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The Forum > Article Comments > The loss of the eternal > Comments

The loss of the eternal : Comments

By Peter Sellick, published 5/1/2018

Nihilism has become the order of the day. Death, the enemy of the eternal, has become the final and omnipotent power.

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Dear Peter,

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You wrote :

« … nothing stands, even the closest love of child, country, husband, wife, all will pass … »

I beg to disagree. Child, country, husband and wife will pass … but not love. Death cannot alter love. It can only stop its expression. Love persists. It is eternal.
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As for truth, truth is not reality.

I see truth as information which has not been voluntarily deformed at the time of emission. Or, should I say, it is whatever version of reality, thought, ideas, qualia, dreams, or imagination, a particular individual is capable of experiencing and subsequently transmitting without voluntarily deforming it.

This, of course, does not exclude the involuntary deformation of information concerning the object of truth. The information that is emitted by somebody may be totally erroneous but perfectly truthful.

There are as many truths as there are observers and each one may be completely different from all the others, though each observer may be telling the truth from his or her particular perspective. I see truth as a perfectly subjective notion.

Our initial perspective may be false. We may incorrectly interpret what we perceive. Shock or prejudice may prevent us from correctly registering what we perceive. We may suffer a lapse of memory at the time of transmitting the information. We may not employ the correct expressions or be sufficiently precise in relaying the information. Our body language may be inconsistent with our oral expression, etc. All these and many other factors may possibly result in the involuntary deformation concerning the object of truth.

The star we claim to see may have disappeared from the heavens millions of years ago. That does not alter the fact that we are telling the truth in claiming to see it. The reality is different.

And unless there are other living species, which I ignore, capable of deliberately deforming the information they transmit regarding their perceptions and experiences I consider that truth is a concept that has no existence beyond humanity.

Perhaps you would be kind enough to let me have your definition.

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Posted by Banjo Paterson, Wednesday, 10 January 2018 12:05:26 AM
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Dear Tristan Ewins,

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You wonder :

« … how can we explain free-will and consciousness without reference to the 'transcendental'»

That’s easy. Simply by explaining that “free will” means “autonomy” and “consciousness” means “awareness”.
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You then enquire :

« How can we be Christian if we deny an eternal God ? »

That’s easy too. If you are a Christian, you have been baptised, and baptism is not rescindable. Once a Christian, always a Christian.

Most Christian denominations remain silent on this question. Not surprisingly, there is a plethora of information on how to become baptised but nothing about how to cancel it. Here is the only explanation I managed to find on the internet :

« It [baptism] is eternal and unchangeable in nature. It cannot be cancelled or changed by God or man. It is a part of your eternal security. No renunciation; no sin, human good, or evil; no moral or immoral degeneracy can cancel this ministry of the Holy Spirit » :

http://www.gracenotes.info/documents/topics_doc/holyspirit_baptism.pdf

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Posted by Banjo Paterson, Wednesday, 10 January 2018 2:11:46 AM
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Dear Peter,

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I would like to enlarge on the point I made about love because I think it is not only pertinent to your mythopoetic meditation on the eternal, but more importantly, I think it is paramount.

But before doing so, I should add that I did not fail to notice the prudent manner in which you presented David Szolay's Latin quotation “Amemus et non pertura” - which, I think you will agree, is nonsensical - and which he interprets as meaning “Let us love that which is eternal and not what is transient”.

Perhaps he misread the inscription which may possibly have been “Amemus et non perturba” (“Let us love and not make trouble”). However, whatever it was, is neither here nor there. To me it is a clear indication of the poor quality of the individual whom, for some reason, you present as the author of a “fine collection of short stories”.

« So what is eternal ? » the author asks himself.

“Nothing” thinks he, and you add : « Our problem, our unease, our existential dilemma is that we now know that nothing eternal exists »

That is where I differ. In my view, it is the other way round. It is because of the individual’s “existential dilemma” that the thought “that nothing eternal exists” is unsupportable. People cling desperately to the belief that there must be an afterlife and that by faith alone they will be saved. Faith may or may not get them to heaven, but, at least, it alleviates their “existential dilemma”.

However, irrespective of whether we suffer from “existential dilemma” or not, the fact remains that as we can see neither a beginning nor an end to the cosmos and everything it contains, I consider that the eternal does, indeed, exist - until proof to the contrary.

I am less affirmative about life. But there is no doubt in my mind that love is eternal.

Either love is or it is not. If it is not, it never was. If it is, it always will be.

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Posted by Banjo Paterson, Thursday, 11 January 2018 4:16:37 AM
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Banjo.

Define your version of love! So far it makes little sense to your critique.

You need to expand in that one little word a lot, since you have an argument that hangs on it!
Posted by diver dan, Thursday, 11 January 2018 11:18:14 AM
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Dear diver dan,

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You wrote :

« Define your version of love ! »

It seems there is no universal definition. The OED indicates no less than 25, the first of which is “an intense feeling of deep affection”, but that is only part of the story and, in my view, not the essential part.

The biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher, suggested that " Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species".

I, personally, like the definition of that well-known Australian biologist, Jeremy Griffith: "unconditional selflessness". This, to me, is the essence of the word - to which all sorts of lace and frills and other fioritura may be added.

I also like Aristotle's definition, which was later adopted by Thomas Aquinas: "to will the good of another", though it lacks the notion of "selflessness" which, to me is an indispensable feature of "love". Perhaps it is a vestige of my Christian education, but I cannot conceive of "love" without some form of personal engagement, the "giving of oneself", an element of self-sacrifice.

And, as I indicated in my previous post, either love is or it is not and if it is not, then it has never been. In my mind, there is no such thing as temporary or partial love. Either it is total, eternal and indestructible or it is not.

I’m afraid I have to reveal something of my personal life history in order to illustrate why I have arrived at this conclusion :

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(Continued …)

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Posted by Banjo Paterson, Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:58:47 PM
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(Continued …)

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I met my wife in Paris and we have been through many years of stormy weather but we somehow both managed to cling to the mast and survive. Now the fire in me is no more than a gentle simmer and it's all smooth sailing. Nothing and nobody could come between us now. We are on our way to oblivion, hand in hand, headed for eternity.

As I see it, love is unconditional. Even death has no power over love. If my wife were to die before me, it would not alter my love for her. And what can anybody or anything do to our love when we are both dead ? It will remain unaltered for eternity.

In my humble opinion, most of those who think they love somebody do not. They mistake love for feelings, affection, sentiments, sex, liking, sympathy, admiration or some other basic impulse or self-serving urge.

Some seem to fall in love with their own image. They even look alike.
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My brother and I adopted a stray puppy that wandered through the front gate one day and we grew up with him. He was like a third brother. We went through all sorts of battles and adventures together. He defended us against our cousins and saved the chickens from drowning during a flood by swimming around and picking them up in his mouth and putting them on the roof of the fowl house. He risked his life in the raging flood waters.

Does that qualify for love, "unconditional selflessness" ?

Nobody asked him to do that and he got no reward for it. He had never been trained to do it. We never trained him to do anything. We treated him as a brother, not a dog. My uncle took him to the vet when he was fifteen, half blind and could hardly walk and had him put out of his misery.

That was about half a century ago now. I don't think his death or the passing years can do anything to change that.

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Posted by Banjo Paterson, Thursday, 11 January 2018 11:08:26 PM
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