Thursday, January 11, 2007

Evolution and The Faith of Scientific Fundamentalism (1.11.09)

Today we will review the question of evolution in light of the antinomy of faith vs. reason. It's a subtle issue, so it's easy to misunderstand where I'm coming from. It is not quite accurate to say that I reject literalism -- in fact, not accurate at all, because the higher reaches of the spiritual life are built on a stable foundation of dogma, just as the ability to communicate requires fixed rules for spelling and grammar. You can eliminate the rules of spelling and grammar, but you won't be able to say much of substance. But at the same time, you don't just idealize good spelling as sufficient in itself to convey wisdom.

The whole point of theology -- as opposed to revelation -- is to create a consistent and comprehensive system of religious, or metaphysical, thought. In order to do this properly, one must exclude nothing. There is no right superior to truth, so wherever we find truth, we must respect it and find a place for it in our theology. Otherwise, as mentioned yesterday, we will have unintegrated gaps in our being, when the whole point of spiritual practice is to become whole -- for thine I to become single. In the language of Godel, the I of the literalist will be highly consistent, but at the price of serious incompleteness.

As I might have mentioned in the past, I regard religion as the science of the ultimate, or absolute, Subject, and science as the religion of the ultimate object -- the physical cosmos. Both are methods to gain knowledge, the former operating through faith, the latter through doubt. Another way of saying it is that religion involves the exercise of faith as applied to the vertical, whereas science restricts itself to doubt in the horizontal.

Looked at in a certain way, science is simply the systematization of doubt. Unlike animals, we can doubt the evidence of our senses and inquire into the true cause of things. But the universe is One, and whenever we try to draw a bright line between two manmade categories, aspects of one side will inevitably creep into the other. For example, we divide the world into categories of "matter" and "mind," whereas the underlying reality knows no such strict boundary. We have a problem understanding how truth can emerge from a nine pound piece of meat, but only because of our preconceptions. The cosmos does not have this problem.

We can easily show that science, especially in our time, has become a faux religion. This is because, in maintaining the bright line between religion and science, a lot of religion ends up on the science side. Thus, while the father of empirical science may be doubt, its mother is unabashed faith. For example, in the words of our Unknown Friend, "Newton doubted the traditional theory of 'gravity,' but he believed in the unity of the world, and therefore in cosmic analogy. This is why he could arrive at the cosmic law of gravitation in consequence of the fact of an apple falling from a tree. Doubt set his thought in motion; faith rendered it fruitful."

Now, that is a point worth dwelling on: Faith rendered his thinking fruitful. As I have had occasion to mention a number of times, this has been one of the genuine surprises of my life. I think, based upon my understanding of Polanyi, I already understood that our implicit scientific models of reality are always rooted in a type of unarticulated faith about the nature of things. What I did not realize was the extent to which faith in traditional revelation could be such a fruitful and generative way to think about reality. In other words, I allowed for scientific faith -- it was religious faith that made no sense to me.

And what is scientific faith? What is the credo of the materialist scientist? Again, our Unknown Friend provides an excellent summation (which I have paraphrased) of the reigning dogma and catechism of science. Let us place our hand on a copy of Sam Harris's The End of Faith, and solemnly affirm:

I believe in a single substance, the mother of all forces, which engenders the life and consciousness of everything, visible and invisible. I believe in a single Lord, biology, the unique son of the substance of the world, born from the mother substance after centuries of random shuffling of material: the encapsulated reflection of the great material sea, the epiphenomenal light of primordial darkness, the false reflection of the real world, consubstantial with the mother-substance. It is he who has descended from the shadows of the mother-substance, he who has taken on flesh from matter, he who plays at the illusion of thought from flesh, he who has become the Human Brain. I acknowledge a single method for the elimination of error, thus ultimately eliminating myself and returning to the mother substance. Amen.

Now clearly, the scientist has faith that the unique mother-substance must be one beneath its superficial diversity. Furthermore, he must have faith that the human mind is capable of reducing this outward multiplicity to unity, which is how science proceeds. He must also believe that the mind, although a product of evolution, is somehow its master. In other words, in knowing it is a product of evolution, the human mind transcends evolution and stands outside or "above" it.

