Friday, August 24, 2007

The Religion of Science and the Science of Religion: In Search of the Missing TOENAIL

If I have time, I want to expand upon something I mentioned a couple of posts back about the structural similarity of science and religion, to the extent that both are systematic forms of understanding a world or "plane" of phenomena. In that post I made a bobscure reference to

"the transitional, generative space that exists between revelation and our contemplation of it. In this regard, one can see that Torah study, for example, has the identical structure of science, the latter of which you might say has a 'written revelation' and an 'oral revelation.' The 'written revelation' is simply the Cosmos, the World, physical reality, or whatever you want to call it. It is the Object which was here before we arrived, and to which we are Subject. Science -- the 'oral tradition' -- takes place in the space between the exterior Object and our own interior Subject, which mysteriously conforms to the Object on so many levels, as if the one were a deep reflection of the other. Which of course it is."

Now, I sympathize with people like our recent euranatheist, who don't "get" religion, and thereby imagine they've gotten it. It is a prideful stance of abject know-nothingness, in that it openly embraces the idea that there is nothing to know about Spirit. Therefore, it can promote ignorance as a kind of superior knowledge, if not wisdom, wisdom being impossible under such closed circlestases.

The reason I sympathize with the people who don't understand religion is that true religion, like real science, is difficult. Oh sure, most anyone can go to college and learn the basics of science, but there are relatively few truly creative and gifted scientists in proportion to the legion of worker BAs and other intellectual hivenaughts who only toil away at the shell of the cosmic taco and never trouble themselves with the whole existentialida. Only rarely does a scientist such as Michael Polanyi become a great philosopher. There is a world of difference between the intellectual visionary who intuits the whole vs. the mere thinker whose mind incessantly grinds away at facts.

In my book, Petey made the cryptic and possibly craptic -- you never know -- remark that "Science is the religion of the ultimate Object, while religion is the science of the ultimate Subject."

This is true as lo it gos, in that Subject and Object are irreducible existential categories, and we can burrow into the cosmic mountain from either end. Clearly, no cosmos is possible without both. Science -- for reasons it never examines -- disregards the Subject, which ineluctably ends in metaphysical absurdity, since it leads to a situation in which it explains everything except the mysterious one doing the explaining. Science necessarily begins with the assumption that there is a Subject who may know Truth, but then forgets all about it. Since the Subject remains inexspookable, he is simply errflushed out of the picture and down the brain.

But what an ass of an umption with which to burro into the cosmos like some mooronic donkey oldie! What kind of cosmos gives rise to Subjects who may know Truth? Aren't they even just a little bit curious?

This is another characteristic that always strikes me about these deiceased souls sophering from materialitis or reductionosis, that is, the lack of intellectual curiosity. Are there religious people who are intellectually incurious? Of course. But it's not a product of religion, at least properly understood. It is always tempting to cling to some easy formula in order to make the pain of not-knowing go away.

In my role as psychonautical travelguide, I find that most people have internalized a fundamentally faulty map of reality. I think this is for reasons of Darwin, not religion. That is, evolution selected us to simply adapt to an environment -- including an "interior," subjective environment -- not to know reality. (Our ability to know Truth is not, and could not be, explained by any Darwinian mechanism in a way that is not logically self-refuting.) Therefore, most people simply settle into a facile cognitive groove with which they are comfortable, and never venture beyond those boundaries. Furthermore, they defend their interior cognitive turf with the same sort of ferocity lower animals do on programs such as Meet the Press or Larry King.

Let's get back to my boundless sympathy for those who do not "get" religion, since I used to be one of them. The world of Spirit, no less than the world of Matter, confronts the human being with a welter of seemingly disconnected facts, or phenomena.

In fact, the rise of modern science some 300+ years ago simply represented a systematic way to organize all of the diverse and contradictory facts that appear before us. Eventually "laws" were discovered that explained seemingly unconnected phenomena, i.e., the "force" of gravity explaining the fall of the apple and the continuous "fall" of the earth around the sun. Science is a function of intelligence, which is the ability to know the substance in the accidental -- to literally escape the deceptive world of phenomena and know the principle in its manifestation.

Another way of saying it is that (to paraphrase Aldous Huxley) science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity. Science seeks increasingly deep unities to explain the outward phenomena. Presumably this will end with a big TOE, a Theory of Everything, the equation of our cosmic birth, a simple formula for generating this cosmos and everything in it.

