Why modern men don’t want to believe in heaven

The top branches of the other trees of the forest now peeped through the clouds; they, too, were growing, lifting themselves up to the sky, toward the sun.  Bushes and flowers followed; some of them had freed themselves from the earth and were flying…

“But where are the little blue flowers from the pond?” shouted the oak tree.  “And the red harebell and the little primrose?”  The old oak did not want anyone to be forgotten.

“We are here, we are here!” sang voices all around it.

“But the woodruff from last summer and all the lilies of the valley from the summer before that, where are they?  I remember the year when the wild apples bloomed so beautifully.  Oh, so much beauty do I recall through all the years of my life!  If it only were all alive now and could be with us!”

“We are, we are,” came cries from somewhere higher up; they must have flown there earlier.

“That is the most marvelous of all,” rejoiced the old oak tree.  “Everything that I have known is here.  Nothing has been forgotten, not the tiniest flower or the smallest bird.  How is such joy possible?  Where is such happiness conceivable?”

“In heaven it is possible,” sang the voices.

And the tree felt its roots loosen their grasp on the earth.

— from “The Old Oak Tree’s Last Dream” by Hans Christian Andersen

Modern readers are bound to be surprised at the prominence of heaven in so many of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories.  “The Little Match Girl” has a vision of being reunited with her grandmother in heaven, and this adds some hope to an otherwise harrowing story of a little girl slowly freezing to death.  “The Dead Child” comforts his grieving mother before returning to God in heaven.  “The Little Mermaid” wants to become a human because she is in love with a prince, but most of all so she can have an immortal soul and spend eternity with God.

Modern Christians are clearly embarrassed by the idea of eternal beatitude, but this was not the case for our ancestors.  Saint Augustine and his dying mother famously speculated on the joys of heaven.  Pascal in Pensee 427 expresses astonishment that anyone could fail to find our fate after death the most important of topics.  In contrast, the 20th century’s best-known apologetic work, C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, mostly confines discussion of heaven to a small chapter near the end on the virtue of hope.  Lewis’ understanding of the desire for heaven is based on a rare sort of aesthetic experience, one I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced.  Anglican theologian N. T. Wright wrote a book attacking the idea of heaven in popular piety.  By the end of the 20th century, Christianity had returned to an Old Testament-style reticence about the afterlife.

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The Irreducible Remainder of Improper Reduction

If you reduce all x to nothing but y, then what you have left at the end of the process is no x at all: nothing to explain. To say that x is nothing but y is to say that there is really no such thing as x in the first place.

Eliminative reductionists generally prefer to overlook this difficulty. They try to explain explananda exhaustively as nothing but collisions of dead items, yet retain their reference to the explananda. They won’t take the last entailed step of asserting that there is in the first place simply no such thing as the explananda.

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Trying to cure stupid

Of the great twentieth-century dystopian novels, Michael Young’s The Rise of the Meritocracy: 1870-2023 has certainly proved the most prescient.  Probably the best measure that a dystopia has come to pass is that readers start having trouble understanding why the author disapproved of his imagined society; we’re not far enough gone for readers to stop finding the future in Brave New World unattractive, but “meritocracy” has come to be regarded by most as something to which we should aspire.  After all, isn’t having the most able people in the top positions a good thing?  Michael Young was a socialist who, like Hillaire Belloc, had the insight that egalitarian programs might have extremely inegalitarian results.  Before uniform mass education, end of hereditary privilege, equality of opportunity, and the like, smart and enterprising people could be found in all social classes.  In the “fair” meritocratic system, high IQ people will all migrate to the upper classes and intermarry.  Since intelligence is largely heritable, this new merit-based upper class will soon form a closed caste in a society more stratified than the old feudal one.  The new aristocracy will feel confident that they have “merited” their privileged place.  The more objective the exams, the more inequality will be legitimized.  Nor could one hope that the lower orders might effectively organize in their own collective interests like the labour movement of old; anyone with the cleverness and organizational skill to lead such a movement will have been whisked into the upper class while still a child.

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Importance Iff God

A public discourse that recuses from any reference to a supreme and ultimate and ultimately binding moral order – that is, i.e., morally relativistic – forecloses any possibility of investing any public act with true and perfectly general meaning. When there is nothing that must in virtue of its factual meaning under the highest heaven certainly mean therefore at least one same thing to everyone beneath the orbit of the moon, nothing can mean the same thing to anyone except by happenstance, or by the constraints ever imposed upon all creatures by the logos of corporeal becoming (as, e.g., when the flood approaches and everyone feels it truly and existentially important and valuable to flee, regardless of their politics or sexual identification).

