Eternal Judgement – What Does the Bible Say?

A friend asked me recently for summary of Bible teaching on hell, as her son was challenged by his university friends that eternal punishment did not seem logical to them.  They suggested that a spirit would be incinerated in hellfire and so any judgment would be over quickly, not a protracted experience.  Following are the notes I put together to give an overview of the subject from a Biblical standpoint.

Eternal Judgment is one of the foundational doctrines listed in the Bible.

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Hebrews 6:1,2

By its very label this judgment is “eternal”, not transitory.
Repulsive as the thought is to our minds the Bible makes it clear that ongoing torment will be given to those who reject the salvation God offers us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Consider these warnings from Jesus and their reference to enduring punishment:
“And if your hand offends you, cut it off: it is better to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that is never quenched: Where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched. And if your foot offends you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter life lame, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that is never quenched: Where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched. And if your eye offends you, pluck it out: it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.” Matthew 9:43-48
“And these will go into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 25:46

What we understand from the Bible is that mankind has at enduring (eternal) soul (or spirit) which will either enjoy eternal blessings in God’s heavenly Kingdom (heaven) or eternal pain and torment in hell.

Hell is described for us as a place of continuous torment of fire without being burned up.

Jesus gives us a picture of this in His account of a rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. After death the rich man went to a place of enduring fiery torment while the faithful beggar went to a place of comfort, called Abraham’s bosom.

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so he can dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Luke 16:23,24

“Then he said, I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house: For I have five brothers; that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.” Luke 16:27,28

In each of these depictions of punishment for the wicked the pain and torment is enduring, not a temporary incineration.

Sin is just that horrible, not just to God and to the standards of holiness, but also to ourselves. Our selfish sinful heart wants to believe that sin is an excusable slip and something that can be justified away by blaming our past unhappinesses or the pressures of the moment. But when sin is measured against God’s holiness it is so horrible and so destructive that it warrants eternal punishment of the extreme kind. Sin damages us beyond our comprehension and all God’s warnings to us to avoid sin are for our protection, not to spoil our fun. God knows how toxic sin is.

Wonderfully none of us is ever intended to endure the eternal punishment that sin deserves. God wants all men everywhere to repent (2Peter 3:9). God’s overwhelming love compelled Him to become the very sacrifice for our sins so that man could be saved from eternal torment. However, if we snub such amazing sacrifice and hold the immeasurable love of God as something to be ignored we remain under condemnation and will have to face the just punishment for the abhorrent sin we have committed and refused to repent of.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He who believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:17-19

“He who believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son will not see life (eternal life with God in heaven); but the wrath of God rests on him.” John 3:36

Note also that hell was never designed for mankind, but as the place of punishment for the fallen angels.

“Then will he say to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matthew 25:41

If the devil can seduce us to reject God’s salvation and live in our sinful nature then the devil will drag us into the place of eternal torment that was not made for us but for him.

These insights come to us by God’s revelation in the Bible (the Word of God). Truth comes from God and our source of truth is God’s Word, the Bible. Our selfish hearts will try to wrestle with the Word of God and even twist it to say what we want to hear, but those with faithful hearts will accept what God says as God’s Word and seek to understand it, not neutralise it.

Eternal judgment, as in judgment that endures for eternity causing those who are punished to be in perpetual torments, is what the Bible describes. The idea of annihilation is more tolerable than the idea of enduring torment. But one of the foundational doctrines of the Bible (as quoted earlier from Hebrews 6) is “eternal judgment”.

On a pastoral note, be aware of your own heart. The human heart is dangerous territory.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” Matthew 15:18,19

“Keep your heart diligently; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Every time our heart reacts to some truth given to us in God’s Word that reaction indicates there is a wrong setting in our heart. Reaction to the truth of eternal judgement may indicate we have a “fear of eternal damnation” and need prayer to be free from that tormenting fear. Or it may be that we resent God’s authority because we have unresolved offences from authority figures who offended us in the past. Or we may have such pride that we want to rule our life and even eternity on our own terms, instead of submitting ourselves to God. Or reaction could spring from many other impulses in our heart. Stay attentive to “reactions” because those things that come out of a man reveal his heart and show the “issues” they need to deal with to truly walk in the freedom that truth brings.

“You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

Clay Pots and Brokenness

I spoke on Clay Pots tonight for the end of year Men’s Support Group event in Melbourne. Here are some key insights I shared.

We are all just clay pots. Human flesh is made of the same ingredients found in the soil, plus lots of water. So that makes us ‘mud’. We are fashioned into clay pots, ordinary and utilitarian.

