01 January 2016

Biblicism, Transgenderism and Epistemological Chaos

While many conservative and Christian cultural commentators will speak of the dominance of postmodernism I would argue that particular category and the relativism that goes with it is really limited to sociological questions, hermeneutics and ethics. When it comes to most interpretations of reality, Scientific Realism and Modernism still reign. The postmodern thinker will most certainly subjectivise the interpretation of that reality but the scepticism rooted in postmodernism is largely shared with Scientific Realism (Materialism) and its commitment to inductive epistemology.

Not all postmodern thinkers embrace monistic or naive realism in the realm of epistemology. That is to say some will adhere to forms of representative realism akin to Cartesian or Substance Dualism. Do we directly experience things or are they filtered through our mind and ideas? If the latter is true, then our perceptions and experiences of reality are to some degree mind dependent. It has rightly been argued this track leads both to Idealism and subjectivism. Nevertheless for Cartesians they believe this view accurately reflects the reality of things as they are. One can still be a Realist and hold to Dualism. The question for such philosophers is how to bridge the gap and bring perceived knowledge in line with reality.

I would argue this view leads to Scepticism as does the Empiricism with which it was so often juxtaposed. Kant's synthesis while noble in intent and profound in no way solves the problem. For many it has accentuated the divide leading to Idealism and the contemporary Analytical-Continental split.

Like many of the Cartesian and Jansenist thinkers of the 17th century, I will happily embrace a form of Scepticism as it negates and destroys all of man's attempts at explanation and quantification of reality. It reduces man's knowledge to forms of arbitrary and contextualised dogma or scepticism and in the end destroys the whole of the philosophical project. I consider this to be a positive. Scepticism is not an end but a means to break man's philosophical and idolatrous project. It leads man to a despair which apart from Christ is only right and proper. Or it can lead that man to consider the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord.

As I've mentioned before I believe the only two viable and honest options for man status post lapsum are Nihilism or the embrace of Revelation. All philosophical roads will lead (in the end) to Scepticism and the implications of that dark mindset, that inescapable trap, can only mean an embrace of Nihilistic thought. Materialists live in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance and self-deception in trying to tease out and apply universals and meaning to a world that is (to them) little more than a chaos of molecules. Materialism in the end (just as much as its supposed opposite Idealism) leads to solipsistic isolation and delusion. All philosophical systems are forms of Idealism, are reductionist and do not accurately reflect reality.

The world of course rejects Christ and tries to find meaning in a universe apart from Him. Scientism even with its inherent scepticism tries to find meaning in 'becoming', in discovery, in the promise of inductive knowledge. It's a pipe dream. Any Existentialist will tell them that. Even the Existentialist quest for meaning in authentic experience proved to be little more than trying to extract meaning from a Nihilistic reality.

What is very strange is that many people seem to embrace both Scientism and Postmodernism at the same time. Our culture's ascendant Transgenderism has removed gender from physicality, which in itself is strange because Scientism being Materialist in its worldview understands reality as physicality. Thus it's hard to understand that gender can be detached from the physical and can become a mind-dependent ideal. Materialism rejects mind-body dualism viewing the mind as epiphenomenal at best.

They have tried (in vain) to escape this dilemma by defining gender as a mere social construct, something contextual and wholly subjective.

So then why do those adhering to Scientism tend to grant validity to that which isn't reflecting the real, in the sense of being empirically verifiable and falsifiable? If gender is purely social, the concept itself from a Materialist and Evolutionary standpoint ought to be rejected as outlandish as religion or some kind of fairy tale. One would think that androgyny would be an ideal and perhaps for some of them it is. But that's certainly not what's happening with transgenderism. While they take on characteristics that may seem (to us) as androgynous, they are in fact clearly and deliberately identifying as a specific gender.

I'm not saying I accept their criteria but by their own standard I find it impossible that a Scientific Realist/Materialist could accept transgenderism. Why don't they denounce it as pure illusion, a fantasy or delusional pathology embraced by the person who refuses to accept the real?

If Science is willing to accommodate the creation of one's own reality, if it validates a type of delusion and solipsism, i.e. I create my own reality in defiance of all evidence to the contrary, and no one but me can validate it, then they have abandoned their own epistemology both in terms of attainable knowledge and the means to verify it.

