Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Evolution Without Darwin

We had another troll last night arguing that free will doesn't exist. I won't get into his ridiculous arguments -- which he wasn't free to make anyway, nor am I free to accept -- but perhaps they illuminate a central reason why the left doesn't value liberty: it doesn't exist. And they have Darwinism to prove it!

In fact, the denial of free will is a kind of all-purpose dogma for the left, as it is the underpinning for so many of their cherished beliefs: poverty causes crime, America causes Islamist terror, Israel causes Palestinian savagery, etc.

But they never hold this dogma consistently, for they don't apply it to white collar crime; nor have I ever heard a leftist argue that Islamic terror is the cause of "American imperialism," or that Muslim Jew hatred is the cause of "Zionist expansion," or that provocatively dressed women are the cause of rape, or that blacks were the cause of their own lynching. It's always a one-way denial of free will that excuses the left's various mascots while robbing them of their dignity and humanity, i.e., their free will.

Oddly, only the enemies of the left have moral freedom. But they always exercise this freedom in an evil way, in order to exploit and harm their victims. This is what "hate crime" legislation is all about. Leftist mascots have no free will, so "hate" doesn't enter into their crimes (remember, they are passive pawns of "societal forces" and similar ghostly presences). But white European males do have the gift of free will, so they require an extra penalty for having willed their crimes in a hateful manner.

Conversely, the left never wills anything bad, despite the disastrous consequences of their policies. Millions of Africans dead from malaria due to the banning of DDT? We meant well! Destruction of the black family due to welfare and other perverse entitlement programs? Oops! Skyrocketing crime rate due to judicial leniency? Sorry! Hispanic children who are illiterate in two languages due to bilingual education? Lo siento! Real estate bubble due to government-mandated loans to unqualified people? D'oh!

The problem with Darwinism is that it can (if we are generous) account for will, but not free will. For what is free will? It is conscious choice between two actions, including actions that may clearly be counter to our genetic interests. Remember, it only takes one black swan to prove that all swans aren't white, and it only takes one act of free will to undermine genetic determinism.

Another point that persistently eludes our trolls is that Darwinism does indeed reveal evolution, but that evolution undermines Darwinism. For the benefit of careless readers, I most definitely believe in evolution. What I do not believe is that natural selection alone can account for it. I believe that evolution is directional, whereas Darwinism insists that their kind of pseudo-evolution has no direction, meaning, or end.

I believe human beings are the end of evolution and all this implies, whereas for the Darwinian, every organism is transitional -- a means to some other genetic end. Which is why I believe that human beings are infinitely precious, because they are the "last word" of evolution, which is none other than the "image of God" -- and one cannot "evolve" higher than that.

Evolution cannot produce something "higher" than man as such, since man knows the absolute, and the absolute cannot be transcended, whether we are speaking in terms of truth, beauty, or virtue. To imagine that somewhere in the cosmos there is a writer superior to Shakespeare is pure fantasy, but it is also a failure to understand Shakespeare (and timeless and universal art in general).

Please bear in mind that there is nothing "anti-evolutionary" about Christianity. To the contrary, Genesis clearly reveals the workings of a God whose creation unfolds in time. Man does not enter the scene until after light, planets, stars, water, land, oceans, vegetation, and animals. Here is how Jaki describes it:

"What Darwin and the Darwinians failed to see -- and this is why Darwin's theory, though not his vision of evolution, failed -- was that time needed a womb, a purpose, if it was to issue ultimately in the most purposeful activity of science and not merely in its stillbirths. For evolution has a a direction marked by time's arrow, analogous to the one designed to mark direction, which through its very meaning serves as a pointer of purpose" (emphasis mine).

The only answer of the Darwinians is that the second law of thermodynamics does not preclude the possibility of local areas of negentropy. This is entirely true, but transcendental truth, beauty and virtue are not mere instances of local negentropy that will decay with time! It's not as if the radiant truth will eventually rust and decompose into a dusty pile of worthless lies.

Rather, truth is true forever, in this or in any other cosmos. Stephan Jay Gould famously said that natual selection was so random, that if we could unwind evolution and start it over, it would have taken an entirely different course that wouldn't have included human beings. I won't get into that argument, but I can say with absolute certainty that evolution would never have resulted in 2 + 2 equalling anything other than 4, or E equalling anything other than MC squared, or murder being anything other than wrong, or in slavery being preferable to freedom.

