Friday, July 21, 2017

The Essence and Form of Political Truth

Yesterday while pondering this question of the form and essence of religious truth, it occurred to me that one can look upon the same distinction vis-a-vis politics, at least here in the U.S.

I don't know enough about other political systems to say whether the U.S. is the only one that draws this distinction between "political truth" and its formal expression. However, I do know that the entire project of the left is founded upon denying this distinction.

What I'm talking about is the distinction between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the former expressing universal truth -- the essence -- the latter defining its particular political expression. The essence goes to the nature of reality, AKA the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.

The essence of the Declaration is situated "above" the form of Constitution. It expresses the atemporal and universal truths "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

But these essential truths need a form, hence the Constitution. The Founders even say so: "to secure these [essential] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Which leads to the necessary corollary that when the form fails to uphold the essence, then the form is no longer binding, and we're outta here:

[W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these [essential] ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such [anterior and universal] principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The most articulate defender of this view was Abraham Lincoln (cf. the Koon Klassic A New Birth of Freedom). In this regard, you will notice that the civil war we are currently experiencing is the same old civil war that has been going on since the founding, and indeed, since the dawn of man. It is none other than the war between essence and form. It is Genesis 3 All Over Again.

The left of course wants to have its crock and force us to eat it too. Its guiding principle is that Truth Doesn't Exist and We are its Prophets. Or better, Enforcers.

For example, there is no such thing as human nature but women have an absolute right to a dead baby. Or, marriage is just a piece of paper but homosexuals are deprived of the dignity owed human beings without it. The list is pretty much endless. We're especially seeing the drama play out with regard to freedom of speech, about which the left is no longer even trying to conceal its deadly hostility.

Think of the Dred Scott decision: "the language used in the Declaration of Independence" demonstrates that blacks are not "intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument." Oh really? Tell us more: blacks don't even have so much as a single right to which "the white man [is] bound to respect."

Notice the sleight of hand, as Taney even attempts to root this lie in a universal truth that is above the Constitution: this notion of cosmic inequality is "fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race," "an axiom in morals as well as in politics" which no one would ever think of disputing. No one! Welcome to the oppressive world of Political Correctness, 19th century version.

The leftist error of a "living Constitution" isn't the only possible cosmic bainfart here. There are also good conservative judges who only consider the "four corners" of the Constitution, without reference to the Declaration. In other words, they reject the natural rights theory of the Founders, and regard the Constitution as self-sufficient.

But nothing outside God is self-sufficient, and any attempt to render it so will inevitably become brittle and sclerotic. Yes the Constitution is ALIVE!, but only so long as it is rooted in the deathless truths of the Declaration. If the Constitution empowers the hands of the state, it is only because there is a Mind posited in the Declaration. If there is no Mind anterior to them, then the hands just grab Power with no limiting principle.

We're only dealing with the Big Picture today, without getting down into the weeds. But it also occurs to me that the Declaration is about Absoluteness, while the Constitution is necessarily relative -- i.e., relative the absolute truth of the Declaration.

This leads to another trick of the left: deny the absoluteness of the Declaration in order to re-situate it in constitutional law. Indeed, all of their malign constitutional mischief takes this form.

Marriage, for example, is a natural right which is anterior to the state, and which the state can only defend, not create. Nevertheless, homosexual marriage was conjured by the state on June 26, 2015. Which means the state has brazenly undermined a natural right for which reason it exists to defend in the first place. In other words, the state loudly proclaimed a rejection of its reason for being.

More generally, the natural law traditionalist has no rights to which the liberal elitist is bound to respect.

Now, governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But the left's assault on the Laws of Nature and Nature's God isn't very light; pretty heavy-handed, rather. And if it is permanent, then we're outta here.

Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth.... The liberal project began to fail when it began to lie. That was the mid-sixties… the rot set in and has continued since. --Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cosmic Heresy and Intrinsic Orthodoxy

I have a surprise early appointment, so this post ended up raising more questions than it had the time to answer or properly dodge. We'll pick up the thread tomorrow...

Douthat's Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics very much dovetails with our recent posts on the subject of meta-theology. It too raises many more problems than it resolves. Moreover, the book is more sociological than theological, such that the author never even gets around to defining exactly what he means by heresy or bad religion. Rather, he just knows them when he sees them. But by what criteria?

Schuon, who is deeper and more subtle than any mere Timesman could ever be, notes that there are two forms of heresy, intrinsic and extrinsic. The latter applies only to this or that religion, while the former goes to religion as such.

