Lesson 68- Revelation, Philosophy and Hegel
At the end of my last program I said that I would talk about the philosophy of Hegel today and that is what I intend to do. Before I begin, I should comment on the fact that I have heard many respected Catholic thinkers criticize his theories and, I am sure that, like most theories, there are aspects with which we as Christians would disagree. However, by the same token, there are also aspects with which we would agree and therefore we should not make the mistake of rejecting the whole because we disagree with the parts. In fact Hegel is one of the most potent weapons in our philosophical arsenal in combating the accidental, absurd universe of the existentialists who are responsible for leading the modern world down the path of subjectivism and moral relativism. And, as I said at the end of my last program, we have to fight fire with fire. A philosophical argument cannot be answered with a religious revelation because the first is based on logical analysis and the second is based on direct communication with God and, although this might be a higher and more convincing source, it is only convincing to those who believe in the revelation.
This is the problem that most evangelical Christians have today when they try to confront the modern world. Their position is discounted even before it is understood because it is based on Divine Revelation found in the Bible and their opponents respond with the constitutional argument of separation of Church and state or with
vulgar expressions like, Keep your Christ out of my crouch!
The Church, on the other hand, which believes that God can be known through faith and reason has always argued from both positions. To those who believe in the Bible as Divine Revelation, it has backed up its positions with Holy Scripture. To those who want logic and reason, it has offered the philosophy of Natural Law which says that a Rational God created a Rational Universe based on Rational Laws and that one can discover His intent through a rational analysis of reality.
A good example of the difference between the approach of the evangelicals and that of the Church is the issue of birth control. The Catholic Church stands almost alone in opposing artificial birth control because its position, which has some debatable sources in scripture, is based mainly on Natural Law. The Natural Law argument goes something like this:
The rational primary purpose for which God created sex was the reproduction of the species. His secondary purpose was pleasure as an inducement to encourage mentally blind creatures to perform a rational act necessary for the survival of life. The secondary purpose of pleasure is alright so long as it either helps, or, at least, doesnt interfere with the primary purpose of reproduction. Therefore, sex must always be viewed in the context of the reproduction and survival of the species. Thus, since marriage is the social institution created for the purpose of bringing sexual activity under rational control so that it will perform the function for which it was created, any sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin because it violates the Will of God by missing or threatening the rational target for which sex was created. It therefore logically follows that fornication and adultery are sins because they undermine or threaten the institution of marriage that assures not only the reproduction of children but also the care and nurturing which is necessary for their survival. Also, any sexual activity, such as masturbation, homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, etc which seeks the secondary purpose of pleasure in sex while blocking or frustrating the primary purpose of reproduction is a sin. From this we can draw a general rational operating principle that secondary purposes are alright so long as they either help, or at least dont interfere with the primary purpose and this principle can be applied to many situations. We can also draw the conclusion that, since a Super-Rational God created this universe based on His Wisdom then it behooves us in the long run to operate within the boundaries of His Will. Therefore, even within marriage one must be mindful of Gods primary purpose for sex, lest we be misled into believing that the secondary purpose of Pleasure is an equally valid reason for it. To allow this to become an acceptable premise would destroy the original premise and allow all sorts of deviant sexual activities to become normalized. Thus, although we are not morally obligated to have more children than we can rationally support or more than the ecology of the earth can tolerate, still we ought to operate within the natural boundaries of the sexual act. Since, within the human species, the female releases one egg each month that lives for only 24 hours, then it is obvious that the primary purpose for sex is operative only during that period. Also, since within our species, sex is not limited, as it is with many species, to the period of fertility, it is obvious that the secondary purpose of pleasure must be serving another purpose other than leading us to reproduce. When we consider the long developmental period for human children and their need for a nurturing family, it becomes obvious that the secondary purpose of Pleasure is serving the valid purpose of bonding the marital relationship and, in doing so, is assisting the primary purpose which involves, not only the reproduction of children, but also their care and nurturing. Therefore, the Church calls on Catholic to practice Natural Family Planning in which the couple takes advantage of the long period in which reproduction is not possible to enjoy the pleasure of sex for the purpose of bonding the relationship, while abstaining during the short period when fertility is present and the primary purpose is in effect.