Unless you are a Darwinian living in an upside down cosmos. For example, as T.H. Huxley said, "the thief and murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist." Or as Darwin himself wrote -- and nothing could be more contrary to genuine evolution -- "A man who has no assured and no present belief in the existence of a personal God or a future existence with retribution and rewards, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones."

This is a recipe for destroying in a generation what it took eons of evolution to create. But enough about the left.

As Jaki observes, "a society which does not believe in angels cannot lay claim to policemen who behave like angels." Rather, like everyone else, they're just self-interested replicating machines following their impulses: Every cop is a criminal / and all the sinners saints.

But do not despair. Darwin was still an optimist: "Looking at the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world." For genocide is just doing what comes naturally.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Myopia of the Darwinian Vision

Of the many philosophical problems of Darwinism, "the question of purpose is the most fundamental" (Jaki). As mentioned in my book, Darwin simply took the world as he found it, and did not trouble himself with the (very specific) kind of cosmos necessary for life -- or evolution -- to even exist in it. In short, he "never engaged in speculations about the nonliving world" (ibid).

This reminds me of what Thomas Sowell calls the fallacy of "one day at a time" rationalism, which involves the strict application of logic to an artificially constrained situation -- for example, treating wildfires as discrete crises instead of predictable outcomes of environmentalist policies that create overgrowth.

Sowell is mainly talking about intellectuals who ignore historical context and long term trends, but the same principle could equally apply to space as time; call it "one space at a time" rationalism, in which, for example, the evolutionist posits a narrow theory that ignores everything outside its little field of application. This ends in the absurdity of the Darwinist who devotes his life and career to the purpose of proving that purpose -- i.e., final causation -- does not exist. But instead of pretending that final causation doesn't exist, or that it is an illusion, why can't they at least be honest and just admit that they have no idea why final causation exists, since their theory by definition cannot account for it?

Darwinism begins with the assumption that life operates mechanistically. In reality, it is a way to find out what we can about the the biosphere by viewing it mechanistically. Which is fine. There is nothing wrong with the scientific method. It's only when one confuses method and ontology that problems arise. For example, I don't mind that my wife's doctor looks at her body as a machine. But if I were to do that, we'd have problems. (Come to think of it, we'd also have problems if he looked at her as I do.)

A method can easily transform into a vision, often without the person even realizing it. I certainly saw this in my psychoanalytic training. However, in my case, I didn't care for the vision that was emerging, which is why I never completed the training. I knew that it was somewhat like joining a religion, and that in order to be an effective psychoanalyst, I would have to go the whole hog and assimilate the entire vision. But in order to do that, one must exclude so much reality -- most especially, the realm of spirit -- that I knew I couldn't continue without doing violence to myself.

This happens with any vision, whether it is Marxism, or feminism, or environmentalism, whatever. Look at how feminists saw the Tim Tebow Superbowl ad. Instead of perceiving what was plainly there -- a loving and playful exchange with his mother -- they literally saw an act of violence toward women! But this is what their vision compels (and condemns) them to see. I give them credit for being honest, as tragically crazy as they are.

We also see it with global warming, which has long since transformed from theory to vision. Please note that a vision cannot be falsified, so that, for example, if there is a little less fog in the San Francisco Bay, it's a consequence of global warming, as is too much fog. Or, if the Great Lakes fail to freeze over, that's global warming. If they do freeze over, then that's global warming too.

Now, do traditionalists have overarching visions? Of course! The difference is, we call them by their name: visions. For example, we have a vision of limited government and a virtuous empire of liberty in which all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and duties. Can I prove this scientifically? No, of course not. These are values, not a scientific facts.

Conversely, the Darwinian believes that free will and purpose cannot exist because their theory cannot account for them. Thus, you can see that this is a caricature of true science, since science must at least begin with the facts, not just eliminate them through the magic of deductive thinking.

Deduction naturally has its place, but, as in the case of physics, it should lead to legitimate new discoveries, not just make unwanted facts go away. This is what occurred in the 19th century, just prior to Einstein's revolution. The mechanistic paradigm, pursued to its logical end, resulted in persistent anomalies for which mechanism could not account. Only with Einstein's breakthroughs was there the basis for a new paradigm that could account for the anomalies.

If this is true of physics, why do Darwinians pretend it doesn't apply to biology -- i.e., that their paradigm generates anomalies for which it cannot account? There's no shame in that.

