Monday, November 04, 2013

All Cretans are Liars, Ergo All Materialists are Cretins

Some people say -- and they are no doubt correct -- that creation doesn't begin with the so-called Big Bang of ±13.7 billion years ago.

Rather, this here cosmos is simply an instance of the more general principle of Creativity as such. Otherwise one is in the untenable position of arguing that creativity somehow begins with this particular creation, or that time has a "beginning," or that it is possible for "nothing" to exist -- existence and nothing being antithetical terms.

Philosophers have always wondered whether the cosmos has always been here, or whether it had a beginning. Physicists are in near universal agreement that it did indeed have a beginning, but that hardly means that Being can have a beginning. Or an end, for that matter. Rather, this existence of ours is grounded in Being as such.

Or is it? In my opinion, Being is simply an abstraction, in fact, the most abstract abstraction there could be. As such, it is void of meaningful content, for to say that it is "everything" is no more helpful than saying it is nothing. For if Being is everything then everything is Being, and we're just circling around a giant tautology. Or, to paraphrase Hartshorne, the assertion of pure Being is an instance of cognitive idling, a vacuous placeholder.

I don't care what anyone says, from Deepak to the Dalai Lama, but no one can "experience being." Yes, you will someday possess being -- for your terrestrial becoming will end -- but you will be dead and therefore not here to experience it, at least in this body. As far as one's earthly career is concerned, to die is to fully be what you are -- or were -- and nothing more.

What we can experience is becoming, for every instance of being is simply an abstraction from the wider and more inclusive category of becoming. To "experience" anything is to be extended in time, no matter what semantic tricks are deployed in order to deny its oneway passage.

In my view, creativity is the penultimate category, which means that time is truly "of the essence." And the ultimate category is Love, which means that "otherness" too is intrinsic. I frankly don't see how Christianity can be understood in any other terms, at least in an intellectually consistent manner.

Yes, there is still an Absolute. Except that the category "Person" is not -- nor could it be -- derived from it. Rather, the Absolute is posterior to Person(s). Or, we could say that the Absolute -- surprise! -- turns out to be Trinity, definitely not the simple monadic One of, say, Islam (nor the simplistic material one of scientism).

I'd like to continue our trialogue with Hart's The Experience of God, but see if it is possible to reconcile his traditional views with the more process-oriented view sketched out above.

Now, since creative becoming is our standard, we are no longer confronted with inexplicable and insurmountable discontinuities in the cosmos, beginning with the Big Bang. We don't have to wonder how it is possible for a dead universe to one day magically come to life, or how it produces self-conscious beings, or how these beings can know the "whole" of things -- as if the cosmos is in us rather than vice versa (it's actually both).

In this view, the "big bang" of Life is no less astonishing than the Big Bang of cosmology, and the big bang of human consciousness is even bigger than the first two. In fact, in the absence of the latter we wouldn't even know of the first two, so it would be as if they had never occurred.

In contrast to radical environmentalists who regard man as a cancer on the planet, not only do I not care about an earth without human inhabitants, I don't even care about a cosmos devoid of human life. You can have it. I don't want it. (Nor, for that matter, do I believe God would have much interest in such a sterile cosmos. Rather, be fruitful and multiply, please, just like your Creator.)

Hart addresses this outward discontinuity of the cosmos, asking how it is possible for "the aimlessness of matter" to achieve "so intense and intricate a concentration of its various random forces that, all at once, it is fantastically inverted into the virtual opposite of everything modern orthodoxy tells us matter is?"

I'll tell you how: Life is not an "inversion" of reality, but rather, a revelation of reality. Again, the ultimate categories are Love and Creativity, not matter and motion. If the latter two are the ultimate categories, then it is indeed the case that Life has no explanation beyond pure magic and miracle -- an inexplicable violation of everything we thought we knew about the cosmos. But that's not science, rather, just scientistic superstition. (And from there it is but a step to the black Magic of Government!)

Likewise, how is it that "matter can produce subjective awareness," and how could "abstract processes of reasoning or deliberation... possibly correspond with sequences of purely physical processes in the brain"?

Hmm? Same answer: the truth is at the top, not bottom, of the cosmos. In fact, to seek truth at the bottom -- or to attempt to reduce all truth to bottom-level truth -- is strictly insane.