Now to those who might use this analysis to justify the marriage of homosexual couples who either have children or have adopted children, let me remind you that unusual cases make bad laws because laws are objective standards for general behavior and are not made to fit special individual cases. To adjust a law or norm to meet this situation might benefit the couple but, in the process, it would undermine the premise of sex and lead to undesirable consequences in the general population.
Now I have gone through this long, logical analysis of sexuality to demonstrate how the Church uses philosophy and reason, as well as revelation, to understand the mind of God. And, thus, it, more than evangelicals, who depend solely of faith and revelation, is in a better position to confront the philosophical attacks coming from some modern philosophies. In fact, many of the evangelicals, because they rely solely on the Bible, have gone down the contraceptive path because they cant find any explicit, non-debatable, references to it in the Bible. There are references, like the story of Onan, in which Onan is punished by God for spilling his seed or sperm on the ground by withdrawing at the moment of ejaculation but some people argue that he was punished because, in doing so, he failed to fulfill his obligation to raise up children for his dead brother by impregnating his widowed sister-in-law. And, so long as it is debatable, many evangelicals have taken the path of least resistance and now are facing the consequences of seeing the effect resulting from changing the old premise of reproductive sex with the new premise of recreational sex.
It has come to my attention that among evangelicals it is customary for the minister who performs the wedding or the father of the bride to recommend a birth control method to the newly weds. Consequently, as I have pointed out in a previous program, Western Europe and the United States are committing genetic suicide and will soon be replaced by a more fertile population from the Third World and Islamic areas of the world. Not only will we reap what we sowed we will reap what we didnt sow.
So having made my case for the need and effectiveness of fighting philosophy with philosophy, let me return to my defense of Hegel as a potent weapon in our philosophical battle against the onslaught of atheistic philosophies, like Jean Paul Sartres Existentialism, which lead to the moral quagmire of moral relativism and subjectivism.
I sure that Hegels critics in the Christian community must have some valid points but I, personally, find his philosophy to be exceptionally consistent with the Gospels. Let me explain by giving you some background on him and his philosophy.
Hegel was a German philosopher who lived in the 1700s who was looking for a law of history. He wanted to know where history was headed and the laws that it followed in getting there. He concluded that history was moving towards God or UltimateTruth through a dialectical process.
The first thing that we should notice is that his theory is the same as the Judeo/Christian Linear Utopian Concept of History that sees history as the stage that God is using to move the human race towards a perfect society, called the Kingdom of God. Both the Jews and Christian, like Hegel, and unlike the Hindus and other ancient religions, see reality and history as a developing line rather than a repeating circle. Because his theory of history is linear, it is related to the logical left lobe that evaluates things according to their goal or purpose. And, for the same reason, it is moral because, as I mentioned in a previous program, without a goal or purpose there is no right way or wrong way. Thus circular religions and philosophies, like Hinduism, claim that there are many ways and many truths whereas linear religions and philosophies, like Judaism and Christianity, say that there is only one way and one Truth. Hegels theory is utopian because it sees history as progressively moving towards some higher goal and concluding with a perfect state. Thus, like the Old Testament prophets, who believed that God was leading us towards a Promised Land or Kingdom of God where the lion would lay down with the lamb; justice and peace would kiss; and men would take their weapons of war and change them into tools for farming, Hegel believed that there was a spirit in history that was leading us along the path of progress. Some of his critics claim that he thought it was our human spirit but is could just as easily be interpreted as being Gods Holy Spirit of Truth, especially when we consider that the goal of this process was God or Ultimate Truth.
His theory of history was called Dialectical Idealism because it said that history was developing or evolving towards Ultimate Truth or God through a dialectical process in which two opposing and conflicting ideas united to form a higher combined idea. Let me give you an example:
First let me remind you that we are all born in Gehenna, the Old Testament hell which is the place of empty thought that Helen Keller described as her existence before she acquired language. We enter the world without any understanding of where we came from, why we are here, or where we are headed. We, like animals, are in a Kingdom of Mental Darkness where we are ruled by blind impulses and passions. Yet, our rational mind has a need to understand and, unlike the arational animal mind, wants to know the what and why about things. So, for example, the young child says to its mother, Mommy Mommy what makes the rain? And, the mother, not knowing the real reason, says, Its the angels crying, honey. The child follows up with, Well what makes the thunder? and she replies, Its the angels bowling, honey. Now, according to Hegel, these explanations become part of the childs theory about reality and since he, like all human beings, has an instinctive need for meaning and purpose they become part of his operating theory about life. This, say Hegel is his Thesis and, if no one ever contradicts it, he will continue to repeat it for the rest of his life.
