Thursday, February 25, 2010

Preliminary Hermeneutic on Nietzsche's Zarathustra


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This preliminary-hermeneutic will be an analysis of half of page 207 of Walter Kaufmann’s Portable Nietzsche, which is a section of On the Virtuous in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Here, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra rails at the hypocrisy, ostentation and disingenuousness so commonly found behind words, acts and demands of virtue. In the second indented paragraph, one can easily think of both mild and extreme examples – both common, both offensive. In the extreme case, one might recall the madness of September 11, 2001, where nineteen hijackers, so “proud of their handful of justice and” so ready to “commit outrages against all things for its sake,” killed nearly 3,000 people in the name of what they deemed holy, righteous and true. “Oh, how ill the word virtue comes out of their mouths! And when they say, ‘I am just,’ it always sounds like ‘I am just – revenged.’” For a milder case, we could look at instances in history and the present that, though not life and death matters in the literal sense, are, in fact, anti-life and a trampling-over of the liberties of others: for example, the monopoly and demand by the Church in the Middle Ages that all art be Christian art, outlawing all the rest and deeming it heresy; or, as another example, the burning of books and banning of plays by puritans; not to mention, in the more extreme case, the torture and burning of men and women, who dared question the moral authority of the Church, or whose views did not fit into its narrow, orthodox interpretations of the Bible.
And we can, most certainly, look at the present for more examples and see the phenomenon of creationism and its adherents in the United States, who use the judicial system to ban the teaching of evolution by natural selection in the public school system and/or, depending on the city or state, hope to implement a course on “Intelligent Design” to be taught as a prerequisite for attaining a high school diploma. This is their justice, and woe to he who dares stand in their way because, as with the other examples, “With their virtue they want to scratch out the eyes of their enemies, and they exalt themselves only to humble others.” That is, they use obnoxious morality, and what they call justice, to condemn and look down their noses at others in order to then feel better about themselves in gaining a superficial, fictitious feeling of superiority over them. Meaning, their so-called virtue is not a virtue at all, but a weapon. However, Zarathustra sees that they are, in fact, morally superior to no one, and are painfully transparent to him in their dogmatic, self-serving ways. Their “virtue” and “justice” are only the exaltation of ways they can be deemed virtuous, by attacking any opposing virtue, way of thinking, or way of life. It is an expression of their militant but petty and pathetic will to power, and it is nihilistic because it demands complacency and a refusal to both question their so-called virtuousness and justice and to evolve to see the infinite limits of human existence and individuality. It is the inexorable demand for stagnation, and with it “the world is drowned in [and suffocated by] their injustice.”
And at the opposite end, Nietzsche writes of those to whom virtue is merely “‘sitting still in a swamp. We bite no one and avoid those who want to bite; and in all things we hold the opinion that is given to us,’” they sadly and apathetically say. This is to mean that virtue to them is simply not getting in people’s faces, and avoiding conflict. But worse than that, like drones, they accept the opinions of others as granted, instead of questioning them and weighing them out against existence and their lives to see if there is any truth in them. It is more nihilism, just a quieter form of it, one that does not make the news, though it is arguably just as dangerous for Nietzsche. “And then again there are such as love gestures and think that virtue is some kind of gesture,” Zarathustra remorsefully adds. This can be tied into those whom he speaks of in Part 1 as “the flies in the market place.” Be they the grand, ostentatious gestures and fine words of politicians or religious leaders, either way, people eat them up. They swallow them whole. It is quite shocking now, decades later, to see clips of loud, eloquent speeches by Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin, where they lecture the immense crowds on how people must be peace-loving! Such a thing should be both risible and abhorrent coming from the mouths of such megalomaniacal men as these. But the people cheered and roared in admiration and idolatry for their mass-murdering, yet so proud, leader(s) and the feelings of virtue, justice and, hence, good conscience that they instilled in them. They applauded as a herd releasing their lowly will to power. They still do.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Disproving God - No Sweat!! ;)


When I finally wrote out this argument back in July of '08, it had been something I'd been wanting to put down on paper for quite some time. I've added and taken away from it since then, though. And with it being Valentine's Day Weekend, I thought I'd make it red, being as it is my favourite colour, and 'cause I'm a sentimental guy. :) It always makes me shake my head when I hear a theist say that “God exists outside of time.” As if time is a fucking bubble you can jump in and out of. Such monstrous nonsense! - Mainly because it is being claimed about a living being. (I will explain why shortly). Their claim is often coupled with their rhetorical question, “how can something come from nothing?” But this is a straw-man, to be sure, for whoever said it did, outside of conjecture? It was never claimed as a scientific theory that the universe came out of nothing. Time began at the Big Bang, and to put it more precisely, the Big Bang is the shifting of time and energy. It is also the expansion of the black matter of space; something which is still expanding as you read this, and will continue to for quite some time. At the time of the Big Bang, all that existed were energy and elementary particles. In a televised conversation with Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke, and journalist Magnus Magnusson back in 1988, Stephen Hawking actually refers to a "before the Big Bang," in the same paradoxical sentence that he states that time began at the Big Bang, which is very perplexing, but understandable, since we are so often confined to verbal language: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O9cYTZXekA. (Thank Dog for YouTube). Anyway, if time had not yet existed, they (energy and those elementary particles) are what would have existed “outside of time,” if anything ever did exist in this abstract, non-rational way. Meaning, it can be inferred from this alone, that something always existed, and never nothing. Putting God in the picture merely complicates things, and it is quite unnecessary. Therefore, Occam’s razor is fulfilled by there not being a God. But this argument is not nearly strong enough to show a devout theist the unlikelihood of God. So let’s move on.

