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.

Nature Never Sucks

When my kids were taking high school biology, their (brilliant) teacher’s jocular mantra was, “Nature never sucks.” It meant, first, that Nature is wonderful, beautiful, and so forth – worthy of admiration, study, awe. Second, it was a nod and a prod in the direction of Ockham’s Razor, urging his pupils to adduce no more factors of natural phenomena than are absolutely necessary. But third, and more salient to his honest reductive Ockhamist pedagogical purposes, and most of all, it meant that Nature is not teleological: it neither seeks nor is pulled toward goal states, but rather pushes itself toward certain equilibria, not intentionally, but on the contrary chaotically. The idea is that these equilibria are not themselves somehow attractive, but rather are simply the most stable way that things can be arranged, so that when things happen to blunder into those stable configurations completely by accident, they then tend to stay there until something disturbs them. Things are never falling into place, but are rather only, always, merely falling.

The notion is not new. It goes back to the first Greek atomists, Lucretius and Democritus.

It is Dawkins’ notion that what perdures is only what has not yet failed to perdure: “there are lots more ways to fall apart than to hang together.” It’s true, but as tautological is uninformative.

There are other problems with it.

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A Call to the Christian Manosphere: be More Christian

The Manosphere criticizes Christendom, and it partly deserves it. But there are Christian and non-Christian ways to criticize.

The Manosphere’s basic critique of Western Christendom is that it panders to feminism. Enamored of the world, the church often propagates the worldly, feminist idea that the man is to blame and the woman is justified in rebellion. Instead of affirming biblical and historical Christian teaching that the man is to be the head of the family and that the wife is to submit to her husband’s leadership, many Evangelical churches, while giving an occasional nod to biblical teaching, present a de facto doctrine that gives the woman veto power. Without acknowledging it, they often pander to the wife’s right to feel offended, and sometimes even to divorce, if she feels that her man is mistreating her or not meeting her needs.

Broadly speaking, I agree with the Manosphere’s critique. When they err, it is usually an exaggeration of a valid point rather than a fundamental untruth. But something important is missing.

To understand what’s missing, consider the notion of law versus gospel: Continue reading

We Need an Ecumenical Council to Oppose Contemporary Heresies

The liberal revolution has smashed tradition and authority.  Throughout our nation the children are running amok. We need the fathers to step in and reestablish order.

The church is polluted by heresy like never before. Never before have heresies been so varied, so popular, and so powerful. These are not the “classical” heresies such as Arianism or Pelagianism, although these beliefs still have influence. Today’s popular heresies were created no more than a hundred years ago and they have no official heretical status. It’s time officially to stigmatize them as the dangerous heresies that they are.

We’ll define some of these heresies later but observe first that heretics such as Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland and Rob Bell are—from a worldly viewpoint—highly successful and influential. The smog they generate is polluting not only the church, but the cultures of entire nations. Although these heresies all originated in the United States, and within Protestantism, America’s powerful worldwide influence has spread them to all corners of the globe.

Therefore Catholics and the Orthodox should take note: the cultural smog emitted by the contemporary heretics affects you too. Heresy is an ecumenical menace.

And non-Christians should also take note. The contemporary heresies promise this-worldly peace and prosperity and Christians under their influence will not oppose the liberal jihad ravaging Western Civilization. They may even join it, seeking peace with the world so they can enjoy their lives. Heretical pseudo-Christianity is part of the problem, not the solution. By opposing these heresies we don’t just build up Christendom. We also oppose liberalism and help work toward a sane, traditionalist society.

These heresies originated within Protestantism and although it currently has no authorities that seem capable of enforcing a proper order (and this is apparently also true of Catholicism), Protestantism generally recognizes the authority of the Bible. There are pastors and teachers who would command widespread respect were they to issue an unambiguous statement, based on the authority of the Bible, opposing contemporary heresies.

We therefore put forward the idea of an ecumenical council of leaders of biblically-faithful Protestant congregations, denominations, and seminaries which would craft an official response to contemporary heresy. Such a council would have no power actually to defrock heretical pastors, but its unofficial influence could potentially be great. Heretics would be taken aback, and Bible-believing Christians would have an official response from the fathers of Protestantism giving them comfort and support in their battles with heresy. Continue reading

C. S. Lewis on the Trump Candidacy

From God in the Dock:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

In other words, better to be ruled by The Donald than by Madam Commissar Hillary. Continue reading

Can Diverse Christian Sects Coexist Peacefully?