Wait, how can that be? I thought the mother substance was the ultimate reality? How can it be transcended? If it is true that matter is the ultimate reality, it cannot be true, because truth is superior to matter. If matter is the ultimate reality, then there is no way to get around Haldane's remark that "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."

But show a little tolerance. You must understand that the scientific literalist is a simple person of faith. Don't ask for his faith to be complete. Like the religious literalist, his faith is consistent, but at the price of completeness. It must exclude much truth in order to maintain its consistency.

There is a horizontal world of quantities and a vertical world of qualities. The scientific fundamentalist reduces quality to quantity and calls it "knowledge." The religious literalist subsumes quantity into quality and calls it "faith." Is it really necessary to reduce the one the to other, or can they coexist harmoniously?

Viewed from a certain angle, the story of Genesis can be seen as the story of man's fall from verticality to horizontality. The serpent promises us that if we open our eyes to the horizontal, we will be as gods. With the scientific revolution, mankind fully opened its eyes to the horizontal, but at what price? It is at the price of obscuring the world's inconceivably rich qualitative aspects. "The more one has 'open eyes' for quantity, the more one becomes blind to quality. Yet all that one understands by 'spiritual world' is only quality, and all experience of the spiritual world is due to 'eyes that are open' for quality, for the vertical aspect of the world." And the supreme quality -- or value -- "is the supreme Entity -- God.

What does it require to be a religious scientist or a scientific believer? Easy. Just imagine a cross. The vertical axis is called religion, the horizontal axis science. To quote our Unknown Friend again, we must

"Crucify the serpent. Put the serpent -- or the scientific creed -- on the cross of religion and science, and a metamorphosis of the serpent will follow. The scientific creed then becomes what it is in reality: the mirroring of the creative Word. It will no longer be truth; it will be method. It will no longer say: 'In the beginning was substance or matter,' but it will say: 'in order to understand the mechanism of the made world, it is necessary to choose a method which takes account of the origin of matter and of that which set it in motion from above.' And it will no longer say: 'the brain produces consciousness,' but it will say: 'in order to understand the function of the brain, it is necessary to consider it in such a way as if consciousness is caused by it."

This will "neutralize the poison of scientific faith and transform it into a servant of life," perhaps making the way for some Raccoon to come up with "a light-filled vision of the world evolving through the impulse of the serpent towards a final aim set by providence."

One Cosmos, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberation and Joyousness for All!


dicentra63 said...

I'm trying to understand how one can posit the question of "faith vs. reason" in the first place. The opposite of reason is unreason or incoherence. The opposite of faith is doubt or mistrust. They're not on the same continuum, so how can they be placed in opposition to one another?

I would submit that "faith vs. reason" is a false dichotomy that has been imposed on the dialog by people who don't know enough about either to see that they aren't in conflict and never were.

dicentra63 said...

And I don't mean to say that Bob is one of those who doesn't know.

Foo Fighter said...

Speaking of doubt, I doubt the existence of real scientific literalists. Lots of people posture at being such, but nobody that I've ever encountered really convinced me.

The hard-core "materialist" has inserted this dogma into her conscious mind, but that is say it's only "skin deep."

The underlying structures (the unconsious, the psychic being, etc) of any human being are never strictly materialistic, I wager, not even those of Sam Harris.

Conversely, matter has its own entrenched power. Those who swing in the opposite way, trying to deny "materialism" its rightful domain (i.e those who disdain the world and call it "maya") also are only dabbling skin deep.

We are all on the cross, both vertical and horizontal, no matter what we say we believe.

Watch what people do, not what they say. The scientific literalist and the religious literalist don't live too much differently. Both love warm homes, reliable vehicles, and nutritious foods.

The real "problem" is the human mind itself, coming up with these extreme positions and trying to assert them (never successfully).

The take home message is: the part of the human consciousness that professes belief in this or that is a very shallow pond, and the water within is always muddy. The bedrock of self is the silent partner, the mute witness, the leader of the being.

The real question "What is Truth?" should be dropped--because everyone already knows it at some level.

The real question is "What is the best use of my time right now?"

This is the one that should float above your head all day.

will said...

>>"Newton doubted the traditional theory of 'gravity,' but he believed in the unity of the world, and therefore in cosmic analogy . . . Doubt set his thought in motion; faith rendered it fruitful"<<

I think that Newton's belief in "the unity of the world" sheds some light on the nature of faith, on its fullest meaning.

