Why Christianity Will Always Fail You

Over the course of a few weeks, I seem to have attracted the scorn of Reddit. In this one particular subreddit, r/badeasternphilosophy, someone took interest to my blog and made a topic about how extreme my criticism of Western philosophy was. While there were people who mocked me under the presumption that I only read Nietzsche, some of the more thoughtful topic posters pointed out that many Western philosophical schools don’t really delve into Eastern philosophy at all.

The chief reason why I find Western philosophy to be largely beneath me is because most Western philosophers tried reconciling their limited knowledge of the world with Christian values. Specifically, the doctrine of original sin, this is to the point that they would make up other causes for why humans were intrinsically evil. After joining a Christian club in college, I got more curious about Jesus’s teachings and decided to read the King James version of the Sermon on the Mount. I expected peaceful teachings because I was led to believe it was the pivotal teaching of peace by Christians and a significant cornerstone for championing peace under Western schools of thought. Needless to say, I was dismayed by what I read, which I’ll explain further on.

I’ll number the criticisms I have so that I may better address each of the specific contentions that I have with Christian theology.


#1: Open interpretation isn’t a solution.

Most modern Christians try to find a middle ground between the reality of the modern day with the teachings in the Bible. A convenient way to ignore biblical teachings that explicitly condone treating women as the property of men and all of the violence within the Bible itself is to use open interpretation. Stories of violence upon other tribes in the Old Testament or violence condoned in the New Testament is ignored because it is inconvenient to acknowledge the wrongful actions within a supposed holy book.

Open interpretation is largely an attempt to feel consistent with identifying oneself as a Christian because of the implicit assumption that you must be a “Christian” to live by positive morals. It allows modern Christians of the West to feel consistent with Christian values by ignoring whatever they dislike and disagree with. Yet, they don’t see the inherent self-contradiction in trying to feel consistent with being a Christian through ignoring teachings that make them feel uncomfortable. Arguably, the less significance modern Christians place on the Bible, the more Christian they can feel through the parameters of what open interpretation can allow. It is an attempt to maintain the supposed bliss of being a Christian while ignoring how modern conveniences and modern moral sensibilities would shun, feel outraged, penalize, and criminalize actions conducted within the Bible should they occur in modern times. Beheadings, the murder of children, the mass death of civilians, depictions of torture/”enhanced” interrogation, and so forth.

Open interpretation is an empty argument. Christians who believe in open interpretation either don’t realize or willfully ignore this severe issue. When violence is committed by Christians in the name of Christianity, whether in the West or in non-Western countries when the perpetrators of violence are Christians, then many Christians argue that violence is not a true interpretation of the faith. But they don’t seem to acknowledge the contradiction.

How can there be a true interpretation of the faith, if the faith is openly interpretative?

Open interpretation is the ultimate convenience for moral problems and self-contradictions in the Bible. In Western “feel-good” culture, everyone is right and open interpretation allows us to continue the feel-good culture by ignoring moral problems with the Bible by arguing anyone’s interpretation of the Bible is correct. Arguably, all that would be required is acknowledging Jesus Christ as your lord and savior and that would be the only requirement. After that, you can be right as many times as you want, because you don’t have to do anything but interpret the Bible in any way you please. Christian priests are also doing this by ignoring the explicit texts and trying to re-contextualize misogynistic and violent passages commanded by God as being above human knowledge or arguing that we don’t really know the significance. Essentially, doing everything possible to ignore the sadistic aspects of the teachings while being careful to give reverence to the supposed holy book.

However, there is a clear danger to believing in open interpretation as a valid middle ground for maintaining one’s faith in Christianity. Some modern Christians acknowledge the contradiction in believing open interpretation is a valid choice and then arguing that violence isn’t the true interpretation of the religious faith. After all, if faith is openly interpretative then the violent extremists are just as morally right as you. Thus, in order to stay consistent with their Christian identity, some moderate Christians concede to the idea that the violent extremists are just as morally right as they are and that they cannot know whether their moderate beliefs are truly better than the violent extremists because open interpretation does mean that everyone is right about how they interpret the Bible.

Due partly to the fact they cannot conceive of morality beyond the Christian God and see no ethical significance to the world beyond such a framework; the aforementioned moderate Christians are willing to concede that violent extremists killing innocent people is just as morally valid as their moderate Christian beliefs. These moderate Christians detach themselves from what extremists do, they don’t observe it as their problem, and seem to feel no shame in justifying extremist violence that allows for the murder and rape of innocents to feel secure in their own Christian identity. In other words, to feel secure in their ethical significance of God and Christian identity, they concede to violence being an option so long as they’re not the ones participating in it. They give up on core moral principles to maintain their so-called moral system.


#2: Jesus Christ’s teachings were insane. Not even self-described Biblical literalists will follow them.

You’ve probably heard that Jesus Christ is constantly being misunderstood by people of different political affiliations than you. If you’ve grown up in the US or possibly other predominately Christian countries, then you’ve probably heard “Jesus said” followed by some vague agreement with your moral beliefs so many times online and especially when some vaguely Christian topic comes up in the news media. Perhaps you’ve even heard that Jesus never really wrote anything down except with a stick on the sand once, only to allow the waves to wash them away. Jesus is portrayed as “misunderstood” because modern Christians, including Evangelical Christians, will not follow the explicit texts because they’re insane.

