Wolf Pangloss's Fish Taco Stand

"But, reverend father," said Candide, "there is horrible evil in this world."

"What signifies it," said the Dervish, "whether there be evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?"

"What, then, must we do?" said Pangloss.

"Hold your tongue," answered the Dervish.

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Location: Edge City, Titan

06 December 2007

A Monotheistic Paganism

Spengler describes Allah as the greatest busybody in the universe:
In the normative doctrine of the 11th-century Muslim sage Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Allah does not limit himself by ordering the world through natural law, for natural laws would impinge on his absolute freedom of action.

There are no intermediate causes, in the sense of laws of nature. Mars traverses an ellipse around the sun not because God has instituted laws of motion that require Mars to traverse an ellipse, but because Allah at every instant directs the angular velocity of Mars. Today, Allah happens to feel like pushing Mars about in an ellipse; tomorrow he might just as well do figure-eights.

Allah is everywhere doing everything at all times. He sets the spin on every electron, measures the jump of every flea, the frequency of every sneeze. That notion of a god who accepts no limitation, not even the limit of laws of nature that he created, characterizes mainstream Muslim thought since the 11th century. St Thomas Aquinas wrote of its deficiency, drawing on the critique of the 12th-century Jewish theologian and philosopher Moses Maimonides.

Consider the Pantheistic universe. Every stone, plant, bird, breeze, cloud, and pond has its own motive spirit, pneuma, or daimon. The moon, the sun, the earth, night, space, and the stars, all have their own motive spirit, demigod, or god. All these spirits can and do chose to do what they will. The material world is subject to the whims of supernatural spirits.and the sorceror practices magic to dictate by force the choices of petty spirits and use trickery, blood sacrifice, and pleading to convince the powerful spirits to intervene on his behalf. There is no natural law, no science. Nobody knows if the sun will rise in the morning tomorrow. The sungod might be killed while passing through the underworld, he might drink of the river Lethe and forget his role as the sun, or he might refuse to ascend to the sky in a fit of pique. The strong man who can exert his will by force and blood is feared and admired by all. Learning, other than magic and sorcery, is suppressed.

The pantheist society is the classic pagan society, characterized by blood feuds, blood sacrifice, despotism, and constant low-level warfare.

Compare with Islam. Allah is a magic-worker. There is no natural law in the universe under the rule of Allah, only the raw stuff of chaos, malleable in His omnipotent, omnipresent magic, and all mankind can do is despair at His power and man's worthlessness in His shadow. All man can do is fall in abject submission before Allah and pray to be spared when He indulges His whims to destroy lives, families, and nations. The strong man who forces others to bend to his will is admired by all. Others submit like slaves to him. Learning, other than memorization of the Koran and Ahadith, is nothing more than suspect trickery.

How does Muslim society differ from that of the pagans and pantheists?
[5:17] In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: “Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every - one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things.”
John 1: 1 and 14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

How clearly this sets Christianity apart from Islam. Allah would never submit Himself to His own power, or to the laws of the universe. The Christian God, on the other hand, established the laws in the beginning of Genesis and sent Himself to earth to live and die as a man Jesus, without stacking the deck or ever taking the easy way out. God the Father of Christ the Son in His infinite kindness towards man refrains from rescuing Jesus from suffering on the cross. He refrains and in that is the lesson that there are laws by which the universe works, God-given laws that even God honors, and man should work out those laws for himself.
Genesis 1:13-18
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

Though it doesn't pass muster in an astronomy lecture, it is still the beginnings of science. For there is nothing to obscure the universe's nature from man's inquiry or understanding.

And this is the kindness and love of the God of Christianity in action.

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Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

                Matthew 7:15-16