Spiritual Conspirators and Atheistic Lone Nuts
The horizontal and linear causation of natural science (at least above the quantum level) is fairly well understood, if not in essence, at least for practical purposes.
In the last two or three decades, science has also developed a greater appreciation of chaos and complexity, i.e., dynamic systems that are intrinsically unpredictable. Because of the multitude of variable causal inputs -- not to mention random noise -- there is no way to predict the behavior of the system in a deterministic way (for example, the weather, or the human brain).
The situation only becomes more challenging when we toss vertical causation into the mix, since science has no idea how the mind can affect the body in a top-down manner (let alone how the soul affects the mind), nor how the material body interacts with the immaterial mind. (And this is leaving aside the impossibility of natural processes ever being the "cause" of infinitely higher realities such as truth; nothing can be the cause of what transcends it.)
In fact, because of its own self-imposed limitations, this is an area that science as presently conceived will never understand. As it stands, science mostly deals with the problem by treating mind as an epiphenomenon of genetic and electrochemical processes.
In short, researchers apply what they think they understand to what they clearly don't, which ends in a mythological pseudo-science more primitive than phrenology. One thinks of the tenured mechanics who attempt to identify the "god part" of the brain. Why not the "bogus science part" of the brain?
Not only does the brain qualify as a quintessential dynamic system, but it contains so many billions of causal links that only a fool would suggest that it can be understood deterministically. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter remains that my immaterial self can conceive the idea of making a fist, and it happens. Somehow the idea is translated to will, which somehow enlists billions of nerve cells to get organized and instantaneously do its bidding.
In contrast, if I notice that my hand is in the shape of a fist, this does not send a signal to my brain that I should punch someone. Human beings are not causally closed systems. Nevertheless, there is clearly a two-way channel between psyche and soma. In fact, at birth -- and for a couple of years thereafter -- we do not have a clear concept of self. Rather, we start with a "body ego" that is more or less merged with the (m)other (or maternal environment).
Only gradually, through the slow process of separation and individuation, do we (some of us) develop an autonomous and unique self (note also that human uniqueness is absolutely inconsistent with any kind of reductionistic causality). But even then, the conscious self forever remains in a dialectical relationship to its unconscious -- or supraconscious -- ground. It's not as if we can ever leave the orbit of that wi(l)der world.
In his Keys of Gnosis, Bolton describes another dimension of causality, the cosmic law of "action and reaction," and how this relates to providence and fate.
Until modern times, religion often had more to do with the attempt to magically control external circumstances, an idea which became increasingly untenable with the rise of science. As a result, religion became more of an interior pursuit for extreme seekers, dealing less with material than spiritual reality.
Bolton provides a useful way to think through this dualism, and to steer a course between what amounts to deism -- that is, an impersonal God of the philosophers and mathematicians who merely got the universe underway, but has a hands-off policy thereafter; and the "cosmic bellhop" of popular mythology, i.e., a God who magically fulfills our every infantile wish like a liberal politician.
As Bolton points out, one cannot deny the fact that scripture makes numerous references to the law of action and reaction (henceforth, "the Law") -- that is, the idea that we reap what we sow, that those who live by the sword shall die by it, "forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors," etc. In a word, karma. The Bible is filled with references to karma -- that what goes around comes around, and that evil will be punished and good rewarded.
Obviously we all want this to be true, but is it true in fact? It seems that most people conclude that it can't possibly be true -- that everywhere the wicked flourish and the decent are punished. Therefore, in order to maintain the belief in a just cosmos, reward and punishment must take place on some post-mortem plane.
More generally, if the very nature of the universe proves to us that it must have been created, and that its creator must be good, then goodness must somehow prevail "in the end." Thus, the cosmos must be moral through and through, even if it's often in a very obscure way due to the hierarchical complexity of manifest existence, both spatially and temporally.
Furthermore, the cosmos is obviously not a machine and man is clearly free. If the cosmos were a machine, then we would see an immediate relationship between cause and effect on the moral plane. You'd do something bad, and a lightning bolt would come down and strike you from the sky.
But if morality operated in this instantaneous manner, then we wouldn't actually be morally free in any meaningful way. Rather, we'd just be good to avoid the punishment. We would not inhabit a moral space in which we are free to choose between good and evil, and no one would be good for goodness' sake, so there would be no Christmas presence.
It is interesting that materialists naturally accept the existence of cause and effect on the material plane. And yet, they deny the possibility of anything similar on the moral plane, which is one more reason why their metaphysic is so feeble.
But if we turn the cosmos upside down -- which is to say, right side up -- then we can see that material cause and effect is simply the "residue" of the first cause, which must be above, not below. One cannot derive free will from materialism, but one can derive matter from a freely willed universe. And as Bob mentioned yesterday, humans can only exercise freedom in a universe that has a stable foundation, so to speak, i.e., predictable boundary conditions (which include moral laws).
I think most senior Raccoons will have noticed that as one comes into closer proximity to O (so to speak), one also "shortens" the distance between cause and effect on the moral plane.
As one is drawn more deeply into the Great Attractor beam, the web of synchronicities becomes more dense, and the Law becomes more apparent. Something happens to time, whereby it "thickens," and we begin to intuit all sorts of causal connections operating along different, immaterial timelines. Eventually it begins to look as if our life were more of an airy-tale conSpiracy (↓↑) than the breathless workings of a lone nut (•).
To be continued....