The explicit truth of the matter is that only someone completely crazy would follow his teachings in our modern times. That is why Christians always attempt to emphasize that the Bible is meant to be read in “parables” and not explicitly. Atheists who come from Christian backgrounds are freely willing to insult the Catholic Church, Protestant beliefs, and Jesus’s divinity but many shy away from criticizing Jesus’s teachings, they still hold respect for them and, just like Christian preachers, insist that Jesus was speaking in parables.

What do I mean when I argue that they’re insane? Take a look at these passages of the King James version of the Sermon on the Mount, the so-called cornerstone of peaceful teachings within the Bible:

Matthew 5:29-30 KJV

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Christians will insist that he’s speaking in parables, but you can read the Sermon on your own. It is clear that he meant these two teachings to be taken literally. It was within the instructions of how to act towards divorced women and Jesus is teaching his disciples of how to avoid sinful thoughts and deeds. He explicitly calls for people to cut off their right hand and pluck out their right eye.

These are the teachings of peace? This is the cornerstone of Christianity’s peaceful doctrines? Even self-described Biblical literalists will vehemently argue that Jesus was speaking in parables here because he asks people to commit two acts of self-mutilation and identifies it as good moral behavior. This is nothing but the ramblings of a deeply insane individual. Is that blasphemous to say? Is that shocking? Am I being too extreme? If we can vilify Mohammed for being a pedophile, why is it wrong or uncomfortable to vilify Jesus Christ as an insane man for instructing Christians to cut off their right hand and right eye? If we agree that he’s speaking parables, then should Muslims believe that whatever historical misdeeds Mohammed committed should be regarded as parables too? Should every religion with violent parables, Christianity among them, just ignore when they’re acted upon by true believers? If you are a Christian, then should you continue to act on “faith” whenever it is convenient for you and in only ways that make you feel comfortable while ignoring the passages in the texts that other people could interpret more violently than you?

When you argue that Jesus was speaking in parables, all you’re really admitting is that you don’t want to follow his explicit teachings because you don’t agree with them. You live by a moral system outside of Christian values.


#3: The Sermon on the Mount’s self-contradictions make them worthless teachings.

A short excerpt from the book I’m still writing:

            You must always strive for “perfection” to enter the Kingdom of God but you’ll always be contradicting the steps towards being a good Christian (Matthew 5:48). As a result, you must always seek Jesus’s forgiveness because you’re committing thought crimes when you have normal and healthy sexual desires (Matthew 5:28), you’re speaking wrongly when you make any attempt at asserting self worth, you never know if you should speak only in “yea, yea” and “nay, nay” (Matthew 5:33 – 5:37) or if you’re being one of the so-called “hypocrites” when speaking in “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7 – 6:13), you should turn the other cheek when wronged (Matthew 5:39) and love your enemies (Matthew 5:44) or return any behavior that wronged you with a response of your own (Matthew 7:12), and should you rejoice in persecution (Matthew 5:10 – 5:12) or avoid being tried and persecuted for your beliefs at all costs? (Matthew 5:25) Moreover, even evangelicals and other Bible literalists would never take Matthew 5:29 – 5:30 literally and therefore the most extreme Bible worshippers require a degree of open interpretation because of how disastrous those verses ultimately would be, if taken literally.

No matter what, you’ll never be a good Christian under the guidelines of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus contradicts himself too often for that to ever be possible. Christians may perceive the self-contradictions as beyond human understanding or proof of human folly, but the former is just an argument from ignorance and the latter is further evidence of my next contention.


#4: Original Sin is misanthropy revered as humbleness

For all the arguments about the lack of morality without a God, original sin seems to invalidate the significance of Christian morality. This notion of humanity’s intrinsic folly is subsumed into Western culture to give a detached justification for all forms of human violence. Worst of all, when these misanthropic beliefs are applied to humanity, they become increasingly revered as “deep”, “profound”, and “humbling” because people go on ridiculous diatribes about humanity being inherently violent, evil, stupid, and other semantics. All this celebration for acknowledging the apparent sinfulness of human existence. Western people seem to act as if this misanthropy is always new and cool. Any violence anywhere in the world is used as “proof” of humanity’s intrinsic folly.

This folly is seen as being “only human” and admitting to being flawed, worthless, and similar to a speck of dirt compared to a perfect creator. The more you show loathing and disgust for being a human, the more “profound” and “humble” you are. It can, and often does, go so far as to belittle and denigrate any human accomplishment as arrogant, evil, and wicked. Any desire for more in life, especially physical objects, is spurred as self centered, arrogant, and disgusting and often viewed as explicitly evil. To not carry the belief in original sin, i.e. to not feel misanthropy for the human race, makes people perceive you as shallow and arrogant. To argue against the extreme belief that all humans are born evil causes people to perceive you as naive and stupid. The belief that humans are born sinful is a powerful and pernicious belief within Western cultural norms. Yet, the pernicious nature of this belief seems to make people ignore the consequences or be blissfully unaware of what types of behavior is being implicitly condoned.