For example, it would represent a Christian heresy to regard Mary as co-redemptrix. But is belief in salvation via the divine feminine intrinsically heretical?

Actually, it looks like the idea is only borderline heretical, at least for Catholics; or, it can be kosher so long as Mary isn't on the identical plane as Jesus. But for Protestants the whole idea would indeed be heretical. This only goes to the difficulty of nailing down heresy, both intrinsic and extrinsic.

Also, I have this idea that when a religion declares a cosmic orthodoxy to be heretical, the rejected truth will have a way of returning unbidden and unnoticed. The question of Mary is just one example: you can drive the divine feminine out with a pitchfork, but she always returns.

Furthermore -- and more problematically -- she can return in distorted, grotesque, and deviant ways, as in feminism, Gaia-ism, and the cult of global warming. It is very much as if the Church's focus on Mary allows for a healthy expression of a kind of intrinsic longing, for on the human plane it can't get any more primordial than the mamamatrix. It's gonna come out somehow.

The rock bottom question is how to determine when religion is bad and/or heretical. Again, by what criteria? By what right can a man who believes in the resurrection criticize the man who believes in reincarnation? Surely, he can't just call him irrational, let alone heretical, since reincarnation would be a Christian heresy but Hindu orthodoxy.

In a way, Schuon's entire oeuvre deals with this question from one angle or another "Exoterism," he writes, "puts the form -- the credo -- above the essence -- Universal Truth," while esoterism (or what we are calling meta-theology) regards the form (credo) as a function of the essence (Universal Truth). A deviation from this Universal Truth would represent an intrinsic heresy.

Let's take an obvious Universal Truth, that God is one. A religion that posits, say, two ultimate realities in eternal conflict would be intrinsically heretical. Even -- or especially -- the early fathers had to grapple with this one: how to reconcile God's threeness with his oneness without descending into intrinsic heresy.

Those early ecumenical councils testify to just how seriously they took the matter. Indeed, if the second commandment conveys an intrinsic orthodoxy -- don't worship idols and other false gods -- then everything was on the line in getting it right. Get it wrong and you end up with an intrinsically heretical religion such as Scientology or leftism.

In short, on the one hand they were obviously dealing with questions of extrinsic heresy, i.e., heresies unique to Christianity. But without stating it or even realizing it, they were also dealing with questions of intrinsic heresy, i.e., ruling out metaphysical ideas that are just plain wrong, everywhere and everywhen.

The question is, is the credo -- the particular form -- the criterion of the Universal Truth, or is there a Universal Truth that is the criterion of the particular form? It seems to me that asking this approaches a kind of vertical third-rail. Within a religion, one is discouraged from touching it.

Why is this? Because doing so might relativize the credo, such that it is no longer possible to believe it in good faith. Religions tend to absolutize themselves because failure to do so will result in failure to express and transmit absoluteness, at least to the average Joe.

Just thinking out loud here, but what if we cannot actually separate the form from the essence? This was the big divide between Plato and Aristotle -- that and the question of boxers vs. briefs -- i.e., whether the essence is in the form, or whether there is a "platonic" realm of pure essences above the individual expression. But it's not a crude either/or question, hence the breakthrough discovery of the boxer brief.

Seriously: what if there is no essence except in its expression? In our minds we can divide them, but they are really indivisible -- just as we can recognize a frog, but there is no nonlocal realm of frogginess that exists separately from the Frenchman in question.

"What characterizes esoterism" writes Schuon, is that "on contact with a dogmatic system, it universalizes the symbol or the religious concept..."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meta-Theology, Esoterism, and Sola Relatio

I don't even like the word "esoterism" because it sounds elitist and therefore Gnostic, the latter involving salvation via some special knowledge reserved for the Few.

Nevertheless, if the truth sets one free, then liberation and salvation obviously have some relation to knowledge. Lies set one free, but free from a proper relation to reality. At least for awhile. Reality can be an abusive partner if one persists in being unfaithful to her.

All religions speak of liberation and salvation, but usually emphasize one or the other. Where eastern religions generally speak of liberation, western ones preach salvation.

But one cannot be saved without truth, and to be liberated is to be rescued from the various lies and illusions that ensnare us.

In addition to truth and liberation, there is presence: God is truth, God is freedom, and God is here. Frankly, any one will do, and each entails the others.