Many of us wish our clay pot was somewhat better than it is: taller, better looking, stronger, more skilful, smarter, or more impressive in some way.

The best way to improve our clay pot is not to work over the shape and size of the pot, but to place treasure into it. If ordinary clay pots were for sale and one of them had a treasure inside it you would want to find that one to buy, rather than an empty one. The treasure gives the pot far greater value than it has on its own.

Similarly we as ordinary humans can have divine treasure inside us and that makes us incredibly more valuable than we were before.

What is the divine treasure the Bible speaks about? It is described by the apostle Paul….

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2Corinthians 4:6,7

The treasure is God’s “light” shining on the inside of us. Light speaks of such things as revelation, insight, truth, illumination, removal of darkness, exposure of hidden things and cleansing.

We get to carry the light of God on the inside of us, illuminating and transforming us. That is an incredible treasure making us totally different to all those who have never been born again and who thus do not carry God’s light within.

That treasure is SO wonderful it makes our ordinariness, our clay pot status, quite irrelevant.

While some people struggle to improve their clay pot with personal development, education, social upgrades and so on, they can never upgrade their clay pot to anything of the value of the treasure God is waiting to place inside them. Giving your clay pot (your natural life) a makeover is a totally insignificant process compared to inviting God’s ‘treasure’ into your life.

So let’s take a look at the “light” that God shines into us. In 2Corinthians 4:6 Paul compares the light which God shines in our hearts with the light that shone into the darkness at Creation. At Creation the light shone where there was only darkness.

It is the same with us. When we receive God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ God’s light shines inside us where there has only been darkness. And just as the original creation of light completely dispelled the darkness and triumphed over it so God’s light in us dispels darkness within us and triumphs over it.

It doesn’t matter how dark things are inside our clay pot, with fears, torments, guilt, shame, addictions, evil, pride, suicidal thoughts, or whatever, God’s light shines into that very darkness and dispels it. God’s light is not created by us or worked up by some process within us, but it shines into our darkness, despite our darkness and dispels our darkness. “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness has shined in our hearts.”

That makes each of our clay pots special, including those that are fat, bald, skinny, disabled, very ordinary, shy, weak, illiterate, crushed by life’s challenges and such like. We are all special when there is a deposit of God’s treasure within us.

We are each a light to the world and we are told to let our light shine.

Talking of clay pots with light inside links to a time when 300 soldiers followed Gideon into battle against a huge army of Midianites. At night each soldier took his place on the ridges around the enemy camp carrying a clay pot with a flaming torch inside. At Gideon’s signal the clay pots were smashed and the lights blazed brightly, leading to a decisive victory over the enemy.

That historic example reminds us that light inside the clay pot shines brightest once the pot is broken. I see examples of that among the men of the Men’s Support Group in Melbourne. Men who have been broken by life’s challenges, with health and family taken from them, or having to struggle through tough situations, often show the sweetest compassion, patience, care and self-sacrifice in order to help others. Their light shines much brighter than other Christians who are distracted by their comfortable lives keeping themselves happy.

If you have not received God’s light into your life then pray to God and tell Him that you believe Jesus is God’s Son who died for us and ask God to forgive you of your sins through the blood of Jesus. Then ask God to shine His light into your life and lead you into a life as His child, filled with all the fullness of God. God bless you as you do.

For more insight about us being clay pots go to my first article on Clay Pots by clicking here.

http://chrisfieldblog.com/2014/12/12/claypots1

Clay Pots – Good News For Ordinary People

I reflected on human insignificance over the past week. The thought came first by recognition that among my acquaintances are many decidedly ordinary people. Some have nothing to commend them, having been raised in very ordinary circumstances, with no evident talent, nothing to give them social appeal, limited education, poor career prospects, distracting habits of speech or behaviour, self-absorbed life focus, and so on.

Yet I count such people among my dear friends and enjoy being with them. That is not to say their peculiarities don’t get in the way at times, but beyond their banal humanness are qualities of incredible value. I mean specifically that each has had an encounter with the Living God and found salvation and grace through putting faith in Jesus Christ as their saviour and lord.

Through that experience these very ordinary and ignorable people have a deposit within them that is truly divine. So it is not unusual for one of them to come out with something that is quite beyond them, such as an insight prompted by the Holy Spirit, or a response of heart that reflects the heart of God toward a situation. There is a treasure in these people that transcends their ordinariness.

