Phil's Philosophy

Mind Meanderings of an Alchemist

Tag: Jesus Christ

Why I don’t believe in Hell

For one thing, it doesn’t make sense for anyone loving God to be the final authority in the decision to have members of his own chosen kind be stuffed away to some desolate and most horrific place where they will suffer in torment and agony from here to eternity.

The deal is this. Your spirit is created by divine authority, an act at which you of course had no say in whatsoever. Then your newly created spirit is cast into a body of flesh on some strange and exceedingly brutal and hostile place in the physical realm. And as your body grows, you are expected to abide by the rules; mind you, two sets of rules.

One set of rules comprises the temporal laws and regulations that you are expected to learn at least partly by yourself as you attend the inescapable School of Life AKA the School of Hard Knocks. And then you have the spiritual set rules determining what constitutes sin (represented prominently but not exclusively by the 10 Commandments). If you live in a theistic region of the world, you are in principle in a reasonable position to pick up on what defines sin and what does not. Although chances are that you won’t be able to exhaustively learn in advance all the intricate details about sin in order to successfully circumvent it. Indeed, you basically are left to your own devices and so you again have to learn as you go, also through the hard way for the most part.

And if you grow up in communist region of the world, then you are basically screwed in so many words because you have no sure way of knowing when you commit sin. The plot thickens even more when the two sets of rules clash. For instance, when, as a young comrade you are forced to enlist in some red army and sent off to fight in some war and are forced to participate in the killing of people, then you then are forced to sin and there’s nothing you can do about it.

And if that’s not enough we have to deal with our inescapable unholy and fallible nature, which in practice means an almost constant temptation to engage in some kind of sin.

And, heaven forbid, if we, ignorant as we are, just so happen to succumb to our many frailties, our inherent fallibility, unless we have the wits and wherewithal to seek forgiveness, we supposedly are punished for our unholy sinful weaknesses by being cast into a place that knows only suffering and agony and no hope for escape.

If this is God’s idea for showing his love and grace to us then I simply rather have no part of it.

Two years ago I read two books describing the supposed existence of hell. They were authored by two different writers and interestingly published by the same publishing house. One was called “23 Minutes in Hell” by Bill Wiese and the other “A Divine Revelation of Hell” by Mary K Baxter. Both books document a personal visit of the respective author to hell under the alleged guidance of Jesus Christ. Both report their experiences in their books. At the time, I was pretty impressed by their fascinating stories, but they did leave me with an uneasy feeling that never quite went away.

After documenting the horrendous torment and suffering that supposedly goes in hell, the
last paragraph of Baxter’s book finishes as follows:

“If you are unsaved, please take the time right now to kneel before the Lord and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and make you His child. Whatever the cost, you should determine now to make heaven your eternal home. Hell is awful, and hell is real.” Baxter p. 212

So basically the authors imply that you better have yourself forgiven for your sins or else hell awaits for you! But this is scare tactics if there ever was any, plain and simple. It is proselytization on the basis of fear. Allowing Christ to become your savior by the threat of the fate of hell is no different from forcing conversion at the tip of the sword! And so if you do accept Christ for this reason, you enter into faith on the basis of fear for hell not necessarily for loving God. But this is counter to what God stands for. God is a god of love, not of fear (1 John 4:8). And if you fear you cannot love simultaneously. Therefore fear-mongering should have no place in Christian proselytization practices. In other words, I do cannot accept such testimonies to be genuine. Indeed, I suspect that they are precisely anti-Christian in nature; as they work to whip up fear in its Christian readership and the more fearful Christians are, the further they are driven away from the God and closer to the anti-Christ.

What do I believe in then? The Secret Book of John, a non-canonical Gnostic text fortified with a commentary (thank golly!), reports on Jesus addressing the phenomenon of reincarnation:

“When they come forth from the body, such a soul is given over to the powers created by the rulers, bound in chains, and cast into a prison again. Around and around it goes until it manages to become free from forgetfulness through knowledge. And so, eventually, it becomes perfect and is saved.” (comment.*)

(comment.*)The “prison” here is not a place, but the human body. People cycle around and around from life to life through reincarnation. But the ultimate vision is very positive. Eventually all will be saved and, in good Gnostic fashion, they will be saved by knowledge that overcomes forgetfulness.

The Secret Book of John (p 142, 143)

That Jesus is our *eternal* savior is also confirmed by scripture:

“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:23-25

Out of the possible post-life alternatives, the reincarnation cycle interruptible when fitness for heaven has been reached, is the only alternative that makes sense to me. The atheistic viewpoint that life just ends with death, does not cut it for the simple reason that I believe in the existence of God and his spirit realm and cannot imagine this reality to have been brought into existence without a divine creator agent. Living a single life after which one then ends up either in heaven or hell, does not do it either. I cannot imagine that God would send a child, who befell the misfortune of being killed or met an early death through disease or starvation and, to hell when it fails to meet the requirements for entrance into heaven. Or, suppose one is born an atheist, for instance when born in communist China or Russia back in the day, and one dies while never knowing Jesus. Does one then deserve to be sent to hell for circumstances one could not help avoid?

