Monday 11 May 2015

2,000,763 Page Views - Five year evaluation of this blog - The theme of motivation

Apparently, this blog passed two million page views some time overnight - an extra half million since last August when I last announced the numbers.

This seems like quite a lot. But this total is for 3252 posts accumulating over the past five years, and there is a plateau/ slight decline in monthly views and the average impact of new postings; so my impression is still one of gradual decline.


It is now five years since I was sacked from the editorship of Medical Hypotheses, and I began daily blogging.

Since then, the blog has spun-off three small books, and launched the information that simple reaction times (hence general intelligence) has declined substantially since the Victorian era.

But my main work and justification has been to make a daily Christian resource to encourage and help potential Christians 'across the line' into self-declared faith.


During five years my own Christian preferences and focus have changed more than once (although mainly in the early era, and not much over the past two and a half years); and this has been due to the same factors that I deal with in my postings - i.e. confronting some of the specific and personal stumbling blocks to faith, and inconsistencies within the faith, to try and reveal and simple and coherent core to Christianity.


My belief is that Christianity ought to be understood as simple and coherent enough to satisfy and self-motivate simple people (including children) in a common sense fashion; and when explanations get complex and paradoxical, I think we have probably strayed and are in danger of paralysis.

However, at the same time we must accept that any simple and coherent explanation will certainly be incomplete and biased compared with reality (in fact this also applies to even the most complex and paradoxical explanation - compared with the incomparably greater complexity of reality) - but the point is that the most important aspects should be coherent, and the simple core should be the best possible basis for a Christian life.

My hope is that this will help people to be strong in their faith; since a Christianity which has a significantly sub-optimal focus, or is not readily comprehended by everyday reason, seems likely to be weaker and less effective as guidance - this is perhaps why professional theologians seem so often to have done more harm than good (especially to themselves).


My main social theme, running throughout five years, has probably been motivation: the belief that mass demotivation (as a result of alienation, nihilism, despair...) is perhaps the primary psychological problem in modern society, the major deficiency-state; a conviction that only a religion can motivate sufficiently; and that only some among religions, and only some types of Christianity, motivate sufficiently and in the proper direction.


The psychological end (or aim) of my theorizing is motivation; but as with all difficult situations thing have to get worse before they can get better. And it is the daily, moment by moment, micro-motivations which get people through the day that become the addictions which destroy us and our society - I mean the obsessions and addictions to the mass media, to sex, to mortal earthly status.

I regard man as living in the End Times because our situation is unique in world history, and there is no pendulum swing we can depend upon-to correct the potentially fatal problems - we are in a positive-feedback state where errors are not self-correcting, but instead error leads on to more error of the same kind.


The problems of modernity are well known, and have been described for more than two hundred years; yet thanks to progressive Christian apostasy nothing effective has been done to address them, and people are mostly paralysed by the situation - with a small but influential minority actively making things worse. 

The root of the modern problem must therefore be spiritual warfare, purposive supernatural evil - where evil is defined and conceptualized as destruction of The Good - destruction of truth, beauty and virtue in harmony.

We inhabit a world where Goodness has been inverted to a truly extraordinary degree - nowhere is this seen more clearly than the sexual revolution: that battering-ram of modern evil.


In a world of deadly, soul-sapping, demotivating bureaucracy - where most people are themselves bureaucrats - sex masquerades as Life, Life as Freedom, and Freedom as transgression and inversion.

Sex has been detached from The Good, marriage and family elaborately re-defined as oppression; sexual transgression, inversion (and recently disease) are relabelled 'tolerance & diversity' and promoted - zealously, aggressively, with fanaticism - as The New Virtue.

Due to the scope and reach of the mass media, very few are unaffected, or significantly undamaged, by this; there is confusion, paralysis, zombie-obedience; the forces of darkness are winning.

That is what I mean by End Times. 


But, thank Heavens, the odds are stacked in our favour!

This world is temporary, and in the context of eternity - thanks to the work of Christ, and with His help - each one of us without any exceptions can (if we wish) withstand everything that the combined forces of darkness can throw at us - and emerge triumphant.

So, although there is every reason for pessimism, there is no reason for despair - but rather invincible hope should lend us indomitable courage.

And there can be no problem with a Christian finding motivations for action in such a world as we currently inhabit!



David said...

"And there can be no problem with a Christian finding motivations for action in such a world as we currently inhabit!"

