Saturday, July 16, 2016

Eldritch Revelations: The Irony of God and Cosmos

You may have heard of the radical exploits of Jurgen Schulze. But I was his psychiatrist before he escaped from Borsa Castle, the Transylvanian mental institution, and before he formed his infamous, bizarre cult. “God is dead,” he told me in one of my weekly evaluations of his mental condition. “Long live the gods,” he added, grinning at that gnomic remark. Only after his unprecedented and mysterious escape did I read his actual German writings, although by then mere scraps survived his attempt to burn the text; apparently, he’d done so just prior to his escape. I found the singed remnants in a corner of his residence, and judging by the pile of ashes, only a very small portion of the whole remained legible, one of which is the title, Lebending und Wach in der Totte Gott. Nevertheless, piecing these together with his peculiar remarks in the interviews, I’ve reconstructed Schulze’s philosophy. The public often prefers to demonize the mentally ill, on the basis of its prejudices, but perhaps there’s an appetite abroad to warrant this exposition of Schulze’s rather hair-raising worldview.

According to Schulze, the history of cosmology shows that from the most naïve, parochial myths of ancient times, to the experimental, objective theories of modern physics, explanations of nature approach the truth as they become maximally ironic. This means that nature surprises any species that searches for the ultimate truth, by anti-correlating intuitions with facts. Intelligent creatures evolve to exploit a niche, a way of surviving in an environment. Creatures that endure long enough to reach equilibrium with their territory, because their genes have created winning uniformities in their traits—and have built thus an adapted body-type or a species, as such—rely on those innate abilities that allow them to succeed. In that respect, creatures are inherently conservative in evaluating their intuitions, reflexes, and other habits or traditions. Creatures that are interested solely in surviving under those terms we call animals, while those that survive in virtue of their rational powers of understanding become aware of more and more possibilities until their sights are set on a universe that’s worlds apart from the locale in which they’re evolutionarily suited to succeed. Had the universe been as large only as the mythical Garden of Eden, or were there no life forms that could see further than their neighbourhood or that could think other than in their nakedly species-centric fashion, the pursuit of knowledge wouldn’t be ironic, because there would have been no knowledge in the first place. But because it’s evidently possible to be excluded from the Garden, as it were, for creatures to ponder matters that are at best tangentially related to their biological life cycle, so that there have arisen persons or independent agents, ultimate knowledge is also theoretically possible—and that knowledge is necessarily not just counterintuitive but fulsomely so. On these grounds which he expressed in several of our sessions, Schulze declares in one of the intact fragments of his philosophical writings, “This is why the more exquisite the humiliating implications of a theory of the nature of reality, the greater the theory’s chance of being true” (3a).

Cosmology began with religious myths which assume that there are divine, perfect persons who create nature for our benefit. For Schulze, this is the maximally naïve way of misunderstanding the universe, by means of which we project our prejudices onto the wider world. The opposite, atheistic scenario, however, isn’t necessarily the most ironic and thus the most epistemically justified. Today, physics stops at the point of positing objective causes and effects and other quantifiable phenomena, and so excludes magic and the supernatural from its universe of discourse. Instead of being created by God, nature creates itself from chaos according to laws, principles, and free parameters which the physicist nevertheless inevitably smuggles into the picture of the chaotic starting point. This is because whereas chaos or the nonbeing out of which nature emerged has no need to conform to human reason, physicists are methodologically bound to rational ideals which must guide their explanations. But were the universe fundamentally material and objective, as scientists understand it to be, cosmic irony would not be maximized, because our expectations have adjusted after the Scientific Revolution. Schulze therefore writes, “The ultimate theory of the world must confound both the gullible, narrow-minded zealot and the cynical, self-abnegating scientist; otherwise, cognitive progress might end in harmony between intuitions and facts, which is contrary to the principle of irony that’s entailed by the history of cosmology” (3b). The universe may or may not be harmonious from its impersonal frame of reference, although this is technically an incoherent figure of speech; certainly, though, the nature of the metaphysical facts conflicts with any intelligent species that arises to attempt to explain them, since such a species will pride itself on its dignity which the natural facts are bound to drastically undercut. The perfected theory may prove adequate to the facts, in some epistemological respect, but those facts will confound the species as a whole, including its intuitions, preferred self-image, and life-sustaining cultures.

