The Final Philosophy of The Binding of Isaac: Christianity, Satanism, and Accepting Your Sins

At long last, Isaac’s nightmare is at a close…
Source: Steam Community

You’d think that with my history of gushing about the greatness of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth that I would have written a think piece on its final DLC, Afterbirth +, long ago. But, I wanted to get a feel for the game before I actually sat down to pontificate on it. It was a good thing I did that too because this game gave me a lot to think about.

Anyone who has played the game (or has just read the title and knows their bible stories) can tell you that Christianity is a running theme of the story. But, very few people discuss TBoI‘s associations to Satanism. Of course, one can infer that a story that praises or decries Christianity will likely be touching on Satanism by virtue of how the two are linked. But after doing some light research, I was shocked to see just how much there was to unpack.

First things first, I want to make it clear that this article takes NO OFFICIAL STANCE on either Christianity or Satanism as the superior moral practice. This is purely about comparing the two philosophies and putting them into a modern, progressive context so that everyone of any religious or non-religious background can benefit from it.

Secondly, I’d like to give a huge shout out to horror movie critic and open-practicing Satanist Jack ‘Count Jackula’ Shen for informing a lot of the research I did for this article – especially his semi-in-character rant on why he chose to convert to Satanism and his thoughtful debate on applying Satanic philosophy to social media. Even if you don’t buy into his beliefs, he’s still a funny and insightful man that I’ve supported for some time (you can actually see my name at the top of his credit rolls in his movie reviews from when I helped fund his new editing rig). I also wish to apologize to Jackula in advance if I’ve misinterpreted anything I may have gleaned from his discussions.

Getting back to TBoI, this new DLC gave us a pair of new main story endings that tie together with the previous endings and share a common theme; Isaac is found dead in his toy chest but is soon seen again walking through an empty field resembling the hills overlooking his house.

Another theme that pervades the game is Isaac’s guilt. Not only has he grown up in a VERY strict Christian household that reinforces the idea that he is evil and shames him for his sins, but the scenes that unfold suggest that he’s also from a broken home without a father and that he blames himself for his parent’s divorce. This guilt (or ‘sin’ if you will) manifests as a shadowy devil-like figure that lives inside Isaac and that he routinely becomes.

This is the core belief that both Christianity and Satanism share; all people, regardless of faith or lifestyle, are inherently flawed and ‘sinful’. The difference is that while Christianity believes that morality is to repress sinful nature and shame those who fail to do so, Satanism believes morality is to accept one’s sins as normal so that one can focus on doing right by themselves before moving on to others.

I propose the following; Isaac’s death is not a literal death. Rather, it’s the death of his ego. He’s finally grown up, come to terms with his ‘sinful’ flaws, and is ready to form a new, healthy moral code of his own rather than adopting the one he’s been force fed by family and a millennia old fable that, admittedly, is overdue for re-examination.

In short, Isaac has finally learned a lesson that is so often overlooked in both devout and non-religious lifestyles: Moral Relativism.

Now, am I preaching the virtues of Satanism over those of Christianity? Absolutely not. Firstly, Satanism eschews the idea of virtue by its definition (remember, it’s all about EMBRACING sin instead of repressing it). And secondly, I’m far too much of a free-thinking skeptic to accept any religious ideology entirely.

That said I do believe that good ideas can come from all religion; even one that embraces a figure that many consider the embodiment of evil (I guess that would make me a bit of an Agnostic Omnitheist, but I’m not one to care for labels). And I have to admit that the idea that we are all damned souls no matter what, while pessimistic, takes the painful edge off of our failures.

We can’t always be good people; it’s impossible. Eventually, you’ll be forced to do something that some will call ‘evil’ for the sake of yourself or another or that will make you question your own morality. However, you can always strive to be the best you can reasonably expect and not let yourself be deterred by your missteps.

You can’t be a good person. However, either by the virtues of God or by the sins of The Devil, you can be a decent one.

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Transhumanism: A Philosophical Question

Oh, give it up already. That pun’s too good to waste… or is it?
Source: Nerf NOW!!

It’s been a while since I sat down to wax philosophical and just let my mind wander in thought.