I think that persons who never have had the possibility of being saved by Jesus are offered another try through reincarnation, a cycle that repeats itself until the person gets it right. There is no rush as Jesus is our *eternal* savior and so he works for our salvation until we all have gotten it right. To me, the cycle of interruptible reincarnation is therefore the only viable alternative.

I furthermore should add that the practice of threatening with hell and damnation is not only violating the 3rd Commandment (You shall not use the name of the Lord in vain), I find it tantamount to psychological abuse. Let me emphasize that, for anyone person to threaten another person with being cast into a place of eternal torment and agony is potentially engaging in sheer psychological abuse and its practice should therefore be decried at the very least.

That’s what I have to say about hell. I don’t believe in its existence but then again I will not go so far as to say that I won’t believe in it. If I am made aware of its existence in whatever lucid, unequivocal and convincing way, I might just change my mind but until then it is as the saying goes: seeing is believing.

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Musings on Atheism, Religion and God – Refuting Epicurus’ Argument

 

Table of Contents
The Religious Aspects of Atheism
Motivation
What is Belief?
Atheism and Agnosticism
Strong Atheism versus Weak Atheism
The Strong Atheist,… Religious?
The Atheist Dogma
Throwing Out the Proverbial Baby with the Bathwater
Rejecting God by Rejecting the Actions of Religious Adherents
Reality, Physical Reality and Scientism
Refuting Epicurus’ Argument
Postulating the Personality of God
“Whence cometh evil?” – The Cause of Evil
“Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.” – The Purpose of Evil
What about Rooting out Evil with Violence?
Epilogue
Refuting Robert A. Heinlein’s Argument
“…wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures,…”
“…becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery.”
“..swayed by their prayers,…”
“…copulation is inherently sinful.”

Continued from The Religious Aspects of Atheism.

Epicurus (341 – 270 BC)

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is? not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus

It is not at all my intention through this article to try to diminish the accomplishments of Epicurus as a philosopher and meritorious contributor to humanity. However, what do want to do is to point that Epicurus’ paradox or trilemma can be resolved consistent with the nature of an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving God.

 

Postulating the Personality of God

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear. 1 John 4:18

Apart from having accepted God’s existence, it is furthermore my firm belief that the nature of God is purely benevolent. I know however that this contention clashes with the biblical rendition of a god who is both loving and hateful. But I do not think that such a portrayal is accurately representative of God. Therefore I do admit to cherry-pick scriptural passages that back up my belief while disregarding conflicting passages for the present purpose.

I assert the following scripturally supported postulate about the nature of God:

God is a god of love (1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Romans 5:8), grace (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8; 1 Peter 5:10) and mercy (Ephesians 1:4-7; Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 103:8-17; Daniel 9:9; Hebrews 2:17). (G)

By inverting the three-pronged meaning of G, we obtain what God would be not: a god of fear, control/intolerance and vengeance/vindictiveness. In other words, consistent with the G postulate, God is not to be presumed to be a de facto dictatorial tyrant.

I will try to show that it is possible to refute both Epicurus’ and Heinlein’s atheistic argument (see next part) with logical argumentation combined with the assumption of G.

Why would love rather than fear be definitional to God? What are the fundamental differences of fear and love in their respective impact on the maintenance of life? Let’s have a comparative look.

An atmosphere of love sustains life as it enables and promotes growth and prosperity. On the other hand, an atmosphere of fear stifles life as it encourages the application of life’s available energy into the building of defences against potential threats (think for instance of the fashionable global political hype called Terrorism™). Love is the great agent of reconciliation and fosters harmony, unity, symbiosis and cooperation. Fear is the great agent of alienation and promotes chaos, division, parasitism and rivalry. Love graciously and freely gives and shares. Fear wants to seize and hoard. Indeed from love naturally derives other divine virtues: grace (patience) and mercy (forgiveness). Fear breeds impatience and vengeful vindictiveness. Love affords the patience needed to foster wisdom and rationality. Fear, by necessity, is too much in a hurry and so cannot hope to escape irrationality.

I could probably go on comparing the attributes of love and fear for a while, but you probably get my drift.

It should have become clear, that whereas fear is the currency of destruction, love is the currency of construction. As the supreme overlord of creation, how then can God be anything but an agent of love? In this article I will further argue that indeed God not only is a god of love, but a god untainted by fear and anger, a god of pure love.