If gender is a purely social construct divorced from sexual physicality, then why (assuming their position) does every species develop two sexes, both being necessary for reproduction? While we all will grant there is pleasure in the act of coitus, it is primarily linked to reproduction. Even an Evolutionist must grant that a species' primary telos is the propagation of its own species. If there is a materialist moral imperative that can be defined as universal or categorical it is this.

Will Scientism grant that if I 'feel' like I'm of another race then that should be accepted as such? Of course we might become entangled in the question of what is race and who defines it. But what if I 'feel' like my arm doesn't belong? Should medical doctors be compelled to remove it for me? These questions as insane as they might be, are now on the table. We have entered a realm of madness and incoherence.

Gender while in part defined socially is most certainly bound to one's physicality. We can like de Beauvoir speak of 'woman' meaning something more than physicality (being a mature female) and yet apart from that physicality even her broader sociological definition and the type of consciousness attached to it are meaningless. Does the concept of 'woman' even make sense apart from the physical reality of being female?

Transgenderism says 'yes' but has no basis to say so unless both commonly acknowledged, verifiable and even transcendental definitions of reality are abandoned.

I think it can be argued Scientism is at best a reductionist grid by which to see the world. It cannot account for the complexity of human nature, let alone metaphysical basis necessary to explain existence or ethics.

A brief recapitulation is in order. Postmodernism travels parallel to Scientism in our culture and both express forms of Scepticism. From the standpoint of the Gospel and its claims this doomed epistemology is not all bad but apart from the embrace of Revelation it can only lead to incoherence and Nihilism. While Postmodernism shares a sceptical epistemology, instead of embracing concepts like progress and 'becoming' it actually undermines Science's ability to form certain conclusions. When it does embrace Scientism as a means of verification (i.e. Science 'proves' that gender is sociological, perhaps environmentally conditioned in the brain and not tied to one's physicality), then once again, there cannot be any certainty, but at best a form of subjectified probability.

And if Materialism views us as more or less machines, mechanistic structures that only falsely retain some notion of individuality and meaning, and if morality is viewed as that which relates to species propagation and advancement, then how can transgenderism be viewed as something moral, of utility or conducive to the advancement of the species?

If it's an evolutionary mechanism for population control how is that morally justified? Isn't the manifestation of homosexuality and transgenderism a case of mutation and aberration even under that premise or paradigm? Isn't it a condition only developed under species duress or threat? Isn't it indicative of degeneration, a sort of necessary evil even in the evolutionary paradigm?

If some form of duality is embraced, and transgenderism seems to necessitate it, then the argument is also lost. Idealism whether individualistic or some form of corporate historicism still provides a basis to reject their claims.

Individualistic rejections of transgenderism would philosophically have as much credence and validation as those who make positive claims. If reality is subjective then my rejection of your transgenderism is every bit as valid as your claims to it. The question either cannot be resolved or must be answered in another way.

In terms of social or dialectical historicism, our contemporary transgendered people may claim they are on the 'right side of history' and that culture, the process of becoming and thus reality point in their favour.

Well, as unpleasant as it is to argue this way, there's no reason to accept their idealistic claims as exclusive. Another might come along with a different meta-narrative and thus in order to see his version fulfilled he might build a nation, army and culture to exterminate transgendered people and all others that particular ideal claims as threatening or somehow incompatible. The 'right side of history' argument is subjective and sociologically speaking political. Does might make right? We've tried Social Darwinism and though today our modern Evolutionists try to ignore it, they cannot escape neither its inherent presence in their system nor its implications.

The internal contradictions of Western culture have already marked it for doom and collapse. Scientism is being undermined in some cases by its social allies, and it is noteworthy that both literally and metaphorically it is making the New Atheists insane. They cannot understand the pervasive embrace, even the increase of what they deem as irrationality. At the same time postmodern hermeneutics and epistemology are undermining Scientism, exposing its untenability and inability to form a comprehensive or even functionally adequate view of reality. Both systems, like all of man's systems will ultimately self-destruct.

