Friday 22 March 2024

Only Christianity offers a cure to entropy and evil - all other religions and ideologies are palliative

Palliative medicine is the name for a speciality when, at the end of life ( a terminal illness) the focus moves from curing to helping the patient feel better. But ultimately all of medicine is palliative, because all "cures" are partial and temporary; and everybody degenerates and dies eventually...


Analogously; all secular ideologies (all politics, all social reform and radicalism) are palliative - even when imagined to be wholly effective - palliative, because they do not address the core problems of this life on earth; which are entropy and evil. 

(Entropy being the tendency of creation to fall back into chaos leading to degeneration and death; evil being the purposive opposition to God's plans of divine creation.)

But, assuming that all religions do indeed offer what they claim; only Christianity claims to cure the core problems of mortal life: only Heaven claims to be a complete and permanent cure for entropy and evil. 

All other religions are variously palliative - in their aspiration, in their promises. 

The difference between Christianity and all other options is firstly Resurrection of our-selves, so that we remain ourselves - but everlasting and without evil, but wholly and forever living by love of God and Fellow Men. 

And secondly; the Christian aim is Heaven - when is understood as a Second Creation, inhabited only by those Beings who have eternally committed to live by love only; and thereby left-behind "sin". That is they have left-behind both evil and entropy. 

Such that Heaven is wholly creative

Heavenly resurrected life does not solve all problems of existence, and is not intended to do so; because there is endless scope for love and creation. But Christian Heaven does claim to solve the problems of evil and entropy: solve them once and for all. Nobody else even claims that - every other option is palliative: at best. 


Lucinda said...

Do you think that we participate in the Second Creation with learned skills as well as love?

Bruce Charlton said...

@lucinda - Oh yes, for sure. Every person is different, and each is always learning.

I call Heaven the Second Creation to emphasize that it is qualitatively a new thing compared to the Original, First Creation (in which we currently live), and was made possible by Jesus - and Jesus was needed to create it.

I think people need to to be able to grasp clearly and simply what it was that Jesus did; how he made a permanent difference to reality, what new possibility he added to existing creation.

Tipesola said...

Surely rebirth and Nirvana are as much of a solution to entropy and evil as a heaven which isn't even accessible to anyone who happens to have a single "failed" lifetime?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Tipesola. No. Rebirth/ Reincarnation is just more of the same, over-and-again - not a solution. Nirvana is the (blissful) annihilation of our self-awareness of the situation - which remains unchanged.

Stephen Macdonald said...

"But Christian Heaven does claim to solve the problems of evil and entropy"

We have assurance on this, when we heed the Holy Spirit.

Where I differ from some of my Christian friends is that I do not believe Heaven entails the absence of problems. In fact a problem-free existence is incompatible with Life -- a universe devoid of Life has no Problems.

I suspect the problems we will face will be of the sort faced by anyone who seeks to learn to play the guitar. Sore fingers (that will for certain heal), some frustration over missed notes and fumbled chords as we learn, but always creative progress, moving in the direction of the Good the True and the Beautiful.

Bruce Charlton said...



The problems of evil and entropy are those that are solved; and there is love between all Beings; but the "problems" - or rather the *possibilities* - of creating; are endless, and forever.

I regard the traditional Christian ideas of Heaven as a place of eternal rest and contemplation, with intervals of praising and worshipping, without end - as actively pernicious notions, because terrifying and repellant to so many people.

It was only when the only alternative to Heaven was regarded as Hell's eternal excruciating torment, that such a Heaven has appeal.

If *that* was all there was to Heaven, then the barely-conscious bliss of "Nirvana" would be preferable - because at least we would not be aware of the endless vistas of inescapable tedium.

(Hence, I guess, the relatively greater popularity of (Western versions of) Hinduism and Buddhism - or even the total annihilation of self at death that is envisioned by mainstream atheistic materialism.)

Lucinda said...

Do you think that entropy is eternal chaos peeking through, or is it, maybe in part, simulated, for us to learn from? I'm inclined to believe it is eternal chaos peeking through, but I'm not sure the difference matters.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - "entropy is eternal chaos peeking through"

Yes, I envisage it that primordial chaos never went away, and God created and creates in that context.

So this first creation is always a mix of primordial chaos with divine creation,
a dynamic relationship.

This is why the second creation was needed for good (divine creation) to be complete.

Deogolwulf said...

‘Rebirth/ Reincarnation is just more of the same, over-and-again’

That tells us about the narrow bounds of your assumptions and nothing about the endless possibilities and myriad ways of metempsychosis, a part of the never-ending and ever-unfolding adventure of the soul, the deathless self. Or so it may be said. As an aside, it should be noted that nothing in the idea of reincarnation suggests that forgetfulness in the soul is permanent, and forgetfulness does not mean loss of self, which is the usual, oddly unselfreflective objection to the idea. On the latter point, and to speak only of this life: I am myself today, and I was myself last Monday (when not in dreamless sleep), but I can’t remember anything about last Monday; and I will be myself next Monday (when not in dreamless sleep) even if at that future time I can’t remember anything about today. Presently forgetful or not, my personal self has been and will be there throughout (except in the death of dreamless sleep, from which I have awoken many times …). Likewise with past and future incarnations and anything that lies between.