To believe in the unity of the world one must of course *perceive*, to a certain extent, the unity of the world. That is, faith, in its truly operational sense, is gnosis, a higher perceiving.

I think the most common misunderstanding of those who dismiss religion/spirituality as being nothing more than pie-in-the-sky magical thinking is that they assume that faith is a teeth-gritting effort to believe in the "unseen" against all evidence to the contrary. However, genuine faith, ie., gnosis, is the literal perception, via the higher organs of perception, of higher realities, dimensions. Faith thus need not be a matter of "effort", unless it be "effortless effort".

Having said this, I can't dismiss the occasional necessity of "blind faith", particularly during Dark Night periods when the higher perceptual organs seem to atrophy. That's when one really has to wrestle with the angel and simply maintain a blind faith that the sun will rise again.

Anonymous said...

"The opposite of reason is unreason."

I agree with complete agreement.

Joseph said...

In some ways I agree with you, but not all the way. The real dichotomy is faith vs. scientism, not faith vs. science (as defined by Bob), but that conflict in nonetheless very real in the world we live in. There is also faithism (literalism) vs. science--also a real problem. Too many scientists practice scientism and too many people of faith practice literalism.
Now these questions were raised, in part, by my attempting to understand where Gagdad parts ways with the traditionalists. The traditionalist critique of transformist evolution, for example, is that the mode of knowing claimed by science simply has no access to the data of the origin of life forms. Perhaps "science" would agree, but I would wager that most "scientists" would disagree.

Joseph said...

In the case of the species we refer to as man, can you trace for me his origin up to the point where the vertical dropped in?

interlocutor said...

Bob, thank you for your well-crafted treatise. I hadn't realized how faith-driven science really is.

I find myself agreeing with the "foo-fighter" (UFO?) that ideological beliefs are at their core insincere postures.

Otherwise, what would prevent a hardcore materialist from putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger? The most obvious and efficient solution to all of the problems of life is-- not to be living. A true materialist wouldn't recognize the state of "living" as any better than the state of being, say, a rock.

Likewise the religious literalist. His optimum life-path would be the shortest one back to paradise. There's an injunction against suicide in most religions, but there's nothing to stop him from eating himself into an early grave on fast food or taking the most hazardous occupation he could find. Few people think this way.

There's little correspondence between ideology and behavior (well, except the Islamic suicide troopers--them I think are sincere!)

People want to live a long time, and their reasons for this should be examined because it is not logical to want to live-- unless, unless...

robinstarfish said...

i saw your future
wake up on ascension day
can i have your fish?

Gandalin said...

"Viewed from a certain angle, the story of Genesis can be seen as the story of man's fall from verticality to horizontality. The serpent promises us that if we open our eyes to the horizontal, we will be as gods."

Bob, I think that's an odd reading. The Serpent was clearly offering a shortcut to 100% verticality, and the evidence for that is God's reaction to the eating of the fruit:

"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." (KJV)

I don't see how you get to 100% horizontal from there.

River Cocytus said...

That was, I think the lie: The serpent offered the fusion- the horizontal and vertical to man who was naive of all; instead of getting both and being like God he got merely the horizontal (which God also possessed.) In that sense, he wasn't completely like God but only in the sense of being able to discern between good and evil.

I like the doubt->faith thing; usually the state of 'unknowing' or 'mystery' propels one towards faith; or sparks faith into being like a mini-bang.

Its like the void begs the repetition of creation, and the Word is it.

I have always said, Faith is Orthogonal to Reason, like the Cartesian plane.

thus, while they interact, they do not oppose one another (like negative and positive) but instead are two parts of a whole.

One can not substantiate faith without reason; and one cannot reason without faith creating the blocks to reason with.

Tried to trackback ping ya, but the River Site is being ornery.

Gecko said...

Online, on the Ocean
thank the Mother for the
Hero in my dreams

A feeble haiku attempt, with the Vanderleun all purpose apology to robinstarfish and anyone else that knows what they are doing writing wise.
Thanks Bob for your extraordinary post yesterday. Been traveling across the ocean and had trouble posting on blogspot. "Meditations on the Tarot" weighting my power center , who knows. It took a year to really read that first chapter. I've ordered another copy for this here island paradise in the middle of the Pacific.

uss ben said...