“Whence cometh evil?” – The Cause of Evil

I suggest that the existence of evil is predicated on the existence of free will: God’s great–arguably, greatest– gift to humanity. Why did God gave us free will? Well, conformal to G, it is only fair to assume that God wants us to love him and to love each-other. This notion is also repeatedly confirmed by scripture, see e.g. Mark 12:28-31; Matthew 5:43-48; John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:9-11, 19; 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8. The manifestation of love however, cannot happen if we do not have free will, i.e. free choice, at our disposal. If we do not choose to love God based on our free and unguided volition, but rather are forced to do so, then the kind of associated “love” cannot be genuine as it is ultimately rooted in fear, the polar opposite of love. In addition, if hypothetically we would be incapable of experiencing fear, i.e. by not being sufficiently conscious (of our own existence as beings and the environment we thrive in), and also are forced to “love” God then that “love” would even be less genuine. In effect, we would then be oblivious to our servitude and in a way merely programmed to love God, similar to how robots are programmed to fearlessly and unconsciously and therefore blindly “obey” the commands of their programmer or “master.”

Since God –by his nature, as the embodiment of love— does not desire to coerce us into fostering false love, nor does he want us to act as unconscious automatons, he endowed us with the possibility of free choice. And that is what genuine love is all about: to love without compulsion and regardless of conditions, whether those conditions are good or bad. In other words, God desires our true love. He desires us to love him for better or for worse.

A consequence of having obtained free will however, is the power to do evil — which basically is the ability to do the opposite of good, the latter which would be preferential to God. By virtue of having free will, one has been granted the freedom to act in very opposition of God and so to freely engage in the pursuit of evil. Nonetheless, those who chose to antagonise God, by violating any of his commandments, should also be prepared to take responsibility for their actions.

Is God to blame for the existence and proliferation of evil? No, an emphatic no, because we ourselves choose to commit acts that are counter to the will of God. Therefore human evil exists because we ourselves choose to create it, not God. To hold God responsible for actions we ourselves choose to do, is like always blaming car factories every time a car accident happens. Assuming for sake of argument, that factory-errors are negligibly influential, it makes much more sense to focus on the driving errors committed by the car drivers rather than it is to seek the blame at car factories. Indeed, it’s simply irresponsible for car drivers to shift the blame onto the car factories when they really should be pointing the finger at the man in the mirror.

And so the proliferation of evil could be understood as the consequence of the possession of free will combined with a lack of ethical sensibility or maturity of being. Nonetheless it should be admitted that –by virtue of his omniscience– God is perfectly and intimately aware of the existence of evil in all of its dimensions (motive, execution, victims, culprits etc.)but through his gracious gift of free will– he generally maintains a policy of non-intervention as–I dare say–evil has a function, a purpose.

Croatian "Ustashe" Nazis casually posing in front of the camera as they are about the decapitate a captured non-combatant with a SAW. The utterly barbaric depravity of the Ustashes is known to have even embarrassed German SS officers and the degree of their manifested sadism promptly places the dreaded Ustashe regime among the most brutal of despotic regimes the world has had the misfortune of having to deal with over the last few centuries. Noteworthy detail: the Ustashes, being a Catholic movement, were openly supported by the Vatican.

 

“Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.” – The Purpose of Evil

“Memory is the mother of all wisdom.” ~ Aeschylus
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ~ Plato

Is it true that God would be malevolent by choosing to not actively prevent evil from taking place? No, not all all. In fact, it’s arguably God’s greatest gift to us to let us act freely and to truly freely live and learn from life as we go. Only a guardian who truly loves us would grant and trust us with complete freedom.

If God were to noticeably intervene in our affairs without us asking for it, even if the nature of his interventions were such that direct injustice would be prevented from taking place, then he would likely be regarded as a guardian who’s worthy of our fears as he gathered a reputation for being intolerant and even tyrannical; having an approving heart only when our intentions are good and a prohibitive heart when we intend to do bad.

This may sound surprising, so allow me to explain myself.

Concretely, let’s say that God would actively thwart human beings from committing the worst acts of evil, e.g. murder and rape. Consequently, by not being able to engage in evil acts, the nature of the most grotesque forms of evil always remain abstract and theoretical to us. Therefore, by having been denied to know the effects of the worst kinds of evil, we would never truly know what it’s like to inflict maximum harm to our fellow human being. We would never truly know what it’s like to inflict raw and uncensored suffering.

For example, the husband who wants to kill his wife because she committed adultery, is now obstructed from accomplishing his lust for vengeance. Besides possibly having some vague theoretical idea of the potential experience, he will thus never really get to know the full first-hand experience of inflicting horrific pain and suffering on his fellow human being. Or, as another example, the wife who wants to kill her husband for deserting her for another woman and it so happens that she now is stuck not only with a broken heart but also a multitude of hungry mouths to feed. Through God’s precrime policing enforcement, she now too cannot follow her vengeful intentions through. She will thus never truly know what it’s like to overrule evil with evil; to repay evil in kind. She too will be denied the possibility from ever truly grasping what it’s like to inflict the most grotesque forms of suffering on fellow human beings.

