On Anthropological Fear – Man’s Forgotten Existential Condition

“Bent creatures are full of fears.” – C.S. Lewis Out of the Silent Planet

“For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

 

Introduction

Could it be that our biggest problem is and has always been not knowing what our most important problem is?

Ever tried to fix a car without knowing where the problem is or that there was a problem at all? Often times, the misdiagnoses or a lack of one altogether, leads to further damage of a vehicles in an already impaired condition. Perhaps you have experienced this when getting the mind-boggling bill from the mechanic shop.

I once drove a Jeep Wrangler around for 3 years. . It was incredibly fun to drive but not fun to keep fixing. Little did I know that my misdiagnoses of a battery problem would lead to the engine catastrophe!

One weekend I performed some amateur mechanic upgrades to the entire electrical system of the vehicle. What I didn’t realize at the time was how aged the battery mount & straps had become. The main support for the car battery, already torn and weakening, did not receive the same treatment that I gave the electrical system. The structural support of the energy of the vehicle had not been reinforced, rebuilt, or replaced. I continued to drive like a mad man with a jeep without knowing that the battery became loose and the stems were now touching all of the new stereo wires, which I harnessed to the jeeps main engine power. After a few minutes of smelling burning wire rubber, I pulled over. I opened the hood to find the entire fuse box, wire harness, and many other combustible parts to be on fire!

There I was, helplessly watching my sweet baby jeep burn away to oblivion. The fire department showed up later to put the dying flames out. What a disappointment! It was my fault! All from missing the point! All this from simply looking over a necessary condition to the vehicles electrical system. What was also needed was a new battery mount and straps to re-secure the batteries.

The lack of the structural security of the system led to catastrophic failure of the entire vehicle. The energy meant to be transferred elsewhere somehow – during the bumpy drive – connected to combustible parts destroying the engine and thus keeping the vehicle from being operational.

Security itself was never a part of the diagnoses and therefore not a part of the restoration.

Similarly, when contemplating humankind, the story is the same. The structural system of our condition has been overlooked, misdiagnosed, and left forgotten. Now, umpteen-thousand years after Adam, the bumpy drive is yielding results unthinkable during the diagnoses: the human race in catastrophic absurdity.

Only after wrongly insulting the field of sociology over the last 10 years, has it become clear that most if not all people pretend to be professional sociologists, including myself. Educated and especially non-educated types tend to make up theories about this issue, that cause, and this resulting effect regarding our friends, family, and world. But us layman sociologists have perhaps at times done a better job as ‘voices crying out in the wilderness’ than the Politicians, Sociologists, and Economists. Overall, while mankind have laid done thousands of years of our socioeconomic theories, our political overtures, and our mega-doctrines of man from the East to the West, we have forgotten the most important part of the human condition, fear.

That said – there is no side stepping, this article makes no apologies; for while deliberating on the ‘existential’ condition of man, the powerful portrait of structural fear has rendered itself ridiculously vivid. While wearing the hat of sociologist, philosopher, and theologian simultaneously, this is an attempt to show how fear has been forgotten when considering man’s condition. Perhaps by re-diagnosing ourselves we can stop wasting our time with placebo exterior upgrades to our soul’s facade, when it needs a structural retrofit.

Much like the structural mount & straps secured the batter of my car, fearlessness, was the structural system that once empowered Adam and Eve to be secure in the manifest presence of Almighty God. That is, their security, the structural system of the soul was sound. This God given security enabled fearless existence. Security was the structural system of the entire system of the soul which failed in Adam and Eve’s fall. A building would cease to be a building without the structural system (beam, columns, foundations, etc.), so man ceases to be man without security. Which when security is lost, fear becomes our state of structureless existence, and our very essence is in shambles.

But for some reason this structural system of fearless existence, true security, is not thought to need rebuilding in humankind. Fear has secretly eaten up entire inward and outward lives. Fear drives mankind to a form of false reasoning that pales in comparison to that which God endowed. Fear, then, is the most important and still missing element of man’s condition which must be examined now more than ever to avoid catastrophic failure of the entire purpose of humanity.

In this article, the following questions are addressed:

1)       Does fear exist in man?

2)      What is the nature of fear in man?

3)      How does fear manifest itself?

4)     What is the consequence of our fear?

5)      Is there anything that can be done?

To the 1st question we shall now turn.

Does fear exist in man?

Max Lucado is a very popular Christian author. He prolifically writes a chapter a day for the beloved & booming Evangelical genre of Christian Inspiration books. As much as these books are not intellectual masterpieces, they are spiritually and devotionally stimulating. The soul may be revived again  and again by Lucado’s work and his genre. Thus they are priceless aids to the faith much like hymnals were to our ancesters. His recent book Fearless, describes for us the following internal fears that many humans face, perhaps worldwide:

1)       Fear of not mattering

2)      Fear of disappointing God

3)      Fear of running out

4)     Fear of not protecting my kids

5)      Fear of overwhelming challenges

6)      Fear of worst-case scenarios

7)      Fear of violence

8)      Fear of the coming winter

9)     Fear of life’s final moments

10)   Fear of what’s next

11)    Fear that God is not real

12)   Fear of global calamity

13)   Fear of God getting out of my box

Lucado is very insightful here. He accurately describes the fears that plagues us. Perhaps we have conquered one fear on this list but are now plagued by another. Or several at one time. Without knowing, we often make decisions concerning practical matters and lifestyle manners by the guiding voice of fear in our subconscious. Due to this, our daily lives may be ordered in such a way that we redefine conservatism and cautiousness. Some of these subconscious fears even drive our overall life plans, emotions, finances, lifestyles, and worldview.

