LUDOVICI: Nature’s Fundamental Will to Power

19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche coined the phrase “will to power” to describe the motivating force that animates all life. He was not the first philosopher to identify this lust for power as a fundamental motivating force. Aristotle wrote that “all men aspire to ascendancy.” And Thomas Hobbes wrote that “a perpetual and restless desire of power, that ceaseth only in death, is a general inclination of all mankind.” In this video, we will discuss 20th century English philosopher Anthony Ludovici’s interpretation of the will to power, and we will also discuss its relevance to the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe.

In the modern Darwinian age, many people assume that a fundamental will to live is the underlying motivation of organisms’ actions. In other words, life is a struggle for existence, nothing more. But Ludovici argues that mere existence is not the aim of life. If we observe any organism for a little while, then we will discover that it strives for supremacy over other lives, even those belonging to its own species. “What soon strikes us — chiefly in contemplating animals, even quite young ones — is that they feel the need to discharge their strength. Their first concern, as soon as they stir, is to enjoy using and expressing energy – that is to say, in overpowering, subduing or merely intimidating and scaring other creatures. The unleashed dog rouses the neighbourhood with his bark, seizes a fallen branch and shakes it, growling angrily the while. He charges other dogs on his path, fights them and chases every creature within sight. He will even chase and try to bully the fast-revolving wheels of a passing car. He revels in his strength and fleetness.”

Presuming that the will to power is the fundamental motivating force in nature, Ludovici examines the consequences of such a world. He argues that idealists, who believe that men can, if they choose, “love one another and live in perfect amity and harmony together, are blind to the true character of life;” and therefore, they risk genetic death at the hands of more violent organisms. “As for those numbskulls who begin to see and think of the will to power only when figures like Napoleon, Stalin or Hitler appear, and who overlook it wholly in themselves, their wives, their children and their cat, they are even more dangerous than the idealists aforesaid, because they are like people who are not aware of the volcano at the end of their garden before they and their home are smothered in tons of burning lava.”

Even if Ludovici is correct in concluding that organisms naturally strive for supremacy and power over other lives, there is no moral imperative that we ought to strive for such ascendancy. 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume explained that there is a significant difference between what is and what ought to be, and that one cannot derive an ought-statement merely from an is-statement. For example, exercising promotes health and well-being, but this does not imply that we ought to exercise. We ought to exercise only if our goal is to promote health and well-being. In light of this notion, one ought to strive for ascendancy only if such actions do not conflict with one’s morality.

Nevertheless, modern Europe should heed Ludovici’s warning about the dangers of believing that men, especially men from vastly different cultures, can live together in perfect harmony. The Syrian refugee crisis is the volcano in Europe’s garden. Europe cannot impose Christian morality on radical Muslim immigrants. The Christian imperatives – “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” – will ruin Europe. The Christian moral system cannot survive an encounter with the stronger and more vigorous morality of Islam.

Therefore, Europeans must either abandon Christian morality so that they can combat Islamic morality or accept cultural annihilation. Both options are troubling. Abandoning Christian morality will leave a vacuum that eloquent demagogues can exploit to satisfy their personal lusts for power, and accepting cultural annihilation is undesirable for obvious reasons. What should Europe do?

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45 thoughts on “LUDOVICI: Nature’s Fundamental Will to Power

  1. What Europe should do? Europe is indeed dealing with humans that need help, so looking from a humanitarian perspective, they should help. However, Europe identifies itself with culture and religion, and so another culture and religion will be considered invasion, and so Europe will resist it. So the questions becomes, Should Europe identify itself as a group of happy nations made of real people or identify itself as abstract concepts of culture and religion? Now the answer is clear, I think.

  2. Thank you for noticing my blog Sumnonrabidus. In light of your discussion of power, you might be interested in my blog today at palestineinsight.net – much of it having to do with the uses of power in the Palestine/Israel intractable situation.

  3. The same could be said of those of us in the west. Here, those who wish power over us raise the specter that every man, woman and child seeking asylum is a terrorist. Although much the same could have been said of us when we, as Europeans, invaded this hemisphere for freedom, commerce and avarice. To add to the problem, people who are afraid (as refugees usually are) become very defensive of what they have left of their homes — their customs. This makes them very uncomfortable with the thought of losing themselves in another civilization, however hopeful it may appear. I think that we have to stop thinking of “refuge” as a permanent state. I think that we have to teach people to take back their heritage. To come away for some time to learn and grow stronger, to ensure the safety of their families, and then to return and fight for what they hold dear. Not only with arms and bombs, but with ideas that make sense. I know many have tried to accomplish this goal in the Levant for decades, but somewhere, somehow, if you wish to survive, there must be some give and some take. A time when you are no longer a refugee but a builder of a newer, stronger community. Yes, I’m an idealist. The alternative is annihilation.

    • Beginning to consider “refuge” as an impermanent state is an excellent idea. The citizens of the host country would be more receptive and tolerant of refugees if they knew that there was a definite exit date. Furthermore, refugees, in general, desire to return to their homeland – so long as their homeland is safe.

      However, I do not think that it is very practical in this case. It’s difficult to identify a time in history when the Levant was peaceful. Not many people would willingly move there, even those who consider the Levant their homeland.

  4. I’m kind of puzzled as to why you think that Europe is living according to Christian moral imperatives. Are you saying that Europeans have sort of absorbed these values as part of their culture, even though the majority of Europeans today outwardly reject the Christian religion and its moral requirements?

    • Christian morality is still alive and well in Europe, despite the increasing secularization of the continent.One does not need to identify himself as Christian in order to practice Christian morality. Evidence – the willingness of many European countries to admit these refugees into their countries.

  5. Great post, beautifully written ! However I do not agree with the idea that will to power is the driving force in all humans, sure it is applicable to some individuals and at mass scale for some religions but not all, for example Buddhism and Hindu don’t preach power in their morality. I feel that for each individual the will is quite subjective and is variable.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      Buddhism does preach a certain type of will to power. Like Christianity, it turns the will to power away from external things and towards one’s self.

      Christian morality originated among the lower classes of ancient Rome. Nietzsche calls Christian morality – Slave morality. Because Christians had to turn the other cheek, turning the other cheek became a virtue; because Christians had to be humble, humility became a virtue; etc. They made a virtue of necessity.

      Buddhist morality originates from a profounder intellect than that of Christian morality. Buddhists recognized that they have very little control over the world, and absolutely no control over death. Thus, they chose to exert their will to power over the only thing that they could – i.e. their own desires.

      I am embarrassed to admit that I have very little knowledge of Hinduism. Perhaps you could inform me of some of its main tenets? And also its history?

      • Great comment :). I am not a religious person so probably not the best person to enlighten you. But again as you have explained above that will to power is an essential inherent part of human nature, I just feel it is an extension of our will to ensure our survival.

  6. Reblogged this on Richard Mendacks and commented:
    This article echoes my qualms with Christian morality. Also, living in Thailand amidst the political situation here, my new-found qualms with Buddhist morality as well.

