The Paradox of Cynicism
Because One Person’s Doubt is another Person’s Certainty
As with all noble human endeavors—arts, sciences, philosophy, exploration, and the like—this work strives to fulfill a higher purpose. As alluded to at the start, I’m endeavoring to reconcile the paradox of the human condition as set forth in The Bible. In short, I’m looking to answer the question: How can imperfect people, living in an imperfect world, co-exist with a perfect God? And just as importantly, I’m hoping to answer this question without succumbing to that age-old condition so endemic to the human race: cynicism.
Keep in mind, though, in my attempt, I’m all too aware of a potential irony: Even if I succeed in this noble endeavor—in my view at least—the end result may still never have the desired effect when seen through the lens of cynicism.
To understand why, we first need to consider how cynicism impacts the human condition:
Cynicism is an attitude characterized by a general distrust of the motives of others. A cynic has a lack of faith or hope in people whom they see as being motivated by ambition, desire, greed, gratification, materialism, goals, and opinions that the cynic perceives as vain, unobtainable, or ultimately meaningless.
The term originally derives from the ancient Greek philosophers, the Cynics, who rejected conventional goals of wealth, power, and honor. They practiced shameless nonconformity with social norms in religion, manners, housing, dress, or decency, instead advocating the pursuit of virtue in accordance with a simple and natural way of life.
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To watch author and biblical historian W. Kent Smith discuss the contents of his book On Earth as It is On Heaven, at the Sacred Word Revealed Conference 2023, hosted by Zen Garcia, CLICK BELOW.
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According to tradition, one of the founding members of this cynical movement was Diogenes of Sinope, born in ancient Greece around 410 B.C. Although none of his writings have survived, much of what he said was recorded by others, among them, Plutarch and Philo.
The term cynic derives from the ancient Greek kynikos, meaning “dog” or “dog-like.” Calling them this was intended as an insult for their blatant rejection of convention and willingness to live on the streets, but Diogenes actually reveled in the title, stating that “other dogs bite their enemies, but I bite my friends to save them.” He was also heard to say, “I am Diogenes the Dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy, and bite scoundrels.” When people laughed at him because he walked backward beneath the portico, he said to them, “Aren’t you ashamed that you walk backward along the whole path of existence, yet you blame me for walking backward along the path of the promenade?” Once Diogenes saw the officials of a temple leading away someone who had stolen a bowl belonging to the treasurers, and he said, “The great thieves are leading away the little thief.” When seized and dragged off to King Philip of Macedonia, he was asked who he was, to which he replied, “A spy upon your insatiable greed.”