Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bonus Post for Givethanksing About: A Truth-Bearing Cosmos!

For this one I waded deep into the knowa's arkive for some early bloggerel from exactly five years (or some 1,575 posts) ago. I wonder if it still makes perfect nonsense?


Several readers have asked me to comment on the issue of intelligent design, for this is a debate that sharply divides even conservatives.

For example, last week the estimable Charles Krauthammer wrote a biting editorial claiming that ID was nothing more than a "tarted-up version of creationism" which "may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological 'theory' whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God."

He goes on to say that ID "violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the 'strong force' that holds the atom together?"

While Krauthammer is brilliant with regard to politics, here he is simply mischaracterizing ID in order to heap scorn upon it. It is not surprising that many conservatives reject ID, because conservatives are generally logical people. However, one can prove anything with logic, so long as the conclusion follows logically from the premise. If your premise is faulty, then so too will your conclusion be faulty. Garbage in, garbage out.

Perhaps I should emphasize up front that I wholeheadedly agree with Krauthammer that intelligent design should not be taught as science per se. For intelligent design accepts what science discloses as true, but then asks what it means on a higher or deeper level.

It's like the difference between studying history vs. studying the meaning of history, two entirely different things. Science generates only tentative conclusions, which is as it should be. It is the job of theology and philosophy to decipher the meaning of what various disciplines disclose about reality.

Science itself is devoid of meaning, which is, again, as it should be. In itself it can make no pronouncements whatsover on the (absolute) origin of the cosmos, the source of Life, the meaning of consciousness, the role of human existence, the purposes to which science should be put, etc. It's just a shame that children are no longer taught philosophy, and instead are taught idiotic and fraudulent things like African American studies, feminism, multiculturalism, etc. As a result, even if they can technically think, they are unable to think about thinking.

Bottom line: teaching intelligent design in a science class may be good metaphysics but it is bad science. However, at the same time, using science to justify a materialistic philosophy is junk metaphysics, because doing so is simply dressing up assumptions as conclusions.

In fact, we could take Krauthammer's exact words and apply them to scientistic reductionism: "it is simply a tarted-up version of materialism which may be interesting as a sort of godless theology, but as philosophy it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological stance whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, cosmic evolution -- they are to be filled by chance. Materialism violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be philosophy -- that it be logically coherent. How does one logically disprove the proposition that pure chance was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the 'strong force' that holds the atom together?"

Science is simply a method designed to quantify and measure objective realities. By its very nature, it is barred from addressing subjective reality, nor can it measure qualities without reducing them to quantities. Scientistic fundamentalists who dismiss ID generally elevate the methodological reductionism of science to an ontological reductionism, which is completely unwarranted and inappropriate. It is to announce that what science systematically ignores cannot exist.

Krauthammer suggests that ID is a closed system, when in fact, the opposite is true. The very reason why science, when elevated to a metaphysic, generates so much paradox and absurdity is that it is a closed system, regarding only the material realm as ultimately real. Therefore, everything outside materiality escapes its purview.

In point of fact, science, if taken to its logical extremes, undermines its own assumptions in several ways. That is, science has run into a number of limit cases that long ago proved its inability to account for the whole of reality. In my book I go into a lot more detail, but I will simply hit some of the highlights here.

One of these limits is disclosed by modern physics. Bell’s Theorem proves that reality is nonlocal, meaning that the universe is internally related and that it has deep connections that transcend space and time, the implication being that the universe itself cannot be contained within our artificial bounds of space and time. Physics provides us only with a mathematical net or “container,” but not the content, which slips through the container like water through a sieve.

The world, even at its most fundamental level, exceeds our ability to measure or contain it. Science begins with the assumption that the cosmos is composed of externally related parts (logical atomism), while modern physics shows that the universe is fundamentally an internally related whole that has the capacity to operate "vertically" in a top-down manner, i.e., from whole to part. Indeed, this newer understanding of wholeness allows us to transcend many scientific paradoxes and blind alleys in a way that materialism never will.

Another limit of science is called the “Universal Complexity Barrier" (UCB), an idea developed by William Dembski. In addressing the origins of life, the real problem is the origins of information, not just any information, but the staggeringly complex information found in the DNA of the simplest living thing.