Schulze lays these points out in one of the longer surviving fragments:
As far as intelligent life can tell from this corner of the galaxy, the most ironic explanation of the cosmos must posit a deity, to baffle the beleaguered naturalists and secularists, but must simultaneously remove that deity from the prevailing ontology, to torment the masses of anachronistic god-worshippers. To maximize irony and to fulfill our philosophical obligation to understand the facts even at the cost of our happiness, we, the enlightened few must assume that God—some intelligent mind—accounts fundamentally for natural being, but that this primary mind somehow negates itself so that there could be no responsible hope for religious salvation. (4a)
Deism is one possibility, but that theory proposes that God exists alongside the universe, which he created but which doesn’t interest him, and this leaves open the possibility that God will change him mind, which again presumably gives hope to theists and contradicts the principle of metaphysical irony. Schulze conceded that the more psychologically-plausible scenario was hit upon by one Philipp Mainlander in the nineteenth century, who surmised that God decided to commit suicide, which required that he transform himself into a material body, namely the natural universe, so that he could eventually disintegrate into nothingness. We thus inhabit God’s rotting carcass. Although Mainlander doesn’t speculate as to God’s reasons, these are clear from human politics and psychology, which should approximate the truth given that God is supposed to be a mind of some sort. Assuming as Schulze did, that polytheistic systems such as Hinduism logically reduce to monotheism, the primary deity would had to have been isolated by his majestic priority to everything else and thus must have been eternally lonely, which should have driven him to madness; moreover, his power over everything else would have corrupted him and exacerbated his burgeoning psychopathy. Schulze thus suspects that “Deicide might have been an act of saving grace, albeit one that dooms all intelligent creatures evolving in God’s wake, to grim resistance against the cosmic tide” (6c).

In one of his more cryptic fragments, Schulze writes, “The imperative to mortify all sentient beings with a sign of nature’s overflowing irony compels us to join physics with theology, to discern the poetic significance of universal decay” (6b). For Schulze, the data degradation of all systems resulting from entropy, particle decay, and quantum decoherence through a system’s interaction with its environment is metaphysically necessary. The invariant matrix element or probability amplitude connecting the initial state of absolute Being to Nonbeing is psychological, as it is in the Copenhagen interpretation of the wave function’s collapse. But instead of a measurement problem, solved by the need to invoke an observer before which particles must concretize their motion or position, we’re faced with the disparity between what there is and what there should be, which existential burden is overcome by interpreting cosmic evolution as the result of a psychological inevitability.

There must have been God, but God can no longer be, because knowledge should be perfectly unsettling, and so God must have initiated natural regularities by a moral collapse, by a primordial descent into melancholy and madness. Familiar psychological and political principles—that power corrupts and that loneliness breeds depression—bridge the theological and the physical, the sacred and the profane; the archetypal fall from grace is the source of Becoming, of the natural transformations of pristine Being into irredeemable nothingness. Schulze argues that “The infinite promise of a magical Creator is spoiled by the fact that this Creator had the misfortune of being alive and so was cursed with having eventually to succumb to temptation” (7a). The existential meaning of all things is given by their ultimate end point, which is the final void, because the relation between those two isn’t contingent, but poetically just. “All things are destined to be undone when they dissolve into nothingness, because God divined a technique for terminating the absurdity of his ‘perfect’ life” (7b).  

The probability that God’s initial pristine state of absolute being would transition into nature, the latter being the process of matter’s disintegration into nonbeing, is given by the following formula, adapted from Fermi’s Golden Rule, which Schulze had scrawled on one of his walls:
g→n = cא/A│⟨n│Mˈ│g⟩2lim/(I→∞)
He explained to me that the double-struck gamma signifies the one-to-many transition probability per unit mind, and the supernatural initial state of divine being g likely transitions to natural state n when the characterological configuration of God’s mental states c is multiplied by the numerical constant א (aleph), which signifies the proportional relation between a mind and its actions, divided by A, the range of possible actions that outwardly express mental energy. Assuming that that range allows for the transition, and irony is maximized as indicated by the right-side portion of the equation, which says that in the limit case irony is infinite, the transition occurs by way of the square of the matrix element, composed of the perturbing state Mˈ, melancholy, which couples the initial and end states. The field of potential actions is consistent with the degradation of divine being, because that being is singular, as intuited by monotheists. God is almighty Being and so must stand alone at the apex of reality, but for that very reason God’s fall from grace was inevitable. Indeed, irony flows from the deity like the Holy Spirit, because God’s supremeness meant that he was obligated to be myopic, which is to say self-absorbed, and that instilled the original vanity leading to his derangement and to his plan for escaping from that self-imposed prison. “God chose suicide by the transference of sacred being into the pit of profane matter, but the law of irony persists as an echo of God’s psychosis” (8a). (Note, therefore, that although Schulze retains the sexist reference to God as a masculine figure, he deprives the patriarch of any privilege that’s traditionally accrued from that identification. For Schulze, God is the worst, not the greatest being, and the masculine vices are inherent to that depravity.)