Despite their many differences, Traditional Christians of diverse sects seem doomed to each other as shield mates for the foreseeable future, willy nilly. But someday their common dire enemies – modernism and Mohammedanism – will have been vanquished, if only in virtue of their enmity to Truth and disagreement with reality. The spectrum of doctrines found on the orthogonal Right will then constitute the full diapason of political discourse. Assuming they have not by then been forced by exigencies of war into a single catholic confession of brothers in arms – a not unlikely eventuality, in my opinion – will the Christian sects be able to live thenceforth together in peace?

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The Inevitable War of Incompatible Cults

Cults are incompatible when their doctrines contradict and entail taboos that conflict irreconcilably, in such a way that they cannot be practically and honestly and harmoniously honored by and in a man, or therefore in any society of men. E.g., one can’t live and render each his due unto Caesar and YHWH if Caesar insists that what belongs properly to YHWH should be given instead to him. No man can serve two masters, nor can any people.

When incompatible cults continuously interact, war between them is inevitable. The choice for Christians before the Edict of Milan was between apostasy and persecution. Rome was at war with Christianity.

Likewise today, it is more and more difficult to live as a Christian in the West. More and more, our choice is between apostasy and persecution: either we agree to live by the taboos of liberalism, implicitly rejecting those of Christianity, or we shall be persecuted. Islam and Christianity are likewise incompatible, as are Islam and liberalism. All of these cults but one will eventually be deleted.

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Predestination Again

I’ve been trying to explain the reasonableness of the biblical doctrine of predestination (more accurately, divine election), the biblical teaching that God chose us before the creation of the world to come to Christ in faith. [Cf. Ephesians chapter 1.] I’m not satisfied with my previous presentations, so here goes again:

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Picture someone who hates Christ. The head of ISIS, for example. Or the village atheist who trolls Christian websites. Anybody who hates Christianity.

Such people sometimes change their minds and come to faith in Christ. At one time they hated Christ, but later they changed their minds.

Question: What caused this change?

The answer that most quickly comes to mind is the following:  The former Christ-hater gradually began to notice that Christianity is good and makes sense. He began to sense his own sin and his inability to atone for his sins by good deeds. He began to see that Christ, as reported in the New Testament, is an intelligent, compassionate and powerful figure. He began to understand that the eyewitnesses could not have been fabricating their account of the life of Christ. And so on. He gradually began to be attracted to Christ.

But this answer is obviously false. People who hate Christianity don’t begin to notice that it’s good. The moment someone begins to notice that Christianity is good, his mind has already changed. So the above is no explanation of the cause of the change. Continue reading

Disutilitarianism: a Post Scriptum

My first post on disutilitarianism began with the realization that simply rubbing together the different utility functions of individuals is by itself completely impotent to reconcile them. You can’t build a society out of disagreeable men unless they have some prior common basis for reaching a mutual agreement about how to proceed, despite their differences, in a coordinate way. And their different preference schedules cannot themselves furnish any such basis.

I want this, you want that: unless we have some idea that an agreement between us would be better than disagreement, we have no way even to get started talking together, and all we may then do is war.

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In the Shadow of the Prodigy by Frank van Dun

Prodigy Van Dun

I happened to have been reading Frank van Dun’s novel In the Shadow of the Prodigy (2015) during the week of the United States Supreme Court’s latest trespass into the constitutional domain of law-making, formerly reserved to the legislative branch. The same week saw several new instances of Islamic savagery – in France and Algeria – and the collapse of the Greek economy. It is difficult to say whether these events colored my assessment of van Dun’s prose or the other way around. I have been carrying a knot in my stomach for days; my brow has been creased. One way or another, In the Shadow of the Prodigy is a book for our time, breaking up the white dazzle of overlapping crises that constitutes the contemporary scene into the refracted strands of its elementary colors. Van Dun’s story is a mystery, so I will be calling attention to it in such a way as not to divulge too many of its plot-points.

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