Original sin posits that humans will always fail to uphold morally good actions because of their intrinsic sinfulness. Therefore, the belief in original sin destroys the ethical significance of morality. Original sin makes morality become pointless because humans are expected to constantly fail in following moral principles. Wrongful deeds are met with staunch indifference because it is expected that a human being would commit horrible acts of cruelty. This is particularly true in regards to strangers who are depicted in the news after undergoing a tragedy. A woman being raped, a child being murdered, a Christian priest raping a child, a war in a foreign country, or a mass shooting. Unless such events are happening to a loved one, you probably wouldn’t care. Now, would Christianity ceasing to exist stop such events? Of course not. However, because of the belief that humans are intrinsically prone to folly is so pervasive, original sin strongly influences people to be complacent with such horrible events. Instead of being motivated to change systems of violence or to stop the propensity of violence, Christianity motivates people to be detached and complacent. Often associated with the detached complacency is the belief that the physical world isn’t real and that the afterlife is the true world with all the answers. Original sin permits people to shut themselves off and shy away from life’s consequences by insisting that all horrific acts should be expected. This is true of fellow Christians too and not just people deemed as outside groups.

The concept of original sin creates a self-defeating moral system. This self-defeating system is honored as a form of humility while ignoring the cruel impact of the belief system.

The credit for this argument partly goes to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Genealogy of the Morals. I had always wondered about why religion emphasized human negatives but could never really put it into words until reading genealogy. What Nietzsche identifies as the will to nothingness, I’m willing to explicitly point out the misanthropic aspects of this will to nothingness.


#5: Jesus Christ’s doctrine of forgiveness removes all responsibility.

The doctrine of forgiveness is just as extreme as original sin. It doesn’t have any parameters on what heinous actions should be punished. At best, the belief the people committing atrocities may serve time in hell despite accepting Jesus Christ as their lord and savior is a possibility. But this creates apathy and complacency with allowing human violence to occur throughout the world. Due to the fact the hardships of the physical world are seen as a test for the afterlife, people wouldn’t be motivated to improve their own lives or that of others. Instead, people would simply be apathetically awaiting Jesus’s return.

Perpetrators of all heinous offenses, including rape and murder, need only come to Jesus to be forgiven of all their sins. A person could participate in genocide and still be forgiven by Jesus Christ for their heinous atrocities. Rape and murder become expected norms, the murderer or rapist would only need to seek Jesus’s forgiveness, and Christian culture would associate it with good behavior and humbling oneself for God. Meanwhile, should the victim be a non-Christian, or a Christian who doesn’t accept the forgiveness after being raped or nearly beaten to death or is a relative of a murdered victim, then they would be seem as being too extreme in their hate and would be insisted to forgive the criminal. The presumption being that the perpetrator acknowledges that humanity is intrinsically sinful, acknowledges they committed sin, and sought Jesus’s forgiveness. Meanwhile the victim or relative of the victim is admonished for allowing “evil” in their heart for not forgiving the perpetrator and disrespecting the sacred doctrine of forgiveness. The victims and relatives of the victim’s feelings don’t matter in this worldview. Only the perpetrator coming to Jesus for salvation matters. Their heinous acts are par for the course of humanity under the doctrine of original sin and therefore forgivable.

Functionally speaking, the perpetrator forgives themselves by accepting Jesus into their heart and doesn’t have to concern themselves with how the victims and loved ones of the victim feel. You could commit wrongdoing, including murder and rape, and forgive yourself of any horrible deeds by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart.

No perpetrator can ever be held accountable for their actions after seeking forgiveness. Christians believe that accepting Jesus is atonement. However, all the perpetrator is doing is accepting that they’re a sinful human being and recognizing Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. They don’t have to acknowledge the victims or seek to atone themselves by apologizing to the victims. All they have to do is accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. After that, you’re no longer responsible for your actions.

Is that an extreme interpretation? Well, unfortunately that is a legitimate interpretation. Open interpretation allows for such an interpretation.

Furthermore, consider this thought experiment I made:

If a criminal, who is a serial child rapist and killer, comes to Jesus, sincerely accepts Jesus into his heart, before death row then he’s going to heaven. The pastor who has convinced him to come to Jesus, who has studied his theology for the majority of his life and believes in Jesus’s forgiveness just as any other Christian, sincerely believes that the criminal has been forgiven by accepting Jesus into his heart under the doctrine of forgiveness. Therefore, the criminal, who is a serial child rapist and killer, should be going to heaven. If either of them is wrong, then Jesus’s doctrine of forgiveness doesn’t save everyone.

If the criminal was targeting Jewish or Muslim children then those children are going to hell for not accepting Jesus into their heart. If they die believing in their respective religions, or called to their respective Jewish or Islamic deity, then they’ve deceived themselves and they’re going to hell. If they’re allowed in heaven, then accepting Jesus into one’s heart, and Jesus’s doctrine of forgiveness, isn’t necessary to go to heaven. Thereby, making Jesus Christ’s doctrine irrelevant.  If they’re in purgatory and have to seek forgiveness for being sinful, then Christianity doesn’t save innocent children who have been raped and murdered.

The only response I received from genuine Christians who were asked this thought experiment was that the children need to acknowledge their sinfulness and accept Jesus Christ. Evidently, raped and murdered children have some “sinfulness” in them because they don’t acknowledge Christ as their savior. But that shouldn’t be surprising, as stated prior, original sin is just misanthropy and the misanthropy is being extended to include innocent children.