Max Lucado says that our deepest fear is failing God.

Dr. Calvin Ray Evans says that our biggest fear is unfounded fear. It is the internal fears based in unreality that the devil perpetuates and feeds.

Dr. John Piper says that the biggest fear of the evangelical Christians is being labeled. Whether its being called “politically incorrect”, “mindless followers of charismatic preachers”, or “radicals”, Piper says that this fear prevents us the most and is exactly what the enemy keeps us at home watching TV instead of being radicals.

Surely if these sorts of fears inhibit regenerate believers, they most likely also inhibit the unregenerate.

It is no wonder why. The current state of the world could be categorized as the technological age, media age, i-age. But our advances in technology and the securities of yesteryear have only caused perplexity when we consider all the following untamable powers hunting us all.

Apparently, global warming is the pinnacle threat of our current moment in history. Even the globally adopted International Building Code has been revised to require architects and engineers to design facilities and improve existing ones based principles of sustainability. This is a good thing actually but it is just the beginning of a new wave of laws that will mandate reduced energy consumption. As evident in the funny superbowl commercial, green police will eventually enforce a new global law that mandates public policy based on global energy consumption & supply. This is not a laughing manner but a mere prediction of the regulations that will change how we live. All in the name of global warming fear.

Threats of terrorism, not to mention nuclear and chemical war, is at an all time high at every corner of the world.

Wars, genocide, famines, earthquakes, floods, disease, malnutrition, starvation, are at an all time high.

The fallen economy only reveals the frailty and instability of our money. But our most trusted asset isn’t money, it’s the ground we live on. We need our very earth that we walk on to be stable and secure. But the earth itself is so unstable that in certain regions that at any moment, an entire country can be in shambles. The death-toll and damage in Haiti and Chile alone is eye-opening but many do not know that just earthquakes in the last century have killed at least 2 million people worldwide.

The world itself, our very planet we live on cannot be trusted. Our journey on this planet constantly spinning around the sun is marked by forces. One happens to be purely physical whereby a centrifugal force of our planetary rotation is resisted only by the force of gravity. Without which we are all looking for something to cling to lest we are thrown off the surface into the oblivion of space.

Not to mention the harsher, unlivable climates billions of us face daily, wrought with death traps, hooks, and snares caused by our blessed “mother nature.” Catastrophic hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, are becoming more frequent. Few would disagree with the notion that our planet is in peril, not just due to global warming (pending the evidence, etc.), but due to sheer naturalistic forces that we can do almost nothing about.

On top of all of that, may we mention the all time highs in perversity, abuse, dysfunction, depression, and ignorance our technologically sound & ethically advanced population endures daily. The global fears are only further exacerbated by our own interpersonal ‘relationship’ threats. Perhaps this is a point to expound upon another time, but again, not too many would argue that our interpersonal and family interactions are free from failure & neglect.

The human being is in peril due to naturalistic forces and the challenges brought upon us all by the imperfect human condition. There is no doubt that the last century or two can compete for the gold medal of the worst century in history. Never have we been closer to ultimate catastrophe on so many fronts. If there was any time to experience an eye opening diagnoses & prognosis of the human race it is now.

It is clear that fear exists globally and is manifested thoroughly as our world is full of internal and external threats that challenge our inward and collective security.

So to answer our 1st question: Yes. Fear exists in man.

But what exactly do we mean when we say “exists in?” Is it merely a temporal state of anxiety and worry that can be remedied with Max Lucado books? Or is it something structural to the unregenerate soul? Or both?

Before we move forward to answer this question (What is the nature of fear in man?) and our next questions (How does fear manifest itself? & What is the consequence of our fear?), let us dig deeper in understanding the notion of ‘anthropological’ or perhaps ‘existential’ fear, let us consider first some preliminary items for clarity. Then we will be fit for a syntopical analysis into this forgotten state of man’s condition.

Preliminary Considerations

Within the vast field of apologetics, we ultimately would like to show that Christianity ought to be appropriated for each and every individual. Or, at best show why people ought to become Christians and at the least show how one’s current worldview, evidence, philosophy, etc is in need of improvement. In doing so, we need to be able to represent the need for a personal Savior. What the rich man held on to, Jesus demanded to be forfeited. Correspondingly, what we don’t think we need, we won’t require a sacrifice for. If humankind continues to direct himself with humanism (basically, the study of humankind’s progress by means of human effort), there will never be a need for a Savior because time and human ingenuity will allegedly yield progress. But if humankind recognizes frailty, instability, and impairing weaknesses in the inherited human condition, Christianity’s answer shines. Thus, the need for appropriate anthropology in apologetics.

Anthropology, within Systematic Theology, is the study of what man (humankind – see below) is with regard to his existence and state of being. It covers topics such as creation, the primitive holy state, human will, probation, and original sin. These subtopics are extremely deep and profound fields of study to which the most brilliant Christian theologians of the last 2 millennia have written volumes on. Human will alone kept Augustine busy for at least 3 decades when responding to Palagius and his followers. To be realistic, each subtopic may not deserve a lifetime of study but surely each deserves chapter after chapter for concepts to be explained and terms defined appropriately. The reader, than ought to consult very thoroughly a systematic theology text for a more appropriate background in these deeper subtopics.