Nihilism is coming. Some may have thought we saw the end of it with World War II, Atheistic Existentialism or Punk Rock. Hitler brought us the industrialised violent consequence, the Idealistic antithesis to Weimar's Nihilism. The technological consequences lie before us in the next great collapse and cataclysm. Nihilism is at the door. It is the beyond that we must fear if fear we must. The Third Reich was not Nihilism but an Idealistic counter to it. That's why it was so readily embraced. There's a profound lesson in that point, one missed by many.

The Christian project to construct 'worldviews'- coherent comprehensive philosophical systems is in the end doomed to fail. They end up being little more than dogma and even when they attempt to build them on Scripture they epistemologically and hermeneutically undermine its authority. That which is posited as Biblical is often little more than speculative and holistic idealism rooted in philosophical as opposed to revelational assumptions.

Poverty in spirit demands a complete brokenness, even in one's epistemology. We are trapped in a world of Idealism and involuntary solipsism and yet we know it doesn't reflect the real. The real eludes us because it transcends empirical epistemologies rooted in temporal experience and finite concepts. Worldviews, even Christian ones, attempt to form metaphysical systems. The world is spiritual and thus metaphysical. We know this except when we suppress it. And yet we cannot form coherent let alone authoritative metaphysics. Man's attempt to do so is the story of false religion and idolatry.

We are left with a choice... Scepticism or the embrace of revelation.

Christ is before us proclaiming Truth. Embracing Christ is the only viable option, the only 'rational' act and yet terms like viable and rational in the end when applied to faith transcend the criteria that must be applied to them for them to have any meaning in our finite and temporal existence.

Faith is not irrational but supra-rational and rooted in transcendence. We can form a basic coherence that allows us to consider and embrace the claims of Christ but even this is Spirit enabled. Only through the workings of the Spirit can we hope to epistemologically embrace revelation. And yet as we embrace it, we do not stand on it and build, we do not scrutinize and dissect... we accept it and live contentedly in a state of informed ignorance and thus dependence. This is at the heart of what faith is. We rejoice in what is made known to us and yet we apprehend the knowledge that comprehension will always elude us.

Our faith does not rest in reducing God's Words let alone His concepts to grammatical and symbolical expressions that we can comprehend and thus utilize as the basis for further predication.

Our faith rests in our poverty of spirit, our knowledge that we cannot hope to properly grasp or understand the nature of divine knowledge, especially in This Age. This is why Biblicism is not only the solution to the necessitated scepticism generated by life in fallen reality but it is also the sole viable position to embrace in order to avoid the pitfall of syncretism and the type of philosophical speculation that leads to idolatry and ultimately to apostasy. History while not authoritative has borne this out.

Biblicism presents its problems to be sure but the beauty of the position is that in the embrace of perspicuity and the spirit of submission we find the Apostolic witness of the New Testament contains within itself the very building blocks and methodology of a Christocentric hermeneutic by which we can have confidence with regard to the apprehension of Spiritual knowledge and yet at the same time retain a certain fluidity that allows the Scripture to speak and function in every historical and cultural context.

The Scholastic method always wedded to Sacralism's requirement for holistic political and cultural systems seeks to use Scripture as a mere foundation stone for a larger philosophical endeavour. Yet interestingly it places the Church in a cultural dilemma in which it strains to function apart from political struggle.

Thus when we come to dealing with the lost and a hostile culture, Sacralist Scholastic theology out of necessity must abandon the faith-rooted spiritual ethics of Apostolic Christianity and instead must turn to political hostility and thus violence in the end as the means by which the Kingdom is built and is manifested.

As our culture degenerates and turns toward Nihilist thinking, the Church of our day will likely witness to Christ through wielding the sword of pseudo-glory rather than embracing the Cross.

Only Biblicism can provide an answer to the ailments of our culture through the proclamation of the Gospel. By this 'answer' we do not in any way mean that 'the Gospel' will replace or repair the existing system with another that in the end is just like it save some sort of Christian veneer which in itself rests upon extra-Biblical elaborations of that very term and concept.

 The Gospel brings the lost into a Spirit-life, one of righteousness, peace and joy, one of participation in the Kingdom, access to the Holy Throne and a blessed hope regarding the Age to Come. Life in the Spirit means being granted a new type of epistemology one that affords a vision of the Kingdom and its inexhaustible contemplative and experiential wonders.