As Schulze jotted onto a scrap of paper, irony, in turn, takes the form of the relationship V(F) → D, where V is vanity as applied to some fact F, yielding a distorted representation D. A mind perceives a fact such as a stone’s resting on the earth, but instead of humbly receiving the essence of that perceived state of affairs, renouncing his personal preoccupations, the mind projects the latter onto that which is present, casting the fact in the mind’s image. Irony entails, then, a disparity between what minds can know and what can exist regardless of whether it’s known or is knowable. “In his supernatural domain, God was all, but God eventually failed to know himself, because he entered the pseudoreality of his psychosis” (8c). God longed for what could never be: an equal or an escape from loneliness and from his destined corruption by his unchallengeable might. He retreated to his megalomaniacal delusions, like any despot, and so sealed his fate. Whereas God should have been eternal, he nullified his divinity with the act of so-called Creation.

As I said, irony is preserved by evolved creatures, because their genes make them selfish and so they’re bound to misconstrue the natural world. But for Schulze, life’s evolution was necessitated by the deeper irony that, whereas God’s plan was to inject his being into a material body that could be annihilated, godlike, albeit hapless beings had to reemerge to stage a doomed revolt against that plan. “Otherwise, alpha would have vanished into omega, the sun would have set for eternity, and a mad king would merely have succeeded in achieving his psychotic aim” (9b). The nullity of nonbeing would straightforwardly cancel out the plenitude of God’s absoluteness, which would deprive Irony of its chance to perpetrate its mischievous games. To maximize irony, God’s purpose must be opposed, and so from his decaying corpse arise sentient, intelligent creatures that are capable of understanding their horrific lot. Their fate must be tragic, of course, and so they won’t reverse the course of natural degradation, by artificially revivifying God in the form of ideals that recapture the platonic heaven of original divine reality. Irony is the tendency towards epistemic disharmony. That disharmony is maximized not in chaos but in the approach towards a happy balance that’s fated to skew in the opposite direction at the pivotal moment.

According to Schulze, “Irony entails a form of mental torture: the futility of perfect knowledge is attributable to the emergence of evil in God’s character” (9a). We can’t understand the world before us, because we’re pebbles caught up in a metaphysical landslide; “understanding” something means not identifying with it, but standing under the thing and so falsifying it, by interpreting it from only one vantage point. As it really is, the primary world of nature is atrocious and we’re fated simultaneously to rummage through its nooks and crannies for clues of how to survive, and to retreat to our cultural and technological playgrounds that cater to our vanity. “We imagine we’re lords of Creation even though we thereby reenact the sin not of Adam and Eve, but of Yahweh himself, and universal Creation is the ultimate act of destruction” (11b). Irony means that we’re alienated from the world, as God was self-alienated, but irony is an inferno that even God couldn’t fully control, and so God’s grim plan for Being’s termination provides for the (mere) hope of renewal. “God flickers back to life in the minds of evolved creatures, but only to haunt finite versions of him from beyond the grave, to scale the heights of objectivity and to grasp the extent of his downfall” (9c).

For Schulze, the emergence of organic processes in a physical world bent on annihilating itself is surprising not just because some of the chemical preconditions are presently unknown, but because, theologically speaking, the creation of nature was meant to wipe out Mind in its purest form and because organisms are anti-natural. The Cartesian distinction between interiority and exteriority isn’t just a philosophical conceit, but is found in each organic cell that selects how the outer world can interface with the cell’s internal parts, by processing whatever passes through the membrane. The cell’s internal structure is sacrosanct and must be shielded from the indifferent environment. Thus, all creatures are fundamentally selfish and short-sighted; the wisdom of setting aside your personal good for the universal betterment of some abstraction, including even the good of your species as a whole, is a higher form of supernature. Biological normality is the lower, more common form, since genetically-imposed egoism entails a conflict between the individual and the rest. The world sustains life, such as by providing sunlight for photosynthesis or water for sustenance, but this happens only by accident as far as natural law is concerned: the indifference of physical events is at odds with the self-directedness of organic processes. Therefore, a creature wants to survive even at the cost of objectifying other creatures and using them for food or for slaves, and in the limit case, individual survival is achieved by undoing physicality, by rewriting natural laws and creating an artificial world within the larger, putrefying one. “This subworld would displace all of nature if the self-oriented creatures could fulfill their dream of establishing heaven on earth, that is, of replacing earth with heaven” (12c).