Good post, Bob!
I've noticed that just as there are different Religions and different denominations and sub-denominations of virtually all Religions,
there is also different sciences, and different denominations and sub-denominations of science.

Then there are cults of the vertical, which are pseudo-religion, or counterfeit religion, just as there are cults of the horizontal, which are pseudo-science, or counterfeit science.

Both which appear to be gaining in popularity, since they both have customizable 'truths' in common.

Gagdad Bob said...


As I point out in my book, there is every reason to believe that humanness descended into Homo sapiens sapiens approximately 40,000 years ago, at about 1:30 PM, a little after lunch. This is when there was a well-documented "creative explosion" of beautiful cave paintings, music, body decoration, sculpture, and more. I consider this in every way analogous to the revelations received by the Jews or by the body of Jesus, for there is no evidence for any of these capacities (or just a few scattered artifacts) during the previous 100,000 years that Homo sapiens shambled around the planet.

Put it this way: how else was God supposed to reveal himself to illiterate half-beasts? As soon as you see those cave paintings, it is obvious that they were beasts no more. They had crossed the monkey bridge into the ontological realm of true humanness (with the exception of the body art, but we'll give 'em a pass on that -- at least they weren't listening to rap).

Uncle Carbunkle said...

In this time the common world is characteristically (and altogether) invested in the gross disposition of indentification with the seemingly separate gross physical body--and. therefore, the common human world is becoming overwhelmed with the "culture" of death.

The necessary transformation of individual and collective human culture will only come about via the response to Divine Grace. In that case, a different kind of individual & collective human culture is made possible. That culture is the death-transcending culture of life itself--which is necessarily a culture of Spiritual practice, and ultimately the culture of Divine life. Unfortunately for all, it is that very culture of human, Spiritual, and Divine life which has now been propagandized out of the realm of possibility by the dogma (or thoroughly reductionist point of view) of scientific materialism.

The dogma of scientific materialism cannot be effectively countered by conventional or merely exoteric religion, because conventional religion essentially shares the same dismal reductionist meat-body only, presumptions of scientism.

The underlying "faith", common in this time that "It is the word of science--and therefore, it is true" is exactly the equivalent to the medieval "faith" that "It is the word of the church--and. therefore, it is true". In both cases what is (or was) being propagated is DOCTRINE--not Truth. And whatever the prevailing doctrine may be, it is (was) always kept in place by institutional means, to be reinforced (by propagandistic authoritarian methods) over and over again.
And the "church" via its state sanctioned ecclesiastic "authority" has historically been just as capable of using massive violence to reinforce its "authority".And waging wars of conquest etc etc.

GeorgeD said...

Bob, Not to go too far off on a tangent but I want to say that I have been reading you for about a month. You are a compelling thinker and I have enjoyed your ideas. I don't find myself taking exception to anything you say.

But there are many things left to hear and read. I am wondering if I can plant some seeds that you can address as the spirit moves you.

1. Love
2. Propitiation and reconciliation

Some day in some form I would be delighted to hear your meditations on nthese subjects.

Joseph said...

Thanks Bob, but I was trying to ask about before that time. What I am having trouble understanding is why the need to say that those animals prior to the 40,000 year ago descent (i thought it was tea time, but I won't quibble( are of the same species as the ones that are our ancestors. Where is the evidence for that, agains, I assume its there, I just don't know about it.

Joseph said...

I have tried a a couple of times to get your blog to load, but no dice. Thought you might want to know.

Gagdad Bob said...


I'm not the expert. Rather, I can only go by the consensus of experts who are all quite certain that the human beings of 40,000 years ago were genetically identical -- i.e. the same species -- as the humans of 130,000 years ago.

Therefore, an explanation is required to as to why the sudden flowering occurred after a lag of 90,000 years -- escpecially since natural selection does not "plan ahead," i.e., did not select for any of these new capacities that emerged at least 90,000 years after we were genetically complete. The Darwinian explanation makes no sense all. Or put it this way: if you can believe that, you'll believe anything. It's just another scientistic fundamentalist article of faith.