Theology is always situated within this or that religion, but esoterism is meta-theological. This is essentially no different from how metaphysics is situated beyond every academic discipline. Now, metaphysics is not popular these days, and meta-theology has never been popular.

However, we know it isn't possible to make any meaningful statement about reality outside a metaphysical frame of reference (even the word "reality" is metaphysically loaded with assumptions). People who deny metaphysics -- or who pretend to do without it -- just end up being the worst and most naive of metaphysicians.

For example, science wedded to a bad metaphysic redounds to scientism. Psychology rooted in a naive or unreflective metapsychology devolves to an absurcular psychologism. Similarly, history can become a myopic historicism, logic a grandiose tautology, economics a presumption to knowledge that is impossible in principle.

There is one truth but an infinite number of deviations therefrom. Some people confuse the infinitude of the latter with "freedom." But relativism is just the world's biggest prison.

So: I wonder if there is a meta-theology that is to theology as metaphysics is to the world?

By the way, in using the word "metaphysics," I am partial to Whitehead's definition of the term -- which I don't precisely remember at the moment but has something to do with an overarching theory that encompasses Everything That is the Case. Anything that exists or happens is explained by it, and nothing can exist or happen outside its laws or principles or habits.

Everything written above was provoked by one little passage from Schuon, to the effect that it would be absurd to demand from theology what is perfectly acceptable to esoterism (or what we prefer to call meta-theology).

A central purpose of theology is to transmit the Absolute. However, it is generally conflated with the Absolute, which reduces to idolatry. This is precisely the plane where religious quarrels occur, especially the deadly ones. Being that there cannot be two Absolutes, one must go, absolutely. The jihad is on.

I wonder: is there a meta-theology that is built into Christianity, thus freeing it from the errors of "theologism" (the latter neologism being to theology what scientism is to metaphysics)? Does Christianity convey an intrinsic ironization of itself?

I believe so. In this respect -- and no disrespect is intended -- it is quite different from, say, Islam or Judaism, which are "religions of the book." Christianity is most definitely not a religion of the book. Rather, it is a religion of the person and of the relationship. This latter statement is, of course, filled with meta-theological implications.

A book is an object. A person is a subject, and indeed, the meta-cosmic person is the very source of subjectivity. And a relation is not a possession. Just what it "is" is quite mysterious, because it is not only the space between Things That Are, but makes them What They Are. Here we find ourselves outside the world of sola scriptura and inside the space of sola relatio.

In other words, there is This and there is That. But there is no ultimate This or That. Rather, what is ultimate is the relation between This and That, which, if I am not mistaken, goes to the centrality of Trinity: there is no Father save for in-relation-to the Son, and vice versa.

The relation is the thing, and this relation is Love, apparently. Everything herebelow is substance-in-relation. Which should be no surprise if everything above is also substance-in-relation.

A thought just popped into my head: remember Esperanto? It is a manmade meta-language that is supposed to transcend and harmonize the world's diverse tongues. Is that what we're doing here? I don't think so, because Esperanto is obviously not the Logos from which language flows (and languages flow). To imagine the Logos can be reduced to a human language is literally pre-posterous.

Now, the ultimate substance must be beyond-being. It is the Father of all. Ah ha! But there is no ultimate substance, or at least one that isn't in-relation. Therefore, beyond-being must be in relation to being, as Father is to Son. And again, this relation is love. So, there is indeed something beyond beyond-being, and it is the relation of love. It is the mysterious Third that haunts all things.

This pneumatic third spills over into everything. In my opinion it explains the intelligibility of the world, which is just the light of truth pouring forth and giving itself over to intelligence. Likewise beauty, which is just the divine glory in its metaphysical transparency. And what is virtue but man's participation in the sovereign good?

I guess that's about it for today. I would summarize by saying that meta-theology entails three human imperatives: know truth, love beauty, and do good. But knowing, loving, and doing are all relations.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Good News and the Fake News

Just another rambling interior dialogue with myself, AKA circumnavelgazing the vast and luminous ocean of... Friday, I guess.

It's tricky enough for human beings to know what is, but it's equally important to know what is important. It seems that the purpose of religion is to provide a shorthand means to accomplish both, because not everyone -- few people, actually -- have the time or aptitude to do this on their own. Indeed, left to their own devices, they will nearly always get it wrong.

How do we know this? Consider the purpose of college, which was to set aside a space free of worldly concerns, so that Really Smart People could explore the nature of What Is and helps us understand What Is Important. How's that working out?

