Words from a Father

Husband of One, Father of Four

Month: January, 2012

420. Essay: The Paradox of Patience: Virtue or Figment

If an anti-theist tells you patience is a virtue, ask, “Why is patience virtuous? Humans are selfish by nature, so why is it a good thing to squelch one of the primary things that makes us human?”

Is it so we’re nicer to each other? No. At most, patience may only affect how quickly we start yelling at the moron who won’t drive when the light turns green. Patience barely registers as nice. We still yell.

Does exhibiting patience show that a person is internally good? No. Niceness is utterly distinct from goodness. Niceness is external; it’s about interacting with others. Goodness is about the essence of a thing; it is internal. Niceness will be exuded from the good, but goodness is not a byproduct of platitudes.

Is patience about acting in a more socially acceptable manner?

People tell others to be patient because selfishness is one of the brute facts of being human — evidenced by the sheer quantity of its existence. They are calling them to something higher, something above ourselves, something unattainable within the basic frame of being human. Patience is a charge: a delicate mixing of command and invitation, an entrustment of responsibility. But that is not all. The charge to be patient is the charge to look at true goodness and become like it so that you may practice the qualities of the good, of which patience is one. “Be patient,” is meaningless without an example of perfection because it is then only utilitarian. And if it is utilitarian it will be only a matter of time until patience is no longer useful; then it will not even be utilitarian, but begin to stumble under the terms that other undesirable qualities receive: antiquated, puritanical, old hat, not helpful in my situation, doesn’t apply to this circumstance.

You see, virtue is a religious term stemming from the understanding of the moral perfection of mankind. Anti-theism is not the least bit concerned with religion (obviously) or virtuousness. Virtue can only exist if there is a perfect standard, but perfection is not scientific, not evolutionary, not materialistic. Good and bad, right and wrong, ought and ought not are outside of the domain of science, evolution, and materialism. These things only exist where moral law is necessary and religion (the canonization of moral law aligned with the character of God) flourishes — in other words, virtues only exist where divinity exists.

My conclusion, then, is that patience may only be charged if virtues are necessary. Virtues are necessary if goodness exists. Goodness exists if a perfect standard exists. And a perfect standard exists only if God — perfect goodness in Himself — exists. However, if God does not exist, neither does a perfect standard. If there is no perfect standard, then goodness does not exist. If not goodness, then not virtues, of which patience is one — and it is not a human virtue, but one issuing from the essence of God and imparted within the requesting human.

If these are so, then patience may be considered a virtue; not because any society says so, but because God is patient in His essence. And if patience is a virtue, we can rightfully ask and expect ourselves and others to look to God’s example of patience in Jesus Christ. If none of these things are true, then requiring patience of yourself or others is worthless because patience flies in the face of everything human, but is sourced in the nature of God.

Patience is either virtue vérité or futile figment.

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419. Knowledge Fails

The old joke goes like this. A communist says he can put a new suit on that man. Christianity says it can put a new man in that suit.

We have access to more knowledge, experience, history, culture, research, philosophy, political stances, art, and plain old information than ever before in time. Yet we are no better for it. It is past time to admit that information and access have failed to produce better people, as was hoped by the likes of Marcus Aurelius and others. Neither external forces nor accessibility can ever change a person within. Permanent and positive change begins only inside the human being, and that is precisely what Christianity — and no other religion or philosophy or political stance — promises.

418. Utopian Emptiness

Often we hear something along the lines of, “Someday technology or science will help us with or prove that fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever.” This is the definition of faith. Hopeful of some abstract future, the present problems are dismissed rather than dealt with in any real way.

This is like promising tomorrow’s stunning sunrise to the blind.

417. Quotes: Your Dad on How to Be

Think deeply then live greatly.

416. Marriage

Those fools who say marriage is just a piece of paper are the same ones who selfishly insist that everything in life is meaningless except for what they want.

415. Time

If you don’t have enough time, put your electronics away for a while.

414. Movie Manners

Enjoy it in the theater. Be the commentator at home.

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