There are only four ways this complexity could have come into being: 1) chance, 2) necessity, 3) some combination of chance and necessity, or 4) design. Not too long ago, scientists simply assumed that chance would have eventually resulted in the emergence of life. However, this was before it was understood that life has only been here for 3.85 billion years, and that the planet was too hot to sustain life prior to about four billion years ago. Therefore, there was only a window of about 150 million years for chance to operate, which is far too short a time.

The problem encountered here by scientific fundamentalists is that the hypothesis of chance runs aground against the dictates of the UCB. To take an example, a hundred typists pounding away at a hundred pianos will never produce the works of Thelonious Monk. At most, they may produce a few bars of Ugly Beauty or Misterioso or Think of One, but there will always be an upper limit to how much “complex specified information” (CSI) will result from pure chance, and beyond which the typists cannot go.

Other scientific theories to account for the emergence of life are just variations on the same theme, but they all come up against the UCB, and assume complex information for which they cannot account. Besides, the combination of chance and necessity can result in a little more CSI, but nothing approximating the complexity of life.

Scientists have also been searching for an “evolutionary algorithm” in nature that can account for the emergence of life, but no matter what they try, they cannot surpass the UCB. In short, it is a completely scientifically accurate statement to say that the simplest living cell could not have come about through any neo-Darwinist scenario of chance and necessity.

Therefore, one may safely conclude not that God exists, but that the universe was either full of complex specified information from its very origin, or else that it cannot be a materially closed system subject only to horizontal causes found within nature.

However, if you simply leave the matter there, you are a curiously uncurious person. Personally, I have no difficulty at all positing the existence of a cosmos with more dimensions than four, and which has both horizontal and vertical causation. After all, this is how our minds operate vertically to control the horizontal processes governing our material bodies, and I believe the form of our subjectivity reveals important information about the form of existence.

The cosmos cannot be a little bit pregnant with meaning. It's either/or, period. And to deny cosmic meaning is to perform an astral abortion on oneSelf. Sure it's legal, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Also, one must remember that natural selection is proposed in a medium called language, which natural selection is helpless to explain. To be perfectly accurate, either language explains natural selection, or natural selection explains language. Both cannot be true, for if language is reduced to a completely materialistic explanation, there is no reason to believe that it is capable of encoding and transmitting truth, so the assertion becomes logically self-refuting. Go ahead, just try to prove the truth of something with something that is proved by what you are attempting to prove.

Speaking of which, another limit of science is Gödel’s Theorem(s), which forever proved that there is no logical system that doesn't contain assumptions that cannot be justified by the system. The implication of Gödel's theorems is that any consistent logical system will be incomplete, while any complete one will be inconsistent.

Gödel also believed he had proven that semantics -- that is, meaning, or quality -- can never be reduced to syntax -- mere order, or quantity. As such, the mind can never be reduced to matter, and the mind's ability to know far surpasses any reductionist explanation. Roger Penrose later used Gödel's theorems to prove that the mind cannot be a computer, and that the mind exceeds the ability of any formal system to capture it, much in the same way that nonlocality shows how reality exceeds the formal system of quantum physics.

Gödel further believed that any scientific theory that tried to eliminate all paradox and inconsistency was doomed to failure and that "sooner or later my proof will be made useful for religion, since that is doubtless justified in a certain sense."

Bottom line: if blind materialism is true it is untrue, for it can never account for how matter may know the truth of itself. And if it is only matter speaking, what reason do we have to believe what it is saying? There is no knowledge at the level of the senses.

Once you acknowledge that human beings are capable of knowledge -- which is another name for truth, or it is nothing at all -- then you have lifted yourself out of any mere materialistic explanation. When matter is placed over spirit, all qualities are reduced to quantities, semantics to syntax. You thereby circle around and meet with the cognitive pathologies of the left, which also deny transcendent Truth. Extremists meet.

Intelligent design does not prove the existence of God -- at least not the God uniquely disclosed by the Judeo-Christian tradition. There are much better ways to do that. It's just that science, properly understood, doesn't disprove it, and I think this is what animates the misguided impulse to try to teach ID as science proper.