To put it bluntly: if you can’t talk of God and his will for us in a language that everyone understands and accepts (even if only pro forma), then nothing you say can be quite definite, in the final analysis, or therefore definitive, or then authoritative, or suasive. Every utterance then will be tentative, merely pro forma and nothing more; ergo, not really binding, or even interesting, but only conventionally. At most, you’ll muster only indignant insistence about this or that outrage, full of sound and fury but, as signifying really nothing, empty of any real conviction.

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Collapse: It’s What Man Does

Collapse is what man does. It is what we do best; in it, we do our best. It is what we are specially adapted to cope with. It has formed us again and again. Civilization today is what it is, and has reached its present heights of power, capability, knowledge and coordination, because of the many civilized orders that preceded it, and that worked brilliantly until suddenly they didn’t. From their failures, we may keep learning how not to fail. Tradition is the lore of past collapses; new collapses cannot but refresh tradition, even as they edit and reform it. 

Naturally and rightly we seek to avoid it, because collapse is always costly, and painful. But so is life; is there any human life that suffers no collapses, no irreparable disasters? The question answers itself. How then might any society of humans ever do otherwise? We ought then look upon the coming collapse as a runner looks forward to a race, or a singer to a recital – or even as a runner looks forward to a workout, or a singer to her scales. The adversity of collapse makes man himself, and more than he has been.

Bring it on.

Familiar Democracy *Can* Work

We here at the Orthosphere are skeptical about the prospects for any merely democratic political order. As has been common knowledge since Plato, democracies are vulnerable to the excesses and errors of the mob, to the suasions and blandishments of sophists and scoundrels, and their political discourse to a rapid devolution toward the lowest common denominator – a race to the bottom, in every way. They tend to vice and imprudence.

The only sort of democracy that might have therefore any very good likelihood of success would be a republic characterized by such constraints of the franchise as to constitute it an aristocracy wherein the aristoi – the electors, ergo their elect – were raised from among hoi polloi by some other principle than a mere accident of heredity (not forgetting that such excellence in life as befits and tells aristoi is largely after all an outworking of just such accidents – so that a merely hereditary aristocracy has a fair shot at working out over the long run).

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To the Manosphere: There is a Christianity you can Respect

It’s called “Confessional Protestantism.” It’s small, and mostly unknown, but it’s solid.


The problem with contemporary Christianity is its liberalism. Trying to be popular with the masses, the church generally accepts the thinking of the contemporary world, feminism included. Being Christian, it adds to this mix a belief in Jesus Christ. But when the teachings of Christ conflict with liberalism, today’s church generally sides with the world, even if it tries to dress up worldly thinking in Christian clothing.

Today, many conservative Christians are theologically Christian but philosophically liberal. They believe in the Holy Trinity, and also in multiculturalism. They affirm that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and that we must stop making homosexuals feel excluded. They receive holy communion, and they protest for more rights for immigrants.


The way to stop this nonsense is first to identify that your highest authority is the written word of God, the Bible. Other authorities can be corrupted, but the Word of God is a matter of public record. Continue reading

Worship ergo Being

As theology includes and subvenes metaphysics, so mysticism – which is to say, simply, effectually realized worship – includes and subvenes theology. Metaphysics then can usher us in to theology, and theology to worship. But to enter worship through the double vestibules of philosophy and theology is to take the long road; a direct and immediate entry is available to all creatures, as near to them as their own hearts. As subvening metaphysics, worship subvenes all that metaphysics subvenes, and covers; which is to say, that worship is the basis and sine qua non of being. At our animal bottom, and at its most primitive, worship is expressed in our love of life, of our own mere existence.

Indeed, even the simplest entities exist and perdure only in virtue of their love of the forms they inherit from God and express in their concrete actuality. That love is the urge to become. To be, then, is at least to begin to worship: to attest in act to the worth of the Lord of all being. Everything partakes it. And this is why mystics in their raptures notice that the very mud of the street is afire with surpassing beauty, effulgent with joy. 

Contingency per se Entails creatio ex nihilo

Every contingency is brought into being from a state of affairs in which it does not actually exist; from a condition of things in which it is nowhere to be found. And as this is true of each contingency, so therefore is it true of all contingencies, and of the whole lot of them taken together. Contingent being as such comes into being from a prior state of its own non-being.

In a state of affairs in which there are no contingent beings, there is nothing but necessary being. If contingent beings are to be brought into existence from this state of affairs, there are only two possibilities: either they are made from God, and he furnishes from his own actuality the matter of their becoming; or he creates them from nothing. If the former, then, as departments of God, contingencies are in fact necessities. They aren’t contingent in the first place. This is monism. It radically contradicts experience as such, which it has no alternative but to declare our lives illusory and radically unintelligible. So it can’t be true: we can’t really even think it might be true.

Creatio ex nihilo must therefore be true. Having come into existence from nothing turns out to be an inherent aspect of contingent being.