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Determinism in Reformed Theology, Calvinism


Asymmetry of Reformed theology. 1

Book: Hunt's A Woman Rides the Beast 2

Book: Dave Hunt: What Love Is This? - anti-Calvinism.. 3

James' Pragmatism against Calvinist block universe. 5

Official theology: freewill heart with no-free-will skin. 5

Calvinism & single-future block universe. 8

Order of salvation, grace, will-violation. 11

Freewill maudlin version of cancelling moral debts. 12

Calvinism as covert strange-loop & endless regress. 13

Professed vs. actual no-free-will thinking. 13

Moody Christian magazine quits, strong determinism article. 16

Woodcut of Puritans worshipping Devil 17

Why Church renounced Augustinian theory of will 18

Entheogenic Reformed theology. 19

Reformed theology: "lost freewill in Fall, due to act of freewill" 20

Puritan cognitive dissonance, diablocentric psychology. 20

Openness Theology, Honest Exclusivism,  Authentic Religion. 21

Wilber drawings: Jesus' unsacred heart, freewill devil religionists. 26


Asymmetry of Reformed theology

Though Reformed theologians have some variety of nuanced positions, the general spirit and mode of thinking is determinedly asymmetrical and characterized by the following.

God controls everything, and everything is predestined.  Nevertheless, the following must be admitted, despite the mystery of apparent inconsistency to our fallen minds.

If you are damned, it's entirely your own fault, and not God's fault at all (though God controls everything).  This is hard to understand, because sin is darkness and confusion.

If you are saved, it's entirely God's doing, and not to your credit at all.  This is easy to understand, because goodness makes sense, like light and clarity.

We all deserve to be damned as rebels against God - that's God's justice.

Some of us are saved by God - that's God's mercy.

Therefore God is just and blameless and merciful in causing some to be saved while causing, or as they say "letting", others be damned.  Since *everyone* deserves to be damned, and no one *deserves* by their own actions to be saved, we must marvel at God's generosity in saving anyone at all instead of causing (or "letting") the whole lot of us to be damned.  This dizzying logic causes seizure in tent revival meetings under the trees.

In some ways, these are clever riddles that can be solved by sophisticated mystic reading.  First of all, cast off literalist networks of interpretation regarding what it means to be damned or saved, and solve it as a clever riddle, finding the right alternative network of interpretation.

Is some ways, these are perverse devilish inconsistencies that serve to prop up the freewill assumption even while denying that assumption.  This suggests that no-free-will may be a heresy in the orthodox view.

In some ways, these are consistent inconsistencies, like the following I invented:

Sinners have free will.  Saints don't have free will.

Demons have free will.  Angels don't.

The Reformed theologians waffle to no end about whether we have free will, but the point they are afraid to address is whether the idea of free will is even logically possible at all, for any creature.  Augustine seems to say that we do have free will, but it's broken and corrupt, preventing us from choosing and accepting Christ's offer of free salvation.  Each theological has a slight variation, but few of them deny the possibility of free will in principle. 

Those few who flat-out deny freewill as a coherent possibility still insist on blending the no-free-will principle with egoic moralism, producing a monstrous confused system.

I actually hold that:

The 'sinner' is the mind who assumes that freewill is a coherent notion and assumes that that mind has free will.

The 'saint' is the mind which assumes that freewill is an incoherent notion, and assumes that that mind doesn't have free will.

To be 'saved' is to deeply disown and reject the freewill assumption, though doing so causes ego-death seizure and a sacrificial willing of the loss of control.  To will the sacrificial, transgressive rejection of egoic self-control is to will as Christ did, "Not my will but your will be done."  This amounts to an act of willing that is considered to be one's own act that is not considered as originating from oneself, but is injected into the mind by the ground of being.  It's hard but not impossible to consistently discuss this sacrificial, transcendent turning of the will against itself -- the important point is what the mind considers to be the *source* of the mind's will.

Reformed theology is centered on the topic of free will.  It's surprising that there's not more dialog between Reformed theologians and philosophers of free will vs. determinism -- two very different modes of approaching the issues.

Book: Hunt's A Woman Rides the Beast

This is an update at Amazon of a book I read and reviewed years ago.  I do not recommend this book unless you have some reason to study the Fundamentalist Prophecy worldview.

Reviews or updates to reviews take 5 to 7 business days to appear (4 to 12 actual days). 

I must remember to mention in Amazon reviews to see my Amazon area for more information.


Fundamentalist prophecy perspective on Roman Catholic Church

I have read almost all of Dave Hunt's nonfiction books, and this is one of his most interesting.  This is a fascinating expose of the Catholic Church, especially if you have never read about the differences between Catholocism and Protestantism. 

I wish Dave would write more about Reformed theology; having read nearly all of his nonfiction books, I remained completely unaware that free will was a contentious issue that was used to create and break away the Protestant tradition from Catholocism.  To provide that background, a starting place is Sproul's Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will. 

A book even more focused on issues such as free will in the Protestant/Catholic divide is The Roman Catholic Controversy: Catholics & Protestants -- Do the Differences Still Matter?, by James R. White.  I read Hunt's book and these two books cover to cover.  Don't make the mistake I did and limit yourself to reading books about Christianity by one author, such as Hunt. 

An especially good remedy to break away from the limitation of having just one perspective on Christianity is to read a couple of general histories of Christianity (search on "history of Christianity").  This will provide perspectives and background on the Reformation that you won't get from reading Hunt's book, which only provides a Fundamentalist Prophecy perspective.

Hunt is the voice of scholarly American fundamentalist Protestantism. He is a careful and consistent fundamentalist; he is not vague. He accepts supernaturalism as a starting point, and builds rationally and clearly on that basis, such as accepting the existence of spirit creatures.

This is a great introduction to Catholic history and doctrine and shows what a tremendous step forward Luther brought, though Protestantism still retains a lot of the Catholic orthodox supernaturalist Literalist reading of the Bible."

Book: Dave Hunt: What Love Is This? - anti-Calvinism

This is my review posted today.

What Love Is This? Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God

by Dave Hunt (May 2002)


As wrong as Calvinism, but essential, timely, & much needed

I was recently unhappy with Dave Hunt because reading his books left me utterly unaware of Reformed theology.  I was astounded to find that his latest book is on that very topic.  He has provided *exactly* what I was looking for after studying Reformed theology: a critical survey of all the most shocking things about Reformed theology. 

While reading about Reformed theology, I was amazed that some of these theologians assert some of the more radical aspects some mystics believe, that God is the author of sin, that there is no free will. 

We don't have to choose between accepting Hunt's view and that of the Calvinists: they are *both* wrong and the mystics provide a rational third alternative.  Unlike most Arminians and Reformed theologians, as a mystic determinist who believes there is a single preset and preexisting future, I consider man to be only virtually responsible and not genuinely responsible or guilty, and I consider salvation to be about mystic experience and enlightenment rather than something after bodily death.

Dave Hunt has provided exactly the kind of critique I was looking for -- I never imagined such a book would come from Hunt, whose previous books failed to teach me any theology.  What I wondered about most of all while reading Calvinists was their admission that it's illogical to hold men responsible while denying free will and saying that God is the ultimate controller of everything.  I wanted to hear what other Christians had to say about the most radical principles of Reformed theology.

Like Luther congratulating Erasmus for getting down to the real issue, of the will, so do I congratulate Hunt for focusing on the most shocking aspects of Calvinism.

Hunt's book serves as a demonstration that the accustomed definitions of Calvinism and Arminianism may be oversimplied and artificially uniform.  I especially appreciate his coverage of disputes and inconsistencies within Calvinism. 

People should read books from different traditions, because each tradition tends to slanderously misrepresent the others and set up straw men.  And each tradition has internal variety and conflicting sub-schools.  It's trickier than Protestants let on, to characterize the Catholic stance of the will; some Catholic dogmas and approved books match Calvinism, as Hunt points out -- while other parts of Catholic tradition take an Arminian approach. 

There are also several different notions and traditions, or sub-schools, of Arminianism.  To make things even more complex, the whole subject of the nature of the will's freedom is inherently very subtle and confusing, requiring expert-level philosophy skills to study the will's freedom as a philosophy area apart from theology. 

As a mystic determinist who rejects free will as an impossibility and monstrously confused thinking, I would still affirm that the will is deeply involved in salvation and revelation.  But the arguments all revolve around how to conceive the will's involvement.  In sacrificial customs, the victim always is supposed to be a willing sacrifice.

Given this highly complex subject of the nature of the will's involvement in salvation (not to mention the debates needed about the nature of salvation itself), we must be extremely cautious about using terms such as "Calvinism", "Reformed", "Catholic", and "Arminian"; these are all problematic, overlapping, and often distorted categories, with internal varieties. 

Even though I philosophically reject free will as a confused, impossible notion, I agree with Hunt that the Bible doesn't paint a simple 5-point Calvinistic position, but rather, a variety of perspectives.  In practice, even Augustine, Luther, and Calvin scramble or smuggle some freewillist thinking into their supposed no-free-will systems. 

Hunt's investigation has helped to shatter the complacent oversimplistic story most Calvinists tell about Augustine, Catholic theology, and Arminianism.  We need more nuanced, various, and accurate understandings of the different systems of thinking about the role of the will in salvation.  Hunt raises the right issues and points out the most problematic or shocking aspects of Calvinism. 

Hunt argues that Calvin's politics are highly relevant to evaluating his theology, because historically, "theology" was often mostly a tool designed to prop up power politics.  It's a problem for us mystic determinists that the ruling powers so often try to use determinism to prop up their oppressive regimes.  We should be suspicious of Calvin's theology because it may have been crafted more to prop up the rulers than to make sense or lead to some kind of religious salvation. 

Against Hunt, I agree with Calvin about points such as divine sovereignty and no-free-will, but the theology of Calvin, Luther, and Augustine includes much noxious distortion due to the power-politics role that it was largely designed to serve.  Calvinists are mistaken in assuming that they have a monopoly on the no-free-will position; mystics contend to own that same principle of no-free-will but integrate it with an esoteric rather than literalist conception of salvation. 

Although Hunt shows Calvinism to be problematic, don't assume that the only alternative is Arminianism; mysticism is a third alternative that holds predestination but considers damnation to be merely a metaphor for delusion -- the delusion of free will, in particular.  Against Hunt, dualist mystics agree with Calvin and Augustine that many *are* predestined to eternal torment in the flames of hell, but mystics consider such torment as a metaphor for delusion.

I agree both with some of Hunt's points (the will is *somehow* involved in salvation) and some of Calvin's points, insofar as they overlap with mystic determinism and mystic-state salvation as a revealed mystery generally available to people in this life.  I am surprised and grateful to Hunt for regaining relevance by addressing the most worthwhile subject of the controversial aspects of Reformed theology.

