Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Going Down the Rabbit Hole of Perceived Reality: What is the truth beyond tyranny and consumerism?

It began with a question... Why am I here? What is the truth behind this blue green ball flying through space? It felt like something new began when I started that question.  I broke free from the 9 to 5 life, from the television, the bars, the social media, and all of that, and came into a larger world.  

I began a journey.  A journey into truth, and deception, lies and delusions, power structures, and beyond.  And we'll see how this journey led me to two extremes: authoritarianism and consumerism. 

The common phrase in college at the UW was "it's all relative."  Hedonism is the lifestyle of the day.  Living for pleasure is how the lifestyle was on campus.  If it feels good, do it.  Anything goes as long as you don't hurt someone.  

What is society really?  What is the nature of reality?  Evolutionary biology, of course is the basis.  There is the post-modern pseudo-intellectualism.  And there is a general disregard for any ethic other than utter self interest or conversely, a fiery Spanish-inquisition style of social justice.  

Anything spiritual seemed down right silly.  That's what I was taught.  Public school, college, all of it.  I wasn't really encouraged to question anything outside the bubble.  The bubble would be the universe. And I was always told to poke around all I wanted inside the bubble.  But don't consider anything outside the bubble.  Don't ask the question: Where did the bubble come?  And God-forbid that you ever consider what the meaning of the bubble is!

But there was a common answer I was given by writers, elite social theorists, and the expert class of our society: You make your own meaning.  You bring the meaning to the situation.  And almost immediately I had to ask myself: Why would that be so?  

That is moral relativism.  The underlying belief then is that there is no objective, overarching meaning to anything.  What a disturbing concept.  Of course that is the required conclusion of a naturalistic worldview.  The worldview is smuggled in behind the statement.  But most people don't see reality from a purely physical standpoint.  Most people would acknowledge that there is something beyond the physical, and almost everyone would at least acknowledge non-physical realities like, say, consciousness.  

I felt suffocated by that limited view of reality.  I felt it was being forced on me actually.  I had always thought religious folks were such proselytizers, but I quickly discovered that naturalism is much more forcefully taught than that, it's a downright all encompassing indoctrination of our society.  You are not allowed to question naturalism, evolution is undisputed fact, and if you believe differently you are a danger to our society and must be stopped.  That is a scary concept.  In fact it starts to become it's own sort of religious indoctrination, it's just a new religion, the religion of naturalism.  

Nihilism was never particularly appealing to me.  And those who profess it tend to be a little pushy about their dark nihilism.  So that always bothered me.  Reality is not as dark as you are perceiving it.  Now I'm not saying all nihilists are cynics, and hedonists, but that trio does tend to walk together. 

Around that time I was spending a lot of time at a house with a bunch of hippies and hipsters.  And we all thought we were so slick.  We had it all figured out.  Peace and love.  Go up on the hill, camp fires, drugs, hemp, and reading Hunter S. Thompson, and Abbie Hoffman. I thought I had found the moral high ground, here are the people who have the moral high ground.  They're the "woke" ones.  But very soon I discovered that just wasn't the case.  We'd always sit around and talk politics, philosophy, and spirituality.  But we'd usually be drinking and using drugs.  I found out one of the guys in our circle had drugged and raped a girl. That sort of burst my bubble about the moral high ground thing... 

It's astonishing how wide spread this sort of lifestyle was at the UW.  And moral relativism seemed to transcend all the little subcultures, whether it was the intelligentsia, or the musicians, the hipsters, the sports people, it was almost universal.  And I found it quite bizarre that there was no truth allowed anywhere.  Everything had to be relative.  Well, aside from the tuition fees, and the grades, and basically anything concrete.  That's not relative, that's fixed and objective.  Quite convenient. 

I realized over time that I was being scammed by the university systems.  The cost of tuition was so extremely high that fellow students were dropping into tens of thousands of dollars of debt.  Something was very wrong there.  

But I was locked in, so I continued.  I was also locked in to consumerism and materialism.  I didn't consider myself an atheist, or agnostic, I just pursued my material desires, pleasure, selfishness, and popularity.  I desired approval from my little social circle.  I took all sorts of prescription pills, trying to force my body and mind to accept reality as it was.  But something was wrong with reality, that much I could tell. There was something terribly wrong with the world.  Doctors try to diminish it through pills and prescriptions, but those inner aches are not extinguished by pills and benzos and anti-depressants, but seeking after that which is truth in a strange world.  

But more and more I was beginning to believe that there was an objective point of reference.  I started to seek after a spiritual solution to the issue of the existence of a complex universe. I started to think along the lines of people like Jung who postulated a meta-consciousness binding the thoughts of humanity together.  I explored alternative spirituality, and new age beliefs.  I was seeking after something higher.  I believed in science. But I didn't think science alone could explain everything about the universe. 