Of the finest systematic theologians of the past 2 centuries, W.G.T Shedd (1820-1894) ranks possibly in the top 5. He is extremely long winded but thorough, philosophical yet devotional, and above all extremely knowledgeable. He defines Anthropology this way, “Anthropology comprises only what man is and becomes under the ordinary arrangements of the Creator: what he is by creation and what he makes himself by self-determination.”[1] This is a great definition and it sheds (no pun intended) light on our specific study.

Interestingly, some systematicians refer to Anthropology as “the doctrine of man.” Moreover, some would not include Hamartiology (the doctrine of sin) within anthropology as Shedd does. In this article, Hamartiology is included within Anthropology. However, our focus is to only investigate fear in man with respect to his fallen state of being – this is a subtopic to the subtopic of the fallen existential state within the broader umbrella of Anthropology.

Lastly, Shedd follows Augustine’s theology of the anthropological state of Adam before and after the fall (posse non mori and posse non peccare; non posse non mori and non posse non peccare). A view to which the author of this article also subscribes. Here, Shedd does not include Soteriology as that follows logically and historically from Christology. Keeping with Shedd, this article will follow the same categorizing. That is, we will only consider the remedy of man’s existential fearful condition after we can consider the condition first.

Concerning fear, Shedd states that “physical death as a mortal principle befell Adam immediately…The description of the consequences of apostasy discloses mental characteristics that belong to spiritual death, namely, terror and shame before God.”[2]

When considering fear, one usually thinks of a temporarily afraid state of existence. Such as hearing bear noises while camping in the woods, hearing the bear creep up on the camp site, running from the tent while being chased by the bear, etc. Or some Christians perhaps reference to the ancient Biblical proverb “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…”[3]

Mirriam-Webster’s dictionary provides us with the following: “1a: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger; 1b (1): an instance of this emotion (2): a state marked by this emotion; 2: anxious concern : solicitude; 3: profound reverence and awe especially toward God; 4: reason for alarm : danger.” This article refers to definition 1.b.2.

Lucado defines the center of fear as “a perceived loss of control.”[4]

Fear can be thought of as the structural system of the entire system that failed in Adam and Eve. Fear is that state of structureless existence due to the absence of real and true safety and security. More or less, this article refers to fear as a condition of the human being in a pre-regenerate existential state of being for every individual human that has ever existed except Jesus. Again, the deeper notion of fear that is being conveyed in this article could be understood to be a global anthropological (existential) state of being.

Rather than repeat what has already been recently written, perhaps it would be more beneficial to refer the reader to previous articles written by this author on topics such courage, hope, existentialism, meaning, wonder to have more of a background in the word existentialism. Existentialism is such a broad and diverse topic in and of itself, pages would be necessary to define it, express it, and clarify it. In short, I have offered that already to give context to this existential fear of man such that fear as anthropological state of being could be more appropriately understood.

Lastly by way of disclaimer, for our purposes here, “man” is considered a term to refer to all of humanity; all entities within the category of humankind; men and women; homo sapiens. That is, man is that which is made in the image of God and is a bi-gender species, unlike angels, male and female as it is written in Genesis 1:27.

We are now looking to answer the following questions:

2)      What is the nature of fear in man?

3)      How does fear manifest itself?

4)     What is the consequence of our fear?

Let us now consider a few pertinent pieces of modern literature written during 1850 to 1950 as this important 100 years of Western history produced great works of literature on the post-Enlightenment nature of man and the anti-philosophy of existentialism. We will examine & analyze a range of views from varying significant figures of the time to help us answer our next few questions. The following important and influential author’s relevant works contribute greatly to our study: C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet – (Space Trilogy Book 1), Fyodor Dostoevsky’s (1821-1881) Notes from Underground (1864), Friedrich Nietzsche: some selected works, and C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra (Space Trilogy Book 2).

  1. C.S. Lewis characters in Out of the Silent Planet espouse that the nature and manifestation of man’s anthropological fear is concerning the Annihilation of the Human Race
  2. Fyodor Dostoevsky character in Notes from Underground espouses that the nature and manifestation of man’s anthropological fear is concerning the Attainment, Free Will, & Aliveness.
  3. Friedrich Nietzsche in some selected works holds that the nature and manifestation of man’s anthropological fear is concerning the Individualism
  4. C.S. Lewis characters in Perelandra espouses that the nature and manifestation of man’s anthropological fear is concerning The Original Image & The Lack of Provision

Now, the unfolding of our syntopical discussion. Let us begin.

Syntopical Discussion

Anthropological Fear: Annihilation of the Human Race

Among the many books by the brilliant thinker and author C.S. Lewis, the space trilogy is a must read. The fictional account of Dr. Ransom’s journey to other planets is ridiculously fascinating. Most are very familiar with Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series but miss out on being intrigued for life at the gripping detail and energizing richness in his portraits of Mars and Venus. But more importantly Lewis miraculously conveys truths deeper than anything analogized in The Chronicles of Narnia. Truths that punch the reader in the face with style, brilliance, and honesty. These deeper notions of reality are not limited to Perelandra (Venus) and Malcandra (Mars) but are our own. In that, Lewis adjusts the reader to life on another planet while still championing universals and objective reality.