Either the existence of human beings tells us something important about the cosmos, or it doesn't. Materialists try to have their crock and eat it too, by insisting that human beings are of no consequence, and yet, can reliably know the secret of existence. It's really an instance of the "all Cretans are liars" paradox, except that in this case all materialists are cretins whose puerile philosophy renders them unworthy of being believed.

Nevertheless, taken to its logical endpoint, materialism redounds to the ideal (!) of speaking "solely in terms of discrete physical processes and material elements, 'eliminating' all pre-scientific allusions to persons and mental events entirely.... Such a description, once it is perfected [!], will supposedly do away with the problem of consciousness because it will have done away with consciousness itself."

Oh good. Does this mean that man will no longer have problems? If so, then to quote Nilsson,

If you never had a problem, well everyone would be happy / But if everyone was happy, there'd never be a love song.

How sad. But for Hart, "The first-person perspective is not dissoluble into a third-person narrative of reality."

Ah ha! Now we're getting somewhere. For who is this First Person, this metacosmic subject? Why, it's old I AM. And I AM can never be reduced to IT IS. Rather IT IS is nestled in the creative womb of I AM -- or perhaps in the free and playful space between I AM and YOU ARE.

12 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Again, the ultimate categories are Love and Creativity, not matter and motion. If the latter two are the ultimate categories, then it is indeed the case that Life has no explanation beyond pure magic and miracle -- an inexplicable violation of everything we thought we knew about the cosmos.

Yes, that's a wonderful way to put it. Much of science and scientific discovery still revolves around taking things apart to figure out how they tick. And yet, a dissected frog, no matter how perfectly it may be reassembled, will never hop again of its own volition. If it all comes down to matter and motion, re-creating life would be relatively simple.

11/04/2013 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

Hmm, hmm, this post is humming. Makes me think:

I am the true vine. John 15:1

John's word for true is alethinos, which means "deriving directly from, genuine."

i.e. from I AM. The persona is primary.

"Process theology" came up in water cooler conversation today. The topic was purgatory. Why pray? etc.

11/04/2013 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Different universes are like different galaxies and different solar systems.

They're all different and all the same.

I like the multiverse theory, since I presume that there are people there, too.

However, from a scientific standpoint, I can't get the cosmology of this universe into negative time before the universe started.

There's nothing preventing multiverses as long as they are the same as this one in the ways in which they have to be the same.

11/04/2013 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"There's nothing preventing multiverses..."

Don't let me stop ya.

11/04/2013 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

That's a lot to process, but it might be better to say something like materialists have to deny that humans are a special case rather than strictly of no consequence.

It's like "humane" treatment of animals. I've gotten uneasy and even upset over people who are cruel to animals. Yet I have never seen one of my civilized cats try to stop another cat from tormenting a mouse. The law of tooth and claw.

11/04/2013 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Either the existence of human beings tells us something important about the cosmos, or it doesn't. Materialists try to have their crock and eat it too, by insisting that human beings are of no consequence, and yet, can reliably know the secret of existence. It's really an instance of the "all Cretans are liars" paradox, except that in this case all materialists are cretins whose puerile philosophy renders them unworthy of being believed."

So much said, in so few words, and all of it... completely over their head.

Literally.

11/04/2013 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

The real problem which materialists face, is that they have to become human in order to deny their existence.

Tricky thing that.

11/04/2013 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jules said...

Both neurologist eben alexander in his nde and child prodigy Akiane in her quasi nde at age 4 , describe seeing multiple universes. Akiane has a painting titled " creation of the universes"

And there was i thinking this universe was mind boggling..




11/05/2013 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I'm thinking that if these "other universes" can affect this one, then they are not "other universes", but part of this one.
And if they can't affect this one, then they don't matter.

11/05/2013 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Multiverse is a contradiction in term.
Perhaps even if you can imagine "multiverses" it implies "uni".

11/05/2013 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Multiverses... Yeeeeaaaahh, I'm gonna need you to come in on Saturday, and remember, second 'verse, same as the first, Mmmmmkay? Thaaaaaanks.

11/05/2013 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

So do not worry about multiverses, for multiverses will bring worries to thier own. Today’s universe is enough for today.

11/06/2013 08:08:00 PM  

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