Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Love as Man’s Highest Purpose

This “meaning crisis” conversation will eventually come to a natural law ethic, or it will never resolve.

Chapter Six….

For without the judgement ‘Benevolence is good’ – that is, without re-entering the Tao – [the Conditioners] can have no ground for promoting or stabilizing these impulses rather than any others.

The Abolition of Man, by C.S. Lewis

Benevolence: desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness: an act of kindness; a charitable gift:

Hierarchies have always existed and will always exist.  Once a value is promoted, a hierarchy based on success toward that value will be established.  This chapter will begin to examine the relationship between the reality of today, a reality where we live with any value other than love as the highest value, and today’s meaning crisis.

What do I mean by a meaning crisis?  It is man living other than as the human being he was intended in creation, living as a man having little if any say in his life and his future.  Living, not as a human being; living without hope for a future.

The meaning crisis is evident in many ways: higher rates of suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, homelessness, the great resignation, fatherless children, aborted babies, gender fluidity, the normalization of the most life-destroying behaviors.

This chapter will also begin to develop further the idea that love (benevolence) must be the highest value if man is to live as intended – respecting creation’s human nature.  Foundationally, Christianity has offered the basis for this via two simple ideas:

Genesis 1: 26(a) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 2: 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

This is what it means to be a human being.  No other creature was made in the image of God. in no other creature did God breath.

Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

This is man’s highest purpose, his telos.

If these ideas were proposed in another tradition or religion, I am not aware of it; if they have been developed as thoroughly as they have been in the West, I haven’t seen it.  These ideas form the basis for holding love as the highest value for man, man’s purpose or telos.

But why does that matter?  What does this have to do with the meaning crisis?  Lewis will explain this in the chapter of this book entitled The Abolition of Man.

‘Man’s conquest of nature’ is an expression often used to describe the progress of applied science.

No doubt, we have all benefitted from this “conquest.”

In what sense is Man the possessor of increasing power over nature?

Lewis offers three technologies to demonstrate his points.  Two of these, the aeroplane and the wireless, offer a conquest for men living today, now.  One of these, contraception, offers a conquest over men living (or not) in the future.  But this conquest is not absolute, nor always available to all.

Any or all three things I have mentioned can be withheld from some men by other men…

While this has always been true, and there are multiple examples throughout history, certainly it was obviously evident in the last two years.

What we call Man’s power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by.

And this is the point Lewis is getting at: Man’s conquest of nature is actually some men’s conquest over other men using Nature as the instrument.  Of course, since there will always be a hierarchy, some men will always be over other men.  No problem if love (benevolence) is the highest value.  But what if it isn’t?

Then there is the time dimension.  This is present not only via contraceptives (using nature, the power to bring forth, or not, the next generation), but also using technology to shape the next generation – the Conditioned – into the mold desired by some men who are controlling Nature – the Conditioners.  Again, no problem if love (benevolence) is the highest value.  But what if it isn’t?

[The Conditioners] know how to produce conscience and decide what kind of conscience they wish to produce.

It need not be love.  They will produce the conscience they wish.

The Conditioners, then, are to choose what kind of artificial Tao they will, for their own good reasons, produce in the Human race.

They might even perceive this as being for the good of all – some form of bastardized benevolence.  It is their duty.  But “duty” cannot be its own judge. 

They know quite well how to produce a dozen different conceptions of good in us.  The question is which, if any, they should produce.

Duty to what end, toward what purpose?  Using the things they are comparing as the standard by which to choose is, in Lewis’s word, absurd. 

But it isn’t that these are bad men.  Having set the standard for what is good, how could they be bad?  Just as in ancient Rome – where abandoning babies and satisfying one’s sexual desires in any orifice, willing or unwilling, was considered objectively good – we have versions of this in our day.

The very words corrupt and degenerate imply a doctrine of value and are therefore meaningless in this context.