Joseph said...

got it. thanks. Traditionalism would also have no explanation for this, as far as I can tell. These lag times, it seems to me, is where you come in with deeply profound insights, particularly mind parasites. Add that with Aurobindo's evolutionary picture of humans, and a number of pieces fall in place. Oddly enough, this would also be how one could arrive at the idea that Islam, rather than being a revealed religion, is, in fact, a parasite doctrine. Am I following you properly?

Gagdad Bob said...


That is not what I would say about Islam, about which I am not sure what I would say. As Dennis Prager says, a religion is what its adherents do. The fact that there can exist certain Sufi sects, in however small numbers, must mean that the potential for an interior Islam is there. If not, what are we supposed to do? Kill a billion people?

No, I think Bush was on the right track in trying to bring liberty to the middle east. Even more important than democracy, however, is markets. One can easily argue that our economic freedom is much more meaningful than our political freedom, as we live it from moment to moment and it changes us in profound ways -- used wisely, it can help us become who we are, as we are free to choose the objects and environs that mirror and nourish our soul.

This was the argument of a profound book I read entitled From Plato to Nato, that convincingly argued that the political ideas that we hold so dear were simply extrapolated from the behavior that is produced "on the ground" by free markets. In other words, the behavior comes first, then pinhead intellectuals come along and develop abstract arguments about why freedom is a good thing. You can't just start with the abstract idea of freedom and then try to sell it to people -- especially a traditional people whose only power is derived from the inequities in the existing system.

GeorgeD said...

Joseph, what makes you think I have a blog?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Your last comment about attaining liberty through free markets resonated with me.

I believe the biggest stumbling block may be how intertwined Islam is with Muslim governments.

If free markets do not appeal to Muslims more than Islam/draconian sharia law- and the backward culture it produces, then the alternative will be tragic on a scale humans have never seen.

Especially since the will of the west has eroded so much since WW2.

We must give free markets a chance...and then we will know...

will said...

Re: faith and the awareness of cosmic analogy:

Was contemplating how very cool it would be if the basic tenet of cosmic analogy found its place in our educational system, and I mean in the relatively early grades as well as the universities. Of course the three R's have to be rote-taught in the beginning, but once children have an idea of the basics, I don't see why the concept of analogy can't be introduced, encouraged to be seen as the most creative, fulfilling perspective.

I know that many mystics - I'm thinking Edgar Cayce and J Krishnamurti off the top of my head - were as children considered to be dream-heads, total dullards, in fact. In my own experience, I found math unbearably dull, devoid of life, sterile, and science ran a close second. I did a lot of daydreaming in those classes. If there had been a slight element of the quasi-mystical in the math/science classes, nothing too deep, of course, but just a hint or two of things cosmically analogous, it would have been for me much much more interesting, might have kept me from nodding off all the time.

Lisa said...

I am pretty lucky to have blindly stumbled upon both Biology/science classes as my major and Religious studies classes as my minor. They were such compliments to each other. They are both wonderful ways of describing the cosmos we inhabit. There is always a point in science where the teacher cannot explain what happens before the first step. This is where religion fills the gap. It also gives us a great cultural and historical lessons from its adherents. Too bad colleges aren't more integrated and classically liberal today. Thank God or Al Gore for the internet! It certainly helps fill that gap and allow knowledge to be more accessible.

Joseph said...

It seems to me that Islam, in today's world, is entirely incompatible with the Modern World. I would say the very best, the most cogent writer's on Islam, such as Schuon, Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, would agree with that. Only Muslims who reject parts of their religion can come to grips with free markets, etc., indeed, anything but Sharia law. Certainly I have sympathy for traditional worlds; In some ways I feel far more suited temperamentally to be in a medieval world, perhaps as a potter/esoterist (though as you might point out--fat chance).
Of course, I agree, that Sufism is a remarkable phenomenon. There do exist, however, some cogent arguments that Sufism is actually superadded to Islam, and does not emerge from "within" it. Peter Kingsley, for one, has more or less demonstrated that with his work. Alain Daniélou is another who argued that Sufism emerged from Tantric (I am referring to philosophical tantrism, you sex fiends) borrowings, in the same fashion that Tantrism was taken to Tibet. Also, somewhat related, there is a very large group of Sufis in Anatolia who more or less reject Sharia law entirely--millions of them. Sufism only makes sense if it completely interiorizes the Koran and the saying of the prophet. Any literal interpretation goes haywire. To me, that would be evidence of some kind of mind parasite being involved in the bringing forth of the Koran.
I do think it is admirable to attempt to bring some measure of democracy to the Middle East. Of course, it is untenable, even monstrous, to imagine killing all Muslims. Nonetheless, even the new constitution of Afghanistan calls for the killing of anyone who leaves Islam. Freedom of religion, in principle, must be a fundamental component of any attempt at democracy. Sorry to ramble on--

will said...

