Heavy Burdens

The modern intellectual is like a man at a crossroads having many roads from which to choose. He picks a road easily enough and even delights that he has not taken the more unpopular or distasteful roads. But, his problem is not that he has started down the road, rather that he has stopped before the end and camped out.

There are many philosophical roads which travelers are proud to walk down, yet at the same time cannot bear the end of the journey. Materialist determinism is just such a road. Why? There is a difference between lightly but genuinely considering a philosophy and its end, and actually experiencing the reality of the road. As a traveler walks down the road, he must bear the weight of his realizations and each one increasingly weighs him down.

It’s one thing to realize all events in the history of the universe are completely predictable if one had possession of all the facts from the beginning  and knew how one atom bumped into another; and it’s another thing to realize that this applies to your thoughts as well. The realization that you had no choice in your thoughts is a heavy burden to carry throughout life. Your choice to love your neighbor or murder him was never up to you, but was determined from the beginning.  Mankind was never responsible for his unlawful deeds. Morality is incoherent because a man’s actions were never up to him, but determined from planck time.

Bearing the burdens of these realizations leads to the addition of another burden: the existence of genuine persons is now impossible. If your thoughts are not your own neither your actions, you can’t really be said to exist as a genuine person. There is no such thing as you. In fact, there is only one thing that is genuine — the universe. All the arguments, all the proofs, all the evidence, all science, all the thoughts, all the suffering, all the beliefs, all desires, love, hate, and evil, are not because of anything we did; but are the result of the universe moving matter and energy from one place to another and fizzing in places here and there. There is no you, no right, no wrong, no genuine observation of evidences and facts, no truth-tested theories — only an empty universe as it expands faster and faster getting farther apart until every spec of dust becomes completely alone.

Yet, the materialist determinist goes on excoriating other people’s beliefs wishing to bind them with the same chains and shackles with which he himself is bound. He argues fervently as if it really matters, as if he’s found the right way, as if he had real virtue in discovering it, as if all others were really and completely wrong and ought to know better. Doesn’t he know? He’s only fizzing stardust. He genuinely does not exist as a real person.  But no matter — he’s only traveled part way down his road. The burdens he has carried have weighed him down and he cannot take it anymore. The heat of a thousand insignificant days have wearied him and he cannot bear to think that he does not exist. So he has camped out underneath a tree. — While from somewhere in the distance a voice like refreshing waters echoes across the wasteland, “My burden is light; come all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11)

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