For much more importantly, one only needs to observe the First Law of Thermodynamics as to clearly see why it is that there could have never been nothing, and that science in fact claims the contrary. For it states that – come on, everybody say it with me – “energy cannot be created nor destroyed.” Meaning, all the energy that currently exists in the universe has
always existed, and no god or first cause was ever required to create it. That is, under this natural law: something has always existed – and never nothing. But this is controversial, as well, as it is hypothesized by many that this law which energy lives by only came into existence after energy itself came into existence, after the Big Bang, and not before (and, once again, I don’t even know what “before” could even mean in regard to the Big Bang). After all, how could energy exist at all, if not along side time? Exactly. And I pose this question for God’s existence, as well. And you don’t have to repeat to me the mantra that “God is spirit and beyond our understanding,” as I don’t believe in sprits, and am trying to explain inductions and deductions which I and others have come to based on what we know about the natural world. Can you at least be serious till the end of this write, please, and put aside your petty, unfalsifiable metaphysics? I thank you for your cooperation.

So here is where the theist and even deist anxiously jump in. “But you clearly have not disproved God,” they say, happily and proudly stating the obvious. No, of course I haven’t. I have only shown his/her/its existence to be improbable and superfluous.
Disproving God, on the other hand - is what I am about to do.

The main two aspects of the theistic God are that he has a mind, and was himself not created, as he is the beginning of all things. That is, he is both sentient and the alpha. But a sentient being cannot
be the alpha! All sentient beings have a first thought, a first feeling, a first perception. God would have had to of had a first thought, feeling, perception. There cannot be an infinite regress of these things. There cannot be an infinite regress of a stream of consciousness. It is a logical absurdity. Awareness and thinking begin for all sentient beings at a point in time. God, like all sentient beings, would have had to have come into existence. He would have had to have evolved into existence, as all new species do, or he would have had to have been created by a being greater than he, which means he wouldn’t be God – in the first place. Therefore, though it is possible for a supreme being to exist, it is quite impossible – for God to. And let no one tell you that God cannot be disproved, or that he exists outside of time, ever again, especially since thinking (or simply awareness), something God does partake in supposedly, occurs in time, and we have now seen the consequences of that, as there cannot be an infinite regress of thoughts, or awareness in general. Sorry, theists.

Of course, we would be shamefully naïve if we thought it ended here. For they could just wave their pious hands at all this, as they are so good at doing, and say 1. God is all-knowing and therefore does not need to think, and 2. if it is plausible for there to be an infinite regress of time, then it is plausible for there to be an infinite regress of thoughts, and if time did not need a beginning, then neither would a sentient being necessarily have to (in this case, God). But of course this is just more nonsense:

1. Someone can know all there is to know about a subject and still have to think about it, and not merely to remember or analyze it either. Look: 2 + 2 = 4. You already knew that two plus two equaled four, yet seeing that made you think about it. Why? Because you're a sentient being and are therefore aware of the world going on around you. Well, God, if he existed, would be aware of the entire UNIVERSE that he decided to create. Thoughts are thoughts, and neither thinking nor awareness are not negated by omniscience. In fact, thinking and awareness are a prerequisite for omniscience. After all, how could our beloved supreme being in question know, if he could not even think? And if he wasn't aware of anything, how could he know anything? It makes no sense. His sentience is perpetual, as it is for all sentient beings until they die. And there simply cannot be an infinite regress of sentience. Again, it's a logical absurdity.

2. First, the burden of proof would be on the person saying that time did not begin, since the Big Bang Theory is so well established. However, open-minded as we are, let us accept that it is at least possible that time did not begin and that there is an infinite regress of it. This does not negate the logical absurdity of an infinite regress of thoughts or awareness (i.e., sentience), as thoughts are propelled forwards by a thinking being, not backwards. If then they reach for the bottom of the barrel for the old hat that God cannot be comprehended by our finite minds, then we can merely say, “But thinking can be, for it is something we, animals and birds do, indeed, partake in.” Here, then, is where they might desperately rebut that it could very well be that there is an infinite regress of God’s thoughts and awareness, but we just cannot comprehend that backwards stream of consciousness, as we cannot comprehend there being an infinite regress of time. However, in this case, God cannot exist within the realm of logic, reason and the natural sciences (a wicked game of hide-and-go-seek) and faith in his/her/its existence is merely and disturbingly illogical belief in the absurd and realistically impossible.

But, then again, we already knew that, didn’t we, my fellow atheists? I mean…what else could their faith be?

“Faith is believing what you know aint true.” – Samuel Clemens