Charlton, Moldbug and religion

Bruce Charlton believes that Moldbug will eventually become religious:

Assuming that Mencius Moldbug does not abandon his search for truth, he will become a Christian. Sooner or later, and possibly at the very last moment, but inevitably so.

He is on the path.

He has, indeed, already crossed the Pascalian+ threshold for salvation: the threshold which lies between being a contented atheist and a seeking atheist.

And therefore, whether he acknowledges it or not, MM is already destined to be saved (assuming, that is, he does not abandon his honest search).

(I have a couple good friends that are Catholic and they both fully expect me to convert to Catholicism at some point. I’m not so sure. I certainly like the religion, but it’s hard to make the leap to believing in divinity.)

Kalim Kassam points out that Moldbug basically already responded in the comments to this post from Mr Charlton. In short, Moldbug is already religious, in a somewhat unique way. The hardest part of reading Carlyle’s work – for me – was figuring out what Carlyle meant by God. In the comments, Moldbug uses "God" in the same way I ended up thinking of Carlyle’s:

My own strongest influence is Carlyle, and Carlyle as you know was a very Christian man – although one could say he had a Christianity of his own. He certainly went through a great crisis of faith in his youth. And he was no hedonist!

My ideal state (a) is run like a business, and (b) does the will of God. It seems to me that these criteria do not conflict, but reinforce each other from opposite perspectives – if you’ll pardon the cliche, a wave-particle duality. I think God wants his kingdoms on Earth to be run like businesses, and I think that if you run a kingdom like a business you’ll find yourself doing the will of God – whether or not you ascribe any sort of reality to Him.

"God" for the Carlylean atheist is a fictional character, like Hamlet. Dear atheist, do you believe in the material reality of Hamlet? Does this prevent you from (a) reading Shakespeare, (b) imagining the person of Hamlet, (c) describing certain actions as characteristic or uncharacteristic of Hamlet?

"God," for instance, solves or at least greatly ameliorates the is-ought problem. What is good? What is justice? What is right? In each case, it is the will of God – for it’s clear that if we define an ungood, unjust, unrighteous deity as "God," we are just abusing the English language. We certainly can’t define good as the will of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.


10 Responses to Charlton, Moldbug and religion

  1. Eumaios says:

    “I think God wants his kingdoms on Earth to be run like businesses”

    Stewardship. Orthodoxy done already known that.

  2. Eumaios says:

    “it’s hard to make the leap to believing in divinity”

    If you make the leap to crediting and swearing fealty to divinity, I’d say it’s much harder to make a leap to crediting etc. the Roman hierarchy.

  3. Jehu says:

    God wants the magistrate to ‘punish evildoers and establish justice’ because he ‘beareth not the sword in vain’. That’s about the extent of his New Testament guidance to secular leaders, and that’s second-hand in this case as that passage is spoken to non-elites regarding secular authorities.

  4. Bruce G Charlton says:

    If you read my blog comments more carefully, Moldbug says:

    “For all sorts of reasons (child-rearing among them), I would much rather be a Christian, or even a Muslim – but I’m not, and I can’t change that.”

    In other words: as of that particular day, MM was *not* (or at least, not yet) a Christian (nor was he a Muslim).

    He says he can’t change that, and he is absolutely right: he can’t change it: salvation must come from God.

    But if MM was to pray to become a Christian, and kept on praying, then he would find that it would *certainly* happen; even though he *personally* cannot change his atheism.

    And the same applies to everyone.

  5. Genius says:

    But if MM was to pray to become a Christian, and kept on praying, then he would find that it would *certainly* happen; even though he *personally* cannot change his atheism.

    So, just to be clear – what is the difference between being a Christian and praying to become a Christian?

  6. it’s hard to make the leap to believing in divinity

    No harder, I would think, than making the leap to believe in truth, beauty, or virtue.

  7. Bruce G Charlton says:

    @Genius – I’m happy to answer sincere questions – but I suspect you are trolling and I don’t want to waste my time; so I’ll leave it at that!

    But if I have misjudged and you are sincere, then please write to me at hklaxness at yahoo dot com .

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