Flu & Religious Arguments

Wrote up a long post on the current Epic Death Flu of Death We’re All Gonna Die!, but decided enough is enough. Go read Briggs, if you want to see what I think, only said better & by a more qualified person; as far as the machinations of our self proclaimed betters to destroy the economy before the next election, and their no-longer-unrequited love of fascism, just so long as it’s *their* fascism, see Severian.

So green! So fresh and inviting!

What I’ll contribute, if you want to call it that, is instead the following observation: the panic is driven entirely by religious arguments, specifically, the sort of arguments used during the Reformation and its ongoing aftermath. Bear with me, this might be helpful.

When an old-school Lutheran, say, such as Luther himself, argued that we are saved by faith alone, he could back up that claim with any number of passages from Paul’s letters saying pretty much exactly that. When confronted with the greater number of passages saying that we will be judged by our works, not only found in James but also in the Gospel parables and elsewhere, our traditional Lutheran explains them away: nothing is allowed to throw any shade on the obvious, clearly-stated dogma of Paul, compared to which – in his mind, at least – these other claims are mere trifles.

His interlocutor will next try to undermine his certainty about Paul’s claims, noting the context: Paul is talking to Jewish converts about the works of Jewish law, and arguing against the position that meticulous observation of those laws, and, in particular, such observation by gentile converts to Christianity, is indispensable to salvation. Faith ‘alone’ – a phrase never uttered by Paul – isn’t what Paul is talking about, but rather the idea that the works required, for example, by the Pharisee’s glosses on Scripture have any value in themselves. As he put it in Titus:

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain…..  Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Titus 1:10-16

It would seem, at least to someone not already committed to the Solas, that there’s a lot of room for interpretation in what Paul says to silence “the circumcision group.” For example, that faith and works, analogously to soul and body, never exist separately except in theoretical analysis. Thus, just as the soul finds its ultimate reality in its expression in the body of which it is the substantial form, faith isn’t fully real and cannot grow without works. It’s both/and, not either or. Or so the argument goes.

But – and here’s the point of all this – no argument will be allowed which does not grant primacy to the (advocate’s understanding of the) favored passages from Paul. They are so *clear* that any failure to acknowledge their perspicuity is nothing other than conclusive evidence of the depravity of anyone making such a denial.

And that’s the end of that argument. Nothing is left but the name calling.

This is not to suggest that there isn’t an argument for Sola Fide, only that the argument as usually presented in my experience, and as presented by Luther himself, is a circular Kafka trap: not accepting it is proof you’re simply too depraved to get it.

Thus, those who think the Kung Flu is like the worst epidemic ever, totally justifying anything the government might want to do so long as it saves even *1* life, are convinced that those of us who want to consider the contrary evidence and, most infuriating of all, refuse to panic, are simply eeeevil, too depraved to see the clear truth. Wuhan and Northern Italy are their Scripture; Japan, Germany, and the Diamond Princess are passages to be explained away, and relying on them proves, dammit, that you are out to get us all killed, ought to be silenced, at the very least.

Two other points:

We see the horror of Trolley Car Problem logic lurking everywhere here. It’s A or B, and A saves millions while B condemns those millions to death. Don’t fall for it! Just as in the original faux reasoning used in the example from which this abomination gets its name, this sort of thinking first forces a universe of options down into only one choice, then insists outcomes are certain when they are all but completely unknown. We don’t know the man in the alley or the people on the tracks won’t see the trolley car coming and simply get out of the way; we don’t know if there is a conductor asleep at the switch who just might wake up if we made a bunch of noise; we don’t know these or a hundred other things which always – ALWAYS – make the outcomes of our decisions UNKNOWABLE.

Everything we do is a more or less educated guess, as far as what, if any, lives will be saved. It’s always a balancing act. Decreased economic activity kills people, too, a notion our Left seems congenitally disinclined to understand, but which is nonetheless completely obvious upon inspection. So, make good decisions, knowing it’s a trade off, seeking some less bad and essentially unknowable outcome that is largely independent of anything we may do.

Finally, people talk as if the government has this giant epidemic mitigation dial they can just turn all the way to ‘0 deaths’ if they want – do enough, and nobody dies; do anything less, and the government (specifically, the President) is now responsible for anyone who dies. Projection, meet hubris, at Daddy Issues junction.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

5 thoughts on “Flu & Religious Arguments”

    1. Incidentally, remind you of something else (that also reminds you of religious elements)?

      DOOOOOM is always two weeks away. Remember hhow the WHO and CDC said our response was just terrible? Remember the dire graphs telling us we were straight on our way to Lombardy?

      Remember how that hasn’t happened, but be careful, because it WILL, just two weeks of life that isn’t a total shutown and we’ll all start dropping like flies. Always two weeks away.

      I wonder how many months we’ll be two weeks out?

  1. And now I’m seeing “The jobs aren’t coming back anyway”.

    And you know this…how? And why is a media-driven drummed up crisis your chosen method of rebuilding society? Are we playing any stick to hit a dog here?

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