Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Secular Subhumanists and the Ravages of Reductionism

Ravage: to wreak havoc on; visit destructively and often violently; to commit destructive actions

I suppose one of my main themes is the violence done to man as a result of any ideology that regards him as less than Man. Ideological Darwinism, for example (the strict science notwithstanding), is a philosophical non-starter, since it reduces man to an animal pure and simple. There isn't, nor can there be, anything "special" about man, except perhaps his delusional ability to convince himself that he is something other than an ape with a few additional tricks for survival.

But these traits can have no intrinsic "value," being that value is one of the primary delusions of this human ape. Nor can there be any fixed "human nature" or essence, since man, like everything else in the biosphere, is just a temporary resting spot for genes that are relentlessly changing. Obviously, nothing can be "permanent" in such a view, since every species is by definition "transitional." Which is why the Darwinian worldview is so seriously fluxed up.

Likewise, scientism wreaks havoc on the human qua human, since it goes even further, reducing his animality to mere matter. Marxism too -- and all ideologies that flow from Marxism -- reduces man to a passive subject of forces that both control and define him, whether race, class, gender, or sexual preference.

But to define a man in terms of one of these categories is to rob him of his manhood, which is to say, his individuality (or uniqueness) and his nobility and dignity (or his intrinsic worth). For example, instead of defining Obama as "the first black president," it's actually less of an insult to regard him as the most recent idiot president, since one can at least be a unique idiot. But to insist that his race is important is to limit him by a category that is irrelevant to human essence. Or, to put it another way, Obama's race is not a statement about him, only about how most Americans couldn't care less what race their president is.

Each person is unique -- or at least potentially so -- which makes any reductionistic theory of man a kind of metaphysical straitjacket. Now, can man be described in the abstract? Of course. This is why, for example, modern medicine works. But even then, there are many people who, for reasons unknown, react quite differently to the identical medication. This is especially true in psychiatry, where for one person a medication can be a magic bullet, while it just makes another person feel sick.

And man is surely a social animal, but his social-ism must always be understood in the greater context of his individual-ism. In other words, the purpose of the collective is to facilitate human development. Conversely, the purpose of individualism cannot to be to subordinate it to the collective, as happens in primitive groups (in both their premodern and postmodern varieties, or untenured and tenured, respectively).

A truly human science describes man as he is, on his own level, as opposed to eliminating that level through reduction. The irony is that people who call themselves "humanists" are generally the worst offenders, since their philosophy rejects the transcendent categories that define our humanness. These categories are located "above" (vertically speaking), not below. Which is why there can be no true humanism in the absence of religion, otherwise humanism quickly reduces to animalism or worse (eg., quantity). In other words, if the human is not constrained from above, he will be defined from below. He is a person, not (only) an animal and not a number.

This is the reason, by the way, that poets are the "unacknowledged legislators of the world." No, they don't cause the sun to rise or the seasons to change. But the poet does cast science in human terms. Or as commenter Frank P. says, "It was not science that described this delightful example of Universal structure and its implications; it was the poet and his art. The scientist merely exposed it, with the aid of the mechanic and the technician. We can trust the poet. The question that you perhaps pose, though, is which employs the most guile to enlighten (or deceive) the innocent and ignorant? The answer -- I suppose -- depends on which scientist and which poet."

Precisely. Which is why some poems are magic bullets, while others can be deceptive or even toxic: all those lousy little poets coming round tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson or Al Gore. (Apologies to Leonard Cohen.)

As Schuon -- in my view a quintessential humanist in the proper sense of the word -- expressed it, "There is a great deal of talk these days about 'humanism,' talk which forgets that once man abandons his prerogatives to matter, to machines, to quantitative knowledge, he ceases to be truly 'human.'"

Schuon always treats the human as human. But in our day, the word humanism "constitutes a curious abuse of language in view of the fact that it expresses a notion that is contrary to the integrally human, hence to the human properly so called: indeed, nothing is more fundamentally inhuman than the 'purely human,' the illusion of constructing a perfect man starting from the individual and terrestrial; whereas the human in the ideal sense draws its reason for existence and its entire content from that which transcends the individual and the earthly."

Again, our essence defines us from above, not below. Likewise, genuine freedom can only find its source above -- which is why the libertarian who vaunts freedom in the absence of transcendence simply falls into a kind of license that, because it has no constraints, cannot be free in any meaningful sense. Yes, if you were lost somewhere in the wilderness, you would be "free." But this is like saying that a baby is a genius because he is completely free of untruths.

And as we were saying yesterday, since man cannot live without the Absolute, secular humanism ends up being "the reign of horizontality, either naïve or perfidious; and since it is also -- and by that very fact -- the negation of the Absolute, it is a door open to a multitude of sham absolutes, which in addition are often negative, subversive, and destructive."

So, just as the leftist dreams of a system so perfect that no one would need to be good, the reductionist -- the Darwinian, the materialist, the logical positivist -- dreams of one in which no one would need to be intelligent or creative. In short, he dreams of a system that eliminates man.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The New Science of Quantum Booty!

Back to The Road of Science and the Ways to God, which, happily for us, just so happen to converge. In fact, "converge" isn't quite right, being that they can never really diverge to begin with. Again, truth is Truth and man uniquely knows it -- but only in a logoistic and theocentric cosmos. Only in a cosmos that is one because under God.

Jaki next gets into some of the epistemological problems that arose as a result of modern physics, which in turn created a gaping hole for anti-science, anti-Christian, and anti-Western a-holes such as Deepak to jump in. In short, inexact measurement was taken for inexact causation, so that epistemology was conflated with ontology.

We are speaking of course of quantum indeterminacy, which Jaki is at pains to emphasize does not mean what the Deepaks of the world think it means: that we create reality by observing it, i.e., that observation causes the collapse of the wave function. But don't tell that to all those new-age publishers and their shelves of Quantum Whatever books!

Think I'm exaggerating? I'll just put the word "quantum" into the amazon search engine and see what comes up: Quantum Leadership, Quantum Wellness, Quantum Wellness Cleanse, Quantum Success, Quantum Prophecy, 5 Steps to a Quantum Life: How to Use the Astounding Secrets of Quantum Physics to Create the Life You Want, The Quantum Doctor: A Physicist's Guide to Health and Healing, Supercharging Quantum Touch, The Quantum Book of Living, Dying, Reincarnation and Immortality, etc.

Anybody care to wager that if I search for Quantum Sex right now -- in a manner of speaking -- I won't find it? Hmm?

Here it is: chapter 4.6, Cosmic Energy & Quantum Sex, right there among Love My Yoni, Love Myself, Eve's Secrets and Vagina 101, and -- of course -- The Post-Menopausal Challenge of the New Millennium.

So, how did we get to this point, where cutting edge science is misunderstood and reinterpreted as a new religion in exchange for cash and other valuable prizes, whether it is the misosophy of ideological Darwinism, the tautology of Climate Change, or the endless Quest for Quantum Booty? Yes, yes, Chesterton's Law is binding -- that those who spurn religion don't believe in nothing but in anything. But why is that? Why does the law apply with such rigid necessity?

Well, first of all, since man is in the image of the Creator, he cannot live or think without the Absolute. He might fool himself into believing he can, but the only people who really do so are the severely mentally ill. If you want to see what human life would be like with no absolutes, just visit an insane asylum such as Camarillo Mental Hospital, where I did my doctoral internship. Yes, I realize that it has since then been converted into a California State University college campus. That's my point.

For the whole idea of the "uni-versity" was founded upon the implicit idea of universal and integral knowledge -- which is a bit of a tautology, for any genuine knowledge, if it isn't just opinion, should share in the characteristics of universality, timelessness, objectivity, and absoluteness. If it doesn't share -- or at least aspire to -- these traits, then it can't be knowledge. Seriously, why would you spend upwards of $100,000 to get the opinions of a bunch of people who have never even seen the real world? If that's what you want, you can read the New York Times editorial page for free.

For if the above referenced traits -- timelessness, objectivity, et al -- are not "real," then no knowledge is possible. Which is just the way the left likes it, for if there is no truth then there is only muscle. And if there is only muscle, then there is just the one truth imposed by the left. And instead of a cerebral leader, we end up with a medullard like Obama.

Now, in order to convert bad science (or good science misconstrued) into a religion, two things are necessary. First, instead of pointing toward the Absolute, it must be the Absolute. And then the science of the day must be imagined to be the last word, the ultimate phase, or last chapter of its development. We laugh at people who did this in the past. Why don't we laugh at people who do it today?

Oh wait. We do. Charles Johnson.

The irony is that the same people who, say, criticize the Church for opposing Galileo are the new secular churchmen who are threatened by opposition to their sacred ideology. Thus, if you question the dogma of global warming, you are in league with satan, i.e. Big Oil, who is paying you to say those evil things. Or, if you point out the undeniable holes in radical Darwinism, you are secretly in league with medieval Creationists. No need to actually engage the arguments. Just break out the kindling and matches.

For when radical secularists horizontalize the vertical, nature becomes their new absolute. The real Absolute is, of course Infinite. So what happens to the soul who convinces himself that he has reached the end of his absolute -- who really believes, for example, that Darwinism presents the last word on human existence? A spiritual crisis, really, for one gains a false absolute at the cost of one's very soul.

As Jaki puts it, "To be in sight of the end can easily provoke a peculiar feeling, especially in moderns who [have] replaced God, the infinite, with an endless search in an allegedly infinite universe, and who had grown accustomed to setting a higher value on the search for truth than on the possession of truth itself."