The abstraction of a collective good is likewise anti-natural because even should that greater good be interpreted as the preservation of nature, as in the case of environmentalism, any ideal or purpose is an imposition on physical aimlessness. And for Schulze, collective goods emerge as a result of rational thinking which, far from uniting intelligent creatures with the universe, alienates the former by eventually informing them about the dreadful destiny of the latter. Legends of miracles and religious poetry about supernatural orders are only jumbled reports of the fact that supernature stares us all in the face: life within a universe that’s fundamentally hostile to life—to the point of guaranteeing the extinction of all living things as a matter of natural course—is an astonishing anomaly. All life is miraculous because egos prefer an ideal subworld to the impartiality of physical causes and effects; egos thus oppose nature just as nature crushes their dreams by eliminating each living thing, one by one, without exception.  

But the irony isn’t encapsulated just by that anomaly of life’s emergence. Evolutionary forces conspire, as it were, to reenact the godhead. The scarcity of resources, the competition for mates, and the selfishness of organic hosts for lines of genetic code result in social hierarchies dominated by alpha leaders whose tyrannies flow from something akin to God’s madness. Animal dominators evince the amorality and sloth that would have belonged to the almighty deity, while sapient dominators relive God’s sociopathy as though they were possessed by His Holy Spirit. If life is miraculous, mentality is sacred, for Schulze: the peaks of organic evolution, at which points minds sustain metaphysically forbidden thoughtscapes, are simultaneously precious and treacherous because these narratives and models and other mental contents verge on the tragic thoughts of the fallen Absolute. Being on holy ground is standing where everyone longs to be but also where no one ought to stand, because being there ensures your destruction. Merely thinking in nature is thus a holy act, because the more you think, the more like God you become as you’re corrupted by power and driven mad by the implications of scientific discoveries. “Thought was meant to be terminated prior to the complexifications that fill up space and time, but because a self-annihilating almighty Lord is supremely ironic, the irony persists in the re-emergence of divine Being in the form of organisms—especially the predators and warlords and cognitive elites who over and over again replay God’s collapse, as though with their lives they were bound to answer the first part of a joke written into the flow of nature” (14a). On these grounds, Schulze asks, “Given that God is dead, are we obligated to revivify him and if so are we thereby saints or clowns?” (14b).


  1. Read Abraxas-"Knowledge of the Waters".

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I've actually been slowly reading Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World.

      I've had a look at "knowledge of the Waters." The metaphysical premises sound a lot like Schopenhauer's, but whereas Schopenhauer agrees with Buddhists that we should resist the universal Will/Energy, by means of ascetic renunciation, Evola's group hold out the possibility of mastering the fundamental Force by esoteric means.

      As far as I can see, there's no need for mystification here. Plainly, human mastery of reality has been happening through history in social processes, particularly those relating to science and technology. Why suppose that we can magically control both subjects and objects, when science and technology provide these powers before our eyes? I appreciate that the magic in question isn't supposed to be spiritualist, but practical, but cognitive science, therapy, propaganda, and so on have superseded the hermetic "Great Work," at least to a large extent. I've argued on this blog against scientism, so I agree that scientific objectification is bound to be insufficient as a means of explaining qualia and other features of our inner life. But I do think scientific progress steals much of Evola's thunder.

      Also, I don't follow the step from assuming our personal selves are ephemeral to inferring that the deeper Force blurs the line between subject and object. Anyway, didn't Einstein already do this by showing that energy is equivalent to matter? When we take into account quantum physics and the like, it seems to me there's more than enough magic and mystery right in hardcore science, without the need to invent something that's arguably pseudoscience, such as you find in much of the occult.

      But it is interesting reading. I'll have to take it into account as I continue to formulate these eldritch revelations...