Again, look at contemporary physics. As sophisticated as it is, it still has no idea how quantum and relativity theories -- i.e., the subatomic/micro and the cosmological/macro -- relate. So what? The fun is in trying to discover how they do relate. Eventually some brilliant scientist is going to come along and make a breathtaking creative leap that unifies the two. I personally have faith in this, because I know -- or perhaps I should say that in my vision -- the cosmos really is one, i.e., a harmonious totality of objects and events. There cannot be two "fundamental" theories to account for it, for the same reason that there cannot be two Gods.

In other words, as incredibly accurate as their theories are, physicists nevertheless realize that they are "wrong" -- or incomplete -- in the ultimate sense. Why can't Darwinists acknowledge the same thing? Why pretend that today's knowledge is final? The irony is that in the Darwinian vision, nothing can be fixed and final. A human being is not the "end" of anything, just a genetic resting place on the way to something else that cannot be foreseen. Thus, how can the meaningless cognitive effluvia of an intrinsically changeable being ever know an unchangeable truth?

Again, to quote Darwin himself, "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 in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there were any convictions in such a mind?"

No, of course not. But that just highlights an instance of Darwin's "one space at a time" rationalism, which becomes self-refuting if mindlessly applied to a human space which self-evidently plays host to true convictions.

In his autobiography, Darwin asked if "the mind of man which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience?"

As you can see, there is a premise in the question, and if one accepts the premise -- that the mind of man is not fundamentally different from any other animal mind -- then one must either accept the conclusion or rethink the premise.

Or, put it this way: the radical skeptic can have no ontologically real mind with which to doubt. "Darwinism is, therefore I'm not."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The One Cosmos Cult: Controlling Minds Since 2005

For today's Sunday morning repast, I decided to see what was cooking in the Cosmosphere three years ago. This one caught my attention. It has to do with the ins & outs of how I operate my cult to keep you people under my thumb.

Which I may need to reimagineer, since the cult has only grown smaller in the interim. Have I made mistakes? No, that's impossible. I was just so busy getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of me that I think I lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the Raccoon nation about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values. I realize this makes no sense, but that's what Petey put into the blogoprompter.

Perhaps I need to create more of a mystique around myself. I'll have Dupree work on that. Or maybe increase the annual dues, since people devalue what they get for free. Yeah, that's it. New policy: as of today, the initiation fee is increased from $1.50 to $1.75.

As a perceptive troll observed yesterday, "What we see in this post is a drift towards a 'cult' mentality. All cults require a dire threat from the outside in order to create an 'us against them' atmosphere. Without the external threat, a sufficient level of internal cohesion cannot be created.

D'oh! I hate it when trolls find out the truth about the Transdimensional Order of the Friendly Sons & Daughters of the Cosmic Raccoons.

But what took this genius so long to figure it out? Without an external threat, how can Dear Leader be expected to maintain internal cohesion and cult discipline -- as the left does by villifying George Bush and promulgating apocalyptic fantasies of global cooling.... er, nuclear winter.... ahh, global warming.... umm, climate change?

As you are about to see, I've been playing up this dire existential threat in order to create a "Coon-against-the-world" siege mentality ever since my very first post on October 5, 2005 (which we celebrate as "Metacosmic Coonday"). In what follows, I'll go through that post paragraph by paragraph and demonstrate how the left really is such a boon, I mean existential threat, to our sacred fundraising efforts on behalf of the cult:

1) "I don't think it's healthy to orient your life around politics 24/7, as does the secular left, for which politics (including radical environmentalism) is their substitute religion. Politics must aim at something that isn't politics, otherwise what's the point? Politics just becomes a cognitive system to articulate your existential unhappiness. Again, this is what leftists do -- everything for them is politicized."

This is axiomatic. In a famous remark that reflects one of the defining characteristics of modern conservatism, Eric Voegelin noted that the very basis of the leftist project is to "immamentize the eschaton," which, in plain language, means to horizontalize the vertical. Just as the Roman Empire collapsed partly as a result of "horizontal barbarians," leftism represents a kind of vertical barbarism for which nothing transcending the immediate senses is ontologically real.

Thus, for example, all truth is relative, free will is attenuated through the cult of victimology, envy (perhaps the greatest enemy of spiritual fulfillment) is promoted as a defining virtue, and transcendent moral obligations are reduced to an arbitrary cultural agreement.