Note that their theories -- in particular, in the social sciences -- come and go, while premodern approaches such as Christianity and Buddhism are still with us.

The idea we're playing with is that religion is an expression of Religion -- in other words, that there is a universal truth prior to religion, but which religion embodies and expresses. It seems to me that the great majority of religious folk would reject this idea out of hand. But how can any doctrine be self-authenticating? Mustn't there be an external criteria of truth against which to compare it?

I haven't fully thought this through, but I'm guessing that believers appeal to such external criteria all the time, but without acknowledging it. Let's take an obvious example: just because one is a Christian, this doesn't mean one cannot make an appeal to common sense. And yet, common sense is not an explicit part of Christian doctrine.

Analogously, is there an "uncommon sense," an eternal Truth written on our hearts? If so, it is something we have either forgotten or has become obscured by layers of passion, self-interest, cultural nonsense, higher education, what have you.

Here again, a shorthand way of expressing this truth is to simply say that man is fallen and be done with it. Man cannot save himself, which is another way of saying that he no longer has access to the truth that saves and liberates, so he must receive it from an external source. Hence the need of revelation.

It just occurred to me. You know the old gag that where two or three gather in His name, there I AM? Well, conversely, where two or three get together while explicitly excluding Him, then there the anti-Christ appears in their midst. Do you see why? The principle operates as surely and inevitably as a mathematical equation. You can commune with O or with Ø. There is no in between.

You must surrender to what surpasses you. This presupposes recognition of what surpasses oneself, and how many tenured do that? Isn't the whole point of tenure to set oneself up as the authority? It is a spiritual practice, but an inverted one we call the Way of Pride.

There are actually two parts to this: 1) recognition, and 2) surrender. One way to tell if you have truly recognized what transcends you is that you will spontaneously bow before it. This is something the mediocre man cannot -- or more likely, will not -- do.

I'm thinking of a proud atheist of my acquaintance. Several, come to think of it. I cannot imagine them bowing before anything or anyone. But that is only testimony to the fact that they recognize no reality -- and certainly no authority -- higher than themselves.

Which is another way of saying they recognize no reality, full stop. And they are hardly atypical. To recognize greatness is to want to submit to it.

The friend who is staying with us has a weekly men's Bible study group at his house. Being temporarily homeless, it more or less took place at my place. He mentioned that he had always been captivated by the image of the knight, who is a warrior but bows before the good king who in turn bows before God. I can't explain it as well as he did, but the idea is that he is restrained by a kind of vertical reality to which he willingly submits. In the absence of that reality, the knight is just a trained killer.

Back to the main subject: essence and form. Do they apply all the way up through religion and into God? Here is how Schuon explains it: "by definition every religion has to present itself as the only possible one, since its point of view is dependent on the Truth and consequently must exclude any danger of relativism..."

In other words, the Absolute is Absolute, just as God is God. There can be only one. The moment it sets foot in finitude, it is something other than the Absolute, and yet, it must express Absoluteness in a way accessible to man. The most essential lesson from this is that the Absolute is. Knowing it is, we submit to it.

Just so, the Great Danger is relativism in all its forms. It is the metacosmic Error of errors. And isn't this the lesson of Genesis 3? For when man falls, he falls precisely into relativism, tenure, and fake news.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Sporting God

A little crazy around here. Some good friends are between homes -- the lease ended before the new house is habitable -- so they and three of their kids are staying here. So I'm a little fuzzy this morning. It is quite possible that the following post contains a lot of repetition, just stuff that bOb has ruminated about in the past...

In case you're wondering, most of my posts over the past month or more have been inspired by Schuon's Esoterism as Principle and Way, but not in any systematic way. Rather, for the most part, I simply read a line or two and things take off from there. Thus, despite all the posts that have been generated, I'm still stuck on the first essay, called Understanding Esoterism.

I find that interesting in itself. It is the polar opposite of saturated writing, about which there is nothing more to be said. There is certainly a role for this type of language, for example, with regard to law. A well written law should mean what it means, nothing more, nothing less.

But notice the mischief that ensues when liberal Supreme Court justices are inspired by what they regard as an unsaturated (AKA living) document. That's precisely how we end up with a Dred Scott, a Roe v. Wade, an Obergefell v. Hodges: slavery, death, and absurdity, for starters.

I suppose the difference is that something is saturated when it can be contained by our understanding. But certain types of language can never be contained, scripture being the quintessential case. Not only can scripture not be contained, but -- it should go without saying -- it cannot contain God. Or better, God is contained in scripture, but cannot be contained by it. In short, the finite cannot contain the infinite.