However, as time goes by, it is possible that either his own mind or the mind of someone else will challenge this explanation with another one. This becomes an anti-thesis or Antithesis. A conflict or struggle will take place between the Thesis and the Antithesis as the Thesis fights to defend and maintain its adopted theory and the Antithesis fights to replace it. Eventually, the two competing ideas combine into a third idea called the Synthesis in which elements of the Thesis are integrated with elements of the Antithesis. Thus, for example, the person may continue to believe in angels, which was part of his original Thesis, but he now longer believes that they cause rain or thunder through their crying and bowling. As a result, the persons Thesis has taken one step closer to Ultimate Truth.
However, the process doesnt end there because the Thesis contains not just his theory about angels, rain, and thunder. It contains his whole theory about life and thus it is full of truths, half-truths, and outright lies. Therefore, although the dialectical process has just purified one element of the persons Thesis there are still many other elements that need to be corrected or purified.
And so the dialectical process begins again when either the idea that has just been purified is further refined through another challenge or some other part of his total thesis is challenged by an opposing idea. Each time the dialectical process takes place our understanding of the Truth advances one more step. Thus, the movement of the human mind towards God or the Ultimate Truth can be described as a ongoing process of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis-Thesis-Anti-thesis-Synthesis-Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis. Eventually, as our understanding of the Truth is purified by each dialectical round, we should arrive at the Ultimate Truth or God.
I was initially attracted to the theory of Hegel because it, like all dialectical processes, was Trinitarian because it involved the interaction of two that created a third. In fact, when I diagram it on the blackboard, it forms a triangle. First, I write down the word Thesis in the left hand corner. Then, on the same line but in the opposite corner, I write down the word Antithesis. Then I draw a straight line, with an arrow at both ends, connecting the two words and on top of that line I write struggle or conflict. Then I draw a two diagonal line- one coming from the Thesis and the other from the Antithesis- with an arrow pointing down towards the midpoint between the two words. Where the two arrows meet at the midpoint, I write the word Synthesis. And there you have it! A triangle. Then to illustrate the continuation of the process, I draw another line with the arrow pointing down and towards the left hand corner and, at the end of it I write New Thesis and then opposite to it I write New Antithesis to illustrate the continuation of the dialectical process.
Now I hope that you have the picture because, once again, I am frustrated by trying to convey a pictorial concept in the exclusively audio medium of radio.
Once you begin to meditate on the image of this dialectical process, you start to see its connection to so many other things in reality. For example:
It is a model for a rational, reflective mind in which an idea generated in one lobe is reflected upon and evaluated by an opposing lobe and the insights of both lobes are then combined into a third lobe which integrates them into a final truth upon which to act. In other words, the Thesis is like the right lobe of our brain that, because it thinks holistically, is the reservoir that contains our big picture of reality. We could say that it is the place where meaning is contained because meaning is just another name for our big picture where we try to connect all the dots of reality into one, holistic, meaningful whole. In many way, it is like trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together and you might remember that it was the right lobe that was good at puzzles. The Antithesis is like the left lobe of our brain because, whereas the right lobe Thesis, is holistic, the left lobe Antithesis is specific. It is very good at focusing in on a specific thing and thus its logical challenges are directed not at the entire or whole Thesis but at some specific item within it. The Synthesis is like the frontal lobe of the brain that integrates material from the Thesis right lobe with the Antithesis left lobe into a united conclusion upon which to act. Thus, as I have mentioned before, we have a dialectical brain because two lobes, looking at reality from two different points-of-view, interact in a dynamic way to produce a third point-of-view which is a combination of them both.
In like manner, we can say that animals, which have a right and left lobe that are duplicates of each other, have a non-dialectical brain in which the Thesis in one is the same Thesis in the other. Thus, they act impulsively because there is no logical check by one brain on the other. Using the Hegelian Dialectic as our model, we could say that Thesis to Thesis equals Thesis and Thesis to Antithesis equal Synthesis.
