The ribbing

Is it just me, or has all public discussion of everything been reduced to facetiousness and sarcasm? Perhaps this is a facetious exaggeration. I noticed it fully in public debates — meant, I suppose, to be entertaining — on the question of the existence of God. I have caught a few of these debates at the usual Internet sites, and noticed the difficulties encountered in explaining the subject to various exponents of the New Atheism. Their attacks, specifically on Christian beliefs, are crass, rude. Typically, isolated passages from the Bible are ridiculed. It isn’t even a question of getting them out of context; the point is missed more completely than that. Working from the premiss that miracles cannot occur, everything in Scripture of a miraculous flavour is scorned. It is asserted that there is no God, and from this premiss, it is proved that God does not exist.

How do you turn a rib into a woman, one correspondent recently asked me, echoing no doubt something he’d picked up from the New Atheists — with all the gravity of a three-year-old who isn’t actually listening for the answer. I foolishly took the bait. It seemed to me he had got the rib from the wrong end. He wanted an explanation in terms of Darwinian evolution; to which the reply could only be, “Oh, please.” (Yes, I could pull innumerable imaginary intervening stages out of the seam between my back pockets, as it were, for I was a crack in biology class, but I get bored with “settled science.”)

Adam was created from dust, but Eve from the body of Adam, “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” The event, though only in the second chapter of Genesis, was already anticipated in the first: “God created man in His image; in the divine image He created him; male and female created He them.” Imagery of life, taken from Christ’s side, and for the redemption of this world, will come into this at a much later point.

The mystical significance of this rib, is large. In the words of a wedding folksong from my youth (by Paul Stookey), “Woman draws her life from man, and gives it back again.” It seems today almost odd that the idea behind that sentence could still be understood in the pop culture, as recently as forty-five years ago. Something profound had been said, about the nature of man and woman, about their mutual dependency, at the very outset of our monotheist tribe. This profundity encompassed the deep sleep of Adam, which sets the scene.

That the book of Genesis is not a biological treatise should be apparent to anyone with sufficient intelligence to master the Roman alphabet, and yet the mocking, facetious question reduced it to that. Much of the conceit of scientism — in its most ignorant form — is to dismiss everything that cannot be repeated in a laboratory test to “myth.” I put the quotes because there is no understanding of myth, either; that it may be true deeply below the factitious level; or that by this tactic everything we know, without exception, including the efficacy of laboratory tests, becomes “mythical.”

As there will be no understanding of the meaning of the word “factitious,” I should explain that, too. It does not mean “based on facts.” It instead means, “made up for the occasion.” Indeed, the word “fact” itself was lost on approximately 100 percent of my old journalistic colleagues: that a fact is itself something made — that it is a deed, not something that “just happened.” And I am turning back here on the essence of Darwinism, and other forms of scientism disseminated today in our air and water: for all reporting depends on the (idiot) notion that things may happen hocus-pocus “just like that,” there being no First Cause, only secondary ones.

Gentle reader is advised to pause here and think on that for a moment. It will take him back to the heart of Aristotle, and to the heart of Western Civ: that a secondary explanation is insufficient. That for our ends we must return to our origins.

In my brief and pointless debate with the rib mocker, I touched on three miracles of natural science. 1. The universe began. 2. Life appeared on Earth. 3. Man emerged. These are miracles in the sense that they are singularities which no amount of natural science can possibly explain. In each case the explanation, if any can be had, must precede natural science; will be, and can only be, Revelation. This does not mean, and cannot mean, that our very being is less important than what empirical inquiry can discover. Quite the contrary: the known facts exhibit the extreme limitation of empirical inquiry.

They raise questions that cannot be avoided: no man nor woman capable of intelligent thought can dismiss such ultimate questions about the nature of the universe into which he has been born, or the existence of himself as a living, thinking creature. He, life on earth, and the vault of stars, are Fact. That is to say, they have been made. There is no escape from this, except by avoidance of reality itself. Things do not make themselves, and to hypothesize that they do, is to lead oneself by stages into a real and plausible insanity.

Hence, I think, the facetiousness and sarcasm that now animates all public discussion of important matters, gone far beyond what is nominally categorized as “religion.” This is in itself a mark of triumph, for atheism. (Not merely disbelief in God, but the elimination of God from all consideration, as a condition for participation in public life.) Consistent avoidance of elementary reality leads by extension to avoidance of fact or deed, in detail. From the avoidance of first fact, every subsequent fact can be, progressively, trivialized. And what can be trivialized, will be trivialized, by Satan’s little minions.

“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” This is precisely correct. All human fallacy, all human foolishness, begins in that act of denial. This includes the foolishness of believers, who choose for a moment to act as if they did not know any better.

Returning briefly to the question that got me started. The account in Genesis of the origin of man and woman is itself “fact,” in the sense that it is given to us, as revelation on matters we could not possibly discern by empirical means. That God created Eve from the rib of Adam, is not given as the explanation of a technique. We are not being told how He did it, but of the meaning, for us, in what He did. It is a revelation of the cause behind the causation of Eve and Adam; and therefore not of what they were but what they are. It is at the foundation of our knowledge, that we were created purposefully, in two kinds mutually depending. That, “man and woman, created He them,” in no accidental way. The technique, by which God made the mute stones speak, does not matter to us. It is therefore permanently beyond us — as moot as every other “discovery” in natural science that is not merely descriptive. By focusing exclusively on an undiscoverable technique, we indulge a foolishness that is contemptible. We ignore, while presuming upon, first cause. We ask a question so facetious, that it can only deserve a facetious reply.