One of the great turning points of my life was reading 1984 by George Orwell.  Particularly part II caught my attention, as it was a break down of how tyranny can take over.  Later I read Animal Farm and saw it from another dimension.  From there I just started reading various classic works.  I read Brave New World by Huxley and saw tyranny from yet another perspective, that of commodity and materialism's ability to convolute and destroy human freedom from within.  

I read Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Hell's Angels, The Hobbit, The Time Machine, Dante's Inferno, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Walden, and others. 

I knew something was terribly wrong with the world. But I couldn't really understand what it was, or why it was.  But we each seem to have that inner realization, that something has gone terribly wrong on planet Earth.  

For a while I believed it was the danger of 1984 being realized in society.  Political correctness? Mass incarceration?  Video cameras on every corner?  Crippling national debt?  What was really happening?  

For a season I found myself listening intently to the likes of Alex Jones, Media Matters, Jesse Ventura, Salon, Gerald Celente, and so on.  But soon enough I wised up to the doom porn, even if there were elements of truth in what they were saying.

For a while I felt like capitalism must've been the problem. But it didn't take long for me to realize that capitalism, the free markets had left me in the lap of luxury, with cell phones, laptops, endless food, free water, and the best education in the world.  So that didn't really add up.  But still, something seemed wrong.

I knew that humanity was becoming progressively dumber as time went by.  It was pretty obvious, just by turning on MTV or CNN.  I dreamed of people reading again, and understanding their rights and taking hold of their destiny again.  Maybe Huxley was right.  As the great entrepreneur had said in the heyday of american consumerism: "Sell them their dreams and they'll always be customers."  I'm paraphrasing, but the idea is to get people to believe that their dream is to have what is being sold, the car, the perfume, the home, and so on.  And when the material becomes the dream, then the sales go up.  Sadly, when the material becomes the dream, the dreams become a sad merry-go-round that lead nowhere but to more and more grossly excessive needs.  Huxley was definitely right.  The endless pursuit of things, of materials, of luxury, was a deadly hole to humanity.  In fact in the extreme a materialized person ceases to be human, but becomes a consumer, a fashion show on speed. What a sad state for a soul.  I found it quite appalling.  

This reality of consumption and desire for things is brutally pervasive in society.  I can't escape it.  Have I?  Or have I not?  Do I still endlessly need new technological wonders and softer pillows to justify my existence?  I hope not.  

I recall the romance in 1984.  And it's important to remember that Orwell was an atheist.  Here is the great end, and it is the most gloriously cynical and dismally depressing end imaginable.  The main character falls in love with this woman, and they sneak off together and they want each other, so they have sex.  Then they are both arrested, and he is taken to room 101.  He is tortured with his worst fear, and condemns the woman.  This kills his love for her, because he turns on her.  And she does the same to him.  So at the end you see them both at this cafeteria.  And they hate each other.  And as the march of the oppressive regime and the great leader appear on the screen the main character cries tears of joy and love for the great leader having apostatized completely and been totally brainwashed.  The end.  Charming.  

But that wasn't really reality either.  Few governments in the world are that oppressive, aside from maybe North Korea or China.  And life isn't that dismal.  There's some sort of silver lining to life that makes it gather to be more than the sum of it's parts.  I could never embrace the hedonism and cynicism of gen x or millennials for that matter.  Life isn't empty like that.  

And the fact is we sit on the platform of absolute truth, natural law, civil liberties, and objective laws and governance as we denounce truth as relative, nature as pitiless indifference, socialist totalitarianism as preferable to liberty, and legal positivism as superior to a higher universal standard. It's quite ironic really. 

The pessimism and cynicism is bred from our own self-destructive ideology that we've created in the past 30 years to try and supplant the ideologies of the past that had carried society relatively safely to the present. We've prospered on the truth of the past while simultaneously tearing it down at every turn, then we complain about the results of our own destructive tendencies.  

Huxley and Orwell were both atheists.  And they saw a materialist world destroying society in two ways, one through the power of government, and one through the unrestrained effects of consumerism.  They were both right in many ways, but they were both also quite wrong.  Wrong in that the world has persisted beyond those dark prognostications. And wrong in seeing the world as nothing more than a culmination of self-interest and materialism.  There's more to life than that.  There are things that hold society together, somehow.  It's as if we've been guided to this moment by some unseen force.  

So increasingly I began to move from the school of Athen's painting one might say, from the position of Aristotle pointing down toward the material, and toward the position of Plato, who points up toward a transcendent reality.  One can never understand the truth about life, the world and everything by examining the material world. Though such examinations are certainly helpful.  Instead one must look outside the perceivable world, outside the box of measurable matter. 

So it began, my search for God.  Is God really real?  Which God is it?  Which world religion was right?  Were any of them right? 