>>I am pretty lucky to have blindly stumbled upon both Biology/science classes as my major and Religious studies classes as my minor<<

Nah, Lisa, not luck. Destiny.

Anyway, I happen to think most people are not really ready for college until they're about 24 - 26 years old. That's the age when the "I-relate-everything-to-myself-and-my-emotions" fixation starts to dwindle. A bit.

Lisa said...

Plus you have a higher tolerance at that age!

Destiny - isn't that the stuff they put on babies bottoms for diaper rash?

LukeBlogWalker said...


You are absolutely on target.

I've said it before, so I guess I have to say it again, until it sinks in.

Faith is an action, made with an understanding, in a context. The word used in the New Testament is not a religeous word at all.

The -only- difference is what object your faith is in.

So, a Scientist using his faith in something (a.k.a. believing something) -to be true or untrue, would use the same word.

In English we do not have a verb form of "Faith" so we substitute "belief" and "trust" typically. Which is rather wishy-washy -as no action is implied per se.

The idea that faith is in opposition to reason is non sequitor if you know the history of the words used for faith within the Bible.

Additionally, in the line of the discussion today about mankind, recall too (swings open door of possibilities) -that the Bible says that God made "Adam" and not "man" (generic). He breathed life into Adam, and Adam became a living soul.

I won't eleborate further, but will let that one sink in for a time.

Lisa -destiny? I guess if you are older, hmm, depends. ;)


Van said...

"...The real dichotomy is faith vs. scientism, not faith vs. science..."

To toss another too sense in, I don't think the issue is one pole against another, I think it's more of a case of two opposite quarters of one mind, each having pretensions to entirety, which has enabled one or the other perspectives quarter to unbalance the other. Think of a four legged table, with two opposite legs higher than the other two, causing the table to tip one way or the other, with the moral tabletop unsecured and pitching dangerously about.

That either of these pretends to a solid and superior viewpoint is laughable. And cryable.

The Whole Mind, a balanced mind, has facility dealing with both details and principles, inspiration and disciplined methodology, and knowing that the intuitions and emotions are natural functioning parts of the Self, neither ignores them, nor gives them more pointed import than their higher level summations warrant.

Many forget that Isaac Newton, the most astounding genius in a thousand years, was a VERY religious person. Yet he managed to give proper attention and reign to his areas of thought as befitted them, the result was that he intuited integrations that no one else in history had foreseen, created new methods of calculating (calculus), and yet at the same time had no problem in saying when he didn't know something ("...You sometimes speak of GRAVITY as essential and inherent to matter. Pray do not ascribe that notion to me; for the cause of gravity is what I do not pretend to know, and therefore would take more time to consider of it . . ."). He didn't blunder into either unsupportable theorizing (hello Descartes!) or declaring in the absence of understanding that all understanding was impossible (hello Hume!). This was a man who wrote papers on religious matters, served as a Professor of mathematics, served in the gov't, was responsible for such practical matters as the splined ridges on the edges of coins to discourage crooks from shaving silver & gold from them, and was also the first to fully understand the spectrums of light... and on and on.

Thank God that Newton wasn't born after the un-symmetrical wobble heads took the field (Descartes to one side, and Hume to the other) who set about not only unbalancing modernity with their hyper rationalism and empiricism, but also unmoored the upper half of the mind, the Vertical-ebelum, letting the fundamentalists & materialists posture as if either of their views were in any way viable options.

It's One Cosmos - to focus on less is to fracture your mental and spiritual lens, distorting both your outward and inward gaze.

Van said...

foo fighter said "The real question "What is Truth?" should be dropped--because everyone already knows it at some level.

The real question is "What is the best use of my time right now?"

Hmm...Somehow those levels that everyone knows truth at, manage to get so opposite of eachother, that one might think they are in conflict, opposition, contradictory, many 'levels' of which I'd bet must be right, wrong or not even.