    2. I would not agree with you that the achievements of cognitive science,therapy,propaganda and so on pushed the need for achieving a hermetic Great Work in our modern times.This first thing mentioned has a distinctly secular purpose while the Great Work facing metaphysical dimension of human expirience.The Great Work is synonymous for process of Initiation,while on other side instant spirituality of the New Age ideology represent the product of what Julius Evola called counter-initiation.Counter-initiation is sophisticated form of self-deception where most ordinary hallucination and delusions is declared for top spiritual achievements.

    3. I've always thought that the 'Great Work' was a symbolic process too, though you'd really, really need to be on that trip not to feel silly participating in some of the rituals as a modern. It's religion, but by definition the mystical expression. I find it fascinating to read about (some of the authors, who aren't peddling exoteric wish fulfillment). Evola always struck me as trying to enact a Nietzchean change, calling for Uber-men to transform through the rites. I only read a little long ago, though. He wrote about a lot of interesting areas.

    4. Apart from Friedrich Nietzsche to Evola had a strong influence another author named Rene Guenon.

    5. Anon, I said " least to a large extent." According to "Knowledge of the Waters," 'To create something stable, impassive, immortal, something rescued from the "Waters" that is now living and breathing outside of them, finally free; and then, like a strong man who grasps a raging bull by the horns, slowly but relentlessly subjugating it, to dominate this cosmic nature in oneself--this is the secret of our Art.'

      Of course, modern psychologists and therapists would hardly put their work in those terms. What I meant is that the goal of self-improvement has been reinterpreted by modernists, that is, by experts who came after the Scientific Revolution. The magus, in Evola's sense, may agree with some Hindus and other Eastern mystics that inner improvement somehow goes hand in hand with outer mastery of the world, because Atman is the same as Brahman: there's only one ultimate substance, and the Self is the same as the essence of outer, material reality.

      But I think it's evident that technological progress has outpaced the social kind. Science has allowed us to master the material world even while we still often behave like animals. If the Great Work is about deciding what we ought to do, given our increasing powers over nature, I'd agree that scientists and engineers, as such, would have no business dictating answers. What tends to happen instead is that in technologically-advanced societies, a liberal marketplace is established that's supposed to allow individuals to decide what to be for themselves, even though their choices are constrained by the materialistic propaganda that floods the culture through mass media channels.

      I'd also agree with you and Evola regarding the phony spirituality of what you call "counter-initiation." When I said that cognitive therapy and the like have largely superseded the classical, spiritual ideal of self-improvement, I didn't mean to imply that that's for the best. I've criticized the norms of personhood espoused by cognitive therapists and psychiatrists, for example, in my articles under Mental Health in the Map of the Rants.

    6. Guthrie, I've thought a bit about the need for what I called a "viable postmodern religion." As I think even Evola would agree, the words "magic" and even "spirituality" have been tainted, much like the word "liberal" nowadays--tainted by exotericists. Perhaps the outer meanings of key words that are fit for the ignorant folks always overtake the inner meanings, at least in mass culture, and so it's up to those who want to be authentic to disregard such biases and obfuscations in their search for the truth.

      But that's just a question about labels. The question for me is whether the classical link between inner and outer reality holds true. Heidegger put this in existentialist terms when he said that we can learn about Being in general by studying Daisein, or what it is to "be there" as a human experiences Being. That looks to me like the most naive sort of anthropocentrism. There's a reckoning that needs to be made here with the cosmicist implications of scientific naturalism.

      Yes, Evola does sound Nietzschean. I'm curious to read how he deals with the concept of race. I think he rejects the Nazis' pseudoscientific, biological interpretation, but I don't think "race" is the most useful category, in any case. Instead, I'd turn to the ethological types of alphas, betas, and omegas, or to something along those lines (leaders, followers, and outsiders).

  2. Ben, is your family aware of your philosophy? Do they know about your worldview?

    1. I laughed when I read this though it is an interesting biographical question. "Ben, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?!"

    2. I've talked politics with my brothers and my dad, but my family is either uninterested in philosophy in general or wouldn't readily understand the rest of my philosophical views. So they belong to the camp of what's likely the 85% of human adults who likewise aren't interested in philosophy or aren't equipped to do philosophy on a sustained basis.

      I haven't hid my views, but neither do I share them for the sake of changing people's minds who don't wish to be assailed with foreign ideas.