Leftism is defined by an externalizing consciousness that locates the reason for unhappiness or failure outside the self. Conversely, one of the greatest gifts of a proper spiritual education is that it teaches one to locate the reasons for one's unhappiness within. Every leftist politician arrives with the perverse gospel that, "it's not your fault! You are a victim! Don't be responsible for your life! Liberty is a pernicious illusion anyway! Transfer your power to me, and I will rescue you!"

2) "One of the general purposes of this blog is to try to look at politics in a new way -- to place the day-to-day struggle of politics in a much wider historical, evolutionary, and even cosmic context. History is trying to get somewhere, and it is our job to help it get there. However, that 'somewhere' does not lie within the horizontal field of politics, but beyond it. Thus, politics must not only be grounded in something that isn't politics, but aim at something that isn't politics either."

Here again, it goes without saying that this is a kind of talk that is unknown -- because unknowable -- on the left. Their project always involves the diminution of spiritual freedom in order to attain a purely worldly goal that third parties -- horizontal leftist elites -- deem worthwhile. Thus, a few days ago, Hillary Clinton promised that if she is president, she will confiscate the profits of legal corporations at the barrel of a gun and use them in the way she sees fit. Likewise, she will no doubt attempt to take health care out of our hands, and appropriate a substantial portion of the economy through government rationed healthcare.

3) "This is not an abstract, impractical or esoteric notion. The ultimate purpose of politics should be to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of the American founders, so that humans may evolve inwardly and upwardly -- not toward a manifest destiny but an unmanifest deustiny."

This one almost goes without saying. The left does not value spiritual liberty but horizontal equality. Once you recognize this distinction, you will see how it animates nearly every one of their domestic policies. To the extent that they value freedom at all, it is only the shadow version of true liberty represented by license -- which is generally much closer to vice than it is to liberty. Just as our freedom to know is only meaningful if we use it to conform ourselves to truth, our liberty is only meaningful if we use it to conform to virtue.

4) "For example, when we say that politics must be grounded in something that isn't politics, we are simply reflecting the philosophy at the heart of the American revolution, that the sacred rights of mankind, as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, are written in human nature 'by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased by mortal power.' In short, human beings possess a 'spiritual blueprint' that is antecedent to politics, and which it is the task of politics to protect, preserve and nurture."

Here again, this idea is entirely foreign to leftism, which is a wholly materialistic philosophy. For them, the purpose of politics is hardly to preserve and protect our liberty, but to impose ideological conformity and to diminish freedom through government intervention. There is probably no place less intellectually -- let alone, vertically -- free than liberal academia, which eliminates dissent through political correctness and speech codes. As Dennis Prager says, "the larger the state, the smaller the citizen."

5) "The founders, who were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics, did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that 'vertical' purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary reactionary and anti-evolutionary leftists, they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological 'Kingdom of God,' or 'city on a hill,' drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges.

A ubiquitous project of the left is to deny and undermine our unique Judeo-Christian heritage. As I have said before, they are callously destroying the vertical habitat in which the Raccoon -- and any other higher mammal -- actually lives.

6) "Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the 'axis of the universe,' and history as 'the drama of human liberty.' Thomas Jefferson wrote that 'the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.' It was for this reason that Jefferson's original idea for the design of the seal of the United States was Moses leading the children of Israel out of the death-cult of Egypt, out of the horizontal wasteland of spiritual bondage, into the open circle of a higher life. America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to 're-launch' mankind after such an initial 100,000 years or so of disappointment, underachievement, and spiritual stagnation."

The left believes there is nothing special or exceptional about the United States -- unless it is exceptionally bad, as famous leftists such as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Michael Moore never tire of telling us. Just the other day, John Kerry mentioned at an international conference that the United States is a pariah among nations. I give him credit for his honesty, as all lefists believe this, but, just like Yasser Arafat, never reveal their true feelings to the wrong audience.

7) "Although it may sound slightly heretical, without human liberty, the Creator is helpless (in a manner of speaking) to act in the horizontal (since his primary activity is vertical). This does not diminish the Creator but exalts him, for a moment's reflection reveals that an intimation of our spiritual freedom absolutely belies any mere material explanation found within the horizontal confines of history. For ours is an inwardly mobile cosmos, and as the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, our free will brings us 'face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in midair unless suspended [vertically] from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator."

Again, true freedom can only involve aligning our will with the Creator, otherwise there can be no such thing as liberty -- just as there can be no such thing as knowledge unless it involves aligning ourselves with Truth.