If that is the case, on what basis do you determine the best use of your time right now? At some level, that matters.

Van said...

Will said "...However, genuine faith, ie., gnosis, is the literal perception, via the higher organs of perception, of higher realities, dimensions. Faith thus need not be a matter of "effort", unless it be "effortless effort"..."

Perhaps somewhat like a grasp of moral principles, which absent known details, can still be counted on to opperate... is understood to be of the very fabric... process... living substance of the cosmos.

Those occasional leaps into the night often come when you do what you know to be right, absent any certain result, because it is right, and you can do not else but to trust that things will be as they must.

That is what I see as faith in God as the proper functioning of the universe... I don't mean it to sound so mechanical, or computational, but I do want to set it apart from what I see as 'painted up wishing', which so often seems to be an easy cop-out for mental and spiritual laziness.

Van said...

Gagdad said " explanation is required to as to why the sudden flowering occurred after a lag of 90,000 years..."

Joseph said "Nonetheless, even the new constitution of Afghanistan calls for the killing of anyone who leaves Islam. Freedom of religion, in principle, must be a fundamental component of any attempt at democracy..."

I wonder if that first explosion of cave paintings & art wasn't the first Soul Integrations ... an internal snapping together brought about from language reaching a tipping point of words and concepts, together with a grasp of community as opposed to packs... sort of a gigantic "aHA! Eureka!"... the horizontal and vertical connecting as if electrical poles finally getting enough charge to spark and sustain a current of charged soul "let there be light!"

Van said...

Gagdad said "...convincingly argued that the political ideas that we hold so dear were simply extrapolated from the behavior that is produced "on the ground" by free markets...."

Yes, that mutual respect which is necessary to even consider trade, barter and finally commerce - that requires some fundamental understanding of rights and law and property, that they be respected and defended... otherwise it's back to robbery, rape and pillaging. If that can be sustained in the face of, or revived after the thugs selling protection, warlords & Kings... that understanding can grow into Rights and Freedom, as it did in Athens at one Footing of Western Civilization.

It resurfaced again in varying degrees in Rome, Venice, England and the Thirteen Colonies - where political-military powers have been sufficiently distracted as to let commerce freely order it's own affairs, and so the citizens their own as well, independent souls arise.

The trick is to keep their heads on their shoulders afterwards.

Van said...

(cue the Billy Idol soundtrack) "And I'll be blogging with myse-elf... ah ah ah oh!"
My goodness it is late for me. Another seventeen hour day crackles out into insomnia and weariness.


Joan of Argghh! said...

" explanation is required to as to why the sudden flowering occurred after a lag of 90,000 years..."

Didn't Ringo Starr already address this in, "Caveman"? It was the invention of music,wasn't it?


River's Piano said...

Joan; My ancestors concur.

My great-great-great-great grandpop was a jawharp, and he used to say: 'The Fifth is the beginning of all harmony'.

A perfect three-to-two relationship, you see!

And who said pianos are not philo-sophical.

Joseph said...

van said, "...political-military powers have been sufficiently distracted as to let commerce freely order it's own affairs, and so the citizens their own as well, independent souls arise."
It's interesting as I have studied over the years the workings of the defense and intelligence operations of the major powers how often one finds high level corporate officers moving from say, head of the CIA to head of some major corporation, and then, perhaps to secretary of defense. The desire to control is still quite prevalent, though more covert.

sawdust said...

I'm fairly new to this forum, about a month. Just finished the One Cosmos book, found it to put into words the feelings or beliefs I've experienced the past several years.

One thing I have trouble understanding is the great disagreement between the "religious" community and the scientific community. I picked up a Time-Life book on the universe several years ago, quite ironically at a church rummage sale. Reading the first chapter, about the world at one time being a huge cloud of gas, then coming together, gradually cooling down, lots of rain, etc., etc., I couldn't help but notice the similarity to "..and the earth was void, and without form...", and so on until the Garden of Eden.

To me, and I think to most scientists, there seems to be an order to this thing we call the universe, with objects floating around at vast distances, other objects floating around them. My idea of a God is, for lack of a better word, the hands at the controls.