>>The teachings of Jacobus Arminius derive from Pelagianism and give rise to the Christian humanism of modern evangelicals; in which it is presumed that man is an agent of free will and determines his own salvation. In other words man through will chooses salvation or damnation; the concept of election and grace do not enter the picture - this is a teaching of choic or fleshly basis and is not Christ-centered.

>>Calvinism has ties with Old Covenant Law, which is not compatable with the New Covenant of Paul and his Gospel of Christ. As such, Calvin fails to recognize pneumatic election as independent of the Law and that Christ is wholly and utterly independent of the Abrahamic covenant - it is void in Christ. The Calvinist tries to justify through works - Calvinism is Law-centered not Christ-centered.

Calvinism *in practice* is Law-centered, Works-salvation, showing lack of logical integrity with its no-free-will position.  See below for some explanation *why* Calvinism ended up, ironically, founded on works-salvation.  Dave Hunt concurs that perhaps the main psychological problem in Calvinism was "But how does one have any confidence of being saved?"  What drove witch-hunts (besides confiscatory greed)?  Self-doubt about one's election to salvation in Calvinism caused the devil to loom large in Protestant consciousness. 

Calvinism is no-free-will thinking mixed monstrously with freewillist thinking, and the result is insane projection of one's animalistic inconsistency onto others as witches.

Ken Wilber doesn't really seem to have a definite explanation for this concept of Puritans following the Devil, in the book Up From Eden.  Wilber shows a woodcut illustration with Puritans following the Devil, in terms of the metaphysical slavehood of the will; Puritans may have preached no-free-will but their thinking was nevertheless, incongruously, based in freewillist thinking: as Wilber would say, their attempt at transcending their current level of thinking failed, and they fell into mental degradation, low superstitious magical thinking, a kind of psychosis. 

Hunt's new book against Calvinism confirms everything I suspected about Calvinism, its ramifications, and the reactions of typical evangelical Christians who aren't familiar with systematic Reformed theology.

My evangelical friends, God bless their mortal souls, were stunned by my report on the Calvinist no-free-will position (regeneration of your will by God -> faith given you by God -> grace given you by God -> salvation given you by God) and stated their own understanding of the order of salvation to be entirely different (one's free will -> faith in Jesus by oneself -> saved by God).

Timothy Freke's Encyclopedia of Spirituality, is the best New Age-styled book.  It has enlightened sections on no-free-will/no-separate self and on entheogens.

James' Pragmatism against Calvinist block universe

William James formed his philosophy of pragmatism specifically against his father's Calvinism, which James characterized as an "iron block universe".  This is the only time I've seen the Calvinist worldview specifically characterized as a "block universe".  I wonder if the idea of block universe was taken from Einstein's predecessor, Lorentz. 

Einsteinian diagrams of spacetime as a 4-dimensional reference frame were described in the early 1900s, as was much of James' writing.  Perhaps the idea of a 4-dimensional block universe (time as a spacelike dimension) was widespread in the late 1800s.

James decided his first freewill act would be to believe in metaphysically free will -- in opposition to his father's "iron block universe Calvinism".

Official theology: freewill heart with no-free-will skin

Official Christian theology also is determinism-centric; it is at dead center of countless debates, claims, accusations, defenses -- though I can only conclude that the resulting official position is just as jumbled as the notion of freewill itself, a kind of self-contradictory self-contradiction, where determinism is axiomatically accepted, and then the doctrine insists on a freewill which is pure genuine moral freewill and yet not contrary to hard determinism -- deliberately making a point-blank self-contradiction and admitting it, and then waving the wand of "It's a mystery beyond human understanding, proving how fallen man's reasoning is." 

No amount of studying the official positions on this conflict will ever clear things up.  The type of moralism that contradicts hard determinism is insisted on by almost all theology -- even by almost all Calvinist theology.  The vibe of such theology is, absolutely affirm determinism, and then fabricate a conception of moral agency that is essentially freewillist, yet push and force that conception of pure and simple genuine moral culpability *infinitesimally close* to pure determinism. 

Even the most absolutely doctrinaire Calvinists speak pure hard determinism out of one side of their mouth, and then later wreck their position by affirming later, out of the other side, a pure type of moral responsibility that inherently contradicts pure hard determinism -- as though one can mix oil and water if one just affirms both staunchly enough. 

Even the most extreme Calvinist cannot resist priding themselves on their purity of determinism, and then turning right around and promoting a *style* and *conception* of moral agency that is *inherently non-determinist; this is why in the end, the spirit of Calvinism ends up being a confusing, tricky, deceptive bait-and-switch game, with a heart of freewill thinking covered by a thin veneer of fervently affirmed hard determinism. 

They publically proclaim determinism, but are in fact unregenerate, having still a living heart of freewill moral thinking at their core -- a kind of wolf in sheep's clothing, better seen as a goat in sheep's clothing (freewill thinking with an outer layer of no-free-will assertion).

It makes little sense to claim to enjoy determinism "wherever one can find it", but then later make an exception and not enjoy determinism in organized religions.

Organized religions are only somewhat poor sources of information -- their doctrine is also largely informed and shaped by authentic experiential mystic-state evidence.

Received religion is a product of an ongoing struggle between authentic mystic religion and literalist religion.  It's a mistake to treat exoteric and esoteric religions as entirely separate.  If exoteric lost all contact with esoteric, it would not last long.  Instead, the game works through a process of co-optation, counter-cooptation, and ongoing power struggle between esoteric and exoteric. 

Thus exoteric religion is forced to incorporate much authentic, esoteric religion -- but in a distorted fashion.  Exoteric religion is not simply false; rather, it is a debasement and distortion of authentic, esoteric religion.  Once you know the distortion, the authentic aspects become visible within or behind official, exoteric religion.  The canon clearly and identifiably includes gnostic experiential aspects, in addition to literalist additions and distortions. 

Exoteric religion is not entirely false; it is forced to remain largely true; forced to concede and co-opt -- not wholly reject -- the authentic esoteric version of religion.  There is much truth and wisdom, in somewhat distorted form, in official Christianity.  There is often more truth in official theology than in modern speculations about the life of the historical Jesus. 

Truth is comprehended by studying both esoteric and exoteric writings.  Rejecting whole libraries full of official Christian books cannot succeed at understanding what happened -- such wholesale rejection is too easy; that is, wishful and lazy. 

Instead, the hard work needs to be done of *transforming*, or un-deforming, official, exoteric writings; what we have is garbled writings, and our task is to un-garble them -- this is true when reading modern rationalist philosophy books about determinism as well; all books are more or less garbled, including literature, mystic writings, poetry, and other genres and schools.

Victory can only be won from the inside: by de-garbling the official story and revealing how it became garbled; not by simply brushing it aside.  Trying to brush it aside only ends up reinforcing the status quo.  Taking over the status quo is the only viable game plan.

Authentic esoteric religion is very deterministic -- entirely so... except that mystics often talk about transcending determinism by exiting the deterministic cosmos (ascending beyond the realm of the fixed stars).  Exoteric religion has various blends of determinism and freewill moral thinking.  Today's unlearned "evangelists" are purely freewillist, even though practically all official intellectual theology starts with pure determinism and then typically attempts to add a little tiny bit of freewillist thinking, to prop up freewill moralism.

Religion is determinist -- but the radical exception is the very recent trend of Openness Theology (Clarck Pinnock) -- a shocking absolute contradiction of all previous official theology.  It's unabashedly freewillist (the orthodox response is "surely the End is near; this is certainly the great apostasy of the Church").  Historically, official theology starts off with the axiom of determinism, and strives to then somehow add pure and simple genuine freewill-type moral agency.

The Grace of God and the Will of Man

Clark Pinnock (editor)


Robert "Tim" Kopp wrote:

>The only excuse for evil in the world is that man has free will: otherwise God would be inflicting needless suffering on mankind. (The Paradox of Epicurus could not then be avoided.) At least, this seems to be the reasoning of all mainstream versions of Christianity with which I am acquainted.

In the hardline Calvinist view on the problem of evil, 5-point TULIP Calvinism doesn't say that evil is due to "free will".  They'd say the fallen and corrupted will -- they'd talk of *will*, but not "free will".

Bad will, weak and impotent will, they'd say; unregenerate will, but they wouldn't say "free" will in the sense of metaphysically free. 

Calvinism has an odd way of talking about determinism; determinist Philosophy and Calvinism are evidently intent on avoiding discussion.  Calvinism is determinist, but insists on locking itself within a closed, specialized way of treating determinism.  Calvinist determinism discussion has a different flavor than philosophical discussion of determinism.

Augustine says we were created with free will but abused it and lost certain aspects of free will, particularly the ability to turn/convert and the ability to desire to reach out to receive and accept the offer of savior/grace/salvation. 

Philosophical determinism says that's absurd; we never had free will, because the very concept is a logical abomination and conceptual chaos -- there can't have been freewill, cannot be now, and cannot be freewill in the future, because the very idea of freewill is impossible. 

Augustinian theology sometimes seems to say that we had freewill, fell and lost freewill, and if God choses to save us, we'll regain freewill -- that reading has a certain sophisticated cleverness and meaning.  The child has the delusion of freewill, the initiate experientially realizes the impossibility of freewill, and then is turned and can be said to "transcend" determinism in some beyond-conceivable way -- a kind of "regaining freewill".

Freewilists think they espouse and have free will, but (per the horizontal determinism perspective), the words they say are caused by a sequence of other events leading up to them. Their words are caused by a series of events leading up to them.

There is also the important vertical determinism perspective: the mind of the theology-illiterate evangelical is arranged in a framework of freewillist assumptions, thinking that oneself is an independent agent autonomously crafting one's own future, but the words they speak are actually timelessly emanated from the One or from the hidden, underlying block universe -- caused by a hierarchy of control, where the control in the person is not a pure independent source of control.

In the mystic state, this can actually be experienced as being controlled as by puppet strings -- not strings over time, but timeless strings perpendicular to time.  This vertical perspective emphasizes levels of causality rather than a series of causal events.  The freewillist mind has no-free-will/no-separate-self in actuality, unconsciously, but is arranged in the conscious, seeming, apparent form of freewill/separate-self. 

Freewill isn't a specified theory so much as a type of associational operating system and mental worldmodel with feeling-based attitudes.  It's pretheoretical.

>>I don't blame religion for coming up with free will.  Religion is a depository of good and bad ideas from the rest of the culture.  Religion is just one group perpetuating an idea.

Religion cannot be blamed for perpetuating freewill thinking as though it only did that.  Much religion is highly deterministic.  Only by avoiding close study of religion can we say that religion is freewillist. 

To a large extent, determinism is the foundation of Protestantism, even though they ever are backsliding into the Arminian heresy of freewillism, and even though in practice Protestantism is freewillist moralism painted up with superficially determinist doctrine.  Calvinism -- hardline Protestantism -- would fervently deny the accusation that they perpetuate freewill thinking.