For to finally possess the "absolute truth" of reductionistic Darwinism is to possess something that is quite worthless (that is if Darwinism is true). In other words, the central truth of Darwinism is that everything in the biosphere, from the single cell to the human neocortex, is just a result of random copying errors. You end up holding an opinion that crumbles in your hands into a bunch of selfish genes that can never know their own truth.

I say, if you can believe that, then truly, you can believe anything. Yes, there is a real quantum -- several actually -- and they can never, ever be bridged from the bottom up. These are the infinite ontological discontinuities between matter and life, life and mind, mind and spirit, and spirit and God. To reverse the vector flow of this timeless emanation and involution is to dig oneself an ontological hole which can only end on the other side of reality.

But that's okay. As Chief Wiggum said when the Simpsons fell into that giant sinkhole, "they're China's problem now."

More on Deepak's Quantum Bullshit.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Progress of Science and the Science of Progress

In a note to a friend, Einstein passionately described how "it is a magnificent feeling to recognize the unity of a complex of phenomena which appear to be things quite apart from the direct visible truth." True enough, but why? And why would he say this in a Valentine's Day card? Did he really think that this was an effective way to impress a girl? No wonder he ended up marrying his cousin.

Yes, the part about Valentine's day was a gag -- unless you're an ideological Darwinian, in which case that exalted feeling described by Einstein really must be just a roundabout way of getting chicks.

In a lecture, -- and this goes to the question of why so many scientists are leftists in spite of themselves -- Einstein advised that if one wanted to truly understand the methods of theoretical physicists, "I advise you to stick closely to one principle: don't listen to their words, fix your attention to their deeds."

The reason for this is that scientists are rarely philosophers, not even of science, let alone realms outside their narrow area of expertise. Ironically, this did not prevent Einstein -- who was obviously a decent man -- from nevertheless repeatedly beclowning himself and becoming the type of dreaded "public intellectual" that Thomas Sowell eviscerates in his new book on the subject. Many scientists almost suffer from a kind of philosophical autism that prevents them from transcending their little specialized rut -- or, from overgeneralizing their rut into a cosmic superhighway. In Einstein's case, many of his political sentiments are those of a child.

A rare exception -- as we have discussed in the past -- was Michael Polanyi, who was a first rate scientist during the first half of his professional life, but then spent the second half reflecting on the scientific enterprise. In The Logic of Liberty, he discusses the fundamental danger that leftist statism poses to science, with its attempt to control us from the top down: "the social orders most important to human well-being are spontaneous orders that result from the interplay of individuals mutually adjusting their actions to the actions of others. Spontaneous orders are the result of human action but not human design."

Again, the irony is that so many academic leftists oppose the spontaneous order of the free market, when they are primary beneficiaries of this same order as applied to science, which is (or should be) an intellectual spontaneous order. Whenever it becomes a top-down "command ideology," as in global warmism or ideological Darwinism, it undercuts the very conditions of a robust scientific enterprise. (And this applies no less to religious fundamentalists who superimpose their own top-down constraints on science; extremes meet, which is why the ID debate is mostly between extremist fundamentalists in each camp.)

Because the truth of the matter is quite straightforward: Polanyi believed that "for there to be a scientific order something more is needed -- a channeling 'device' through which the diverse actions of scientists are coordinated."

Now for the left, this command and control comes from the top, which again fundamentally undercuts the conditions of science. But for Polanyi, this "mechanism," as it were, is "the pursuit of truth. For Polanyi, it is in the belief in the transcendent reality of truth that science has its extraordinary character as an intellectual system" (Warner, from the forward).

So, just as our political liberty devolves into mere license if it is not guided by the telos of virtue, our epistemological liberty descends into a riot of philodoxy if not guided by the telos of transcendent truth.

And who would it be that attacks the very idea of transcendent truth? Yes, that is correct. Which is why attacks on religion are always covert attacks on the transcendent reality of the intellect and the possibility of truth. "Academic freedom" is not a value unless it converges upon truth. If it only converges on Marx, or Alinsky, or Gore, well....

As I have mentioned before, Polanyi draws a sharp distinction between what he calls the free society vs. a merely "open" one. The free society "is dedicated to a distinctive set of beliefs" toward which freedom is aimed. But the open society is just another name for chaos and dis-order with no spontaneous center oriented around truth. Its methods would include things like deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism, etc.

Now, any materialist view of nature, be it Marxism, Darwinism, or scientism, can have no basis in the transcendent realities that make genuine science possible. A subtle transmogrification follows, one that ushers in a kind of monstrous science unhinged from humane civilization: "The rejection of those [transcendent] realities leads to a conception of science as instrumental, and this conception requires that science be used in the service of material ends" (Warner; emphasis mine).

And "In the hands of those who subscribe to the 'virtues' of planned science, the activities of scientists should be directly prescribed by the State. Science as public liberty is thus subverted...." Instead of a spontaneous order, we again have the top-down order of the state -- for example, as reflected in Obama's effort to personally settle the unsettled science of global warming through executive fiat. He wants to put an end to this science, just when it's getting interesting. Which, of course, is the whole point.

For as Warner says, "All movements of thought and practice that attempt to render spontaneous order nugatory -- that are captured by the idea that all social order either is or should be planned -- also threaten public liberty and thus the fabric of a free society."

But what makes the left in general and Obama in particular triply dangerous is the return of the repressed -- the transcendent order which cannot be denied -- in the form of moral passion without moral judgment. This leads to a kind of frenzied earthbound moralism that serves as the justification for, say, a government takeover of healthcare, or of likening those of us who are not worried about global warming to "Holocaust deniers." Again, note the insane moral passion completely severed from the theological virtues that must guide this passion, e.g., prudence and temperance.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On Practicing Your Scales of Being

I hope this isn't getting too dreadfully repetitive. As I mentioned a few posts back, I'm just flipping through this book by Jaki, commenting on whatever arrests my attention. True, none of it is strictly new, but nothing else is either. In a way, virtually everything is just the same old same mold, just new fungus in old bathtubs.

I think the great lesson of Groundhog Day is not that there is a magical way to prevent yourself from living the same day over and over. Rather, the idea is to imbue the day with transcendent meaning, perhaps in the way that a melody confers meaning "from above" on the notes below. After all, there are only twelve notes in the chromatic scale, but an infinite number of melodies that can be created out of them.

And although two melodies can employ the identical notes, one of them can be deep while the other is trite and shallow (just as two scientific theories can rely upon the identical facts to arrive at very different explanations). As we were saying the other day, it's all a matter of soul, which is the dimension and measure of depth in the cosmos. No soul, no depth, irrespective of the discipline.

This is why, by the way, a blues giant -- say, Howlin' Wolf -- can achieve great depth despite the structural simplicity of the music, while a virtuoso can be an artistic mediocrity despite all the training and complexity. Simple is not necessarily simplistic, or every garage band would sound like Creedence Clearwater Revival.

I remember a comment by George Martin, the Beatles' great producer. Someone asked him if he could have written any of the Beatles' tunes. Despite his indispensable contribution to the actualization of their musical vision,

"the answer is definitely no: for one basic reason. I didn't have their simple approach to music.... I think that if Paul, for instance, had learned music 'properly' -- not just the piano, but correct notation for writing and reading music -- it might well have inhibited him.... Once you start being taught things, your mind is channelled in a particular way. Paul didn't have that channelling, so he had freedom, and he could think of things that I would have considered outrageous. I could admire them, but my musical training would have prevented me from thinking of them myself."

Repetition, of course, is the mother of pedagogy, but this is especially true in realms transcending the senses and the (small r) reason (i.e., those pertaining to the "eye of spirit" discussed in yesterday's post). The reason for this is obvious. There is an ascending cosmic force and a descending one. In the metaphysics of Vedanta these are referred to as the gunas of sattva and tamas respectively, but I just call them (↑) and (↓) in order to sheer them of the unnecessary wooly mythological accretions and to sheepishly trancelight them into one's own tradition.

The point is that the descending tendency -- at least for most people, and especially for some -- must be actively countered. Which is why I engage in these verticalisthenic gymgnostics first thing in the morning, in order to sound the tone for the day. The day -- and the secular world in general -- inevitably draws one's consciousness down and out, so most of us need a way to gather consciousness in and up.

And as I've also mentioned before, persistent practice of your Orobic exercises will eventually reach a tipping point, at which one transitions from the terrestrial to the celestial attractor. At that point, it is no longer such a struggle to shun the downward pull of the (so-called) "world" and its terminal moraine of urgent nonsense. (Not to be confused with our slackrament of the Beer O'clock tippling point.)

Schuon discusses the idea of repetition in a useful manner. That is, despite his detailed exposition of the universal Sophia, it "is quite evidently inexhaustible and has no natural limits." Furthermore, "as it is impossible to exhaust all that lends itself to being expressed [think of the notes/melody analogy above], and as repetition in metaphysical matters cannot be a mistake -- it being better to be too clear than not to be clear enough," it is always possible to express new "illustrations and applications" of metacosmic principles that are not themselves subject to change.

So, do I repeat myself? It never feels like it when I'm in the middle of it, because it always feels like a discovery, or a jam session in O.

At any rate, the next two chapters almost require no commentary, as their titles should be sufficient to provoke intellection: One is called Bricks without Mortar, the other Arch without Keystone.