To be good, one must be free to subjectively create his own being.  This is today’s standard – an infinitely malleable yardstick by which to measure “good.”  Yet there is no freedom even in this, because one is conditioned toward this end. 

To be considered evil today…that answer is easy.  Just bring up the idea of objective ethical values – not any specific objective ethical value, just the concept that such things exist.

When all that says ‘it is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want’ remains. …The Conditioners, therefore, must come to be motivated simply by their own pleasure.

What happens if anything other than love is understood to be man’s highest purpose?  What if benevolent love is not the highest pleasure for the Conditioners?  Man will evolve into something other than that for which he was created. 

What will he have inherited for all of this conditioning?

The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future.

The meaning crisis. 

This is what we are living today.  Arguably, its roots will be found in the Enlightenment, where science, as the term has come to be understood (man’s conquest over nature), has been placed at the pinnacle of all knowledge.  For example, we find it necessary to debate with physicists about the reality of God and His creation.  Why?  Because…science.

We are unable to exercise power over the future.  Today, it is true for the vast majority of us – far more than in Lewis’s day, although he saw it.  But Lewis also sees that eventually, even the Conditioners will suffer the same fate.  For example, what happens if / when they are able to upload their brains into some machine.  What control over their future will they have at that point?  Whatever the answer, we know one thing with certainty: they will no longer be human beings.

But we are not there yet.  What Lewis saw as coming in the future, we are living today:

Man’s conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men.

Never before in the history of man has the technology been available to change and propagandize the whole of humanity, levers in control of those who wish to make man in…what image, exactly?

Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man. …The Battle will indeed be won.  But who, precisely, will have won it?

Or…what, precisely, will have won it?

Conclusion

It is not that [the Conditioners] are bad men.  They are not men at all.  Stepping outside the Tao, they have stepped into the void.  Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men.  They are not men at all: they are artefacts.  Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of man.

A fabulously insightful statement, but I also think Lewis had something not quite right.  We are seeing that some of these men are unhappy men.  That part of them that remains “man” is struggling under the weight of that part of them being made to suffer the Conditioner.

If man, created in some man-made image, can no longer live in the manner for which he was created, or is pushed and driven to live contrary to his nature, what, other than a meaning crisis, will be the result?

In the older systems both the kind of man the teachers wished to produce and their motives for producing him were prescribed the Tao – a norm to which the teachers themselves were subject and from which they claimed no liberty to depart.

The Tao: Natural Law.  Ethics based on objective values, values which must be accepted as given, not created by man but discovered.

Judgements of value are to be produced in the pupil as part of the conditioning.

Keep in mind, man was created with a purpose – an objective purpose: love.  Man was created in a divine image: God’s image.  Any other purpose as man’s highest purpose results in corruption of man.  Any other image results in something other than man.

What happens when we do not live with, under and through these objective values, with love as man’s telos?

A meaning crisis.

15 comments:

  1. Amen Bionic! I was able to teach 20 men at our church on the subject of created order and natural law for about an hour on Saturday. I quoted several of the same verses you use here. I think it was well received and I will continue to find people to go over this subject with. I have a neighbor who runs a church and I think I will get a chance to teach it to his church soon.

    I emphasize that natural law determines how to live out human nature so that we can live our best lives. It is a good thing, not repression but freedom.

    One thing I was thinking about is that natural law in the Bible is objective and universally applicable. However, there is a piece of natural law that is subjective and applicable only to particular people. We even see this hinted at in Romans 14. What is "good" for one person isn't always "good" for another person.

    We must also understand who God made us as individuals in order to understand how natural law applies to us individually. This includes our personality, likes, dislikes, talents, skills, experience, limitations, weaknesses, etc. God made us to be human objectively but he created you to be Bionic Mosquito subjectively. Living that out, in love, as you say, is your purpose in life according to God's purpose He placed on you. There is deep meaning in that path.


    https://thecrosssectionrmb.blogspot.com/


    https://thecrosssectionrmb.blogspot.com/

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    1. " This includes our personality, likes, dislikes, talents, skills, experience, limitations, weaknesses, etc."