It is ironic though, now that I think about it, that an observation in the material world, the flapping wings and beak of a hummingbird gave me the realization that an intelligent designer must be necessary.  That kind of combines the idealistic reasoning of Plato and the material analysis of Aristotle. But in general the complex yet harmonious systems of the planet Earth really made me realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that there absolutely must be an intelligent transcendent all-powerful being.  There is absolutely no statistical chance that time + matter + chance produce any of this complexity, from rocks and stardust to edible fruit and eyeballs.  Princeton did a study on just such a possibility, they found the likelihood to be practically 0.  Or if you like the exact numbers, one in ten to the 124th power, which is a number higher than the number of particles in the entire universe.  Additionally, where had it all come from?  A universe begs the question: Where did it come from?  The best and only reasonable explanation is that an infinite all powerful being created it. They call those two concepts the anthropic principle and the first cause argument.  

Deism didn't really seem too logical to me.  Why would a God make a universe and then ignore it?  It didn't make sense.  

Agnosticism seemed lazy to me.  "Well we can't really know."  Humans have faculties and abilities to reason, study, and understand things.  I think we can use those power to gather data and make decisions on what it true and false.  We do it everyday when we work, pay bills, eat, drink, and so on.  So that didn't work. 

I explored "new age" beliefs for a while.  But they didn't seem grounded on much of anything.  In fact the more books I read, the more it seemed like Tolle and Chopra, and Oprah, and whoever else were just kind of making it up as they went along.  

Hinduism had millions of gods and goddesses.  That just didn't seem to make sense.  Plus that religion didn't seem to have done much good for that part of the world with the caste system and the untouchables and so on.  So that was out. 

Buddhism was a sort of reaction against Hinduism's many gods. In fact in Buddhism there is no god, just a sort of way of life prescribed by the Buddha.  And I had already reasoned past the concept of atheism, so Buddhism I set aside.

Islam, being the second largest world religion was a possibility. But I found the teachings of Allah were quite disturbing.  There were prescriptions for many wives, and killing people who wouldn't convert to Islam, and pushing for sharia law.  It was strange, and the terrorist attacks around the world were almost always done by Islamic extremists so that turned me off as well.  

So I came to Christianity, something that really, really turned me off. I hated Christianity, for some reason. I considered it an ugly, dead sort of thing.  I had read about things like the crusades, the spanish inquisition, the protestant wars, and the decrees of Popes, and all of it had made me very wary of such a religion.

But it was the number 1 world religion, with 2.2 billion adherents worldwide.  The Bible had survived human history, and was the number one best selling book in human history.  So I decided to read it.  Several Christians had treated me kindly, which began to change my view of who Christ really was.  So began a search and a journey into the depths of that faith.  

Often times the truth is surrounded by a bunch of lies people have smeared it with to keep people away from it.  After all the truth is dangerous to people who want money and power.  The Bible is banned in something like 52 countries.  I had certainly been blasted with old ideas about Christianity.  I had been told it was harmful, that it was based on ignorance, that it was all about taking your money, and that the bible had been changed by the Nicean council. On and on the lies went, and as I studied I discovered each of those things were actually false.  But boy had I been taught to hate it quite thoroughly without much cause.  

It's interesting that science, technology, and medicine have become such blessings to society, and people today ascribe that to atheism or agnosticism. But actually, most of the great scientists throughout history were Christians.  Many of the great Nobel peace prize winners were Christians.  Hospitals, orphanages, and universities were all developed by Christians throughout the west.  

All of history had turned on Christianity, right down to B.C. and A.D. though the historical and scientific revisionists of our day have gone about laboriously to rewrite history, and have even changed our measurement to BCE and CE.  If you ever study historical revisionism, believe me, it's quite astonishing.  Also, try studying the errors in science textbooks, you'll be amazed how icons of evolution used in textbooks have been debunked as myths.  But still they are used to justify evolution to this day.

I was quite astonished to learn that the Bible hadn't been changed over time.  I was also quite astonished to learn that thousands of manuscripts of the Old and New testaments provided incredible authenticity when cross-referenced with each other.  There are 5,686 manuscript copies of the New Testament that match each other at a rate of 99.5% accuracy.  I was also quite astonished to learn that the Bible matches with known human history. And Jesus Christ is mentioned by historians of ancient times recorded outside the Bible.  I think the most astonishing realization was that science and faith weren't at war.  We had created this false dichotomy.  In fact science and faith easily walk hand in hand, one interpreting the physical world, as Aristotle advocated, and the other interpreting the spiritual world in principles and ideals, just as Plato believed was vital to know the truth.  

With all of that truth and study before me, I was indeed quite astonished, that at the great depths of the rabbit hole of perceived reality, beyond the 9 to 5 life, beyond the drugs and strong drink, beyond the governments and capitalist economic systems, beyond the conspiracy theories, and philosophies of post-modern times I had found in the depths that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, a humble peasant born of a virgin in the deserts of the middle-east was a real, living savior, a God over all the Earth.  I had finally, at last, found the meaning of life. But maybe more accurately... the meaning of life found me.  And it was a God-person, Jesus Christ, "God with us" who came into human history to save his people.  I began a living relationship with the author of the universe.  Can you imagine anything more exciting than that?  Truth revealed itself to me.  It's quite amazing.  Many won't be able to accept that. But I suppose the question is, will you?  

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