If z evolved from y, what were the origins of y? If it was x, what was the origin of x? If enough monkeys typing long enough could turn out the works of Shakespeare, could enough scientists turn a monkey into a man? Or, for that matter, could they create a squirrel with the instinct to bury nuts in the fall to carry it through the winter? I'll buy a ticket to that show.

River Cocytus said...

sawdust: The most curious and unique phrase to me in the creation account is this one:

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

Also, previously:

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

What are these freakin' waters, man?

and moving upon them? There's some crazy deep implications there.

Anyway, in our time, who knows how long the whole thing took.

I mean, he said a day, but this Guy could fall asleep in 1492 when Columbus set out and nap until 1992 and call it a five-minute nap.

Or as an apostle put it (or was it JC?) 'A day in His courts is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day'.

So... we've got a lot of wiggle room here on these days. As in, possibly, an infinite wiggle room.

River Cocytus said...

Also, geez, this is going to be redundant maybe, but there seems to me to be an interest dichotomy going on...

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."

This is of course the KJV which is a bit more archaic, but in this same sense, the archaic language is a bit more 'open' -- that is, able to contain many meanings....

What is odd to me, now stay with me here, is that it does not say only "There was evening and then there was morning, the first day."

It says, for whatever reason of linguistics, that the evening and the morning were the first day.

Looking at other newer translations, this seems to have vanished; it is always replaced with 'There was evening, and there was morning- the first day.'

Does anyone know Greek (Septuagint) or Hebrew and can tell me roughly what the actual language is saying? To me it is very curious indeed.

LukeBlogWalker said...


I'm at an offsite Ops center, known euphemistically as "Garage Ops" -and will check my Septuagint, etc. when I get home.


MikeZ said...

About that explosion 40 millennia ago: there's a current thing going around these days about a "tipping point", something we see in chaos theory, where things build up unitl a certain point, and then there's a big SNAP, and what's left is often a lot greater than before.

It could be that that was one of the first.

In any event, only us humans went through it. Apes and hippopotami are still apes and hippopotami, and neither of them has come close to making cave drawings.

Which is another interesting angle. The cave paintings at places like Lascaux aren't just stick figures, like a child draws, to be improved on by later generations, they're full-out drawings - many are Picasso-like in their simplicity. Whoever drew them (whoever or whoevers) knew his subjects - the animals.

Luke: "... recall too (swings open door of possibilities) - that the Bible says that God made "Adam" and not "man" (generic). He breathed life into Adam, and Adam became a living soul."

The line is [loosely phonetic] "elohiym amar asah adam tselem ..." (Gen 1.26), later, "JHWH elohiym yatsar adam aphar ..." (Gen 2.7), where "adam" means "man" - or it could mean "the man called Adam", but there's no usage of that word as a proper name - even Gen 2.23 doesn't make it clear that "Adam" is a name. Eve doesn't get her name till they're out of the garden (Gen 4.1)

Sawdust: I don't think the chasm between prelates and scientists is all that big. The thing is, we just see the part of it that sells Time and Newsweek and Sam Harris books. There's no contradiction between religion and science - [Galileo again: "The Bible teaches us how to get to heaven, not how the heavens go".] One of the jobs of science is to figure out how God did it. So far, the weight of evidence seems to point to evolution, in the short term, and the Big Bang, in the long term.

river cocytus: go to the '' site. It gives the Hebrew for the OT, the Greek for the NT (That's where I got the Genesis clips above). All that gives you though is the words. You'll have to work out the grammar and syntax. I don't think we can rely too heavily on Genesis for a blow-by-blow account of creation.

Fr George Coyne, S.J., director until recently of the Vatican Observatory ('scope is in Arizona) says that "intelligent design is absurd". Google for "father coyne intelligent" or similar.

This is perhaps the best of the bunch:

Coyne interview

Van said...

"The desire to control is still quite prevalent, though more covert."

Certainly there are those who seek to control others as their primary motivation, but that isn't the same thing as those having a presence of mind that suits them to management and leadership. There's a marked difference between would-be tyrants, and those capable and able at management and command.

I think there's a difference between the political-military I was referring to, being princes of a ruling class & caste, able to command the lives and obedience of commoners, and those such as a Rumsfeld, who naturally move between a civilian commanded military of free citizens, and corporate America - there are many qualities that both organizations value, and there need be nothing nefarious in that.