That’s what the great apostle Paul meant when he said we hold treasure in our clay pot.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels (clay pots), that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2Corinthians 4:7

When we are ‘born again’ as Jesus said we need to be (John 3:3) we are ‘born of God’ and that new life within us transcends our failing humanity. In our humanness, our ‘flesh’, there is nothing of any value, as the apostle Paul declared.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) is no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Romans 7:18

We are stuck with our ‘earthen vessel’, the Clay Pot of our humanity. But inside our clay pot is an unspeakable treasure completely out of character with the rest of us and quite out of place in us. Thus we are a kind of contradiction. We are basically worthless clay pots, yet, with that treasure inside us, we are incredibly valuable.

That thought filtered into my consciousness as I considered some of the ordinary people I meet with week by week in various places. If they were to stand on their own social merits they might be written off by those with social pride. But their humanness fades in the light of their divine standing.

Each of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ stands as a Son of God (adopted into God’s family) with a personal relationship with God as our heavenly Father and Jesus as our Saviour, Lord and brother. We also have the Holy Spirit resident within us leading us to become more like God, even though we can frustrate or stall that process if we choose.

Consequently we are tuned in to eternity and to the divine. At any moment any one of us can be lit up by revelation, prompting, conviction, faith, inspiration, compassion, a gift of the Holy Spirit, sense of God’s presence and love, sweep of God’s grace, application of a kingdom principle (like forgiveness) or some similar divine connection. And there are no other people on the planet with whom we can share such an amazing capacity.

Rubbing shoulders with the elite, or the wealthy, educated, influential, talented and famous is one thing, but if those people are not born again in spirit and connected with the Living God they are just clay pots. What is worse for them, they are empty clay pots.

We Christians are clay pots, and we may be clay pots of the most ordinary kind, but inside these pots is glorious treasure. That treasure is described by the apostle Paul as “light” and it is wonderful.

So, to all my fellow clay pot Christians, I rejoice with you that despite our desperate ordinariness and all our failings in the eyes of those who can discern social qualities, we carry God’s treasure. What delight and what a humbling privilege. I salute you and I bless you and I rejoice with you that we can share such undeserved privilege by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gothard Message

I write this just a few weeks after Bill Gothard stood down from leadership of the IBLP ministry which he created and has led for decades. Accusations of impropriety have been levelled against him and will be sorted out in due course.

While many people have placed their sights on the ‘man’ I would like to take a moment to reflect on the Message and Ministry which this man of God brought about.

I first heard of Bill Gothard in the early 1990’s when he and a team of young people first came to Australia to present his world famous Basic Seminar. My oldest son, Stephen, in his late teens, attended and returned home wonderfully impacted and transformed by the message and ministry of the IBLP.

Stephen had new perspective on himself, selfishness, godly living, the powerful relevance of God’s word in his life, life purpose, the importance of lifting his game spiritually and much more.

What impacted Stephen was a combination of the teaching received in the Basic Seminar and the encouragement of several young men, not much older than himself, who had applied the things Mr Gothard taught and had wonderful fruit in their lives as a consequence.

My wife and I were so impressed by the impact of the IBLP message and ministry on our son that we quickly made plans to hear the seminars ourselves and to look into the ATI home schooling program. We were already teaching our children at home and wanted to understand this alternative approach.

To attend the seminars our family (minus my two youngest sons) flew to New Zealand and were blessed by what we learned and saw. The young people and families who sought to apply the Biblical principles taught in the seminars were clearly blessed and enriched by doing so.

My family not only began the ATI home-schooling but my three oldest sons enjoyed time at IBLP Headquarters in Chicago and I headed to the USA to attend a seminar for dads, where I was privileged to make some small input as well. I was also privileged to travel with Bill Gothard between Indianapolis and Chicago. One of my sons later attended the Alert training program and we assisted the ministry to get set up in Melbourne, Australia.

As I reflect on that wonderful and life-changing season in our lives I have to thank God for the message and ministry of Bill Gothard. His desire to seek God and to minister effectively led to the creation of a ministry much bigger than himself. Few Christian leaders have had as much impact internationally as Bill Gothard has enjoyed for decades.

Does that make Mr Gothard infallible? Of course not. He is as human as the rest of us. He, like each of us, also has his own personality, style, gifting and focus.

I don’t hold equally to all things taught by the IBLP. But then I don’t hold equally to all things I hear from the pulpit in my home church, or from popular Christian speakers, or from Focus on the Family, Hillsong, the various prophetic voices or Spurgeon.