But even if we do stub this TOE on our mental furniture, ultimately it would be no less painfully naive than the attempt to find the "cause" of God, for we would still need to know who or what devised the equation, and it could not be something less than intelligence. And it would indeed be the "ultimate intelligence," since it would be the ultimate case of Unity beneath diversity.

As intellectually OMniverous Raccoons, we want nothing less than the TOENAIL: Theory of Everything: Nous, Atman, Intellect, and Logos included.

In chapter four of my TOENAIL, I attempt to deal with the plane of "religious facts" in the same manner science deals with the plane of "scientific facts," that is, by seeking the laws beneath the phenomena and reducing multiplicity to unity. For surely there are religious facts. This is something even the atheist must acknowledge. It is just that he reduces them to a materialistic theory with which he is more emotionally comfortable. But the reason atheism will never be a popular religion is that the atheist is the rare person who either has no access to the world of religious facts, or if he does, simply explains them away. They are of no interest to him. He is incurious. But this is no less dysfunctional than primitive people who explain away the material world and live in "dream time."

Now in the final analysis, philosophical materialism is profoundly unscientific and unintelligent, since it is a stance that negates the very aim of science, which is to say, it grounds its certitude in appearance rather than reality, accident rather than substance, manifestation rather than principle.

Well, I was interrupted, and now I've lost the thread, so I'll continue tomorrow. Let me leave you with a relevant passage from Schuon's Language of the Self:

Logic can either operate in accordance with an intellection or on the contrary put itself at the disposal of an error, so that philosophy can become the vehicle of just about anything.... When unintelligence joins with passion to prostitute logic, it is impossible to escape a mental satanism which destroys the very basis of intelligence and truth....

When a man has no "visionary" -- as opposed to discursive -- knowledge of Being, and when he thinks only with his brain instead of "seeing" with the heart, all his logic will be useless to him, since he starts from an initial blindness.... Closing itself, above, to the light of the intellect, it opens itself, below, to the darkness of the subconscious.


Joan of Argghh! said...

Furthermore, they defend their interior cognitive turf with the same sort of ferocity lower animals do on programs such as Meet the Press or Larry King.

It's the little throw-away lines like these that just make my day! LOL!

hoarhey said...


You really know how to divert a guys attention.
I'm studiously reading down the narrative of todays post, trying to grasp every nuance when all of a sudden.... SPIKES SEXIEST BARTENDERS with a scantily clad female staring me in the face.
Now my brain refuses to allow me to finish the post before exploring what the contest is all about.

hoarhey said...

Whew! upon my return, the Sexiest Beertender contest was replaced by a T Mobile ad and I was able to grasp the profundity of the Schuon quotes the end of the post.

petey said...

Take it from me -- an integral view of the cosmos cannot exclude sexy bartenders.

cosanostradamus said...

She's only moonlighting as a "Spike's Sexiest Bartender" to pay her way through Harvard Divinity School. A PhD candidate's gotta eat.

dilys said...

You've been scammed, cosano. Harvard Divinity School doesn't award the Ph.D.

ximeze said...

intellectually OMniverous Raccoon, in search of a sustaining meal, sticks head thru the doggie-door flap, to sniff-out what's inside.

Eureka! Pay dirt! Plenty for the kits to eat & none of it will make them ill.

Praise Bob, Praise Bob, Praise Bob

Robin Starfish said...

today's selection
polanyi with side of schuon
serve with cold sake

cosanostradamus said...

dilys - Well, let's not tell her; it would break her heart. She spent hours researching the back pages of Rolling Stone and has sent her money in for the framed certificate already.

joseph said...

why cold sake? I prefer mine warm.

Lisa said...

Well, another veil has been lifted or rather dimension added to the cosmic joke, while contemplating one's navel, one must also include the big ToE!!!

Robin Starfish said...

Raccoon homework:

Update or install Google Earth v4.2.

Click on "View" and select "Switch to Sky."

Enter "Procyon" in the "Search the Sky" box.

Prepare to be O-mazed.

NoMo said...

robin - hOly cOw!!!!!


wv: nmire (I do!)

juliec said...


Fargin' Google earth is taunting me with incompatibility.

I don't suppose anyone could get a screen grab?

Aquila said...

OT: 'Coon abuse by idiot New Agers!

ximeze said...

Hey Lisa,
Did you go surfing in Costa Rica, are you blond yet & did it help?

NoMo said...

