“People say they believe in God,” said Jordan Petersen, in a video I posted at the beginning of the year. “I don’t know what they mean by that.”
Zeus is something I could believe in; so is Cernunnos, so is Odin – I could even believe in Great Lord Juju. But the Yahweh of Christianity and Judaism? The Tao? Buddha’s Nirvana, or the Indian’s Brahman? They all exist at a level preceding logic, and if I can’t comprehend or experience something, I certainly can’t believe in it – at least, not without twisting all sense out of the word “belief”, and tearing it from its proper Bayesian context. I suppose this puts me well into the Atheist camp… though I’ll admit, if your metaphysics doesn’t extend beyond the laws of Karl Popper, you’ll probably think that I’m a rather bad Atheist.
It’s comedically-tragic how easily we dismiss religion in this post-Enlightenment world; even its adherents are wont to treat it with all the dignity due a newspaper horoscope, breaking down into emotional fits or begging for a separate magesterium when it’s questioned. We seem to think that, prior to the 17th century, there were no scientists or scholars in Europe, that industry wasn’t inventing ingenious new mechanizations at an astounding pace, and that ignorance and superstition reigned in a manner which they presently do not. The Enlightenment is seen as an explosive new understanding of the world, one which shattered the dark and primitive Catholic grip which had held onto Europe for so long… and I suppose, in a sense, that it was – the Alfred Nobel sense, specifically.
The science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein once said that every generation thinks that they invented sex.¹ I would add to that, arguing that the present-day youth think they invented Philosophy as well; thank goodness they don’t have this much hubris when it comes to Engineering.
With Engineering, we stand upon the shoulders of giants, and we know it. They pyramids haven’t been the tallest man-made structure since the Lincoln Cathedral was completed in 1311, yet they still hold us in awe as we ponder the feats of their Engineering. Richard Dawkins himself once commented that, in his opinion, the most brilliant scientist of all time was Sir Isaac Newton; true, others have surpassed his achievements (that’s what science does, after all, it’s designed to constantly surpass itself) but in Dawkins’ estimation, Newton accomplished the most of any scientist, living or dead. No study of science is complete without understanding the great thinkers who came before and how they arrived at their theories, even when their theories have been amended and expanded upon. When it comes to morality, however, our view is the exact opposite: that we invented it, that we perfected it, and that the ancients have nothing useful to tell us about it – just like how your grandparents don’t know anything about sex. After all, if they did, they would have discovered hook-up culture and Democracy, right?
Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? What’s that?
Somebody wrote to me recently, asking for my opinion, as a Historian, on whether there existed a historical Christ. Quite frankly, he doesn’t come up in mainstream History – the religion starts becoming important about a century after his death, but Jesus himself is a historical cipher. I’ve read Lee Strobel’s Case For Christ, but it’s nothing but a polemic for proles. He structures it as a court case, but he gets the positions backwards; he puts Jesus onto the right-hand side of the accused, which would be funny if it weren’t borderline blasphemy (this is Christianity, after all, not Islam). If Strobel were a true Christian he’d be handling the snakes of superstition without being bitten.
It’s hard to blame Atheiskult for their arrogance when these are the examples of Christian “Thought” trotted out in public.
The presumption of innocence is a presumption of a negative, and this is the underlying presumption of Christendom. St Paul’s arguments assumed this stance, the scientific method is based upon it, and event he fuzzy-sciences of the Humanities are subject to it. The foundations of justice demand that the prosecution proves their point with 99% certainty before we grant them belief. The historical existence of Jesus is a positive claim – ergo, he belongs on the side of the prosecution. Strobel ignored this, the foundation of sanity, and privileges his existence by making it the default assumption.
If you believe in everything, until such time as it is proven false, then Bertrand Russel has a business proposition for you involving a large supply of tea kettles orbiting Mars; as for me, I’m a simple man; though I do have some discounted scrap metal from a suspension bridge…
Strobel deserves to be mocked and ridiculed for this nonsense, and if he is the best that the Church has to offer, than the Church is worse-off theologically than Atheistkult. The latter might be incredibly naive and ignorant, but at least they don’t wallow in it. Personally, I’m an agnostic when it comes to the historical Jesus; on the one hand, there’s a lot of suggestive evidence, but at the same time, society was ready for Jesus to appear. It’s no accident that there were other similar figures arising out of their own mystery cults at the time – the official Catholic stance on the matter is that these were distractions offered by Satan, which I suppose they might be, or it could have been the conglomeration of our moral evolution, that individuals were ready for Christ, and so they were anticipating Him…
But I digress. I don’t know if Jesus existed as the historical carpenter born in a manger which we all learn about – but I understand that he needed to exist. It’s a simple matter of moral arithmetic: Good might be stronger, but Evil is faster.
There is a short story I read, so long ago that I can’t remember the title or author, but its themes are indelibly printed on my mind: it’s the tale of an impoverished peasant, hired by a rich man with a penchant for archaeology to transport an ancient amphora for him, only to trip and drop the expensive relic, shattering it upon the stones. The rich man doesn’t blame him for the accident – and even if he had, the poor man never could have afforded to repay him for the amphora’s value – and yet, thirty years later, the poor man shows up at the rich man’s door… and hands over all the savings he’s managed to gather over the years, to finally pay for his crime.
The existential absurdity of the tale is overwhelming: a life wasted on repaying a debt, which was but a minor diversion to the person it was owed. You’re forced to wonder at how many opportunities this peasant squandered, to make good on the amphora. He never married – he never had children – he missed out on so many ways he could have contributed to the world, just for the sake of repaying a debt which was never demanded of him. All because of one act of clumsiness, and his never-ending guilt…
All of us are that peasant.