But the denial of the realisation of evil retributive plans does not automatically take away the desire for doing so. The hearts of the people who have been thwarted–unless they come to their senses on their own–will remain vindictive and likely grow bitter. They will likely learn to fear and hate their then demonstrably oppressive God. Since God is a god of grace–at least, that’s my conviction– there is a contradiction here and this alone speaks in disfavour of the idea that God would have a tyrannical streak.

It would thus seem that it’s necessary for us to experience evil in its most unrepressed and uncensored guise; so that we can learn–literally through bloody trial and bloody error–to foster a closing and complete love for our fellow human being. A love that rises the better we understand the full scope and impact of what it is like to inflict harm on other human beings, and more importantly getting hurt by reprisal. By understanding the fabric of evil in its most intimate gory detail, we will learn to measure the effect of evil acts on other people by our own experiences, i.e. when we ourselves were the victims of evil. After having learned what it’s like to be on the receiving end of evil, we are thence able to build uncoerced sympathy and empathy for our fellow human being.

If however, we were to be censored from bringing the full ugly gamut of evil into fruition then–beyond mere speculation and theorising–there is no practical or experiential means available for its true discovery and understanding. One may even wonder if we would then be able to foster a genuine sympathetic relationship to fellow human beings beyond the circle of family and friends.

It would thus seem that an unadulterated catharsis of evil is a necessary condition for us–as free but inexperienced beings–to able to learn to clean up the messy products of evil that we ourselves choose to spill; and so to be able to finally learn to prefer doing good over evil or, as Jesus said in Romans 12:21, to overcome evil with good.

Evil can thus be understood to be our cruel but self-invited and thus vitally needed faceless teacher. It is thus important to not only not ignore evil but to also learn from it, especially when we fall victim to it; to scrutinise its character and motive, so that we can finally learn to overrule it and trade it for proper. The function of evil could thus be understood as a stimulant for us to learn to wanting to do good, based on free volition and experiential background, rather than having to do good, facilitated by mechanical coercion and possibly robotic ignorance.

Raising public awareness to the full spectrum and depth of evil is crucial to the ongoing learning process of choosing to replace evil with good.

 

What about Rooting out Evil with Violence?

Hypothetically, would it be consistent with the personality of God– as represented by postulate G— for any of his agents to seek to rid the world of a body of established or organised evil through violent annihilation?

This is what I argued in a previous article:

Suppose that out of the entire human global population evil is decided to be confined to a subgroup of people who engage in acts of evil. By the fact that human beings are social beings, it’s only fair to assume that those evil people have family members and friends who may not be considered to be evil, i.e. people who do not engage in patently evil acts. If an exterminator were to go ahead and kill all the evil people, then a new group of victimized people would be catalyzed into existence whose members would naturally resent the exterminator. Consequently, that new group now in all likelihood grows to hate the exterminator.

If a representative of God were to be the exterminator, then he would rather understandably be received as someone who uses deadly violence as a means to restore peace and harmony. In other words, he would be interpreted as a tyrant who’s not afraid to inflict death unto people who meet the classification for evil. In addition, it’s to be expected that the new group is to become the new evil as its members become motivated to actively seek opposition to a God they perceive as being a tyrannical god of death. Therefore, the people of this new group probably will grow to hate God.

Now compare the actions of that representative of God with the God is Love principle of 1 John 4:8, only to find a contradiction. If indeed God is Love then it’s proper to assume that God wants to be loved rather than hated. In fact, the Bible is replete with encouragements to do just that.

Therefore maintaining the peace with the proverbial sword and at the same time abide to the divine attribute as mentioned in 1 John 4:8 is simply impossible. In addition, there is no such thing as a clean and permanent extraction of evil with violent means. Hence, the only reasonable alternative to overcome evil, one which is compatible with 1 John 4:8, is to resort to grace instead of coercion, mercy instead of revenge and the extension of love rather than the imposition of fear-driven violence.

Or, in the words of Jesus:

17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Romans 12:17

21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Source: Would God Condone Attempts to Root Out Evil with the Sword?

Epilogue

Human life as such can be understood to be a life-long educational experience, a school if you will, albeit unmistakeably also a school of brutal hard knocks. In this school, which no-one can escape, the study of the law of cause and effect is fundamental. How well you do on this school depends on how well you grasp this law. Of particular curricular interest is the discipline to learn by observation from the cause and effect of acts that can be termed evil and the cause and effect of acts that are good. Observation can be done whether you are a spectator or an actor, in the latter case observation becomes introspection.

