Why People Who Disagree with Me are So Deathly Boring
For clearly, while there are monstrous examples of natural religion, its finest exemplars -- e.g., Plotinus or Shankara -- are objectively more evolved than, say, Fred Phelps, or Jeremiah Wright, or Jesse Jackson.
Natural religion may be thought of as the actualization of man's innate psycho-evolutionary potential, or bearing upon his ability to pull himself up (↑) by his own buddhastraps without any extra-natural assistance, i.e., grace (↓).
Conversely, supernatural religion begins with data emanating from a transcendent source, i.e., revelation. What this means is that the Other has deliberately revealed itself to man, disclosing things that no merely human faculty could have known or had access to -- just as one can have no access to another person's mind (beyond a certain limit) without their voluntarily communicating it.
But there is much overlap here, and in the end, it becomes clear that even the most natural religion is still supernatural, the reason being that nature herself is already supernatural.
For God -- or O -- doesn't simply reveal himself in words or statistically unlikely events. Rather, there are several a priori revelations of God, including nature, but most especially, the intellect. To reduce the intellect to physics or chemistry or genetic shuffling is not even wrong. Rather, it is William.
And as always, extremists meet, so it should come as no surprise that the most dogged materialist will treat his metaphysic exactly as a primitive religion, and harbor all sorts of religious assumptions, impulses, and strivings beneath the veneer of irreligiosity.
Hence, for example, the deep desire to evangelize others, to save them from a life given over to falsehood, to protect and guide youth from destructive error, etc. A literal materialist would't give two fucks.
Very much in contrast to reader William's long-since debunked anti-religious bigotry, science began as a conscious endeavor to study the world in order to disclose the (capital R) Reason transcending and imbuing it.
Early scientists were not yet stupid enough to believe that all this magnificent order and beauty could have come from "nowhere." Not only was there no conflict between Christianity and science, but there was no accounting for the latter in the absence of the former (and we are speaking, of course of its fully developed form, not some caricature that exists only in the mind of the bigot).
Are there individual exceptions? Of course, just as there are corrupt and misguided scientists. For example, the Galileo incident must be understood in the context of a Church that was attempting to defend itself from Protestant accusations that it was far too liberal in its interpretation of scripture.
Now, I do not, nor would I ever, argue for the premodern confusion of religion and science. First, on a "meta" level they cannot be separated anyway, because truth is obviously truth, irrespective of the source or the means of attaining it.
However, I do feel that the historical distinction between science and religion was very much providential, and is a prerequisite of post-biological evolution on a collective scale. Indeed, one might very well say that this historical parting of the whys was "the Christian thing to do."
It certainly wasn't -- and isn't -- the Muslim thing to do, as Islam explicitly forbids any such partition. The same is true of their politics (no liberty, democracy, or individualism), economics (no interest), art (no human images), psychology (no equality of men and women), and history (which comes down to Allahstory only).
As a result, Islam cannot evolve, and instead circles around in its pathetic little historical eddy. It is what happens when one has a supernatural religion only, with no room for the quasi-autonomous realms of nature, man, history, and culture. The latter should be unthinkable for proper Christians, but again, there are modern Christian sects that have more in common with Islam than with traditional Christianity.
Now, returning to the question of natural religion. It has always been the case that for the sensitive soul, nature is, in the words of Schuon, "metaphysically transparent." Indeed, this is what first prompts our attention to it. Man's first conscious engagement with nature is not any kind of detached skepticism, but rather, a wonder-infused curiosity, or what the Raccoon calls the sacred WTF?!
And when science attempts to posit itself outside the mode of wonder, it always reduces the world to far less than it actually is. It is somewhat analogous to falling in love, but instead of deepening it, spending the rest of one's life trying to unsentimentally explain it away as some sort of merely chemical or genetic attraction. One could do it, I suppose, but only at the cost of one's humanness.
But why would one want to? Again, scientists rarely if ever draw out the ultimate implications of their first principles, because to do so would drain life of any and all meaning, and transform man into an unredeemable freak.