What is the mortar and who is the keystone of reality, Grasshopper?!

Hint: start by reverse imagineering the world!

Now, regarding our evolving I-magination of the cosmos, Jaki has an excellent chapter on the transition from the Newtonian to the quantum-relativistic world of the twentieth century, and once again, it is only Judeo-Christian metaphysics that made it possible. The great physicist Max Planck, for example, was driven by an unshakeable belief in "the objective existence of a rational, wholly harmonious cosmos in which everything was united through a single, ultimate law," and the "unswerving commitment to the notion of an objective, absolute truth embodied in the physical universe" (emphasis mine).

So, how Lo can He go? How about all the way inside-out and upside down, a vidy long descent indeed to the farthest reaches of sorrow and ignorance! --The Wholly Coonifesto

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Sleep of Reason Produces One-Eyed Monsters

Yes, we laugh at the provincialism and naivete of the global warmists and ideological Darwinians, but there will always be temporocentric mediocrities who are "trapped into seeing in the science of the day its ultimate phase of development" (Jaki).

Which is a puzzling trap to be in for a person who supposedly believes in evolution, for if evolution is occurring, there is no reason to believe that our current scientific understanding is anything like what it will be in 100 or 1000 years. Not only does the content of science change, but so too do entire paradigms, i.e., the frameworks within which science perceives and contextualizes its facts.

In contrast, traditional metaphysics does not change. For example, no scientific finding will ever overturn the principle that the world is uniquely intelligible to man's intelligence. For if this principle were not true, the practice of science would be impossible. Likewise, it is only because truth and being converge that we may know the truth of being.

I realize that my own racket of psychology is not a science in the materialistic sense. But that's the whole point. It can never be a science in the way that physics or chemistry are, because the mind is not a material object, precisely.

Yes, there are still many hard scientists who believe that mind is reducible to brain, but what can you say to them except that they need to get out more often? Seriously, the only "cure" for them is a deep experience of the undeniable reality of the soul. But if one is defended against such an experience, it is much less likely to occur. True, with spirit all things are possible, but it helps if one cooperates rather than fights with it.

The traditional view has always been that there are different degrees of reality, and that one cannot apply the same method to study them. One cannot understand the mind in the same way one does the body. To imagine otherwise is to commit a category error so fundamental, that there is no possibility of pulling yourself out of your philosophical death spiral. But I suppose it's not really a death spiral at all, for the truth is, such an earthbound philosophy never really achieves flight.

I guess I first realized this after reading Ken Wilber's Eye to Eye, in which he distinguishes between the physical eye (which knows sensory/empirical reality), the rational eye (which knows math and logic), and the eye of contemplation or intellection (which sees the higher realms of consciousness and deeper truths of being). Each of these is separate and distinct, and not reducible to the other.

It's painfully obvious once you think about it, for how can one possibly understand, say, the square root of negative one in empirical terms? Nor can you use empirical measurements to explain why the tone of Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar is so perfect. And although the Trinity is a "number," to imagine that it can be understood mathematically is the height of folly.

Regarding my own field, psychology, I've witnessed its evolution (and devolution!) on a first hand basis. One thing you will have noticed is that the higher up one ventures into the great chain of being (i.e., matter, life, mind, spirit), the greater the potential for fragmentation, schism, and competing theories.

Now, I don't happen to believe that this fragmentation is necessary, and that most of it is due to sloppy, undisciplined, and unsystematic thinking (in fact, it's not really "thinking," more like fantasy). But one of the primary reasons contemporary thinking is so sloppy is the pervasive reductionism and materialism that prevent people from ever acquiring the proper skills and methods to explore, map, and colonize the higher realms.

For the essence of science -- at any level of reality -- is the reduction of multiplicity to unity. As such, there is clearly an appropriate kind of reduction, so long as it confines itself to its own domain, and doesn't try to pull all of the other ones down with it. Even if the material realm operated under completely mechanistic principles, that would have no relevance to the manner in which the mind operates. Your Dreamer, for example, couldn't care less about linear causation or Aristotelian logic.

When psychoanalysis was invented by Freud in the 19th century, he tried to make it completely consonant with the naively mechanistic and positivistic scientific paradigm of the day, which is why some of his ideas are absurdly outdated. America had its own version of a mechanistic and "scientific" psychology with the development of behaviorism. Here again you see how otherwise intelligent people can be "trapped into seeing in the science of the day its ultimate phase of development."

In my view, we should begin our philosophizing with those things that will never change, or with the eye of Spirit. Nothing that occurs in science has any relevance to these truths, since they are timeless. And although they have no direct relevance to the practice of science, they certainly have an indirect relevance.

For example, if a scientist insists that Darwinism proves that there is no objective distinction between good and evil, or that beauty is entirely subjective, we know that he is a fool. And there is no reason to try to argue him out of his delusion, any more than one can explain to a blind man why he shouldn't wear brown shoes with a tux. In both cases, the eyes must be open (the eye of flesh in the case of the blind man, the eye of spirit in the case of the blind Darwinian).

There is another absolute prerequisite for the practice of science, and that is freedom. The scientist must be free to put forth hypotheses and arrive at conclusions, and be unhindered by authorities who insist that only certain truths are acceptable. Which has immediate political implications, for it means that the most free societies will have the most robust scientific activity. Which makes it all the more ironic that there are scientists who are passionate men of the left, when the very purpose of the left is to limit freedom at every level, from having to devote four months per year working for the state, to campus speech codes and other constraints on thought and inquiry.

Even worse, there are scientists who deny free will! Again, if a scientist denies free will, there is absolutely no reason to regard him as anything other than a crank, for it is as if he is salting the soil - the very spiritual conditions -- in which science flourishes. There are obvious religious reasons why science only developed in the West, one of which is our metaphysical certitude of the reality of human freedom: Where the Creator is, there is liberty. Conversely, where liberty isn't -- e.g., Iran, the Soviet Union, liberal humanities departments -- those shriveled and desiccated souls have sequestered themselves from the ultimate reality that is their source and destiny.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reductionism: That's No Way to Treat a Lady!

I guess scientists are finally being forced to abandon the primordial soup theory, but I've never really understood why anyone would accept it to begin with. It was always a little like Steve Martin's technique for becoming a millionaire: first, get a million dollars. Next....

And yet, like its retarded cousin, ideological Darwinism, it was still taught as if it were objectively true. Why? Why can't we just teach children the truth -- that science has no freaking idea how life arose; or, for that matter, what consciousness is, or how such an exquisitely ordered cosmos came into being, or why human beings have so many extravagant abilities that are inexplicable on any Darwinan basis?

In short, why the mania for reductionism? I mean, I understand the appeal, because I understand that human beings are afraid of the dark. We are born into a world which we do not understand, and which we (super)naturally wish to understand. But few things interfere more with understanding than premature closure of the psychic field, or placing arbitrary boundaries on the subjective horizon -- which is why Bion's favorite adage was the answer is the disease that kills curiosity.

It is not possible to repudiate and discredit philosophical reductionism any more than it already has been. After all, how many times can you prove that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? In point of fact, you have only to prove it once in order to falsify any scientific theory that claims that the whole is nothing but the sum of the parts (I believe it was Alan Watts who called this the philosophy of "nothing buttery"). And yet, we still have these radical secularists, atheistic simpletons, and bonehead materialists who worship at the horizontal church of perpetual reduction.

There is nothing wrong with reductionism per se, specifically, so long as it is simply a part of the scientific method. But if you conflate method and ontology, you, sir, have beclowned yourself. You may call yourself a "philosopher" -- a lover of wisdom! -- but in fact you love wisdom like Andrew Sullivan loves women and Jews. You cannot have real intercourse with Sophia if your philosophy a priori reduces her to an inflatable party doll. (Seen at right, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Johnson --->)

Reductionism "always buys clarity and certitude at the price of mutilating reality, in a sophisticatedly seductive way of course" (Jaki). This is a key point, because if you exclude any reality above matter, then of course you can be certain that nothing but matter exists. Duh!

But that is not a statement about reality, nor is it any way to treat a lady. In fact, it's not even a statement about matter (or mater), for if lifeless matter is pregnant with life, than matter is not what scientists think it is. Indeed, one would think that the capacity to conceive life would be its most shocking property -- at least until one confronts the biggest cosmic surprise of them all, which is that it can also think -- and create, and love, and laugh, and ridicule. Charles Johnson.

Nothing is easier -- and more simplistic -- than reducing quality to quantity by abstracting the former and assigning it a number. But just because you've assigned a number to something doesn't mean it really is a number. You can't be reduced to your social security number (that is, unless Obamacare passes).

Of course there are fields that reveal virtually no qualitative aspects, for example, mathematics. And yet, even that isn't really true at all, for any first rate mathematician will tell you that they are motivated by a sense of mathematical beauty. Where does this beauty come from? Is it really just the sum of the parts? How can that be, when one of the fundamental characteristics of beauty is wholeness (along with harmony and radiance)?

Any hope of explaining life in reductionistic terms was rendered impossible by Gödel. If one takes a broad view of his theorems -- which I do -- the bottom line is that a system can be either complete or consistent, but not both. Or, to be precise, consistency will be purchased at the price of completeness (and vice versa). Thus, as Jaki mentions above, reductionism is ruthlessly consistent, but at what cost in terms of completeness? What must it exclude and even mutilate in order to maintain its consistency and its certitude?

Only everything. That is, only everything that defines us as human and confers meaning and purpose upon our lives.

