Penumbra #1

Posted in Uncategorized on July 3, 2020 by marksamuels

I haven’t been advised not to announce it, so I’ll announce it here in advance. A couple of items of mine are to appear in the first issue of the forthcoming S.T. Joshi edited journal “Penumbra” from Hippocampus Press.

The first is a brand-new cosmic tale of horror and wonder written by me entitled “If Destiny Still Reigns” (about 7000 words) and there is also an English translation, again by me, from the original Polish, of Stefan Grabinski’s revealing essay (hitherto unpublished in English) “Confessions” (“Wzynania”) from 1926. The latter is a fascinating account of his travails and difficulties in the face of then-contemporary misinterpretations and vicious ideological hostility.

Sounds familiar?

Mark S.

 

Was It Really More Than Ten Years Ago

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2020 by marksamuels

that I was allowed to post something like this over on the TLO? Back then, of course, it wasn’t the exclusionary advertising cult it has now become.

“It is not possible for a man to achieve absolute neutrality where questions of philosophy and belief are concerned. That is, no man is a true indifferentist in these vital questions. Since atheism is an absence of belief, the objection has been raised that atheism claims no more than what can be verified (at least according to the scientific method). Anything outside of the scientific method is not to be considered, since it cannot be verified. So, then, the scientific method is the sole valid arbiter of what constitutes “reality” and ultimate truth. Where it cannot determine matters exactly, that is, where matters fall outside of its realm, since they cannot be verified scientifically, it claims instead authority by virtue of overwhelming probability (a probability based on an underlying philosophical basis, though rarely acknowledged).

Trying to “prove” the validity of Materialism by pointing to the scientific method is self-contradictory. The argument runs like this: if something cannot be measured, tested and verified by repeated experiment, by reference to a detectable physical characteristic, it must be ruled out of existence. Following that logic a materialist’s truth claim must be ruled out too being wholly subjective in nature. It, in and of itself, cannot be measured, tested and verified etc, by reference to a detectable intrinsic physical characteristic. Materialism requires metaphysics just as much as does theism.

The typical modern-day sceptic can be defined as someone who questions everything, except what science tells him it is meaningless to question. If science, indeed, alone has a grasp on what constitutes reality (fat chance), let us see where an examination leads us.

Science is at its weakest when it makes any claim about origins. Science, as yet, cannot present any verifiable account as to the origin of basic life-forms, namely cells. All they can do is present a wide variety of speculations, none of which are generally accepted as the answer. Moreover, the creation of cells in a laboratory is as distant a prospect as it has always been. Likewise, science has no answer to the question of the origin of matter itself at the exact instant of the Big Bang when time and space came into existence. Indeed, until 1964, the theory was not generally accepted, it being held as scientific orthodoxy that the universe had always existed. When it comes to explaining the existence of the universe, rather than providing an explanation, it instead postulates other theories, such as, the existence of “the multiverse”, a concept no less speculative and unproven in scientific terms and thus unverifiable, than the idea of Absolute Being, or God, contingent unto itself. Ask why there are laws of physics at all and no answer is forthcoming, except that of “Wait! Science will eventually explain everything”.

But Science cannot, and will not, ever be able to answer the “why” of anything only the “how” relating to physical events. Its adherents do not simply rule “why is this so?” out of the case as being unanswerable, they deny the validity of the question “why is this so?” altogether. It is not logically possible to do this without a philosophical position underpinning the foundational denial claim. And that underpinning is materialism (a.k.a. physicalism). Again, materialism in itself is a not scientifically testable subject. Everything just “is” cannot be considered as anything other than an article of faith, which leads to the idea that all metaphysics is a waste of time because science, the supposed sole arbiter of what constitutes reality, cannot provide an answer to the conundrum. Unsurprisingly, since the part cannot be greater than the whole. One need only look at the debates between Einstein and Bohr over quantum mechanics as evidence for this. Even today, there is no scientific consensus on the Copenhagen Interpretation.

I do not respect militant atheist scientists and their fellow-travellers the New Atheists (that is, advocates of materialistic “Scientism”) because I do not trust such people to be intellectually inclusive, but to increasingly regard their fellow theist scientists (who are perfectly able to “do” science with all the expertise of an atheist scientist despite not adhering to philosophical materialism) with prejudice. These people actually desire, in the end, to exclude all religious thought from all communities, including the scientific community.

Unless we have reference to a trans-historical mode of moral conduct reached through reason then all we are left with is the idea that societies are capable of deciding these questions for themselves in terms of “up-to-date” fashionable trends. This may sound acceptable in crass modernity, where we have been conditioned to accept such “progressive” values through state education and mass communications from school-age, but then one comes up against the argument that the latest totalitarian schooling (say, the likes of a neo-Nazism or neo-Communism) is equally capable of settling the argument as to which conduct is ultimately right or wrong. Which it is; but only within its own limited reference frame of relying, ultimately, upon pure brute force.”