      Agree, and as you note, above this must be love.

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  2. I recommend, as an example of Lewis's prescience, his depiction of Satanically inspired "science" in That Hideous Strength. One of the main practitioners, Dr. Filostrato, gives away the name of the game: he longs for a world where metal trees have replaced the real thing, and where all the messiness of organic life, such as dirt, is abolished (along with man). I have read on the web several times this past week a proposal to have couples "adopt" virtual babies": no mouths to feed, no additional carbon footprints, no tuition bills to pay, and most importantly, no diapers to change. Children are so messy. As the World Economic Forum sees it (or maybe the Bilderberg folks), we shall find our virtual realities more enjoyable than creation. Having experienced that virtual world of Zoom isolation and distancing during the "pandemic", I would judge such to be a foretaste of the "pleasures" of Hell.

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    1. Best thing Lewis wrote in my book. It has graphic violence in it too, which shows just how strongly he felt about the issue.

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    2. If you haven't done so, I suggest reading what could be considered the non-fiction version of That Hideous Strength": it is an essay (I think it was a college commencement speech) entitled The Inner Circle. It is available online, as I recall.

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  3. "It is not that [the Conditioners] are bad men. They are not men at all. Stepping outside the Tao, they have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all: they are artefacts. Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of man."

    "A fabulously insightful statement, but I also think Lewis had something not quite right. We are seeing that some of these men are unhappy men. That part of them that remains “man” is struggling under the weight of that part of them being made to suffer the Conditioner."

    An excellent statement, but I think it is not quite right. It appears to say that only those men who are suffering the Conditioner are unhappy, but in reality, both "conditioned" and "conditioner" are afflicted with the same malady.

    It is easy to see that the "conditioned" are suffering as society is breaking down around us. It is not so easy to see that the conditioners are discontented as well. I will venture to say that they are not and can never be happy as long as they pursue their goal of conquering Nature to the fullest extent possible. They are lacking something in their own nature and it is this deficit which is driving them to fill the "void" with whatever they believe will satisfy them, i.e., power, absolute power. In this, they will always be frustrated.

    "It is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."

    "God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, that he also reaps."

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    1. Good point, Roger. My one thought - and perhaps it is applicable both to conditioners and conditioned (although it strikes me as more likely the former only): if these are truly Sons of Disobedience, perhaps this influences their discontent - minimizing or eliminating it?

      Is Satan discontent? Are his followers? Is Satan (or are his followers) living according to his (their) telos, fulfilling his (their) purpose?

      I don't suggest an answer, I am really just asking the question.

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    2. "...if these are truly Sons of Disobedience, perhaps this influences their discontent - minimizing or eliminating it?"

      Are you saying that BECAUSE they are sons of disobedience then perhaps they are happy in their discontent? Or perhaps they are happy because they are disobedient? Or perhaps the more disobedient they become, the more contented they are because they are fulfilling their purpose? Perhaps they are not unhappy at all, but luxuriate in their evil?

      Is Satan a created being? If he is, then what is his purpose? His telos? Is it not to thwart God (good) at every opportunity? Does he become frustrated whenever his plans go awry and he loses ground?

      If there is joy in Heaven among the angels whenever one human enters the Kingdom, then there must be anguish in Hell. If Jesus truly is able to build His kingdom so that the gates of Hell will not stand against it, then there must be fear in Satan's quarters. If Satan is full of wrath because he knows his time is "short", then he is aware that he is fighting a losing battle, but due to his nature, he will not quit and is discontented because he cannot win over the long run.

      What is Hell? I have heard it said that it is a place where desires are constantly frustrated and blocked, which would cause great discontent, anger, and frustration. Satan's would be the greatest of all.

      Years ago I read a position which I believe came from Gary North (no idea where) that Satan, who sought all power, in the end will lose it, becoming the most powerless being of all creation, unable to influence or control anyone. Even in Hell, his authority will be constantly challenged and disregarded. (I am dredging this up from memory of 40 years ago, so it may not be perfectly accurate, but it is close enough.)