  7. Hi, Orwell1627.
    You seem to be implying here that by virtue of the fact that Christian morality originated among the lower classes of Ancient Rome, particularly from among a sect of fiercely nationalist and oppressed people, it was merely a reaction to an enslaved condition and thus its “virtues” were merely birthed from raw necessity as against any nobler motive. If I’ve not misinterpreted you then I think that argument is misguided and fallacious.

    • Yes, I believe that Christian virtues arose from necessity.

      Naturally, an oppressed group of people would begin to detest their lives and desire another “life” after this one, in which their oppressors will suffer for making them suffer – Hell – and they will live in a happier condition – Heaven.

      Naturally, any group of people would call their behavior good and other groups’ behavior bad/evil. Christians were an oppressed class who did not possess the power to retaliate against their Roman overlords. Thus, turning the other cheek became a virtue, being poor became a virtue, being meek became a virtue.

      Consider the Vikings. The Vikings were a group of people that lived according to how much they could plunder from neighboring cities. Thus, in Viking culture, strength became a virtue, courage to fight became a virtue, and skill with weapons became a virtue.

      I am not making an evaluative judgment. I am simply explaining the origins of moral systems. I believe all moral systems derive from the habits, characteristics, and instincts of a group.

      Christian morality may indeed be the “correct” objective moral system. Nevertheless, it arose from necessity, not from an unbiased rationale.

      How do you think Christian morality originated?

      • I see your point, sir. I guess in a sense we must all concede that all moral systems have their roots in necessity. Well, let me not venture to speak for anyone else: I know I would definitely admit this. Morality itself is necessary for life in the same way rules and laws are necessary for games and business and such. They are necessary because it’s reality that people need to be protected from each other and that there needs to be common ground we can all agree on in our dealings with ourselves and whatever we find ourselves doing. I also concede that it is quite natural for the enslaved to dream of freedom and equality and the power to resist, etc. (This fact leads me to another argument, one for the existence of an ultimate objective standard that pervades our universe, one that man did not invent for himself but rather “sensed” intuitively and discovered to have been there prior to and independent of him. We could probably discuss that sometime.)

        This, however, is where you and I part ways. For one, as I just alluded to above, I think the necessity is inherent in the data itself, that is, it’s a given for me (if we grant, as I do, the objective reality of an external “moral code” not invented by man but rather imposed on him from an outside source, whoever or whatever that may be, then I see no point in isolating the fact of necessity of any one person or group in their own attempts to discover, “quantify” and align with that moral reality in their own way, as I believe all civilizations have done throughout history. I think this would be but a natural progression on the part of Man).

        Secondly, from your own argument, wouldn’t the Buddhists whom you have praised so highly in your earlier comment be reduced to the level of the Christians? “I am simply explaining the origins of moral systems. I believe all moral systems derive from the habits, characteristics, and instincts of a group.” Along the lines of this argument, would it really be anything more than a happy accident that one group of people were able to forge a superior moral ethic to another since it’s all a matter of circumstances of geography, place in history and socioeconomic reality, etc.?

        Thirdly, I just don’t think the data supports your view. I think that upon examining the data ourselves we find and must admit that Christ was no spineless, sniveling, powerless pseudo-philosopher who merely reacted to surroundings and circumstance and thus birthed a kind of “comfort food” philosophy and morality as a result. Remember, Christ himself repeatedly rebuffed the Jews’ attempts to crown him
        King because he did not share their politico-militarist (if I may coin a term here :-)) ideal of the Jewish messiah and who he openly claimed to be. For that matter, remember that while the backdrop for the messianic idea had always been salvific, it had originally existed prior to any political or military context. It was the Jews themselves who, exhausted out-powered and embarrassed by one foreign pagan civilization after another, started to dream of a military messiah. In the end, Christ’s inability and, indeed, staunch refusal to fit this bill was what lost him the favour with the Jews he had enjoyed not long before his final hours.

        I don’t believe, then that the Christian ethic was mere reaction to stimulus. Christ did not preach a morality for hopeless slaves looking for either escape or buffer. He sought to go beyond that. His message was never “do this and you’ll gain favour from and the foreign oppressor and save your skins and live to fight another day.” On the contrary, he taught “do this because it is right, because it is better, because you would want the same done to you, because it is pleasing to your Father in Heaven, because this is the way to love God, self and others.”

      • “Wouldn’t the Buddhists whom you have praised so highly in your earlier comment be reduced to the level of the Christians?” I did not praise the Buddhists. I simply wrote that Buddhism originated from a deeper understanding of the world than that of Christianity.

        And yes, both Buddhism and Christianity despise this life. Buddhists want to remove themselves from it, and Christians yearn for an afterlife. Therefore, I do put Buddhism and Christianity into the same category – undesirable belief systems. They are undesirable because they preach a hatred for this life.

        I love this life, but I understand why some people – like Christians who yearn for something better than this life, and Buddhist who strive to utterly remove themselves from this life – find it disagreeable.

        I am lucky, I am “blessed.” Therefore, I love life. Others are unlucky – i.e. impoverished, abused, unloved, etc. I can understand why they develop a hatred for this life.

        “Along the lines of this argument, would it really be anything more than a happy accident that one group of people were able to forge a superior moral ethic to another since it’s all a matter of circumstances of geography, place in history and socioeconomic reality, etc.?” Yes, it would be a happy accident. But what is a superior moral system? I know that you think that there is an objective morality inside all of us, but the various behaviors of individuals and cultures does not lend strong evidence to support any type of coherent moral system. I have read that incest is morally reprehensible in all cultures, but this seems to be one of the only similarities.

        “Christ did not preach a morality for hopeless slaves looking for either escape or buffer. He sought to go beyond that. His message was never “do this and you’ll gain favour from and the foreign oppressor and save your skins and live to fight another day.”” Exactly! He did not wish to gain favor from his oppressors or save his skin because he and the other oppressed people had no power to achieve those things. The oppressors had the power to bestow favor on them, or to take their lives. Therefore, Jesus preached that another life exists, an avenger (God) exists, a loving master/father (God) exists. According to him, That Life matters, and That Master/Father matters. He despised This Life. He should despise it. He lived during a cruel period of time, and in unfavorable conditions. I can understand why he felt the way he did, and why he believed the things he did.

      • You know, regardless of the fact that we have diametrically opposed views on many topics (perhaps IN SPITE OF or BECAUSE OF this) I really enjoy hearing your ideas. I think the stark differences in worldview between us are precisely what make it so possible for us to learn from each other, and I’m always interested in learning more by exposing myself to views different from my own.

        For instance I’m sure it’s plain to each of us by now that the other’s general, if not specific, views on the origin of mankind. This difference is exactly what allows you to make your statements which totally contradict mine in good faith, and me to persist in my statements in good faith. It’s obvious we both believe we have good, rational reasons for holding certain beliefs, and I’m very much interested in this kind of epistemological conviction from both sides of the argument. The evidences or apparent evidences for either really intrigue me.