If you believe this is extreme, you should recall exactly how St.Augustine interpreted Christian values in regards to the violence when Christians wage wars:

Difference between Augustinian “just war” and “crusade”:

The standard for a Christian “just war” as developed by Augustine (c. A.D. 400) is: “rightful intention on the part of the participants, which should always be expressed through love of God and neighbour; a just cause; and legitimate proclamation by a qualified authority.” (Quoted from J. Riley-Smith, The Crusades, Yale University, 1987.)  The doctrine of holy war/crusade added two further assumptions: 1) Violence and its consequences–death and injury–are morally neutral rather than intrinsically evil, and whether violence is good or bad is a matter of intention. (The analogy is to a surgeon, who cuts into the body, thus injuring it, in order to make it better/healthier.)  2) Christ is concerned with the political order of man, and intends for his agents on earth, kings, popes, bishops, to establish on earth a Christian Republic that was a “single, universal, transcendental state’ ruled by Christ through the lay and clerical magistrates he endowed with authority.

It follows from this that the defense of the Christian Republic against God’s enemies, whether foreign infidel (e.g. Turks) or domestic heretics and Jews was a moral imperative for those qualified to fight. A Crusade was a holy war fought against external or internal enemies for the recovery of Christian property or defense of the Church or the Christian people. It could be wages against Turks in Palestine, Muslims in Spain, pagan Slavs in the Baltic, or heretics in southern France, all of whom were enemies or rebels against God.

 

 

What does this mean? It isn’t morally wrong for Christians to launch a war, violence of any kind committed by Christians isn’t morally wrong, and Christians should detach themselves from any negative moral consequences and shouldn’t feel responsible for their violence according to Saint Augustine. The doctrine of Just War helps to ignore the physical realities of child deaths, rape, and mass civilian casualties of war and that has been consistent with Christian doctrine since 400 AD.

Therefore, a pertinent cornerstone of Christian theology should be made clear:

Jesus Christ’s doctrine of forgiveness and Christian theology itself is fundamentally about having no responsibility for one’s wrongful actions so long as you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You can be forgiven for rape, murder, and mass civilian deaths by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart and worshiping him as your Lord and Savior.

It’s no wonder that predominately Christian nation-states can call predominately Muslim nation-states savages for beheadings while ignoring all of the multitude of bombing campaigns all over the world paid for by Western taxpayer monies and the consequences of which are never significantly questioned in the West.


#6: Jesus Christ was a narcissist with a God complex

If you’re a Christian, or grew up with a Christian background, then please try considering Jesus Christ from an outsider perspective.

You’re expected to believe that he was meek and mild while he proclaimed himself God, the Son of God, and said anyone who didn’t believe in him was going to hell. Whether or not hell is hellfire and brimstone or the absence of God as modern Christian apologists argue is irrelevant. The point is: you’re expected to believe a man who proclaimed himself God and Son of God was being meek and mild. You’re expected to feel guilty for a torture and murder that happened before you were even born. Why not accept responsibility for slavery, all the genocides that happened in the world, and all horrible events in the world as well?

You’re expected to believe that his death on the Cross was worse than the Holocaust and every other human genocide. Worse than that, you’re expected to believe it’s all a part of God’s plan.

You’re expected to love Jesus more than your parents, your friends, your spouse, and your own children.

Do you not see the problem here? You’re expected to believe a man who supposedly died more than 2000 years ago loved you more than all of your family, friends, and spouse. You must always expect to have a second-handed love by your loved ones compared to their love for Jesus Christ. Their love for you and your love for them must always be eclipsed by the love for Jesus.

If this were any other context, it would be recognized as being mentally abused by a narcissist.

But Jesus is “divine” i.e. He told people that he had special qualities like narcissists are prone to do and was able to dupe villages of uneducated bronze age people from over 2000 years ago.

All he really gave people from his Sermon was meaningless mental torture for the crime of having natural sexual feelings and thoughts for women and he denigrated divorced women as the property of men, who should constantly have to live with the crime of being adulterous under the view of all men.

Matthew 5:27-32 KJV:

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.


Final Thoughts:

To be clear, I have no animosity whatsoever to modern Christians. I just think that it’s negatives get far too much of a pass because of the reverence for Christianity in Western culture. Having read the Sermon on the Mount, I’ve come to the conclusion that Christianity was never anything special. Some would argue that its popularity and perseverance make it so, but I would argue that it simply lucked out at being the chief religion during the time of the West’s technological revolution. Furthermore, none of the contemporary religions of our time are anything like their centuries old version. Do any Christians burn witches at the stake? Would Western Christians feel okay with Christian soldiers eating civilians like what happened during the first Crusade? Would you be committing to war over squabbles about Jesus Christ being a bodily figure versus a pure spirit like during Constantine’s time in ancient Rome?

In all honesty, I feel a bit of pity for the Christian worldview, because you’re expected to live by such self-contradictory guidelines in the hopes that you will “get all your answers” after your death. The whole point of any religious tradition, but especially Christian religious tradition, is to die appropriately so that you obtain some reward that is apparently beyond your own understanding. If that’s how you wish to live your life, I hope it makes you happy, but I cannot condone forcing such views in the political realm and trying to coerce others to obey the doctrines of a religion that they never agreed with. If it’s attempted to influence public policy, then it deserves criticism and being taken out of any rule of law. Anything less would be a theocracy. I hope that you seriously consider all that I’ve written.