Perhaps by now you are beginning to sense that the Hegelian Dialectic is also a model for types of reproduction. For example, the first type of reproduction was asexual in which one-cell animals reproduced them selves by splitting in half. In essence they reproduced through cloning because no matter how many times they split, each one is a genetic clone of the original cell. However, in higher forms of life, sexual reproduction, in which one cell interacts with another cell to produce a third cell that is a genetic combination of them both, has replaced asexual reproduction. The end result is that all the off springs differ in a variety of ways.
Thus, we could say that asexual reproduction is Thesis to Thesis and it always results in the same Thesis. It is circular and non-progressive in nature because it keeps repeating the same pattern over and over again. Sexual or bi-sexual reproduction, on the other hand, is Thesis to Antithesis and it always results in a new Synthesis. It is linear and progressive in nature because it creates new patterns which often incorporate what is best in both of the original cells.
If sexual or bi-sexual reproduction had never taken place, there never could have been any evolutionary development from the simple forms of life to ever-higher forms. The reason is because, according to the scientists, Natural Laws improves the various forms of life through a process of Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest. In other words, through a competitive judgmental process.
However, there is no way that any judgment can be made if, on the asexual level of reproduction, everything is a duplicate of itself. In order to have judgment, you have to have variety and you cant have variety unless, through bi-sexual reproduction, the off springs differ in essential qualities. Some must be faster, stronger, smarter, cleverer, etc than others so that whatever quality is necessary for survival in a particular environment will win out over those qualities that are not. I told you in a previous talk that Nature doesnt believe in equality, even if some of our fuzzy headed thinkers do, and this is a prime example.
Thus, we could conclude that asexual reproduction is non-dialectical and therefore it is circular and non-progressive. By the same token, the animal brain that resembles asexual reproduction in that it is also non-dialectical signifies that animal lives also are circular and non-progressive. Therefore, we could further conclude that the purpose of an animals life is to merely exist.
On the other hand, human brains are like bi-sexual reproduction in that, like bi-sexual reproduction, they are dialectical in nature with the right lobe interacting with the left lobe to produce new insights and ideas just as a female interacts with the male produces new genetic combinations. Therefore, where asexual reproduction and the animal brain is circular and non-progressive because they keeps repeating the same patterns over and over again, bi-sexual reproduction and the human brain must be linear and progressive because they keep repeating new patterns from which new and better results can be selected. Thus, the purpose of human life, because of our dialectical brain, must be to develop rather than to exist.
We could even go deeper in this analysis by observing that, according to the findings of embryologists, that males are modified females. In other words, the female is the default sex because all of us began as females with out sexual organ inside our bodies. Those babies that resulted from an egg with an x chromosome meeting with a sperm with an x chromosome remain females. In other words, x to x equals x; or female to female equals female; or Thesis to Thesis equals Thesis. Those babies which resulted from an egg with an x chromosome- which by the way all eggs are- meeting with a sperm with a y chromosome became males. The y chromosome causes a release of the male hormone testosterone around the seventh week of gestation and the two female ovaries descend out of the body and become testicles, the womb heals over, and the clitoris enlarges and becomes a penis. As shocking and surprising as this is, it really shouldnt surprise us because the obvious evidence has been staring us in the face. Men, have nipples on their chest which, as we know, are the beginning of mammilla glands whose purpose it is to produce milk for the feeding of our infants. Furthermore, we know that sometimes people, who are known as hermaphrodites, are born with both sexual organs. Finally, if this was not enough to convince us, there is an Hispanic family in the West Indies whose daughters turn into males when they reach puberty. The cause is a genetic defect that causes their bodies to produce large amount of testosterone at puberty. As a result, their ovaries descend and become testicles, their wombs heal over, their clitorises enlarge and become a penises, their breast disappear and hair grows on their chest, their muscles become more pronounced, and their voices deepen. Not only are they physically male, they are socially and psychologically male because they take on the macho image that is often ascribed to Latino males.