Whether Bill Gothard has things to answer or his accusers have wronged him there is no mistaking the call of God on his life and the grace of God at work through him to multitudes. My family is testimony to the impact of the Gothard Message and there are tens of thousands who have much the same fruit.

Sadly that fact may be lost in the rumblings that inevitably occur in situations like this.

I have seen several sad evidences of Christians rejoicing that Mr Gothard has ‘fallen’. I can only assume they do not like the message and ministry and cannot see that when a Christian leader is shamed we all suffer. I wonder if those people would be keen to have their past actions exposed for public scrutiny and ridicule.

A Christian leader commented to me in light of Bill Gothard’s current challenges, “There isn’t a preacher alive today who doesn’t have past actions and choices they wouldn’t want made public.”

We also see the inevitable opinion posturing too. People quickly forget our important principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and readily spout their opinion without having first hand knowledge of any of the facts. Christ warns us about this kind of judging of one another – “judge not that you be not judged”. That’s a road I don’t want to go down.

At the same time we see something fresh in the IBLP world. I once observed to Bill Gothard that he does not have a succession plan in place. He was probably little more than 60 at the time. The following day Bill asked, “What if God doesn’t want a successor in place?”

Corporate programming led me to make and impose assumptions on God’s work without thought for God’s plan and purpose. I had to recognise that the IBLP ministry does not belong to me and I have no right to any opinion about how it should be run. That ministry was brought about by God through Bill Gothard and those around him. Any opinion I held was presumptuous and out of place. I left the matter with God and Bill.

With Bill Gothard stepping down we now see the beginnings of a succession process. Others whom God has prepared are able to step into the current gap and exercise their gifts and calling.

Whatever the end result of all of this, I continue to rejoice in Bill Gothard’s message and ministry and the thousands of young people and families established with godly wisdom and insight that I did not have at that same time in my life.

I praise God for the tens of thousands of godly, talented and wise men and women raised up and still being raised up to impact our world with the gospel and the truth of God’s Word.

I pray that God give grace to Bill Gothard and the IBLP ministry. As is always the case when human life is compared with Christ, “He must increase but we must decrease”. But it is also true that “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”.

I encourage all those who have also been blessed by Bill Gothard’s message and ministry to hold fast that which is good and continue to live for the one who is eternal and for His eternal purposes on the earth.

Brave New World

Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World – Blueprint for Humanist Utopia

The following notes were written for the benefit of students given Brave New World as a study text. They are provided here for anyone who may be interested.

While Aldus Huxley claims to have written Brave New World in reaction to the direction he saw American society and technology taking the whole world in the “roaring” 1920’s, as if Huxley himself did not subscribe to the values exposed in that Brave New World, it is clear that many readers see Huxley’s book as defining the parameters of an ideal humanist utopia which they subscribe to.

Evidence the work of David Pearce who created the Huxley.net website which focuses specifically on Brave New World. Pearce anticipates achievement of the Brave New World and has his own suggestions as to the appropriate drugs to replace Huxley’s ‘soma’ while he also keeps track of genetic manipulation capable of enabling man to be free from various ills. Pearce speaks of “paradise-engineering” to bring about a world where physical and mental pain are removed and new levels of ecstasy can be achieved.

Huxley’s Brave New World proves to be not a mere mockery of American social direction, but the clearest articulation of the humanist ideal.

With that in mind a review Huxley’s paradise gives many insights into the humanist imperative and the moral framework that inspires many in today’s society.

The Humanist Utopia

BRAVE NEW WORLD represents the cry of the humanist heart to escape from morality.

Utopia, as seen through the eyes of Huxley, involves total sexual liberation from the earliest age, total liberation from the consequence of sexual activity (through contraception and abortion), escape from morality, indulgence of every impulse quickly and completely, and removal of family, God and Christianity, in order to remove remorse, fear, guilt, shame, condemnation, and so on.

But this utopia has not been achieved.

The Judeo-Christian ethic which stands in contrast to humanism is that this is a MORAL UNIVERSE and all attempts to pretend otherwise will fail.

Humanist Heroes

Huxley invokes the prophets of his age who he sees as affirming the humanist myth of escape from morality.

They include: Freud’s insights that sexual repression (moral responsibility) spawns human ills; Haekel’s already debunked fraud about human development in the womb; Pavlov’s ideas of conditioning; ideas of programming of the human mind (believing that mind is the centre of the matter); chemical reductionism (all human behaviour is nothing more than a response to chemical or other stimuli within the biology); etc.

Huxley also, we must assume, holds to the Darwinian beliefs his own grandfather so virulently asserted.