Please send your opinions on this topic in the comment section or email me at jovejarin@hotmail.com. Thank you for reading.

Western Philosophy Sucks

After trying to read alternative philosophical perspectives apart from Friedrich Nietzsche, I have come to the sad conclusion that Nietzsche’s rather blunt and extreme opposition to Western schools of thought may have been entirely justified. Despite the unrepentant mockery and hatred that Nietzsche gets for highlighting existential crises, all he really did was point out the stupidity, repetitiveness, and deep misanthropy that permeates Western philosophy. I had wanted to do more book reviews regarding Western philosophy and the many psychology books that I’ve read but I keep noticing this ridiculousness and I wonder if the reviews would feel repetitive if I broached each individual book. So, I’ll tackle this issue here. Here we go.

Before Nietzsche’s time, this issue with Western philosophy was sadly apparent and thus why I’ve come to the conclusion that Western philosophy sucks. Schopenhauer’s conclusion on a good life was essentially closing oneself off from human society and pondering life. Never mind the lack of any realistic basis for such a stupid concept, as he clearly meant to live by entirely focusing on this and ignoring everything else in life beyond basic necessities, Schopenhauer’s justification was that Black Americans proved their intellectual inferiority to his ideal standard of how to live life, because Black American communities enjoyed community affairs of dancing. Keep in mind, this is before rap and hip-hop – yet, even in that context, his argument would be invalid – and he’s exclusively demonizing all Black Americans for choosing to have a strong community structure with a nightlife that is filled with romantic partners dancing to classical music. This is someone the West considers a profound thinker.

However, Schopenhauer has nothing on the stupidity and racism of Thomas Hobbes. The Hobbesian model of human nature, the idea that every man fights every man in a constant state of nature, is totally false since hunter-gatherer societies were egalitarian, men and women were equal, and the groups shared responsibility based upon who was the most capable in what field. The best hunter led the hunting party, the best preacher led the religious rites, the hunter-gatherers were monogamous (polygamy was a result of the creation of primitive countries where concepts of privilege became more pronounced as a result of changing social conditions and didn’t exist in hunter-gatherer societies), food was shared as a right among people, there were no slaves (they wouldn’t have been able to take care of slaves, much less subdue them in wandering hunter-gatherer tribes), they were very leisurely because lacking food one day meant hunting for it the next day, and they didn’t war. There are a few cases of murder, but those are large outliers and almost totally non-existent in hunter-gatherer societies.  Hobbes would have you believe that they were all killing each other indiscriminately because humans are similar to animals. Animals don’t kill indiscriminately, and even animals have submissive tendencies among their pack in the wild to maintain social cohesion among themselves, and thus his thesis was entirely make-believe. But his justification was his own racist and fictitious notions about Native Americans. As typical of Western culture, the more Hobbes celebrated the idea of humans being intrinsically violent, genocidal, and human existence largely being a nihilistic war of all against all, the more this man was celebrated as a deep thinker. Misanthropy sanctified in holistic terms and celebrated as awe-inspiring.

Rousseau, probably regarded as the most humanistic of his time, evidently concluded that European nation-states could never form a European Union because they would all try to mercilessly war with each other for control and that there was no preventing such a problem because of human nature. In other words, no different from the nihilism and misanthropy of his contemporaries. Violence in Western society was deemed inevitable. People after Nietzsche, such as Albert Camus, just found their own nihilistic drivel like the concept of Absurdism. I’d like to believe the essence of all this is the religious idea of “nothing new under the sun” as taught by the Bible but it’s clear that this has existed before that during the time of Socrates. If anything, Socrates himself celebrated this nihilistic drivel by espousing that he knew nothing. No surprise that he put himself in the exact situation where the government of Athens would feel it was legally justified to kill him and he avoided all attempts at getting himself out of his own execution. The intrinsic belief permeating throughout Western culture that humans are defective and thus fated for failure seems to gain universal applause as thought-provoking throughout Western history. No matter what, humans are fated for tragedy, failure, and must constantly observe their own intrinsic negative essence to be closer to God or to accept that they’re too arrogant to be happy. Even with all the successes and might over the entire world, the people of the West can never find happiness and are constantly “reassured” of their negative bias that happiness is a hopeless quest. Please, don’t mistake this for disgust or hate, this is just a constant recurring theme that I’m observing throughout reading, listening, and watching Western culture. A culture that I was born into and raised in. I’m just now waking up to the fact there’s a pathological obsession with self-hate.

This cultural self-hate exists in Western media: from music, to television shows, to documentaries, to film, and much more. Even modern philosophers like the seemingly happy-go-lucky Alain de Botton isn’t immune, he did an entire film on “status anxiety” and concluded that being closer to death was the solution. Sam Harris’s book, Waking Up, tries to teach people to calm down during stress and implicitly accepts that pleasures and happiness are an illusion. I’ve just about had it trying to research and read more in-depth about Western philosophy from past to present and finding this utter drivel. It’s everywhere in Western society. For that matter, the West is only satisfied in incorporating the most negative aspects of Buddhism to reassure itself that all religious faiths think desire and ego are evil and that every culture ubiquitously “understands” the “truth” of human nature’s “flaws” because it’s apparently unavoidable. I’m beginning to wonder if Western philosophy was just “progressed” by the most extreme self-hating idiots to secretly try to convince people to kill themselves because human existence is virtually perceived as either a disease or intrinsically and unavoidably worthless throughout much of these famed writings.