I'm now completely confident of my reading of the woodcut in Ken Wilber's book Up From Eden showing the puritans following the devil.  The picture certainly represents freewillist thinking dressed up with determinist doctrine; that is the ideal, most perfect and enlightened way to read the picture.  That core-vs.-shell conflict is a perfect characterization of the paradox of "performative self-contradiction" of Calvinist moralism. 

This is also a perfect, intellectually beautiful example of hypocrisy: Calvinists preach determinism, but think of hell, heaven, conversion, salvation, repentance, etc. in an essentially freewillist sense; within a freewill-structured network of word-meanings.

>>This is also a perfect, intellectually beautiful example of hypocrisy: Calvinists preach determinism, but think of hell, heaven, conversion, salvation, repentance, etc. in an essentially freewillist sense; within a freewill-structured network of word-meanings.

Muslims are right to worship a black box, but wrong where it adheres to a conception of morality -- a network of word-meanings -- that is essentially freewillist, and freewillist thinking goes hand-in-hand with literalism and lack of mystic-state experiencing.  There is a true and false meaning of "I deny my freewill for Allah the all-powerful" -- one meaning of that phrase asserts the reality of freewill moral agency, and the other, higher meaning asserts that freewill moral agency is essentially an illusion.

Michael wrote:

>the woodcut in Ken Wilber's book Up From Eden showing the Puritans following the devil.  The picture certainly represents freewillist thinking dressed up with determinist doctrine; that is the ideal, most perfect and enlightened way to read the picture.

Such a reading is best and truest in that it goes with a system of thinking that is more efficient and ergonomic than any other at leading to a most-intense peak experience, a peak experience that resonates well with much or most of the best of classic mysticism.  There is inherently some circularity in selecting an interpretation and selecting examples of a tradition of that particular interpretation. 

Most ancients had a confused blend of notions including the entheogenic determinist enlightenment view, and I pick out that aspect and artificially isolate and elevate it, whether or not a vote of the ancients would concur with my view.  The best thinking of the best thinkers supports my view -- how do I know that's the best aspect of their ancient jumble of ideas?  My view or paradigm resonates most strongly within that particular circular phase-lock loop. 

I dub this the "paradigm resonance intensity" theory of hermeneutics.

Calvinism & single-future block universe

This section covers Calvinism, the block universe vs. the quantum multiverse, and the thinking skills that are required for achieving rational transcendent thinking.

sekhmet wrote:

>> I do not need to have an opinion either way. It is Michael who has expressed his own opinion, but the problem is he rambles and waffles so much you have to work hard to pin down what he is really saying.

I suspect that is a dishonest statement, you do not really think I ramble or waffle but are just evading my arguments because you are unable to refute them.  You're just bluffing and making up excuses to evade my points.  There is waffling and self-contradiction, but it's not mine.  My position is rich with the requisite distinctions, which I consistently maintain -- this is different than the true waffling I've seen by those who claim to reject any and all possible types of ego death.  In trying to hold such an untenable position, they end up waffling, when they are trapped when I try to pin them down.

sekhmet wrote:

>>[Block-universe ego death determinism is] a secular form of Calvinism. Calvinism is also not gnostic as it is opposed to gnosticism. 

George wrote:

>I read and understand the block universe theory. It is not Calvinism. Calvinism is a form of Christianity where God predetermines everything. The block universe is simply another name for the current scientific theory of infinite universes

No, the infinite universes idea is the "quantum multiverse", which has multiple futures.  The "block universe" as established in Einstein's relativity has a single, closed, even preexisting future.

George wrote:

>and there is nothing Christian about it. The theory is that whatever choice you make a copies of you in another nearby universes have made different choices. This continues until all possible choices have been made.

The single-future block-universe idea *is* associated with the debate about God's foreknowledge and our lack of metaphysical freedom that follows from God's foreknowledge.  The reason why God's foreknowledge is considered to kill our metaphysical freedom, the missing connecting link, is that God's foreknowledge implies that there is only a *single* future.  The implied reasoning is:

o  Given: God knows whether we are saved or damned.

o  Then: God knows what our future is.

o  Therefore: We have only a single, definite future.

o  Therefore: We cannot change our future.

o  Therefore: We have no metaphysical freedom.

If you define God like Mithras as residing outside the block universe, then God does make choices that are not subject to the rules of the prison-like block universe.  The initiate exits the block universe with and as Mithras -- or Jesus/God.  The gnostics talk of two gods, and it falls on you to keep track of which is which.  During initiation, we experience ourselves as being in a frozen-future block universe, and this is a life-or-death problem for the accustomed ego, and we pray to a god outside the block universe, and postulate and hope there is such a rescuer god, and we (like Gnostics) postulate and hope that we can change our identity to somehow step outside the block universe. 

But it is highly hypothetical, wishful, and (in a perfectly vague sense) "transcendent" to assert that we can actually step outside the block universe.  Is it *really* possible for the initiate to step outside the block universe, with and as the cosmos-transcending savior-god?  That is an issue for debate.

George wrote:

>Don't think all theories of predestination are Calvinism. That is simply not true. For example predestination is also a part of some variations the big bang theory which do not involve a god at all.


I do not ramble or waffle.  My statements have always been clear, explicit, simple as possible, and straightforward.  We have to distinguish between the apparent or practical way we "choose", and the determined nature of choosing.  There are multiple "possible" futures as far as we know, but there is only a single actual future. 

Such accusers would say the Gnostics waffle too, because the Gnostics talk about two Gods, one good and one bad.  This is simply a matter of keeping track of multiple definitions of a term, so don't call it "waffling".  Others in the conversation have truly waffled and do not retain distinctions between different usages of terms.  The orthodox criticized the Gnostics for saying orthodox creeds but meaning something different by their words.

The block universe and multiple universes are two different ideas.  The block universe posits a single, closed, preset, even preexisting future.  Multiple universes considers the future open in the sense of forever branching.  Perhaps each branch preexists - the book The End of Time seems to take this position.  But the block universe, which I endorse, is much simpler and a much smaller universe; in it, from the point of view of our knowledge, there are many virtually possible futures, but only one actually possible future: the one that already exists and has always eternally existed. 

I endorse simplicity as a principle for choosing between metaphysical systems, and I maintain that the single-future, non-branching block universe is simpler than the branching-future multiverse.  I endorse the block universe and reject the multiverse.  The latest development in quantum mechanics seems to be that the Copenhagenists are endorsing the multiverse. 

The multiverse is the kind of psychologically happy and ego-empowering response the Copenhagenists would pick when the directionality of time is challenged as it currently is.  People now are saying that time is an illusion.  The Copenhagenists respond by saying that there are multiple futures -- this empowers ego, they feel, and protects and preserves our metaphysical freedom.  I expect the anti-Copenhagenists (such as myself) to instead retain the early 20th-century idea of a single-future block universe.

In the block universe model (as used by Einstein, for example), posits a single, closed future.  This is always how I have defined the term.  I only *mentioned* the idea of multiple universes to reject it.  I don't think you could find a statement of mine endorsing multiple universes.  I would not have said such a thing because I have never liked the idea -- it is too complicated.  I seek the simplest system, which has a single, pre-existing future.

Neither do I constantly shift my terminology in different discussion groups.  Sometimes I discuss various usages of terms, but I keep track of these usages and differentiate them, and my own preferred usage is clear.  Higher thinking must be able to acknowledge and differentiate between multiple usages and keep track of them. 

Some people are not at that advanced level -- they are unable to understand the whole idea of multiple usages; they are unable to differentiate and keep track of multiple connotations of terms and pick one while rejecting the others.  To them, I may appear to be waffling when I say that the future is "open" in sense A but not in sense B, or when I say the ego "dies" in sense A but not in sense B. 

I have always clearly communicated which sense I endorse and which I reject.  Others are not good at keeping track of such senses of meaning, so they claim I "waffle".  What can I do but give up on such an audience that is unable to admit that there are multiple meanings of terms, and is unable -- or unwilling -- to keep track of which meaning I endorse and which I reject? 

Copenhagenists conflate the (positive) collapse of our knowledge about a particle's wave function with a change in the particle itself -- however, I don't think this is only due to a lack of philosophical skill; they are deliberately conflating the two senses of "wave function collapse" in order to promote a non-scientific agenda: stealing power for the mind, saying that consciousness collapses the wave function. 

That is what the Copenhagenists say -- it's not what I say.  I cannot trust people in these groups to read what I write.  They are more interested in distorting it than understanding it.  I mention the idea of multiple universes, then people claim I endorsed it.  If people can't keep track of that, there is no hope for communication. 

I *hate* the idea of multiple universes and never would have endorsed it, never would have done anything but mention the idea in order to reject it.

Read the Intro


I have to invent a better way to summarize my position, but much of my postings *are* clear summarizations.

The predestination aspect of Calvinism is correct according to my ego-death theory.  But the retaining of heaven and hell by Calvinism doesn't make sense -- Calvinism rejects metaphysical freedom, thus they must reject true moral responsibility, thus they sometimes admit that their heaven and hell is not about reward and punishment, but is only for "the glory of God".  That's the big mystery of Calvinism: what is the purpose of heaven and hell, if moral responsible agency is an illusion?

Now I have mentioned Calvinism and agreed with part of it, and disagreed with another part of it.  The fumbling thinkers online will say that I waffled on Calvinism, or that I am a Calvinist.  Please try to keep track of my clear points.  Do I waffle in the paragraph above?  Are my points so unclear as people evidently find them?  That paragraph is typical of the writing in my postings.  If you can't keep track of my position on Calvinism in the paragraph above, because I accept one part and reject another, then there is no hope for communication in these discussion groups.

My thinking is simple as possible and I know exactly what I think, and which aspects of conventional ideas I accept and which aspects I reject.  Ask me a question, and I can summarize my exact position.  My core theory has been complete for several years.  My final assessment is that people in the discussion groups are overwhelmed by the new combination of ideas and the new distinctions of terminology I introduce. 

I suppose it is not a complete waste of time to attempt to keep people clear on what notions I assert and what notions I reject.  Even though it is the fault of the readers that they cannot keep track of the distinctions I clearly make, I still should ideally take responsibility for being even clearer, but there is not much room for improvement in my clarity or simplicity of ideas -- my writing already is very clear and simple, despite the chronic problems inherent in semantics, where the same terms are involved in multiple competing networks of connotation.

Another good example of my clear statements but the fuzzy reading by others is when I said that the ego-death theory could be used for good or evil.  What more neutral, clear, simple, and practical statement could be made?  But despite quoting me correctly, some readers then said I endorsed its use for evil, while other readers said my words didn't mean that.

Those who saw it know what I mean and they cannot deny that I am being grossly misread as though some readers are blind to even the clearest statements.  With such willful and/or fumble-fingered misinterpretation, there is no hope for communication with such an audience.  Those who saw it have to admit my complaints and frustration are warranted. 