        I can fully relate to your reasoning about the disenchantment with this life generally held by Buddhists and Christians. What I do not believe, however, is that it is as simple as A+B=C as you seem to make it at some points. To clarify, I mean that, specifically for Christians, I don’t hold that they hate or hold disdain for the world as a pure reaction to having come along and found life as it is — wretched and cruel in so many cases. It’s not that they came upon a reality, thought “there must be something better than this” and thus clung to such a hope. I believe that it is PRECISELY BECAUSE Christians believe that the world ACTUALLY WAS NOT this way at one point that they so fervently oppose the world system of the present. It’s now a little more. Like a paradise lost that we can’t seem to forget and desperately wish to recapture. This is partly what I meant by what I had just said about differences in belief as to how mankind came about. I’ll be the first to admit that I believe in the biblical account of the origins of the world, as you no doubt had gathered before.

        As for your response to my thoughts on a superior moral system, I can’t say I agree with the statement you made which reads: “…but the various behaviors of individuals and cultures does not lend strong evidence to support any type of coherent moral system. I have read that incest is morally reprehensible in all cultures, but it seems to be one of the only similarities.” For starters, on the basis of the same evidence you’ve cited — behaviours and cultures — I would claim I have grounds to challenge your point. I think the opposite is true. Subordinate to that first, my second is like it: “one of the only SIMILARITIES”! That’s my ammo right there. The fact that there have been similarities that span ALL known cultures, be it merely one or two, is, for me, evidence that cannot and should not be merely brushed aside. Especially when we consider that for the vast majority of human history, thousands of these cultures that were contemporary to each other NEVER ACTUALLY HAD DIRECT CONTACT with each other. Naturally many did, but geography and social climate did not allow for all to come into direct contact. Take for instance the ancient Chinese who remained almost totally untouched by foreigners, let alone foreign IDEAS, for millennia. Many contemporaries never had the pleasure of direct contact. Yet we have even one or two similarities common to all? I say that cannot be mere fortune at work. I say that’s far too convenient, especially given the odds.

        Also, I’m not so sure the similarities were so few and far between as history books and sociologists have led us to believe. I have yet to have anybody show me a single society where the poor were content to be poor, and enslaved and treated as lesser beings, feeling it was only natural. Or where any man you met would consent to having his property stolen from him or his life taken or be lied to or to have his children disrespect him or to fall victim to the avarice of other men, to name a few. These are the common variables that MAN has always somehow portrayed regardless of his time in history or his society. Groups with power may have successfully laid claim to and over other property and people, yet none of those individuals with power would consent to having it done to them in return. Kings and rulers take with one arm and claim it is their right and then protest with other when another takes from them and claim the same right. Slaves may have been conditioned to remain subservient but, unless they were exceptionally well taken care of by their masters and grown attached to them, not one would have rejected the chance to be free. The poor may have been told it was the will of the gods that they remain thus and may have accepted that bitter reality, but not one of them, given the chance, would have rejected the opportunity to be rich and respected and able to satisfy their every want and need for a change. Men may claim it is lawful to rape a woman they desire to have but cannot have any other way, as some cultures have clearly stipulated, but watch those same men who were just involved in the act themselves cry foul or revenge when they find another man has exercised his “right” to the hurt of their daughter or mother or aunt or sister. Men may claim it is ok to murder certain people but watch those same men sue for mercy when it is their life being held in the palm of another’s hand! No, I think the similarities between us humans are far more than we think. Every culture had developed its own hierarchy. Every culture has conceived of their own gods. Every culture has had a system of trade or barter and ownership of goods and services. And every man has held that, even if it’s fine that certain bad things happen to others and if if it is by his own hand, these same things should never happen to him without some form of restorative justice. If nothing else, we all have one thing in common: we’re all hypocrites. We convince ourselves and others that it’s fine to commit certain atrocities and get legal and even “divine” backing for it, and then complain when we ourselves have to stare down the barrel of that same law or divine agent’s actions against US.

        So we all seem to recognize a just reality that should apply to us and our loved ones, if to no one else. And my question is, where did that come from?

      • “You know, regardless of the fact that we have diametrically opposed views on many topics (perhaps IN SPITE OF or BECAUSE OF this) I really enjoy hearing your ideas.” I feel the same way.

        “I don’t hold that they hate or hold disdain for the world as a pure reaction to having come along and found life as it is.” We disagree here. And I do not believe that we can determine, with complete certainty, whether either of us is correct. A person can say that his motivations for doing and believing certain things are XYZ, but really they are ABC.

        “The fact that there have been similarities that span ALL known cultures, be it merely one or two, is, for me, evidence that cannot and should not be merely brushed aside.” As you note, similarities might be evidence of an objective morality. On the other hand, they might simply be evidence of advantageous characteristics derived from natural selection. In the case of incest, incest often produces “disadvantaged” offspring that are less likely to reproduce. Thus, those humans who were inclined to commit incest would have been weeded out of the gene pool, and those who found incest reprehensible would have had a better chance of surviving and passing along their genes to viable offspring.

      • I’m happy you also enjoy this exchange of ideas.

        I take your point about complete certainty. I would disagree with you but for the fact that I myself know all too well that people are people and will be people. But on that point, here you have said “A person can say that his motivations for doing and believing certain things are XYZ, but really they are ABC.” Ah, that’s the question, though: how does one determine whether that motivation is actually XYZ instead of ABC? To begin with, do you hold that one is even able to determine such?

        I think natural selection is a far less viable option than we have been led to believe to explain things of this nature. I should modify that: what I don’t think of as viable is actually natural selection INDEPENDENT OF A NATURAL SELECTOR (if you will), really. I think natural selection “operating on its own” as science so often expounds in recent times, is sorely lacking as a tenable theory. Even if one will reject the Judaeo-Christian God, to reject entirely the notion of an actual, personal God who has made and established, and now sustains and directs the natural order in which we find ourselves is, I think, wishful thinking, to say the very least. I simply do not believe that everything is ultimately a product of blind chance. Not with the staggering amount of order and precision we observe in the universe.

      • “How does one determine whether that motivation is actually XYZ instead of ABC? To begin with, do you hold that one is even able to determine such?” I believe that we can make inferences, but never reach a definite conclusion, even in regards to our own beliefs and actions. I believe that our subconscious plays a far more important role in our decisions than many of us think it does.

        “I think natural selection “operating on its own” as science so often expounds in recent times, is sorely lacking as a tenable theory.” We disagree here. I find the modern evolutionary synthesis very convincing. This disagreement is clearly a matter of taste, though. We agree that 1+1=2 because we must. But there is room for personal judgment to reject or accept the modern evolutionary synthesis.

      • While I agree with you that our subconscious is far more relevant to our everyday realities that we often give it credit for, I disagree that we can never reach a definite conclusion, even in regards to our own beliefs etc. While, as I stated earlier, people are –and will continue to be people — I think we often find we can make more than just inferences about them, their beliefs and their intentions, etc. I don’t believe this is ALWAYS possible but I do believe it IS possible. The same regarding ourselves. Incidentally, based on your argument here, I would assume you do not hold that “Objective Truth” exists, that truth is ultimately subjective. Would I be correct in assuming this?

