references to a particular culture, without being either bound or founded on it.

'Is a concept of social interaction with symbols - words - adequate for the Maker of man and indirectly, of society ? Is it adequate for One whose laws are determinate and do not await human enactment ? The creation itself (*1) is an input, and divine words addressed to man in it, are another; and neither really make themselves. Our power to communicate and receive communication is not the same as a power to invent ourselves (no scientist has done it, even with the example in front of him), or to tell God what to say, as a cultural component of His own creation.

'Hence your 'model' is not only non-neutral, but slanted against the religion of hundreds of millions, and your approach is merely indoctrinative, with an implicit religion(:>*2) of your own, though, sad to see, you do not seem to realise it to be in that category. As before, this religion has no rational grounds, and is against all rational possibility, so that I do not share it; and even if it is a philosophy, the question must arise of its susceptibility to charges of surreptitious religious discrimination.

'However, since in any case it applies to my religion, it would seem that this might apply. To be sure, in S.A. as distinct from Victoria, it might be that we are not wholly Australian, and do not have the freedom of religion which, in the Australian constitution, is so clearly approved by the terminology of that section and its highly value-making terms relative to freedom in this sphere. Whether or not we still have freedom of religion, however, I could not on academic grounds accept such a theory, though I am happy to argue against it, if you wish - more frankly - to expose it.'

Very much in the way Bloom indicated (pp. 360 ff. supra), the spiritual may be virtually outlawed as a topic, or subject to reduction: both illogically and compulsively, in defiance of the scope of the evidence and the demands of reason.

In fact, Bloom indicates that one might expect in certain tertiary studies  to find the Bible to be used as base for "scientific" analysis (his commas)... "to show how 'sacred' books are put together, and that they are not what they claim to be... Or else the Bible is used in courses in comparative religion as one expression of the need for the 'sacred' and as a contribution to the very modern, very scientific study of the structure of myths."

The satire is both vigorous and living in this splendid passage (*3); and more than both, it is deserved. (Cf. p. 374, op.cit..)

The satire of the spade

Indeed attacks on the Bible's compilation have been rebutted, with such vigour and such marvellous aid from the enormous and growing body of ratifying archeology, that they lie like so many snails hurled against a rock. The scale and scope of it is virtually breath-taking. The Ebla find of many advanced materials in the area of 2300 B.C. is over 800 plus years before Moses, once deemed (because of date!), incapable of writing such things! Well towards 1000 years out of date, these critics must wear the dunce's cap; and yet it was such as these who once took theological colleges by storm, and taught this nonsense with an academic kind of pontifical splendour. The word of God stands, as always; but they, they fall as all do who in anything assault the mouth of God. We were made by its operation; and man can be 'undone' in the same way.

The Ebla materials include what appears to be a statement on creation not unlike that found in Genesis (incidentally, perhaps suggestive of Wiseman's view of ancient background materials used by Moses, as detailed in his New Discoveries In Babylonia About Genesis). Complaints against cultural backgrounds, as not fitting Biblical dates, look more than foolish. The mot juste is 'obsessive' though 'obstructionist' would do. The cultural norms and phases of those times, revealed in the Bible, are so adroitly confirmed both from Hammurabi's time (in Babylon), and Ebla (in Syria); and in the time of the Canaanite labourers near Sinai, before Moses, as well as at Tell-el-Amarna, with its incessant official communications about invasion of the area which was taken by the Jews; at Ras Shamra with its exposure of the corruption of the Canaanites whom God sent Joshua to judge, and so forth ... that it is a marvel that even dedicated unbelief dares to speak any more at all, in this field.

But then it does: for when is a divorcee ever done in her scolding! The trend is there.

The very modern mythology and the very old Biblical truth

This is not the stuff of myths. The myth is this: that man can tell the truth about himself, measuring himself by himself (as Paul puts it in II Corinthians 10:12); and that he creates his gods, and that is all the gods there are. That myth is surely the best in arbitrary irrationalism that could be. (See the EXTENSION on THE MYTHOPOEIC MATTERS OF MAN, pp. 380-386 infra.)

What is it ? It is this. The creature, with his programmed systems alive and alight, attributes 'sacredness' to his own productions, and ignores the source of his power to construct (or misconstruct), to mini-create and to err, to have a responsibility correlative to this freedom, and to have a body written in language which embodies a brilliance beyond his thoughts... In 'seeing' this blindly, he continues to use a brilliance which, though less, is both akin to it, and gained by the operation of an instrument which he did not create. To do that is to live a myth.

But what a myth it is! All these multiplied billions of deft connections of cells, individually with the significance of highly organised cities, have no source but a 'chance' which has laws it could not cause in the first place, and which, though wholly unintelligent, constructs the most intelligent designs ever inspected on earth, leaving behind the greatest intelligence of man in the process... which does this with a language of the most concentrated and constant character, in what is to man still an unachievably minute form, while building ever anew the same prodigious constructions by a copying mechanism we have no way of paralleling. All this moreover is expressed in all living cells, with the direction of the code of one sole language... each human body living cell having the whole plan inscribed, as if for good measure, or an architect's signature. Exhausted, the myth looks away, drooling that all the laws underlying all of this have no cause. No law has any cause; they just stick around.

If this is not a myth, I would not know one. It has all the objective criteria of myth, such as self-contradiction, illusion, irrationality, desire and defective ramblings without rigour. Building on all that is now known, it despises what is known, ignoring every basic logical premiss.

