Le genie du mal, Guillaume Geefs Cathedral of St.

Paul, Liège, Belgium)

RATIONAL AND IRRATIONAL FAITH
BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

The Judeo-Christian faith presumably partakes of the highest personal power, an absolutely free and independent arbiter, that Supreme Arbitrary Anarch who is without precedent and is unlimited by his consequences; hence he can unthinkingly do whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases, without desire for reward or fear of punishment. Only Page 1 of 7

this presumably anthropomorphic Supreme Personal Being is absolutely free, despite the limitations of the imaginative anthropoids in whose image he is projected – the one-god is an elephant to elephants, a chimp to chimpanzees, and so on. The Supreme Personal Being is essentially freedom per se, or freedom from the All, and is not a conditioned rational animal whose freedom is freedom from some particular or the other. Now it is said that a Christianity is effectually a religion-of-one, the religion of virtually free individuality because the enthusiastic or god-possessed person answers to a power higher than the society of his kind; for instance, when asked if he consulted with his father before taking his sole superpower to war on Iraq contrary to the expressed will of the majority that wanted the world league to provide express approval beforehand, United States President George W. Bush said that he had consulted with the Father above his father: The Heavenly Father personally gave President Bush the go-ahead for a preemptive strike of shocking and awesome proportions, that is to say, of biblical proportions. The War President‟s Supreme Patriarch cannot be called to account nor can he appear as a witness or advocate before the world assembly Rational dialogue is overruled by fanatic logos. Thus is the unknown one-god, in its capacity of Terrorist Almighty, deployed to justify the irrational and obtain the ultimate political resort, total destruction of the other sides of the argument, until the victor stands on the frigid top of the world as sole superpower, a gargantuan Frankenstein monster howling bitterly for the loss of love. Now if a man refuses to kneel to someone else's definition of god, does not his disobedience, just like Satan‟s, bear witness to his love of the truly absolute god, and is he not to that extent a god in his own right? Is not his one-god better than all the other one-gods put together? Is not his rebellion against the secularly organized religion of society the ultimate faith? Does not faith in the absolute power require faith in one-self above all, the very person who wants that power unlimited by external forces? Of course so-called democratic preachers of compensatory justice, who claim that all ought to be equal under one god, have condemned faithful egoists to hell for their "sin of pride", while proudly claiming eternal life for themselves and everyone who agrees with them in the hypocritically organized contempt for humanity‟s individuality. But it is impossible to impose an equal distribution of forms of power on society. We observe that Page 2 of 7

human societies remain hierarchically arranged no matter how democratic, socialist, or communistic they might by artifice be. We tend naturally to have faith in the power of authority, and we abide by it for some time even when it is against our best interests to do so. That has been proven by thousands of years of ordinary experience, and by brief experiments in the modern psychological laboratory, where two-thirds of the credulous subjects of an experiment were inclined to unwittingly torture or even shock people to death if told to do so by doctors in lab coats. Likewise, two-thirds of a population may gladly rush their children off to war on a flimsy pretext at the behest of a leader who claims he exercises the will of unseen persons, of Jesus Christ and his heavenly father, and they will deny their mistake long after the evidence for going to war is proven false and their leaders exposed as a wolfish pack of liars. It is precisely that sort of fealty in the early sense of faith that belies the virtues of mass democracy won in the revolutionary fight against mass faith. The New Man of the New Society is not as enlightened as expected and modern man remains almost as fatuous adhering to the political religion or secular ideology as he was under truth-twisting spiritual theology. Erich Fromm, in Man For Himself, described the modern attitude towards faith as the result of a long drawn-out struggle against the authority of the church and for the freedom of thought. That fight, he said, was for emancipation from spiritual shackles: “It was a fight against irrational belief, the expression of faith in man‟s reason and his ability to establish a social order governed by the principles of freedom, equality, and brotherliness.” Faith in reason‟s ability to establish a rational political and economic world order was belied by world wars. Faith gave way to “irrational doubt,” the lack of faith, “profound confusion and despair,” a “feeling of powerlessness and helplessness,” where “everything is doubtful, nothing is certain.” But the typical form of contemporary doubt, Erich Fromm opined, was an indifferent attitude in which “everything is possible, nothing is certain.” Doubtful people might feel confused and believe their confusion to be the normal state; hence their doubt is irrational. Instead we might have faith in nothing external but go after something deemed good, not because it has intrinsic goodness but because the very act of choosing something on one‟s own authority is purportedly a good thing; hence we, along with our rationalizing psychoanalytical author or authority, might unwittingly believe that our Page 3 of 7