On the other hand, the powers that be there are unlike the forces of earth, in that the planets are ruled by the Oyarsa of the planet. The Oyarsa are spiritual beings in which “light is instead of blood for them.” (page 118)[5] Although they are made of light, Oyarsa and Eldil are more real and visible to the un-“bent” eye than humans. Let us, listen in on the unprecedented but delayed meeting between Dr. Ransom and the Oyarsa Malecandra on Mars.

“What are you so afraid of, Ransom of Thulcandra?” it said.

“Of you, Oyarsa, because you are unlike me and I cannot see you.”

 “Those are not great reasons,” said the voice. “You are also unlike me, and though I see you, I see you very faintly. But do not think we are utterly unlike. We are both copies of Maledil.”…

“Many thousands of thousands of years before this, when nothing yet lived on your world, the cold death was coming on my (planet). Then I was in deep trouble, not chiefly for the death of my (people) – Malelidil (God) does not make them long-livers – but for the things which the lord of your world, who was not yet bound, put into their minds. He would have made them as your people are now – wise enough to see the death of their kind approaching but not wise enough to endure it…but one thing we left behind on the planet: fear. And with fear, murder and rebellion. The weakest of my people do not fear death. It is the Bent One, the lord of your world, who wastes your lives and befouls them with flying from what you know will overtake you in the end. If you were subjects of Maledil (God) you would have peace.”

This brilliant exchange describes perfectly our fear not just in light of Ransom’s being in the presence of greatness, but the part of the core nature of Ransom and that of all of unregenerate humanity: fear. The Oyarsa points it out with accuracy and precision. Isn’t it incredible that Lewis would depict our condition this way – incredible because it is true. Poignantly, human fear is pervasive; peace and security are lacking. And the deepest type of fear is that of oblivion. That our entire human race, from the first human to the last, is obliterated from the history of the cosmos. The Annihilation, death with no afterlife, Lewis advocates, is our fear. At the end of the duration of human existence, nothing results. This end of our race, or end of our existence, is the inevitable conclusion we fight against rather than the fear of it.

Let us now turn to another anthropological fear.

Anthropological Fear: Attainment, Free Will, & Aliveness

“I invented adventures for myself and made up a life, so as at least to live in some way.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky’s (1821-1881) Notes from Underground (1864)

The themes and tones of the famous Russian fiction writer Fyodor Dostoevsky’s were echoed through the next century of existentialist writers. He wrote to combat the enlightenment project and rationalism that had stricken Europe and Russia with a profound strained protest. He emphasized individuality against the traditional Greek, Christian, and 18th century secular dogmas of original sin, the good and the beautiful, scientism, humanism, and rationalism. Should man be forced to live under such a fine tuned rubric of logic and such technological advantages?

No, says Dostoevsky’s underground man who believes in a form of individuality & free will. For scientism, humanism, and rationalism twisted individuality & free will in the contrived schemes of man for colonial advantages. Ironically thought, the free will is foolish in itself and therefore it’s better than reason! He explains,

“Here I for instance, quite naturally want to live, in order to satisfy all my capacities for life and not simply my capacity for reasoning, that is, not simply one twentieth of my capacity for life…Reason only knows what it has succeeded in learning…and human nature acts as a whole…consciously or unconsciously, and, even if it goes wrong, it lives.”

For Dostoevsky’s character, if science can explain every choice, man will stop desiring and will cease to be human! That is, the implication of scientism is that life is calculated and the future known. But it would seem that the will is prior to reason when we consider the faculties of the soul. Free will is better than a mind drowning by science and rationalism. Free will leads to personality which leads to individuality. For science and rationalism lead to no advantage whatsoever – although humanity teaches it as the true teacher of man. The very notion of the lack of free will is absurd!  Free will must by necessity be original and triumphant because this is true life which is a better life even with heart-wrenching, back-breaking, mind-boggling blunders.

All and every man that has ever been is immoral. History is not rational for any human. In a perfect world of bliss and prosperity, man will still stink it up. He will still try to change it all with his own fatal fantasy because man needs to prove to himself that he is alive and he is not controlled. As everyone knows that being controlled is as good as death itself. Thus, man sins continually within his engineered control to avoid the very death that he has already thrust himself into. The underground man assures that “he will contrive destruction and chaos, will contrive sufferings of all sorts, only to gain his point!”

Man’s whole work, goal, and all of human drive is to prove that he is alive and not dead.

A later existentialist author, Albert Camus put it this way, “The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.”

Man maintains an innate drive to engineer but never finally attain and embrace. He is creative & predestined to engineer and build new roads to wherever – doesn’t matter where – just keep engineering. But civilizations come and go. Because man may attain the object he is building and as such destroys it only to start all over again.

“But man is a frivolous and incongruous creature, and perhaps, like a chess player, loves the process of the game, not the end of it. And who knows (there is no saying with certainty), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained, which must always be expressed as a formula, as positive as twice two makes four, and such positiveness is not life, gentlemen, but the beginning of death.”

Thus, due to man’s fear of finding, engineering and development despair in destruction eventually. He says, “man has always been afraid of this mathematical certainty, he traverses oceans, sacrifices his life in the quest, but to succeed, really to find it, he dreads.” Man explores through science but dreads what he would find…thus, he loves attaining but fears attainment.