        Haha. Taste vs necessity indeed! Yes, we must all believe 1+1=2 (if we expect to be taken seriously by the world at large, that is) and yes, it would appear there is room for personal judgment to accept or reject modern evolutionary theory. Granting our ability to draw inferences, however, a fact to which we both here agree, I think we base our personal judgments on and formulate our tastes around what we find to be intellectually tenable. This as against simply preferring one alternative over the other, matching our beliefs to our honest tastes as against matching our tastes to our honest beliefs. At least I should think this would or should be the approach. Sometimes we find this is not the case and that people simply choose based on emotional or other motivations not related to logic. In the case of the two of us, two men seeking to understand and to learn the truth, assuming we’re not guilty of the latter, the question becomes, which of us has drawn the better inferences or which has made better use of the data in reasoning all the way to a conclusion?

      • “I would assume you do not hold that “Objective Truth” exists, that truth is ultimately subjective. Would I be correct in assuming this?” No, you would not be correct. I believe in objective truth. Hence my reference to the objective truth of 1+1=2.

        I think you misunderstood me when I wrote that I do not believe that we can determine with absolute certainty the motivations underlying a person’s decisions and actions. This assertion does not imply that there is no objective truth. It simply states that the factors which influence a person’s behavior are impossible for us to entirely account for.

        For example, one of my ancient ancestors might have loved the color blue. And he passed this inclination down to his progeny, and eventually to me. As a result of this, I prefer Pepsi over Coke because Pepsi has blue in its logo and Coke does not. Of course, there are other factors that influence my preference for Pepsi over Coke – e.g. the taste, price, brand, etc. But the fact remains that there could be factors that influence my behavior, and that we have no way of accounting for.

        “In the case of the two of us, two men seeking to understand and to learn the truth, assuming we’re not guilty of the latter, the question becomes, which of us has drawn the BETTER inferences or which has made BETTER use of the data in reasoning all the way to a conclusion?” I highlight the word ‘better’ because I would like to know how you would evaluate whether an inference is better than another. Is an inference that promotes the well-being of an individual better than one that does the opposite? Is an inference that is close to the objective truth better than one that is farther away from the objective truth?

        I ask because often an objective truth can lead to misery and suffering, and a falsehood can promote well-being. Are you seeking inferences that promote the greatest happiness, or inferences that are closest to the objective truth? And how can we determine which inference is closest to the objective truth if we do not know what the objective truth is?

        These are questions raised by Socrates in several of Plato’s dialogues. I would be very happy if you could answer them because Socrates/Plato loves to leave the audience hanging 😉

      • Well, then, my apologies, sir! Though I must say I’m happy to be wrong here.

        I take your point about me misunderstanding on the basis of your statements that follow. I do not claim to be willing to go against you on that subconscious point. We do in fact have no way of accounting for everything. I do hold, however, that there are times when this does not have any significant bearing on our ability to come come to a conclusion in several cases.

        I’m actually happy you’ve highlighted “better”! Yes, I hold that an inference that promotes the well-being of an individual is better than one that does the opposite PROVIDED THAT THAT INFERENCE WAS NOT DRAWN SOLELY FROM THIS DESIRE TO PROMOTE WELLBEING. In other words, I value honesty and proper judgment (as far as human means go) in drawing inferences over merely the favourability of one over the other. If our best and most unbiased attempts lead us to the more favourable, by all means we should celebrate. If, however, it doesn’t, I say we stick to the unfavourable reality, harsh though it may be.

        As for the second, though, I will unwaveringly hold that an inference that is closer to the objective truth is better than one further away. Based on your reason for asking, I’m aware this would appear to put me in trouble. But I honestly believe that happiness or peace concocted under illusory circumstances are not real and are not worth it in the end since their benefit lies only in the short term. In the long run they have even more devastating consequences than just the cold, hard truth itself would have originally had. Like telling a child her dead mother has “gone on a business trip and will be back” to “protect” her from the suffering. Beautiful motive, horrible execution. One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it. You would have subjected that child to even worse suffering in the long run simply by making such a move like that, and yourself besides.

        Haha! I like your question and the fact that you relate it to Socrates and Plato in this way. These are two philosophers I really respect, especially Socrates. Naturally I would say we can’t know which is closer if we do not know the objective truth, but that’s not a problem in my view since I believe it is quite possible to FIND OUT the objective truth in several ways.

      • “If our best and most unbiased attempts lead us to the more favourable, by all means we should celebrate. If, however, it doesn’t, I say we stick to the unfavourable reality, harsh though it may be.” I agree with this.

        “But I honestly believe that happiness or peace concocted under illusory circumstances are not real and are not worth it in the end since their benefit lies only in the short term.” This reminds me of The Matrix. Some characters desire the truth, even if it leads them to suffering. Other characters merely desire happiness, even if they must live in ignorance.

        “It is quite possible to FIND OUT the objective truth in several ways.” It is possible to find out the objective truth to some questions. Other questions are unanswerable because of our Euclidean brain.

      • I’m happy we share the same view regarding the favourable/unfavourable reality issue.

        Ah, The Matrix! I’m aware there will always be such a difference in opinion and approach between people. Or rather, I should say I suspect this will always be the case. All I can say is that I wouldn’t want to wake up after 10 days or 10,000 lifetimes to find that everything I had previously held dear was nothing but illusion. Especially if it had to take as long as that latter! The devastating effect would have been magnified by precisely the numerical equivalent of all the ins and outs and salient elements encapsulated within 10,000 lifetimes! That’s too scary a thought for me! I just don’t think it’s worth it in the end. I believe the truth will always come out eventually, however long it takes. The earlier the better, I say! Illusory peace and safety and happiness is WORLDS inferior to real peace and safety and happiness. I say bring on the cruel truth so we can work toward righting the wrongs and creating that ultimate reality. A world of illusions is for the faint of heart.

        I won’t shy away from admitting you’ve taught me a new word, sir. Lol, I looked it up just now, but I have no idea how it relates to brains. I don’t mind, though, that some questions should be unanswerable. From the perspective of my worldview, that’s only natural. If God exists and God is omniscient and God is infinite then naturally His finite, non-omniscient creatures will always be climbing the scale of knowledge and wisdom. What we don’t know now, we will learn later; and we will this always be learning, because there will always be something new to be learnt. I believe that’s the nature of infinity, the essence of which is God. I could also say that the other way around: I believe that is the nature of God, the essence of Whom is infinity. Isaiah 55:9-11. To paraphrase, ‘My thoughts are as high above yours as heaven is high above earth. My thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than yours.’ But God has never told anyone they are doomed never to learn of higher things. Rather, He promises that in time we will know what we now do not. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12.

      • “I won’t shy away from admitting you’ve taught me a new word, sir. Lol, I looked it up just now, but I have no idea how it relates to brains.” ‘Euclidean brain’ is a phrase used by Ivan in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. It means that our ability to comprehend certain things is limited given the nature of our faculties. In the novel, Ivan argues that our brain is incapable of comprehending a being – such as God – that exists outside (or inside and outside) of space and time.