The God who is dismissed by the detractors of ID is simply a caricature, a "straw god" that they apparently internalized somewhere along the way due to an unfortunate encounter with some boneheaded or debased version of religion.

Have a wild turkey day:

But not too wild:

Hey, it's only a flesh wound!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Inward Christian Soldiers!

Interesting that early Christianity spread in part by virtue of the sadistic violence visited upon its adherents. This is in conspicuous contrast to Islam, which metastasized primarily as a result of sadistic violence perpetrated upon others.

Even today, we have no real way of knowing how many actual Muslims there are in the world, for how many would remain Muslim if given the choice? Obviously true conversion can only take place in the heart, not at the end of a sword. How rapidly would Christianity spread in China or Saudi Arabia or Iran if the authorities allowed anything like a free marketplace of religion? But the spiritual customer can only be sovereign in a place free of religious or secular totalitarianism.

Islam also differs from Christianity, in that Christian martyrs were (and are) victims of mass murderers, whereas Muslim martyrs perpetrate it. According to Birzer, the actual Christian martyrs of the second and third centuries were "an inspiration to a decadent population, devoid of any higher understanding, but still seeking something higher than itself." He cites the example of St. Perpetua, who, "when a gladiator approached her in the arena... took the gladiator's trembling hand and guided it to her throat."

Repeated countless times, these saints "became the dying witnesses to a purpose in this life and the life beyond. Their blood led to mass conversions among a lost Roman people." But do people actually convert to Islam as a result of its "martyrs" killing and maiming thousands of innocents? Where is the appeal, except to eternal hatred?

Once Christianity became the state religion and the era of persecution ended, a new kind of "interior martyrdom" emerged, as serious seekers fled to the desert in order to find God in the solitude of the heart. These souls engaged in a kind of extreme seeking that is also difficult for us to comprehend. I mean, it's one thing to join a monastery and become part of an interior community, but they didn't exist until much later.

Then again, perhaps there are spiritual challenges and temptations in our day that people from even one hundred years ago couldn't imagine. Most of us will never know what amounted to constants among pre-modern people, including hunger, disease, war (up close and personal, not in a distant land), chronic pain, constant loss, and early death.

Thus, for any thinking person, the utter futility of the world must have seemed quite obvious. It's the same with the Buddha's advice -- it wasn't nearly as difficult to detach from the world when the world had so little to recommend it. What was one giving up, really? Few had any possessions, any private property, any aspirations, anything to read, or anything to do except subsist.

So in an odd way, the present world undoubtedly requires its own kind of spiritual athleticism in order to transcend it, since the temptations and distractions are so much greater. In a way, the more fulfilling the world is, the more pain there is. How did people in the past endure the routine loss of a child? I would guess that infant mortality was so high, that the vast majority of parents had lost at least one child. Nowadays, this constitutes a tragic minority. Indeed, even a miscarriage is an occasion for grief, whereas I can't imagine premodern people giving it a second thought.

As I speculated in the book, this must have affected the way the premodern psyche grew and developed. We now know that the psyche is formed on the basis of attachment to early objects, and that any kind of disruption in the attachment process leaves emotional and cognitive scars for life.

Of course we can never know with certainty, but there is good evidence that prior to modernity, parents didn't invest a lot of emotional energy in their children until there was a good chance they'd survive infancy, so I don't see how this could not have resulted in what we would call schizoid (i.e., detached), depressed, or paranoid personalities (i.e., bitter, distrusting, and angry people) on a widespread basis.

For us, the modern world is so alluring that we can forget all about transcendence. It gives the illusion that it can fulfill us, but this is a promise that it can never keep. Unconsciously, this attachment to the world probably just makes us feel less secure. In a perverse way, the more secure we actually are, the less secure we may feel, because we expect things to go perfectly. We can come enticingly close to controlling most of the variables in our lives -- which only makes it more maddening that in reality we are promised nothing.

I am sure this is what animates the angry and hysterical control freaks of the left. They always wants to make things "better," with no appreciation of what a miracle it is that things work at all. They have no earthly conception that the optimal will never be perfect, and that in pursuing perfection, they will only engender the sub-optimal. Their attempts at control always generate chaos, for which they recommend more of the same. Today we have roughly the same percentage of the population living "in poverty." But I know of not a single leftist who is prepared to declare the 45 year "war on poverty" a failure.