‘If we awaken in the face of a great brilliant light, everything that has been seen in our dreams leaves our souls and vanishes; just so, when we pass from one life to another and are born on this earth, the sun seems to dazzle our memory and drug our minds, through the pleasure and wonder it rouses, into forgetting what went before. And yet the soul’s true period of wakefulness is there in that other life and in that realm; since its arrival in this world, it is by means of dreams that it joyfully greets and gazes upon that which is most beautiful and divine.’

[Plutarch, The Dialogue on Love, 764e-f, in Moralia, Vol. IX, tr. by W.C. Hembold (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1961), p. 401.]

Christianity, as a species of abrahamism, cannot take the soul (or justice or virtue or dignity) seriously: the soul a self-helpless creature, without life or freedom or creativity of its own, dead without a deathly body, mere inbreathed dust grovelling to be spared the withdrawal of breath, a wretched and damnable thing cast into the tiny cell of a single lifetime, some heaven-hinted, some hellish, with sheer luck (or Yahweh-Yeshua's appointment) determining which. What a poor thing—even when it has an appointment grander than most! And what does this ‘soul’ (if we can still call it that)—even the most nobly-appointed ‘soul’—learn of love and sympathy, of justice and dignity, of truth and goodness, of reality and creativity, in a tiny sliver, a measly portion, of life meted out by a jealous ‘benefactor’? Vanishingly little in respect of the vastness of all that is and can be. What chances and opportunities and perspectives does it gain? Vanishingly few in the same respect. Living little, learning little, loving little, knowing little, with almost nothing of reality seen, and even then through a glass darkly, this ‘soul’ after just one little span of life (rotten luck or not) is deemed fully tested and fit to be consigned to (or to make the choice of) a permanent condition—everlasting heaven, hell, or the void, with a judge (or service-provider) given the laughable name of God presiding over the whole sorry affair. All this is seen as impossible, besides dreadful and blasphemous, when the soul—deathless agent-subject and creator—is taken seriously. But to do so would go against the teachings of a high-titled rabbi.

The world has countless creators (and the unsurpassably greatest of them is not jealous). The soul goes its own way, but so does chance. The clashing of free beings happens. Neither life nor afterlife is set by divine appointment. Choice is a thing, but so is rotten luck. Yet justice is real. So is dignity. So are the godly and the holy. So is the soul. But it is better to deny all these than to make a mockery of them.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Deogolwulf - "Rebirth/ Reincarnation is just more of the same, over-and-again’ That tells us about the narrow bounds of your assumptions and nothing about the endless possibilities and myriad ways of metempsychosis, a part of the never-ending and ever-unfolding adventure of the soul, the deathless self."

I don't think you understand what I mean by entropy, because that "problem" is not affected by metempsychosis. I am aware that there are many, many forms of reincarnation - and what is more, I believe that reincarnation was common, perhaps normal, until the time of Jesus. I also think that it continues to happen.

If that is what someone really wants, then I presume it may continue to be possible. But the situation for reincarnating should probably gets worse and worse as history proceeds; and I fear that (to rather oversimplify) many who might have chosen reincarnation in the past would end-up being corrupted and choosing damnation as of 2024 - in this more and more demon controlled world.

This is "things coming to a point" - there are in theory many other choices, but in practice it seems that the choices of Heaven or Hell have become increasingly what actually happens.

Deogolwulf said...

Fair enough.

'that "problem" is not affected by metempsychosis'

The world-body grows old . . . and when it dies, the world-soul will take on a new body of which every soul, every actual entity, will be a co-creator (just as each is here and now and in the past), and thus a new world is born and a new story unfolds. Every ending is death: the story is finished (but not forgotten). But every ending points beyond itself to other stories that can be told. There is only one story without an ending: the never-ending story of an endless number of stories with an endless number of beginnings and endings. A permanent ending, an ending to all endings, would be everlasting death, which is impossible (just as nothingness and pointing thereto is impossible), since every ending points beyond itself.

Or something like that.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Deogolwulf - My understanding of what you describe is that what is Now (including entropy), is all that can be. That a creation without entropy had never existed, and "therefore" could not exist.

I think this Was true, but that Jesus changed the situation. Since then, and now, there is resurrection.

When I read the Fourth Gospel that is what I understand Jesus to be saying - but in very different words. I also assume that the same knowledge is available to anybody who seeks it - by means of communion with the Holy Ghost.

Deogolwulf said...

If entropy, the increasing intrusion of chaos, is an inevitable consequence of a multiplicity of beings—from gods to quarks—sharing to greater and lesser degrees in radical spontaneity and creative potentiality (boundless primordial nature), each telling its own story, as it were, some good, some bad, some epic, some humdrum, and none forced to conform perfectly to an overall narrative that prevents all conflict (a narrative that would violate freedom and be contrary to primordial nature), would you wish for the world to be without it?

Outside moral evil (ill-will), entropy might be seen as something like a general accumulation of all instances of nonmoral or natural evil, which is an inevitable result of freedom, of free beings getting in one another’s way and coming into conflict without ill-will.