Time and again I have put a clear and simple position statement forward, only to see it read every which random way.  I do my part of writing as clearly as possible; people *have* to do a better job of reading clearly, and have to take responsibility for their confusion as readers.  I truly do not believe that my writing lacks clarity -- I think it is a shining example of clarity.

Fortunately, I do sense that people are interested in gaining a better understanding of my position on relevant ideas such as Calvinism and the quantum-mechanics multiverse.  As long as people are interested in gaining a clearer understanding, there is yet hope for communication.  One thing I can do, which is time-consuming but very effective, is to break up postings into short postings with an accurate Subject line.  Or, at least, add subheadings within the postings.

I have lost interest in the question of whether Jesus existed.  I read the Christ myth books -- it is established plenty well enough that we have no more basis for believing in the historical Jesus than for believing in the gods of Olympus.  It is unprofitable to pursue the "question" of Jesus' existence much further. 

Greater profit is to be had in examining the *meaning* of seeing and identifying with the spiritual Christ -- what does it mean to experience Christ, and how does that compare with the other mystery-religions?  This is the question deserving our full attention, the question which will profit us.  Experiencing Christ and experiencing the single-future block universe are closely related, as in the Mithraic experience of being born forth from the rock cosmos.

Order of salvation, grace, will-violation

Michael wrote:

>>Reason justifies our transcendence of Reason to ascend and be born out from the block universe, to exit the cosmic cave and be born into the realm of the highest God, a realm outside that of Reason and cosmic determinism.

C wrote:

>That is Grace (Charis). It is not from ourselves but from outside what we define as ourselves in the Kosmos.

I have a detailed conception of Grace in conventional Western theology, but not of Charis.  This official type of theology is relevant to your Gnostic points.  As always, we must be masters of word-networks.  It will never do to merely blurt words; we must define multiple networks of meaning *of* the words.  Individual words or isolated phrases can't be true or false; only word *networks*, defined networks of terms and meanings, can be true or false.

The Order of Salvation is that the alien hidden transcendent God takes the initiative first (and ultimately is the prime mover of all thoughts), gives His grace to us to make us want to be lifted up, or make us want to sacrifice the lower self-concept.  Transcendence or salvation happens through our mental action, yet at some level, we are always driven from beyond by Grace. 

I walk out of the cosmos by "my own effort", but each motion I do is driven by Grace as prime mover; as an agent with initiative, mine is always a null initiative, a mere secondary mover, which is the "self-initiative" that that puppet has.  Does the puppet walk off the stage by its own action?  Yes, but the nature of its own action is always merely secondary action. 

Some theologians talk of our being given a portion of God's free will.  I am able to define word-networks so as to agree, though that's not the way I prefer to describe the mind and world.  I prefer to promote the notion of "virtual free will". 

Regarding the Order of Salvation, I'm a hardline Calvinist, but am a mystic in my conception of what salvation, sin, heaven, and hell are.  Consistent bona fide Calvinism holds that the sinner is saved by repenting but the repenting is driven by the Holy Spirit as prime mover, and is only driven by the sinner in a completely weak sense -- the sinner is an empty secondary mover, a mere cog, a channel, a vessel. 

In practice, typical Calvinists promote isolated no-free-will concepts, but chronically *think* using an overall freewillist framework (they are Puritans who yet follow the self-willed Goat).

Salvation happens "through my action", where "through" is understood as an empty, passively driven conduit.  My action exists, but it's not primarily driven by "me" as egoic freewilling agent; I as ego am a mere renter of this dwelling.  The owner of the dwelling is the real actor and prime mover who moves me to move toward Him.  I can't take any primary sort of ownership for my action; I'm only an "actor" in the sense of a pretender of being a prime mover. 

All my action is a passive reaction, a secretly coerced action, coerced from a hidden plane so that I only secondarily initiate my action; my secondary initiation is driven by the prime initiator.  Salvation is not from my action -- salvation (Gnosis, enlightenment) is *through* my mental action but not where "through" is taken to mean "from" as a primary source. 

Salvation is through my mental action where "through" means my mental action is only a driven, secondary source, driven and turned and willed by Grace that is given or subtly coerced -- never against my will; much more subtle; there is no "my will" other than that will-orientation that Grace makes me have.  Some complain that such Grace forces us against our will -- but that complaint makes the mistake of assuming the reality of that sense of "our will". 

There simply is no "my will" beyond whatever Grace gives to me.  Grace creates and defines my will entirely, there can be no "my will" in addition to whatever Grace has put in me.

Freewill maudlin version of cancelling moral debts

The Jewish religion may have had more of an integral incorporation of ethics, forming a meaning-flipping system strongly focusing on flipping the meaning of ethics conceptions.  Pagan mystery-religions might not have centered their meaning-revealing dynamics on ethics. 

The statement "God so loved the world, he sacrificed his only son" seems inherently to imply, assert, and further entrench lower, egoic thinking: freewill moral agency.

In the lower, egoic reading of the Christian myth-religion, you always remain thought of as a freewill moral agent, and the literal punishment of the literal Jesus magically legally cancels your guilt, like a Jewish guilt-sacrifice of an animal.  For God so loved the world, wanting to save the freewill souls from deserved punishment in Hell, that he sacrificed his only, beloved son. 

This cleared (somehow) the guilt away from the freewill moral agents, making them morally spotless freewill moral agents, ready to stand before God in judgment on the last day, and pass the judgment, being clothed (somehow) with Jesus' righteousness -- the only freewill moral righteousness which meets God's perfect standards.

I don't know if other mystery-religions talk of cancelling sins or transferring them to a mythic figure -- did anyone other than the Jews use the language of "sin" as we hear it today, with the implication of freewill moral agency?  If everyone back then took no-free-will for granted, my theory of meaning-flipping about ethical concepts applies to later Christianity better than early Jewish proto-Christianity. 

The whole meaning-flipping system about "forgiveness of sins" may be original with Christianity, and its most distinctive character.  Or aspects of that may come from Zoroastrianism and Orphism, and Egyptian religion (weighing the soul can be read as conventional freewill moral agency judgment). 

The meaning-flipping contrast between freewill-type "good" and "evil" versus Platonic "truth" and "untruth" is surely found to some extent in many religions, but this was made the key theme or device of Christianity, early on -- almost a hyper-ethical religion.

The Stoics were highly interested in ethics, but believed no-free-will.  They may have found this meaning-flipping delightfully clever, intellectually.

Calvinism as covert strange-loop & endless regress

To be saved, what must you do?  You must have faith in Jesus.  But due to total depravity, you are constitutionally incapable of exerting the act of having faith in Jesus.  So, for that to happen, *God* must initiate the action, by giving you the grace to have faith in Jesus.  Not too bad, so far.  Now the vexing problem arises, never solved by any Calvinist: for God to give you grace, what must you do? 

How do the Calvinists answer this, officially?  They avoid it, and in practice, they say "assume it to be so!"  In other words, "have confidence that you have been given the grace that makes you have faith in Jesus and be saved.  Ok, so... and many poor souls were vexed with the next question: what must I do to have such confidence?  The Calvinist answer is, in effect, "don't be such a stupid-head!  You just cultivate confidence." 

Then the question is "what must I do to cultivate the confidence that I have been given the grace that makes me have faith in Jesus and be saved?"  The answer in practice is: works; attend church, follow the church codes of conduct.  So in practice the Calvinist solution is:

o  Attend church, take the placebo eucharist, follow the church codes of conduct.  This results in:

o  Cultivation of confidence, which results in

o  God giving you grace, which results in

o  You having faith in Jesus, which results in

o  You being saved

Thus, Calvinist salvation amounts to ritual magic just like the Romish religion: "Follow our rules of conduct and take the eucharist (which we might withhold from you if you disobey us, by the way); live the lifestyle we define.  Such conduct will enable you to have confidence to assume God has given you the grace to have faith and thereby be saved."

My point is not that Calvinist system is manipulative or logically inconsistent, but rather, that it is covertly an infinite regress or a strange loop -- a confused and distorted one, with exoteric and Literalist notions about religion and what salvation is.  Let us not forget that Calvinism says ultimately, there is nothing you can *do* to become saved, to become one of the elect. 

Either you are one of the elect, or you are not.  A person does not switch from being non-elect to elect.  So in that sense, there is nothing you can do to become saved.  No wonder the wild feral frontier preachers simplified all this to a system as incomprehensible, but at least simpler, of doctrinal naivite.  Instead of proceeding down the path of debate, they simply state the first step and stay there. 

"Just have faith in Jesus and you will be saved."  That is actually closer to a clean strange-loop, rather than the disguised strange-loop of the Calvinist authorities that -- so ironically -- end up with a Romish system of salvation through works, in practice.  At least the naive frontier preachers avoided works salvation, by avoiding theology altogether.  "Hear the gospel and simply have faith, end of discussion.  Don't let the devils complicate this gospel that saves and is freely available to all."

Professed vs. actual no-free-will thinking

Here is a well-made point by an Orthodox theologian.  This is not a consistent no-free-will Christian site like I've been looking for, but it's relevant because it points out the inconsistency of Calvinism, which officially rejects free will but still blames people as metaphysically responsible, egoic moral agents. http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ214.HTM

>We are left with to logically conclude that man's sinful actions originate entirely with God, and are not in the least bit contingent upon any choice of man -- including Adam's sin, because his fall was also foreknown "before" there was anything to foreknow other than God's eternal purpose. If this view were true, God would be without a doubt the source of sin; and man's actions being completely predetermined by God, to speak of free will is meaningless, because God's will is completely determinative.

>Any Calvinist willing to own up to these conclusions? If not, explain why. You can argue that your view is correct based on Scripture -- but you should at least just come out and admit that you believe God is the author of sin. If you cannot admit that, then you must explain foreknowledge in terms in which God is not the only active participant, simply playing out in history what he alone had decided to do.

Reformed doctrine is actually an inconsistent blend of official rejection of free will within an otherwise thoroughly freewillist mental worldmodel.  It basically takes the existing, egoic, freewillist mental worldmodel and then tries to slap on divine sovereignty as an afterthought.

The doctrine of no-free-will is the master heresy against the Roman Catholic authorities, who have wedded themselves to the false principle of free will.  "The devil" is free will -- that is, the entire mental worldmodel and way of thinking that is centered around the free will assumption.  To "cast out the devil" is to coherently reject the principle of free will and all that goes with it such as genuine moral culpability and metaphysical sovereign agency. 

The Roman Catholic *and* Reformed/Calvinist schemes of being devilishly incoherent mixtures of no-free-will and free will doctrines, a impure mixture of Man's ways (free will) and God's ways (no-free-will).  To become pure is to retain the no-free-will component of Roman Catholic doctrinal mess or Reformed doctrinal mess, while firmly and *coherently* and consistently rejecting free will *including* all that logically goes with it.

Many Catholic and Reformed theologians claim that true theology rejects free will, but the whole damned lot of them -- aside from a small remnant of more consistent thinkers -- are inconsistent and incoherent because they retain the freewill ways of thinking, the overall framework, even though they formally deny the freewill core. 