But real science -- as we have been harping on lately -- steers that middle course between empiricism and idealism, between the extreme below of matter and the extreme above of the nominalist God who makes everything happen directly. Ours is in fact the approach of that father of modern science, Newton, who not only knew how to treat a lady (in this case, mother nature), but

"was driven back again and again by his scientific creativity" to the "explicit conviction about the validity of going mentally from the realm of phenomena to the existence of God. Such a mental process for him was not a hackneyed exercise in syllogisms but an unquenchable urge to secure a consistent basis for intelligibility and being" (Jaki).

Hey, that's no lizard, that's my wife!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Absolutist Philosophy and Totalist Necrophilia

Yesterday I touched on a point that I had intended to expand upon, but -- look, a squirrel! -- got distracted and never fleshed it out.

Sometimes a topic is so large, that I can't just tackle it head on. Rather, it requires repeated approaches from various angles in order to metabolize it. The explanation can't really be linear, because -- to use a visual image -- the object of study is more like a pulsating, centrifugal center with rays extending outward. Trying to describe that center is difficult, because as soon as you latch onto one ray, it shoots you back out toward the periphery. But this is the only way to "think" about it, because to "be" at the center is to no longer think but to repose -- to relux and call it a deity.

Nevertheless, if you ride one of those centrifugal rays outward, they do partake of being, for the same reason that a ray of sunlight on earth is really not distinct from the Sun itself -- it is of the same substance. And, of course, you can always follow one of those rays back to the Sun -- which is why the traditional proofs of God are effective for the mind capable of tracking knowing back up to its source in Being, or (n) to O.

Anyway, I wanted to get into the question of why this debate about Darwinism is so important. I'm not concerned about the science, which will take care of itself. Just in case it's not obvious, I am much more concerned about the cultural, spiritual, and psychopolitical effects of Darwinism-as-religion, i.e., a totalistic explanation of man's origins, being, and destiny. For example, even if some fundamentalist denies the scientific reality of micro-evolution, his body still believes in it, so long as he takes antibiotics. Antibiotics are effective even for literal creationists.

A Raccoon is first and foremost an absolutist. Perhaps we need to come up with a better word, since this one seems to be tainted by certain unwelcome associations, but it is the key to the whole existentialada, i.e., that the Absolute exists and that it is prior to us.

Therefore, no human being has the right to pose as the Absolute, which automatically has certain psycho-political implications -- for example, in the words of our founders, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Under the terms of Darwinism, such a statement is unalloyed nonsense, because there is no "Creator" and no "rights" that are unalienable.

Thus, metaphysical Darwinism has its own kind of absolutism, but I think a better word is "totalism," which has the intended association with "totalitarian." It is a total explanation that is anything but liberating, if for no other reason than it renders spiritual freedom an illusion. Or, you could say that it can only be total at the cost of excising what is most dear to us -- eg., freedom, truth, unity, etc.

Now, what would be the difference between absolutism and totalitarianism? I don't think I want to get too deeply into that question because it's just too vast a subject, but it is beautifully addressed in one of my perennial raccoomendations, The Book of Absolutes: A Critique of Relativism and a Defence of Universals, by William Gairdner.

A key point is that the Absolute does not deny our freedom, but is its first and last guarantor. Once you understand this, then you should immediately understand the danger of the left, which again replaces the Absolute with own totalistic and coercive orthodoxy. As indicated in the book's description,

"Current dogma holds that all cultures and moral values are conditional, nothing human is innate.... Challenging this position, Gairdner argues that relativism is not only logically and morally self-defeating but that progress in scientific and intellectual disciplines has actually strengthened the case for absolutes, universals, and constants of nature and human nature.

"Gairdner refutes the popular belief in cultural relativism by showing that there are hundreds of well-established cross-cultural 'human universals'. He then discusses the many universals found in physics -- as well as Einstein's personal regret at how his work was misinterpreted by the public's eagerness to promote relativism. Gairdner also gives a lively account of the many universals of human biology, including the controversial topic of universal gender differences or 'brain sex'.

"He then looks at universal concepts of both natural and international law, and ends by discussing language theory. He shows how philosophers from Nietzsche to Derrida have misused linguistic concepts to justify their relativism, even though a sustained and successful effort by serious scientists and philosophers of language has revealed myriad universals of human language, ranging from language acquisition, to word-order, to 'Universal Grammar'."

So, one of the "paradoxes" (not really, since it makes perfect sense) is that liberal relativism leads to the false absolute that in turn paves the way for totalitarianism in all its guises (eg., political correctness, speech codes, government regulation of "corporate" speech, the monomania of multiculturalism, cultural marxism masquerading as "diversity," the harsh intolerance of the tolerance mongers, etc.).

Here is one thing that puzzles me about our trolls. Let's stipulate that I am indeed a dangerous, deluded, and obnoxious assoul. That being the case, why on earth would you want there to be any possibility of someone like me micromanaging your life? Because it is for the very reason that I regard you as a dangerous, deluded and obnoxious assoul that I don't want you or anyone else micromanaging mine. Is that really so outrageous? After all, this is certainly what America's founders believed. Why don't we arrange a political system so that, say, neither a Keith Olbermann nor a Sarah Palin could have too much power over us?

As Dennis Prager often discusses, the history of the left is the history of the totalitarian temptation. And the reason the temptation exists is because the centralized power of the state is there for the taking, and gravity takes care of the rest. Again, the American political system was designed in order to prevent this from happening. It did not anticipate an Andrew Jackson, FDR, or Obama, who all diminished individual liberty at the price of increased personal power.

Another problem with philosophical Darwinism is that it is not really about life -- which it does not even pretend to understand -- but Death. Death becomes the absolute, the great shaper of mankind. Again, natural selection doesn't produce anything "positive" per se; rather, it only produces random copying errors, and Death selects the lucky winners. Everything, no matter how sublime, is to be explained in this manner: error + death.

Love? That only exists because humans who didn't have the illusion of love died off and didn't pass their genes on to the next generation. But the same literally applies to any human capability or accomplishment, which in the end is just a tribute to the grim efficiency of Death. One doesn't thank God or anyone else for one's life. Rather, it is only thanks to the ruthless economy of Death.

For the absolutist, it is the other way around. We locate Mind, Life, and Spirit at the top. Furthermore, the only reason evolution in our view is possible is because of the prior involution of these things, so that, for example, mathematics is discovery, truth is recollection, and spirituality is a recovery of Self. We do not believe that matter can possibly be the absolute, for if it is, then so too are death, falsehood, illusion, disintegration, confusion, instinct, will, and chaos.

For the absolutist, each of these things -- death, falsehood, illusion, et al -- is no less a reality. However, in our system they take on a relative reality, in the same manner that catabolism and anabolism are complementary sides of metabolism. Yes, bodily tissue breaks down in order for life to continue, but that is not the purpose of your life. Nor is stupidity the purpose of intelligence, at least outside liberal academia.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Fractured Fairy Tale of Darwinian Evolution

Realism, n., an accurate representation of human nature, as seen by toads. --Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Or blind lizards, as the case may be.

As we have discussed in the past, the irony is that evolution is strictly impossible if one accepts the materialistic presuppositions of metaphysical Darwinism.

Again, the idea of evolution was around long prior to Darwin, and in fact, in the first five editions of The Origin of Species, he didn't even mention the word. Rather, he only slipped it into the sixth edition in 1872, apparently hoping that no one would notice that he was 1) redefining the plain definition of a word, in order to 2) take his theory well beyond science, and into the world of religion and metaphysics.

It is this novel fantasy of evolution-without-divinity that is so insane and destructive, not the mere science of natural selection, with which we have no problems at all. Only after Darwin was the word "evolution" widely imposed on his theory, a word that had previously referred to the idea that things unfold or "evolve" toward their prototype, like acorn to oak tree.

Thus, in point of fact, "Nothing is less like Darwin's doctrine than the idea that new species should already be present in their ancestors, from which they only have to evolve in the course of time."

As Gilson points out, when Darwin inserted the word "evolution" into later editions of the Origin, he was purloining a term "already in use to signify something completely different from what he himself had in mind," i.e., "the inverse movement of in-volution, the un-rolling of the in-rolled, the de-velopment of the en-veloped."

One might say that Darwin's thinking devolved (in terms of philosophical sophistication) as he came to be increasingly dominated by his theory: "The more one comes to know Darwin, the more one is persuaded that, from the day when he conceived the idea of transformation of species, he felt charged with the scientific mission of revealing to men a truth which was in his eyes indubitable; but this scientific truth was at the same time the reverse of a religious certitude which he himself had lost. The antireligious always has a bit of the religious in it" (Gilson).

The reason for the latter well-documented phenomenon is that the person who has lost his faith in reality has an inner need to "proselytize" and convert others in order to not feel alone in his cosmic meaninglessness. This is the work of mind parasites. You might say that the kryptonite of mind parasites is that they must always induct others into their fantasy in order to go on being. They have no energy of their own, but must be "fed" by certain types of relationships with projected parts of the psyche -- even if the relationships are frustrating, self-defeating, and growth-stifling.

This is the only way to account for the obnoxious proselytizing energy of the materialists, for if the psyche is just an illusory byproduct of matter, why should they of all animals care what others think? In contrast, if truth exists, human beings naturally wish to radiate it to others, in imitation of their Creator. That's my position: I love truth, and just get a joy out of sharing it with other folks. But I fail to see how materialism can account for truth, love, and a passionate love of truth that has no immediate relevance whatsoever to genetic survival.

