Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Slow Motion Miracles

Continuing with the spirit of yesterday's post -- which everyone agrees was much too short -- we are batting around the idea that man is not an evolution but a revolution; not a genetic stroll but an ontological leap; not a random reshuffling of existent materials but an entirely novel development.

That word, evolution: I don't think it means what they think it means -- or at least their definition begs the (?!). For Chesterton, "this notion of something smooth and slow, like the ascent of a slope, is a great part of the illusion. It is an illogicality as well as an illusion; for slowness has really nothing to do with the question. An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves" (emphasis mine).

In other words, if I pull a rabbit out of a hat rrrreeealllllly sloooooooooowwwwlllly, it doesn't make it any less of a trick. Likewise if I pull life out of matter or man out of ape. If you don't believe in miracles, then "a slow miracle would be just as incredible as a swift one." But our fast-talking scientistic magicians engage in a kind of sleight of hand, or misdirection, by waving their evolutionary wands over what is nevertheless a roiling mystery.

The fundamental question remains, and cannot be "answered by some substitution of gradual for abrupt change," by "the same story being spun out or rattled rapidly through, as can be done with any story at a cinema by turning a handle." Or pressing the fast-forward button.

After all, Genesis presents the same story, only vry qkly. (That must be why Hebrew has no vowels, right? You can write it even faster.)

The other evening I was confessing to some friends that I have never actually read the Bible in its entirety. Why? Because I can hardly get past Genesis. It's just too rich. After all, in a remarkably compact narrative, it provides us with timeless lessons in cosmogony, ontology, metaphysics, anthropology, psychology, human sexuality, marriage, linguistics, sibling rivalry, snake-handling, and a bunch of other things I can't think of at the moment. Although brief, Genesis provokes a kind of "endless understanding" -- like some kind of bush that burns forever without being consumed. (Here is a book that tries to explicate all that is implicit in it, but it can only scratch the sophitch.)

I have the same problem with the book of John, by the way. John even alludes to this at the very end, with his crack about the "many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." I believe that one hunnerd percent. Why? Because he's still doing them, for starters.

Recall what was said a few posts back about the nature of mystery: it is not mysterious because unintelligible, but rather, the converse: because of an excess of intelligibility. In other words, it is a fount of endless understanding -- like Genesis. From where does this excess arise? How does this blinding light inhere in here? How can a container be so much smaller than its content?

Well, just look at your head -- or your brain. It is "finite," right? -- encased inside your skull. And yet, it is for all intents and purposes infinite, or at least partakes of infinity. No one will ever write the last poem or compose the last melody, unless there are no men left to write and compose.

We can see the begending of the cosmos -- the background radiation from the big bang -- but will never get to the end of the mind. Being is rich beyond the gift of language; words are like the shovels we use to dig into the ground -- which is why philosophy is waaaay beyond useful, to the point of complete and utter uselessness. To reduce it to some practical formula is to suffocate it in tenure.

Now, when I say that the mind is infinite, I am of course referring to our own queer kind, not the Other folkers. Other subspecies of man -- other Homos -- most certainly get to the end of their minds and then call it a life -- leftists, for example, who already know everything, and never tire of telling us so. They are the ones who superimpose magic upon mystery and call it "science." But real science is literally a never-ending process that does not disclose the nature of reality, because it is a consequence of that prior reality.

But despite their magical word games, "a mystery still attaches to the two great transitions: the origin of the universe itself and the origin of the principle of life itself." Furthermore, with man, "a third bridge was built across a third abyss of the unthinkable when there came into the world what we call reason and what we call will" (Chesterton) -- i.e., intellect and freedom, or truth and virtue.

This talk of a "bridge" highlights an extremely important principle, because this bridge is not just from the past to the present but from the top down; what I mean is that the human bridge doesn't just face down and back, but all the way up; or, from God's perspective, all the way down.

Irrespective of the contribution from the genetic/horizontal side of things, there was a moment when man became "ensouled" (and therefore man) and stepped upon this bridge. There was some mythterious moment when primate neurology was capable of hosting a human soul -- or when an animal became a person -- when God breathed a living soul into him.

