Saturday, 3 June 2017

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom… If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise (in relation to the example of Richard Dawkins)

These two aphorisms from William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell...

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/blake_ma.html

....combine to elucidate something I have, in my own life, found to be a profound truth - Blake's is a profound  insight into the path to truth. The aphorisms also explain why so many people so often get stuck in falsehood: stuck for all of their lives.

Error is self-correcting IF we stick by it honestly, and follow it through to conclusion.

Being wrong is not a spiritual disaster - it is dishonesty which is the disaster: it is living by expedient lies which leads to Hell. Because expedient lies prevent us from recognising error.

This created world has ultimate coherence, since it is the product of one God. Therefore, all error will reveal itself in incoherence.

(Of course, coherence is Not the same as logic; since logic, like mathematics - or which it may be the parent - is a partial model of reality; and logical coherence therefore leaves out most of reality.) 

Some people with a reputation for blunt honesty are nothing of the sort! - they  wriggle and writhe in the face of the conclusions of their assumptions.

A couple of decades ago I used to admire and defend Richard Dawkins - mainly because I considered he was unsually honest; because he was clear and blunt in expression and unafraid of contradicting people to their faces. But I gradually realised that, on the contrary, he was evasive and expedient in his reasoning.

Dawkins is a good example of one who refused to follow his path of excess to the palace of wisdom; because he was not even aiming at wisdom; he refused to persist in his folly, hence he remained a fool rather than becoming wise.

Two examples. The book Unweaving the Rainbow (1998) was an exercise in distraction, a non sequitur in response to the century-plus of observations that If natural selection were indeed regarded the ultimate truth, Then art, poetry, morality, science (including natural selection) and much else are invalidated.

(This is a fact; because all our feelings, indeed all our knowledge is revealed by the assumption as merely the side effects of adaptations to enhance reproductive success. For example, if natural selection is primary; the theory of natural selection destroys its own validity; all scientific theories being merely side-effects of the process of enhancing differential reproductive fitness.)

Somewhat later (but a couple of years before I was a Christian) I met Dawkins at a dinner party, and asked him - as, I intended, a preliminary to a deeper discussion, why the USA was both by far the leading scientific nation in the world and also by far the most Christianly-religious of the developed nations?

Dawkins's reaction made clear that this paradox had not occurred to him - and he did not have an answer ready.

But instead of noting the apparent contradiction and exploring it as possible evidence of an error in his oft asserted assumption that Christianity was intrinsically and necessarily anti-scientific; Dawkins visibly shook-off the potential discussion with the irrelevant comment that it was not the most Christian people who were the actual scientists. Then having dismissed the matter, he turned and walked away to terminate the discussion - leaving me standing and more-or-less gaping! - which had not gone further than a few sentences. After just a few steps Dawkins looked as if he had already forgotten the whole thing.

Dawkins's folly is to believe that natural selection is the primary reality. I know exactly what this feels like, because I have believed this too. Indeed, I have believed this probably considerably more deeply and comprehensively than Dawkins (reaching its peak in the appendix to my 2003 book The Modernization Imperative).

But I persisted in my folly - and kept coming up against paradoxes and contradictions. My excessive devotion to this particular simplification therefore led me towards the palace of wisdom, because I was honest enough that I would not be satisfied with irrelevant pseudo explanations.

If I have any virtue in a higher than usual degree it probably is exactly this - that I persist in my folly, with honesty, until its falsehood becomes evident and unavoidable; and then I abandon it.

I have, indeed, adhered to most of the starkest follies of modernity over my life; and my life has therefore been a process of adopting then exploring folly before abandoning it. This continues - however, the follies are probably less 'excessive' these days; since after becoming a Christian I perceived the starkest insanities and evils of mainstream modern secularism.

But mainstream modern secularism is foolish in the extreme, and yet at the same time avoids learning from its folly; because it is dishonest.

Modern media/ bureacratic culture is systematically and pervasively dishonest - dishonest in public, dishonest in private, dishonest with itself. (This is sufficient evidence of its demonic origin, since such thoroughgoing and peristing dishonesty must be purposive; and only supernatural purpose could span generations.) No folly of modernity is too extreme to escape the correction of even common sense and direct experience (for example, the current official and coercively-imposed belief that being a man or woman is - in actual practice - a reversible state).

This is why dishonesty dismays me far more than error. An honest fool will sooner or later become wise - indeed in essentials he already is wise, as such things are measured in mortal life.

By contrast; a dishonest man is a fool; no matter how great his knowledge, skill, status, wealth or power - and as such he is self-damned with a certainty that is sure, for as long as his dishonesty persists.

There is no cure for the dishonest soul.