The Cosmic Who- and Whydunnit
Actually, the whole narrative is not as unlikely as you might think. I've mentioned before that I had a particular teacher in film school who proved to have a tremendous impact upon my life. Long story short, because of a couple of years spent analyzing character, motivation, plot, theme, author, etc., I ended up being better prepared for graduate school than the other students, most of whom had degrees in psychology. And you can well imagine how worthless an undergraduate degree in psychology is, especially when compared to a familiarity with the great writers. After all, most people are just trapped in their own lousy be-movie, written by an author of whom they are unconscious.
One of the reasons why great writers are great is because they are often accomplished psychologists, except that their psychological knowledge is implicit and expressed in terms of character and plot. But in point of fact, as mentioned yesterday, it is not as if "narrative" is simply something added to our humanness. Rather, it is very much analogous to culture, in the sense that a radically individual human being is absurd. Rather, we can only be individual because we are social.
You might say that culture is the "space" in which we dwell, whereas narrative is the "time" in which we live. Our particular narrative structures time and confers a sense of purpose, even if we're just kidding ourselves. For in the end, we all understand that any man-made narrative is a fairy tale, whether "spiritual" or "scientific." In the absence of God, there is no objectively true narrative, just a bunch of likely stories.
This should be an uncontroversial statement to both religious and secular alike. A Darwinian should be mature enough to realize that his glee over the discovery of Ida is no more or less rational than my glee over the Lakers pulling out that game over Denver on Tuesday night.
Indeed, the older I get, the more difficult it is to be a passionate fan, because I just can't give myself totally to the narrative that it matters. When I was younger, I lived and died with the Dodgers. Even after they were mathematically eliminated from the pennant race, I would still listen to every last game, as if hoping that they could somehow overcome the math. If someone had said to me at the time, "Bob, why are you taking this so seriously? It's just a game," I would have dismissed him as someone hopelessly "out of it."
(It is no coincidence that Mrs. G. was a huge sports fan. At the time we met, she would routinely watch six hours of football on Sunday. For me, she was like a beer commercial come to life, with all those models who stay slim by watching sports and guzzling beer with the guys.)
This reminds me. We were friends with a couple down the street. The husband was a typical sports fan, while the wife was an extreme spoilsport. She was nagging him to get off the couch for one reason or another, to which he responded with words to the effect of, "I can't right now. This is a really important game." The wife responded, What are you talking about? There's no such thing as an important game!
Suffice it to say that they are no longer married.
The point is, narrative is much more important than we might realize. For example, the dispute between metaphysical Darwinists and ID'ers is not at all a dispute of facts, but of narratives. I have no hesitation in accepting any fact discovered by science. It's just that I place the facts in the context of a very different narrative, in which consciousness is at the top, not bottom, of the cosmos.
And you will have noticed that Queeg, for example, never argues the facts. Rather, he simply accuses the other side of having a bad narrative, that is, creationism. I realize that some literal creationists exist, and I would agree that that is an inadequate narrative, not just for science, but more importantly, for religion. But Queeg clearly argues in bad faith by suggesting that anyone who does not accept the Darwinian narrative therefore believes the literal creationist narrative. That's just crazy.
The whole spectacle is ironic, again, because we know in advance that the Darwinian narrative is false, since it is only a manmade story superimposed on existence. In reality, human beings can no more understand "where they came from" than can a lizard. Again, isn't this obvious? There can be no whydunnit in the absence of the Who that dunnit. If nobody dunnit, then there is no reason for anything.
As mentioned yesterday, I both agree and disagree with Schuon and Aurobindo about the role of evolution in the cosmos. In short, the former dismisses it too lightly, whereas the latter elevates it to too high a place. For while I agree with Aurobindo that this is an evolving cosmos, I disagree with him that there will ever be a species "beyond man."
Rather, I agree with Schuon that man is, in his own way, "absolute." For once a being is capable of truth -- not to mention, beauty and virtue -- he cannot be surpassed. Truth cannot surpass itself. Nor can beauty. It is preposterous to think that more random shuffling of genes will result, say, in a better writer than Shakespeare, or a better composer than Bach, no matter how long the shuffling continues.
This again suggests that there is something quasi-absolute about the human station. Now, I have no problem with this idea, since I believe that human beings are in the image of the Creator. But here again, we must be careful not to "spatialize" the metaphor. That is, the Creator is outside time, whereas we are "inside" it. Therefore, our ultimate narrative is the story of how the image becomes more like the likeness. For the human being, this is the "meaning" of evolution, no matter how you cut it, i.e., scientifically or religiously.
For example, if the discovery of Ida brings us closer to the truth of ourselves, then that is the implicit "meta-story," isn't it? The Darwinist inverts the situation, as if Ida discovered us. But again, it is a truism: either we can explain natural selection, or natural selection explains us. And if the latter, then we would have no basis for believing it to be true.
We're getting a little far afield, but the point is again that the only narrative that can possibly be objectively true is God's narrative. And this is the very topic of the Theo-Drama. Outside that narrative, nothing is really true. In this regard, the existentialists are absolutely correct. Human existence is 100% absurd outside God's narrative.
Now, is it possible to have access to God's narrative? Yes, but only if he reveals it to us. To a certain extent we can discover hints and clues in nature that inevitably lead to the threshold of the Creator. But we cannot know the ultimate purpose of this Cosmo-Drama unless he shares it with us. Otherwise, we'd just be guessing. Is it because God really likes beetles? Or because he's playing a practical joke on the humans? Or because he just enjoys twiddling the knobs of the cosmic console to see what kind of universe will pop out?
We just don't know. Therefore, in the absence of God's revelation, I would agree 100% that there can be no philosophy higher than Plotinus in the West and Shankara in the East, for both men essentially conclude that all narratives are false, and that the only logical task for us is to realize this by ascending into the One, and making the maya go away.
But what if the Father descends into our little narrative, impregnating mamamaya and making her his own?
Then you've got yourselves a rip-roaring Cosmo-Drama. Why, it even has a prequel we now call the "Old Testament."
To be continued....