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Rants Within the Undead God: A Cosmicist Blog
Posted by: Ben Cain (IP Logged)
Date: 19 November, 2012 03:59PM
Hi, all! I just wanted to spread the word about my blog, which explores the social consequences of existentialism and cosmicism. Here are some passages from my philosophical rants.

*****

“In so far as the everyday concepts of 'life' and 'death' are tainted by the pre-Darwinian, theistic connotations, these concepts are no longer rationally respectable. But my question is about the metaphysical concept that replaces them; specifically, if the theistic intuition is longer tenable, in light of modern science, what viable intuition about the nature of life and nonlife can be made to cohere with that scientific understanding?....

“The answer, which isn’t widely appreciated, seems to be the following. Nothing in nature is living in the old, supernatural sense. But neither is anything natural dead in that sense, since the theistic intuition is that nonliving, dumb and blind matter can’t do the work of God, which is why God is needed to create everything--especially life on Earth. Natural forces are neither alive nor dead, in the senses given by the old intuition. Nevertheless, those forces do the work of God but without being God and indeed without being alive even in the modern scientific sense. These forces, then, are undead, as are their products such as you and me, which is to say that the zombie stands as the best symbol for our intuitions to latch onto as we come to grips with the philosophical implications of Darwinism….All of nature should be thought to have mere pseudo-life, just like the fictional zombie, and this is some of the metaphysical fallout of the Darwinian picture. Thus, the under-appreciated philosophical implication of modern biology is that, like a zombie movie, the evolutionary saga is a horror show.

“Indeed, this philosophical implication of Darwinism, that the ordinary notions of life and nonlife no longer make sense and that they need to be replaced by something like the idea of a baffling state of living death, amounts to an ironic, postmodern kind of pantheism. Darwinism not only zombifies but deifies all of nature, since the evolutionary process encompasses the cosmic preconditions of the emergence of life so that the whole universe is required to create life in a mindless, natural fashion. There is no personal God, but the universe as a whole in all of its interconnectedness does yield organisms as byproducts, as though the universe were a creator god. Nature as a whole isn’t personal, but social creatures like us will inevitably interpret evolutionary patterns as anthropomorphic. The divinity of nature is no majestic thing, since the cosmos is best understood as an undead monstrosity. Whereas prior to Darwin, educated people could attribute intentional properties to the universe, with no hint of irony since they could assume that a personal god created the universe as a machine, bestowing it with artificial functions, in our postmodern time we can only look on in disgust as the universe abuses our social reflex, compelling us to be overly friendly with what we know scientifically to be inanimate matter. We know that we ourselves are spiritless entities; to be sure, we have a brain that has marvelous effects, but metaphysically we’re one with the natural cosmos, meaning that we’re thoroughly material and physical. But physically interacting material things aren’t inert or dead; they’re peerlessly creative and thus as divine as anything we can know. That divinity, however, is repulsive, blasphemous, and just as abominable as a zombie monster’s mockery of life.”

Darwinism and Nature’s Undeadness


“In fact, our two best models for understanding the relationship between the theistic God and nature are the dictator and the infant. Like God, a political dictator who is unchallenged in his prime occupies the pinnacle of a power hierarchy, and like God the dictator need merely speak for his words to be turned into action as his underlings spring to obey their orders. This power inequality isolates and spoils the dictator, so that he either devolves into a monster or the antisocial qualities that bring him to power are given freer reign. Either way, the dictator is infantilized as his every whim is carried out, so that his palace functions as an artificial womb that insulates him from harsh reality, including the misery he usually wreaks on his subjects. This brings me to the second model. Like the God of monotheism, an infant necessarily feels isolated, since the infant can’t distinguish itself from anything else. And how does the infant react to that perceived solitariness? Typically, an infant passes most of its waking hours screeching into the void, crying for comfort. Unlike God, an infant has a mother who soothes it by feeding it or rocking it to sleep. God would have no such distractions.

“With this fuller picture of God in mind, I ask yet again: Why would God, the character of the monotheistic fiction, create a universe populated in part by people? Love wouldn’t be God’s primary motivation; instead, we must imagine a pitiful soul wracked alternately by anguish, boredom, fear, and twisted perversions--anguish from the horror of his position of being necessarily alone and beyond anyone’s comprehension or sympathy; boredom from knowing everything and thus from an eternity with no surprises; fear that God has no escape from his existential predicament; and perversions as his character is warped into that of a decadent predator. If theists would only stop to think about the religious metaphors they pass around as empty memes, they’d appreciate that the hell described by prophets must actually be identical with heaven for God, which is to say that it must be hell to be the monotheistic God.”