If you’d like to add a little exo to your teric, here is a great introduction to/summary of/call to read the writings of Francis Schaeffer. In just this one excellent essay there are numerous ideas that well-complement Bob’s writings and the discussions here at OC. I have always loved the thinking and writing of Francis Schaeffer and agree that thinking believers today “need to read” him

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the answer is to thoroughly examine the fundamental constituents of a toenail, right down to the chemical and molecular level. And even further to the atomic and level of primal energy, of which the toenail is a modification.

Plus to thoroughly examination the relation of the toenail to everything else or the vast pattern of relationships to which it is related. And by extension all of cosmic history which somehow coalesced at the particular moment to create the said toenail in question.

To do so thoroughly and comprehensively you would have to describe everything. Where does the toenail begin and end.

What is the essence of toenail-ness.

petey said...

To know the essence of the TOENAIL would constitute a celestial man-I-cure.

tapuwasi likes it hot said...

I am a devotee of Lesbos; I hope that does not disqualify me as a commentator here.

I spent seven years contemplating the universe in search of an irreducible principle (the TOENAIL, as it were).

My best try: entertainment.

Entertainment (also known as enjoyment), as a principle or motive cannot be reduced into a completer unity. Everything else can.

For instance, the force of gravity is useful for setting up the universe and keeping it moving and in balance. The end purpose of doing so would have to be, if you think about it, for the entertainment or enjoyment of God.

The twin concepts of beauty and truth can be reduced down to entertainment/enjoyment value as well.

And so forth, and so on.

My seven years have yielded me a greater appreciation for pursuing that which causes within the being a state of being entertained or of self-enjoyment.

As Petey says, the sexy bartender has a place in the cosmos; perhaps a very preeminent one.

Petey said...

... or as the Creator calls the cosmos, "the E network."

Petey said...

"I think that's the real deep entertainment. Religion. Real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment. The real feast that is available to us is within this activity. Nothing touches it.... Except if you're courtin'. If you're young, the hormonal thrust has its own excitement." --Leonard Cohen

Lisa said...

Why yes, ximeze, I did go surfing. It was a blast. The standing up and balancing part was actually the easier part. The hard part was battling the ocean and waves to get in the right spot. I'm sure Ben can attest to the unrelenting strength of the ocean. Really, I wasn't even in huge waves either. It rained every day and was still beautiful. Pinky is still MIA. :( Hair is more blond. Can't really fight the sun either. Got home and my computer wouldn't start. Had to have the hard drive replaced. Seems like this summer has just been one thing after another.... I'm ready for an upswing again! But I suppose the surfing did help, thanks for asking. Did I miss anything exciting around here? New favorite troll of the month is?

Van said...

Hoarhey said " ...trying to grasp every nuance when all of a sudden.... SPIKES SEXIEST BARTENDERS with a scantily clad female staring me in the face."

Why do Hoarhey & Ben always get all the umm... All I ever get are H&R Block.


Van said...

anonymous said "To do so thoroughly and comprehensively you would have to describe everything. Where does the toenail begin and end."

For some reason my nails, finger & toe, even at a 16th of an inch, are like little ginsu knives. If I happen to stretch out in sleep they've been known to draw blood. If I pick 'em and drop 'em on the floor (eeeuw!) and someone steps on 'em, they've been known to draw blood.

This I have learned: The Toenail is at the bottom of the body, and though you swaddle and shod it in darkness, though you pick, clip or file it away - it grows back. And if you ignore them, they've been known to draw blood. They cannot be reduced further, they always grow back; it is their purpose.

tapuwasi likes it hot said... "My seven years have yielded me a greater appreciation for pursuing that which causes within the being a state of being entertained or of self-enjoyment."

Or as the all wise Bluto Blutarski said "Seven years of college down the drain. Might as well join the #%^$!*@ Peace Corps." (warning: soundtrack uses words, not # signs)

wv:frqcang ... yeah, face it, you threw up on Dean Wormer.

Van said...

Lisa said " New favorite troll of the month is?"

I think that'd have to be allotetraploid (gotta love the name, it's more fun to write than to mock), last appearance here. I'm sort of with Smoov on this one - he's raving wrong, but in a well groomed trollish sort of way.

Welcome back! (Now roust Will, will ya?)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Van- If you don't look for the interesting ad's, then they will appear.
Ancient Sailor proverb.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Lisa,
the ocean is indeed powerful and relentless.
Safety tip: never surf around coral.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Call n' Response is up at USS Ben's place.

For some odd reason I let Skully handle the festivities.
He didn't that's somethin'.