      • Thanks for the update. That book is on my reading list so it’s a matter of time before I finally get to it. I’ve only read a few excerpts up until now. And I fully agree with Ivan there. I think that’s succinctly put.

      • Also, I don’t believe Christ, for one, was powerless at all, but that’s another one of our differences in viewpoints. Remember, even Pilate pulled that card on him: “I am the government and the law itself. Don’t you know I can set you free?” Christ’s reply? “Nope! Big mistake! You have no power except it is given you from heaven, and that you can lose at any moment. I’m no mere pawn in your hand.” Elsewhere he claimed the authority to summon legions of angels to his aid. By the data, then, Christ was far from powerless. I know your point does not account for the data, though, or that you think the data cannot be trusted. But the data is what it is and it claimed abnormal and supernatural degrees of power for Christ. But then this would lead to a discussion as to the integrity of the data itself as this is chiefly where we differ.

      • “Elsewhere he claimed the authority to summon legions of angels to his aid.” Yes, Jesus claimed to hold power in another world, another life, not this one. Power in this world did not matter to him because he could not possess it. He and his followers were oppressed; and therefore, they invented another world, in which they would be happy.

        “But the data is what it is and it claimed abnormal and supernatural degrees of power for Christ. But then this would lead to a discussion as to the integrity of the data itself as this is chiefly where we differ.” Yes, the integrity of those claims are highly debatable. In regards to those claims of extraordinary powers, I will cite Hume: “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.” In other words, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I don’t think the testimony of Jesus’ divine powers meets such a high standard. But there is room for faith because the testimony cannot be definitively disproved. I don’t think that is much consolation, though.

      • “Yes, Jesus claimed to hold power in another world, another life, not this one. Power in this world did not matter to him BECAUSE HE COULD NOT POSSESS IT.” Here I must sharply disagree on several points. 1) The records show that Christ claimed power in THIS world. He claimed to be able to forgive sin (sin being a reality in this world to the Jewish/Christian mind, you will remember), and he claimed all power was given to him whether in Heaven or Earth, besides many other such statements. You’d probably also remember these very claims didn’t make him very popular with most of the Jews around him. 2) As to his inability to have power in this world, there are the myriads of miracles he is recorded as having done; and even if you don’t grant the veracity of such miracles, on more than one occasion people considered Christ for King and on at least one occasion they attempted to force him to become king. He could surely have taken them up on their offer had he so desired. And we know from history that men have ascended to the throne simply because the people wanted them there and exercised their collective power to place them there accordingly. No, most assuredly, Christ COULD HAVE had power IN THIS WORLD. So we need a new theory as to why he did not want it.

        Still on that quote from you, are you then suggesting (or would you then suggest) that Christ was a lunatic or bordering on lunacy? If he and his followers invented their own little world of celestial power to escape to, that would seem to imply lunacy.

        I agree with Hume! I most certainly do! But I think any careful and unbiased review of the data will more than render such “extraordinary evidence” and adequately prove its integrity.

      • “The records show that Christ claimed power in THIS world. He claimed to be able to forgive sin (sin being a reality in this world TO THE Jewish/Christian MIND, you will remember)” Yes, such a power would be of THIS world IF the Judeo-Christian worldview, or similar worldview, is correct. I reject this type of worldview, so I do not believe such a power is of this world. I believe that the power to forgive a crime is of this world. For example, Pilate’s power to release Jesus or sentence Jesus to death is of this world.

        “Even if you don’t grant the veracity of such miracles, on more than one occasion people considered Christ for King and on at least one occasion they attempted to force him to become king.” These people over whom Jesus would have ruled were the lower classes of society. Jesus associated with the homeless, prostitutes, lepers, etc. Being “king” of these people is vastly different from being Emperor of Rome.

        Whatever power he could attain would pale in comparison to the power possessed by Roman officials. But he could attain a power much greater than even that held by the Emperor of Rome IF there was another world – a world in which the weak, poor, humble, and downtrodden people were exalted, and the rich, wealthy, and powerful people were humbled. Thus, he preached such a world.

        “Are you then suggesting (or would you then suggest) that Christ was a lunatic or bordering on lunacy? If he and his followers invented their own little world of celestial power to escape to, that would seem to imply lunacy.” No, I do not believe that they are lunatics. Their response is reasonable and understandable given their circumstances. Victims of abuse often develop coping mechanisms to help them endure their suffering. Jesus and his followers simply developed a coping mechanism to help them deal with their unfavorable circumstances.

      • “Yes, such a power would be of THIS world IF the Judeo-Christian worldview, or similar, is correct. I reject this type of worldview, so I do not believe such a power is of this world.” Ah, but here we hit upon an interesting checkpoint! The recorders of this history obviously DID believe in such a power and DID hold this worldview! So, as far as internal consistency is concerned, the data is more than able to stand on its own, being consistent with itself. We have now to deal with external consistency. And the only way to do this is to be fair to the data and thoroughly put it through the wringer — without denying it the ethical and just requirement of an unbiased, objective mind to do so; and without trying to compromise the integrity of the data beforehand, having not even seriously tried to investigate all its key claims. I find many are unwilling to do this in the first place, yet they pass judgment (from afar) and make all sorts of unfounded statements. But, as I had said at some earlier point, insofar as the DATA itself is concerned, Jesus’ story and the claims surrounding him as being a worker of miracles, a forgiver of sins, a wielder of such power as to effortlessly subject even demonic forces to his will, and being identified as the actual God of the universe in human apparel, is perfectly sensible. The reason we have some who claim that the data itself does not even come close to corroborating any or all of this is simply that those persons found the data to be so incredible (the claims are indeed tall claims!) that THEY automatically decided FOR THEMSELVES that such an extraordinary body of data could in no wise be true, WITHOUT even sparing it a full first glance, let alone a second; or have been willfully dishonest or otherwise erroneous in their research methods. Assuming we’ve gotten past this first pitfall, we have now only to check the consistency of the data itself, self-corroborating as it is, with the reality of the world at large. From there one has not to go too far to find that the data eminently matches up with reality.

        Which brings us to that “other conversation” I’d mentioned we’d have to have for lack of space/time etc. The looming question remains: why do you reject such a worldview? The question is particularly relevant if, as it seems, you are willing and able to admit that IF such a worldview was correct, Christ’s claims would be vindicated. It would mean you have seen something vital to keep you away and I’m very much interested in knowing what it is in case it’s something that it would not be in my best interest to have missed.

        As regards your last, you will remember Jesus did not only have friends and followers in the lower classes. Many in the top ranks followed him, albeit secretly in most cases. And the standing point was never whether he could have risen to the rank of Caesar. Once Christ could become king at all it would have proven that he COULD HAVE attained power. This. Has been proven already, however. It’s irrelevant whether he could have become Caesar himself eventually. But even on that point, I think we’ve seen enough of the capricious nature of history to warrant not being surprised if a Jewish peasant-king could have eventually risen through the ranks and taken the Roman Empire literally by storm. This may not have been statistically a very promising prospect but when have we found that history subscribes to mere numbers and probability? If it’s two things history has taught us, it’s that might is not always right and that we cannot take things for granted. The most obvious bet isn’t always the one to win out. That’s an entirely different argument, though.