Why? Because there may in actuality be nothing left to attain…. “He feels that when he has found it there will be nothing for him to look for…Once you have mathematical certainty there is nothing left to do or understand.”

Idleness…the lack of aliveness. This is the fear of man.

Let us now turn to another anthropological fear.

 

Anthropological Fear: Individualism

Nietzsche influence upon the existential movement – as well as various other cultural thought patterns and social movements – cannot be understated. But rather than be considered an existentialist, he is more of a pre-thinker or father to the movement. What Aristotle is to Thomism, Nietzsche is to Existentialism. Nietzsche is famous for his style, prose, and incredible existential synopsis of how his present European Enlightened culture would inevitably lead to a society that “killed” God. He has often been misunderstood in light of the his famous quote, “God’s too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”[6] Many preachers and social reformers have misjudged and misinterpreted Nietzsche upon this quote as it fits within a broader story of a man who wakes up early one morning to scream in the town square that he seeks God. Upon getting laughed at and mocked he cries all the more. “Whither is God?…We have killed him – you and I…Who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves?”[7] The man in the story was a mere prophet – to which Nietzsche was trying to be for Europe – A mere messenger rather than the advocate of the “advent of Nihilism.”

For Nietzsche, Nihilism is the necessary implication of Europe’s values. It was the skepticism, relativism, and despair of truth caused by Kant’s moral philosophy – where society ends up with subjectivism as their guide as there is no way to decide between truth and appearances of truth. In that, the grounding of truth becomes uncertain and as a result, Kant’s views render life futile and meaningless. Thus, says Nietzsche, “Nihilism is the radical rejection of value, meaning, and desirability.”[8] It is the conclusion that all of the universe and the happenings wherein lack meaning. So Nihilism is the meaninglessness or nothingness of human existence – that which skepticism birthed.

Additional dangers of Kant’s view could lead to isolation, solitude, and loneliness for the philosopher and people. But it could lead to individualism. This is the goal of Nietzsche. To rise against the institutions, governments, society, and religion. But people fear this independence – according to Nietzsche – so they stick to convention and tradition. This is the comfortable life that Nietzsche despises. Nietzsche wants us to have “a firm grasp of the over-all picture of life and existence” that allows for the image of all life.[9] This is what constitutes a great philosophy as understood in the lines of Schopenhauer. Then, from this overarching worldview, learn the meaning of your own life. For striving for individual achievement, riches, honor, and degrees doesn’t raise the individual out of worthlessness of his existence or improve society. It merely maintains convention, tradition, and the status quo. So rather than encounter a great philosophy and “receive meaning” that can change the individual and thus his society, people remain subdued by their fear of independence and individualism. People move in herds and are slaves to society too are afraid to break out of the pack. They just follow what is expected of them by their peers.

Nietzsche’s remedy was a call to heroism, where the “uber”-man can “live dangerously” in his great individualism.[10] Where one stands up with dialiectical courage to die fighting for victory rather than living in cowardice. Dialectical courage – a ‘dialectical’ ability that operates in passionate tension. Man must act in courage. If man does exercise this, it is actually meaningless – but man ought to do it anyway. Because the only thing you have left is individuality. This also will be one that is meaningless and runs against reason because it is all futile and meaningless. Thus we need courage to be the individual uberman. So man must act against fate – against the blind impersonal forces of nature – and live by his own will and create his own meaning. The Nietzsche hero is kind of an anti-hero of society – it goes against conventional culture.[11]

Thus, Nietzsche’s characterizes society as people who ride along the convention for fear of their peers, fear of being oneself, and fear of standing up to the industrial machine.

Let us now turn to yet another anthropological fear.

Anthropological Fear: The Original Image & The Lack of Provision

In Perelandra, Lewis further elaborates on the existential condition of fear in man. The protagonist Dr. Ransom finds himself on Perelandra (Venus) which has 1 fixed land and the rest of the lands are floating on the water in such a way that they follow the contours of the waves. That is, the floating lands could be thought of as thin plastic sheets that surf the water but never are sunk. When Ransom tasted the delicious fruit of the floating lands he was incredibly satisfied – to the point where he never felt it necessary to eat more than the original amount provided….to choose the new good fruit over an old would render the old not good. But to be satisfied with the old and not need the new was to perpetuate the good indefinitely. There is not a need on Perelandra to take the fruit given today and try to store it for tomorrow. Nor is there a need to eat more than was necessary, even though it was possible to be a gluten.

In a similar day-to-day motif, the King described his and the Queen’s desire to maintain the living on the floating lands rather than on the 1 fixed land. He says,

“And why should I desire the Fixed except to make sure – to be able on one day to command where I should be the next and what should happen to me? It was to reject the wave-to draw my hands out of Maleldil’s, to say to Him, ‘Not thus, but thus’ – to put in our own power what times should roll towards us…as if you gathered fruits together  to-day for to-morrow’s eating instead of taking what came. That would have been cold love and feeble trust. And out of it how could we ever have climbed back into love and trust again.”

Here the King of Venus (like our Adam) explains that the waves and the fruits are daily norms that do not need regulating or rationing. He later says to Ransom, “Always one must throw oneself into the wave.” (page 210)

It seems that fear of tomorrow is the struggle that humans have had since Adam’s sin. In Perelandra, there was not an original sin and thus the purity and innocence of the King and Queen allowed them to live by Maleldil’s hand of daily provision. In our world, that is just not the case. In their world, there is no fear but perfect fiery love: “Pure, spiritual, intellectual love shot from their faces like barbed lightning. It was so unlike the love we experience that its expression could easily be mistaken for ferocity.”