I didn't even know Schuon was going to say this, but here it is: "That the Psalms and Gospels are sublime can be accepted without the least hesitation." In other words, one can readily find God in them. However, "to believe that they contain in their very literalness... everything that is offered by the Upanishads or Bhagavadgita, is a completely different question."

I forgot. What is the question? The question is whether this or that scripture can exhaustively contain God, and the answer must be No. Am I pushing against an open door, or do we have disagreement? Which is fine. I'm speaking only for myself.

Let's put it this way: there are certain things I can't help believing, one of them being that God is necessarily beyond form, but provides man with certain forms in order to meet, greet, and understand Him. And I cannot believe that God would withhold all such forms to the majority of men, thus condemning them to ignorance, slavery, and ultimately, perdition. That wouldn't be very sporting, and our God is a sporting God.

For most of human history this wasn't an issue, since various groups kept to themselves. But now we know about these other so-called revelations, and there are only three ways to deal with them: 1) Those other folks are crazy, and only we have the truth; 2) No, you're all crazy, and this only proves that religion is invented by man; 3) Not so fast -- a religious revelation is a form of the formless, or a local expression of the nonlocal; the potential expressions of the formless are by definition infinite and inexhaustible, so of course there are different forms.

Which goes to the title of Schuon's essay, "understanding esoterism": "In fact, sapiential esoterism -- total and universal, not formalistic -- can alone satisfy every legitimate mental need," for only it "can reply to all the questions raised by religious divergences and limitations..."

Let us take, for example, the doctrine of sola scriptura. In a very real way, it runs headlong into the Great Wall of Gödel, since it endeavors to be both consistent and complete. But no amount of cogitation can eliminate certain inconsistencies. When people come up against such a wall, they often just rename the inconsistencies mysteries, and leave it at that.

But what about those legitimate mental needs? What about bOb?

First of all, a map needn't be perfect in order to get you where you need to go. But Schuon implies the existence of some sort of perfect map, one that can satisfy every mental need. Every legitimate mental need, to be precise.

Really? A Bold Statement Tell me more.

Yes, there are certain keys -- AKA principles -- that allow us to not only enter this or that religion, but religion as such. Importantly, this doesn't imply that all religions are equal, any more than positing the existence of beauty means that all artistic objects are equally beautiful. Rather, it actually gives us a vertical standard with which to situate the beauty on our side of creation.

Consider the fact that certain parts of a religion are more important or fundamental than others. How do we recognize this? It must be because certain ideas are closer to the Principle that animates them. Not only are some more distant, but in another essay Schuon posits a "human margin" where the revelation shades off into a region that is more man than God.

Gosh. Wouldn't it be great if we had an objective and disinterested way to explain to a religious believer where and why he has it wrong? Is there a universal standard to which we can appeal, or are we inevitably stuck with ignorant armies clashing by night?

To be continued...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Simon Says Grab Your Bucket

So often problems result from trying to divide complementarities that cannot be divided -- for example, realism from nominalism.

The latter denies the existence of essences, such that there is no such thing as (for example) human nature, rather, just this or that particular human. A nominalist would insist that essences such as human nature are just products of our imagination that do not exist in reality.

Which sounds crazy to a Raccoon. Nevertheless, it has its place in the scheme of things. For example, I remember stories of people on LSD suddenly realizing that this was a TREE! Not just any tree, but a TREE! Prior to this realization they had merely perceived the category of treeness, but now they were seeing and communing with a real TREE!

Trees notwithstanding, there are some entities that cannot be members of any other category. Or one entity, anyway: God. Only God is God -- although even then, there are certain qualifications, more on which as we proceed.

Man would be the closest such entity this side of creation, being that every human being is a unique instance, with the exception of MSM journalists, who are all the same.

As to the qualifier around God being God, Schuon suggests -- or insists, rather -- that the first division is not between God and creation, but rather, within God. Indeed, you might say that the essence/form complementarity extends all the way up and into God: there is the formless God known only to God, and the "confessional face" of God, which is turned toward us.

By way of analogy, we can see our friend's face and know it's him. But is it ever really possible to know him, from the inside out? No.

And indeed, the central Christian mystery is God literally taking on a human face. But can we really know what's going on behind the face? Nah.

In any event, it should be uncontroversial to a Raccoon that "The psychic and mental consciousness perceives appearances" whereas "intellectual or heart knowledge perceives the Essence." We see both, but not with the same eye(s).