        Good, I don’t believe Christ or his followers were lunatics either. But we still disagree as to their motives. This much, though is dependent on some of the considerations I’ve alluded to earlier. In particular, you still seem to be failing to account for the fact that the messianic role was not conceived from a backdrop of war and domination. It was established long before Israel even had any of those woes. They simply clung to a military hope when they found themselves enslaved. But, as Christ himself said, the messiah was never meant to be a military escape card.

      • “Why do you reject such a worldview?” The evidence is not sufficient. If Jesus had lived during our time, when his supernatural powers could be tested, recorded, and assessed, then perhaps we would have been able to gather sufficient evidence for his claims of divinity. It seems strange that he would pick such a time and place to appear on earth if he truly sought to establish his divinity.

        I must digress a bit and ask why you seem so intent on establishing the incontrovertible truth of Jesus’ divinity. If the truth of his divinity were as definitive as 1+1=2, then there would be no room for faith. Unlike many non-believers who believe faith is a weakness of religion, I consider faith a strength. Faith is not easily acquired like the understanding of 1+1=2. Faith requires tremendous courage because the believer knows that he might be wrong. All the time spent in prayer and contemplation of his god/gods could have been spent in other creative endeavors. The man of faith might forego certain pleasures and happiness for his beliefs; he might even die for his beliefs.

        In other words, if I were a believer, like you are, I would not want my beliefs to be as easy to acquire as the knowledge of 1+1=2. There is no sense of accomplishment, no sense of freely choosing to adhere to those beliefs. One does not freely choose to accept 1+1=2; one accepts 1+1=2 out of necessity.

        “It’s irrelevant whether he could have become Caesar himself eventually.” It’s not irrelevant. As I wrote, whatever power he could attain would pale in comparison to the power possessed by Roman officials. But he could attain a power much greater than even that held by the Emperor of Rome IF there was another world – a world in which the weak, poor, humble, and downtrodden people were exalted, and the rich, wealthy, and powerful people were humbled. Thus, he preached such a world.

        “You still seem to be failing to account for the fact that the messianic role was not conceived from a backdrop of war and domination.” I am not failing to account for that. I never claimed that Jesus tried to assume a leadership role at the head of an army of this world. He only cared for the world after this one.

      • Hi, Orwell 1627

        Now this conversation is getting even more interesting than I had originally thought it would!

        “The evidence is not sufficient.” On the contrary, I think the evidence is altogether TOO sufficient! Far more sufficient than many of the claims of modern science that we accept mostly without question nowadays, and even then, often without sufficient questioning. And also far more sufficient than the evidence for much of the works of antiquity which the academic fraternity and the public at large have been far quicker to accept as true. Judging the biblical record by the same standards with which we judge other ancient text we find that both internally and externally, and in terms of sheer number, the Bible far outstrips any of those other works in reliability. This has been proven repeatedly. The problem is that evidence itself holds little power when pitted against the simple power of a person’s WILL TO BELIEVE. This is another fact that has been proven repeatedly. There have always been some, so long as humanity has existed, who make a living of controverting and disfiguring evidence to suit their own ends, and others who stop short of allowing evidence to do its work, and then some who come to the evidence with their minds already made up to begin with.

        I have have no problem with your digressing, especially since your question is valid and relevant. My answer to your thought on faith is this: faith has little to do with the subjective sense of accomplishment or satisfaction it sometimes carries with it. (Battery dying; please give me a few minutes to get back to my response.)

      • I’m glad you’re back!

        As I’ve said, the answer to the question of whether evidence is sufficient to support a belief is subject to one’s personal tastes. It is analogous to the Sorites paradox. To me, 100 grains of sand may be sufficient to constitute a heap of sand. To you, only 50 grains of sand may be sufficient.

        I look forward to hearing your thoughts on faith. Specifically, faith in the sense of freely choosing to adhere to certain beliefs. One does not freely choose to accept 1+1=2; one does not have faith that 1+1=2; one accepts 1+1=2 out of necessity. If you incontrovertibly prove the divinity of Jesus, then there is no room for faith.

      • Well, yes, I agree that evidence is subject to a person’s personal tastes. I think that that is true beyond any reasonable doubt. I will venture to note, however, that this isn’t always a good thing.

        Well, I can share those thoughts with you right now! Or at least begin to. Hmm… Faith in the sense of freely choosing to adhere to certain beliefs… Well, I suppose the best place to start is right where you did! “If you incontrovertibly prove the divinity of Jesus, then there is no room for faith.” For starters, with the reality of personal tastes affecting evidence (or the amount of it necessary), the question remains as to how much would constitute incontrovertibility. Some people feel they already have more than enough evidence to prove such a fact (Jesus’ divinity) while others — sometimes even seeing the same evidence — feel it is sorely lacking. This is the problem I alluded to earlier: that it’s sometimes a bad thing for the evidence to rest so much on personal taste. Alas, I think that problem is inevitable, however. But yes, Sorites Paradox indeed.

        But, to go into it a bit more, the problem goes deeper than we may be inclined to think. You use the example of 1+1=2 to the effect that it’s necessarily accepted. Yet why do we find that this necessity STILL doesn’t cause it to find instant acceptance and understanding by all math students? Why does the necessity work so swiftly in some yet so slowly in others? If you allude to the simplicity or basic nature of the problem and say only a very young child would have such an issue, therein lies the problem! But we could up the stakes and apply it to more mature students and more advanced problems. The mathematical and real validity of such advanced problems are as necessarily secure and incontrovertible as the mathematical and real validity of 1+1=2, yet we find some minds find it far more difficult to grasp than others. Sometimes we’re told this is because the person doesn’t have a mind inclined toward that kind of thing, or hates or has a mental block toward Math, etc. The same applies to many other areas of the human mental existence. We find, then, that our Sorites paradox reality is not kind enough to exempt us from another harsher reality: some things simply don’t wait for the evidence to provide us with clarity. Whether or not we can grasp it NOW, it’s a necessary reality NOW. Incidentally, I’m sure you can see how this can affect faith and how we approach it in general.

        Second, it must be asked: is it true that once you incontrovertibly prove something or, as in this case, someone, there is NO room for faith?

      • I agree with your thoughts regarding math, the inability of some minds to grasp complex problems, and the application of these facts to religious questions. I think that our disagreement arises from the following question: “Is it true that once you incontrovertibly prove something or, as in this case, someone, there is NO room for faith?”

        I make a distinction between “knowing something to be true” and “having faith that something is true.” You don’t seem to make the same distinction.

        To me, the difference between the two is the sufficiency of available evidence – whether the evidence is sufficient is determined by each individual person (see Sorites paradox).

        If you believe that there is sufficient evidence to prove Jesus’ divinity, then I would assert that you claim to KNOW Jesus is divine. On the other hand, if you believe that there is insufficient evidence to prove Jesus’ divinity, but you nevertheless believe he is divine, then I would assert that you claim to have FAITH that Jesus is divine.

        As I have noted in my previous comments, I believe that FAITH is much more valuable and respectable than KNOWLEDGE.