      My family's not particularly religious, so probably the most offensive part of my blog would be its writings on sex. As is quite consistent with those writings, while sex in the abstract is prevalent in the American-led monoculture, talk of people's personal sex lives is taboo. So the chance for me to spread my views doesn't present itself, even were I inclined to take that chance. I'm averse to awkwardness, so I'm not going to try to convert anyone to postmodern asceticism, like some loony, blinkered fundamentalist. Only were I personally attacked might I fall back on my philosophical writings, and tease out and satirize the gross hypocrisies that might lie at the root of those attacks.

    3. Yes it can be said that scientific progress of mastering the external reality is not going to pair with exploration and mastery of the inner reality.What we have at work is rapid sub-humanization,modern man becomes more and more blind to your own inner reality and "transhumanism" represent the culmination of that process.Science is not to blame for this trend,the problem is in carelessness and stupidity of modern humanity(whose days are numbered).I believe that non-humanocentric Metaphysics of Rene Guenon may with certain changes have the added value of verticality to horizontality of cosmicist worldview. Zoran from Serbia

    4. Ah, Zoran, but in that case, if mastering external reality doesn't have to go along with mastering of internal reality, I think there's a problem with Evola's mysticism. Again, the Knowledge of Waters text says the inner force which is deeper than the ego ‘is undifferentiated, being idea, substance, and motion, both physical and psychic; it is indifferent toward good and evil and to every form, in its plastic capacity to be transformed into all things. It is a blind yearning; in it, idea and reality are instantaneously and "magically" one and the same, just as in that reflection of it, that "path" leading to it, which is the power of imagination in man.

      ‘Since everything is at the mercy of this force and exists through this force, know that he who learns to master it completely will be able to dominate through all of nature: fire, earth, air, and water, life and death, the powers of heaven and hell, because this force encompasses them all.’

      How, then, is the Kali Yuga dark age possible during the age of scientific enlightenment and of technological mastery of nature? It’s one thing to show that late modern culture is dehumanizing, which I agree with. It’s another thing to take into account the fact that nevertheless we intantilized folks have godlike power through technology. The simplest explanation of this imbalance is that metaphysical monism is false: there’s a profound divide between life and nonlife, between mind and matter. "Magical" mind over matter, then, can happen only with technological mediation: we inject our intentions and values into our machines, into our languages, worldviews, and cityscapes, and that’s how we control our fate by taming and humanizing indifferent natural processes.

      I’ll have to look into Rene Guenon.

    5. Ben dualism and monism are modernist concepts and have nothing to do with the esoteric teaching of Primordial Tradition represented by R.Guenon and Evola.On the basis of this teaching Reality is Triadic and Tetradic,first is relating to its dynamics and the other on completeness of manifested Reality(R.G."The Great Triad",R.G."The Symbolism of the Cross").The said part of Abraxas article refers to Prakrti(Primordial Matter) from which they are generated Body and Psyche(emotions,affects and mind) while Purusha-Atman who must emancipate himself and control that matrix.This article is taken from book "Introduction to Magic"by J.Evola and UR group.4 Yugas represents a qualitative form of time.In Satya Yuga(Golden Age) subjective time/duration is lengthen and in him dominate Form-Esence-Quality.In Kali Yuga subjective time/duration is accelerating and in him dominate Matter-Substance-Quantity(R.G-"The reign of quantity and signs of time").Apart from Evola "Revolt against Modern World" it is good to read his book-"Ride the Tiger".Zoran from Serbia

    6. I asked the question about your family. I recently got into a conversation with my mother about the existence of god, which quickly devolved into a near argument. Being an atheist I really don't want to try to shake peoples faith, and believe that thinking the way you or I do does have consequences. Our worldview would lead some people to depression. I guess sometimes I wonder, what is it about us that keeps us from losing it. When I tell some people how I feel about the nature if existence, they seem to think I'm "dark." The reality is that I feel fine most of the time. I do feel a bit alienated from popular society because of my views, but other than that I feel OK.

    7. Zoran, so it's more complicated than I assumed. I'll have to read more about it, and maybe it will get clearer as I read further into Revolt against the Modern World. From your summary, it looks like the system is dualistic, after all. In that case, I don't yet see how the magical control fits in. I take it the underlying, universal Self (God or Atman) controls the illusory material and mental worlds (i.e. material objects and egos or the mental constructions we misidentify as our true selves)?