      If this is true, then discontent is Satan's eternity.

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    3. Excellent, Roger.

      This captures what I was getting at: "Or perhaps the more disobedient they become, the more contented they are because they are fulfilling their purpose?"

      And as for Satan, I think your exposition is spot on, summarized in your last line: "If this is true, then discontent is Satan's eternity."

      But what I am wondering: is this true for his followers - the ones here on earth doing his bidding. Do these evil men and women (you and I can list many of the same names) recognize the futility of their quest, or do they see fulfillment in their ever-increasing depravity?

      Have they fallen for the lies of Satan, hence do not recognize the dead end (in the most complete sense) of their path?

      So, I am thinking of the Sons of Disobedience, those who are doing Satan's work here on earth.

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    4. If I may bring mathematics into the picture: two positives equal a positive, two negatives equal a positive, one positive and one negative are always negative. So...

      1. Contentment with godliness, two positives, is great gain.
      2. Discontentment without godliness, two negatives, can equal great gain, at least in the here and now.
      3. Contentment WITHOUT godliness or discontentment WITH godliness, one positive, one negative, equals great loss. In reality, neither of these two can exist because they cancel each other out.

      Therefore, only 1 and 2 are valid theories.
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      "Do these evil men and women...recognize the futility of their quest, or do they see fulfillment in their ever-increasing depravity?"

      Did those in the Gates/Schwab/Soros/Fauci orbit who were intending to bring in the New World Order gradually over the next 30 or so years recognize and understand that they were going to lose their window of opportunity forever if they didn't accelerate their operation? Do they recognize the futility of their quest, do they know they are going to lose everything, UNLESS they accelerate and maybe, just maybe, pull it off? That scenario is entirely possible and we, the common man within the mass of humanity, might very well be caught with our pants down.

      I don't know that they see fulfillment in their ever-increasing depravity, but I am sure that they experience satisfaction whenever they score a win, which gives them impetus to increase their efforts within the scope of ever-increasing depravity. But, if this is the only thing they live for, it is conceivable that they might actually find fulfillment in their work and toward their purpose. I do not rule it out.

      Would Bill Gates have turned out differently if he had not struck gold with Microsoft, which gave him the power to change the world into his image? Did he set out to become fabulously wealthy in order to fulfill his ambition to rule the world and Microsoft was only the means to gain that end? If true, and Microsoft had failed, would there have been something else?

      These are questions for which there are no answers, except one--we will never know. Trying to decipher Bill Gates (or anyone else, for that matter) is beyond my ken and is not my burden. I can barely keep up with myself.

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    5. "Have they fallen for the lies of Satan, hence do not recognize the dead end (in the most complete sense) of their path?"

      One Son of Disobedience, Adolf Hitler, did everything possible to fulfill his depravity and blew out his brains when it finally dawned on him that his quest had failed. It is my belief that he simply refused to face reality until the very end of his regime. When it arrived, he was unable to handle the knowledge and destroyed himself because of it.

      If there were one reason for me to have a spot of respect for the man, it would be that he was consistent. He did not say one thing and do something else. He lived his beliefs. In this, there is something to learn.

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    6. Thank you, Roger. Just something more to mull over, I guess.

      I will say, regarding your creative use of math to help shed some light on the matter: contentment, perhaps, is in the eyes of the beholder.

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    7. For anyone who wants to work, there is always something more to do. For anyone who wants to think, there is always something more to mull about.

      "...contentment, perhaps, is in the eyes of the beholder."

      Perhaps you are right. I will have to think about it.

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  4. Excellent commentary! "Love is simply the will re-intergrated into principal Truth."

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  5. The Lord loves the one that loves The Lord
    And the law says if you don't give,
    Then you don't get loving

    Now the Lord helps those that help Themselves
    And the law says whatever you do
    Is going to come right back on you

    (George Harrison)

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