Similarly, the housing bubble clearly wasn't caused by the free market, but was a direct consequence of massive federal intervention in the mortgage industry for four decades. It is the same with healthcare and the cost of higher education. Both operate outside any rational system of actual market prices. You can only know how much something actually costs when you allow the market to set the price.

Likewise, leftists whine about the treatment of homosexuals and other minorities, when they have literally never had it so good. Without a doubt, 21st century America is the best place there has ever been to be black, female, or homosexual. Water and air are the cleanest they've been since it has been possible to measure them, and one of the reasons healthcare is more expensive is because there are so many drugs and procedures that didn't even exist a generation ago.

Hey, if you want to save on healthcare, just limit yourself to the treatments that were available in 1975. But this is about as likely as wealthy liberals voluntarily giving more money to the government, instead of forcing others to do so.

Because of their materialism, the left frets over the natural environment when the greater threat comes from the psychic environment. Dawson felt that (in the words of Birzer), history involved a "battle for possession of the human soul," and that "to protect the order of the culture and the polity, one must first protect the order of the soul. Without the order of the soul, all will fail." What he wrote in the 1940s would apply with equal force today:

"England and the whole world are passing through a terrible crisis. We are fighting not merely against external enemies but against powerful forces that threaten the very existence of our culture. And it is therefore vital that all the positive intellectual and spiritual forces of Western culture should come together in defense of their common values and traditions against their common enemies.

"The defeat of totalitarianism... 'depends in the last resort, not on the force of arms but on the power of Spirit, the mysterious influence which alone can change human nature and renew the face of the earth.'"

But preservation and destruction are constants in history, always occurring simultaneously: "to the Christian the world is always ending, and every historical crisis is, as it were, a rehearsal for the real thing."

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that evil ideologies are never truly creative, and therefore ultimately subject to the entropy and degeneration of the world:

"The tyrannical ideologue can neither be creative nor imaginative," and is "merely a shadow of the true Enemy, himself just a creature, albeit a very powerful one within time." Islamism on the one hand and leftism on the other are "blind powers which are working in the dark, and which derive their strength from negative and destructive forces."

I don't worry at all about the things that consume liberals, such as what the weather might be like in 100 years, whether we are mean to terrorists, or why open homosexuals can't serve in a military the left despises anyway. What concerns me is whether we can continue to nurture a psychic environment capable of sustaining the human soul, and whether, because of various technological developments, man will blind himself to the deadly consequences of his spiritually self-destructive behavior.

In short, the spiritually "dangerous and treacherous" have "been made artificially safe," so that "the distinction between wisdom and folly would seem to be an irrelevance." As Bolton writes, "high forms of culture can usually continue for at least another generation after traditional moral restraints have given way, creating the impression that a society can have the best of both worlds." But this is only a fool's paradise, for the bill eventually comes due.

If there ever was a widespread conversion to truth as a vocation, most of the problems of society would solve themselves, since it would remove the basic evil of aimlessness. It was for this reason that Pascal said that the whole calamity of mankind was owing to the fact that a man cannot remain quietly in one room for any good purpose.... [T]he security of any society depends on the presence in it of minorities and individuals who are spiritually alien to it, who have a mission which goes far beyond the basic practicalities which rest on everyone. --Robert Bolton, Keys of Gnosis

Suffice it to say that none of us would be who or where we are had it not been for the existence of such impractical men -- interior and exterior martyrs of various kinds. So let's be thankful these magnanimous fleshlights passed through these parts and illuminated a narrow teloscape for the rest of us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Logotomized Always Lie

With dumb-as-a-postmodernity, much of Western civilization has undergone a spiritual logotomy that results in the removal of one's higher spiritual sense. But just like a victim of lobotomy, the logotomized person doesn't even know what hit him, for he is now missing the part that might know.

In the not-too-distant past, no one was really religious, or "chose" religion in the way that we must consciously be and do. Rather, it mostly chose them. It was simply the pneumatic context in which humans lived, and one thing modern developmental psychoanalysis has discovered over the past 40-50 years is the priority of the mind's container over and above its content. Or, at the very least, one must always regard container and contained dialectically, for there can never be one without the other. (Think of modern physics, in which "objects" are no longer radically separate from the space that contains them.)