This self-loathing persists to the point where many psychology books written by experts with M.D,’s in psychology almost unanimously wrote about a chapter to reaffirm that seeking happiness is a hopeless endeavor and argue following only your desires is arrogant and evil. Evidently, to be regarded as “serious” in any way, shape, or form by Western audiences, you must either elaborate upon why humans are intrinsically violent/evil/narcissistic or you must maintain that your work is “serious” by insisting that seeking happiness is hopeless and naive. If you challenge this basic assumption, you’re automatically branded a naive idiot or from a primitive culture. Now, do humans suck? How about it depends upon the human being and we shouldn’t label everyone as capable of the actions of Hitler based upon examples like Hitler. To be perfectly frank, this intrinsic and often implicit assumption about the negativity of human nature has very real consequences. Consider the atomic bombings of Japan, Western culture has US citizens believe that atomic bomb droppings were merciful because US soldiers wouldn’t have to come in and continue a war campaign. Now, whether or not you agree with the military aspect of the action is an entirely different subject. The point is that US citizens are led to believe that atomic bombings were an act of mercy based on a choice between continuous war campaigns or two nuclear bombs slaughtering innocents. Neither choice is merciful and to call it merciful is so stupid and dangerous.

Please, before you judge that statement, just think about this thought experiment, okay? Consider a Middle Eastern country with a nuclear weapon bombing a Western country or your country (assuming you don’t live in the West). You see on the news every day as nuclear radiation leaks into your water system and the images of hundreds of men, women, and children suffering and dying from nuclear radiation. The Middle Eastern country’s justification is that they didn’t have conduct an extended war campaign and kill more of your people. They celebrate their actions as an act of mercy. How do you feel? Do you think anything about their justification makes any rational sense? What would you desire to do to that country? Is the violence and justification committed by this act any different from the Boston bombings or 9/11? Now, regardless of who started the war, what do you think the Japanese thought about the nuclear weapons and felt about them? Do you really believe racism didn’t play a factor considering the Japanese encampment during World War 2?

Most importantly, this obsession with human nature being synonymous with evil or negative personal traits seems to be a rash self-justification by people to feel more comfortable with human violence and especially in instances where their country is committing the human violence upon a foreign country. I’ll admit that the majority of Western philosophy seems adept at trying to convince people to kill themselves, but I don’t really see any value beyond that anymore after trying so hard to be objective when reading and watching various material by Western philosophers. It’s no wonder Nietzsche went crazy when trying to create a philosophy about life-affirmation for Europe.

Here’s the most recent example that I’ve come across from a psychology book that tries to delve into philosophy. This specific book. Flow, was so patronizing and redundant in its multiple expositions on hatred for human happiness that I just couldn’t bother to patiently read through most of it after trying to take it seriously. I see this so often in Western literature that it’s completely ridiculous but this specific anecdote is truly disgusting.

It’s a depressing account of what war did to a person from the book Flow. The author intended for some supposedly deep spiritual lesson in the human ability for high concentration referred to as “flow” in conscious experience, but this is exactly the nihilistic self-reverence that Western philosophy consistently tries to celebrate as meaningful when there is nothing meaningful to be gained. In other words: the greater the misanthropy, the more celebrated the so-called deep thinker.

Excerpt:

Reyad is a thirty-three-year-old Egyptian who currently sleeps in the parks of Milan, eats in charity kitchens, and occasionally washes dishes for restaurants whenever he needs some cash. When during the interview he was read a description of the flow experience, and was asked if this ever happened to him, he answered:

“Yes. It describes my entire life from 1967 up to now. After the War of 1967 I decided to leave Egypt and start hitchhiking toward Europe. Ever since I have been living with my mind concentrated within myself. It has not been just a trip, it has been a search for identity. Every man has something to discover within himself. The people in my town were sure I was crazy when I decided to start walking to Europe. But the best thing in life is to know oneself…. My idea from 1967 on has remained the same: to find myself. I had to struggle against many things. I passed through Lebanon and its war, through Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Yugoslavia, before getting here. I had to confront all sorts of natural disasters; I slept in ditches near the road in thunderstorms, I was involved in accidents, I have seen friends die next to me, but my concentration has never flagged…. It has been an adventure that so far has lasted twenty years, but it will keep going on for the rest of my life…. Through these experiences I have come to see that the world is not worth much. The only thing that counts for me now, first and last, is God. I am most concentrated when I pray with my prayer beads. Then I am able to put my feelings to sleep, to calm myself and avoid becoming crazy. I believe that destiny rules life, and it makes no sense to struggle too hard…. During my journey I have seen hunger, war, death, and poverty. Now through prayer I have begun to hear myself, I have returned toward my center, I have achieved concentration and I have understood that the world has no value. Man was born to be tested on this earth. Cars, television sets, clothes are secondary. The main thing is that we were born to praise the Lord.