Almost in passing, Rizzi suggests something similar in The Science Before Science -- that between man and "penultimate man" is "an infinite abyss: the difference between not having and having the ability to abstract ideas, the difference between having and not having an intellect....

"Such a transition," he continues, "is the most important transition of [the] universe. It marks a transitional event of a unique and profound type. At the transition point, something is about to join the universe that is infinitely greater than the entire mere material universe" (emphasis mine).

Think about that: it is very much analogous the the skull/brain relation described above. Suddenly we have the ingression of something vaster than the universe in the universe.

Wo. Can I buy some pot from you?

Here's the orthoparadoxical deal: if man weren't already a person, he could never become one. It's all-or-none, like non-existence/existence and matter/life. Nor can a person be "made," rather, only created. Thus, persons as such are evidence of the Creator-person.

So, how did it all go down, if not via natural selection? That's for God to know and us to find out. Besides, if he told you, the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

18 Comments:

Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Upon further reflection of the question you asked yesterday regarding the length of your posts, I change my vote to yes and no. It is both too much and not enough.

"Think about that: it is very much analogous to the skull/brain relation described above."

It is almost too content rich to digest and yet at the same time I hunger for more.

And that's a good thing.

10/15/2014 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"The other evening I was confessing to some friends that I have never actually read the Bible in its entirety."

What!!! You have friends?!!

10/15/2014 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, since they meet the qualification of conferring unusual levels of total acceptance. They said I was much better live than in writing, which surprised me.

10/15/2014 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I told you you should have a radio show.

10/15/2014 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mother was right, then...

10/15/2014 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...I have never actually read the Bible in its entirety. Why? Because I can hardly get past Genesis.

Genesis is the Bible -- really. It's got everything in it. Nothing in the rest of the Bible is going to be a huge surprise -- until you get to John.

10/15/2014 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Fractal.

10/15/2014 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

All this talk of "up."

It occurs to me that our culture mostly talks about getting "down." We're "down" with things, signifying our groupthink or groupfeel. We get "down," meaning we're depressed. We "get down" when we want to boogie. Aninnymouse is a "downer."

It just seems that "down" has more lexical currency than "up." Horizontalists must feel pretty up about that.

10/15/2014 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Fractal, yes. Especially the history books, oy. Fortunately there's a simply point to them all: fidelity = good fortune, infidelity = ruin. Plus ca change...

Genesis is one of those collections of writings that make you just shake your head in wonder. Everything else pales in comparison.

(I've read the Koran straight through. Zzzzzz.)

10/15/2014 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

God could never be responsible for such a tedious book.

10/15/2014 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

No one will ever write the last poem or compose the last melody, unless there are no men left to write and compose.

It's always good to remember that. These days, there is literally just so much out there, sometimes it seems pointless to go adding anything more. But of course it's not, anymore than it's pointless to have children.

Rick - lol

10/15/2014 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Or rather, both are pointless, but only if you think life is meaningless anyway.

10/15/2014 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Back when I was a self-styled existentialist, I really didn't want children. It's a natural corollary. Why bring another sucker into this meaningless place? Ideas really do have consequences; for my son, nearly fatal ones.

10/15/2014 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I might add that children are one of the best teachers that existentialism cannot possibly be true.

10/15/2014 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yep. Importantly, I think it works especially well when you are raising some. Every day is a surprise.

10/15/2014 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It's no wonder that those who don't actually believe there are any metaphysical mysteries or miracles or revelations cannot appreciate them.
Even when it happens right under their upheld, snooty noses.

They think their noses, rather than the books of Moses will lead them to the promised land.

10/16/2014 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"It is almost too content rich to digest and yet at the same time I hunger for more.

And that's a good thing."

Aye, that's been my experience too, EbonyRaptor.
And I cooncur, thatis a good thing.

10/16/2014 04:14:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Yes, since they meet the qualification of conferring unusual levels of total acceptance. They said I was much better live than in writing, which surprised me."

Maybe because they can't read the nuance in your writing.
I mean, raccoons can see it but others can't unless you're live I reckon.

10/16/2014 04:22:00 AM  

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