So what of Huxley’s heroes? Darwin shrinks devoid of any of the evidence he expected and shrivelled by the unveiling of life’s complexities. Freud shrinks to just one of many competing voices crying in the psychological wilderness, with little currency in today’s eclectic world of psycho-babble. Haekel’s drawings were already exposed as fraud but have since been roundly exposed and deliberate deception. Pavlov’s salivating dogs have been displaced by all manner of psychological oddities and assumptions. Chemical reductionism has failed to stand as a credible explanation for human free will.

Comparing Humanist Artefacts in Huxley and Greene

Similarly to Richard Greene’s The Quiet American a humanist worldview is clearly evident in Brave New World, exposing the prevailing thought of the educated elite in the early part of last century. (Richard Greene’s The Quiet American is another literature text given to students to review.)

Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931 and through it, and through Huxley’s comments 15 years later in his 1946 Foreword, we are given insight into the ideas that influenced the cadre of writers, philosophers and world influencers of the first half of the twentieth century. Huxley saw himself as a member of the ‘intellectual class’ (Foreword 1946) and is hailed as writing one of the most significant texts of his day. So we can be justified in performing an autopsy on Huxley’s ideas and the thinking of that past era.
By such process we shall likely see insights into the value of those ideas and also possibly see how those ideas have morphed into ideas held by today’s educated elite.

While Huxley revolts at the direction Americanisation was relentlessly taking the rest of the world and the ultimate tyranny of his suggested outcome, he also holds to the humanist values that underpin that inherent direction of applied science as he prophetically saw it heading. Huxley’s prophetic insight was based on interpretation of the popular notions shared among the intellectual class of his day. Brave New World was nonetheless the utopia envisaged by the educated elite of Huxley’s day.

It is interesting to note parallels between Huxley’s bold suggestions of 1931 and the values expressed by Greene in his 1952 book, The Quiet American.
Two decades had not changed the prevailing ideas but had seen them become more ubiquitously and more a natural aspiration of the average educated man (represented by Greene’s characters).

To clarify an obvious connection note that Huxley’s utopia centred on sex and drugs and man’s ability to abandon responsibility.
The life of Greene’s main character, Thomas Fowler, is also centred on sex, drugs and exemption from past commitments.
Both Huxley and Greene see the need to address and dispense with the place and presence of the divine and both present an ideal of life free from the imposition of an external moral being.

Sex, drugs and irresponsibility found wider expression in the second half of last century with the explosion of the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s.
The humanistic, self-indulgent rejection of morals that Huxley and Greene each presented and which were at one time the preserve of those pursuing a bohemian lifestyle, became a widespread cultural revolution that morphed into the many cultural and social issues of today.

In the 8 decades since Huxley’s expose of the humanist ideal we have seen progressive abandonment of the traditional Christian values promoted and upheld in the western world for centuries, and in consequence we have seen drug addiction, family breakdown, domestic violence, youth suicide, depression and other signs of social decline swell in significance and that humanist ideal become much more widely pursued.

What we see in the writings of Huxley and Greene and their peers is the rise of the religion of humanism in the west, swamping the values of Christianity which had undergirded western society for centuries.
To members of the ‘intellectual class’, defiance of God through reliance on scientific breakthrough would relieve them of moral responsibility and allow them to indulge their human passions readily and with impunity.
These intellectuals could have no higher existence than serving their own wishes and making contribution to the anti-God campaign.

The Huxley Calling

Aldus Huxley’s grandfather, Thomas Huxley, was so virulent a force in promoting evolution he was dubbed “Darwin’s Bulldog”.
Thus ‘defying God’ was a family tradition for the Huxley’s. Aldus knew that he too was to play his part.

Yet for all his bravado and evangelistic effectiveness, Darwin’s Bulldog is now exposed as selling an empty box.
None of Darwin’s concepts or expectations stood up to scientific scrutiny.
So much so that today’s evolutionists seek completely different possibilities for evolution than Darwin proposed.
The evidences promulgated so effectively by the elder Huxley have therefore clearly proven faulty.
Today’s evolutionists cannot yet provide any convincing proofs for their theory despite those proofs being sought in earnest for more than a century.

The elder Huxley spoke as an evangelistic voice selling a bag of goods that proved to be spurious.
We need not, thus, be squeamish about inspecting the younger Huxley’s bag of goods and testing the true nature of what he dished up to his audience educated in humanist thought and eager to have formal permission for their longed for self-serving lifestyle.