First of all thank you for writing this blog. It has been a rare gem to find an on-line forum discussing subjects of this kind with such lucidity and depth and also outside of the usual schema/narrative that frames most publically available discourse including the media and newspapers. I read it every day and ironically I wonder if I have developed an *addiction* to it as it always gives me something more interesting/thought provoking to think about than I tend to find elsewhere on these topics (subjects that no one else seems to want to discuss but are at the centre of life). Unfortunately however this appears to have had a significant downside that I am now trying to find a counterbalance for. At first the breakthrough of becoming a Christian was a marvellous thing for me after a life time of feeling lost and existentially alienated in the world (despite of or potentially because of a comfortable western standard of living) and never quite being able to find a satisfactory explanation for the existence of the Universe, the meaning of life, my conscious being, etc. I already knew about Christianity but was an 'anything but Christianity' seeker of the Maslow or Campbell type. I became a Buddhist for a while but it didn't really work somehow and felt like a abandoning/rejection of the world of suffering rather than a coming into it. It took this blog and the credibility of your professional background and experience in evolutionary biology to get me to honestly re-evaluate my underlying assumptions (metaphysics). I then realised that I was being quite biased from the outset and had closed my mind to possibilities (anamistic) I used to believe in spontaneously as a child, but had stopped believing in alongside the likes of Santa Clause, etc. on the grounds that they were anthropomorphic nonsense and sadly just a child's comfort blanket or toy (to protect the tragedy of the human condition becoming unbearable). For a while after realising my mistaken anti faith I decided to take a leap of positive faith by becoming a Christian that seemed to have completely changed the entire complexion of reality for me and I felt 're-connected' again in a fundamentally satisfying way...

David said...

Unfortunately an alienation and despair of opposite kind seems to be growing around me daily. I no longer doubt so often that God is real and love is his primary motivation, although the world makes me doubt daily with its barrage of completely opposite thinking/opinion. Nowadays living in the world has become a lot harder to do with even everyday things. Nobody I know seems to have the faintest idea what I am talking about on any important issues any more. They look blank, angry, irritated, pitiful but never in agreement. My opinions on politics are void and null and regarded as dangerous and ignorant because I try and use a Socratic approach to open a dialogue about the underlying assumptions of voting, democracy as a decision making process, etc. I have taken to avoiding discussing anything of any importance now and cannot even enter the conversation without anger and irritation being directed at me for not 'keeping my beliefs to myself'. I cannot discuss religion without being again told to keep my beliefs to myself and being forced to accept the secular assumptions of my workplace and society at large. Everyday I hear people take the Lords name in vain and cannot challenge them all unless I wish to advance my alienation further over an everyday work/social situation. People who will discuss religion or spirituality with me will make a concerted effort to get me to recognise my childlike and mistaken point of view and insist that agnosticism is as far as it is possible to go or that the Christian belief system is ridiculous and not worthy of an intelligent person. My family and loved ones think I have been 'brain washed.' whenever i express something i feel is important. When I try to harness my faith I find that I am in a job that is deadeningly ineffectual/despair inducing. I cannot bring myself to join a church because those I care most about would be divided from me even more by joining one and it pains me to try again after my initial attempts to join a church (didn't go well and it turns out I was too weak to live up to their standards anyway e.g. abstaining from alcohol socially, which I admit I enjoy enormously and I understand many good Christians have done too such as Lewis; or tea and coffee, which seems arbitrary)...

David said...

I now find myself alienated in a totally different way and aside from hopefully having a loving family, daily life seems to have become a despair inducing arena which does not allow me to do anything genuinely useful at all except pray for this life, for the next life and feel like whatever my uniquely created purpose is, it is still frustrated on earth and perhaps alone can be found in heaven after these 'trials' are over. I do wish a Christian revival was here already so I could be of some concrete value to something rather than a free spinning cog that belongs to another world. An outside supporter of lds is best I have managed so far. So in short, motivation was abundant but is ebbing as no effective channel for that motivation seems available to be identifiable. So my experience at this time is that finding faith has placed me entirely at odds with the world and the idealist within me begs the question 'ok, so what do I next?' Or is the best I can do is spend a life time negatively resisting the encroaching world rather than going into it and participating more fully in faith. How can a modern Christian live (not just tolerate) in the world? Sorry for the long comment it started as short but grew considerably as I thought about the overall effect of being a long-term reader of this blog (mostly v positive, just creating *frustrated positivity* if you will).

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - The situation is, or seems to be, that we cannot rise above the world and be happy regardless - we aren't strong enough. Sometimes we have to focus on fixing our world - if we can. I don't think I would have been very happy if I had not married, and then had a family; and I have been generally fortunate in many other respects.

Sometimes the priority has been to get out of a situation. I knew that I 'should' get out, even though I was not clear about where I was going to afterwards - or had to try more than once to find what I 'should' be doing.

And even when I found it, the solution was (usually) temporary - as, I suppose, all earthly mortal solutions must inevitably be.

Maybe, therefore, you are in some kind of untenable situation, and 'worldly' change has become necessary, and indeed the priority? Only you can know the answer.