Presuppositionalism

Mascagni, Joseph sold into slavery by his brothersGod has inspired the Bible, which is literal truth. True Christians believe the Bible, and therefore have the basis for understanding life and reality. Atheists do not, and therefore are incapable of rational thought or argument. This understanding is called “Presuppositionalism”. From false presuppositions atheists will draw random conclusions.

How wonderful! If not everyone, a huge number of those who disagree with me are merely wrong, not even in an interesting way. This is not how I think. It helps to explain Tim, the Creationist I invited here in July. What day of the week was the Last Supper? Did God create animals then humanity, or man, then animals, then woman? A lot of people maintain their are contradictions, but honestly I’ve never found a truly provable one, he wrote. He came up with arguments, rather than mere assertion, but I did not feel they were sufficient.

Octavia Butler, in Parable of the Talents, brings together the worst possible characteristics of the worst possible Christianities to imagine “Christian America”. Andrew Jarret, elected US President in 2032, at his inauguration preaches on “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword” (Isaiah 1:19-20) neatly blaming all the problems of the country on “traitors and sinners, those destroyers in our midst”. “Decent, ordinary men,” writes Butler, can guard slave camps, believing that interning minor criminals there is necessary for the good of the country. Milgram and Zimbardo again.

All of CA is based on lies. The seminary dining room works hard at being as dreary and cheerless as could be managed, and the “hot cinnamon-apple tea” is tepid, slightly sweet water. If all the wickedness is in the Other, then my anger must be Righteous Love.

The book has a moment of self-abnegating love which made me weep. The mother finds her daughter, stolen from her in infancy, and addresses her by her birth name.

-My door is open to you, Larkin, always.
-Asha. My name is Asha Vere.
-Asha, she whispered. My door is open to you, Asha. Always.

“Think it possible that you may be mistaken” says Advices and Queries, quoting Cromwell. CA creates impossible contradictions, which must be denied- “Stupid faith was good. Thinking and questioning were bad.” “The working poor who love Jarret need to be fooled. They scratch a living, and they need a savior.”

Think it possible that you may be mistaken, and possibly I think that too much. It opens me to greater understanding, and makes me incapable of decisions. But the choice is between asserting you are Right, and seeking the truth. As Timothy Garton Ash wrote of the Velvet revolution, a great deal of what is happening is about words: about finding new, clear, true words rather than the old, prefabricated, mendacious phrases under which they have lived for so long.

Bloodchild

Octavia Butler, photo by Nicholas CoukoumaBloodchild, by Octavia E Butler. I have never read a story which I found so completely disgusting, and completely beautiful. It is now free on Amazon for Kindle, so get it and read it and be squicked out and moved to tears. Spoilers here, obviously, I am discussing it rather than reviewing it.

It is a story where a creature places its ovipositor into a young man. Left to itself, the grub will eat its way out of his flesh, probably killing him. Yuck. Well, yes: it is not hard to consult our nightmares and produce something foul: a botfly writ large. Making it beautiful is the skill, which after this one free story has me desperate to read more Butler. I have a new favourite SF author above Ursula K LeGuin, Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood.

How to make it beautiful? There is a symbiotic relationship between the humans and the Tlic. Before, they used animals native to their planet as hosts for their grubs, but increasingly the grubs died. Now, they have found a host which permits the grubs to flourish. In return, the Tlic remove the grubs after they hatch, and nurture the humans back to health. They only use male humans, as they want the females to bear more hosts. At first, they just took the humans, but more progressive Tlic care for their humans, and select the host-male at birth so that they can nurture them into the role.

The human, Gan, chooses to be impregnated. His brother Qui saw a birth, and was horrified by it, and after he was protective and contemptuous of Gan. His sister wanted the honour of bearing a Tlic, and the relationship with the big, strong, beautiful creature with many legs and a sting in its tail which it uses on its host, bringing a delicious lethargy.

The beauty is in the relationship between the Tlic Gatoi and the human Gan, how he resists her then consents, as freely as he may in that situation, for how else will the humans be tolerated on that world? As Butler explains in foreword and afterword, it is a story of symbiosis not slavery. Recommended here, which I found here.