If your actions have a cause in fear, then suffering and misery is the likely effect. Alternatively if your actions are borne out by love then prosperity is likely to follow. If you are good to your fellow human beings, they will likely return the favour.

Learning to accept to take responsibility for your actions rather than pinning them on others or on God is a fundamental element in getting to truly master the law of cause and effect and to use it to become a better and more righteous person.

It is perhaps somewhat ironic that it was Epicurus himself who also understood the virtue of analysis in order to better them. The abstinence from inflicting harm on fellow human beings was pivotal in his teachings:

It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing “neither to harm nor be harmed“), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.

Therefore, in addition to spending most of the time with one’s friends as being crucial for experiencing happiness, Epicurus very well understood the virtue of treating the people whom one interacts with on a basis of respect and love. In fact, he proved to advocate the type of moral compass that was very much akin to the kind Jesus years later would also come to preach about:

28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a]30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31

The way of doing good is the way of love and so is the constructive way of God. And to those in denial of its merit, choosing to swerve onto the destructive path of doing evil, the path of fear, ought to induce a painful and unpleasant reminder for the need to return to the former again.

Continued with Refuting Robert A. Heinlein’s Argument

Musings on Free Will – Letter to Prof. Alfred Mele

Dear Prof. Mele,

I am referring to an article posted on the Internet:

Do we have free will? FSU philosopher awarded $4.4 million grant to find out

Please allow me to speak my mind directly. If I merely repeat things that you already know or state or even the obvious then I do apologize for having wasted your time, Sir.

Here’s a summary of my thoughts on human free will:

I will argue that God did grant us free will. However, I will also acknowledge that there are powerful forces at play that seek to impede and corrupt the freedom of will we have been given.

I believe that the will of a human being is determined by at least three agents: its ego, the intrinsically present spirit and the possible influences due to extrinsic spirits. Granted, the latter kind of agent may be regarded as fringe and rather controversial but speaking from my own personal experience, it is very real and significant nonetheless. Therefore I do hope you reserve an open mind on the matter as I’m quite convinced that this agent is potentially very powerful in subverting the human will.

I’ll go over them one by one and expand on, by brief characterization, the influence each agent has on the will. I end with suggesting how to reclaim our free will.

The Ego

The ego is understood to be the animal mind, or the mind of the intellectual animal, i.e. the part of the mind that is derived from our animalistic nature. It is the component of the mind that is tied most closely to the material world we live in. The ego is based on, and caters to, our primitive animalistic or biologic needs, urges and desires (lusts). Its prime motivator is fear; predominantly, fear of falling short of what it needs, i.e. food and other essentials needed for biological maintenance. But also, fear of not getting what it thinks it needs, e.g. articles of luxury and mates merely for sexual pleasure. Also featured prominently by the ego, is the fear of not getting enough, e.g. money, power and influence. But also, fear of not being awarded the right kind of social status it thinks it is entitled to, or fear of not being accepted in the social context it finds itself in. In short, it is fear that is driving the ego.

By virtue of possessing a living material body, there is a constant need for sustenance, and by this fact alone, it cannot be plausibly maintained that the ego is afforded pure freedom in any reasonable sense. It cannot be refuted that the need for biological maintenance requires allocation of a substantial share of the will.

Besides serving biological purposes, the ego may choose to socially conform through for instance, adherence to certain kinds of fashion (“dress codes”), or seek refuge to socially cohesive groups. Based on xenophobia and fear of not being accepted, the ego likes to distinguish between friend and foe, between security and threat. Hence we observe social division on the basis of religion, political conviction, race and nationality. In addition, we see division between gangs, sports-teams or something as relatively innocuous as musical preference (Hip-Hop vs Punk vs Goth vs….). Although divisions due to musical preference may be the least exclusive, members of different gangs however, unless they happen to be bound by alliance, routinely seem to be in a state of perpetual war with each-other (e.g. the Bloods vs the Crips gangs in Los Angeles).

And similarly, although probably less severely on average, members of different sports-team seem to also be locked down in a perpetual state of mutual hostility. For example, European football “firms” have a tradition of going at it with each-other in such a brutal fashion that clashes not rarely resemble primitive bare-fist tribal warfare. I am quite sure that such traditions are not confined to Europe but indeed can be found in about every corner of the world, courtesy of the inherently divisive ego.

With respect to will, if peer groups do not tolerate, and even seek persecution of, other peer groups then members of such groups have to surrender even more of their will for the purpose of bolstering hostility (“defensiveness”) against, or perhaps seek evasion of, “threatening” outsiders. And so the ego demands the sacrifice of more will on the altar of cultural submission and group compliance. That is, the will is to be allocated to observe compliance with the group that is belonged to whereas non-compliance or precisely anti-compliance may be desirable to be pursued with respect to outsiders of the group. This psychopathic mentality thus serves as the moral breeding ground to justify committing crime. Think for example of the Mafia, whose members are usually exceedingly loyal and compliant to the gang itself but dramatically immoral towards outsiders of the gang. This kind of uncaring and cruel mentality is characteristic of bands of organized crime the globe over, again courtesy of the ego.

