Sorry Darkling, It's a Light Thing... You Wouldn't Understand
As I've mentioned before, to a certain extent, the structure of my book mirrors the journey from postmodern skeptic to believer-and-then-some. I'm almost tempted to say from post-religious to post-religiously religious (thus the circular structure of the book), but that's a topic for another post. The point is, I started with the world as it is, and ended up realizing that the world is not at all what it appears to be to our natural reason. To paraphrase someone in The Spiritual Ascent, at first I saw the hills in the painting, now I see the painting in the hills -- and therefore the artist.
Again, there are three forms of revelation available to human beings, each of which is necessary to the "full activation" of the others. These are 1) the world, 2) the intellect (the nous or buddhi, not the ego), and 3) scripture. I suppose you could even say that in this formulation, intellect is Father, world is Son, and scripture is Holy Spirit.
My point is that I do not believe in "intelligent design" because I am religious. Rather, the self-evident existence of intelligent design -- or, let us just say cosmic intelligence -- permitted my own intelligence to go the whole hog and embrace a religious view, which soon enough confirmed Augustine's statement that no creature, howsoever rational and intellectual, is lighted of itself, but is lighted by participation of eternal Truth.
That is, once this happened, it was as if the whole of creation lit up from the inside out, in part because I added the third peg of revelation into the mix, which served as a sort of "catalyst" or enzyme that constantly fertilizes the mind. And of course, everything must be infused by grace, the one truly necessary condition; in the words of Thomas Traherne, "These principles are like seed in the ground, they must be continually visited with heavenly influences, or else your life will be a barren field." Or, as Eckhart put it, "It is one flash, the being-ready and the pouring-in. Nature reaching her summit, God dispenses his grace; the instant the spirit is ready God enters without hesitation or delay.... Grace makes the soul deiform. God, the ground of the soul, and grace go together."
This came as a total -- and ongoing -- shock to me. It is truly a combustible combination, and the only way I am able to greet each morning with a fresh post from the wild godhead. The combustion takes place in heart, where the world is like a perpetually burning bush, an immaculate fire that gives off no smoke to get in your I. It is the end that is a perpetual beginning, and that which draws all of creation in its wake, thereby "making all things new." In this way of looking at things, the desire for God is God, and by cherishing and nurturing that desire, it impels us toward its fulfillment. Truly, man is the eros shot into the heart of the world.
As Schuon accurately describes it, "When the heart is opened to the divine influx, the ego finds itself inundated with beauty and glory.... Everything related to the order of metaphysics has, in itself, the power of opening up boundless horizons to anyone who has a true conception of it; this is not a hyperbole or a figure of speech, but it must be understood quite literally, as an immediate outcome of the principles." This is because "the things in question are the most tremendous that exist, and compared with them everything else is child's play.... Everything accomplished in this domain brings into play powers that the ordinary man has no inkling of..."
Among other things, I saw that the intellect had to be anterior to creation, or we couldn't understand the creation so easily and so deeply. No mere created intellect -- that is, created by random accidents and copying errors -- could result in something so sublime and luminous as the human mind, any more than your computer upgrades itself when corrupted by viruses. It is absurd to think otherwise, if for no other reason than it is to render oneself absurd. Consciousness is over, above, behind, below, and within the created order, otherwise we couldn't understand a single truth; in its deiformity, the intellect is both immanent and transcendent. This is not just the religious view, but it is obviously implicit in science as well, as all scientists presume that the world -- if not today, then eventually -- can be "contained" by the mind, however narrowly and perversely conscrewed.
Even if you reduce the world to a set of mathematical equations, you will see that intelligence has already been there, as it is reflected in the tracks of the equations. The more deeply we peer into the cosmos, the more "deep intelligence" is revealed. No quantum cosmologist expects to look beneath the flux of the world and discover equations that are timelessly ugly and stupid. Rather, they will always be beautiful, beauty being the splendor of the true. And this is only a step away from the shocking realization that thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, an the Glory, forever. Very humbling, to say the least.
If premodern men were as stupid as postmodern cynics imagine them to have been, they never could have resulted in minds as "brilliant" as Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. In reality, these low and laughty men represent precipitous declensions from the lofty ones who preceded them. But it was ever thus: When the inferior scholar is told of Tao / He laughs aloud at it / If it were not laughed at, it would not be sufficient to be Tao. So a Sam Harris can say with a straight face that "Judaism is intrinsically divisive," "ridiculous in its literalism," and "at odds with the civilizing insights of modernity."
But vulgar men such as Harris and Dawkins are actually mediocrities by their own -- and only -- standard, since no one will read their words in the space of a generation, but men -- so long as they remain men -- will always be reading the words of the Torah, or Plato, or Augustine, or Eckhart, or Lau-tzu, or Denys, or Steinsaltz, or Schuon, or so many other men of religious genius -- Men with insight / Men in granite / Knights in armor intent on chivalry (Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey).
Scripture itself should be given the ultimate seal of approval by Darwinians, since it survives, while endless secular philosophies come and go. If history is any guide, most of the things believed by postmodern sophisticates will no more survive than phrenology or a Bill Maher monologue.
The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts and, as it seems, his inevitable and ultimate preoccupation -- for it survives the longest periods of skepticism and returns after every banishment -- is also the highest which his thought can envisage. It manifests itself in the divination of the Godhead, the impulse towards perfection, the search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss, the sense of a secret immortality. The ancient dawns of human knowledge have left us their witness to this constant aspiration; today we see a humanity satiated but not satisfied by victorious analysis of the externalities of Nature preparing to return to its primeval longings. The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last -- God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. --Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine
The last end is the first mover. --Peter Sterry