The King was unfallen, untarnished, and unchanged. Lewis describes his face as the artistic brilliance of God’s self-portraiture. “It was that face which no man can say he does not know.” This is the designed and detailed image of every man. The image that we all once had and it embraced us with dignity and honor. It is this image that man has tried to swallow with engineering, philosophy, science, and time. Our original image is our self made enemy to which we all will by destiny encounter. It is this image that man fears.

Having discussed these notions of fear. Let us analyze & conclude on the state of man’s condition and his overall existence.

Analysis

Could we concur that what is discussed here is in fact appropriate when describing our unregenerate human race? These seem to be very reasonable and accurate descriptions of the forgotten element to our condition.

Let us summarize the aforementioned for clarity:

i.            Annihilation of the Human Race

ii.            Attainment, Free Will, Aliveness

iii.            Individualism

iv.            The Original Image & The Lack of Provision

It seems obvious that all of these characterizations of the phenomena are accurate. Common sense and everyday experience indicate that these characterizations are very reasonable indeed. As noted before, our world is in peril and our inner state of peace and security are constantly missing.

Regarding Lewis’s notion of anthropological fear: As we approach the end of our world as we know it, which will come as the Bible predicts, which will continue to be avoided by the non-Christians, will we continue to live in fear and try to stop it? Or will we embrace the facts – our time is almost up and we have lived frantically trying to avoid the inevitable conclusion.

As Lewis wrote, we are “wise enough to see the death of their kind approaching but not wise enough to endure it” so we waste our lives and befoul them with “flying from what you know will overtake you in the end. If you were subjects of Maledil you would have peace.” The human condition without God is bleak and grim. It is one of tragic fear. All who accept this notion know that annihilation results in meaninglessness. That not just one life is meaningless, but the entire existence of any conscious life is meaningless.

We happened to be creatures that are wise enough to know that death is all around us and is a certain future for every life. Now we understand that with global warming and with nuclear energy we can destroy ourselves faster than the forces of mother nature. But, Lewis shouts out, we aren’t that smart after all because we do everything to avoid the inevitable eschatological comings. Including ignoring the state of fear in us that is doing the screaming- a weakness that leads to one worthless pursuit and self-misdiagnoses further exacerbating the human condition inaugurating utter catastrophe.

Arrogantly, we strive ahead instead of embrace our future. Why? Because we know that after death there is either nothing or badness. And we have an overcoming spirit. Don’t we? We as humans are resilient creatures, resolute with hope…but could our green trends and techniques keep us alive forever? Could the US Green Building Council think of great ideas that will prolong the conclusion. Why not let global warming destroy us all. What is wrong with annihilation?

Annihilation is feared. Why? After the initial pain during the dying process. There is nothing. One ceases to exist. So if there is no experience, why do non-regenerate humans fear it?

Because man has a hard time understanding purpose in the here and now if there is no overarching purpose to man’s existence. Thus, the existential philosophers emerged to deliver the message to mankind that we can have a purpose in purposelessness and meaning in meaninglessness. Their idea, stemming from author’s like Dostoevsky and Nietzsche, is based on a categorical philosophical mistake: that the world is in fact from nowhere special and is heading nowhere special.

Regarding Dostoevsky’s notion of anthropological fear: While Dostoevsky is inspirational to read, his notion seems imbalanced. His emphasis is on purifying the free will of man from the contraptions and pull of the world. Yes man can be an engineer, scientist, and philosopher, but is it the best career for man? Yes there is a world to explore, expoit, and conquer, but is that what is honorable for man? Where then is the drive coming from when what is natural seems to be the embracing of the wild self.

Samuel  C. Florman in The Existential Pleasures of Engineering remarks,

“If most people are fooled into desiring things they do not really desire, tricked into thinking they are free when they are really enslaved, mesmerized into feeling happy when true happiness forever eludes them, then clearly we are in a sorry state” …But we are beginning to realize that for mankind there will never be a time to rest at the top of the mountain. There will be no arcadian age. There will always be burdens, new problems, new failures, new beginnings. And the (alleged) glory of man is to respond to his harsh fate with zest and ever-renewed effort.”

This is the truly the goal of the humanists and existentialists. To live a life of conquering fear by virture of development, human effort, and self-will. This has always been the answer by humans for the human condition since the tower of Babel. However, as history has shown, the forces of the human condition and the forces of nature, have not been harnessed, resisted, or changed.

Regarding Nietzsche’s notion of anthropological fear: Individualism. Nietzsche placed the root of Nihilism in interpretation of Christian morality and Christian truth. The end of Christianity was by this interpretation. Christian developments in intellectual history and the clutch of Christianity on culture, was being replaced. Truth “is nauseated by falseness” and “‘God is the truth’ is turns to ‘All is false.’”[12] The negative influences of religion, conventions, customs, are against the individual who wants to be free and advance to human greatness.