At this moment, your mind might be going through a dialectical battle because, if you were raised like me, this is challenging a lot of your basic beliefs. Most of us grew up believing that males and females were entirely different. In the Bible, we were told that Eve was created from a rib of Adam and thus the male came first. In fact, one of my aunt told me when I was a child that women had one more rib than men because all men were missing the rib the God took from Adam to create Eve.
Our first reaction is to blot out this new information that is attacking our accepted beliefs because it is threatening to upset the meaning upon which our lives are built. Like the child who grows up believing that rain and thunder are the result of angels crying and bowling, we are afraid to let go of the known to accept the unknown because we dont know how much of our basic meaning will disappear with this new revelation. Thus, our first reaction is to totally resist it. Then, if that doesnt succeed, we will struggle to reconcile it with our other beliefs so that our total meaning is not destroyed.
This is a natural reaction because there exists a Law of Identity which says that every living being must defend its identity against all attacks if it wishes to survive. We see this law in the Laws of Immunology through which our bodies resist anything that is not itself. Because our body has no way of knowing whether the foreign invader is beneficial or harmful, it automatically resists everything foreign to its own basic identity. Thus, the baby within its mothers womb, must be separated from her biological system by a placenta and embryonic sac because if their two bloods should every mix, the mothers white blood cells would attack the child as a foreign invader. This, by the way, eliminates the argument of the pro-abortion people that the baby, like her heart and other internal organs, is just another part of the mothers body.
The same principle applies to male sperms which, because they carry only 23 chromosomes rather than the full 46 chromosomes of a total human being, are seen by his body as being foreigners. Therefore, his bodys white cells would attack them as foreigner invades who are threatening the bodys identity. To prevent this, there are giant nurse cells in the male scrotum whose job it is to protect the sperm from attack. The Bible wasnt kidding when it said that we are awesomely made. This, by the way, eliminates the argument of the pro-abortionist who argue that the baby at the embryonic stage is only a potential human being. The sperm, with 23 chromosomes, and the egg, with 23 chromosomes, are potential human beings who will not be actualized until they join together to become an actual human being with 46 chromosomes.
Another example of this Law of Identity occurs with organ transplants. Obviously, a heart transplant is designed to benefit the person receiving the heart. However, the blind Law of Identity has no way of knowing this. Therefore, the patients immune system, which is responsible for attacking foreigners that invade the body, must be disengaged. Thus, the greatest danger after any transplant operation is that minor infections which would normally be attacked and eliminated by the immune system will take advantage is the bodys defenseless position and spread like wild-fire throughout it.
The best way to get around this defense mechanism is to find a donor who genetic makeup is the same or similar to the patients. Thus, an identical twin or a brother, sister, or parents would be most desirable.
Now if the body tries to protect itself from foreign organisms in order to protect its identity, doesnt it seem reasonable that the mind also tries to protect itself from foreign ideas that threaten its psychological identity. And, if the body is more receptive to an invader that carries the same or a similar identity to itself, doesnt it also seem reasonable that we are more open to receiving new ideas and insights when they are presented in a way that is most compatible with our psychic identity.
To illustrate this point to my mostly Black students I used to ask them how receptive they would have been to Martin Luther Kings I Have A Dream speech if it had been delivered by a white man, dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe, who addressed them as niggers. Ideas, like food, have to be properly package no matter how beneficial they might be.
So let me repackage this new information concerning the connection between males and females so that it becomes more digestible.
First, when one reads the Bible he has to be careful to make a distinction between what is figurative and aimed at the right lobe and what is literal and aimed at the left lobe. One also has to be aware that some of the deepest truths are clothed in figurative language. Thus, Jesus spoke in parables that were full of symbols which, once understood, revealed deep truths- for example, the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the man who sowed the seeds that fell on different types of soil. It doesnt matter whether these stories were based on something that really happened because the story is just a vehicle for conveying an important truth. In fact, most parables which are couched in figurative language have many levels of meaning whereas literal account have only one level.
With this is mind, it is helpful to know that of my rib, a term used to describe the relationship between Adam and Eve, referred to the closeness of the relationship between a man and his wife and not necessarily to a literal fact. Jesus made a reference to this when, speaking on marriage and divorce, He said, and the two shall become one flesh. My aunt took the literal meaning and had me believing that men possessed one less rib.
Well, I see that my time is up. Heres Dom!