Everyone has his own fate, and we should be like the lion in the proverb. The lion, when he runs after a pack of gazelles, can only catch them one at a time. I try to be like that, and not like Westerners who go crazy working even though they cannot eat more than their daily bread…. If I am to live twenty more years, I will try to live enjoying each moment, instead of killing myself to get more…. If I am to live like a free man who does not depend on anyone, I can afford to go slowly; if I don’t earn anything today, it does not matter. It means that this happens to be my fate. Next day I may earn 100 million— or get a terminal illness. Like Jesus Christ said, What does it benefit to man if he gains the entire world, but loses himself? I have tried first to conquer myself; I don’t care if I lose the world. I set out on this journey like a baby bird hatching from its egg; ever since I have been walking in freedom. Every man should get to know himself and experience life in all its forms. I could have gone on sleeping soundly in my bed, and found work in my town, because a job was ready for me, but I decided to sleep with the poor, because one must suffer to become a man. One does not get to be a man by getting married, by having sex: to be a man means to be responsible, to know when it is time to speak, to know what has to be said, to know when one must stay silent.”

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2008-08-18). Flow (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) (p. 197). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

This is a man who is very clearly suffering the harrowing effects of war trauma but because he’s said life has no value and is totally meaningless, this Western college professor decided that – instead of actually trying to find this man some measure of treatment for his horrible condition – the professor decided to celebrate the man as “profound” and “deep” because . . . the man no longer sees any value in life itself. Does anyone but me see the problem here? Does anyone else see the pernicious nature of this fundamental hatred for life in Western philosophy? Also, consider this, if this man had kept living in Egypt, he would have been regarded with disdain by Westerners and seen as a result of a backwards culture. But because this man moved and made a very meager living in a European country, he’s viewed as a profound thinker instead of a man suffering from mental trauma from prolonged exposure to war. Alain de Botton did similar in his interview with lower-income and jobless Americans in the United States. I recall one particular instance of an old white woman begging on the streets for money to feed her family, the only people who gave her money were Hispanic and white women who felt empathy for her. Men, of all backgrounds, simply drove past her as if she was invisible. De Botton’s conclusion being that people should feel closer to death to avoid status anxiety.

With all of that being said, and as I now regard only Eastern philosophy with any degree of seriousness, here’s some Eastern philosophical writings for those interested. Here is why I liked reading and learning from them better than anything from Western philosophy outside of Nietzsche. That isn’t to say that Eastern philosophy doesn’t have problems; it’s just as broad as Western philosophy but more diverse based on my experience.

I’ll let the philosophical underpinnings speak for themselves:

“Guidance is creative, efficacy develops, people give shape, implements complete. That is why all people honor guidance and value efficacy. The nobility of guidance and the value of efficacy are not granted by anyone, but naturally so of themselves. Guidance creates, nurtures, develops, matures, brings to fruition, nourishes, sustains, and shelters. It is creative without possessiveness, constructive without conceit, develops without coercion; this is called unobtrusive efficacy.”

Tzu, Lao (2012-05-11). The Original Tao Te Ching (Kindle Locations 104-110). . Kindle Edition.

“The Self desires only what is real, thinks nothing but what is true. Here people do what they are told, becoming dependent on their country, or their piece of land, or the desires of another, so their desires are not fulfilled and their works come to nothing, both in this world and in the next. Those who depart from this world without knowing who they are or what they truly desire have no freedom here or hereafter.”

Easwaran, Eknath (2009-06-01). The Upanishads (Classic of Indian Spirituality) (p. 142). Nilgiri Press. Kindle Edition.

“165. By oneself the evil is done, by oneself one suffers; by oneself evil is left undone, by oneself one is purified. Purity and impurity belong to oneself, no one can purify another.”

Buddha, Gautama (2013-04-22). The Dhammapada (pp. 26-27). Start Publishing LLC. Kindle Edition.

And here is one from Nietzsche, in case anyone is interested in him:

Herdsmen, I say, but they call themselves the good and just. Herdsmen, I say, but they call themselves the believers in the orthodox belief. Behold the good and just! Whom do they hate most? Him who breaketh up their tables of values, the breaker, the lawbreaker:–he, however, is the creator. Behold the believers of all beliefs! Whom do they hate most? Him who breaketh up their tables of values, the breaker, the law-breaker–he, however, is the creator. Companions, the creator seeketh, not corpses–and not herds or believers either. Fellow-creators the creator seeketh–those who grave new values on new tables. Companions, the creator seeketh, and fellow-reapers: for everything is ripe for the harvest with him. But he lacketh the hundred sickles: so he plucketh the ears of corn and is vexed. Companions, the creator seeketh, and such as know how to whet their sickles. Destroyers, will they be called, and despisers of good and evil. But they are the reapers and rejoicers. Fellow-creators, Zarathustra seeketh; fellow-reapers and fellow-rejoicers, Zarathustra seeketh: what hath he to do with herds and herdsmen and corpses! And thou, my first companion, rest in peace! Well have I buried thee in thy hollow tree; well have I hid thee from the wolves. But I part from thee; the time hath arrived. ‘Twixt rosy dawn and rosy dawn there came unto me a new truth. I am not to be a herdsman, I am not to be a grave-digger. Not any more will I discourse unto the people; for the last time have I spoken unto the dead. With the creators, the reapers, and the rejoicers will I associate: the rainbow will I show them, and all the stairs to the Superman. To the lone-dwellers will I sing my song, and to the twain-dwellers; and unto him who hath still ears for the unheard, will I make the heart heavy with my happiness. I make for my goal, I follow my course; over the loitering and tardy will I leap. Thus let my on-going be their down-going!