If entropy is such a consequence, it would be yet another incongruence in the mechanistic-deterministic worldview, one of the strangest of all the figments of the human mind.

Bruce Charlton said...

@D - I can't tell whether you have read some of the linked background stuff, about how I am conceptualizing entropy:

In mainstream modern discourse, entropy is usually regarded as the primary reason for change; and a combination of entropy and order is regarded as the basis of creation. I regard this as mistaken and untrue - and that divine creation (by God, and gods) is another reason for change - which does not "need" to be opposed by any form of stasis because (in another assumption) the units of creation are eternal Beings.

Anyway, I think you are saying that not everybody wants a world without entropy - that it is possible to embrace the reality of degeneration, disease and death.

I agree. I have long regarded Christianity (i.e resurrection to Heaven after death) as an opt-in kind of thing; and I realize that not everybody (or every being) wants to opt in. For example, any being incapable of love, or who regards love as a bad thing, will not want to be transformed such that he lives wholly by love - one incapable of love is indeed incapable of entering Heaven.

I have met people who seem sincerely to want utter annihilation at death; I know somebody who seems to love this world as it is, such that (at least at present) he wants nothing more than to keep reincarnating into it over and again.

Deogolwulf said...

This person you know (‘who seems to love this world as it is’) must be a very odd chap. (Or perhaps he is beyond what he seems to you.) Is there anyone who loves this world as it is in every aspect? No. Neither in good-will nor ill-will is anyone satisfied with the world as it is, and none loves it in every way. And is there anyone but the coldest monster or the aloofest or the most jaded and cynical who is not saddened or horrified or disgusted by much of it?

Let’s skip to death: every day I (as self) undergo death (loss of self in dreamless sleep), afterlife (dreaming), and rebirth (reawakening in this world). As ‘above’, so ‘below’, or macrocosm and microcosm, or recapitulation. In death there is no harm or horror, but true rest: a free getaway-break not to be sniffed at. And what’s more, the prospect of it holds no horror for me, for you, or for anyone else. That no-one has any horror of death, for himself or for anyone else, is shown by the fact that everyone goes to bed at night, or lets a loved one do so, without any horror at the prospect that he or the loved one will die a few times before waking in the morning. What men call the horror of death is not that of death per se, but of something more specific: everlasting death, being gone forever, annihilation, permanent loss of self—wherewith that all life comes to nothing in the end, that the suffering of every creature from the greatest to the smallest is in vain, that love and justice are everywhere conquered by the void. The assumption that death (the genus) means permanent death (the species) is so deep in most people that they do not even see dreamless sleep as death (since it does not fit the ill-conceived species-profile), even though it undoubtedly is death in the relevant sense: loss of self.

This-world-as-it-is is within the all-world, the actualities and possibilities of which are not limited by this-worldly habits and prejudices.

(On that point, you seem to be assuming again that metempsychosis must mean reincarnation into this-world-as-it-is over and over again forever. You are imposing a this-worldy—and a rather humdrum!—prejudice onto the all-world. Metempsychosis neither demands nor excludes having a body, nor is it restricted to this-world-as-it-is. You already have a glimpse of that fact in dreams, which most certainly do not take place in this-world-as-it-is.)

[Cont. …]

Deogolwulf said...

The all-world itself as a whole is not entropic. (The source and primordial nature of all being and becoming, the One, is boundless, utterly free, and sheer creative potentiality, as much without entropy as it is without multiplicity or particularity, which is to say: entirely.) The way is up, not down. But the work, or the quest, or the adventure, is without end. Story within story, world within world, of every wonderful kind. Every story, every world, ends—except one: the neverending story of the all-world. On and on it goes. Do you wish that story to end even ‘happily’? That is a sublimated wish for permanent death. If you wish for the overall story to have a happy ending, then perhaps you are not so unlike those who seem to wish for permanent death. Seemingly that is the happiest ending they can think of.

To the world-weary comes the blessing of death—dreamless sleep. Soul is deathless; but self dies often, blinking out of life every day of every week of every month of every year of every age, but is always reborn just as often through the soul that bears it. There is no everlasting death of self, whether anyone wants it or not. Having rested—for an hour or for the span of worlds-upon-worlds—, one ‘dreams’ for ages upon ages, for worlds upon worlds, and lives again, life after life. And dies again, death after death. So it goes on.

None of this is to say that the death of a particular life is a trifling thing. Quite the contrary. It is a true loss: a particular life never to be lived again, gone forever. Death still has its sting, a deep one. And for those who thrill in the tragedy of life, the good news is that there is bad news that won’t ruin their fun as good news would: even in the midst of a particular life, of a particular world, every moment of it is lost forever by the very next moment, never to be lived again. But perhaps this is a this-worldly limit of assumption. I cannot say.

Is what I have written here true? Truish, I suppose. (Many would say: mad. Fear of speculation is also a thing ...) Is it vague? Yes, by design. I seek not to limit what I cannot see. Life and afterlife in all their endless wonder and complexity cannot be depicted or predicted. Is the truest and clearest picture, which I do not see, far greater, more wonderful, and more godly than this doodle of mine? Undoubtedly.