Nature hides a secret. Everyone knows this, particularly the scientist who spends his life trying to coax nature into giving it up. The scientist begins with curiosity and wonder, but never ends there unless he has accidentally killed his own soul in the desire for unambiguous certainty on the horizontal plane (on which there are always snakes).
In the words of Balthasar, nature has -- or is -- an "intimate-public secret," in that it is simultaneously "permanently concealed" and yet "permanently divulged." This begins to take on the contours of love, for do we not have the identical attitude toward the loved one -- that no matter how much there is, there is always more, an inexhaustible richness of revelation?
Likewise, we should know at a glance that we could never "contain" our dear Ma Nature that bewombs us (in other words, you can't give birth to your mother, although we have heard from the wise that it is possible for Mother to give birth to God, more on which later). "The possibilities of life" are always "infinitely more abundant than what is actually on display." Indeed, "There is an incomprehensible prodigality in the very essence of life" (ibid.), to say nothing of Mind.
It is not as if we're ever going to run out of dreams, or poems, or songs. If that were possible, then life would be unendurable. In this regard, our ignorance -- or the absence of omniscience -- is a blessing, not a curse. Again, see Genesis for details.
Think of the infinite number of biological forms effortlessly tossed up by nature, each a little eros shot into the heart of eternity. These are only the appearance of certain "possibilities concealed in the overflowing abundance of life" (ibid.)
And this is again precisely where materialism converges upon revelation, or rather, where matter is itself a revelation. For no type of matter less wondrous would be worthy of man. The latter "would betoken a poverty of being, and ultimately of the Creator, if everything possible were also actual."
For example, in the great artist -- say, Shakespeare or Bach -- there is a kind of effortless profligacy that mimics nature's redundant beauty. "We know a great artist insofar as his works reveal how sovereignly he has created them and how little strain they put on his powers" (ibid.).
Two things may be said of this; the authentic genius always transmits a bit of the latter in his works. In other words, there is the work itself, but also the simultaneous transmission of the infinite from whence it came ("know them by their fruits").
Second, we can always experience the inverse of this in the unimaginative secular (or religious, it doesn't matter) thinker who reduces reality to what his own little mind can contain. In this type of prose, one can always intuit the strain, so to speak, in the author's attempt to stretch his inadequate ideas to the proportions of reality. This results in a kind of tedium, or deadness, that the author unwittingly projects into his reader. Zzzzzzz.....
The result is, of course, boredom, and it is critical to bear in mind that this type of boredom is not an absence, but rather a presence. In psychotherapy it is highly pathognomonic. There is something wrong with the boring patient, something that he is attempting to communicate via the therapist's counter-transferential boredom. It is not meaningless, but full of meaning, usually revolving around deadness, or more to the point, a soul murder that has taken place in the past (and repeats itself in the present).
And this is not to say that "absence of boredom" -- or "excitement" -- is automatically suggestive of health. Not at all. To put it mildly, the most "exciting" people can be a pain in the ass if they have, say, a narcissistic or borderline personality.
I just finished a book about World War II, and Hitler was evidently rather thrilling to be around. Everyone was quite aware of the fact that the room fairly crackled in his presence, even though, at the same time, the actual content was about as boring and banal as once could imagine -- all heat, so to speak, and no light whatsoever. Dark heat, as it were.
Does anyone else find Obama to be deeply boring? Al Gore? Clinton? Carter? Kerry? Edwards? Biden? NPR? CNN? Time? Newsweek? Rachel Madow? Charles Johnson? William? (Big tip o' the cap to Serr8d.) Prose by any other gnome smells just as bad.
In contrast, I would put palpably insane clowns such as Olbermann, Krugman, or Ed Schultz in the "exciting borderline" category. A therapist would not be able to handle more than one such character in his practice.
So behind appearances is "the infinite surplus of the possible." One might even say that beyond being is the Beyond Being of God, with the result that "finite appearance as such is the coming to light of a certain infinity." And as we have said many times and in many ways, finitude "shades off into the twilight of the unknown," which is none other than "the ineliminable mystery of being" (ibid.).
In short, "The truth of any being will always be infinitely richer and greater than the knower is capable of grasping" (ibid.).
Deal with it.