True, truth is truth; nevertheless, it makes all the difference in the world what sort of receptacle or "matrix" contains that truth. If the container is false -- i.e., determined by the Lie, or hatred, or envy -- then it will color all of its content in ways that may be imperceptible to the individual except in the form of symptoms, i.e., emotional or cognitive pain or dysfunction. These symptoms are alternately "absent presences" (anxiety) or "present absences" (depression).

To take a simple example, consider the truth of justice. Human beings are born with a precognitive, archetypal understanding of justice -- a preconception, or empty category, that must be filled out by experience.

Leftist attitudes toward justice (i.e., the insatiable moloch of "social justice") essentially result from a deformation of this pre-existing truth, as they enforce their idea of justice in fundamentally unjust ways -- i.e., racial quotas, income redistribution, attacks on private property, class warfare, etc. All forms of modern leftism are essentially dishonest appeals to truth, unjust appeals to justice, unfair appeals to fairness, coerced appeals to generosity, etc. Again, it's the container that is so destructive, since it damages even "good" content, i.e., charitable impulses.

Please note that the omnipotence of the fantasy -- the end -- justifies the means required to attain such a beautiful thing, which always requires the coercion (and implicit violence) of the state. The same dynamic explains the terribly unjust and coercive monstrosity that is Obamacare, which will only require more state coercion in order to "fix." At each step along the way -- from kickbacks, to bribes, to penalties -- state coercion is required.

There was a time that the Church, broadly speaking, was generally able to contain the human spirit and provide a vehicle for its articulation and development. For some one thousand years, the vast majority of people in the West lived, thought, felt, worked, and died within this meaning-generating container.

Now, a spiritual container must not only be capacious enough to hold the human spirit -- which tends toward the infinite -- but must also paradoxically provide a sort of "friction" against which we may think and move.

In other words, thinking spiritually in a truly creative way means that there must be an interaction between container and contained that produces new thoughts. Indeed, if religion could not do this, it would not only be entirely static, but would provide no satisfaction for the soul's intrinsic desire to grow with knowledge. The Bible really would be the end of theology instead of the beginning, and the importance of the great saints, doctors and mystics would also be rendered meaningless. And history would have no purpose at all, since the truth would all be located in the past.

This specifically human form of knowing -- the dynamic interplay of what Bion symbolized as ♀ (container) and ♂ (contained) -- is a critical factor that distinguishes us from the beasts, since it is not only analogous to play, it is play. It is well understood that certain young animals play -- i.e., puppies and kittens -- but that virtually all adult animals lose this capacity as they grow into their mature archetype, which is essentially fixed and final.

But man only fulfills his destiny by preserving his neoteny -- i.e., the retention of a childlike, epistemologically open attitude -- to the end of his days. Not only is man born immature, but he must remain so on pain of putting an end to the growing process. But again, since man verges on the infinite (♀) and the soul is all it knows (♂), there can be no end to the maturational process.

Now obviously, there are mature and immature ways to preserve our immaturity. When Jesus says that we must be as children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he surely doesn't mean that we must stamp our feet and throw a temper tantrum until God lets us in. Rather, he's talking about things like openness, spontaneity, creativity, timelessness, and trust (or faith).

Now, "openness," "spontaneity," "timelessness," etc., all apply to the container, not the content. For example, spontaneity is not a content or specific idea that one may hold in one's mind like an object and be done with it. A -- perhaps the -- major task of parenting is to raise one's child in such a way that he will have a happy, healthy, and productive container for the rest of his life, irrespective of the specific content. And in all likelihood, if you do things right, your child won't even be consciously aware of this blessed container until he has children of his own to contain!

This was an idea that was probably first worked out by the developmental psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, who wrote about how, for example, one's lifelong capacity for "basic trust" is forged in the first 18 months of life, largely depending upon the quality of parenting one receives. No one talks much about Erikson anymore, as his ideas have been extended, elaborated, and fine-tuned by others, but his basic conception is correct. Note how each of his stages has primarily to do with the container, i.e., trust, autonomy, identity, generativity, etc., not any specific content.