As Cardinal Schönborn points out in his foreword to Gilson's From Aristotle to Darwin & Back Again: A Journey in Final Causality, Species and Evolution, "reductionist accounts of evolution" are only "the visible parts of an intellectual iceberg," so that "the issues that lie under the surface of the current evolution debate are ultimately far larger and more important."

That is, in case it's not obvious, our contemporary zeitgeistberg goes much deeper than the often unedifying debates about intelligent design, or creationism, or separation of church and state, for ultimately it has to do with the preservation of man qua man, and the very possibility of truly human civilization.

Clearly, an unprecedented amount of change has occurred over the past three or four centuries. But change is obviously not synonymous with progress. And it is an absurdity to suggest that conservatives are somehow "opposed" to change.

Rather, what the conservative specifically wishes to conserve are the tried-and-true mechanisms that lead to progressive change, not just change for the sake of changing. Every conservative should know that a complex and dynamic system only preserves itself through change, and only changes through preservation (think of your body).

Something unique and unprecedented in human history occurred with the American founding. Somehow, Americans stumbled upon the very means to unleash human potential through liberty, individual initiative, free markets and representative democracy, to become the unrivaled economic, scientific, and political leader of the world. How did they do it?

I just recently read What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, and there is an instructive passage about the American intellectual consensus of the early 19th century, at the very time we began our ass-kicking world-historical ascent (and bear in mind that this is a secular scholar with no religious agenda whatsoever):

"As this chapter is written in the early twenty-first century, the hypothesis that the universe reflects intelligent design has provoked a bitter debate in the United States. How very different was the intellectual world of the early nineteenth century! Then, virtually everyone believed in intelligent design. Faith in the rational design of the universe underlay the worldview of the Enlightenment, shared by Isaac Newton, John Locke, and the American Founding Fathers....

"The commonly used expression 'the book of nature' referred to the universal practice of viewing nature as a revelation of God's power and wisdom. Christians were fond of saying that they accepted two divine revelations: the Bible and the book of nature." (Raccoons, of course, accept three, including the mirrorcle of the human subject.)

Howe goes on to say that the belief that nature revealed the divine power and wisdom "constituted one of the principal motivations for scientific activity in the early republic, along with national pride, the hope for useful applications, and the joy of science itself.... The perceived harmony between religion and science worked to their mutual advantage with the public" (emphasis mine).

So, the very roots of America's scientific dominance reflect precisely what we were saying yesterday about the balance and harmony of idealism/rationalism and empiricism, and the relevance of that balance to the progress of science. Do I wish to conserve this harmony? Indeed I do -- not in order to prevent the further evolution of human potential, but to make it possible! Perhaps the radical materialists have failed to notice that it has only been with the ascent of secular fundamentalism and the stranglehold of liberals on our public schools that America's educational decline commenced.

To be continued....

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Speed-Blogging at the Edge of the Subjective Horizon: We Are All Christians Now

An experiment in speed-blogging: 30 minutes of blogging in 30 minutes....

As Jaki points out, science can only be successful and self-sustaining if it steers a middle course between empiricism and idealism. If it hews too closely to the former, one ultimately ends up with mere sensationalism, with no way to collate the sensations. For if the world is empirical, one of the things it excludes is thought, which is not only not empirical, but cannot be explained with recourse to any purely empirical approach -- as if brain and mind are the same thing.

As we've discussed on a number of occasions, Christianity bridges empiricism and idealism in a most audacious manner, by positing the God-man who is Word-made-flesh; but one could just as easily say idea-made-empirical, universal-made-particular, or center-made-periphery.

This is our first principle, and we all know -- thank Godel -- that first principles cannot be proved within their own system, so to say that God became man should be no more outrageous a metaphysical presupposition than anyone else's first principle -- the difference, of course, being that ours works.

For example, what is the first principle of ideological Darwinism? And let's be completely fair here. What is the unprovable principle upon which their whole pseudo-intellectual edifice is built? It is that all of the biological diversity we see, all of it, both external/objective and interior/subjective -- the latter of which reduces to the former -- is a strictly random process based on genetic copying errors. Could it be true? I suppose it could be, but we could never know it, because it would mean that epistemology -- what we can know -- reduces to zoology -- what kind of animal we are.

For this reason, I don't think ideological Darwinism even qualifies as true science as outlined above -- that is, steering a middle course between empiricism and idealism. And ironically, the problem is not that it errs on the side of empiricism, for there is very little empirical support for Darwinism -- e.g., millions of transitional species in the fossil record, or any evidence whatsoever of one species transforming into another. There just isn't.

The problem is that it is too idealistic a theory, too deductive. It does not end, but begins with the idea of natural selection, and on that basis becomes unfalsifiable because it is their first principle. It can't be proved any more than you can empirically prove that man is in the image of the Creator.

However, you can determine whether Darwinism "works," which it does, to a certain extent, especially in terms of micro-evolution, which is beyond doubt. And I don't see any reason to doubt that it provides a piece of the evolutionary puzzle, but to insist that it is the only piece? Madness. And literally so, for to insist that man is an animal like any other is to insist that there are no human norms, which is madness defined.

Let's suppose that Darwin really did have a brilliant new insight that solved the enigma of man once and for all. But as Jaki points out, "there is no such thing as a logical method of having a new thought." In other words, if we honor Darwin, there is no reason to do so, since humans are just logic machines, and if it hadn't been Darwin, it would have been some other machine who cracked the case.

For just as in evolution itself, there are no "leaps" in logic. Rather, it's all very linear and orderly. There is no ontological gap between an ape and a man, but a radical continuity. So for an intellectually consistent Darwinist, the discovery of natural selection can be of no more value than the ape's discovery that if you wash the dirt off yams in the ocean, they taste better. There is not, and cannot be, any "higher" or "lower." We can have our preferences, but that's all they are.

As Jaki points out, "discovery is the soul of science." But can a merely rational man truly make a discovery? One thing you have to constantly remind patients -- especially the educated ones -- is that "buddy, that's not thinking, that's just logic." Anyone who convinces themselves that thinking may be reduced to logic is -- well, for one thing, they'd be extremely tedious to be around. But it also creates a kind of radical leveling, as if there is no difference between an Einstein and a typical worker bee scientist.

It seems that Darwinists and other crude materialists never stop to ask themselves the question, "What must the cosmos be like in order for me to know anything?" For Jaki emphasizes the point that all science is ultimately cosmology.

In other words, to make any scientific statement is to make a statement about the cosmos in its totality. For the vast majority of scientists, they never bother to explicate their cosmology, so it's all unarticulated and in the background. But if they were to articulate it, they'd soon discover that it is unworkable and self-refuting at every turn.

However, I again insist that there is nothing self-refuting or unworkable in the principle that, thanks to the Christ-principle, or Word-made-flesh, human beings are potentially the link between the One and the many, Spirit and matter, God and cosmos, universal and particular.

Just because science cannot account for a truth hardly means that the truth is not true. But I say that scientists, without being aware of it, actually do unconsciously hold all of the Christian principles alluded to above. The problem is that, in their hubris, they imagine that a cosmic exception has been made for them, and that they alone can have a godlike understanding that transcends their own limiting paradigm.

Thus, Darwin did not believe that his ability to know truth was limited by natural selection, any more than Freud thought that his ability to understand unconscious motivation was was limited by his own unconscious motivation. So we end up with Darwin and his spiritually and metaphysically retarded heirs, who devote (an interesting word) their lives to the purpose of proving that the world is purposeless, freely insisting that free will is an illusion, and absurdly affirming that only their opinion has the unique privilege of transcending their own paradigm and therefore being true.

And no apologies for the word "retarded." Look it up. It is meant literally, not as an insult.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Scientistic Buddhaflaw Correcting

Our omninameable troll asked if Buddhism could support the scientific enterprise, now that it's conveniently up and running thanks to Christianity. The answer is a qualified "yes," in the sense that, once your body is grown, you can survive on gummy bears and RC cola.

One thing I like about Jaki -- and which no doubt limited his appeal to the 'nadless wimps of political correctness -- is that he was a pretty obnoxious guy (in a righteously ringtailed way). He always renders to his ideological opponents the swift kick in the ass of which they are so desperately in need. Here's how he expressed it:

"One need not be a Buddhist to be a good historian of Buddhist thought and culture, but nothing can dispense the historian from a thorough effort to understand what it means for a Buddhist to be a Buddhist and to achieve things by virtue of that Buddhism. The theistic contribution to science and to history, and the Christian concreteness of that theism, demand no less in the way of scholarly treatment and integrity" (emphasis mine).

In contrast, those Buddhists who truly believed and practiced Buddhism arrived at bupkis (which is the yiddish rendering of the shunyada-yada-yada of "the Void"). There's no insult in saying this. It's just a fact. It's no more an insult than, say, reminding people that the only Palestinian contribution to the world is the suicide belt.

So I suppose one can always be a Western make-believe Buddhist and practice at the margins of science, but only if one ignores metaphysical consistency and rejects those parts of Buddhism that clash with a scientific worldview -- most notably, the absence of a Creator.

Again, the underlying unity of the cosmos results from the fact that "the ways of God are simplicity itself, for in God will and mind are fused in the simplest unity." Science did not develop in the Buddhist world because it could not develop in the Buddhist world. It can only graft itself onto an already developed Western science, and only then at the cost of ignoring some of its own most cherished assumptions.