Recall Jesus asking the disciples face-to-face: Who do you say I am? Peter, stone cold sober but with eyes surely not made by Darwin, blurts out, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!

Like anyone could know that! Or, like any merely terrestrial eyes could see that.

For this is not revealed to Simon "by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven." A communication of essence occurs, but it is Essence-to-essence, as it were -- from the deepest part of reality to the deepest part of the erstwhile Simon. No doubt Simon surprised even -- or especially -- himself with his left-field utterance.

If the first "division" is between Godhead and Creator, the second must be between Creator and Creation. Bear in mind that this is all "in a manner of speaking," or from the human point of view. From God's perspective...

Well, we can't really know, can we? But it might be something as simple and spontaneous as the Aeon playing like a child along the shore with with colored balls (to paraphrase a gag from Heraclitus). God is the endless nonlocal ocean, we are the materialized local shore. Didn't Rumi say some perfectly nonsensical things about this?

It's been awhile. Let me see.

The introduction says that Rumi's creativity was like a continuous fountain "from beyond forms and the mind," or "from a mind within the mind." His poems "are not discrete entities but a fluid," "not so much about anything as spoken from within something." Indeed, his poetry "can be felt as a salt breeze" from the ocean, "traveling inland." And inward.

Example.

My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, / and I intend to end up there...

I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary...

Lo, I am with you always means that when you look for God, / God is in the look in your eyes, / in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self...

So

Try to be a sheet of paper with nothing on it. / Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing, / where something might be planted, / a seed, possibly, from the Absolute....

Do you think I know what I'm doing? / That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself? / As much as a pen knows what it's writing, / or the ball can guess where it's going next.

But

This is how it always is / when I finish a poem. / A great silence comes over me, and I wonder why I ever thought / to use language.

I'm lookin' at you, bOb!

1. Grab your little bucket. 2. Proceed to the ocean. 3. Fill bucket with colored balls. 4. Play on shore. 5. Repeat.

Child playing on shore with colored ball, taken by Mrs. G:

Beach Boy #beach #flip #momwithcamera #cali #photography #photos #weareparkour #freerunning #flipping #parkour #pier

A post shared by Leslie Godwin (@parkourmom99) on

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Latest in Boredom Extension

I overslept for some reason. However, I awakened with a post on my mind. Or at least I thought it was a post. As it stands, it's more of an idea for a post, with insufficient time to flesh it out. If only I had endless time!

Instapundit often links to articles on the latest ideas in life extension. I'll admit to having dabbled in it since my early 20s, ingesting various antioxidants, phytochemicals, anti-inflammatories, microbrews, and other magic potions.

Do they work? Well, it's difficult to conduct a randomized double-blind controlled study on oneself. But I mainly do it for reasons of general health and hypochondria, not because I want to live forever. Also, I try to do anything that can give the old melon a boost, even if it's at the margins.

It seems to me that the desire to live forever must relate to the decline in religiosity. There is a widespread belief among atheists that people are religious mainly because they fear death -- or in other words, it's just a secret desire to live forever, or life extension by another name.

I can say without hesitation that if I were given the choice of a greatly extended life without God, or of the usual four score and change with God, I would choose the latter. Why?

Because a life without God, no matter how long, would be intolerably boring. Nothing would mean anything. The life of the spirit, which is the most interesting adventure there is, would be off the table. Therefore, what would I do with myself?

By the way, this presupposes that if I were an atheist I would be an honest one. I would understand the implications, which, if seriously entertained, lead to futility, despair, and pointlessness. Basically you are reduced to a life of raw sensation. Anything above that would just be pretending. But that gets boring rather quickly.

Interesting how that works. I'm a big baseball fan, and the Dodgers are having their best year since I've been alive. In fact, they're doing so well that it's almost... boring, something I would never say if they were in second place, or a few games out of a wild card spot. Similarly, pursuing terrestrial immortality can be interesting. But having it? Boring!

What would I do with my mind if I couldn't use it to explore the wild Godhead? I have a painfully low threshold of boredom. Frankly, almost everything bores me. And yet, I am almost never bored. But that is thanks to God. So, if there were no God, I would die of boredom. In that context, life extension would only rub it in.

Put it this way: because God exists, I'm getting a kick out of this terrestrial life. But for the same reason, I wouldn't want it to go on forever. Conversely, if God didn't exist, life might not go on forever, but it would sure feel that way.