I have tried to stay as positive as possible in most of my online correspondence of late. The reason for this is because those that have known me for any length of time will notice I have a nasty negative streak, and that's something I'm not proud of. This is evident by the fact that I haven't written here in a while because I simply have had nothing good to say about anything. I try to stay upbeat, but it's been nearly impossible to feel that way or to do anything but what I know I need to do (go to work, eat, socialize in an acceptable manner, sleep). I laugh and smile and enjoy things but at the core of me there is something that's beyond weary with my life, and I haven't been at all sure of why. I think I may know part of it now, but I'm still not sure of all of it.
I was told recently that I don't care about the truth. This was a revelation to me, and for some reason, all I could do was sit in my chair at 10 AM before going to work and alternate between staring numbly at the wall and crying for a solid hour. There was no rational reason for this, but for some reason being told that by a person that I'd sworn never to listen to about these things again broke me again. At first I thought I was being naive, thinking that perhaps I could express myself on subjects such as God and religion and not have to deal with immeasurable hostility. Of course, I dish out more than my fair amount, and I am aware that that aggravates people and I am only getting what I deserve if people become irritated, so that wasn't really it. I thought perhaps that I was just being overly emotional, but once the emotions subsided, once things started going better, that deadness stayed in me, that thing that has been broken in me in the past few years that I can't seem to escape.
Then it hit me: of course I feel dead, I am a nihilist. Nihilists have no reason to hope.
I never made the conscious decision to be a nihilist, no. However, I have debated Christian Theology for most of my life, and I have been taught apologetics, hermeneutics, eschatology, soteriology, calvinism, dispensationalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Young and Old Earth theology, creation science, christology, the Trinity, Church History, and every way I could possibly argue that my opinions are correct according to the Scriptures I must acknowledge as Absolute Truth.
From the beginning, this has sewn the seed of death in me. I have been taught to ignore my feelings because they are the enemy, and I have been taught that I cannot grasp most of these things with my rational mind, but it's all absolutely true. I've been told to trust a source outside of those things, and no one has ever thought about what this does to a person.
I can tell you firsthand what it can do: it can make a person distrustful and hateful of himself. When circumstances are not ideal, he blames himself for being too reliant on his feelings or on his understanding. When circumstances are ideal, he grows arrogant and thinks he has finally arrived. His perfectionistic tendencies nourished by his Enlightened Christian upbringing turn in on themselves, and he is at all times either the elite of the elite or the most worthless person to walk the Earth.
The Enlightenment has shown us a people reliant on their intellectual capacity.
"What a piece of work is a Man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!" -Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2
We rise from our primal passions, we achieve technological breakthrough after breakthrough, we discover more about ourselves, and we evolve toward a state of perfection.
The problem is, we still make a mess out of things. The more our dark side is repressed, the worse it becomes. Crimes of passion run like a rash across the world, and we keep coming up with new ways of evoking the darkest of our emotions, new thrills, new ways to feel what we have forgotten.
Humanity becomes divided: there are the intellectual elite and those that follow their passions without reason. Christianity in the Modern World stands between both of these and calls down the wrath of all by saying they're both wrong.
"Don't you know? The heart is desperately evil, who can know it?! Stop following your passions and read this book!"
"Don't you know? Practicing science and philosophy are merely to reason yourself away from God! Stop thinking and read this book!"
Nihilism is the doctrine that certain aspects of life have no meaning. Modern Christianity puts all stock into the "spiritual" aspect of life and in doing so, everything loses meaning except what is deemed to be spiritual. A constructed meaning, with the contention that it is the only thing good, and we must deny any other parts of life as sinful.
So instead of trying to understand who we are, what life is, we are pushed to be this particular kind of person, to take the meaning on ourselves, and if we are successful in doing so, in imprinting it onto our identity, we are considered to be good, or perhaps a Christian leader.