The myth maker par excellence, perhaps surpassing all the former races and times in the scope of his unsophisticated verbal grandeurs, is this twentieth century man. This maestro, with his increasing technology is so advanced that he here denies everything he has ever seen, flouts the way all things are observable to proceed; and based on nothing, in torpid oblivion of reason, he proceeds to devise and cause to arise for himself, something from which everything has come, itself squarely - if self-effacingly, based on nothing. Here is inadequacy idolatrised.

The irrational virulence and absurd popularity of this myth together attest that style of degeneration, departure from the faith, that turning to fables, noted earlier as a verification of specific scriptural predictions (such as II Timothy 3, and 4 and II Thessalonians 2, Matthew 24). It is worth stressing that the other criteria Biblically predicted for the end of this Age are likewise simultaneously coming to pass; and that these things await us in Chapters 8 and 9 infra, where they are seen to be elaborately satisfied. Turned aside to fables is the verdict of the Bible on this time, and this in full knowledge, as Daniel 12 predicted, that knowledge would increase: something predicted for the same period. The great breadth and extreme shallows that would occur together are indeed noted; and are indeed visible at this day... Myths?

What world-sitting-on-a-turtle is worse than this very modern myth! What it lacks in subtlety, it gains in assurance.

Myths, yes, but nothing can compare with the myths of atheism and the mimicries of agnosticism (*4), whereas truth, this is as we have shown, the prerogative of God, and His power to communicate is seen not least in His power to make communication units so vastly programmed, and yet so subtly free, as we are. Myths? Yes these there are, like the myth that this God has seen the ruthless folly of lies, deceit, injustice, murders, genocide, myth-making caricatures of His name and even at times in His name, and has done nothing about it, has not communicated so much as a "Whoa!".

There now, that is a myth to make the child's spine creep. Myths ? Yes such myths as this: That God did not make it clear what He wanted, and what it was He said, or that He did not send what it took to get what He wanted. Myths ? Yes, such as this: That Jesus Christ was not deity and yet was incapable of being successfully criticised and effectively confronted by brilliant and trained men with maximal motives, securely entrenched and surrounded by force, even when He claimed to be God Almighty; or that the people of that time were oafs barely able to think, and so failed to handle it, whereas as Hammurabi and Ebla and the ancient writings showed, in fact, man had a brilliance and the subtlety then, and long before. In what fields ? It is seen in law, imagination and commerce; while involved mathematics is displayed.

In communication and expression, man had capacities long before God sent Christ, which in subtlety and strength challenge the intellect of modern man. We have been at school longer, ever amassing; but the minds are the same. (I could wish for a congregation which would follow sermons of the complexity and challenge of those of Chrysostom, in the early part of the first millenium after Christ.)

What a lordly myth-making society modern man has become. Or if you want myths, take this of His disciples: that they forsook all because they believed nothing, and that they lost their lives to defend a pretence in order to reach hell for deceit, after suffering or torture on earth; or that they practised folly with an outlaw, when the necessary evidence required by the Bible for His authentication as the claimed Messiah, was clearly lacking, and all this despite their overpowering evidences of spiritual passion and the stakes for fraud.

Or again of His disciples, this: that His stalwart followers did not bother about the scriptural identikit, by which the Messiah was to be known, the predictions and requirements showing that He must perform miraculous healings... and just to finish it off, studiously and continually disregarded all thought that He must physically rise* from the dead, and His flesh not see corruption, or rot - Psalms 16, 22, and Isaiah 35 - after being fatally pierced; this small thing to be  accomplished in 3 days. This He also personally declared repeatedly, like a supernatural Houdini, dealing not with difficulties, but with death.  (* Points 13-15, p. 760; pp. 781, 788; 931-943; Ch. 6 infra.)

What then is the spurious, the furious flirtation with fancy ? How are they viewed ? Testing for heaven and hell was irrelevant; knowledge was unnecessary; they were merely engaging in lies to focus the resurrection, just as they did not bother about the fact, although more strenuous about this action and fact than any counter-movement, and against all challenge, whether from within (duly met by Christ) or from without. Liars they met hell without flinching, at the hand of the outraged God of truth! So runs the tale, but in fact, they were citing the prophecies triumphantly fulfilled as always, and taunting the murderous priests, they directly charged them with murder, and acquainted them with a resurrection so appalling to the murderers, that all they could do was beat them, or seek to leave them thunder-struck with fear. Fear ? It was as present as in a war-horse charging! (Acts 2-4). They knew what Christ could do with the dead by their own observation; when He did it again although Himself dead, His Father countervailing the rot, it was but the summit of the seen.

How arrogant can modern man become in his arrant myth-making! That, physical resurrection is really hard to do, especially after crucifixion. Try it some time if you have the mind; and are willing to be experimental; but make your will. As I believe British Prime Minister, Gladstone put it: If you want to found a new religion, just get yourself crucified and rise (according to prediction) in 3 days. It would help if the prediction had been out, specifying the rest of your identikit, for a few thousand years and, as we shall see in Chapter 9, the period of history in which this was to be done was also very precisely predicted, from hundreds of years before.

Myths? Yes these, society's current cultural gods in their framework, these are myths: but Christ is irrevocably rationally attested. He showed Himself the living laboratory, deity Himself who sacrificed His body, but not His truth; One not merely unmoulded by the conditions of culture, but directing the very history of culture, according to scriptures He endorsed, or words He provided, meeting all criteria of evidence, reason and morals, and handling contemporary and coming history as though it were His obedient child.

Page 380 continued in the next section

Go to:

Previous Section | Contents Page | Next Section