Applied Science

Huxley’s humanist world is anchored in what he calls ‘applied science’, which we would today simply call technology.
The Brave New World utopia could only come into existence through applied science empowering man to transcend such horrors as the fear of death, the aging process, family relationships, unwanted pregnancy, frustration of personal will, and addiction and other side effects of drug use.

Huxley’s fiction starts by first introducing us to the use of applied science to create man in the image of man’s choosing.
The Hatching and Conditioning factory involves a completely controlled artificial womb created by applied science, where temperature, chemical exposure and other stimuli are used to control the ultimate ‘human’ (or maybe subhuman) output.

More on the Humanist Heroes

In Huxley’s establishing scenes of man creating man to serve man’s will we gain insight into identity of the luminaries Huxley saw bringing applied science to the fore.

To the intellectual elite no greater honour can be conferred than to be acknowledged by peers, quoted by them, and even to have some process or truth named after you.
So in the humanist world of applied science the ‘prophets’ are not Confucius, Buddha, Moses or Paul, but such names as Marx, Freud, Kinsey and Pavlov.
That these names are still honoured today speaks to their status as primary voices or significant contributors to the humanist cause.
Such men are the gurus or holy men of humanism.

Huxley reflects the formula of giving honour to the humanist scientist by building their names into the key processes by which they made his utopia possible. We find reference to a Bokanovski’s Process and Podsnap’s Technique and respect for a Pilkington at Mombasa. Enshrining the name of men who are revered is automatic to Huxley.

Apart from fictitious names for processes not yet invented, Huxley exposes his own reverence for men who have advanced the humanist utopian ideal.

Haekel

In chapter 1 we find reference to Haekel’s ‘embryonic recapitulation’ pseudo-science.
Without mentioning Haekel that man’s myth is keenly affirmed:
“The embryos still have gills. We immunize the fish against the future man’s diseases.”
Haekel’s fraud was exposed in the 1890’s but still promoted in “science” (?) textbooks since that time, including being attested to as fact by the NSW education system in 2012.
Haekel’s deliberately deceptive drawings were further exposed at the end of last century when correct embryo images were collated to show the degree of gross misrepresentation engaged in by this fraudster.

In Brave New World not only is Haekel’s fraud presented confidently but its logical deception is also stated in the words “future man’s diseases”, as if the embryo is not yet “man” but something sub-human.

One of the pivotal platforms for humanist thought is that man is not truly man in the sense taught by Christianity, but a mere accident of chance and even in the womb is nothing more than an animal that can be tamed or manipulated into whatever others choose it to be, or even destroyed without thought. Huxley’s utopia is built soundly upon that premise.

Mass Production

Also looming large in Huxley’s view of the world, as a luminary who will usher in the Brave New World, is Henry Ford, the champion of mass production. To Huxley the application of production line process, as Ford famously achieved, signalled much more than efficient manufacture, but the prospect of just about anything being controlled by man’s technology.
Thus Huxley evokes the image of human embryos relentlessly subjected to production line process.

Today ‘Who is Ford?’ While production line ingenuity seemed to be a compelling breakthrough to Huxley in 1930 no-one today is at all likely to deify, or even give too much thought to “Fordism”.
We are much more enamoured with the innovations that gave us Microsoft, Apple and Khan Academy. Technology has given us much more than Henry Ford’s clunky Model T, and remote third world countries now produce for us base model vehicles that make Ford’s efforts look archaic.
Production line processes pale into insignificance compared with the transistor and microchip and the benefits of the world-wide-web.

Despite such incredible advance in technology, production processes, robotics, miniaturisation, and so on since 1931 we are not any closer to Huxley’s utopian artificial womb. Henry Ford did not offer us anything more than mass produced goods. And since Ford’s day we have become much better at mass production of identical manufactured items. Ford is forgotten and mankind, family, happiness and pain continue as ever before.

Pavlov

In Chapter 2 we find another of Huxley’s luminaries in Pavlov, with his name enshrined in the ‘Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning Rooms’. The Brave New World has supposedly refined the science of conditioning to train children to react as per the programming. It seems that Pavlov’s admirers once salivated in anticipation of a Brave New World.

But did the great Pavlov give us anything any granny with a cat did not already know? Pavlov conditioned dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell, in anticipation of the meal that normally accompanied that sound. For this he is a humanist hero, having unlocked the human psyche (or the dog psyche anyway).
Yet when a cat owner opens the refrigerator, starts to open a tin of cat food, or taps the can the pet will come running and licking its lips. And if the stooped old widow is opening the fridge for herself or just opening a can of baked beans the preconditioned cat response is elicited as reliably as in Pavlov’s laboratory.