The trusting person sees the world very differently from the non-trusting -- which is to say, paranoid -- person. Surely it is no coincidence that the Muslim Middle East has the lowest quality of parenting and the highest degree of paranoia, along with an almost total lack of creativity, openness, and autonomy. This is obviously worrisome, since democracy and free markets can only flourish in a high-trust environment.

To put it another way, trust is huge enabler of market efficiency, removing all kinds of obstacles to doing business with one another. Almost any American can do business with any other American, whereas in tribal cultures, the circle of trust is greatly narrowed.

But I want to return to the topic of religion as the container (♀) of an explosive force, or content (♂). Call it the "spiritual drive," or the "pneumaphilic instinct," but whatever it is, just like any other human capacity, it requires a container to guide and channel it -- just as, say, music requires a system of musical notation to structure and give it depth.

Bach, for example, was born with a "musical drive," but what if he had been born at a time prior to the western system of musical notation, which allows one to think with such complexity within the chordal space of vertical musicality? The point is again that an adequate container is critical for one to achieve one's potential in any given area.

It is no different with religion. The other day, I was reading of how Dawson felt that different historical eras were literally different worlds which we could not really understand by projecting our own world onto them. This makes total sense to me, because true empathy of a patient involves not just understanding their content, but their container.

Furthermore, real change generally doesn't involve the patient obtaining this or that piece of missing information. Rather, it involves a slow alteration and repair of their container within the context of the therapeutic alliance. Truly, therapy is just something you do to distract the patient while his mind is healing itself, mainly as a result of an intimate relationship with another.

So anyway, my point is that modernity -- e.g., the scientific revolution and the birth of the individual self -- essentially exploded the religious container that had contained the mind and spirit up to that point, and there is no going back to that innocent world. You cannot put the bats back into the belfry or the truthpaste into the tube. Different world.

They say that modern physics displaced earth from the center of the universe, just as natural selection displaced man from the center of the biosphere, thus rendering the religion of Christianity hopelessly quaint, what with its cognitively reassuring firmament above and a God who just happens to be in the form of a man.

Whatever. The point is not to argue over facts, which is to say, the content, but to understand the cosmic, and even metacosmic, nature of Christianity, so that it may serve as a container for the historical middle world we happen to inhobbit. I suppose that's the point of both my book and this blog, which is why I never argue with the other guy's content when his container is so messed up. One Cosmos "Under" God is really another way of saying One Mother of a Cosmos Contained by Father God. And they say God himself was marrily contained for awhile, but that's amother story.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Word War I and the Battle for the Bridge

Of the basis of religion, Birzer writes that it is rooted in "the recognition of a superhuman Reality of which man is somehow conscious and towards which he must in some way orientate his life" (all subsequent quotes are from the same book).

Thus, if man is the bridge that spans the ontological ocean between matter and spirit, then religion is the perennial clueprint that encodes the engineering principles, so to speak, of this bridge building innerprize. Conversely, if the radical secularists are correct, then man is just another bridge to nowhere.

Far from being an "opiate for the masses," it is modern secular ideologies "which serve as nothing more than addictive drugs for decadent and lost peoples." Most perniciously, they still treat man as a bridge, except that he becomes a bridge between the way things are and the way our elites would like them to be. In short, he becomes a bridge between big government and bigger government -- or between the powerful state and the omnipotent one. First they seduce us with the Mommy state, but then coerce us with the Daddy state.

Now, revelation does not -- cannot -- stop with the written word: "On the contrary, the whole history of Christendom is a continual dialogue between God and man, and every age of the Chruch's life, even the most remote and obscure, has some important lesson for us today" (emphasis mine). This would imply that the present is not more important than the past; but nor is it less so.

I find that traditionalists have a sort of inferiority complex about the present, and conversely, tend to idealize the past. But if each epoch of history is in some sense providential, then the question is, what is the metacosmic purpose of the present time in which we are living?

Perhaps it has to do with sanctifying the scientistic "reign of quantity" and bringing it back into harmony with timeless religious principles in a higher synthesis of spirit and nature. Which is to say, same as it ever was, for as Augustine wrote, to the extent that science and philosophy reveal truth about the world, "we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it."

