Heavenly Bodies & Earthy Souls (4.11.10)
To say that one believes in the self-evident truth of "intelligent design" is really to say that one believes in intelligence, especially human intelligence. For intelligence is nothing if it cannot know truth, and no random shuffling of Darwinian evolution could result in truth-bearing animals.
Rather, because the cosmos is logoistic, we should never be surprised to find traces of the logos wherever we look, whether in objects or in the subjects to whom they are intelligible. This is the absaridity in the reductionistic desert of orthodorks neo-Darwinism, in that it posits an absolute contingency capable of knowing absolute truth about itself. If it can do that, then it is no longer merely contingent, but participates in a transcendent absoluteness for which it can never account. Obviously there is relative truth in natural selection, but surely not absolute truth.
Instead of "intelligent design," one might just as well say "beautiful design." For example, underneath the temporal flux of the cosmos, we see those beautiful and elegant mathematical structures that seem to abide in a disembodied platonic realm of their own.
Yes, ugliness -- even butt ugliness -- "must needs be," but we can only know it because it is a privation. Only in the postmodern world "has ugliness become something like a norm or principle; in this case, beauty appears as a specialty, even a luxury" (Schuon). But this ugliness is merely an exteriorization of the endarkened souls who produce it, e.g., the aptly named Aliza Shvarts. It requires no talent, since it takes none to produce ugliness and barbarism. It requires the exertion of will to arrest it, and the application of talent to reverse it. To put it another way, some butts are quite beautiful.
It seems that our decline into the postmodern cult of ugliness began at the other end, with the aesthetic movement of "art for art's sake." But this was an aesthetics cut off from its transcendent source. Once that happened, then gravity took care of the rest, and down we went on a wilde ride to the bottom. Idolatry of the beautiful is still idolatry, which is why the modern art museum became a kind of church for irreligious sophisticates. It is also why so much modern art is ultimately "empty," because it has been drained of any transcendent reference. In the absence of transcendence, all art is merely decoration on our prison walls.
Art is obviously a form; but the form must skillfully convey something of the nonformal; it is the real presence of the infinite captured within, or radiating through, the finite. Schuon wrote that "beauty is the mirror of happiness [I would say delight] and truth." Without the element of delight, "there remains only the bare form," and without the element of truth, "there remains only an entirely subjective enjoyment -- a luxury," and we are stuck with a decadent aestheticism instead of aesthetics, which is as intellectualism to the intellect, just a counterfoot to the head.
In this regard, to say that there are no objective standards of aesthetic value is to insist (to paraphrase Schuon) that myopia and blindness are merely different ways of looking instead of "defects of vision." Stupidity is not just another form of intelligence. So why should we call formal ugliness art, especially when it ultimately serves as an accomplice in ushering man's spirit down and away from its source? This is a quintessential form of demonism, of black magic, a "revolt of the darkness." Obviously it doesn't "elevate," since the telovator of the postmodern mind can never ascend from the ground floor to begin with. But curiously, it can nevertheless descend. It can do this because this is where they locate the "real," in matter. This is why their vision is so hellish.
Now, what does this all have to do with the human body? I don't know yet. I guess we're about to find out.
Again, man is said to be the image and likeness of the Creator. It is the Raccoon position that we will therefore find traces of this deiformity in both our subjectivity (e.g., our capacity to know truth, to will the good, and to love beauty), but also in our material form.
This is not a new idea, but an archetypal one that belongs to the religio perennis, or the religion from which religion is derived. As the Orthodox Christian Olivier Clement writes, "There is no culture or religion that has not received and does not express a 'visitation of the Word.'" For "he is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1:16-17).
Quoting from Manly Hall's sometimes kooky, sometimes helpful Secret Teachings of All Ages, he writes that "The oldest, most profound, the most universal of all symbols is the human body. The Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, and Hindus considered philosophical analysis of man's triune nature to be an indispensable part of ethical and religious training."
In this approach, "the laws, elements, and powers of the universe were epitomized in the human constitution," so that "everything which existed outside of man had its analogue within man." An outgrowth of this was the notion that God is a "Grand Man," while man is a "little god." Thus, "the greater universe was termed the Macrocosm -- the Great World or Body," while man's body, "the individual human universe, was termed the Microcosm." As above, so below. Placed in this context, the idea that "the Word has become flesh" is perfectly comprehensible, even inevitable.
And in fact -- and we will get into this in more detail later -- even the secular scientist believes in this ancient formulation after his own fashion. To cite one obvious example, how is it that human beings are uniquely privileged to have access to the abstract formal system that rules the heavens? In other words, the quantum cosmologist "contains" the cosmos just as surely as it contains him.
But this is what the Christian has always believed; it is the materialist who cannot account for this mystery: "Understand that you have within yourself, upon a small scale, a second universe" (Origen). "Man, this major world in miniature, is a unified abridgment of all that exists, and the crowning of divine works" (St. Gregory of Palamas). "Man is the microcosm in the strictest sense of the word. He is the summary of all existence" (John Scottus Erigena). "All things in Heaven above, and Earth beneath, meet in the Constitution of each individual" (Peter Sterry).
You will often hear reductionistic Darwinians refute design with reference to certain "ugly" realities in the world, say, the mosquito, or man's windpipe being too close to the esophagus, or Randi Rhodes' voice. And yet, such quibbles actually "praise God," being that there is an implicit recognition or "recollection" of perfection.
But again, the manifestation is not the Principle, otherwise the world would be God. Nevertheless, as Schuon points out, "the world is fundamentally made of beauty, not ugliness.... and [it] could not contain ugliness if it did not contain a priori far more beauty." Likewise, contingency and randomness necessarily exist, but they are ultimately harnessed by a higher ordering principle to achieve newer and deeper syntheses. There is no metabolism without catabolism.
Running out of time. Here's a johnish quote to ponder and a petrified pun to quander:
"The Father is God beyond all, the origin of all that is. The incarnate Son is God with us, and he who becomes incarnate is none other than the Logos who gives form to the world by his creative words. The Spirit of God in us, the Breath, the Pneuma, gives life to all and brings every object to its proper perfection. The Logos appears as order and intelligibility, the Pneuma as dynamism and life.... Thus, to contemplate the smallest object is to experience the Trinity: the very being of the object takes us back to the Father; the meaning it expresses, its logos, speaks to us of the Logos; its growth to fullness and beauty reveals the Breath, the Life-giver" (Olivier Clement).
And His name & number shall be Immanuelent, which trancelighted, means "Godwithinus." --The Coonifesto (see also Matt 1:23)
To be continued....