Nietzsche, Friedrich (2009-08-16). Works of Friedrich Nietzsche (8 books) (Illustrated) (Kindle Locations 10819-10841). . Kindle Edition.

 

If you want to promote Philosophy, challenge religion

Philosophy majors are having an increasingly more difficult time in protecting their major from scrutiny and outright vilification because philosophy is perceived as a useless endeavor that accomplishes nothing of value and provides nothing of value for others. Yet, a central issue that seems to remain unchallenged from those who attempt to remain politically correct, unlike the philosophers of old, is that the majority of people are led to believe that religion succeeds in fulfilling most of the ultimate questions about life. In fact, there are atheists who, despite breaking away from their religious orientation, believe that religious teachings are still a wonderful guide to live by because they presumably teach good morals.

Why don’t philosophy majors challenge these assumptions? How worthwhile can philosophy be perceived by the majority of people, if they implicitly believe that philosophy is secondary to religion in answering life’s most important questions? In fact, that’s exactly how religious recruiters try to convince people to join a specific religious faith. They promise to answer the most pertinent questions about life, morality, and meaning in life. Philosophy, a dynamic and broad subject matter, also tries to tackle these issues. How can it effectively do so when people are told that religion is all the understanding and meaning that they need in addressing such important questions?

I would argue that much of the backlash against philosophy is that philosophical questions too often tried to rationalize nonsensical religious assumptions and religious norms. It is religious teachings that gave philosophy a negative image and attempting to be complicit with these nonsensical religious values will result in philosophy’s self-immolation. Philosophy may become ridiculed until it no longer exists. And please consider this: the most famous philosophers were those that challenged religious norms and religious orthodoxy. Socrates in his apparent defiance of the Greek gods, Nietzsche for his challenge against Christian orthodoxy and values. and quite possibly the most successful philosopher of them all; the Buddha, for challenging the Caste system in ancient India. The Buddha was so successful that his philosophical underpinnings became both a religion and a philosophy. Philosophy, as an instrument of critical thinking and challenging life’s assumptions, must always bring an assault upon religious values to remain relevant to the public discourse. Those philosophers like Hobbes, Schopenhauer, and others that tried to rationalize religious values with philosophy formed idiotic concepts and systems that either had no basis in reality or led to logical extremes to stay consistent with worthless religious values. Ayn Rand is still celebrated by conservatives today; she was an atheist who denounced the belief in original sin as patently idiotic. Why do modern philosophers hesitate in continuing such traditions that make-up the backbone of philosophy?

Modern philosophers are simply being dishonest with themselves. Philosophical assaults upon religion, religious meaning and values, have produced the most intriguing and thought-provoking discussions on philosophy. It’s time to reignite that tradition!

Limits of Discourse: Is Sam Harris an Atheist Crusader?

Source: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-limits-of-discourse

In a bizarre email exchange with Noam Chomsky, Sam Harris avoided ethical questions about President Bill Clinton’s bombing of the Sudanese pharmaceutical building, which resulted in a massive death toll and refugee crisis, to frame the discourse in terms of President Clinton’s intentions for the bombings. While Chomsky was pointing out the facts of the case, such as the irrefutable fact that President Clinton never presented any factual or credible evidence of his claims about the company having terrorist ties after the bombing, Sam Harris continued to speak of President Clinton’s intentions and how we should evaluate those actions based on his intentions. Chomsky rightly pointed out that we couldn’t ever possibly know what President Clinton’s intentions were – moreover, it reduces human rights atrocities to the personal feelings and preferences of leaders. Under this bizarre moral framework, a leader in a predominately Muslim nation could bomb a Western nation and his predominately Muslim population could justify it as the leader having positive intentions while ignoring the death toll, massive injuries, damages for needing the buildings rebuilt, and the enmity created from such an attack.

I decided to research this because Harris’s viewpoint seemed vaguely familiar and I discovered the basis and history of his argument: the Papal arguments encouraging the Christian Wars in the Holy Land that later became part of the Christian Crusader rhetoric. Evidently, Harris’s moral paradigm for international relations is exactly Christian Crusader viewpoints but without the religious element:

Difference between Augustinian “just war” and “crusade”:

The standard for a Christian “just war” as developed by Augustine (c. A.D. 400) is: “rightful intention on the part of the participants, which should always be expressed through love of God and neighbour; a just cause; and legitimate proclamation by a qualified authority.” (Quoted from J. Riley-Smith, The Crusades, Yale University, 1987.)  The doctrine of holy war/crusade added two further assumptions: 1) Violence and its consequences–death and injury–are morally neutral rather than intrinsically evil, and whether violence is good or bad is a matter of intention. (The analogy is to a surgeon, who cuts into the body, thus injuring it, in order to make it better/healthier.)  2) Christ is concerned with the political order of man, and intends for his agents on earth, kings, popes, bishops, to establish on earth a Christian Republic that was a “single, universal, transcendental state’ ruled by Christ through the lay and clerical magistrates he endowed with authority.

Source: http://usna.edu/Users/history/abels/hh315/crusades_timeline.htm