Even Nietzsche knew that his views were being misinterpreted at his time and tried to refute the misinterpretations. In his Ecce Homo he tried to clear up the “uber”-man word. But to know avail as later Hitler took Nietzsche’s works and distributed them to the Nazi’s. Scholars debate as to whether Hitler interpreted Nietzsche correctly. It is clear, that Nietzsche completely mischaracterizes Jesus, Christianity, and Christian morality. However, our point here is merely just to emphasize Nietzsche’s characterization of society as people who ride along the convention for fear of individualism: fear of their peers, fear of being oneself, and fear of standing up to the industrial machine.

Regarding Lewis’ notion of anthropological fear in Perelandra: To reclaim our original image, is that a worse goal for the human race? Or ought we to stick with humanism and engineer our existence into eternity? Would it not be best to renovate the within to yield the without rather than forcing function on a form. Surely ‘form follows function’ and that very architectural principle has shaped the development of great infrastructure and architecture in many civilizations. Contrarily, the soul is that which must be restored to its original likeness, a predetermined form which yields function. That is, our soul’s very form, set apart before the creation of the world in God’s original master planned and carefully architected universe, produces a functional life as He ordered it.

But what is more astounding is that our form was made like His form. Our personhood like His. This is the fearful thing…that once we see our true selves…the face of the man we cannot say we don’t know…we see unseen glory…the truest eternal form that time, nature, and utility has not altered…yet we fear. Fear the becoming of ourselves becoming ourselves… Fear the being and not the doing. Fear the form and not the function. Fear the longing for reality. Fear the destined meeting that fate cannot negotiate. Fear the man. Fear the humanity.

To summarize, the overarching anthem here is that we fear facing our anthropological fears in addition to our temporary fears. Of course FDR said “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” But what does that mean when considering the aforementioned? Is it that simple or easy?

Fear is the forgotten and defining element of not who we are but what we are. Due to Adam’s fall, man has become creatures of anthropological fear. It is his entire existential state of being. Worse, fear is in fact the most deceiving anthropological element of our entire human existence. As a result, the nature, manifestation, and consequence of it is mind-boggling to our history.

Implications

To our last question we shall now turn.

4)     Is there anything that can be done?

Yes. There is hope to regain the life lost due to fear.

It starts with learning more about fear.

Fear is illogical. It corrupts logic. It does not yield fruitful thoughts or thinking. It is obvious that to love God with all our minds when we are worried about “what tomorrow holds” is impossible. And how illogical can we be when we trust our own hand over God’s. In general, what is illogical is not of God, for Satan is the father of all lies and most often times is the author of confusion.

Moreover, confusion itself causes fear whereas fear itself fosters confusion while trying to avoid it. It is no wonder that we use words like “so-and-so” acted out of fear when they committed this crime or performed an unthinkable act. The racing brain mulls over past & future images, dreams, desires, etc. without considering consequences. The frantic desperate person is actually circling in unreality to find reality while striving to enforce reality on the unreal. Fear thrusts down the human brain into the slippery slope of nothingness. It propels the creation of a fantasy that is normalized culturally but regulated by anthropological brokenness.

Specifically, apologetics is impossible with fear.  Fear cannot yield objective results. Apologetics requires objective thinking to shield from cultural influences from without and to filter heretical or inconsistent tendencies from within. So the need for fearlessness in our thinking cannot be understated. Otherwise, we will easily make fear driven arguments and follow erroneous conclusions.

But interestingly, fear cannot be defeated without logic and reality articulated. A mind left to fight fear without fresh and clear thinking is like someone punching the air in the dark. Not even knowing where the opponent is. Ironically, fear comes from deception and fear continues deception until it has defeated the victim.

Fear then will always win when fighting a person unable to articulate truthful thoughts, discern reality, or choose an alternative future.

This is evident and obvious in our nightmares. Often times while sleeping, we find ourselves stuck in some ungodly situation and our only means of escape is waking up. The problem is that our dreams are describing to us a believable reality by painting a picture of a plausible scenario. So, we negotiate our way through our own subconscious processing (usually coming from unprocessed emotions) until we awake. Some of us who have these dreams often learn to force the wake up during the dream or even change the dream based on a cognitive direct choice.

In some of my own mild dreams I have learned to wake myself up by cognitively choosing to recognize that the reality in front of me is not in fact how it has to be. That is, the subconscious processing is not necessary to current actual reality or a plausible future reality. If I can realize this in the dream (which is not always the case), I can choose an alternative ending or at the least wake up in a frantic rage of wrestling with the blankets. The waking up part may only occur when I am able to open my mouth and say an actual word. By speaking out a forced word in the middle of a dream, I can stop sleeping.

Either way, when awake or when in control of the dream, fear is not able to haunt me like a demon. Thus, the ability to understand reality, truth, and whether a future scenario is necessary is the crucial to fighting fear.

Now again, the dream may be pointing to unprocessed emotions that needs to be dealt with. But it is better to deal with emotional pains and past trauma awake – when we are on the better battleground to think clearly and articulate – than in the deep unchartered waters of our subconscious. Being able to speak out emotions with friends and/or a counselor is crucial for fighting fear. we cannot fight wordless darkness. We must as humans pull back the curtains and bring light to our the darkness we are fighting. The noises in a silent house in the middle of the night maybe the same noises that occur in the silent house in the middle of the day but it’s just not as scary when we can see things.