Ultimately, the same barriers that prevent the apprehension of the Creator put up roadblocks to the development of science. One loses the unifying bridge that connects change to change, and instead apprehends only perpetual change from which the only escape is into the void of shunyata.

In other words, the only thing that doesn't change is the meaninglessness of it all. But "the existence of God becomes possible, nay, well-nigh inevitable to any lover of consistency." Conversely, "an epistemology that obstructs the ways to God also blocks the advance on the road to science."

The main point is that there is no reason whatsoever for the present postmodern and anti-Christian fragmentation of our worldview into religion, the arts, science, and dozens if not hundreds of scientific specialties and subspecialties with no way to reconcile them. After all, the unity is there. The unity is a fact, even if science is powerless to explain the fact.

As mentioned in my book, the simple reality of the matter is that all levels, dimensions, and modes of reality are seamlessly harmonized in the human being in such a manner that science cannot, and will never, account for it, for it is the prior condition that makes the very practice of science (and the existence of scientists) possible -- e.g., the completely unreasonable harmony between a human mind that was supposedly selected for eating and mating being capable of peering into the deepest and most hidden mathematical recesses of the cosmos.

Unfortunately, some people are just incapable of spiritual wonderment, which is not a banal "absence of explanation," but the positive intuition of a deeper -- nay, the deepest -- level of explanation. It is not (-k) but (+n). The same goes for mystery, sanctity, holiness, innocence, and, of course, slack. To suggest that these are "unreal" only because they are inaccessible to the cold and grasping hands of the scientistic materialist is the height of naivete. And no, you can't measure naivete with a slide rule either. But there it is.

The unwashed horde of the tenured likes to pretend that someone like Galileo was somehow opposed to the Christian God, when the opposite is true:

"Little if any effort is made, for instance, to recall the role played in Galileo's scientific methodology by his repeated endorsements of the naturalness of perceiving the existence of God from the study of the book of nature. Much the same silent treatment is given to Galileo's view of the human mind as a most excellent and most special product of the Creator."

Whoomp!, there it is in all its metaphysical clarity and simplicity: there is a Creator, and he is revealed in the book of nature, but only to beings who are themselves mirrorcles of the Divine Mind.

Alternative explanations are not only too silly to take seriously, but more importantly, reactionary to the core. Their real interest is in perversely denying a Creator but profiting from all the benefits of having one -- benefits like a rational and unitary cosmos, a transcendent reality that is uniquely disclosed to the mind of man, evolutionary progress, a scientific ethic that disinterestedly seeks truth, and much more.

Friday, February 05, 2010

You Must Have a Whole In Your Head!

Yes, you must.

For among other things, science would be impossible if not for the whole in your head. This nonlocal whole is what guides and sponsors "the metaphysical quest for the reality of God," which -- like it or not -- is "the only support of that universal intelligibility which alone can satisfy man's inquiring mind and provide a solid basis for his actions."

In the absence of this whole, science becomes an ad hoc enterprise, a pile of debris with no unifying center, no genuine coherence, and no ultimate aim. It becomes all bricks with no mortar, an arch with no keystone, the Beatles with no Ringo.

I'm just going to flip through the book we're discussing, and note some of the things that arrested my attention.

Again, as mentioned yesterday, if it doesn't take off and become self-sustaining, it isn't science: "the invention and the progress of science are of one and the same nature." The phases of its progress "are but the replay of the original invention, a sequence of similar insights, and perhaps of efforts more or less equal."

Thus, "if the ancient Hindus and Chinese made no progress in astronomy, it was only because they did not invent it." To be sure, they had some of the elements of science, e.g., close observation of celestial phenomena, but other ingrained assumptions prevented the emergence of true science. The difference is as dramatic as that between a live baby and a stillbirth. Both are "infants," but only one goes on to grow and mature.

For Jaki, it is "not deism but Christian theism that served as a principal factor helping the scientific enterprise reach self-sustaining maturity." He gets into the metaphysical assumptions of cultures where science was stillborn, one of which is belief in cyclical time and eternal recurrence.

For example, in Hinduism there is the "treadmill of the yugas," which is clearly inconsistent with the irreversible time of the Christian West. Likewise, the ancient Greeks could not reconcile change and permanence: "if there was only change and nothing permanent," then "any explanation became meaningless." And "if change was only apparent," then "explanation was unnecessary."

Even -- or perhaps especially -- Plato developed the "dichotomy between a perfect world of ideas and a shadowy realm of matter," which placed science on the latter side, i.e., the study of derivative and deceptive shadows dancing on the walls of the cave. Aristotle followed by placing an ontological division between terrestrial and celestial matter, which again fails to apprehend the radical wholeness and unity that undergirds all of creation.

Jaki points out how common it is for even -- or again, perhaps especially! -- the man of genius to "be blinded by the logic of his initial presuppositions." Get those presuppositions wrong, and everything you build upon those assumptions will be wrong, regardless of your intellectual candlepower.

To jump ahead a bit, Jaki shows with example after example that a functional science must steer a middle course between a naive empiricism and dreamy idealism. This is why, ultimately, a science that denies either the vertical or the horizontal breaks down into metaphysical incoherence. To build a house you need bricks and mortar and effort and a blueprint.

So "science failed to become an open-ended avenue in the great ancient cultures just as their quest for the ultimate in intelligibility, which is the quest for God, failed to go convincingly beyond man's own self..."

In other words, in Eastern religions, the ultimate in intelligibility is the interior self, which, in a way, makes them very much compatible with the Kantianism that radically split the western world between noumena and phenomena. If reality and intelligibility are within, why waste one's life studying the ceaseless changes of maya-matter? Doing so only deepens the illusion and attachment to what has no reality, precisely.

All of this changes if the phenomenal world is not just an accidental byproduct of Brahman, but the intentional creation of a rational Creator who wishes to be known. Yes, the world is still contingent, but the contingency is shot through with intelligibility, not just deception and mystification.

Thus, Aquinas could affirm the Raccoon principle that "all knowing beings implicitly know God in any and every thing they know." If you really know what knowledge is, you know that it could only be anchored in the permanent, the absolute, and the eternal. Otherwise it is opinion, precisely, in a world where only opinion is possible. And to have "faith in opinion" makes no sense at all.

A second principle is of the utmost importance, and this is the very idea of a universe, for anyone who says "universe" says "God." No one has ever seen this thing called "universe," and no one ever will. Rather, it is the assumption of an internally related "totality of contingent but rationally coherent beings."

At every turn, the combination of contingency and intelligibility serves "as a pointer to an ultimate in intelligibility," which is ultimately "outside" the universe of space and time, and yet, mysteriously accessible to man's intellect. In the absence of this intimate connection, there is no reason in the world to believe that our knowledge is "true." Therefore, there is no objective knowledge at all. Rather, the world is just one big elite university humanities department.

Until the end of his life, Darwin was haunted by a particular thought, and well he should have been, for it is the logical corollary of his incoherent and nihilistic system: "With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there were any convictions in such a mind?

The question answers itself, but only in someone with a modicum of philosophical consistency and intellectual honesty.

To be continued....

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Road of Science and the Ways to God

Only have time for a very brief post....

Well, the bad news is that I've lost the Kabbalah thread, so we'll have to get back to it later. The good news is that I just finished Stanley Jaki's The Road of Science and the Ways to God, and I'd like to spend a post or two on that. It was originally presented as the Gifford Lectures for 1975 and 1976. In case you don't know, these lectures were established at the bequest a certain Lord Gifford in order to "promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term -- in other words, the knowledge of God."

In the course of writing my book, I read a number of the previous Gifford Lectures, since they are highly relevant to what I was trying to do. Let's see... from the list on the wiki page, I see that I read Josiah Royce, Alfred North Whitehead, Arthur Eddington, Werner Heisenberg, Michael Polanyi, Reinhold Niebuhr, Christopher Dawson, Arnold Toynbee, John Eccles, John Polkinghorne, Holmes Rolston, Charles Taylor, Richard Swinburne, Keith Ward, and Ian Barbour. They are all quite rigorous, nothing remotely like the wooly-headed blather you see in the typical new-age "quantum whatever" books, on the one hand, or in the self-satisfied middlebrow fare of the village atheist crowd, on the other.

Along those lines, this probably wouldn't be the best book to introduce yourself to Jaki's thought. It's quite dense and technical, with well over 100 pages of footnotes. A better recommendation would be his intellectual autobiography, A Mind's Matter, or another synthesis of his thought, Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth.

For those who don't know, Jaki was both a Catholic priest and a professor of physics. Here's a brief synopsis from the wiki page:

"After completing undergraduate training in philosophy, theology and mathematics, Father Jaki gained doctorates in theology and in physics.... He also did post-doctoral research in Philosophy of Science at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Princeton University and Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. Father Jaki authored more than two dozen books on the relation between modern science and orthodox Christianity.... Jaki was also among the first to claim that Gödel's incompleteness theorem is relevant for theories of everything in theoretical physics. Gödel's theorem states that any mathematical theory that includes certain basic facts of number theory (and is computably enumerable, i.e. whose formulas can be explicitly listed) will be either incomplete or inconsistent. Since any 'theory of everything' will certainly be consistent, it must be either incomplete or unable to prove basic facts about the integers."