      • That seems to be the central question indeed. And as to the distinction, you are right. I don’t make the distinction. Because I believe faith to be more than simply believing (in) something without sufficient evidence. Surely it INCLUDES that, in my view, but it is not LIMITED to that. On that subject, we would need to go into what exactly constitutes “evidence”. If “evidence” is taken to mean only “empirical/science-type data” then we certainly do have a problem arising. I think this is one of the key issues to deal with in defining and thinking about faith vs its alternative, especially in the context of religious discussions. Epistemology.

        So now we each have a question to answer: What, then, do we each define faith to be. I believe we have each just alluded to such a definition. It will probably need clearer definitions going forward, but that remains to be seen for the moment.

        In terms of the definition you gave, I would claim, then, to KNOW that Jesus is divine. Because I hold that there is sufficient evidence for this. And I do actually claim this.

        Yes, I agree with you that faith holds more import and respectability than knowledge, but here again is where we would each need to be more clear as to the distinction we see/make between the two.

      • “If “evidence” is taken to mean only “empirical/science-type data” then we certainly do have a problem arising.” Do you mean that you wish to include intuitions under the category of evidence? I would not object to this.

        Yet my definition of faith still remains – i.e. belief in something without sufficient evidence. As I note, the determination of sufficiency is often subject to one’s personal tastes. To person A, an intuition alone might be sufficient. To person B, something more might be required.

        “I believe faith to be more than simply believing (in) something without sufficient evidence.” Please provide a definition.

      • “Do you mean that you wish to include intuitions under the category of evidence? I would not object to this.”
        Yes, I do mean that. I think it is plain that “scientific/empirical data”, i.e things we can actually see, touch and otherwise physically interact with, is not all there is in the world. They are half the equation or one side of the coin, if you will. I think too often we fail to account for that other half, that other side, in our pursuit of wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
        I’m very glad you wouldn’t object to this.

        “Please provide a definition.”
        When I consider faith, what it is and what it means, I conclude that it is a faculty of knowing. By this I mean particularly that it allows for the knowing of information that may not or cannot rely on physical data as evidence for its apprehension. So the evidence is highly important, but it’s not the core reality. For example, and most relevant to our discussion, faith in God. (You know of course that here I speak not as a general theist but as a Christian specifically.) It’s not merely an intellectual assent to or apprehension of the fact of His existence (we believe that the whole of nature itself is overflowing with an abundance of tactile evidence for this fact), but it is a KNOWING, knowing HIM, through more-than-natural means. (I tried the word “supernatural” but it’s usual connotation robs the word of my intended meaning in this case.) While nature can teach us FACTS about God (His power and wisdom evident in its amazing machinery and functioning, and His artistic nature evident from its abundance of raw beauty), it cannot teach us WHO He is (example, the fact He is even a “He” in the first place rather than a “She” or an “It”, or that He is GOOD as against evil or ambivalent). Here faith begins, and it comes from an actual KNOWING God, an actual ENCOUNTER. I believe this is where all that can really be called faith begins. You can have faith in your best friend that he actually won’t disappoint or betray you even though the facts all seem to suggest otherwise, when all the circumstances point to a letdown. And then you can find you were right, IN SPITE OF the “evidence”. Why? Because you have KNOWN your friend. (Of course the opposite may be true but that does nothing to the argument.) Here you are right for reasons that physical matter or scientific theory can’t speak to or even adequately account for. In a similar manner and on a far deeper and more inscrutable level, you can have faith that God is, and that He is good, even though the “evidence” seems to be against it (e.g powerful and sometimes compelling atheistic arguments, evil in the world, etc.) Faith in itself (that is, KNOWING), becomes, much like the writer of Hebrews said, it’s own evidence. It is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We can hope for good because we know Him. We can believe in the unseen because we know Him.

        So, in a nutshell, faith — that is, what can really be called “faith” — is a faculty not just of belief but of knowing, and knowing concretely, for reasons other than those that are physically traceable. Empirical data aid faith and very often strengthens it beyond shaking, but it does not alone encapsulate it. Faith goes beyond it and helps us to reach over into that other side of the coin I mentioned earlier, that other half of the equation. Faith is to the spiritual what science is to the natural — a means of knowing and finding out. And they do not and cannot contradict each other, nor can they avoid intermingling with each other, because they are two sides to the one coin. That’s my understanding of faith. Hope I was clear enough. It’s by no means a topic I claim to be fully versed in and there’s much more to learn, but this is my basic understanding of it thus far, and I think I have good grounds for it.

      • Hey Orwell,

        I’m back.

        So, I was saying that faith has little to do with the subjective sense of accomplishment or satisfaction it often affords the holder. I agree with you in almost all other points. Faith is not a weakness, a belief I’m glad you also hold. It requires tremendous courage. That much is absolutely certain. That reason that you suggest on this point, though, is not a definitive element of faith. It’s more a common reality, something that very often is observably true. But it isn’t the defining feature of why faith must require courage. To go back to my great objection to your idea earlier, the essence of faith for the believer goes far beyond the feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction. These, no doubt, help him, but they are a luxury he does not often have. In fact, faith often requires him to wade into murky waters — against all better judgment from his own point of view and those of others, against the sense of impending disaster or embarrassment and failure and just being plain wrong, against what appears to be overwhelming odds and evidence against him — on precisely the conviction that he IS right! Not “may be right” or is “more than likely right”. Especially for the Christian believer, he is asked to look at all around him, especially at those things that seem most to suggest he is fighting a losing battle, and really, truly BELIEVE that there is NO WAY he could possibly be wrong. Why? On what grounds? On the grounds that if GOD says so, if JESUS says so, then it’s no longer a question of there being even a POSSIBILITY that he will be proven wrong. All signs to the contrary are merely monsters in the night that, upon the break of day, are revealed to be nothing more than simply the huge, harmless shadows cast by trees around him, taking on a menacing appearance under the cover of darkness and his own ignorance of the true situation. That is why faith requires courage. The true man of faith, regardless of his religious affiliation or lack thereof, is a man CONVINCED that he is RIGHT.

        The true Christian is he who believes in the incontrovertible reality of Jesus’ divinity, is all I’m saying. That is the original faith held by all His original followers. By that logic, any variation to that can only be termed “un-Christian” or “Neo-Christian” in essence. But not “Christian”. Also, regarding prayer and faith, if prayer were merely a contemplation of the believer’s god/gods then one would be able to say that yes, the reality of error is very much a threat to his faith. However, many religions claim the ability to ACTIVELY and WILLFULLY COMMUNICATE with that God/those gods. A real back-and-forth communication like what takes place between two humans. Which makes the question, is this really the case? And if so, who, then, is ultimately right, assuming we can’t grant the real existence of multiple gods, as some of these religions actually claim (viz. Christianity, Judaism, Islam)?