8) "Tip O’Neill is evidently responsible for the cliché that 'All politics is local.' The greater truth is that all politics is nonlocal, meaning that outward political organization rests on a more fundamental, 'inner' ground that interacts with a hierarchy of perennial and timeless values. Arguments about the surface structure of mundane political organization really have to do with whose nonlocal values will prevail, and the local system that will be established in order to achieve those nonlocal values."

What leftist would ever say such a thing? Since a leftist is by definition a metaphysical yahoo, his only recourse is to ridicule that which he does not understand.


So that pretty much lays out the basis of our little cult in my very first post. The question is, do we really have an enemy -- i.e., is the left really opposed to the Raccoon platform -- or are we pretty much "on the same page" as our fellow Americans, with only minor quibbling at the margins?

I do not personally adhere to this sanguine view of our differences. I will speak only for myself. When you talk about the differences between me and a typical leftist, you might as well be talking about different species. The left, of course, is obsessed with trivial racial differences, but the differences between me and a white leftist are infinitely greater than any differences based on race, class or gender.

A Raccoon is a member of the same race as anyone who shares his values. Therefore, Tom Sowell and I are members of the same race, just as Margaret Thatcher and I are members of the same gender. On the other hand, the girlish John Edwards and I are the opposite sex, and Al Sharpton is from another planet altogether. "Race" hardly defines our differences in any meaningful manner, and yet, the racist left believes that it is All Important.

There is a reason why leftism is an ideology that appeals to victims, losers, misfits, the envious, the unhappy, the self-defeating, the educated-beyond-their intelligence, and the addle-brained young. It is not that leftism creates the demand. Rather, these people demand an ideology to cater to their various pathologies and deficits. In other words, it is a demand-side politics that arises from certain unfortunate but ubiquitous trends in human nature. However, once the ideology is created, then its central task becomes the creation of more lost souls who demand the ideology of leftism. Here again, this is one of the keys to understanding most any leftist policy, which fosters dependency, envy, narcissistic entitlement, and victimization.

So which is the real cult?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Redeeming the Historical Road Trip: Don't Make Me Come Down There!

Mrs. G. is out of town again, so it's all on me. No time to come up with a new post. Therefore, I've dug up one of the previous 1,383 posts from the arkive for a fresh re-exhumination...

Who can hope to obtain proper concepts of the present, without knowing the future? --Johann Georg Hamann

If we consider the historical form of Jesus, we see that he cannot be understood in isolation, unlike, say, Buddha or Shankara, who divulge a message of purely vertical metaphysics which stands outside time. In fact, the same could be said of the Koran, and we can see how this leads to certain inevitable problems, i.e., either the devaluation of the temporal realm (as in Buddhism), or else the attempt to cease it altogether, so that we might all live shabbily ever after in a 9th century caliphate worse than death.

But Jesus appears within a dense network of earlier truths, of which he is said to be the "fulfillment." Ultimately, as we shall see, his form is very much temporal as opposed to spatial.

As such, as I mentioned in the new testavus, apprehending his form is much more analogous to hearing a symphony, which must be listened to in its entirety before we can know what it was about. You might say that the "future" of the symphony illuminates its past, and reveals the necessity of various passages which can only be tied together and "resolved" within time. (cf. The Tristan Chord for the most extreme case.)

This is quite unique among the world's revelations, because it is so entangled with history, which means that it somehow renders history -- which would otherwise be purely horizontal -- an extension, or expression, of the vertical. You might say that at the center of Jesus' mission, as it were, is the verticalizing of the horizontal, whereas for Buddha or Shankara, it would be simply escape from the horizontal. Whereas Christianity is like a symphony in which there is a serial articulation of the whole, eastern approaches would be more like a great painting which one leaps through and follows the celestial radiation directly back to its source.

(This is not necessarily to criticize the latter, just to highlight the differences; also, the later Bodhisattva principle involves a certain horizontalizing impulse, in the sense that the liberated person forgoes the vertical for the horizontal in order to devote his life to saving the damned, those deluded souls who are marooned in the purely horizontal. Thus, the Bodhisattva is in the world, no longer of it.)

As Balthasar explains, Christ's form is embedded "within a context of events which partly condition Jesus' historical person and which are partly conditioned and prompted by it." This is a rather interesting observation, because it means that, in the Incarnation, there is a certain "random" element. In other words, if God is going to submit himself to man and cast his pearls before swine, it means going the whole hog and also submitting himself to time, to history, and even to the random element that inevitably intrudes in the herebelow.