      Not sure you're getting at my point about the dark age. If objectification or over-quantification are hallmarks of our present age, that would be consistent with the dominance of science and technology. But then that form of dominance would still be severed from psychological progress, the latter being mostly absent.

    8. Anon, I know what you mean. When I was younger, I'd argue with theists on the early internet discussion forums (Secular Web, mostly), and I eventually learned that those discussions are mostly pointless. Minds are hardly ever changed. All those discussions did was offer me a chance to hone my writing and debating skills, and to research interesting topics. I still enjoy reading or listening to debates, which is why I write dialogues (the Clash of Worldviews series), but I'm not interested in trying to change people's minds.

      When I discuss philosophical matters with friends or with strangers, which is rare, I much prefer to employ the Socratic method, to ask questions to get the other person to say something interesting so I can learn something or be inspired to alter my thinking. With enough beer I can pontificate, but that's almost a performance art.

      I think we atheists get by by distracting ourselves with work, family, and the rest of the business of living. That's why Dawkins' atheist bus slogan says "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." The second sentence is the pragmatic part: don't stew in fear of nonexistent hell, but neither should you stew in Nietzschean, existential angst. Get on with the business of living, because the atheistic truth is as loathsome as the theistic fiction.

  3. The principle of metaphysical irony seems like an attempt to upstage both the archaic religionists and the arrogant secular modernists. It reminds me of this classic xkcd comic: I don't think the idea that nature is some kind of trickster who's set out to defy our expectations can be supported.

    1. That's an amusing cartoon, Anon. I had the idea for this Principle of Irony some years ago. I offer it here somewhat facetiously. The germ of it was perhaps my learning as an undergraduate of what Aristotle says about luck, that it's what happens in the natural field of cause and effect when it looks AS IF there were a mind in charge who is toying with us. That's a paraphrase, but the point as I understood it is that talk of luck is ironic and satirical. We anthropomorphize the world because events unfold as if their source were otherwise, even though we know it's not really so.

      Of course, in the dark monotheistic context of the above article, I'm saying that God would had to have been destined to end in an ironic twist of fate. Fate would be the highest god, as it were, or at least Fate would emerge from God's fall into madness and melancholy. Roughly speaking, God wouldn't go quietly into that good night: organic life is his raging against the dying of the light.

      If we lay this context aside and ask whether as strict naturalists and atheists we should adhere to the principle of irony as a guide to truth, I think it wouldn't be a foolish gamble to do so. The reasoning would begin with the negative induction regarding scientific progress. All previous theories have been falsified, so the present ones will likewise be overturned. Either science will end in a perfect, complete theory or the process will be endless, because there's no such thing as Truth (or because truth has a pragmatic component, so it shifts with the culture, with the prevailing survival strategies, and so on). If we take the main lesson of postmodernity to be the latter sort of skepticism, at least with regard to philosophy if not to science, we can still get at a tantalizing ultimate truth indirectly, by imagining what would have to be so for everyone to be maximally embarrassed by their attempts to know what's going on at the metaphysical level.

      The deep question is whether we live in a world that will ultimately reward our attempt to understand it or is this world instead one that will humiliate us, because we're accidental, absurd complexifications? If it's more like the latter world, the truth should be stranger than our fictions.

  4. Yes it's complicated and I'am still learning about all this.Atman is not God-precisely Gods because the term originate from Hinduism.Atman is eternal metaphysical principles while Gods are transient and mortal like humans.This principle is realized through years of practice of Raja Yoga,Jnana Yoga,Neti-Neti meditation and et cetera.For the attitude of dualism and teaching of Primordial Traditions is best to read following articles:"The problems that result from locating Spirituality in the Psyche" by Rama P. Coomaraswamy on article and R.Guenon "The Demiurge".Zoran from Serbia

  5. Ben, I was reading your book CHFCA recently. I came across the section discussing the relationship between ancient Rome and Judea. I'm fascinated by this topic, and believe that it's probably a subversive/taboo subject. I believe it's taboo, because it reveals a lot about the power base of the western world. Not only then, but quite possibly now. Also the mainstream history on the subject is embarrassingly inaccurate, possibly intentionally. There is a man on you tube, that delves into this quite a bit.