doubt is rational instead of irrational because it is based on self-beloved life, i.e. believed experience. Few people want to admit that they have no reason or rational cause by which they live, that they are inherently irrational or insane. But perhaps that original insanity is the unwholesome reason for the rational struggle to make one-self whole. Rational doubt, observed Erich Fromm, develops in the child who naturally goes along with its parents but eventually becomes critical of their authority: “The increase of his critical capacities is directly proportionate to his becoming independent of parental authority and to his becoming an adult. Historically, rational doubt is one of the mainsprings of modern thought…linked with the growing emancipation from authority.” “In regard to faith,” scribbled Erich Fromm, “I wish to make the same differentiation…. By irrational faith I understand the belief in a person, idea, or symbol which does not result from one‟s own experience of thought or feeling, but which is based on one‟s emotional submission to irrational authority.” Moreover, “there is ample evidence that a person who has given up his inner independence and submitted to an authority tends to substitute the authority‟s experience for his own.” Well, then, it appears that we have reasonable, i.e. good authority for rebellion against authority. Still, it is no wonder that faithful New Zealand authorities intervened when parents tried – quite rationally in our perverse context – to christen their newborn child „Satan‟ – they have also stepped in several times to forestall the use of the name „Adolph Hitler‟. We digress to thank God for Satan, the truest monotheist of all: this particular Son of God (Job 1.6) and lightning strike purportedly subjected by Jesus the Christ (Luke 10.18) loved God so much that he had no love to spare for mankind, nor for the spinning world for that matter, wherefore it wobbles in its hurtling course, driving the would-be gods on its surface mad – there is a rhyme and a reason to the madness: human beings who dare to eat of the tree of knowledge are crazy like foxes, wherefore the war of all against all brings about a semblance of divine order until complexity devolves into utter chaos, or, if you will, until the globe is struck by a comet, or stepped upon by a cosmic horse as if it were a sparkling speck of dust in the Milky Way. Those of us who believe in the Devil have God to thank for the disobedient demon‟s exception rule. Satan had a will fashioned adamantine by his creator in self-opposition; he was naturally expelled from heaven and fell to the planet to star until the final hour. Creation must have been Page 4 of 7

conceived with a fatal flaw, for Satan‟s subjects, having disentangled themselves from the skirts of the mother church, murdered God the father, wherefore God‟s demonic shadow is no more, and everything and anything goes madly on our globe and for no good reason, for without evil to contend with there is no good cause. Neither God nor the Devil exists as far as the Neoteric Man is concerned; moral opposition has been transcended. Reason aided and abetted Unreason and nearly brought the civilized world to total ruin before its time; disillusioned survivors blamed Reason for the horror and lost their reason to unreason. Today there is no cause for guilt; history has been set aside as relatively irrelevant by the phenomenological psychiatrist; everything and anything goes with this deliberate loss of memory as long as one adapts to fluctuating ephemeral circumstances to ensure his fortune; thus is the world a stage for the theater of the Absurd, awaiting Godot instead of God, as if there were a difference. Absurdities are God‟s mysteries. “Credo quia absurdum est” - “I believe because it is absurd!” is the creed of the irrational faith of the person who “has transcended the faculty of common sense,” observed Erich Fromm, “and thus has a magic power which puts himself above the average person.” But hardly anyone has genuine faith in God, Nature, or Man today. And may Reason be damned to serve the monstrous war machine and subserve its technological progeny in the peaceful interludes preparatory to the total annihilation sorely wanted by power-mongering misleaders of Zombieworlde (1); thus does Unreason preside over the rationally organized consumptive economy for which no object is sufficient satisfaction because absolute power or power unhindered is unconsciously craved and found only in death – Nothing is free. There is no such thing as divine providence nor is there natural law anymore, nor is there an „I‟ to comply with either – Man imagined the one-god in his own image; if God is Nothing then the I is nothing and I-Am-I or YAM stands for naught. God is dead; Nature is Dead; Man is dead: Nothing exists, have faith in Nothing, from which the All will be born again for another round of sin and redemption. Grab all you can get; eat, drink, and be merry in the name of the Now. Only terrorists would violently object to a life devoted to food, booze and fun, so by all means fight terrorism. Unfortunately unmitigated competition and fighting terrorism leaves less and less time to enjoy the irrational Now – as if it could exist without the past and future anyhow. This Page 5 of 7