Indeed, without submitting to this random element, one would not be truly submitting to the real conditions of mankind. As Balthasar writes in A Theology of History, "In order to become manifest, the absolute uniqueness of God, uniting itself with the humanity of Jesus, makes use of the relative uniqueness of a particular historical personality..."

This then leads to the interesting question of how one conveys intrinsic and unchanging Truth within the context of historical change? Think about it. It would be analogous to incarnating as a metaphysics professor in a liberal university, where the only truth is that truth does not exist. But that would be the one place that would be most aching for the appearance of Truth, would it not, even if it meant being crucified by the inquisitors of political correctness? Indeed, how else to teach these devils that the crucifixion of Truth is the central truth -- and therefore, lie -- of the left?

It gets even more complicated, because if we are to accept the totality of revelation, then Jesus is the Total Truth who appears in the historical context of his own "partial truths" that had to first lay the groundwork for his own reception. I see that Balthasar is on the same page with me thus far:

"A statue can be placed anywhere; a symphony can be performed in any concert hall; a poem of Goethe's can be understood and enjoyed without any knowledge of its biographical context." But the form of Jesus "cannot be detached from the place in space and time in which it stands. He is what he is only by fulfilling, on the one hand, all the promises that point to him, and, on the other, by himself making promises which he will at some time fulfill."

Again, this is a fascinating thing to contemplate. It reminds me of how you can trace your family tree back so that it looks as if you are the final cause, the meaning, the fulfillment, the "end point" of all of those previous generations.

At the same time, you could reverse the image, so that a family tree grows into the future from your single point of departure. Thus we have the image of a point in the present, with two trees growing from it, one into the past, the other into the future. Therefore, you are the cause of both your ancestors and descendants.

It is as if Jesus does the same thing, except with all of history and all of mankind. In other words, all of history leads to his "point," and then flows into the future from that point. But where is the point? Is it his birth? His life? His teachings? His resurrection? His return?

It is somehow all of these things, not to mention the fact that, once he enters history, his causal power is far from exhausted, as he continues to exert a profound effect on people and events. The "whole line of development in the history of salvation is ordered toward himself as its climax and subjected to himself as the meaning which fulfills it..."

In this regard, Jesus doesn't just give meaning to history, but somehow "is himself history," or "the living center of history itself." Again, think of how different this is from situating the center in a particular point in space, such as Mecca, or the Scientology Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood.

As I have mentioned before, Jesus is more like a vertical depth charge dropped from on high into history, which then causes a kind of temporal lao tsunami, so that the waves from the original impact continue to lap upon the shore of the present. And the waves will bear the "imprint" of the original event, just as we can trace the present background radiation to the "big bang" at the origin of the horizontal cosmos.

This is again only fitting, if "the Word becoming flesh" implies the timeless vertical becoming horizontal. For, as Balthasar explains, "To the horizontal power with which he encompasses all time and rules all space 'even to the ends of the earth,' centering world history on himself, there corresponds the vertical power with which he makes the Father visible and with which he makes present, in his witness concerning the Father, the Father's witness to him."

What a marvelous paradox! Just yesterday I was thinking how different Christianity would be if, instead of truly submitting to the world, Jesus tried to "conquer" the world, à llah Mohammed. Obviously it would no longer be Christianity, for central to it is this idea that the Word becomes flesh not to overpower the world in the horizontal sense, but to redeem it.

Mariani refers to "Christ's Great Sacrifice, the ramifications of his radical self-emptying and humility, not grasping after what was his by right, but returning everything to the Father in an act of total self-emptying, even unto a criminal's death on the cross." What a strange God! Who would ever invent such a counter-intuitive story?

For the man who is spiritually existent, who is directed upon the whole of reality, in other words, for the man who philosophizes, this question of the end of history is, quite naturally, more pressing than the question of "what actually happened." --Josef Pieper, The End of Time

Thursday, February 18, 2010

All Science is Cosmology, All Cosmology is Theology

For the benefit of those benighted trolls who imagine that the B'ob is somehow anti-science, let me remind them that, as always, they need to stop projecting and get a life.

The fact is, any of the 31 flavors of philosophical materialism is not just an attack on religion, but on real science as well. And it is anti-science because it simply isn't true. If science is more than just an impersonal method for putting nature on the rack and getting her to talk, then this sort of naive reductionism must be abandoned.

As Jaki expresses it, "the understanding of science is in a sense the grasp of man's ability to reach beyond his own materiality, nay beyond matter" (emphasis mine). I mean, if we can't agree on this, then there is nothing we can agree on. For what kind of insane philosophy transcends matter in order to affirm that transcendence is impossible?