The World’s Creation as God’s Self-Destruction


“Just as theism had to be replaced by deism, because modern scientists substituted faith in the Church for faith in the rational method, and that method depicts the world as a lifeless but self-determining machine, so now the sociopathic deity who builds the machine and then stalks it like a voyeur must be exchanged for the undead god. The upshot of postmodern physics is that the world is so alien to our ordinary conceptions that anthropocentric metaphysics has become plainly self-indulgent. The universe is not a machine, so it has no intelligent designer. Nevertheless, the world is hardly inert: everything a personal God could do to the universe, the universe does to itself; thus, the universe is god enough. But this postmodern pantheism is ironic and bittersweet, because although we become surrounded by the divine just by being in the midst of natural happenings, the god that’s actually omnipresent is a terrifyingly undead abomination that mindlessly creates, thus working towards no preplanned end, evolving for no reason at all and mocking the stories we tell about our supernatural essence of personhood. When the universe requires no mind to evolve galaxies, why does a human speck need a spirit to move from here to there?....

“Mainlander’s vision of God is psychologically plausible, merely following through on the theistic metaphor, whereas mainstream monotheistic portrayals of God are stilted, incoherent, or incomplete as works of fiction. Everything we know about the personal concentration of power implies that God would not be benevolent or fatherly, but would become corrupted and insane as a result of his isolation. By itself, this strength of Mainlander’s myth warrants that the myth should be taken seriously--again, not as a scientific theory, nor even as a rational proposal for how the world might be, but as a work of stimulating fiction. At their best, fiction and art generally expand our awareness, enrich our mental associations, and fortify us in rough times. Postmodernity doesn’t bode well for advanced civilizations. I suggest that some philosophical work is needed to give us a fighting chance to emerge from this period intact. We must put aside childish things since they should comfort us no more, and make friends with the monster that lurks under the bed. We must bid farewell to our toy gods and if we still feel the urge to worship, we should pray to the god that strides naked all around us, that creates and destroys all things, that is no mere mental projection or respecter of our pitiful conceits. Nature is god. That god isn’t alive, so our prayers will go unheard, but nature is undead and so we should match that uncanny fact with an outrage of our own: we should worship not by groveling before a magnified image of the most corrupt among us, which is the oligarch, but by ranting songs of mockery at the void, proclaiming that we know where we stand in the grand scheme and are unafraid.”

God and Science: The Ironic Theophany


“Originally, liberalism was the salvation of modernists from the Dark Ages, a celebration of Reason, Freedom, and Progress. Liberals were grim secular humanists, scientists, and renaissance men, God’s blood staining their faces as they set about creating a New World, free from superstition, oppression, and squalor, with each liberal serving as her own rationally self-controlling and creative sovereign. Now liberals are reduced to effeminate, vacillating, double-talking managers of the new form of dominance hierarchy they created, the stealth oligarchy in which the strongest and most vicious use democracy and free markets to enslave the mob. Ironically, liberal myths of our potential godhood have backfired, thanks to the liberal’s science-centered philosophy which corrodes all grand delusions, leaving the postmodern wasteland in which liberals know enough to be miserable and are free to endlessly consume as an oligarch’s branded cattle.

“The very instrument that modern, classic liberals considered sacred, namely technoscience, has been used to control society and not just nature, and so armed with market research and cognitive science, American demagogues have demonized liberals, counting on the public’s ignorance of the liberal’s role in the birth of modern civilization. Liberals armed and unleashed a new breed of human predator and parasite, whose ill-gotten wealth co-opts liberal governments against the majority’s interests or whose perfected demagoguery creates the modern dictatorship. Thus has liberalism demonstrated our gross inequality, making nonsense of the liberal’s myth of universal human dignity. Liberalism was a paean to the end of the Old World, directing the modern experiment in social engineering which didn’t eradicate kings and other pseudo-gods but merely improved their methods of control. Liberalism is the myth of human progress, but liberals have shown that sometimes change is an illusion.”