It's not enough to deny freewill (or to assert no-free-will); that is not a rebirth and transformation of thinking.  Similarly, philosophical determinists haven't necessarily transformed their thinking.  The experience of the Holy Spirit of loose cognition and ego death, in conjunction with studying a good, consistent theory of deterministic ego death, is necessary for a true transformation of thinking.  Otherwise you merely have a muddled, inconsistent way of thinking. 

I discovered and accepted the no-free-will principle long before my overall way of thinking was changed; the Holy Spirit cognitive state enabled me to see, to my horror, how grotesquely inconsistent my thinking about moral agency and responsibility still was.  Most Reformed thinkers formally affirm no-free-will, but retain the egoic, freewillist way of thinking about moral agency and responsibility, praise and blame, reward and punishment. 

This mental inconsistency may be the reason for the extreme neurotic obsession with the devil and possession during the Reformation era of 1500-1800.  It seems that the mental dissonance of formally rejecting free will while retaining all the rest of the freewill- implying egoic mental structures (guilt, praise, blame, egoic moral thinking) causes people to believe in devils, witchcraft, magic, and hell for punishment. 

In practice, the main choice is not between:

1A. Officially affirming free will

1B. Officially rejecting free will

but rather, choosing between

2A.  Actually embracing a mental worldmodel that thoroughly (if not logically consistently) integrates freewill thinking

2B.  Actually embracing a mental worldmodel that thoroughly (and logically consistently) rejects freewill thinking

Note that in 2B, that mature mind still possesses the childish, immature, or "demonic" (egoic) structures of 2A, while formally or religiously moving its center of gravity to the 2B framework.  In fact in practical mundane life, system 2A is used more often by the 2B mind than the 2B system.  The 2B way of thinking transcends and includes system 2A.

There are 4 combinations of {Official position about Free Will} versus {the Actual way of thinking one holds}.

o:fw, a:fw -- Officially affirms freewill; Actual mental worldmodel built around freewill.  Example: typical Catholic theology, pop Protestant theology (especially Evangelical, notoriously)

o:fw', a:fw -- Officially rejects freewill; Actual mental worldmodel built around freewill.  Example: typical Reformed/Calvinist theology.  (this is "sneaking in" freewill but on a massive scale)

o:fw, a:fw' -- Officially affirms freewill; Actual mental worldmodel built around no-free-will.  Example: some philosophical hard determinists that misleadingly label themselves "compatibilist" by defining freewill as a legitimate conventional illusion and practically justifiable social convention.

o:fw', a:fw' -- Officially rejects freewill; Actual mental worldmodel built around no-free-will.  Example: genuine saints, Radical Enlightenment (Spinoza), consistent philosophical hard determinists (they admit freewill could be considered a justified convention but emphasize that it is false), Stoic determinists

I was really surprised at how many conservative Protestant web pages casually and openly assert that we have free will -- that classifies those pages as "Evangelical" rather than correctly "Protestant".  Almost all conservative Protestants assert many freewill-implying ideas even while they officially reject freewill -- that doesn't surprise me, that everyone sneaks in freewill thinking, but what surprises me is that most Evangelicals are unaware that free will is even a hotly contested issue -- they take freewill for granted.

I'm not terribly concerned about refuting Evangelical thinkers; they are mere moralists, thoroughly lower Christians.  Where things get interesting is with the Presbyterians and other creedalist Calvinist/Reformed thinkers who emphatically officially reject freewill, yet whose thinking is dominated by egoic freewillist concepts and ways of thinking.  They are like I was when I discovered timeless block-universe determinism but hadn't yet seen how the bulk of my thinking, even my philosophical thinking, was still entrenched in freewill constructs.

In contrast to Wilber, who makes too many levels so that the pivotal main transformation is lost in the noise, I prefer two-level systems wherever possible.  But it seems that there are 3 levels of thinking about how the Christian is saved, and the middle level breaks into lower (freewill) and higher (no-free-will) varieties.

1. Salvation through works.  Freewillist.  We are saved by doing good things.  Else we are punished in hell for our guilt of doing bad things.  (Mennonite? "heresy").  This is mundane ethics that uses Christianity without even knowing the gospel at all.  This is the most childish, immature, naive form of sub-Christianity.  Sub- Evangelical.

2. Salvation through belief.  We are saved not by doing good things on the mundane plane, but rather by believing in Jesus. Else we are punished in hell for our guilt of rejecting Jesus.  Protestant.

2a -- Evangelical, Catholic.  Freewillist.  Ignorant wild itinerant preachers after the disestablishment of religion in the U.S. 1790- 1830.

2b -- Reformed/Calvinist.  No-free-will (officially, but not consistently).

3. Salvation through knowledge.  No-free-will (officially and thoroughly consistently)  We are saved not by doing good things, not by believing in Jesus spiritually, but rather by consistently believing in timeless determinism/no-free-will (such thinkers are "in Christ" and "sinless".  "Jesus" is the principle of timeless determinism, that is, the thorough no-free-will way of thinking.  Guilt is metaphysically unreal, so punishment in hell is inapplicable; we are in principle not culpable doers.  "Being in the kingdom of heaven" is knowing the timeless determinism, or no-free- will, system of thinking and perceiving.

I'm trying to generalize that radicals go all the way with no-free- will, while moderates (typically authoritarian social engineers who profit from oppression) balk and insist on an impossible blend that is dominated by freewill ways of thinking, combined with a constrained version of the no-free-will principle ("God's sovereignty").

The Moderate Enlightenment rather than the Radical Enlightenment.  The Moderate (or Mainstream) Enlightenment was a reaction by the authorities against the early, Radical Enlightenment (Jonathan Israel, 2001).

Magisterial Reformation rather than the Radical Reformation -- I need to see if some Radical Reformers rejected freewill more consistently than the Magisterial Reformers, who were heavily constrained and invested in the aristocratic domination hierarchy.  As Israel's book shows for the slightly later period of 1650-1750, the single point that was most absolutely unacceptable politically for the aristocrats and church authoritarians (Magisterial Reformers) was that consistent freewill rejects eternal punishment in hell -- how can we oppress the commoners if we can't threaten them with eternal punishment in hell?

Moody Christian magazine quits, strong determinism article

Moody Christian magazine quits after 103rd year, includes strong determinism article

Moody is quitting because no one reads it anymore; the magazine can't compete against "niche Christian magazines" (?) and the Internet.

This doctrinaire Calvinist article in the final issue of Moody magazine had hardly a trace of freewill thinking, such as blatant freewill moralism.  But we shouldn't be surprised to see the same author elsewhere speak in a way that betrays the persistence, in the heart of his thinking, of a clearly freewill-based moralism -- freewill-based in a way that directly contradicts hard determinism. 

Calvinism contains the equation of salvation with something like the conscious realization or deep affirmation of hard determinism -- but nevertheless Calvinism *also* often contains a type of freewill moralism that directly contradicts that very hard determinism which is officially put forward as the essence of salvation. 

Mere rational affirmation of determinism doesn't run nearly as deep as experiential regeneration in which comprehension of hard determinism goes all the way down to the inner core or heart of thinking, to the extent that determinism kills the beast, the inner dragon, and exorcises the demon of freewill-type thinking.

Determinism wins on all fronts: in rational philosophy; in mystic religion; in classic literature; and in official religion -- but in all of these, it is a struggle to *deeply* comprehend and grasp and affirm determinism, down to the heart of one's thinking.  Superficially affirming determinism is far from deep affirmation and intense experience of determinism.

Calvinist determinism is not complete into it changes into mystic determinism, which includes a wholesale revision of concepts about the nature of moral agency, salvation, regeneration, heaven, and hell. 

Calvinist determinism claims to espouse determinism (expressed as "predestination" and "deadness of the power of the individual will with regard to moving toward salvation"), yet the Calvinist's network of conceptual relationships among moral agency, salvation, regeneration, heaven, and hell is indelibly styled as a freewillist conception; the result is a freewillist conception of heaven, hell, salvation, etc., residing incongruously within a framework that is asserted to be determinist.

Digging Deeper: Motherhood, Apple Pie, and Predestination

Mateen Elass

http://www.moodymagazine.com/articles.php?action=view_article&id=1250 --

"The teachings of predestination, of divine election and reprobation, of divine foreknowledge, are not touted widely in American churches today, in part because they chafe against the swollen shoulders of human pride. They remind us that our lives are not our own, that Someone else can and does determine our destiny, that the universe does not revolve around our decisions.

... before the foundation of the world, God decides from among His creatures those with whom He will enter into a saving relationship. Those whom He foreknows He then predestines to an eternity of glory. Those so predestined He calls to Himself at some point in their earthly life, and in drawing them to a response of trust in Him grants them justification (i.e., forgiveness of their sins and reconciliation to Him). And finally those whom He declares righteous (because of the work of His Son), He unfailingly brings to eternal joy in heaven.

This promise of salvation is exceedingly valuable. Each sequence is guaranteed and accomplished by God. Nothing can prevent God from achieving His predestined purpose for the elect. Paul is so sure of this that even though the work of glorification is still future (from our vantage point), Paul speaks of it in the completed (past) tense: “those he justified, he also glorified.” Such grammar would be impossible unless God’s freedom to do as He pleases trumps every other event or choice, including ultimately the human will.

... Let us continue to affirm motherhood and apple pie, and all the other “good elements” of our culture. But let us jettison the deification of freedom of the will, and put in its place the sovereignty of God, with its fundamental and glorious corollaries of predestination and election."

Woodcut of Puritans worshipping Devil

Over the past month I finally solved, after some *years*, the puzzle of the meaning of the woodcut in Wilber's book Up From Eden, showing Puritans following the devil.  I often puzzled over that picture, for which Wilber only had a muddled and vague "psychological" explanation. 

I loathe such "psychology" or "psychologism" because it provides vague and really essentially spiritual explanations of puzzles that actually have a very much more definite and clear-cut logical solution.  Psychology "solves" such puzzles by escaping into a relatively misty and obscure type of mysticism.  Such Psychology-styled explanations only beg the question and push back the puzzle another level.

That woodcut is a puzzle for us.

Puzzle: Puritans unknowingly worship and follow the Devil.

Solution: Puritans officially adhere to a doctrine that rejects free will, yet Puritan moralism is essentially freewillist thinking, to the core.  In the cybernetic heart of Puritan thinking is freewillist thinking -- a freewillist mental model and network of meaning-interpretation -- even though there is a superficial veneer of no-free-will doctrine layered on top -- in fact *this*, it strikes me, is the most perfect mystic conception ever, of the phrase "a wolf in sheep's clothing": in other words, "a freewillist thinker who claims to adhere to no-free-will thinking". 