Wow! The great Pavlov stands beside the stooped granny feeding her cat. And the control of man is no closer than it was when cats first domesticated us.
Why then is Pavlov adored? He was part of the educated elite, not a stooped old granny. And he provided a cogent promise that by discovering what was already known for past millennia he was unlocking new horizons for the future.

I am reminded of the 2,000 year old warning that “professing themselves to be wise they became fools” (Paul the student of Gamaliel).

Note that in the application of Pavlovian conditioning Huxley has no qualms about inflicting pain and denying people their god-given right to choose freely. Cruelty to infants, which would be condemned if it was in the form of parental discipline of the child, is seen as noble when inflicted painfully and repeatedly upon an entire generation in order to make them become something they may not want to be.
All hail humanism. It stands against the cruelty of punishment for crime as a means of raising moral character and advocates far greater cruelty (even torture) to enslave the minds of people so they don’t get in the way of others who want to have their fun without moral responsibility.
And Pavlov, not the granny with her cat, can be hailed as the scientific luminary who legitimises this cruelty. I suspect Granny is perfectly happy for that.

This Pavlovian conditioning process is consistent with Huxley’s persistent idea that man is the end of the matter and that man can be freely tampered with by man.

Getting Rid of God

In his 1946 Foreword Huxley exposes his humanist religious commitment through his definition of ‘religion’.
“Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man’s Final End”.
This definition is man centric, thus humanist. It is in effect a pursuit of transcendence, arriving at the idealised state represented by the humanist notion of “Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman”.
This humanist pursuit is to become an enlightened being, to so find oneself and so effectively pursue self-help personal development principles, as to have arrived at a higher state of consciousness where man has risen above the mundane and become a higher being.
This is thus a religion in which one saves oneself. Human saving human. This is the religion of Humanism, not the fear of God.

Interestingly in Greene’s The Quiet American, his American character, Alden Pyle, holds to the religious beliefs of Unitarianism and Christian Science, both which compromise the core values of traditional Christianity and accommodate the humanist idea of man’s effective effort to save self.

Rather than recognising an eternal, self-existent being who exists separate from and as creator and lord over all we know, and to whom we therefore owe allegiance and by whom we will be measured in comparison with his holy standards, Huxley (and Greene) project man as the ultimate being, in pursuit of his own happiness and not accountable to any external, holy being.
Thus in both cases man can do what is convenient or whatever he chooses, with his only challenge being to use applied science to overcome any negative effects which may occur (such as unwanted pregnancy).

In Huxley’s mind, representative of the humanist belief system, there is no greater morality than man. Technology is progressively liberating man from the consequences of actions otherwise seen as immoral (unwanted pregnancy, conflict with others, personal hurt and pain) and removing the obstacles to man’s pursuit of happiness.
Education and science are man’s greatest assets and those who find the keys to greater release from consequences or who can prop up man’s rejection of God automatically become heroes of the faith and prophets to be revered.

Educating and Deceiving

Huxley’s humanist ideas of man elevating himself are further disclosed in the process by which the Savage achieves higher levels of civility and awareness. The operative elevating agency is study, and specifically the study of Shakespeare.

This fits the ‘educated elite’ notion that education is a means of salvation.
If Shakespeare can ennoble the Savage, then those and other worthy writings of the masters can ennoble anyone. If one can be elevated to civility by study of good literature then what are the ultimate limits of such elevation? Cannot man continue to ennoble himself, lifting self higher and higher out of the morass of ideas and experience that bring pain? Thus the humanist ululation when one of their own provides a new insight that promises to advance the cause, such as a Pavlov giving scientific credence to a common observation.

Sadly we see abundant evidence that the educated elite and others held by the humanist ideology have no qualms about propagating fraud as fact and holding to outdated ideas that have lost their credibility, as we saw with Huxley’s propagation of Haekel’s fraudulent work. To admit that man cannot save himself and that the case against God has no witnesses is to cut the very ground from under the feet of those who have committed their whole life to the humanist belief system and a morality that has clearly put them in the anti-God camp. Human pride and self-will must clutch at straws rather than admit error and moral responsibility.

Note that for all the ennobling power of education and fine literature touching the soul, Huxley recognised the limits of this force. Education can ennoble, but it cannot save. It can improve life, but it cannot provide power over broader forces. We see this enacted in the ultimate suicide of the ennobled savage. For all his ability to see better and realise ‘self’ more fully, the savage ultimately succumbed to despair in the futility of his situation.