        And again, I must disagree with your take on the liberty to adhere to such beliefs. Human freedom is purest and truest in the realm of the mind. One can entrap the body and restrict it, even against the will of the person entrapped. If he lacks the physical power to resist, he simply lacks that power. His mind, though, is a different story. I advance that whenever and wherever you find a man under the mental control of another, he is partly there because he wants to be. Either he directly wishes so to be or he has chosen to subject himself to such control for the sake of something else, as in the case of blackmail, for example. I’ve already noted that raw evidence holds little power against a mind set against it. Even when the facts are seemingly as clear as day, that mind can surround itself in fog at will. The beliefs of a system are what they are in and of themselves, but the believer may well choose how he interprets them and what parts of it he will subject himself to. (As to whether he is RIGHT in doing this is irrelevant — to the argument, at least.) We see this around us with alarming regularity. Where one man fears to break the law of his house or his family or his society, another tramples all over them if he deems them a hindrance. Isn’t this the essence of criminality among others? Where one man holds to these beliefs, another man decides to go against them, even under pressure from those around him and even on pain of ostracism or death. Isn’t that the essence of apostasy and social groupings in schools etc.? And within the system itself, some believe X and others Y, while still choosing to adhere, more or less to other core doctrines that identify them, more or less, with the whole. Isn’t this the essence of the struggle between orthodoxy and liberalism as witnessed across all the religions of the ancient and modern world? Necessity is powerful but when it comes down to it, choice is even more so. The minute 1+1=2 is more hindrance than help, many people will totally rebel against its necessity and find –or try to find– ways around it. It’s happened with so many other necessities in life.

        Regarding Caesar, you’re not accounting for my argument about the possibility of Christ having gotten to or even beyond the level of Caesar in THIS world. Remember, history affords us with several examples of peasants-turned-kings by what would seem to be pure circumstance. But, be that as it may, take another look at the words and actions and lifestyle of Christ. Were these the words and thoughts of a man who was looking to escape from this world with his tail between his legs? A man who wished to avoid confrontation with the “powers that be” at all costs? A man who simply wished for and deluded himself and others into the real existence of another world where the weak, poor and humble would finally triumph?

      • “Faith often requires him to wade into murky waters — against all better judgment from his own point of view and those of others, against the sense of impending disaster or embarrassment and failure and just being plain wrong, against what appears to be overwhelming odds and evidence against him — on precisely the conviction that he IS right!” In this statement, you claim that Christians KNOW their creed is correct; and therefore, they have FAITH that they will emerge from the murky waters you listed. Again, one does not have FAITH that 1+1=2; one KNOWS that 1+1=2. If you want to degrade your faith in the Christian creed to knowledge, that’s your choice. If I were a Christian, I would prefer faith over knowledge for the reasons listed in my previous responses.

        “I must disagree with your take on the liberty to adhere to such beliefs. I’ve already noted that raw evidence holds little power against a mind set against it.” A man must accept 1+1=2; he must accept that he cannot stop a swiftly moving train with just his body; he must accept that he will die if he jumps off a very high building and lands on the street below. If he does not accept these incontrovertible truths, then he won’t be alive very long.

        “Regarding Caesar, you’re not accounting for my argument about the possibility of Christ having gotten to or even beyond the level of Caesar in THIS world.” I am. Given the circumstances, Jesus could not have risen to the level of a Roman Emperor.

        “Were these the words and thoughts of a man who was looking to escape from this world with his tail between his legs?” He was looking for a way to escape from the world – yes.

        “A man who wished to avoid confrontation with the “powers that be” at all costs?” On the contrary, he sought confrontation so that he could escape from the world.

        “A man who simply wished for and deluded himself and others into the real existence of another world where the weak, poor and humble would finally triumph?” Yes.

      • I don’t know that it would be a DEGRADING. On the contrary, faith is a KNOWING. I think the degrading would be to lower it the level of mere BELIEF that is void of any sense of KNOWING. Checking the scriptures, we don’t find faith to be simply blind hope in something or someone. Faith is treated as a knowing. It’s not a mere hoping in the existence of the unseen. So, yes, Christians do not just HOPE to emerge from the murky waters. If that’s the impression you have been under all along then I will suggest you have been observing the wrong type of Christian, the type that would best be served with parentheses around their title.

        Yes, I see that you’re pointing out the 1+1=2 and the unbendable reality of natural law. But that is only so clearcut in so many cases. Some others that are just as weighty and important, if not more so, have less fangs to bare at us. Their bite, though, is often far more venomous. The problem is the focus on things with immediate consequences. Ecclesiastes 8:11 is real. Most men will not play with an oncoming train. Nor will they jump fr skyscrapers. Incontrovertibly true indeed. But is it any less incontrovertibly true that if you mess with the wrong man’s woman you may lose your life over it? Or, for that matter, that two previously healthy people who saved themselves for each other sexually and stick to that decision have far less psychological and physical consequences to face than two previously healthy people who have made a habit of promiscuity? Or that no other combination but a male to a female can result in a baby? Or that you will be punished one way or another for dishonesty of any kind (in THIS life, I need not touch on any afterlife)? Or that procrastination will ruin your future? Or that not taking care of your teeth will result in horrible pain and/or personal embarrassment? Yet men and women dabble in infidelity all all the time. Why? Then we’re shocked to hear on the news that woman killed her mate in a fit of jealous rage. Or we contract AIDS and beg heaven and hell to spare us. Or we grow to being 600 lbs. Or turn to homosexuality yet still find ourselves bowing to nature and admitting its heterosexual law by adopting children because we want them so bad. Or we find ourselves the center of unwanted public attention and being dragged through the courts to jail for taking bribes or embezzling govt funds. Why?

        And even on your same examples, why do some stand in the way of speeding vehicles or hurl themselves from tall buildings? They obviously know the immediate consequences in most cases.

        I’ll leave the Caesar-Jesus point and agree to disagree.

        And I think you have not really looked at the words Jesus spoke in any detail if that’s your honest opinion. The same applies to his actions. Where would you picture him as merely seeking to escape — and to seek confrontation to that end, no less — and why?

      • “Where would you picture him as merely seeking to escape — and to seek confrontation to that end, no less — and why?”

        The Beatitudes and the four woes in the Gospel of Luke. He denounces earthly success in favor of a better life in Heaven.

        He enters Jerusalem, knowing that he will be put to death there. He seeks confrontation with the Jewish high priest. He seeks death. He knows that Judas will betray him, yet he does nothing to prevent Judas from betraying him.

        These are the actions and thoughts of a man who detests his earthly life and desires death.

      • I see. Well, then, I must ask you: what, then, would you say Jesus’ purpose was? Generally speaking. And also, what do you make of all his claims to the contrary? Lastly, what do you suggest would have been a better alternative to the Beatitudes, for instance?

      • “What, then, would you say Jesus’ purpose was?” His purpose was to alleviate the misery and suffering of the lower classes with the promise of a better life after death.

        “What do you make of all his claims to the contrary?” He never made claims that contradicted his promise of a blissful afterlife to those who followed him.

        “What do you suggest would have been a better alternative to the Beatitudes, for instance?” I think we have had this discussion before. How do you determine whether an alternative is better? Is a false claim that alleviates misery and suffering better than a true claim that does not alleviate misery and suffering, but actually enhances misery and suffering?

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