A hypocrite preaches no-free-will (God's all-sovereignty, nullity of ego), while practicing, in their style of thinking, thoroughly freewillist thinking.  "Practice what you preach" -- the intense religionist typically preaches God's all-sovereignty and the nothingness of ego, and yet, hypocritically and self-contradictorily, the religionist is *also* a conventional moralist who takes responsible moral agency and thus free will, for granted. 

Such thinking is oil-and-water thinking, a monstrous mixture of incompatible ingredients, preserved only by insanity; the reasoning mind preaches no-free-will and no ego and God's sovereignty, but the animal-natural mind persists as the possessing demon, claiming that egoic moral responsible agency is real.  The battle-cry of the insane, the demon-possessed: "Ego is unreal, kill it! hate it! resist it!" 

Balaam is an example of a demonic monstrous mixture of self-contradictory thinking.  The seer Balaam, on his way to curse Israel, is angry at his donkey-self that refused to move ahead along the path: "If I had a sword I would kill you right this instant, you have made a fool of me!"  The donkey-self said "But haven't I always carried you dutifully, and brought you even to this point?" 

Then Balaam's eyes were opened and he saw the angel of ego-death on the unavoidable path of Necessity ahead of him on his frozen spacetime worldline, on the fixed track of his eternally fixed stream of cognition with the free-will wielding ego floating outside it only as an illusory projection.  "I have sinned.  I will turn back if you wish. ... I must say only what God makes me say (in principle, since free will can't exist)."

Puritans are unknowingly devil worshippers because even though they claim God is sovereign, and even claim no-free-will, in practice and in reality their thinking is freewillist to the core: they are freewillist wolves (equivalent to self-willed goats) in sheep's clothing.  "Wolf" and "sheep" forms an opposite, a natural polarity, that really doesn't mean much in itself, but which is fully understood as standing in for the truly meaningful polarity: self-willed freewillist "goats" vs. non-self-willed, no-free-willist "sheep". 

The higher meaning of "wolf in sheep's clothing" is not "scheming manipulator with ill intent", but rather, "freewillist claiming to be no-free-willist".  To understand "wolf in sheep's clothing" in the higher way, consider it to be a poetic stand-in for "goat in sheep's clothing".

Islamic people who adhere to the freewill doctrine and try to submit their will to that of Allah are goats in sheep's clothing.  They say there is no god but Allah, and yet they sinfully act like gods, sovereign agents, because they adhere to freewillist doctrine and that style of thinking, or mode of thinking.  Thus they claim to worship Allah but they really worship "idols", the ego; they "worship only themselves", the Islamic Devil. 

That's the mystic meaning of "devil worship": the freewillist mode of thinking.  Most such religionists *claim* God is all-powerful and some even explicitly specify that the will isn't free, and yet, they worship the Devil -- they worship only themselves -- because their mode of thinking remains, despite all claims, freewillist at the core; they are angels on the outside and yet the Devil of freewill reigns in their cybernetic heart of self-control. 

The Devil says "I have free will, I control myself, I am a moral agent, I am ultimately responsible, God isn't to blame for my actions."  Such religionists are the Devil in Christ's clothing, or a demon in angels' clothing.

Why Church renounced Augustinian theory of will

Why did Catholic doctrine renounce the Augustinian system of trying to jam together freewill ethics with metaphysical no-free-will?  They wanted to better strengthen freewill ethics.  If the officials at all let on that freewill is just a conventional illusion, freewill ethics would collapse, risking social and political instability, which the power-mongers on top relied upon. 

They were not so foolish as to go up against transcendent truth (no-free-will), but they were intent on giving as much credibility to freewill moral ethics as to the transcendent truth of no-free-will.  Why was the medieval Catholic church, or Christendom, so terrified of admitting no-free-will, admitting the logical incoherence of freewill ethical agency? 

Admitting that freewill moral agency is a logically baseless convention and essentially an illusion would destabilize society, leading to an entirely dog-eat-dog power based society from top to bottom.  Remember the Victorian post-religious attitude at the dinner table: "Keep your voice down when you say there is no God; the servants might hear and give up conventional ethics, collapsing social order." 

Power mongers are never just out for themselves; in a way, they do have the interests of society in mind -- they want to live in an orderly society *and* to be on top of it.  Insofar as they want to be on top of it, they renounce freewill ethics and renounce morality for themselves, but to have something to be on top of, they promote freewill ethics and adherence to morality.

Possibly relevant books:

What Love Is This? Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God

Dave Hunt


Against Calvinism; against predestination of people to damnation or salvation, as reducing people to puppets of a harsh God.  As a determinist mystic, I was glad to see this evangelist shocked reaction against the essentially deterministic nature of Reformed theology.

Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God's Openness

Clark Pinnock


Complains that Augustinian theology was too pagan, too static, not responsive personal God, too deterministic.  Appears to contain interesting expose of the shocking things about the Hellenistic deterministic religious view.

Entheogenic Reformed theology

Finishing a study of Reformed/Calvinist theology -- definitely can reinterpret Calvinist theology more sensibly in terms of a gnostic/entheogen encounter with fatedness/predetermination. 

Determinism is *the main key* to philosophy of Hellenistic religion.  It's a mistake to think that the Jesus mythology is only a single mythic story; it's a super meta mythic story; the Jesus figure is an unlimited endless black hole into which *all* religious ideas can be connected; that's what the Catholic church needed and how they therefore designed the Jesus construct.  Entheogens connect directly to grappling with determinism.  Astrology is also directly connected to determinism/fatedness.

The Jesus mythic mess can only be understood when the puzzle of the entire Hellenistic mythic complex is cracked.  The latter is centrally concerned with entheogens and determinism.  As a theorist I want to be remembered for combining entheogens and determinism and the experience of breakdown of self-control or metaphysical autonomy.

Reform theology is right that salvation is predetermined, but wrong about what salvation is really about -- entheogenic encounter with determinism/fatedness, and the need to recover the semblance of sovereign autonomous control. 

Christianity was designed by absolute stoic fatalists, for a dual audience of ignorant moralists/freewillists (bless their naive childish souls) and enlightened fatalists/determinists; Christianity can only be understood from the point of view of one who would deliberately engineer delusion that yet has truth. 

The New Testament is engineered to deceive the unenlightened into moralist freewillist thinking, while remaining technically righteously affirmative of complete determinism.  As a writer of new testament scriptures, I word things in a way that deliberately deceives the uninitiated to protect and preserve their delusion of free will and moral culpability. 

Yet I also word things (the Greeks, as in Attic Tragedy, *loved* this technique of two contradictory systems encoding double-meaning) to express the deterministic, metaphysically fatalistic system of thinking.

Reformed thinking is correct about determinism but lacks inspired full-fledged experience of encountering determinism via entheogen use.  They know a little about fatedness and the metaphysical impotence of will, but they have not *experienced* fatedness. 

They are not saved.  To be saved, you must not just hear the words of the Gospel from men, but rather, *experience* what it means to be metaphysically dead and then raised up from the dead by and as Christ.  That baptism of apolytrosis is the only baptism that causes one to believe and be saved.  Belief without *experiencing* full-fledged metaphysical death is not saving belief.

My theology will be flawless per reform theology, but also bitten by the toxin-wielding, skin-shedding serpent of Gnostic thought and the entheogenic mystery religions.

http://www.reformnav.org -- rapid-navigation portal for drug policy reform sites

Timothy Freke is the co-author of the book The Jesus Mysteries and the new book Jesus and the Lost Goddess : The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians


Timothy wrote:

>This is a fascinating rant Michael - I can't wait to hear your thoughts on Jesus and the Lost Goddess.  I feel that, in different ways, we are both trying to come at the same realisation - and that it sounds like for both of us it is driven primarily by direct personal experience. You will find a different emphasis in our book to your thoughts, and we haven't engaged the entheogen question again, but I hope you may find that our ideas inform and complement your own.  For myself, I am sure that all this mythology and

philosophy is pointing to something extraordinary that anyone can see for themselves in the present moment.

There is a huge gap between philosophy of metaphysics and theory of spirituality.  Most theorists of spirituality seem to have never read any philosophy of metaphysics.  I will work to bring the camps together, such as cross-recommending certain books, as I have worked to bring entheogenists and mythic-Jesus researchers together. 

It has proven easy to bring the mythic-Jesus researchers to awareness of entheogens. 

It has proven less easy to bring some entheogenists to awareness of mythic-Jesus research. 

The attempt has not yet been made to connect the philosophers of metaphysics with the entheogenists, or with the mythic-Jesus researchers. 

Without experience, metaphysics lacks insight, and mythic-Jesus researchers can't grasp how the Jesus story is a description of what an initiate undergoes first-hand.  Conversely, the raw use of entheogens, without being informed by metaphysics theory or mythic-Jesus and mystery-religion research, adds up to nothing but empty fireworks and superficial, vague "spirituality" that can never move beyond the marshland of emotional feeling.

Reformed theology: "lost freewill in Fall, due to act of freewill"

With regard to Christian meaning, most research in self-control and freewill is found in the subject of Reformed/Augustinian theology, which amounts to an attempt to force together free will and determinism as a "mystery".  That approach is philosophically incoherent, and inconsistent, but generally and characteristically does things like saying we lost our free will with respect to our ability to choose faith. 

Reformed theory has no one position on how people can be strongly responsible moral agents while axiomatically assuming ("God's foreknowledge") a timelessly preexisting, single, fixed, frozen future.  Reformed theory is more of a project than a single position.  It's easier to characterize the project than to pick a single representative theory. 

Behind the distracting and confusing surface concepts of "God's foreknowledge" and "damnation", lies the actual key assumptions: there is a timelessly preexisting, single, fixed, frozen future; and people are strongly responsible moral agents.  *Those* are the underlying two irreconcilable tenets; the Reformed theorists come up with widely varying descriptions of how to combine these two uncombinables. 

Even a single theorist is inconsistent and garbled as they turn the problems at different angles.  "We fell through our free will, and now as a result, we have no free will, with respect to our salvation."  Such attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable result in a simultaneous rejection of strong free will and affirmation of a conception of personal responsible agency that necessarily implies strong free will. 

Some theorists sometimes in their clearest moments simply reject the entire notion of metaphysical free will, but they can never go all the way and consistently retain this view and align their other thoughts coherently with this.  Basically Augustine was offered a lucrative position if he could put forth a system that appeared to affirm both that there is a timelessly preexisting, single, fixed, frozen future; and that people are strongly responsible moral agents. 

The Reformed theorists even waffle on so simple a point as whether or not God is directly or indirectly the author of evil.

Puritan cognitive dissonance, diablocentric psychology

Michael wrote about beliefs:

>>>...when one poses as holding them tightly, that may indicate one is actually covertly holding them loosely (doubting them, and projecting that doubt onto other people).  I think the Puritans had deep doubt about Jesus and the presence of the supernatural God, and this manifested as great belief in the Devil -- "if only we can manage to believe fervently in the Devil, we have religion".