In The Road of Science, Jaki endeavors to prove beyond doubt that science developed (which is obvious), and only could have developed (a more subtle point), in the Christian West. At the same time, he shows that the road of science and the way to God are anything but incompatible. Rather, they go hand in hand; in a rightly ordered mind, the one should facilitate the other.

We joke around a lot about our uneducable trolls, or the idiocy of vacuous demagogues like Charles the Queeg, but seriously, the reality of the situation is 180 degrees from the latter's childishly dogmatic and authoritarian view, for science can only function with a background of certain distinct metaphysical assumptions, which are Christian to the core. Sever science from this core, and you immediately end up with an incoherent metaphysic that can never be made "whole," and has all sorts of unintended consequences -- not just for science, but more critically, for the soul of man, for man cannot properly function without a rational and rightly oriented faith in reality.

Even the most confused atheist must acknowledge that science was developed by Christian men, and that their Christianity was not "peripheral" but central to the pursuit. To point out that the order of the cosmos could only have come from a transcendental source does not repel a normal person from science. Rather, it only make them more fascinated by it. Conversely, if scientism tells us that we inhabit a meaningless cosmos with no possibility of objective truth or morality, then this is hardly a spur for normal people to take an interest in it beyond the technological goodies it makes possible.

Jaki writes that there is but "a single intellectual avenue forming both the road of science and the ways to God." It is an indisputable fact that "Science found its only viable birth within a cultural matrix permeated by a firm conviction about the mind's ability to find in the realm of things and persons a pointer to their Creator."

Furthermore, even if the individual scientist is unaware of the fact, "all great creative advances of science have been made in terms of an epistemology germane to that conviction" about the intelligibility of the cosmos and the mind's ability to disclose it. Thus, "wherever that epistemology was resisted with vigorous consistency, the pursuit of science invariably appears to have been deprived of its solid foundation."

Pseudo-intellectuals and anti-Christian bigots will no doubt bring up ancient Greece, or China, or the early Muslim world, but that is indeed the point. It's not that difficult to "discover" reality. The hard part is sustaining the discovery. The essential point is that to truly discover science is to simultaneously discover its self-sustaining nature. It doesn't just mysteriously stop, as it did in those non-Christian cultures.

For to discover science is to discover discovery and to unleash progress. In other words, the mark of true science is a kind of inevitable, self-sustaining progress in scientific knowledge. But for a host of reasons, people are by and large fearful of change, so science (not to mention its close cousin, the free market) has been strangled in its crib. Nothing causes as much radical change as science and free markets, which is why the left opposes both.

And please bear in mind that when I say this, I am referring to science proper, not to the narrow scientism of a Queeg, which is a reactionary metaphysic that can only be embraced by someone who has overt contempt for the truth in all its fullness; for "Scientism is never a genuine reverence for science but a harnessing of science for a nonscientific purpose. Since that purpose is fixed, science can only serve it by remaining fixed, namely, by remaining in its supposedly final stage," and then "taking that final stage to be free of metaphysics."

But God -- thank God -- always takes d'light in shattering our little human containers, because you have to break a few eggheads to make a cosmic omelette.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Descent of Homo Slackiens

As I've mentioned before, I am a simple man with simple needs. Way back in high school -- after graduating high school, to be precise -- when it came time to chart the course of the pathless Gagdad path, I reduced it all to two non-negotiable demands.

First, I needed to somehow support myself without ever working on a full time basis, since I knew even back then that my real interplanetary cosmonautical mission would never be remunerative. I don't know why I was so confident about it, but even when I had no skills, no prospects, and no future, I was quite certain that I was having more fun than the people who did have those things.

In other words, I noticed that the people who tried to purchase slack with money ended up having less slack, because it took so much time and energy to acquire the money. In truth, these people weren't really in it for the slack, but for other things such as power, prestige, vital excitement, attention, etc. More often than not, they're just running away from their own mind parasites, which are what actually create the barrier between O and (•).

Very few people are truly motivated by slack, and willing to risk all in order to acquire it. Which is one more reason why I do not recommend my path to anyone, since you had better be certain at the outset that you are willing to risk all -- that you are truly on fire for O, and that no earthly consolation can make up for its loss. I don't want to be responsible for the people who realize too late that they are really motivated by the usual mundane human desires.

I might add that one cannot really "acquire" slack, since it is our prior condition. Thus, if we set up all sorts of elaborate means to acquire slack, it can end up leaving us slackless. Many people say they want slack, but they truly wouldn't know what to do with it if they had it. They would instantaneously become bored, or depressed, or persecuted, or adrift.

Secondly, I never wanted to have to use an alarm clock. I was so traumatized by the drudgery of high school and the tyranny of dragging myself out of bed each morning for such a meaningless endeavor, that I vowed never to perpetuate the exercise once I was out of high school.

This is just a roundabout way of saying that I slept in this morning, and that it's too late for a new post. However, due to the mirrorcle of cooncidence, the first old post that I grabbed from two years back actually touches on the above. So here it is:

Be quiet and know that I am God. --Psalms 46:10 (New Life Version)

SHUT UP! SIT DOWN! (Ben Stern Version)

Our God says, "Calm down, and learn that I am God!" (Contemporary English Version)

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. (John, Album 7, Track 14)

Be still, and know that I am God. (New International Version)

Own a still, and it's much easier to do that. (Cousin Dupree's Version)

Cease striving and know that I am God. (New American Standard)

Have Slack and know that I AM. (Dobbs Version)

Rishi does it. Take your shoes off & set a spell. Relux & call it a deity. Disbeaware we disappear (who hesychasts is lost). (Petey's OM Version)

Next up in the arkive is this one, originally called Weekend Sermon: Advanced Leisure Studies. At the time I started the blog, I was writing mostly about politics, as do other Uncle Fromms such as Dr. Sanity and Shrinkwrapped. I guess I was reluctant to let 'er rip, spiritually speaking, because I didn't know if there would be any audience for the Way of the Coon, and whether the introduction of overt spirituality would alienate my already tiny audience. Which it eventually did. The blue meat is always more popular to the red man.

So I floated the idea of writing about spiritual matters once a week, just to mix things up a bit. There were only a few comments, most of which were mine, so that wasn't very encouraging. However, one commenter -- oddly, I don't recall him ever commenting again -- lavished the highest possible praise, writing,

Sir, I believe you are a Christian Subgenius.

Well. This humble Bob does not expect to be compared to the One True Bob or to his fraudulent but eternal Church, which offers the following formulation:


In truth, Raccoons do not deviate far from this template, as our spiritual program of evolving toward the Infinite Slack of the transcendent I AM cannot be separated from our worldly struggle against flatland leftist conspiracy dupes who are all about diminishing and stealing our spiritual, intellectual, political, and financial Slack. Not to mention the false prophets of the New Age, such as Deepak Chopra and his oily ilk.

Anyway, this was my first overtly "spiritual" post, in which I attempted to perform a Bobectomy on my own ego in real time while engaging in spontaneous (for it can only be spontaneous) O-->(n). But I don't think I fell headwrong and heartlong into that method on a day-to-deity basis until around six months later, in the spring of 2006.


The Advanced Leisure Studies below the title of this blog [not there anymore] is not a gag. In fact, there is nothing more serious and important than leisure. The Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper wrote a classic little book on the topic, noting that the very possibility of culture rests on a foundation of leisure -- a sphere of activity that is entirely detached from our immediate wants and needs, free from practical or political considerations -- free from the tyranny of the horizontal.

For leisure is the gateway to the timeless, to the Vertical Church of Perpetual Slack -- that is, if you are able to slow down your thoughts long enough to locate one of the little springs dotting the landscape of your mind, pleasantly bubbling down from above. If your religion is working for you, it is because it has helped you tap into one of these springs.

In his book, Pieper points out that the word for leisure in Greek is skole, and in Latin, scola, both meaning "school." Therefore, leisure, properly understood, is a school, an unhurried realm where some sort of learning takes place; a mystery school, as it were.

Leisure gives access to the unmoved mover within, the still point of the turning mind, the sabbit hole we may enter, not by grasping and struggling, but by opening and receiving. It doesn't mean not doing anything. Rather, it means reliberately doing nothing, even in the midst of doing something -- returning to the pregnant Nothing from whence you came, even now. It is to quiet the mind, withdraw from the world, and open oneSelf to energies that do not emanate from time, but from the timeless.

The external world forces us to dance to its jagged rhythms, but here, at the center, is the leisurely rhythm of eternity, against which thoughts are like passing birds. In fact, this is all you need know in order to unKnow what we're talking about:

Body Like Mountain
Mind Like Sky
Thoughts Like Clouds

As memory reflects the past, silence is like a mirror that reflects and makes present the above, whether it is called heaven, brahman, tao, nirvana, moksha, the One. With all due respect, merely believing in God is a weak substitute. Better to know God, because that is how he ex-ists, that is "stands out" from his otherwise hidden ground. Only humans can manifest the unmanifest God.

The book of Genesis tells the story of our fall. It may be interpreted in many ways, but one way is to see it as a fall away from the timeless, vertical dimension of spontaneous communion with the Creator and the enjoyment of Boundless Slack, into the horizontal world of sweat, toil, pain and frenzied activity. Interestingly, even the Creator, after six days of activity, stood back, relaxed, and just enjoyed the show. From what they say, it was good. Like him, we must occasionally relux and call it a deity.

Science searches for the horizontal beginning of the cosmos. That beginning is located at the outskirts of the material world, where we may trace the faint exhalations of the Big Bong.