  6. The only thing more terrifying than the undead God , is a God of everything. Who made both worlds with afterlifes and ones without and everything between. Who killed himself to die and stop existing , but still lives on as both the most good being , but also the worse and most evil , who will cast unbelievers into hell fire , but also only bring the wise atheists to heaven. It just depends what part of everything we are in XD hopefully it's the one where we die and never live again. Heck among everything , their are parts where God did not exist and didn't create the world , coming about naturally, while next door , in another totally separate and unreachable universe people live in eternal ecstacy, but then you can add or remove god and each splitting distinction is its own part of everything. Man just won the worse lottery and gets to see it all , but only exist in one part of infinite. Madness ? Hell yeah , but than again choosing not to kill yourself is the craziest thing you can do , or heck even trying to grasp reality itself is but madness.

    1. The multiverse is indeed mind-blowing. But you're probably aware that there's a debate among scientists as to the scientific status of this sort of math-based generalization. It seems just as strange that math should be our entry to understanding ultimate reality, as that consciousness could be such an entry, as the mystic says.

      Also, if the different worlds contradict each other, as you suggest, it's hard to see how the multiverse could have a mathematical explanation, after all. Leonard Susskind speaks of a "landscape" of possible universes, but it must be math that provides the laws that govern that landscape structure between the infinite universes. If that landscapes allows for the universes to contradict each other, what sort of reasoning is being used to describe the landscape? Is this science or theology?

    2. Technically , it isn't just a thought on the literal multiverse , since that could still be constrained by mathematical law. What would define each part is the parts themselves, wich exist by and are limited by the mind , the trouble is actually proving everything, wich is essentially impossible without going to every part , yet in contradiction everything includes parts inaccessible from part to another. Any route to would shift that part to another therefore making it possible and so not everything. The interesting notion though is its accesbility within the mind and the madness it curses man with when he's faced with the part he lives within while bearing witness to everypart. It wouldn't be the math that dictates each worlds features but the parts wich the world contains that define it. When observing and studying this world and its parts they must be of a certain kind , while those beyond are not , each individual part itself defining that specific part. Aka their would not necessarily be a single beginning aka big bang , since each part would be defined by its beginning just as much as anything. Technically their is math involved but it isn't using the four basic symbols we use for calculating things , instead its inter related parts , where 1+1=2 , this math would be 1#1=1#1 , where the one and one aren't added together but exist as one part, the 1#1. And technically it's both science and theology, where one is orienting our dwelling part and the other exploring the rest. Still to truly access these other worlds would require that our world contains a part to make that possible, or perhaps we dwell in a part where their isn't even another part. Yet, we can't yet say for sure , and some parts we might never know. I'm not going to pick one, yet I respect science so any mention of God and magic triangle spiritual energy are still met with skepticism, but also curiosity at the alien part.

    3. This emphasis on different parts making up different universes sounds a little like Leibniz's mondalogy--except his system is tied together by God who designs Creation so that it unfolds in the best of all possible ways. Yours still seems held together by an underlying logic to make sense of your talk of "contradictions."

      Either way, it's a metaphysical speculation, unless it's supported by physicists' multiverse interpretation of their math. This raises the question of how we should regard metaphysical speculations. I like Nietzsche's aesthetic interpretation. Ultimately, these big ideas we have are creations that live or die in our minds. They're artworks that have meaning for us emotionally or else they're just toys we play with for awhile. Scientific theories are more objective, but their interpretations, too, are largely metaphorical and emotional.

      For example, Darwin's theory of evolution was interpreted as having a social component, as in what we now call evolutionary psychology, and that component fed not just into Nietzsche's dark philosophy but into twentieth century fascism (the weak perish, the strong survive, etc).

      The meaning we give to certain big thoughts is a choice we make, but we do so when we're moved by the ideology--rather like how we're moved by a certain artwork, whether that be a novel, a movie, a song, or a painting. Some creations resonate with us, others don't.

  7. That thought of an everything god is not the core of my own beliefs, just an after thought. It can't be proven, but it's one that amuses me, the actual goal isn't to worship or hope for the best option , but instead to observe / invent those parts. The contradiction is the point itself, in knowledge of nothing , man invents something to sniker to himself in amusement while looking at his own futile and pointless existence , to witness all the delusions nature gave him to hide her own ineptitude in being. Among other things yet does not fall to delusion but looks still apon them in both bliss and sorrow. Gaining only more parts to play with as he slowly drifts into nothingness. Smiling in amusement at his own meaningless and unheard joke.