Lets talk about the cosmos, which no scientist will ever see, but is founded on his tacit faith in the unity of all being: "Man transcends all matter when he forms for himself a notion of the universe, or the totality of consistently interacting things, and he is assured by what is best in twentieth-century science that when he does so he is not the victim of a transcendental illusion."

Jaki's point is both subtle and yet obvious. No animal but man forms the idea of a cosmos -- which is not just everything, but a harmonious and internally related whole which is consistently lawful across all space and time. If that weren't the case, then we couldn't, for example, trace the background radiation back 13 billion years to the horizontal origin of the cosmos. Thus, "for the first time in history science has become a cosmology, a consistent discourse about the universe.... What makes scientific cosmology possible is the coherent singularity of the cosmos..." (Jaki).

In short, today, all science is cosmology, with cosmic implications. Please note how different this is from a merely logical construction of a cosmos, which is a kind of external model that is really more about man than the cosmos.

The whole point about a quantum/relativistic cosmos is that it is deeply entangled with itself in a way that defies scientistic fantasies of linearity and logical atomism. It is shot through with wholeness at every level -- which is why, by the way, there can be "whole" organisms for natural selection to operate upon, or why the billions of neuronal interactions in your head resolve into the simple whole of a stable identity. The wholeness is antecedent; it could never be a result of evolution, for evolution presupposes it.

And please bear in mind that "Since all science is cosmology, failure to make progress in cosmology meant failure to make vital advances in science" (Jaki). Again, this is why science was stillborn in every other culture: they did not posit a cosmology that could support science -- a science that then goes on to confirm its own assumptions about a transcendentally lawful and singular cosmos. (In other words, astrophysicists where quite shocked to discover that the universe really did come into being in a moment of time.)

For example, cosmology stalled in the 19th century due to its overly mechanistic and materialistic assumptions. It posited an infinite and eternal universe which it endeavored to map with a grid of Newtonian physics. The revolution in physics initiated by Einstein in 1903 was also a breakthrough in cosmology, in that it soon led to the conclusion that the cosmos was not infinite but created in time (indeed, that time came into existence with it), and not fundamentally divisible but whole -- again, a true cosmos.

The cosmos forms a whole in both space and time, vertically and horizontally. But this wholeness can only be known by a being who intrinsically mirrors this wholeness, or who carries it within:

"Just as no man can live by bread alone, no cosmologist (a term which includes all genuine scientists) can live without a [transcendental] realist notion of the universe as the totality of interacting things." And equally important, "this very same science cannot be understood without recognizing the existence of a mind able to hold within its reach the wholeness of nature and be thereby superior to it..." (Jaki).

Do you see the critical point? Schuon put it well when he said that "All knowledge is by definition knowledge of absolute Reality; which is to say that Reality is the necessary, unique and essential object of all possible knowledge. While it is true that there are kinds of knowledge which seem to have other objects, this is not insofar as they are Knowledge but insofar as they are modalities or limitations of it; and if these objects seem not to be Reality, this is so not insofar as they are objects of Knowledge, but insofar as they are modalities or limitations of the One Object, which is God seen by God."

Which is why there is no intrinsic limit to what a man may know. Please note that when science attempts to place shackles on man's intellect, it transgresses its own proper bounds, and makes an absolute statement of how absolute truth is denied man. Yes, science has limits; but that doesn't mean that the human subject does. Ironically, one of the great dangers of a "limitless science" is the limits it arbitrarily sets on what a man may know. In so doing, it does violence to man, to the cosmos, and to God. It becomes "omnisciently ignorant," as it were.

The singularity of the universe is a gigantic springboard which can propel upward anyone ready to exploit its metaphysical resilience and catch thereby a glimpse of the Ultimate and Absolute... . --Stanley Jaki

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Must the World Be Like In Order that Man May Know It?

We begin with two questions; or really, one question put two ways: "What must nature, including man, be like in order that science be possible at all?" (Kuhn). More simply, "What must the world be like in order that man may know it?" (Jaki).

There are two kinds of people: the great majority of those who don't find these to be interesting questions; and a vanishingly small number of orthodox Raccoons who suspect that they hold the key to everything. As I've mentioned on a number of occasions, I am much more fascinated by how scientific knowledge is possible at all, rather than this or that scientific finding. And I am interested in two ways, one horizontal, the other vertical.

