Chaos is Killing Us

The most disappointing thing in my life is that I’ve lived long enough to see the devolution of our American culture into meaningless chaos. Let me start here: we read in Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty [tohu vabohu], darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Keil and Delitzsch in their Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 1write this: “Through treating of the creation of the heaven and the earth, the writer, both here and what follows, describes with minuteness the original condition and progressive formation of the earth alone, and says nothing more respecting the heaven than is actually requisite in order to show its connection with the earth. He is writing for inhabitants of the earth, and for religious ends; not to gratify curiosity, but to strengthen faith in God, the Creator of the universe.”

Whatever happened with this formless chaos, whether by a big bang or some other force, what God wants us to understand it wasn’t serendipitous, a happy accident that ended with mankind but it was by intelligent design that shaped what we are and what we see out of the chaos.

While the first obsession of philosophy was understanding nature, it soon turned to understanding human nature. What we can say about both, as we are told in this creation story, is that out of chaos came order and God called it good. And yet from chaos to order it all went back to chaos.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) holds that man in the state of nature is blessed with an enviable total freedom. Thomas Hobbs, on the other hand, holds that man in the state of nature is nasty and brutish.

Is there a state of nature that was idyllic and pure that became corrupted, and if so how do we come to understand that and can we get back to that state of nature? The only idyllic state of man is found in the Garden of Eden story. This being so Rousseau has it right for the most part: man was born to be free. But it’s a state given to him/her by his/her creator. Freedom is not a license. It seems that many can’t understand the difference. For them freedom must be absolute or there isn’t freedom. We read this in Romans 9:20: “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Even if we were formed unconsciously out of some primordial goo we can say we are a duck and quack like a duck but we will never be a duck, we will always be what the goo formed. One definition of freedom is this: “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” This is at best a political freedom. Some modern scientists hold that even this freedom is illusionary as everything about us is nothing more than a bio-chemical response, yet this never really satisfies our living like those are real free choices irrespective of bio-chemical actions. My writing these thoughts are nothing more than electrical synapses yet I think of them as real unnecessary thoughts thought up independently by me. We cannot get past this circular argument.

So what is our natural state? We are first created individuals (whether by God or the primordial goo) and are responsible for ourselves. But second we are created social creatures: “Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Adam walks and communes with God, he communes with the animals, he cares for the earth, as does Eve when she joins Adam. There is only one restriction placed upon them, don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They are physically free to eat the fruit but they are morally enjoined from eating it. One lesson here is that every action has a consequence, either bad or good, and sometimes there are sub-consequences. If you take a seed and plant it in the ground and water it the plant will grow and you eat it and live on. If you don’t water the seed and nothing grows so you don’t now have food you die, the consequence. Consequences are natural to every action.

When God put Adam in the Garden he said this to Adam:“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 3:16-15.) I don’t know if Adam understood the consequence because he had never seen death. He knew God, he knew the expectations God had of him, and he knew the blessing of living up to those expectations. Eating the forbidden fruit now he would come to know the consequences of disobeying Him: living in chaos. He might have had the freedom to disobey, he didn’t have the freedom to escape the consequences.

When Adam and Eve do eat the forbidden fruit their state of nature doesn’t change but chaos overwhelms it so that who they will become outside the Garden looks different from who they are inside the Garden, but their basic created nature remains the same. However the confusion of chaos now covers them like the fig leaves they used to hide themselves from God. The state of man’s nature quickly became nasty and brutish and at this point Hobbs had a better definition of primitive man. We pragmatically have two states of nature—figuratively not literally—because Rousseau was still right, freedom was the natural God-given right of our being but now on one shoulder sits an angel and on the other shoulder sits the devil and they are at war with each other. It is from these two states of nature we create culture.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary says this about culture:

a: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time

Popular culture

B: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

a corporate culture focused on the bottom line

c: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic

Disparate individuals have a way of living but culture is not created. That happens when groups of individuals get together and form a society. In that formation they create all the elements that make a culture listed above. Out of all of this is now created a civilization that has one dominant culture but can have many sub-cultures. Unity is maintained so long as those sub-cultures adhere predominantly to one main cultural expression. If not the society breaks down in chaos.

The people who fled Europe to America came with several different cultural expressions though the predominant culture was English as most who fled Europe were from England. When the Thirteen Colonies were established they each had a unique culture created by the different people who settled the colony. Massachusetts and Virginia were heavily settled by Puritans; Maryland took in a lot of Catholics whom the Puritans were antagonistic about; Pennsylvania had a lot of Quakers among their citizens; Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams who was a strong advocate against the church being involved in politics; and, of course, the northern colonies were more industrial and the southern colonies more agrarian and that helped define their cultural milieu.

Along the hundred years way between settlement of the Thirteen Colonies and the establishment of a new independent nation their new requirements of living in this land ended up changing their culture away from their past into forming a new American identity. They began to find a new commonness and while not a conscious act they created a predominant culture and before it became the motto for a new nation they became E pluribus unum—Out of many, One. We would later in sociological terms call this a “melting pot” where heterogenous became homogenous. We didn’t lose our multicultural identities but when my ancestors came from Ireland they came because they were impressed by American culture that had created so much good they wanted to be a part of it. They didn’t entirely lose their “Irishness” but they did give up some of their Irish identity for an American one. After all it was that identity that created the good they wanted to become part of.

When in the late 1800s progressivism began sweeping through the intelligencia of the nation and every president beginning with Theodore Roosevelt, with the exception of Coolidge and Reagan, were progressives. It was here a war began on American culture challenging the melting pot as evil and breaking apart the E pluribus unum so that now it more resembles E pluribus pluribus—the many stays many. It was a deliberate attempt to dramatically change the culture.

There is still a ghost of American culture today, but for the most part America has broken into a tribalism fractured into a thousand parts (chaos). Twitter and Facebook have become the organs of this new tribalism where each tribe dukes it out with another using messages of hate and vile as weapons of warfare.

Another term for tribal is identity politics where you have your special identity and if you step out of this supposed identity you’re. One new insanity is “cultural appropriation” which is got to be the biggest laugh of the day. I’ve listened to the most insane justifications for this charge and if you point out the contradictions it gets even more unbecredible.

We have become addicted to outrage and everything that we oppose is an outrage that must be destroyed. The University of California Berkeley claims it’s conservative speech that incites riots. And Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the Serpent. How narcissistic of us to blame someone else. Freedom of speech is defined as I speak and you shut up. How liberal of you. We are not looking for what unites us, we’ve made it clear than nothing unites us. Kanye West (I never liked him and still don’t) makes a public statement that he is free to think what he wants and believe what he wants and references 400 years of slavery for blacks as a choice, not the physical slavery they found themselves in for a couple hundred years in America but that the mental choice they’ve made falling into a monolithic thought where Republicans and conservatives and being white is evil, Democrat and liberal is the only good is also enslavement.

Businesses are now becoming tools of government rather than merchants of commerce, and the progressive politics of radicals changes all that we once enjoyed and turn it into chaos. I hate reading news stories as there seems to be no bottom for our insanity. And so many think nothing of it as though the American culture will still survive. There is only so much water you can put in a boat before it sinks. Thinking it won’t is just silliness. Consequences calls for a reckoning. The consequence of chaos is death. In this case the death of a nation.