So recently, I played a quick one-shot game of Eclipse Phase with friends. This along with a recent Twitter post from Nash of Radio Dead Air has got me thinking about the nature of Posthumanism.

I think what fascinates me so much about Posthumanism as a philosophy is that there are so many schools that come at the problem of the human condition from different angles. Ideologies and theories like Antihumanism, AI takeover, and Voluntary Human Extinction take a more pessimistic view of humanity and sometimes even believe that we need to be removed for the sake of the planet’s well being.

More philosophical schools like Cultural Posthumanism and Philosophical Posthumanism seek to question the very notion of human nature while taking a closer look and the ethics of a life beyond humanity.

But the thing everyone has most likely associated with Posthumanism, and the thing I’ve been thinking about more these past few days, is Transhumanism – a movement/ideology that seeks to use science and technology to transcend our mental and physical limits; i.e., enhance our strength, halt aging, improve cognitive functions, etc.

Now, I know people on both sides of this debate. A lot of people are afraid that tinkering with the things that “make us human” (stem cell research, Synthetic Biology, etc.) is morally repugnant. But there’s also a more pragmatic way of thinking about this.

Every time the technology has arisen to improve how we do things, we’ve leaped at the chance to use it and incorporate it into our everyday lives. For the most part, this has meant the use of tools and improving them instead of ourselves.

Perhaps what is needed here is think of what we consider as “human” about ourselves as merely our psychological components (ego, personality, memories, etc.) and look at the body that houses them as just another tool to be improved on. After all, “human” is merely a title that we give ourselves and self-granted titles are totally subjective anyway.

Besides, don’t you want to have the power to graft a cybernetic exoskeleton to a quadriplegic person to make them walk again, alter our genome to fight genetic disorders, or slow/stop aging so you can play with your grandchildren for years to come? That seems like an awesome future to me.

But hey, this is about YOUR opinions as well as mine. What do you think about Transhumanism? Should we leave well enough alone and let nature run its course with us or is it our moral obligation to use science and technology to improve our minds and bodies anyway we can?

In Defense Of The Service Industry

All wait staff should be this happy and perky without faking it.
Source: Texas P.O.S.

So there I was one early evening treating myself to a well deserved pepperoni pizza after some flattering complements in my Social Media class. While conversing with the cook in the dining hall, she asked, presumably as a joke, if she could get me to write a recommendation for campus dining services to quiet down the incessant complaints she got daily.

I couldn’t think of a witty retort off the top of my head, but it did get me to thinking about how we don’t treat people in the service industry as well as we should. Writing a review of a college cafeteria would be silly, but I can show my appreciation to that nice lady and the countless others who make civilized life possible by trying to get others to give them the respect they deserve. The next time you deal with a cashier, server, or the like, remember the following…

They’re Just Following The Rules

Most of the complaints I hear people register with servers are things that can’t be helped. The store can’t accept your expired coupons, the restaurant can’t can’t make your meal special order because it’s pre-made, or some other common request that would violate company policy.

Most of these people (read: the people who haven’t been jaded by the abusive customers) legitimately want to help you. The problem is that when forced to choose between the customer and their job, most are going to take the option that ensures that they get to eat tomorrow.

They’re Just As Human As The Rest Of Us

The service industry is made of human beings. That means that they make mistakes just like the rest of us and can be just as hurt by the ignorance of others.

People make mistakes. What’s more, people make more mistakes when they’re under stress from, for example, some entitled nimrod giving them crap. Relax and work with your server instead of against them. You’ll find you’ll resolve more issues much faster.

Look At Yourself First

As stated above, people working in service make mistakes like all humans. This mean that, since you are human as well, you can be just as guilty of screwing up.

People are, unfortunately, prone to something called Conformation Bias, the unconscious act of exclusively searching for and favoring information that confirms something that they believe. If that person believes that they are in the right, they will fight to prove it to the bitter end and react negatively when proven otherwise.

Take some time to think about what you have contributed to this impasse and consider if you may be at fault. Checking to see if you may have failed at some point may help to find a solution to the problem… and may just keep you off the featured posts of Not Always Right.