Also, keeping in mind that the ego thrives on fear, it should be understood that fear not always manifests as fear. If expressing fear as fear is anticipated with shame, the ego may resort to invoking pride, or deluding so-called ego-defense mechanisms (“excuses”) or plain willful ignorance in order to seek evasion of the honest expression of fear. It may be interesting to note that shame and embarrassment too can be regarded as types of fear, namely the fear of being judged or condemned and the subsequent loss of “face” or reputation that may ensue. Due to the fear for receiving the stigma of being perceived as someone less than a “real man” (“pussy”, “fag”, etc.) it is especially popular among (juvenile) males to simply transmute fear into discontentment and anger. On the other hand, the ego may also go to great lengths trying to rationalize or justify its state of fear so as to precisely hold on to certain (freedom restricting) behaviors. I believe that the public support for the currently fashionable but also fashionably hyped up hoopla surrounding the so-called “war on terror” is largely predicated on the notion that the ego views itself as being subjected to systemic external threats (the terrifying terrorist) and on that bases manages to rationalize its state of fear.

As already alluded to, besides the necessity to provide for biological maintenance, a person, through his ego, is willing to sacrifice even more of its will for the purpose of maintaining or acquiring improvement of social fitness/status, or at least the perception of it by the ego. Although not of vital importance, in principle, the custodian of the ego may additionally allocate another part of the will for the purpose of submitting to certain social or cultural codes of conduct. The fashionable phenomenon of allowing oneself to trade one’s autonomy for security ultimately again is very much fear based. Think for instance, of the rigid codes of “honor” (read: blind loyalty and obedience) prevalent among gang cultures. By joining a gang, the new member, apart from receiving some perks (money, women, “protection”, etc.), must accept a good number of obligations that further reduce the remainder of his free will.

So to recap, the will due to the (fear based) ego can be considered to be far from free as it must relinquish a portion of its freedom for the purpose of biological maintenance and it optionally may reserve even more will in an attempt to gain or maintain societal/cultural fitness (i.e. the advantage of group conformity, or at least the perception of it). The goal of biological maintenance and the goal of servicing some subculture may overlap though. One example would be provided by gang culture, where joining a gang provides members with an income, albeit usually unlawfully obtained. Nonetheless, a gang member may also choose to leave his gang, even though this may be a life-threatening decision, one cannot choose to abandon eating and expect to live. Therefore, the allocation of free will for biological maintenance is of vital importance and cannot be avoided, unlike the optional allocation of free will for cultural group conformity. And yet, especially if fears and anxieties can be reduced, often the will does give in to servicing group conformity.

If ego would be the sole agent defining human will, then it could be persuasively argued that human beings, in practice, are but mere serfs of their ego; purely mechanical or instinctual beings where most of their individuality has been traded for shallow herd mentalities, in which one is too fear-stricken and/or too drunken with pride and/or too mesmerized by cultural fluff and mind-numbing distractions to be able to think and act outside of the proverbial box.

The Intrinsic Spirit

Contrasting the rigid and inert ego, is the spirit. Assuming one agrees to its existence, the spirit can be regarded to be the direct emissary of God. Unlike the rash and greedy ego, the spirit is gracious and modest as it is animated by the antagonist of fear: love. Therefore, by virtue of its loving nature, the spirit is patient and lenient and so is willing to take a backseat and relinquish control to the pompous and myopic ego. Since, as far as I know, unlike the biological ego, the spirit does not have to attend to sustenance and so does not have to lay claim to a portion of the will.

Nonetheless, the kind of freedom the spirit enjoys must always be relative to God (and his laws). Since God is the ultimate superior of the spirit, the latter is always obliged to answer to the former for its decided courses of action. I think it can be stated with confidence that, since he doesn’t have to answer to a superior, only God can afford to truly enjoy will that is free in an absolute sense.

Artwork by J. Zarate

 

Extrinsic Spirits

Thirdly and lastly there are external spiritual beings that seek to thwart the human will and subject it to their own. These usurpers of human will are commonly referred to as demons in Judeo-Christian religious traditions and jinns in Islamic traditions. While not everyone is subject to their harassment and interference to equal measure, it is understood from the experiences derived from religious/spiritual practitioners (e.g. exorcists and deliverance ministers) that, in practice, many human beings are subjected to these hostile spiritual invaders. Indeed, it is a relatively easy matter to end up becoming possessed. By means of progressively breaking God’s laws, and without seeking forgiveness and penance with God, one progressively risks possession. Additionally, one may also end up in a possessed state not by one’s own volition but by the action of other people, as is the case with inheritable generational curses, witchcraft or sexual violation, e.g. satanic ritual abuse.