Sadly we see a history of similar defeat among humanist intellectuals who find that all their pursuits leave them without the ultimate freedom and power they hoped for.

Feminism

Feminist elements of humanism are also encapsulated in Huxley’s expose. While man and woman are indulged with unlimited ‘Free Sex’ (as DH Lawrence referred to it in Sons and Lovers) without the entanglements of relationships that may sour over time or emotional holds that may not be wanted, womankind is released from the impost of pregnancy. Contraception and Abortion are everyday resources of women in the Brave New World, and viviparous mothering is a shocking thought. (Viviparous: “Giving birth to living offspring that develop within the mother’s body.”)

For the feminist hedonist the impositions of motherhood, impacting the body during pregnancy and challenging the body’s natural youthful state in consequence of pregnancy and breast-feeding a baby, and the continued impositions of child raising, denying the carefree options available to a non-parent, and tying the mother into an ongoing connection with the child and the child’s father are anathema and must be removed by applied science.

In Huxley’s Brave New Society these womanly impositions are completely removed and woman is as free as a single male, unafraid of the impact of motherhood, and thus viviparous motherhood is an obscene prospect. And the imposition of child raising is also removed by children being raised by the state, without consciousness of mother and father or other family connections.

In the 8 decades since Huxley’s writing we see the efforts of technologists and policy makers to push the envelope in regard to these humanist and feminist ideals, with the 1960’s introduction of the contraceptive pill, 1970’s no-fault divorce, abortion on demand, expanded child care, extended institutionalised education, more working women, greater legal recognition of de-facto relationships and so on.

The Greater Good

Explicit in Brave New World is gross social engineering, manipulating life as one might prune a tree or treat an animal. Justification for such blatant enslavement and torture is achievement of a better equilibrium for all.

The greater good imposed on all is of man’s making and allows certain individuals, ‘controllers’, to dictate the fate of entire generations. The problem emerges, however, that if there are no external moral absolutes by which goodness can be defined, then the greater good is an empty notion, where the will of one is forced upon another.

The Savage and those others who had achieved self identity and did not want to live within the confines of the Brave New World tyranny suffered under the weight of the greater good. The greater good cannot exist without identification of the greatest good. And the greatest good invokes the present and person of one who is ultimately holy and good, against whose standards all of man’s thought and action are measured.

Noble Savage

It is interesting that Huxley’s counterpoint to the Brave New World is represented through an educated savage. The title “savage” is repeatedly assigned this individual from the native reservation. This suggests an intention to tease at the notion of the Noble Savage, “an idealized concept of uncivilized man, who symbolizes the innate goodness of one not exposed to the corrupting influences of civilization.”

It seems that in Huxley’s expose of the Brave New World we are meant to identify with the concerns of the savage and to see in him the better way than a technologically manipulated society. The savage embraced learning, by reading Shakespeare, and is thus ennobled. He seeks an independent lifestyle, of his own making, not controlled by the society at large.

Sadly for the savage he is unable to escape the impost of that other society which does not share his values and which continually interferes with his highest ideals. Thus the savage takes his life.

That act of suicide is a pessimistic recognition that the ubiquitous forces of American cultural projection cannot be stopped and will eventually destroy all vestiges of independent thought and life.
Hail the Brave New World!

Comparing Humanism and Christianity

Comparing the humanist Utopian ideal presented in Brave New World with the prevailing Christian beliefs that the Brave New World stood against the three most obvious pillars of that world stand in stark contrast to the classical Christian values upon which the ancient Monarchy and English culture stand.

Those three most obvious pillars in Brave New World are:
Man’s power over life, as evidenced in the incubator, conditioning facilities, contraception and abortion processes;
Self-indulgent living, with freedom from consequences, as evidenced in the free sex and addiction free drug usage; and
Freedom from moral accountability, as seen in the removal of family ties, committed relationships and consciousness of an external moral Creator God.

In contrast, traditional Biblical Christianity teaches that:
Life is created by God and thus man can only have power over life within the confines of God’s moral precepts;
Man is to live according to the will and pleasure of God, and must deny selfish impulses and form godly character in so doing; and
Man is fully morally accountable to God for every word, thought and act, and must also accommodate himself to the demands of family and social relationships.

Thus the values of the Brave New World, when presented in 1931, were a bold affront to all that is Christian in the western world. Its shock value would have been much greater in its day, since the decline in consciousness of Christian teaching and the loosening of morals has been significant in the past eighty years.