This is exactly what the devil wants to do to us. He is the author of lies and uses his skills to deceive unbelievers and believers alike by not working against their direct cognitive abilities in day lit paths, but he comes in the dark places – along side our own weak fearful anthropological state of being and agrees with what we already are anxious about. He then ushers us down a darkening street with illogical semi-plausible street signs, tempting feel better philosophies of night walkers, and temporary satisfactions of the alley dumpster. Before we know it, we subconsciously have given over our major life decisions to an enemy we never knew was counseling us. Many of us have been left helpless and defeated in life due to the attacks of satanic influences on our anthropological fears. We have never truly fought the opponent who defeated us.

Furthermore, fear is also like anger, in that it awakens us to a deeper pain. It is not a sin to be fearful of something, but it can lead to sinful living when mismanaged. Lucado states “When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life…the worship of safety emasculates greatness.” He elaborates further, “The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky…The fear filled cannot dream wildly.” It is truly a devastating thing to live a life full of fears as incapacitates us from our destiny.

Along these lines, back in Ancient Greece, Plato once wrote, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” – Plato

Recommendations

Without security found in God alone, we are structureless. Thus, fear becomes our structural system of survival. Much like a child shuts down to enter an out of touch imaginary world in a case of child abuse to protect himself from further harm, so the adult attaches a new system of security to cope with future harm. Systems of careers, children, finances, etc. The cycle of missing the point continues. We tend towards wasting our time, lives, and entire history.

Concerning our tendencies, Shedd enlightens, “The mere possibility of death for Adam was not the same as a tendency to death.” But because we inherited Adam’s nature after the fall, we do tend toward death, physically and spiritually. The negative tendencies we have we fear because we know their fruition is inevitable. The positive tendencies that we don’t have we fear because we know their attainment is marked with self-struggle. Unregenerate people fear the negative things that we all tend towards, like death and future pain. On the other hand, the unregenerate fear the positive things we don’t all tend towards like, integrity and objective truth. The unregenerate is stuck.

Get saved. The unregenerate must become regenerate. To face our anthropological state of fear we must only face ourselves in God’s light. Then, in peering in on our state of utter dreadfulness, we will be compelled cry out to Jesus who can show us our fearless whole self. 2nd Timothy 1:7 says, “For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline.” The fear we inherited from Adam is not of God. God created us whole and fearless. We need a regenerated security system of fearlessness. We need our structural system back. Like a building, we cannot perform the functions that we were designed for without structural system. We must be willing see and reject our sinful fearful selves for God to regenerate our entire being.

We must die to our sinful fearful selves and take on the fearless self that he originally designed for us to have. We must follow Christ’s example in the Garden of Gethsemene. There he chose to tackle the fear that he was born to face. When the timing became right, he turned to face the oncoming opposition. He knew there could be no alternative ending. This future was necessary for him, not because he chose foreordained it before time began, but because he chose it. As Jesus turn to walk toward Judas and his religious thugs, Judas walked towards Jesus with the puckered lips of that every deceiving betrayer. Jesus took on the anxiety, dread, and fear when he turned to the Father in prayer. From that prayer, he went on to grave, fearlessly embracing the persecution, interrogating, beatings, and murdering.

The answer to our anthropological fearful condition is Jesus. He is the fearless champion of our man’s tragic state of being.

God enable those reading this who are not saved to accept your son’s act of fearless obedience so they may embrace their fearless original state of existence.

God stir up the Christian reading this to live fearlessly as he is already able.

Inspiration

Perhaps your anthropological fear has been forgotten or misunderstood. Perhaps you are going through a very fear filled time in life. We must use Scripture to help us begin a journey of an accurate thought life and fearless existence. Scripture is not silent on this. On the contrary, the Bible is full of powerful stories of God honoring Holy Spirit filled boldness, passion, and fearlessness. The book of Psalm is filled with fearless resolve in the midst of the battle and the face of tragedy. Job, despite his devastation and deceiving logic of his friends, turned to God, and overcame despair. Paul teaches us: “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2, NIV) We are taught here to look to God to shed our fearfulness and adopt our fearlessness. Strikingly, while Scripture is actually teaching us to take our fears to God it also teaches us to fear God – the very one bring our fearful state to!

On this note, Max Lucado says “Nothing fosters fear like an ignorance of mercy.” We must adopt his mercy on our lives, however torn and bruised, let us reach for it in the midst of our fear. We must bring our fearful state to the only one we ought to fear. Our fear will then be transformed to courage! From courage, we can have true life and true love.

David shares his heart with us: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident….Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:1-3, 141)

Solomon teaches us: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25, NIV) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”

John teaches us: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:13, KJV)

Lastly, Jesus teaches us: “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:5-8, NASB)

I pray that our only fear would be the fear of the LORD.

Unto the King,

Jeremy David Livermore

 

 


 

 


 

[1] W.G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, page 429

[2] W.G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, page 542

[3] Proverbs 1:7

[4] Max Lucado, Fearless

[5] Maledil (the being analogous to Jesus, who is the governor of the universe) has ordered that each planet has a governing lord of which it is also the character or god of that planet (think also greek gods).

[6] Friedrich Nietzsche The Gay Science

[7] Friedrich Nietzsche The Gay Science

[8] Friedrich Nietzsche The Will to Power Book 1

[9] Friedrich Nietzsche Schopenhauer as Educator

[10] Friedrich Nietzsche Ecce Homo

[11] R.C. Sproul Lecture: “The Consequence of Ideas”

[12] Friedrich Nietzsche The Will to Power

jeremy@apologetics.com

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