Once in a possessed state, the demons then work to corrupt and inflect the human will towards manifesting more basal and animalistic behavior. They do this through elevating fear- and stress levels in the possessed person, who in a state of incapacitation is more prone to surrender conscious control over their own being. Depending on the degree of success of the demonic usurpers, once decent and acceptable human behavior stands to degenerate into more animalistic mannerisms and modes of action that are congruent with that of the extrinsic spirits. Indeed, the inclinations of the ego and that of invading spirits seem to be most compatible and they both have a common existential basis in fear. The more fearful (or “stressed out”) the possessed person is, the more they surrender their (rational or conscious) control to the demons. In other words, demons have a direct interest in promoting human fear levels. It should come as little surprise that indeed demons quite literally thrive on fear.

One of the main reasons why I know this is through my own experiences and observation. You see, I myself have been possessed by no less than six demons for a period spanning at least 15 years and I was set free only a few months ago. I have had the displeasure of experiencing first-hand what demonic possession can do to a person. Let me tell you, being possessed is far from pretty. And without the need to draw pity, I have had to helplessly stand by as I witnessed, unwittingly at the time, my own scientific career going down the drain. You are welcome to read the rather elaborate account of my deliverance story here:

Tragedy and Sin, Forgiveness and Restoration – My Own Deliverance Story

N.B. A particularly aggressive and formidable demonic spirit, that I also have had the displeasure of being possessed by, is known in Christian circles as the Jezebel spirit. I’ve also written quite an elaborate blog on this exceedingly warlike spirit what some even call “Satan’s woman”:

When Love Yields to Fear – What Is a Jezebel Spirit All About?

To demons, the prospect of possessing a person is like a drifter having the prospect of trading his cardboard box shelter under a leaky bridge for a luxurious penthouse apartment. A human being can rightly be regarded as a luxurious vehicle (or sometimes also a “milk-cow,” as was the case with me) that lies ready and waiting to be exploited for their pathological pleasures and sinister plans. In other words, demons favor human possession more than anything, and so they work diligently trying to tempt human beings into sin so that they are provided with the legal reason to invade and as such, advance to usurp the will of the victim.

The Human Predicament and its Resolution

It’s a sad fact of modern society that, especially in Western societies, the cultural emphasis predominantly lies on the glorification of the indulging ego. Apart from the necessity to service biological sustenance, being part of human culture and society, in practice entails the relinquishing of additional portions of the will. Especially the idolizing of the “god” of consumerism, entices us to pursue abundant yet redundant material luxury as well as the pursuit of (perverse and decadent) excesses of sexual gratification. Think for example, of the immensely popular but equally enslaving (Internet) porn “entertainment”.

Further onslaughts on our being are delivered by the medical industry, which by drugging our minds silly, if not downright chemically lobotomize us, seek to rob us of the very potential to exert will. There exists a sad trend in psychiatry to put profit ahead of the care for the patient and so, in a real but paradoxical sense, the perceived mentally sick, including scores of children with vulnerable still developing nervous systems, are being treated by the practically mentally sick, the pill-pushing psychiatric industry. See my note Psychiatry Going Psychopathic for more on this subject.

A similar kind of damage is administered by the equally popular fast food industry that, through the infusion of toxic and excito-toxic agents such as aspartame and MSG into food, claims even more of our capacity to rationally decide our own future and destiny. The fast in fast food really would better be understood as, for example: fast acquisition of excess body weight, or fast delivery of nutritional lobotomy and yes: fast deterioration of general health and ultimately therefore also fast delivery to the grave. Without the need to bitterly exaggerate, it can be confidently asserted that the medical industry together with the fast food industry, in practice, work to zombify us and kill our will at the very root.

Therefore, by virtue of our extremely unhealthy and degenerate cultures, it may appear, from a pragmatical point of view, that we indeed are but mechanical beings – sometimes even downright zombies – who are completely at the behest of the carnal whims of the ego.

And if that is not enough, there are sinister extrinsic spiritual beings who have dedicated themselves to the utter destruction of humanity and are ever lurking and ready to usurp even more of our will:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Although I do not dispute that there is ample room for improvement, I refuse to believe that being mere robotic slaves is our ultimate destiny and it can not be what God has intended for us. God is a god of love, grace and mercy (2 John 1:3, 1 John 4:8 and Ephesians 2:4-5) and the notion that he would not grant us the possibility of free will clashes with his very nature, which, to be consistent, has little place, if any at all, for coercion and control. God is not a dictator – nor wrist-slapping and butt-spanking über-nanny, if you will – and it is also stated quite clearly in the Bible that, by following the way of Jesus, we do have a chance at gaining freedom:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Since freedom cannot be had without free will, Jesus promises that if we know the truth we will see our will freed.