It is nihilism, with a constructed meaning on top of it and obliviousness to the fact that what is said to be spiritual is a construction, a set of ideals in place to push a particular structure of power, or perhaps to push a particular opinion for the benefit of a particular group of people over another.
If there is one thing I have learned through experience, it's that love is a horribly rare thing. By love, I mean regarding others as more important than oneself, truly caring when you talk to another person that they are speaking, what their life is like, and what they feel. I'm a pretty poor example of this myself, and a pretty excellent example of selfishness, which is the force I am talking about, the way people tend to do things, the way love tends to masquerade to those that don't yet understand it.
Everything in life is a competition to most people. They must have the last word, they must get somewhere faster than you, they must prove themselves to be better in some way to sleep at night, and those that aren't interested in this competition are considered second class, are stepped on and insulted for no reason, and thrown out as worthless. The tragic reality is that love is the farthest thing from most peoples' minds, and the Christian world is no exception to this.
You may think I am straw-manning Christianity, and you could be correct. Indeed, I believe in a very different faith than the one I am outlining here, and I do a bad job of following it because, to put it simply, I am not a good person. I do my best though, and I tend to hope that God is there beside me understanding my every selfish action and loving me anyway.
However, a straw-man implies that I am portraying a person or group or system differently than how it would seem to be to an objective observer. Given the lack of self-awareness the religion has about the way it acts toward others, I can not in good conscience call most of the Christians I have met objective in any way. Indeed, perhaps the theology is different, perhaps people would claim not to believe certain things I qualify as under Christianity, but the way people act is what should be given attention here, as actions flow out of beliefs. In my experience, Christians are nihilists with a fuzzy system built over the void trying to survive like everyone else.
So when did we accept this destruction of meaning? For it is not only the Modern Christian's fault, they have simply fooled themselves to avoid the void they know exists. To be honest, I don't really know. But what is clear to me is that 99% of the people I have met, including myself, are struggling, suffocating in this meaninglessness, either trying to understand where they fit in life or choosing to believe something they have no proof of, no reason to believe except that they feel good believing it. Can we really blame a person for their beliefs, even if we disagree with them and find them horrifying?
It really is no wonder people find this type of thinking scary: it is terrifying. It is no wonder that the Christians I speak of here would say I am destroying my own faith: in many ways they're correct. But something has been too wrong for far too long, and I can't take it anymore. I have become a nihilist trying to find my own way, and every meaning I construct gets sucked into the void because I keep finding every structural problem and exposing it, and I wish I could stop.
Is there a solution to this? Once again, I don't really know. However, let us come back to where we started from.
Nihilism, the void in our beings that comes from losing trust in ourselves. Whether that is to imbalance ourselves or to totally become someone that blindly leaps at something that will save us from our complete lack of trust in ourselves, it doesn't matter. What matters is that we were created as intellectual, emotional, and yes, spiritual beings. Were I to have to construct a meaning in this void, I would start with what I can readily sense, and I would have faith in those things first.
I enjoy things that give me pleasure. I enjoy things that stimulate my mind. I enjoy things that make me feel whole. I enjoy it when I feel capable, and even when I do not, when I feel worthwhile despite my mistakes and my brokenness. How can I be worthwhile if I cannot trust myself? Would I not be a boy just hitting puberty running into walls in a dark room, trying to escape, trying to see again, if only to understand what is happening to my body and my mind as I grow?
When you go out in public, you are surrounded by people. These people have the same feelings you do, they think some of the same things you do, they are just as valuable as you are, and they are different in ways that you do not know.
This isn't complicated; but we've managed to bastardize and mangle it enough with our philosophy, our religions, our lack of faith in what we can obviously sense, and by twisting the truth for our own advantage, by buying into the power and authority that we seem to have to align with to have some of our most fundamental needs met: the need for acceptance by other people chief among them.
That's the opinion of one Nihilist trying to construct his way back to sanity again, and to save his own existence. Hope it helps ya.