Spirituality searches in the opposite direction for the vertical center and source of the cosmos, which is located deep within each person, slightly to the north. It may be thought of as the "I" that is to "AM" as Life is to Matter. It is what makes Being come alive. It is what makes you a light-filled Lumin Being instead of the ssslithery ssslackless kind that keeps messing up the Garden, Homo serpentine.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Religious Realities and Scientistic Fantasies

Things still haven't settled back down to normal in the Gagdad household, so I've randomly selected a post from two years ago that looked like it might need some work to get it up to speed. In it, I was trying to say something important, but it's kind of a subtle and counter-intuitive idea that can easily be misunderstood. So let's clean it up and see if it makes more sense this time.

To tip you off up front, it has to do with the paradoxical idea that a robust imagination must precede the intellect if you want to become a fully functioning human. Conversely, the modern notion that we could ever describe the universe without imagination is, ironically, a naive and simplistic fantasy.

A fundamental problem for human beings is that magic, iMAGInation, and illusion are actually their "default" state, while reality and disillusion are only learned (which is why science appeared so late in history, and only in the Judeo-Christian West). This is a subtle argument, so please pay attention. It's one of the keys to the Enigma of Man, who is ultimately responsible for imagining all of reality, so that if his imagination is undeveloped or misused, he will fail in his gnocturnal O-mission and miss the whole point of being here in this dreamscape. It's a huge responsibility, but someone's gotta do it.

Just remember, we are speaking in great generalities, which is always the case in metaphysics, which involves the most general statements one may make about reality. You may even think of what I am about to say as a "modern fable" about our psychic origins, a fruitful myth of psychogenesis. So just judge it by its fruitfulness, i.e., its suitability for intellection.

Because human beings are born in a neurologically immature, completely helpless state, we are steeped in illusion and fantasy while our brain and nervous system are being assembled. Early experience is "hardwired" in, so that the substrate of the human mind is built on the illusion that we are not really helpless and powerless, but that our painful and frightening needs will be magically alleviated through our wishes and desires. No one is as (potentially) powerful as an infant, since an infant is omnipotent.

For example, we are cold, lonely and hungry. We cry. Suddenly we are swooped up, carressed, comforted, and spoken to in a soothing manner. Nourishment appears out of nowhere, converting painful stomach contractions into pleasant fullness, while at the same time we are bathed in the radiance of a soft, enveloping, benign universe we will eventually know as "mother." But at this point it doesn't have a name, since we obviously don't even possess language yet. It just is. It is the psychic ground from which the (m)other will only gradually emerge.

Given what Winnicott called "good-enough mothering," we will gradually become “disillusioned” from the idea that we are the center of the universe, that our feelings are urgently important to other people, that life is fair, that it is possible for all our needs to be magically taken care of -- that it is possible for heaven to exist on earth. Under ideal circumstances, we will first have the edenic experience described above, only to be gradually awakened from it in a non-traumatic way, as the reality principle seeps in little by little. A conservative is born!

For a variety of reasons, other children will never experience this blissful paradise, experience it only sporadically and unreliably, or be traumatically banished by the premature impingement of reality (which is usually a result of a failure of parental empathy, which in turn is likely rooted in their own infantile trauma; it is difficult to give to others what one has never experienced).

For such individuals, there will always be a painfully nostalgic, pre-articulate longing for what they missed, the infantile utopia in which frustration does not exist and desire is instantly converted to satisfaction. A few of these individuals will be lucky enough to obtain lifetime tenure at a major university, but the rest must deal with an unyielding world that does not and cannot mirror our unresolved infantile needs, for they are literally "infinite" and without boundaries.

I think this underlying template of infantile illusion has a lot to do with false beliefs. Not merely false in the sense of “untrue,” because no one can know everything, and it is not possible to get through life without holding some beliefs for which there is no proof or which will later be proven wrong. Plus, healthy fantasy plays a vital role in the ability to imagine and engage with the Real. What I am talking about is not so much false beliefs as what might be called “motivated stupidity.” These are beliefs that are not only untrue, but could not possibly be true, and yet, are embraced just as fervently as any truth. You might call this the realm of "lower vertical fantasy."

In fact, one of the giveaways that we are dealing with motivated stupidity is that the false belief is held onto more fervently than a demonstrably true belief. Someone who thinks something is true is generally more than willing to submit the truth to scrutiny and to allow reality (i.e., the Real, not to be confused merely with the exterior world, the fallacy of scientism) to arbitrate. But when a belief rooted in motivated stupidity is challenged, it raises the psychological hackles of the individual, triggering a cascade of easily observable defense mechanisms: projection, denial, splitting, rage, etc.

I think the problem of motivated stupidity especially afflicts contemporary liberalism. President Bush is not Hitler. He is not, as Cindy Sheehan said, "the biggest terrorist in the world." The war in Iraq is not being waged for the purpose of enriching his "wealthy friends." "Global warming" did not cause hurricaine Katrina (in fact, global temperature has been unchanged since 2001). President Bush is not a racist. Unlike liberals, he doesn't hate Condi Rice or Clarence Thomas just because they're black. Contrary to what John Edwards says, there are not 200,000 veterans living under bridges that are crumbling on them. Women don't earn "87 cents on the dollar," more jobs are created than lost as a result of global trade, third world poverty is not caused by our wealth, and the environment is getting better, not worse.

True, we are in a crisis, but as always, it is a crisis of stupidity.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, it is much more difficult to do battle with a weak mind than a strong one. You understand their assumptions but they don't understand yours, so you inevitably end up on their level and thus on their home court. Plus, weak thinkers embrace their false ideas in a manner disquietingly similar to religious groups who predict the second coming, or the arrival of space ships, or the Cubs winning the World Series, but who do not modify their beliefs when the event fails to come about. In fact, it is a well-known observation that a few of the disappointed may depart from such a group, while the majority only become more thoroughly entrenched in their belief system, defending it all the more stridently. No matter what happens, attendance never dwindles at Wrigley Field, and liberals believe in Keynesian economics.

What this obviously means -- obvious to a Raccoon, anyway -- is that the primary purpose of worldly beliefs is not necessarily to comprehend reality. Rather, secular ideologies are superimposed on a deeper ground of emotional need for comfort, predictability, and meaning. There is a deep emotional need for the world to make sense, even if the explanation actually makes no sense outside its own closed cognitive circle. This is why people throughout history have believed such systematic nonsense. (This also touches on the critical importance of a revealed belief system, but I won't get into that at the moment.)

(I wish I had time to get into details, but Thomas Sowell's wonderful new book, Intellectuals and Society, just eviscerates the pervasive fantasies that uphold leftist thought. I wish someone would drop several thousand copies from helicopters over each of our elite universities -- preferably the hardcover edition, so they could inflict maximum damage.)

What sets humans apart from the animals is not just our ability to know reality, but our even more striking ability to not know it -- to create patently erroneous systems of thought that we then inhabit, and which actually compromise our survival prospects or reduce the quality of life (cf. Sick Societies, by Edgerton). No lion ever entertained the idea that it might be healthier to live on grasses rather than flesh. Penguins don’t decide to live near the equator, where it isn’t so cold. Only human beings can hold ideas that are completely illogical and self-defeating, since only human beings are desperately in need of an ideology, or "mental-emotional environment," to organize the external world and their internal experience, irrespective of whether it is actually functional or true. One way or another, false beliefs are the crock-in-trade of the clinical psychologist. Virtually all patients are in pain because of false beliefs.

In fact, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the majority of beliefs human beings have held about the world down through history have been false, usually ridiculously so. For example, just consider medicine. Until the early 20th century, the average visit to a doctor was likely to leave one in worse shape, not better. But useless or harmful treatments helped people cope with their otherwise intolerable anxiety, and were obviously psychologically preferable to the frightening truth: that no one actually knew why you were sick or how to cure you.

Last night, while watching parts of the Democratic debate, I wasn't just struck by the vacuity of the combatants, but equally importantly, the low intellectual level of the MSM questioners. In all of these debates, nearly all of the questions come framed in wacky leftist assumptions, as if they are just natural to the human condition instead of a perverse aberration. Why doesn't someone ask, "where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government is permitted to run healthcare?," or "on what grounds do you think it is permissible for the government to steal people's money at gunpoint in order to fund your collectivist fantasies?"

So there is something about human beings that makes them uniquely susceptible to bad ideas. Therefore, it would appear to be axiomatic that there must be something about bad ideas that is paradoxically adaptive. But adaptive to what? Clearly, they are adaptive to internal reality, to the emotional needs and anxieties of the person who holds them. Leftists don't really want Bush to be Hitler. They need him to be. Desperately. As uncomfortable as it is, it is far preferable to being left alone with their own internal infantile anxieties, with nowhere to project them. The internal world is just as real and enduring as the external. Thus, it will be interesting to see what they do with their hallucinatory hatred should a Democrat win the White House. Suffice it to say, it won't just go away, since that's not how mind parasites operate.

In fact -- and this should go without saying, but it doesn't -- the internal world is ultimately the source of the external world, since, if we remove the human subject, there is no world at all. Unless we deeply understand the nature of this human subject -- both vertically and horizontally -- including its genesis, its potential pathologies, and its ultimate purpose, we will end up not knowing where we came from, why we're here, or how to get where we are supposed to go; in short, our origins, our present being, and our cosmic destiny.

These are questions that genuine religion is here to answer. Or, to put it another way, manmade fantasies that try to answer these questions end up becoming false religions.