The horizontal has to do with how all of our diverse scientific knowledge fits together, say physics with biology, or neurobiology with developmental psychoanalysis.

As I mentioned in the Coonifesto, the cosmos doesn't brood over the mystery of how it is possible for matter to suddenly come alive, or how an erstwhile (mere) animal is able to begin hosting truth, beauty, and virtue. These things happen quite spontaneously, even if science not only cannot account for them, but has no idea how any strictly scientific theory ever could account for them (that is, without violently reducing them to something they are not). They don't even yet have a decent paradigm for a preliminary theory for a tentative hypothesis.

In other words, materialists don't even know how it would be possible to know these things, because knowing of any kind reverts back to question #2 above: what must the cosmos itself be like in order that man may know it? And their kneejerk strategy of reductionism or materialism results in a cosmos that cannot be known, period.

Yes, such a world can be perceived, but there would be no reason to believe that these perceptions correspond to the thing called "reality." In this approach, Kant would be absolutely correct: that there are the phenomena available to our species-bound ways of perceiving the world; and there is the noumenon, about which we can say precisely nothing.

In the Kantian view -- and I don't see how it is possible for the profane thinker to extricate himself from Kant's bifurcation -- there is reality and there is human thought, and never the twain shall meet; or, if they do occasionally meet, we would have no way of confirming it. How did Whitehead put it, Jeeves? "The present is all that you have; and unless in this present you can find general principles which interpret the present as including a representation of the whole community of existents, you cannot move a step beyond your little patch of immediacy."

No, not that one.

"No science can be more secure than the unconscious metaphysics which it tacitly presupposes.... We habitually speak of stones, and planets, and animals, as though each individual thing could exist, even for a passing moment, in separation from the environment which is in truth a necessary factor in its own nature."

No, the other one -- you know, that crack about how the naive and unexamined metaphysics of science ends up with conjecture on one side and a dream on the other. So science ends in a kind of absurcular and tautologous dream interpretation -- for example, who survives? The fittest! Who are the fittest? Those that survive! Or, what is man? An animal! What is an animal? A concatenation of random accidents adapted to its environment! And just what can a random accident know of reality? Nothing! How do you know that? Shut up, creationist!

Speaking of which, I just don't believe that such a beautiful girl could result from random copying errors:

Can I prove this? Yes, certainly to my satisfaction. If Darwin is correct, animals are selected only for their adaptive fitness. If they possess this thing we call "beauty," it would only be a kind of optical illusion designed to get us to copulate. Now, I love my dog, but...

Sure, I can understand why the bee would convince itself that flowers are beautiful. But damned if I can understand why people think they are. And it's not just flowers. Rather, why is there so much beauty everywhere? Not just visual beauty, but aural beauty, poetic beauty, moral beauty, mathematical beauty. And why can beauty sometimes move a man to tears? What's that all about?

What must the world be like that man may weep tears of joy and gratitude over its celestial truth radiant beauty?

Here is the Christian answer, as expressed by Jaki: "the world [is] an objective and orderly entity investigable by the mind because the mind too [is] an orderly and objective product of the same rational, that is, perfectly consistent, Creator." This is why the Raccoon not only has no problem with science, but with art or religion either.

Note, for example, that the consistent Darwinian must reduce art to something less than it is -- as just another meaningless trick of the nervous system, with no bearing on transcendental or objective beauty, much less truth. Such an impoverished philosophy is not even interesting, let alone true. Like the epicycles of the pre-Copernican solar system, it saves the appearances of the theory, but at the cost of absurdity.

Or, like "climate science," no one could believe it except for someone who already believes it. Such science doesn't really "evolve"; rather, it merely comes up with more elaborate and tendentious schemes to patch up its holes and prop it up. Call it "Weekend at Bernie's" science. Just ignore that bloated and stinking corpseman over there at the IPCC.

The irony is that the same people who fundamentally eroded our trust in the mind's ability to know reality, are the ones who arrogantly insist that they are not only right, but cannot possibly be wrong. Again, from whence comes this misplaced faith in sham absolutes such as ideological Darwinism? For if Darwinism is the last word on man, it would call for the most abject humility about making absolute pronouncements of any kind whatsoever.

The humble theist knows that he is not worthy of the sublime truth that uniquely elevates him to cosmic worthiness. But the grandiose ideological Darwinian somehow believes that he is uniquely worthy of a universal truth that renders man unworthy of any truth at all. Strange.

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....