And so, what is that truth that Jesus talked about?

I already argued that the supreme enemy of freedom is this sink of the will called ego. To further lend credence to this idea, next is another favorite arena of the ego in which it excels yet at the same time further promotes the enslavement of its keeper:

An Eye for an Eye

38“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42

By proverbially turning the other cheek, you basically forgive your assailant as you free yourself from the self-imposed burden of having to commit will (time and energy) into preparing for retribution, which, when expressed, is likely to be met with a reciprocal retribution coming again from the assailant. Similar to two heavy-weight boxers exchanging body blows, the vicious cycle of reciprocating vengeance could, in principle, go on indefinitely or until, at least, one party becomes too incapacitated to continue. As long as the heat is on, both parties have their will tied up into trying to formulate and execute their destructive plots of vengeance.

By breaking this will-enslaving cycle, through forgiveness, the victim as well as the victimizer may direct their will power for other, ideally more constructive and benign, purposes. Indeed, as long as the victim sees himself as victim and works to exact revenge, it is true that not only is the victim not free, but that even further enslavement becomes a likely outcome if solace is sought in surrogate means of gratification in an attempt to alleviate the pain and suffering sustained. The possible consequence of acquiring a substance addiction, or indeed the pursuit of any other kind of addictive behavior, further robs the victim of freedom and of free will.

And so the capacity to liberate the will is positively dependent on the capacity to forgive.

N.B. This address should not be mistaken as an advocacy for the unconditional dismissal of justice. Indeed, I do not advocate that crime and evil acts should simply be excused and forgotten through forgiveness. However, and although I still need to spend time thinking more about this, I believe that the current system of penalizing crime offenders does not serve society well. I believe that it is principally wrong, to do as our transgressors and simply fight fire with more fire. Indeed, the prison system in its present form could easily be mistaken for an academy of crime rather than being a system of correctional facilities. A step in the right direction for example would be provided to introduce a mandatory apology by the perpetrator to the victim(s). I also think that community service instead of incarceration is a proper measure. But I am digressing, and the discussion of this subject matter, interesting as it is, falls outside of the scope of this letter.

So how can one possibly be able to forgive one’s assailant or victimizer? As stated in the book of Matthew, Jesus encourages:

Love for Enemies

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48

Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and while your enemy may have done you harm, you in turn likely may have harmed your enemy. By praying for your enemy you (psychologically) prepares yourself to eventually forgive your enemy, while your enemy ideally contemplates the same if he, in turn, prays for your possible transgressions. See my previous piece, Love Your Enemies (Matthew 5:43-44), for more on this.

Since it is the defiant and vindictive ego that stands in the way of the realization of forgiveness, it is the ego that is the enemy of freedom and so Jesus his promised freedom can only be attained with its defeat. The more the ego is subdued – i.e. the more we manage to overcome the subservience to our fears, possibly fortified by possessing demons – the more we will gain in freedom and free will.

Worship of the ego is the deception that leads to enslavement. In the spirit lies the Truth and freedom.

This is what I believe is the truth that Jesus alluded to in John 8:31-32.

It is up to us to choose between fear and love, between enslavement and freedom.

Love Your Enemies (Matthew 5:43-44)

Love for Enemies

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:43-44

The practical reason why you should not harden your heart towards your enemy I think is because it may just well be that your enemy recognizes their sins and mistakes and so seeks to repent in front of God. And if your enemies are forgiven by God but you still have hate in your heart for them, any possible reconciliation between you and your enemy may still be problematic, needlessly so in fact once God has given green lights for your enemy.

In addition, conversely, it is likely that you have sinned too as you engaged in the persecution of your enemy. Consequently, it is likely that you too need to ask for forgiveness with the Lord, and if your enemy still has hate in his heart for you after you’ve been pardoned by God, reconciliation may be a problem from this other perspective.

Also if you pray for your enemies what you do with respect to yourself is to psychologically help prepare yourself to be ready to forgive your enemy once this should become a desirable thing to do. By praying for your enemies you basically admit to yourself and God that you are ready or at least willing (under certain circumstances perhaps) to forgive them.

So basically hate causes strive and makes reconciliation between inimical camps difficult. As you know, hate is product of the ego and so it is indeed the ego that is the ultimate obstacle for the establishing of harmony and unity in humanity.

Once we have mastered the hate and fear in our hearts and hopefully replaced it by love, then there stands nothing in the way of our spiritual ascension to ultimately join God and assume our rightful place next to him in the heavenly Kingdom.

Love enables the fulfillment of this destiny whereas hate and fear, on the basis of ignorance, try to block it… with a passion.