Melody wrote:

>Michael, this was soooo brilliant that you've got me ROTFLMAO. Utterly quotable, too. :-)

I'm trying to remember what book emphasized that *every* document (legal and governmental) of the Puritans was packed with references to the devil.  Perhaps the wonderful, readable _Martin Luther_ biography by Richard Marius.  Ken Wilber's book Up From Eden has a section on the Puritans and the devil -- I have to read it again to figure out what he's trying to say.  I do like his portrayal of the devil as being half-animal, half-human (half-rational, I would say).  Halfway up the ladder of psychospiritual development.

I have not worked seriously on the problem of what drove the Puritans to so reify the devil and build a fully diablocentric religion.  I haven't actually read any study of the Puritans.  That could be interesting, because the devil is the ego, the animalistic way of thinking about ourselves as morally culpable, self-moving agents -- sovereign prime movers. 

Half-digested ideas about Calvinist predestination must have something to do with it.  They held onto conventional moral thinking, though it directly contradicts their fervently held Calvinist predestination, lack of free will, and God's sovereignty and foreknowledge.  Here are people in a heightened and extreme form of self-contradiction. 

Instead of leading to transformation and transcendence, as Wilber would say, the tension was not correctly resolved, and regression or worse resulted -- breakdown and psychosis, paranoia, magical thinking, and witch-hunting their own neighbors."

Openness Theology, Honest Exclusivism,  Authentic Religion

As openness theology has stepped forward and become the dominant assumed form of evangelical Christianity, many young readers are astonished to find that the Reformation, or Reformed theology, was essentially determinist.  As I would put it, in openness theology, God is a big egoic controller in the sky, who knows not what the individual ego will do, and the egoic self has the power to bring the egoic self into salvation by the act of faith in the historical Jesus. 

In Reformed theology, God determines everything, and decides who to save, and injects faith and grace into the totally spiritually inert sinner.  The Reformed person would exclaim "Thank God, he's given me faith!" while the Openness person would exclaim, "Thanks to me, I have put together faith!"

There are many issues dividing the apparently monolithic Christian belief system, including the problem of whether one can attain salvation in a non-Christian religion.  I think the biggest division, though, is the recent Openness Theology "heresy" that positions itself against the most determinist form of Calvinism. 

Theology has strong determinist tendencies, but its moralism tendency always insists on mixing in some freewill thinking, excusing such blatant inconsistency by admitting in the end that "it's a mystery" -- that is, by admitting that the result is a self-contradictory system.  Conservative Christians think most Christians are damned, and aren't really among the saved.  I agree, in a mystic sense; few indeed are the consistent Calvinists, and they lack mystic comprehension. 

William James' father was a consistent, determinist Calvinist, denying freedom of the will.  James' expression "iron block universe" was created to refute the idea of fixed fate.  Whatever one's position on the matter of the freedom of the will and the nature of moral responsibility, I concur with Martin Luther in congratulating Erasmus: "You're wrong, but thank you so much for stepping up and addressing the real, central issue." 

Openness theology is incorrect, and Calvinism is incorrect -- mystic determinism is correct.  Just as I reject conventional causal-chain determinism, which is the conventional conception of determinism, so do I reject Calvinistic determinism -- together with the Calvinistic conception of what sin, salvation, heaven, hell, and the Eucharist mean.

Transcendent thinking is so very flexible with networks of word definitions, it would be possible to affirm much in both Openness and Reformed theology, while systematically adjusting each term of either system.  When reading theology and myth, *everything* depends on networks of word-meanings.  In the mystic altered state, the revelation is essentially a matter of the end of the world of one network of word-meanings and the start of a different network of word-meanings. 

This alternative network of word-meanings is a learned conceptual language.  This is my most recent area of theory I've worked heavily on and have secured: how to read religious writings from a consistently, entirely, radically mystic altered-state interpretive framework rather than from the conventional, hopelessly literalist interpretive framework. 

Every word must be completely reconceived -- not just a few words here and there.  You can't just keep a conventional framework and swap out a the meanings of a couple terms.  The entire old system of thinking must go, including the standard liberal "demythicizing" versions as well as the supernaturalist versions. 

So I now know how the mystic mode of reading basically works -- particularly the entheogenic-mystic mode of reading, which is, if not the historically most popular and dominant mode, at least the most valuable, coherent, and meaningful mode of reading.  Having just established and proven that this mode of reading provides a consistent solution to finding a rational interpretive system, I feel a rapid drop-off in the value of further reading about theology, myth, and religion. 

My theory of reading has reached closure and confirmation.  More detail always helps, but the basic theory of religious reading won't change.  I value above all, coherence and clarity.  Right or wrong, provable or not, the main attributes of a good theory is that it is coherent and clear.  If someone disagrees with my theory, I don't care -- but if they criticize it as incoherent or unclear, I would take issue. 

It doesn't matter whether anyone agrees with the framework I'm defining; all I intend is to establish its clarity and plausibility.  That's my banner, for research in core ideas: "Clarity and coherence, above all."  The worst criticism of my theorizing, after some further polishing, would be "I don't understand what his theory is asserting."

There are many aspects of philosophy and religion, but the core of philosophy I promote is my core theory of ego transcendence as delineated in my Intro page, and the core of religion is the entheogenic network of word-meanings as I have been defining. 

Combine that core philosophy of ego transcendence with the theory of religion as essentially originating from entheogenic network of word-meanings, and all the other aspects of philosophy and religion can be filled into the interstices of this explanatory framework of philosophy-religion.  Thus there is room for alternative triggers for mystic cognition, where I hold entheogens to be the original primary method and main reinvigorator rather than an alternative method. 

And there is room for astrotheology -- easy enough, since the mystic state is like a cosmic voyage and astrotheology is centrally concerned with problems of fate and cosmic determinism.  It is incorrect to make astrotheology the foundation and basis of the religions; entheogens and no-free-will make a more plausible and encompassing foundation.  The third part of the foundation, it must be explicitly pointed out, is the extremely non-Literalist understanding of the religions, much less Literalist than most liberal conceptions of religion. 

Most liberal conceptions of religion merely amount to a conservative supernaturalist version of a the liberal position; it is liberal only when compared to supernaturalist Literalism.  There are two dominant versions of religion: supernaturalist Literalism, and non-supernaturalist Literalism.  Both are far from understanding religion, which is only correctly understood when conceived of in a purely non-Literalist way. 

As a negative example, one Buddhism book I've been reading was written by two Westerners and it reads like it: they have rejected Christian literalism and embraced Buddhist literalism, gaining nothing of higher knowledge.  Instead of cheering for Mr. Jesus, they now cheer for Mr. Buddha.  Instead of telling all about the Historical Jesus (who didn't even exist in any significant sense), they now tell all about the life of the Historical Buddha. 

Instead of putting forth nonsense and confusion from the Christian system, they now put forward that exact same type of nonsense and confusion from the Buddhist system.  Dense and clueless Christians have converted to dense and clueless Buddhism.  I smell the same mode of Literalism and missing the point in the Buddhism books as in the Christian books.  One system of cluelessness and thick-headed missing of the point has been swapped for another, gaining no insight. 

Then there is religious pluralism, which blends together the tepid moralism and non-religious ethics and Literalism from all the religions, strips out some of the supernatural myth, and claims that the result is universal truth -- usually giving some lip-service to the need to experience deeply this truth, but talking around the fact that the only universal, ergonomic, and reliable way to do this is through entheogens.

The most looming question now, in fact about the only question now that I have, is, in what exact sense is entheogenic discovery of no-free-will and no-separate-self "the real meaning" of religion, given that so much of de-facto religion has been concerned with something other than that?  In one definition, religion is whatever people suppose it is. 

By my definition, religion in its deepest essence and foundation is only the entheogenic discovery of no-free-will, and everything else is degradation and accretion and distortion of that real religion.

I have found one theology book that might be worth reading, given that I've already confirmed my theory of the mystic reading mode.  It attempts to affirm Christian theology, including some kind of exclusivism, while also affirming the full validity and salvation potential of other religions.  Most attempts at pluralism formally reject exclusivism, yet there's really no escape from exclusivism.  Even New Age inclusivism is covertly exclusivist, because it excludes all exclusivist religion. 

So, per Ken Wilber as well, we must accept exclusivism and pick the right kind of exclusivism.  I advocate this exclusivist religion: those who are with entheogenic no-free-will are the saved, and the rest are the damned.  All that is presented within my particular mystic altered-state network of word-meanings, not within a conservative supernaturalist Literalist Christian network of word-meanings.  This is hard to do these days, to be honest and forthright about what form of exclusivism you hold to. 

People are afraid of exclusivism, forcing it into the shadow of the unacknowledged.  We think that to hold a belief is to kill other people in a religious war; we think that to avoid killing people in a religious war, we must not hold or advocate any beliefs.  If you advocate inclusivism, you're bedeviled by the shadow of excluding the exclusivists -- this leads to the nominal inclusivists on one side, and the nominal exclusivists on the other, killing each other in a religious ideological war. 

But, recalling the great flexibility of transcendent thinking, which transcends and operates on networks of word-meanings, either side is inclusivist in some sense and exclusivist in some other sense.  The futile attempt to stifle and deny our beliefs, our necessary exclusivism, won't help.

Enlightenment is worthless, so being among the philosophically-religiously saved or the damned is worthless.  I hold that the people who agree with my entheogenic-mystic, block-universe, no-free-will view of philosophy-religion are to be counted as saved, and the rest as damned, but nothing of value is at stake.  In ordinary religious wars, money and power and the afterlife or next life are at stake.  There is nothing to be gained from enlightenment except for mere enlightenment. 

Enlightened people are only better than unenlightened people in that they are enlightened and the others aren't.  Some New Age inclusivists promoting hyper-egalitarian humility in Buddhism may object and become religiously angry, and tear their priestly robe, when I say the most taboo saying, more taboo than anything Mr. Historical Jesus said.  I am enlightened.  Isn't that considered more offensive and blasphemous a statement than seen in any newsgroup flame war? 

I've seen it flat-out asserted -- as a dogmatic truth in-principle -- that anyone who says "I am enlightened" cannot possibly be enlightened.  This is one indication of how far today's knowledge is from understanding what's important.  There are so many arbitrary assumptions, forming a rigid network of assumptions, expressions, and word-meanings -- an entire language of spirituality that serves to block access to significant spirituality. 

There are poor dogmas, poor assumptions, when we need good dogmas and good assumptions.  A good dogma and assumption is that networks of word-meanings are all-important, and you can't tell what is in the mind that utters a statement.  Going against a simplistic philosophy of linguistic analysis, I maintain that a sentence doesn't have a truth value or an inherent purpose.  If someone says "I am enlightened", by that alone, we can't conclude or assume anything. 