The amount of Evil you can perform will always outstrip the Good. A stained glass window can be shattered by a single rock. A suicide bomber murders dozens and impact thousands with his crime. Even the simple clumsiness of day-to-day mistakes winds up harming others beyond all measure. We all came out of that travesty that is the public school system with emotional scars due to the rampant bullying – and all of us, without exception, at one point or another acted as one of the bullies.
The amount of Evil we’ve already done in our lives is beyond repayment; the act of trying to repay it would only hurt and deprive our loved ones of our full devotion. To implement the Old Testament Law of An Eye for an Eye across the moral spectrum wouldn’t just turn the world blind – the full accounting for all of our crimes would require no less than purgatory, for eternity minus a day.
Ergo, the Christ: the blood sacrifice of the only man who never did any harm to another was price of redemption for our race; it was the price of balancing the moral accounts. So while I can’t tell you whether or not a Historical Christ did, in fact, exist, it is a metaphysical certainty that He needed to exist. To think otherwise is to embrace madness – or, at the very least, the histrionicism of the Jew.
And yet so few of us accept this sacrifice; this was the point behind Matt Forney’s recent article on the religiosity of Miriam Weeks.
Miss Weeks is a Women’s Studies student cum porn actress, working under the stage name Belle Knox. She’s written for several mainstream sources, arguing that pornography is empowering for a woman’s sexuality, but this is just a smoke-screen for her true motivation. Regardless of what you might think of porn in general, the films she has chosen to star in are utterly degrading: they make fun of her chosen major, they ridicule the scars from her self-harm, and it is clear from the look in her eyes that she’s on the verge of crying throughout the performance. Many commenters have mistaken this for an example of how useless a Women’s Studies major is (Miss Weeks is massively in debt with no job prospects, after all): what they are missing is that her true motivations for performing have nothing to do with financial needs, it all has to do with her self-hatred; it’s an expression of her Catholic upbringing.
Miriam Weeks is a Catholic, raised by devout Catholic parents, and educated in Catholic institutions. The freshman analysis is that she got skullfucked for money as a middle finger to her conservative upbringing. Wrong. Weeks is indulging in that most Catholic of impulses: the desire to be martyred. To go against the grain and be punished for it.
It’s an impulse that is alien to the English-speaking, Protestant peoples, who can only understand pain in the context of inflicting it on other people, mainly Catholics. The English and the Irish, the Germans and the Poles, the Canadians and the Quebecois, the U.S. and Latin America; ever since the Thirty Years War, the way of the world has been Protestants stomping their boots on Catholics’ faces.
Catholics have been oppressed for so long that it’s been encoded into our genes. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not; you can’t escape your upbringing. Every Catholic wants nothing more than a cross, with a crown of thorns to boot. Just look at the crosses we hang in our churches. Far from the austerity of Protestant churches, our crucifixes depict Jesus in all his suffering: oozing, bleeding, sweating, drowning in his own fluids. That’s the life of a Catholic: relentlessly contrarian and against the world. We defend what we see as the Truth against the sneering Puritan hordes, and the more doomed our struggle, the better.
This has been going on for centuries: the Catholics internalizing their guilt, allowing themselves to be martyred. The Protestants externalizing their guilt, demanding a sacrificial goat. It’s the same narrative we see playing out in our politics: Conservatives with a fetish for Down Syndrome babies, Liberals with a fetish for abortion; Conservatives sacrificing themselves on the altar of White Guilt, Liberals demonizing the Conservatives as the Racist Other. The entire situation is pathetic, sad, and disgusting.
Jesus didn’t climb up on that cross so that you could join him; he wasn’t looking for company! He suffered and died so that you wouldn’t have to! Your martyrdom is neither needed, nor wanted – the whole purpose of the Crucifixion was to allow you to go out and live your life, and let go of that guilt you can never repay; the man was your saviour – not your prophet!
The problem with this ugly, joking, mess of a civilization boils down to one simple thing: that we’re a Christian people who have forgotten the foundational premise of our theology. We’re a people wracked with guilt, who’ve forgotten that there’s a cure being offered. Half of us are committing suicide – while the other half revels in tormenting the suicidal.
I started this article with a picture of Booker DeWitt, the protagonist of Bioshock: Infinite: he’s a man who split himself along the Catholic/Protestant dichotomy out of guilt for the brutalities he’d committed during the Wounded Knee Massacre. In one time-line he became a masochist: a gambling-addicted alcoholic who revelled in his own failure. In the other, a sadist: a cult-leader at the head of a war machine, punishing the outside world for his own misdeeds. Trapped between these two versions of the man, in a cage built of his guilt, was his child, Elizabeth: a sixteen year old beauty, a mathematical and artistic prodigy, an innocent – who would be tortured into becoming a monster thanks to Booker’s selfish self-hatred.
Get down off of your cross. Stop worrying about what you deserve, because we all know that what you deserve is Purgatory, if not Hell itself – and what you’re going to get is Love and Grace, should you accept the gifts that are offered.
Every day I see people living in their self-imposed Hell, spending every waking moment thinking about what they deserve. Open your hearts – start thinking about others for a change – start thinking about what others deserve from you – because chances are, there’s somebody who cares about you who deserves to see you happy for once in your life.
Forgiveness isn’t something you accept for your own sake; you accept it for the sake of the people you love.
1. The quote is worth reading in its entirety, to help put what we’re seeing on webcams into perspective: “(E)ach generation thinks it invented sex; each generation is totally mistaken. Anything along that line today was commonplace both in Pompeii and in Victorian England; the differences lie only in the degree of coverup — if any.” Robert A. Heinlein, Expanded Universe, (1980), pg. 355