Dictionary of Micro Rants: Liberalism


“ Most people want to be happy; if they can’t be rich or famous, at least they can still be content with what little they have. But an appreciation of OES turns everything on its head. The rich and the famous are ethically worse off than the poor, not because the poor inherit the kingdom of God, but because the poor can’t build such elaborate fantasy worlds to protect them from that which makes their life absurd: their alienation from the natural world. Human life does have a meaning, in the sense of a value, and that value is, as Kurtz says in Apocalypse Now, 'the horror, the horror.' Our life also has an ethical purpose, which is to deal heroically with that horror, not to try to escape from it by fleeing to transitory, base pleasures that aren’t earned by confronting our predicament which is the fact that we’re fragile, sentient beings in an alien cosmos that destroys as freely as it creates. Precisely because we are so fragile, because we evolved not to ethically challenge the cosmos but to be preoccupied with a social game that mixes the gene pool so that Mother Nature can keep her options open to fill some future niche with a fresh species, we succumb to vainglorious myths and to the temptation to follow our instincts and submit to religious or to capitalistic dominance hierarchies.

“One of these myths is that we ought to be pleased when we succeed in our work so that we can rest contented, with no regrets. This myth fails to take into account the fact that the more knowledge we acquire, the more we must regret having been born at all in the nightmare of our dependence on the practices of an inhumane cosmos for our very survival, let alone our happiness. No amount of hard work can obviate that regret, unless it’s the work of suicide which is itself cowardly. That regret is just the anxiety of a hapless animal that’s cursed to have discovered its existential plight. Pure happiness, joy or contentment is a nonstarter for such a tragic creature. Ethically speaking, anyone’s happiness on Earth is as obscene as any immaterial spirit’s bliss in heaven while knowing about the everlasting holocaust in hell. So if we must smile when the natural cycle spins to our benefit, let’s smile half-heartedly, sparing some revulsion for the fact that for sentient beings alone, that cycle, spinning mindlessly, uplifting and crushing each of us in turn, might as well be a torture device.”

Happiness is Unbecoming

Re: Rants Within the Undead God: A Cosmicist Blog
Posted by: Gill Avila (IP Logged)
Date: 20 November, 2012 03:38AM
Do we have any moderators here?

Re: Rants Within the Undead God: A Cosmicist Blog
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 27 November, 2012 12:57PM
Due to the obviously profound lack of knowledge of matters "Theistic", I find the whole peroration rather trite.
That's as moderated as i intend to get with this stuff - suggested reading for foundational knowledge - all the books of David Rohl, in order; King Jesus, by Robert Graves, and his White Goddess; The Source, by Michener; two volumes on Social Teachings by Ernst Troeltsch (masterpieces) - Read these and you will be essentially a graduate of the Kindergarten in this subject area. I am not meaning to sound sarcastic or critical - if it really matters to you, you must learn more than you presently know - I have spent my life studying this stuff, and I read Hieroglyphics, Cuneiform, Babylonian, some Hittite (making progress) Ogham, Futhark, as well as the usual european stuff - plus of course the classics - I consider myself a second grader, about to matriculate to the third - but still very much a beginner - there is just too much to know, and new stuff is coming to light constantly - the Discovery and archaeological finds at Avaris for example are re-writing the history of Egypt - a foundational "sine qua non" for the kind of debate you are putting forth -

Re: Rants Within the Undead God: A Cosmicist Blog
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 27 November, 2012 06:07PM
A good cosmic story/story with a cosmic viewpoint, is "Hinterlands" (1981) by William Gibson, from his anthology Burning Chrome. A bit clumsy in its execution, but the ideas imbedded in it are truly eerie.

[en.wikipedia.org])



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 27 Nov 12 | 06:07PM by Gavin Callaghan.

Re: Rants Within the Undead God: A Cosmicist Blog
Posted by: Ben Cain (IP Logged)
Date: 4 December, 2012 02:53PM
Calonlan,

Assuming you were addressing your comment to the summaries of my blog which I posted here, I'd like to thank you for your condescending words. I too find the best criticisms to consist of sweeping ad hominem statements that don't refer to anything actually said in the criticized work. I'd be most curious to read how Mainlander's idea of God is "trite," since that idea is unknown to most people. Anyway, if you'd like to discuss anything specific in what I wrote here, I'd be happy to respond. Otherwise, I'd better catch up on my readings in religion so that I don't offend you by my ignorance.

By the way, anthropology of religion isn't the same as philosophy of religion. Certainly there's much to know about what people have historically said or done about God. But as the mystics have always said, there's nothing at all for us to know about God. The question of theism is philosophical, not anthropological.