We don't know if the statement is true or false, or what purpose if any the statement has.  In particular, there is no such thing as an inherently egoic statement.  More upsetting still is the proposal that there is no such thing as an enlightened way of personal conduct.  Strictly speaking, transcendent knowledge has nothing at all to do with being an ethically good person; rather, it is just a tool, just a thing, just a knowledge-set, just another college course. 

I've always pointedly agreed with Alan Watts that the enlightened man may very well ride off with the farmer's ox.  The debate about free will and determinism largely boils down to two different views of what philosophy is for -- morality, or knowledge.  Similarly, there is a potential deep contention in the field of enlightenment regarding what enlightenment is for -- morality, or knowledge.  Most Christians assume that Christianity is about being moral -- exercising moral conduct. 

That version of Christianity is a system of personal control in the sense of mundane ethics rather than a system of enlightenment *about* the nature of control.  Similarly, most New Age American Buddhists make that same basic mistake, trying too much to mix a lot of mundane ethics with a little enlightenment. 

I believe that ethical conduct is very good, but higher religion is not about exercising mundane ethical conduct; higher religion is about profound insight into the illusory nature of personal moral agency.  Religion is really about metaphysics, not ethics.  More exactly, high religion is about enlightenment about the metaphysics of personal moral agents.

There is such a large network of meaning, word-meanings, and assumptions around that utterance.  It's enough to start wars.  To join my cult, you have to correctly say I am enlightened and say of another that they are enlightened.  But to say those correctly, everything hinges on networks of word-meanings.  However, it's really not difficult to understand the transcendent network of word-meanings. 

Enlightenment is worthless and no big deal.  The whole world will be enlightened as soon as we kill enlightenment by ceasing to worship the idea -- by taking it down off its pedestal of unattainability. 

When we conceive of enlightenment as something that *doesn't* bring ego power and that *doesn't* cure all our ills as a panacea, and that is not such a surpassingly difficult and commendable accomplishment, then the whole world will have it -- under the condition that it's no longer like an idol, worshipped.  It's just enlightenment.  I'd like to read more about the controversial book "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry". 

The book Rational Mysticism may have a similar view, calling into question the value of enlightenment and whether it can be considered good.  I suppose my concise and specific model of enlightenment is equally useless for the good guys and the bad guys alike.  Enlightenment, as an intellectual puzzle, is solved by reducing the problem to what's relevant -- the metaphysics of the illusory free-will moral agent, rather than the distinct subject of mundane ethical conduct. 

Only when these two are pulled apart can the metaphysical problem be solved.  There are three problems: two are hard, for different reasons, and the other -- with the right tools -- is easy.  The problem of the nature of consciousness is intractable -- extremely difficult; hard to even get started.  The problem of mundane ethical conduct and personal self-control is difficult: people keep on being bad, and self keeps being intransigent, escaping its own control-systems. 

But, when those other, hard problems are stripped away, the remaining problem of the nature of free will, and religious revelation, salvation, and enlightenment, is easy and straightforward, when informed by the Humanities and Sciences and the mystic state of loose cognition.  It's reduced to a mere metaphysical modelling problem, requiring mainly a shift in the mind's network of word-meanings and conceptual association matrixes.

I don't know if I'd yet claim to have a theory of the dynamic relationships between mystic-entheogenic religion, official Literalist religion, and superstitious/magical religion.  I say that only mystic-entheogenic religion is real, high religion.  But historically, these approaches have been jumbled together as much as possible, so it may be somewhat *artificial* to single out one thread of the tapestry as pure, high, and superior. 

But that is the task I've taken on for years: given this nonsensical mish-mash of profundity of intimation and sheer absurdity, together called religion, what is the sense in it?  What aspect of this devil's blend is truth, among all the error and nonsense?  What does discernment find of value in this noxious mixture?  In religion, everyone agrees it's all an issue of discernment (except for hardcore humanists who reject the possibility of religion containing any real insight). 

My attitude, as explained to a conventional Christian family, is that "surely there must be *something* insightful in Christianity -- I don't sense that it's *entirely* bad and false." 

By now, I have found a small but decent number of books advocating a more or less purely esoteric and mystic reading of Christianity -- typically, for example, these emphasize the Crucifixion as not depending on a substitutionary sacrifice of a Historical Jesus, but rather, being first and above all a mystic-mythic metaphor for sacrificing the mind's exclusive embeddedness in the lower way of thinking in order to develop into the mature, higher way of thinking.

Perhaps there's nothing to such a theory of the relationships of the competing notions of religion.  The best and loftiest part of religion is inspired through entheogens and concerns transcending egoic thinking.  Such minds are highly creative in forming and interpreting mythic allegories for mystic altered-state phenomena.  This is an aspect, a dimension, of religion that is the best. 

That's not to say that a set of particular individuals formally systematized this view.  The view I point out lies in the religion, not necessarily in particular minds and formalized systems of philosophical theory.  When I say the best, the most important, most original form of Christianity is entheogenic, purely allegorical mysticism, that is not to say that there were groups that had a pristine, clear, systematic, formal theory such as I'm pulling together. 

Most groups and most individuals during most of their lives most likely had a mishmash of magic, myth, legend, superstition, mundane ethics, and allegory, and various methods of altered states, just as today.  Religion has always been an impure mixture of lower and higher religion.  The best version of religion may not have ever existed in pure form, always only in various mixtures of pure and impure form.  There has always been tug-of-war constantly forming each religion throughout history. 

The entheogenic metaphysical *dimension* of religion has always been present and has always been the most true, inspired, and important dimension, though that dimension has always been mingled with more or less inferior dimensions.  I also respect non-entheogenic methods of triggering the mystic altered state, as long as they are not elevated at the expense of the venerable, highly effective, fast, practical, and reliable entheogenic method. 

The entheogenic metaphysical dimension is the most venerable, pure, and original -- (and authentic?) -- dimension of religion.  That may be a good debate: is the entheogenic metaphysical dimension of religion the most authentic dimension of religion?  In some respects, at least, yes.  If so, the opposite type of religion, to be belittled, would be the non-entheogenic, non-metaphysical dimension or version of religion, such as a combination of long-term, non-rational prayer-contemplation and mundane ethics.

Wilber would advocate authentic religion defined as genuinely or actually transformative religion.  Then we'd compare how actually transformative is a religion of long-term non-rational prayer-contemplation and mundane ethics, versus how actually transformative is a religion of entheogenic metaphysics. 

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=authentic -- not counterfeit or copied.  Bona fide, real, genuine, true, unquestionable, not of doubtful origin.

Networks of word-meanings are all-important: what kind of "transformation" do people *expect* from religion?

The New Age American Buddhist worldview expects one kind of "transformation" to result, that drastically differs from some other possible conceptions of "transformation" such as the determinism of some systems.  In fact that American Buddhist view is so shocked by the proposal of no-free-will, it seems set apart from most other religions and cultures, who are used to associating fate and religion. 

American Buddhists are the most religiously naive, this way -- which is odd, since historically, American Christianity is largely Protestant, and Protestantism often put the accent on the sovereignty of God, and predestination, rather than on the free moral agent. 

American post-Christians are even out of touch with their own supposed religious roots; they've gone on to invent a naive freewill and mundane-ethics version of Christianity, of New Age religion, and of Buddhism -- they've missed out on the higher dimension of entheogen religion, historical proto-New Age esoteric religion, and Christian and Buddhist religion, while they advocate religious pluralism. 

They end up promoting religious pluralism of all the lower forms of the religions, certainly not of the highest forms of the religions.  Religious pluralism of the lower versions of the religions isn't bad, but profound religious pluralism would be a matter of finding the entheogenic no-free-will aspect, and purely mythic, not historical aspect, of all the religions. 

The lower, official half of each religion is Literalist, non-entheogenic, and concerned with freewill morality and mundane ethics.  The higher, mystic half of each religion is mythic-allegorical, entheogenic (or post-entheogenic, or entheogen-positive -- entheogen-accepting, not demonizing), and concerned with recognizing the illusory nature of freewill moral agency. 

That's the value-system, interpretive framework, and assumption-system I'm advocating.  Does anyone agree?  I don't care.  But I do hope it is clear and coherent and specific.  I just don't want anyone to be unsure of what I'm saying.  You might ask what exactly do I mean, what's my network of word-meanings, by saying that entheogenic no-free-will religion is "higher religion" -- does that mean that non-entheogenic techniques for triggering the mystic altered state are "lower" or "inauthentic"? 

Does that mean that almost nothing that we call religion is real or higher religion?  Does it mean that almost no one has ever practiced or known anything of real, high, authentic religion?  Those are productive questions.  Hopefully my view about interpretive frameworks or incommensurate paradigms is very clear: there's no way to prove to committed minds that Literalist Christianity is incorrect and entheogenic mystic Christianity, as a framework and worldview, is correct. 

The only thing that can be challenged, proved, or demonstrated is the coherence of a theory -- even "plausibility" counts for little, compared to the power of a consistent framework.  In the Literalist Supernaturalist framework, it's fully plausible *as defined within that framework* that Jesus existed as a single historical individual and that he bodily died and miraculously rose again and ascended in a quasi-physical body to a place, Heaven. 

"Plausibility" is totally paradigm-dependent and is therefore useless, compared to the all-powerful construct of a paradigm.  In the end, we have a beauty contest of subjective judgements, between paradigms.  We can hardly ask "which makes more sense" because that too is paradigm-dependent, or is reducible to paradigm-dependence.  

The pure postmodern position must be that it boils down to a beauty contest of existentially subjective judgement.  You must take mature ownership of this fact, your existential responsibility for pulling criteria out of thin air.

This paradigm of timeless frozen block-universe determinism packs a punch during loose cognition -- that's the only kind of "proof" or "verification" of its truth that's important.  It can be felt as more coherent than one's previous, egoic thinking.  But coherence is reducible to being paradigm-dependent. 

Is my paradigm more coherent than supernaturalism or ethical freewillism -- who can say?  There's no absolute measure of coherence of a paradigm, as a standard that is separate from and independent of all paradigms.

The dualistic notion of 2 gods (the lower creator and higher transcendent good god) may make sense given that the world is fully fixed and predetermined. 

If evil is in the world but no human agent is ultimately responsible for their actions, you can only be resentful of the world itself, Ground of Being itself, or creator of the world -- not the agents created -- and can only respect a radically transcendent God such as may be postulated during a mystic-state crisis in which your own personal actions are seen as forcefully, frozenly forced upon you by the frozen world-block.

Wilber drawings: Jesus' unsacred heart, freewill devil religionists


Shows Reformed-theology-spouting Puritans following the freewillist devil

(Wilber has no theory of the picture worth repeating, just some Freudian body


That picture is from the book "Up From Eden", p. 210


Horrible, bogus, completely nonstandard and deviant, nonauthentic drawing of Jesus' heart with no thorns or speared side with blood flowing out

Up From Eden p. 245

Book: Up From Eden

Ken Wilber



Original cover:



Home (theory of the ego death and rebirth experience)