Monday 27 February 2023

God's problem - What to do with people Like Me...

If we believe that Men are each different and unique in their ultimate natures, and that some of these Men are naturally Bad - then this presents a problem for God, when it comes to designing a created world for such persons. 

To put the matter more starkly: God's problem (here and now) is that nowadays there are a lot of people like me

God is creator of this world, and has designed the world as a place where Men can incarnate as mortals; and where His hope is that as many Men as possible will chose the path of salvation and resurrection. 

But salvation is not God's only objective - or else we would not live for so many years, and live such varied lives. God is also trying to provide us with the experiences we need to learn spiritually - and for some people (perhaps for most) salvation cannot be achieved until after a significant degree of spiritual development. 

In other words; some people are (in effect) born into this world with natures that tend to reject God and refuse salvation. In fact; my distinct impression is that (at least in The West, but probably all over the world) a very high proportion of Men in recent generations have been of this Bad type. 

I would certainly include myself in this category. I did not spontaneously seek for resurrection to eternal Heavenly life - quite apart from whether it was a real possibility, it was not what I wanted for myself. I only came to desire for myself what Jesus Christ offered after several decades of life on earth, indeed only after becoming (what I thought was) A Christian. 

But, in addition to this, I was also a materialist by natural conviction; I was blind-to and insensible-of God - of whom I had no natural awareness. 

Although as a young child, I spontaneously lived-in and believed a spiritual world; from the age of about five or six I seized upon the idea that the universe and everything in it Just Happened by the accidents of scientific laws; and therefore that there was no objective purpose or meaning to life.

This seemed to me just reality; and I got satisfaction from my own courage in acknowledging this harsh truth which (I supposed) others were too weak to admit. 

So, if I wanted purpose and meaning in my life, as of course I did; then these were something I had to imagine for myself - and these were not usually real to other people. 

Consequently, I tended to regard other people and the resto-of-the-world as (merely) either allies or foes in terms of whether they helped or hindered the illusional system by which I had invented a world to make my life interesting and enjoyable.  

In other words; the behavioral implications of my world view was a kind of selfish hedonism; that is, I must be selfish because my self  was the only source of purpose and meaning; and my aim was inevitably some form of self gratification, in this life and world (because I acknowledged no other). 

I am not saying that the purposeless, meaningless materialism that underpinned my life had things all its own way. There were also instincts and motivations that did not fit with the materialist ideas - and these would sometimes prevail over the selfish hedonism that was the products of my bottom-line assumptions concerning reality. But, to a significant degree, I experienced these anti-selfish, anti-hedonic impulses as a problem - because they interfered with my enjoyment of life. I was often arguing with myself, against the (irrational, as I experienced it) innate resistance I felt, against doing what seemed obviously the most enjoyable activity - over the short-term and therefore most certainly. 

My suggestion here is that this modern world can be understood as God's response to the problem of dealing with very large numbers of incarnating people of a kind broadly such as myself, or even worse. 

It may be that the incarnation of people like me were delayed until now because our innate Badness made us a poor risk for salvation, a high risk for self-chosen damnation. 

As not-very-conscious, mostly-passive spiritual beings dwelling immersed in the environment of God's love - we were probably fine; but to advance spiritually we need to follow the path of Jesus: to incarnate as mortals and seek resurrection by our own free agency.

We have been given this chance - but are perhaps not the best material, and we seem to be immune to many of the environmental features that used to work in encouraging salvation and spiritual growth for earlier generations - features such as churches. 

Indeed, people like me seem not only to be immune to many traditional religious inducements; but they often actively repel us - and are counter-productive. 

And such matters are made even-worse by the fact that a preponderance of people-like-me within the churches; means that the churches have become incoherent, filled with careerist infighting, and themselves covert agents of anti-Christian Badness.  


People like me don't respond helpfully to kind treatment and comfortable conditions - since we interpret all 'good fortune' to be either the random workings of blind 'luck' or scientific law; or else as proving that we are already on the right lines with our life assumptions and plans. 

We are not easy people to deal-with; because our assumptions are self-reinforcing - and irrefutable by most kinds of everyday life. 