Re: Rants Within the Undead God: A Cosmicist Blog
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 7 December, 2012 04:03PM
Ben Cain Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Calonlan,
>
> Assuming you were addressing your comment to the
> summaries of my blog which I posted here, I'd like
> to thank you for your condescending words. I too
> find the best criticisms to consist of sweeping ad
> hominem statements that don't refer to anything
> actually said in the criticized work. I'd be most
> curious to read how Mainlander's idea of God is
> "trite," since that idea is unknown to most
> people. Anyway, if you'd like to discuss anything
> specific in what I wrote here, I'd be happy to
> respond. Otherwise, I'd better catch up on my
> readings in religion so that I don't offend you by
> my ignorance.
>
> By the way, anthropology of religion isn't the
> same as philosophy of religion. Certainly there's
> much to know about what people have historically
> said or done about God. But as the mystics have
> always said, there's nothing at all for us to know
> about God. The question of theism is
> philosophical, not anthropological.

I apologize if my comments sounded condescending - I suppose it comes with age and having consumed my life with learning - one learns more and more about less and less - the ultimate destination of that process I suppose would be to know everything about nothing - which is pretty much where we start from isn't it. The list of books I recommended was not done idly - but I don't intend to get into a discussion with you on matters not relevant to this forum - my only function here is as the last living person who knew CAS intimately as a close personal friend, and closely associated with all events following his death. While my professional credentials are as Historian and translator of many things ancient, and some other matters as well, I prefer to concentrate on answering questions about Clark on this forum - a number of contributors write me privately on other matters, and that can be very stimulating and rewarding - again, I do not mean to demean your efforts, and please understand that all of us, including myself and yourself, still have much to learn and areas of interest in which we are still sophomores.

Re: Rants Within the Undead God: A Cosmicist Blog
Posted by: Ben Cain (IP Logged)
Date: 8 December, 2012 09:19AM
Thanks for the clarification, Calonlan. I am intrigued by the books you recommended, which I haven't read. I'd be especially curious about the relation between Egyptian religion and Christianity.

I've read more of Lovecraft's stories than of CAS's, although what interests me in Lovecraft is more his cosmicist ideas, not so much the quality of his writing. I'm under the impression that the strength of CAS's fiction is the mood he creates with his descriptions of strange environments. But is there a philosophy lying behind his fiction, comparable to Lovecraft's cosmicism?

Re: Rants Within the Undead God: A Cosmicist Blog
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 9 December, 2012 10:04AM
Ben Cain Wrote
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks for the clarification, Calonlan. I am
> intrigued by the books you recommended, which I
> haven't read. I'd be especially curious about the
> relation between Egyptian religion and
> Christianity.
>
> I've read more of Lovecraft's stories than of
> CAS's, although what interests me in Lovecraft is
> more his cosmicist ideas, not so much the quality
> of his writing. I'm under the impression that the
> strength of CAS's fiction is the mood he creates
> with his descriptions of strange environments. But
> is there a philosophy lying behind his fiction,
> comparable to Lovecraft's cosmicism?

To answer your question - yes - and, to my mind, Clark is both more profound, and a better writer - Lovecraft thought so too - re Egyptian religion and christianity - Rohl's series will be most useful - the first, presenting the "New Chronology" is critical to making sense of the rest - There is only one point where some of us differ with Prof. Rohl - I am of the opinion that the "Hyksos" kings were the Hebrews (Egyptian inscription refers to them as the "Habiru" - nomadic bandits or raiders) - The successors or Joseph (Egyptian "Zaphenath-Paneah" in the inscriptions) gradually took power, until supplanted - Moses, a common part of Egyptian pharaonic names (Rameses, Ahmose etc), clearly brought much of the teaching of Akhnaton (father of Tut), except that the deity found in the syncretism of these Chaldean and Canaanite peoples religion, Yahweh/El, was a moon god, married to Ashima of the Doves, and Anatha of the lions - these two are divorced in the book of Elijah in a most obscene passage under the names of Aholah and Aholibama - Anatha is the more interesting - she gave her name to town of Bethany which was probably initially her cultic center - interestingly her symbols are the wedge and the pyramid or pillar - these two symbols combine to create the "Star" 0f David. Just a few notes to hopefully intrigue you into looking into the books a bit - also, highly recommend several of the documentary videos by Simca Jacobovici on the subjects of the Exodus and the "Lost Tribes" - very interesting - all the Mosaic and Hebrew background is essential for the rise of Christianity, and, incidentally, for reading Robert Graves, "King Jesus" - further discussion of this sort should occur off this forum -



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