Ransacking the Cosmos and Vandalizing the Pages of History (5.17.09)
Several months ago, I came across this oddity that I tucked away for future use:
"Recently, the comedian and movie star Sinbad had to announce that he was not, in fact, dead of a heart attack at age 50, as his Wikipedia entry claimed. Somebody vandalized the page, claimed Wikipedia spokeswoman Sandra Ordonez."
"Vandalizing the page" is an apt metaphor for the secular misuse of language, which culminates in the unholy quadrivelum of multiculturalism, moral relativism, tolerance and diversity. It also forms the basis of left-wing guru George "rhymes with" Lakoff's Orwellian theory of "framing," which progressives employ to try to make their tasteless ideas even more palatable to the indiscriminate. And of course, the horizontal barbarism of deconstruction is the quintessence of the nihilistic ransacking of history.
When we refer to intelligence, we are ultimately talking about meaning. And when we refer to meaning, we are ultimately talking about the human event. No, not this or that finite human life, but the entire meaning of an anthropocentric cosmos that was once dead and unconscious but has awakened to its own hidden meaning in the form of the human subject.
This mysterious subjective center has appeared "out of nowhere" and cannot -- and will not ever -- be explained on any purely naturalistic grounds. But at the same time, the human center will not always be here. The cosmic "I" only fully opened around 40,000 years ago, and it will close again at some point in the future, one way or the other. The cosmos, let alone our solar system, will not always be fit for life, even if Sheryl Crow uses no toilet paper at all on her private jet.
Therefore, all meaning must be placed in the larger context of the meaning of meaning, or the Human Event. In the words of theologian Thomas Torrance,
"The fact that the universe expanded in such a way that the emergence of conscious mind in it is an essential property of the universe, must surely mean that we cannot give an adequate account of the universe in its astonishing structure and harmony without taking into account, that is, without including conscious mind as an essential factor in our scientific equations.... Without man, nature is dumb, but it is man's part to give it word: to be its mouth through which the whole universe gives voice to the glory and majesty of the living God."
Any philosophy that falls short of this is simply vandalism, not to mention blarney, since it has the effect of reducing the reality of our cosmic situation to rubble. All varieties of materialism fall into this category, as they begin their exploration by turning the cosmos upside down and inside out in order to try to understand it.
And any philosophical understanding that flows from such a backward approach begins with inversion but ends in perversion. I say this because the universe itself is an expression of the Human Event, not vice versa. Any true humanist understands -- either explicitly or implicitly -- that reality is a result of the irreducible hypostatic union of subject and object in the human person. The cosmos is actually an "outgrowth" of this fundamental reality, which is why we can affirm the truism that man is the measure of all things, with the exception of that which takes the measure of man, which is to say, God, or the Absolute.
Within the "Human Event" is the "God event." We call this latter event revelation, which includes the Incarnation. But in reality, the human event is itself a revelation and an incarnation. Specifically, the intellect -- no, not the puny intellect of the secular intellectual, but the nous, or intellect properly so-called -- is revelation "subjectivized," just as scripture is the intellect, or Word, objectivized. So if one affirms that scripture is the "word of God," it is another way of saying that the intellect through which scripture is understood is also the word of God.
But not exactly. Rather, the first and last Word of God -- the Alpha and Omega -- would have to be the hypostatic union of those two words in the human person. Again, the Human Event is ultimately the unification of the cosmic Subject and Object, and its highest expression -- at least from the human side of the Divine-human divide -- is what is called in the Orthodox Christian tradition theosis.
Thus, theosis is the ultimate meaning of cosmic evolution, a subset of which is the biological evolution that the Darwinians, in their metaphysical blindness, attempt to reduce to random mechanical changes. Here again, while I do not believe that "intelligent design" should be taught as science -- since it obviously transcends science -- to teach natural selection as metaphysical truth represents the most crude sort of intellectual barbarism imaginable. As Schuon writes, this kind of shallow secular intellectualism
"cannot fail to engender errors. It confers self-complacency and... introduces a sort of worldliness into the intellectual domain. Its good side is that it may speak of truth; its bad side is the manner in which it speaks of it. It replaces the virtues it lacks by sophistries. It lays claim to everything but is in fact inoperative. In intellectualism a capacity to understand the most difficult things readily goes hand in hand with an inability to understand the simplest things" (oomphasis mine).
Put another way, science is simply one of the diverse possibilities of intelligence as such. If, like the Darwinian vandals, we ransack the cosmos and turn it upside down, we place ourselves in the absurd position of using our intelligence to prove that it doesn't actually exist.
In other words, either natural selection explains our intelligence, or our intelligence explains natural selection. You can't have it both ways. Likewise, either intelligence explains the big bang, or the big bang explains intelligence. In reality, no matter how far "back" we search, we find only more divine-human intelligence, the radiance of which is the beauty, truth, and harmony of the mathematical equations governing the physical world.
But even then, "govern" is not quite right, since the big bang is in reality a backward projection of the Human Event, and without which it would be inconceivable. The equations governing the big bang are not the meaning of existence; rather, human beings are the meaning of those equations. The meaning of anything is not found in its constituent parts; reducing something to its constituent parts is how you destroy meaning, precisely. Rather, meaning is only discovered by understanding what the parts are pointing toward and converging upon.
This brings us back around to the ironically named "progressive" movement, ironic because it excludes the very possibility of progress. Progress, to the extent that it exists -- and it does -- can only be understood in light of the Absolute. Otherwise, how do you measure it? Easy. For the progressive, you simply "make something up." You create some admittedly arbitrary standard out of thin air, and then determine whether or not reality comports with your fantasy of how things should be.
But in the end, the progressive is hoisted on his own petarded philosophy, which insists that there is no ultimate meaning or truth anyway. Which is why progressivism is such a shallow politico-intellectual game of spiritually stunted adultolescents.
Real progress occurs when the human event inches closer toward its nonlocal goal, which is to say, its theomorphic center. Probably the single greatest leap in human progress occurred with the founding of America, and we can see how this is opposed on all sides by forces of darkness that would undo or arrest its further advance -- including the Islamists, leftists, progressives, scientific materialists, and other cosmic vandals.
As I wrote in the Coonifesto, the end is always here, because the end of the Human Event occurs any time one of its individual expressions passes from fragmented multiplicity to true unity-in-diversity, in a neverunending process. This is the cosmic Omcoming we all seek.
Meaning is the golden thread which leads us ever-upward, beyond the subjective horizon, through to the foundation and destiny of the world. This is where the divine substance returns to itsource and God offers the creation back to himSelf in an act of Divine Thanksgiving. This is the cosmic eucharist, the consecration of existence, the wholly communion of a part so ptee doing deuty for the holos. It is not a nothing but a transformational plenitude where the human subject is perpetually transfigured at the crossroads of the vertical and horizontal.
The intellect knows through its very substance all that is capable of being known and, like the blood flowing through even the tiniest arteries of the body, it traverses all the egos of which the universe is woven and opens out “vertically” on the Infinite. In other words: the intellective center of man, which is in practice subconscious, has knowledge, not only of God, but also of man’s nature and his destiny; and this enables us to present Revelation as a “supernaturally natural” manifestation of that which the human species knows, in its virtual and submerged omniscience, both about itself and about God. --F. Schuon