In so doing, just as paganism was incorporated and sanctified by Christianity, perhaps our task is to sanctify these modern forms of neo-paganism. This endeavor is hardly opposed to science, but rather, attempts to place it in a context in which it is able to "become" or "reveal" what it actually is in the larger scheme of things. Science is not self-explanatory, but is explained by something transcending both science and certainly the scientist.

Another way of saying it is that postmodernity has shattered the unity of the world into ever-smaller, disconnected and isolated fragments, in a process that is indistinguishable from decay. But this is not just a passive process of entropy; rather, the forces of secularism oppose any attempt to put the cosmic egg back together into a greater hierarchical synthesis.

Thus, on a very deep level, secularism tries to impose a religiously anti-religious lowerarchy on the rest of us, which is what liberal intolerance is all about -- diversity, moral relativism, multiculturalism, political correctness, etc. Each of these, at its root, elevates division to an absolute.

In this specific sense, one cannot be "in love with the world" without hating God; for to love only the world is to reduce man to matter and therefore to a machine, and ultimately to a means rather than an end. But then secularism slips in its own teleology, converting man into a means of achieving wholly materialistic ends as defined by the "progressive" who substitutes terrestrial perfectibility for spiritual evolution.

Thus, there really are "two Americas," the one that exists in reality and the one that exists in the fantasies of the left, i.e., "Sugar Candy Mountain." Secular ideologies "promise much by taking much," which is to say, your soul.

Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and is obviously prior to the state. As such, it is a competitor with the modern welfare state, something that has become obvious vis-a-vis Western Europe or the black family in America.

Since man is a social animal, if his most intimate bonds are not with the family, they will be with something less. Should the family collapse, "society itself must collapse or change in a fashion so drastic as to be no longer recognizable." This is the sort of radical and fundamental change promised by Obama.

Indeed, this is what the whole debate about the re-definition of marriage is all about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with "homophobia," but with a prudent appreciation of the profundity of the issues involved -- i.e, not with homosexual "rights" but with heterosexual duties. It's like performing a needlessly radical experiment on a body that is already taxed and trying to maintain its health and equilibrium. Except the experiment is conducted by a handful of lawyers instead of doctors, so we can't even sue them for malpractice.

"There is a point at which the world of spirit comes in conscious contact with the world of matter. That point is man." Dawson felt that "most heresies have come from the inability to walk between the two extremes," so that "to privilege either the spiritual or material at the expense of the other is to verge into a modern form of Gnosticism."

Thus, in reality, man's "whole destiny depends on the proper co-ordination" of matter and spirit; since Man is a bridge, "the lower world is in some sense dependent on him for its spiritualization and its integration in the universal order." And man's true order does not -- and cannot -- come from the material and temporal world, but from the timeless and atemporal. To ignore this reality is to commit cluelesscide as it pertains to one's genuine humanness.

"All true progress comes from the proper use of language." As God "spoke" the cosmos into existence, man "speaks" culture into existence. If the family is the first thing undermined by the left, then language is the second. What is always most startling about leftist discourse is the inebriated and intoxicated abuse of language. Call it discoarse. They truly are at war with the Word, so we can say that Word War I has been going on since the beginning of human time. The contemporary left is just a new whine in a very old battle.

"The 'mastery' of professional historical methods and 'techniques will not produce great history, any more than a mastery of metrical technique will produce great poetry.' The true historian, or the metahistorian, will recognize that 'something more is necessary -- intuitive understanding, creative imagination, and finally a universal vision transcending the relative limitation of the particular field of historical study.'" Thus, the genuine historian must also be a poet in the true sense of the word.

History has both upper and lower vertical aspects, or infraconscious and supraconscious: "What we see in history is only a partial and uncertain manifestation of the spiritual activity which is taking place at once below and above the level of historical study." "We modern sophists... are the ones being unscholarly in discounting a higher power, a power unseen and unknown through our five physical senses, but recognized by all human cultures prior to the advent of modernity."

"Christian culture is always in conflict with the world," whereas leftist culture is always at odds with reality, i.e., the unchanging spiritual reality from which the world derives its meaning and man his significance. To perfectly adapt to the world in the manner of a Darwinian animal is to be a perfect animal. Man's task is surely to adapt, but to the real world of truth, beauty, virtue, and unity.