The only way to provoke the necessary change seems to be, by a (repeating) process of getting us to experience the consequences of our own assumptions, choices, decisions. 

But this way of learning from the outcomes of past-choices can be - and often is - sabotaged by a habit (or indeed ethic) of projecting blame for all adversity

I have often claimed that Resentment is one of the most dominant sins of these days; and resentment is the obverse side of refusing to accept responsibility for one's own attitudes, choices and actions

If we always blame some other person - or nowadays, some other group (such as the upper classes, men, whites, or some other nation) for the adverse consequences of our own choices - then we will never acknowledge our errors nor learn from from our mistakes. 


I know this from experience because it was a chink in my armour of self-reinforcing evil that I was almost immune to the temptations of resentment; and therefore eventually took responsibility for the bad consequences of my primary assumptions; then became conscious of these assumptions - and that they were indeed assumed and not facts...

And then incrementally discovered that what I really, most-deeply, and intuitively assumed - were things quite different from those of secular, hedonic materialism. 

In broad terms; I regard the world as it is and is becoming; to be the kind of world in which the consequences our our (unexamined, and denied) assumptions are being made manifest, incrementally, and with increasing severity. 

It is a world designed for teaching tough lessons to naturally-Bad people such as me. 

It is a world where we can learn from experience those things we most need; but only if we take personal responsibility for our-assumptions, convictions and actions. 

So long as we try to elude the necessity of blaming ourselves for what is our fault, and instead seek to blame others; then for so long, we will remain trapped inside the Badness of nature which we brought into this world.  


Bruce Charlton said...

@Mia - That is a good point. In my case I was a university academic - and so was pretty near to the source of evil, surrounded by its functionaries, and also knew several of its more senior managers.

I was also a part-time member of the NHS bureaucracy for 18 months, at a crucial period of the adoption of its modern political, scaremongering, and behavioural enforcement functions.

I was early enough a part of things to see some of the best of academia before its corruption; and then observed from close-up the rapid and extreme corruption that nearly-all academics underwent - especially from the middle 1990s onward, accelerating after the millennium.

All of this provided cumulative evidence of the unprincipled incapacity of mainstream modern secular left-materialism to hold a line against evil even for a moment; indeed how this ideology prevented even any attempt to hold a line. Beliefs were bought and sold for a very cheap price; and supposedly-deep convictions were turned on a dime at a moments notice whenever expedient.

Appalling results of wrong-policies were denied, or spun into supposed benefits - but Never Ever learned-from.

Yes - it was a tough school of disillusion and pessimism; but apparently it was exactly what I needed.

Mia said...

"incapacity of mainstream modern secular left-materialism to hold a line against evil even for a moment" this exactly

My subculture claimed not to be leftist (or materialist for that matter) yet over and over and over they found some wiggle room in their supposed principles to cave on whatever it was that might actually inhibit leftist materialism even for a moment.

cecil1 said...

How do you distinguish resentment from real anger at evils done to someone?

Because surely both are real, now as much as ever.

Sure people blame others for their own decisions, but a lot of the time its exactly the converse--- people have decisions made for them or forced upon them, and they are made to suffer the consequences of someone else's actions, and then blamed for the negative effects upon themselves.

The past 3 years are a clinic in this evil perfected in a bureaucratic labyrinth

Bruce Charlton said...

@cecil - "How do you distinguish resentment from real anger at evils done to someone?"

I don't think it is that difficult most of the time; although legitimate anger might well transform to resentment, especially nowadays.

Resenting that which was originally the subject of legitimate anger is one of the snares of evil; making it harder to eradicate the resentment.

It's somewhat like distinguishing pride (sinful) from self-respect (usually good).

The main thing is that resentment spiritually harms the resenter. This is why there is a Christian imperative to forgive - it is not about who is forgiven, it is about the sinfulness of harbouring resentment for any reason of none - whether there is/was an original cause or not, is irrelevant.

Resentment is also chronic - often lifelong, often either unfocused (on a changing group rather than particular persons), or persisting beyond the death or demise of that which is resented (maybe for many generations).

In practice; anything of the kind encouraged by The Establishment is sure to be resentment hence evil.