Mark S.

Late Announcement: Best New Horror #30

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2020 by marksamuels

Skunsworth3

If only I could also be included alongside such a grand Twitter luminary as SKU.

If only …  If only … (sobs quietly.)

Hang on a minute … I’ve just remembered it turns out that I shall be, with my marvellously “controversial” story “Posterity”.

Jolly good.

Mark S.

 

Qualia Is Gonna Get You, Baby.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2020 by marksamuels

“Now, when it comes to “physicalism”, it is indeed true that one falls in love with a physical object, i.e. another individual. But to claim that the physical existence of that object (person) in question is the central issue is not the case. Essentially, what one does when appreciating beauty, whether in another person, or in something experienced via the senses, such as a great work of art, is to generate qualia in the mind. It is this immaterial aspect of reality (one which we all experience in falling in love, finding something beautiful, appreciating art) that gives the lie to the view that our interaction with the ground of being consists solely of sense-data as if we were simply biological machines. Poetry, for example, is not simply a question of the ink and the paper upon which it is written. Qualia is actually so commonplace in our lives that we overlook its foundational aspect when determining that reality is not wholly a question of physicalism (aka materialism).

When it comes to category errors, it might be worthwhile to bear in mind the idea that no monotheistic religion of which I am aware has ever claimed there is a gigantic physical brain in existence at the centre of, or outside of, the universe. One can only obtain intimations of God, not a final comprehension—at least in this life.

However, let me concede one point. It probably is impossible for a materialist to gain access to a higher reality beyond that which they have set their own experiential limits. What it would require for them to transcend such a limitation would be an act of faith, such as getting down on their knees and praying to God for the proof they so ardently claim is not possible. It won’t necessarily come in terms of a miracle that suspends the “laws of nature”, but it may do in terms of a sudden realignment in one’s philosophical orientation.

Evidence of the existence of God acceptable to atheistic sceptics would involve precisely the negation of that freedom granted by a higher power. The freedom to doubt, the freedom to err, and the freedom to self-destruction are part of our spiritual heritage.

It is precisely why the oft-cited criticism of God as a form of celestial dictator is false—and little more than a futile attempt to reduce something eternal to the pigsty of political ideology, since the very idea that they are not their own dictators and not responsible to anyone other than themselves for their actions actually terrifies them.”

Mark S.

 

 

 

From an Email to a Muslim Correspondent

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2020 by marksamuels

“There are a series of assent-propositions that lead up to religious adherence, whether one goes down the classical philosophical or the fideist route. The atheist does not get any further than opposition to the first step on that journey. The agnostic, on the other hand, puts it all to one side as “terra incognita”. I know one or two individuals who are, following their own moral code, “enlightened” pagans with behaviour-patterns utterly indistinguishable from those of atheists. What they’ve done is to accept that materialism is not sufficient to explain reality (which it isn’t) and recognise that ultimate meaning is discernible, but then stop short, as they are not prepared to cede the necessity of, therefore, submitting to God’s will: they still appear to think that God exists for man’s purpose, not man for God’s purpose. I think they’re more contemptible than (genuinely ignorant or modernity-conditioned) atheists. It’s all a sort of consequence-free philosophical parlour-game for them since they chuckle over the notion of revelation as the final piece of the jigsaw and, instead, regard it as wholly superfluous.

There are, of course, as many diversions of theological and jurisprudence views in Christianity as there are in Islam. I think the difference, right now, is that the West is busily, viciously, dismantling its own spiritual tradition from within. I think the Marxist postmodernists in the West will have a shock because Islam is now set fair, over the next few generations, to fill that vacuum for them. And, to be honest, for a traditional Catholic, provided the Islam that triumphs is not of the Sunni Salafist or Shia Jihadist school, then the society it produces could well be a huge improvement over the incoherent mess we’ve currently got. At least it’s theist and morally coherent. Naturally, I favour an internal restoration of traditional Catholic values, but I don’t see any real prospect of it happening.

The current Pope tries to be all things to all men. Still, one respects the office and prays for him. As for the Old and New Testament; God reveals his nature to men through scripture in a progressive revelation culminating in the Incarnation. The new covenant fulfils, rather than replaces, the old covenant. The idea of a wrathful, jealous, desert God is simply the interpretation had, at that time, by the tribes of Israel who first bore witness. I don’t think God, of his very essence, can actually be wrathful, jealous etc. There is the question of Christ, hypostasis, and His position of course; but these would lead me into the whole Triune God issue and the Mystery of Faith.”

Mark S.

 

Brothers, You Know What I Mean.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 22, 2020 by marksamuels

Mark S.