Sunday, May 19, 2013

Superstition, Politics, and Astrology

Life as we know it is impossible without faith. We take hundreds of things for granted, on faith, in order to go about our daily lives. We assume that the Sun will rise tomorrow as it has every other day, as opposed to suddenly going nova and wiping out the solar system. We assume that the jobs and relationships we have today will also be with us tomorrow. In addition to having a largely unspoken faith that the universe as we know it will persist, we also have faith in things that are difficult or impossible for most of us to prove. Most of us, as modern human beings, believe that the Earth revolves around the Sun and that we are comprised of cells which are composed of molecules and atoms. A majority of modern humans believes in a God (or multiple Gods). As creatures of intellect, we experience life largely through the categories and assumptions that our minds have chosen to accept. We live in and through faith.

Both kinds of faith, faith based on experience and faith based on conditioning or education, generally serve us well as we live our lives. The complexities of modern life (and probably pre-modern life as well) do not allow all of us the time to question all of our assumptions and all of what society teaches us. Most of us must believe what we see, and believe what we are told without question. For most of us, most of the time, this is a rational, sensible strategy that yields acceptable results. Following the herd is generally good for us, except in those occasional cases when it is exceptionally bad for us.

While faith based on conditioning or education is often beneficial, it is often found later to be wrong. Medical practices believed efficacious in the past (leeches, bloodletting, etc.) we now see as barbaric and useless. Most of the polytheistic religions that were the basis for culture in ancient times we now see as primitive and quaint. Even the "scientific" crazes generally regarded as true by the masses in relatively recent times (the brutal eugenics of the early Progressive movement, the global cooling feared in the 1970's) we now sheepishly sweep under the rug of politically-correct history. Contrary to that advertising slogan of past decades, millions of people can be wrong. In the case of the millions of believers in the murderous totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, faith can be lethal.

Modern libertarians (the brilliant Stefan Molyneux among them) often make the case that popular support for the modern State is based on misplaced faith. They expand Carl Jung's observation that faith in the State has slowly been supplanting faith in God. To the faithful, the modern State, like the anthropomorphic Judeo-Christian God, is creator of and provider for humanity -- humanity cannot provide for itself. To the faithful, the word of God and the law of the State are beyond question. Both God and the State are subject to looser ethical rules than we mere humans: both are beneficent and worthy of praise when they do us good; both are mysterious and not to be questioned when they do us ill.

Faith in a heavenly creator-God and faith in the State do possess crucial differences from one another. The atheist may show us that God has some perhaps dubious literature and that His existence cannot be conclusively proven in any purely rational sense, but he cannot disprove the existence of some superior invisible intelligence altogether. It is possible, however, to show beyond reasonable doubt that the State is anything but the benevolent father-figure that his worshipers make him out to be. To an individual of sufficient intelligence, morality, and logical reasoning ability, sufficient study makes the case for the abolition of the State impossible to dismiss.

Because of the obvious similarities between faith in God and belief in the State, a vocal subset of the libertarian movement (Molyneux and Adam Kokesh for example), maintain that the rejection of both the State and any belief in the "supernatural" are the inevitable conclusion of rational thought and libertarianism (both gentlemen have Neptune afflicted by both Saturn and the South Node -- they can hardly be blamed). To them, belief in supernatural entities and astrology are just as illogical and harmful as faith in the State. Naturally, I disagree with them here.

Astrology, a most Neptunian discipline, is certainly riddled with dubious claims, misguided conclusions, and deluded souls. The low signal-to-noise ratio in astrology, however, is not a sufficient case for dismissing the discipline entirely. The statistical studies of the Gauquelins, the brilliant work of astrological historian Richard Tarnas, and even my own low-key research attest that planetary events strongly correlate with human events. A fully rational mind does not dismiss repeatedly demonstrated correlations, no matter how they may violate one's faith in one's world view. It is interesting that the astrological charts of both Molyneux and Kokesh, for all their intelligence and contributions to the cause of liberty, show not only a blocked Neptune, but partially non-libertarian Pallas placements -- the latter consistent with potential gaps in logical reasoning ability. Both charts are up on my site.

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