present devolution to chaos, or, if you prefer oriental terms, the last stage of the Kali Yuga, this tick in time or that Now which post-modernists who cannot see beyond the horizon love to death, is bound to end at the allotted tock of the cosmic clock. Perhaps we can regain our deviating reasoning power and set the odometer back with another Renaissance. Irrational faith, according to Erich Fromm, was the slavish faith of the Jews in Egypt. The Jews “are afraid to rebel, and unwilling to lose the security they have a slaves. They understand only the language of power, which they are afraid of but submit to.” They need a sign, a name for their own god, but a mere name is insufficient hence “God makes a further concession. He teachers Moses to perform miracles „in order that they may have faith that God appeared to you‟ . . . their faith was that of slaves and rooted in submission to power which proves its strength by magic…. The most drastic contemporary problem of irrational faith is the faith in dictatorial leaders…millions are ready to die for it. If faith is to be defined in terms of blind allegiance to a person or cause and measured by the readiness to give one‟s life for it…then the faith of the defenders of freedom and that of their oppressors is only different inasmuch as it is a faith in different ideas.” On the other hand, “rational faith is a firm conviction based on productive intellectual and emotional activity. In rational thinking, in which faith is supposed to have no place, rational faith is an important component.” People do not get significant results merely chasing fantasies. You see, the scientist who thinks creatively proceeds with experiments with a rational vision of what he expects to find, a rational vision that results from considerable previous study, and when he gathers sufficient data to make his original vision plausible enough to formulate it, he has a hypothesis: “At every step from the conception of a rational vision to the formulation of a theory, faith in the vision as a rationally valid aim to pursue faith in the hypothesis as a likely and plausible proposition, and faith in the theory, at least until a general consensus about its validity has been reached. This faith is rooted in one‟s own experience, in the confidence in one‟s power of thought, observation, and judgment.” We love to mince words, so in our opinion „belief‟ is a better term for Erich Fromm‟s „rational faith‟, for faith is blind, but belief is perfected by knowledge. We Page 6 of 7

know very well that some of the most significant of scientific discoveries bore no resemblance to an original rational vision but were had by accident. But at least the explorer‟s imagination provides him with a course of action into unknown territory, and his steady progress, notwithstanding the unexpected consequences along the way, is governed by his reflections on experiences. Faith then is guided by reason towards the best objectives. The unshakable faith in reason inspired by a vision of truth that scientists such as Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton enjoyed did not pave the road to hell. No, it was rather the reversion to irrational faith in inconsequential imponderables that provided dictators with a pulpit to promise heaven to all who pledged allegiance, and else hell to all those who are not with us, because all those who are not with us are necessarily “agin” us.

Note: (1) “We have all heard something about zombies, automatons or flesh-and-blood robots that appear to be human beings simply because they physically behave like humans. Zombies, however, are unconscious; at least they are unconscious of their experiences. We abhor zombies because they are an affront to dignified human nature. Zombies are one of the worst frauds conceivable. If we are unable to detect zombies in our midst, then what are we but zombies ourselves? Nothing offends a man more than to think that he is merely a machine, a thing wholly determined by circumstances, therefore he is careful to think otherwise and to raise the pretence that he is the inventor, engineer and operator of himself. He might be imprisoned, yet he is the very god of his virtual machine, the very schemer of his schemes to escape. And it is in the thought that he is not a machine, or rather in the process of thinking or being self-conscious, that he finds his freedom, and he believes that, however enslaved he might be by his own body and other external circumstances, he is free to think as he will and to will as he thinks, hence his self or I, whatever that might be, is naturally free.” (Walters: Zombieworlde)

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