Saturday, May 09, 2009

Darwinian Delusions and the Codifying of Unintelligence

So, during an idle moment I briefly googled myself last night, and was somewhat surprised to learn that even some people on our side don't like me. And I guess a lot more would simply dismiss me as a crank if only I were more well known. I suppose I shouldn't actually be surprised, since I'm guessing that a lot of the "religious right" would see me as a new ager, or a dangerous gnostic, or a kooky cultist, or something like that. (Schuon once said something to the effect of "the people we like, tend not to like us; and the people we do not like, like us." I can relate, because I don't think Schuon would like me very much.)

One person wrote that "I dislike Gagdad Bob’s stuff. The essay to which you’ve linked provides a good example of my reasons. It’s discursive, incoherent, and unbearably pompous; reading such a thing all the way to the end should entitle the reader to an award for endurance. While speaking of why he’s not peddling his self-aggrandizement out in the world, he postures as an Anything Authority behind the thin cover of a nom de plume.... Give me a plainspoken man who can focus, make his point, and shut up."

Another person wrote that my writing "was harder than hell to follow, but I think I agree with what Bob is saying. He actually is quite good with ideas, but I think is afflicted by the same malediction that I am: the curse of the incessant rambler. This means that while his ideas are excellent, he struggles mightily to communicate them to others."

Or this one: "I am as exasperated sometimes by Gagdad Bob as you are. The original Teflon therapist. So used to being needed too much by hurting people that he overvalues his own opinions when they are really no more than just another searching sinner's notes along the way..."

Nevertheless, a compliment: "he's still good entertainment. Plenty of narcissistic jerks are good for diversion... "

Let's see: discursive, incoherent, unbearably pompous, authoritarian, convoluted, unfocused, rambling, needy, grandiose, narcissistic jerk. And that's just my friends!

The "funny" thing is that I try to be the opposite of these badjectives. To a certain extent, any lack of total coherence has to do with the nature of the subject, which can never be contained, only approached and orbited (at least with words).

I do want to be provocative, but never for its own sake. Rather, in order to talk about God, a little destruction is always necessary -- i.e., some disassembly required. This is because the lower mind has to somehow be bypassed, so that it doesn't imagine it has contained or saturated the subject. Why do you think Jesus spoke in parables? After all, he was the Word, and yet, his own words are often "vague" and "ambiguous." And he was careful not to leave a paper trail, for what do you suppose people would have done with it? They would have undoubtedly confused his words with the Word to which they point, i.e., himself.

Sorry for being so rambly. But I was thinking of this while selecting this oldie from two years ago. I mean, as far as I am concerned, it's a model of clarity that makes religion accessible to the intelligent person who is stuck-on-smart, and thinks he has to leave his mind outside the door if he wants to be religious. And never confuse pomposity with fine insultainment, nor frivolous humor with guffah-HA! experiences.

Oh well. On to the post;

One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and of our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world never measure up to the real range of our intelligence. Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing. Among all the intelligences of this world the human spirit alone is capable of objectivity, and this implies -- or proves -- that what confers on our intelligence the power to accomplish to the full what it can accomplish, and what makes it wholly what it is, is the Absolute alone. --Schuon

Atheists like to say that it is not incumbent upon them to prove that God doesn't exist. Rather, the burden is on believers to prove that he does. But since the vast majority of human beings are and always have been believers, I would turn the question around and ask, how is it that the atheist is so much stronger and intelligent than the rest of us, able to fearlessly overcome his own genetic programming and look reality straight in the eye, with no comforting delusions?

Of course, if our religiosity is genetically hardwired into us -- having been selected by nature to help adapt us to unreality or unadapt us to reality -- the atheist's strange ability to transcend it doesn't exactly speak well of the discipline of evolutionary psychology. Rather, it is more of an undiscipline, because it can't even control its own unruly causality.

Oh well. Better to faithfully hew to an incoherent absurdity than cede an inch to a coherent one such as religion. As Berlinksi points out, the philosophy of scientism always ends up turning on itself and consuming its own. The head dies first, followed by the heart (or is it the other way around?). As a result of this devolution -- in which the higher dies to the lower -- we're left with Homo crapiens, the deconstructing ape (also known as Tenured Man, for whom cynicism is the highest truth. He cannot see a simple truth because he has no vision, only revision).

This all goes to the fact that the bonehead atheist or doctrinaire Darwinian denies the sufficient reason for man's intelligence. In short, the Darwinian must either plead that there is no explanation for a miraculous intelligence that infinitely surpasses the needs of survival (i.e., eating, mating, and publishing academic drivel); or that we don't actually know any real truth, so that our vaunted intelligence is really a form of arrogant and self-deluded stupidity. But if either of these scenarios are true, it is again difficult to comprehend how nature has somehow produced these atheistic Superapes, or big know-nothing-at-alls.

It's really quite simple, and don't let these cunning sophists try to tell you otherwise: if metaphysical Darwinism is true, it can't be; and if man can know Truth, then natural selection cannot fully explain his existence. Thus, "If intelligence is the capacity to discern 'substances' through 'accidents' or independently of them, 'concretism' can only be described as a kind of philosophical codifying of unintelligence" (Schuon).

It reminds me of a skit I once heard on the radio, involving a man who was so irritated by being placed on hold by a receptionist, that he struggled and broke through its "barrier," back on the line. The receptionist kept placing him on hold, but with sheer force of will, he kept breaking through anyway. Now, natural selection has placed all of us on hold for eternity, and Reality isn't taking any calls. And yet, the Darwinian fights his way through his genes and manages to speak to (and for) the boss, i.e., Truth.

Let us remind ourselves just what is the scope of human intelligence: through it, man is able to reconcile himself to the Infinite, the Absolute, the Eternal. Man's intelligence cannot be surpassed by any potentially "higher" intelligence, for it is already potentially total, which is to say, adequate or proportioned to the Real.

In fact, if we didn't partake of this absolute intellect, we couldn't even know of the relative, which is why, ironically, the cynicism and skepticism of the bonehead atheist is living proof of the transcendent Absolute: "even in their blasphemy they praise him." The intellect may know the principle because it sees the appearances. The profane mind reduces everything to appearances, but then eliminates the principial That of which they are a manifestation, leaving these smirking cats without so much as a Cheshire to back it up.

(As always, we are speaking of the intellect, the nous, not the empirical, or merely logical, ego: "The intellect knows through its very substance all that is capable of being known and, like the blood flowing through even the tiniest arteries of the body, it traverses all the egos of which the universe is woven and opens out 'vertically' on the Infinite" [Schuon].)

Being that I believe human beings are in the image of the Creator, this is hardly a surprise to me (only a perpetual shock), nor is it a problem for my metaphysics. But for the Darwinian, it can only represent a miracle, pure and simple -- again, unless we can't actually know truth, then it's not a problem. But if that were true, then we also couldn't know the truth of Darwinism, so the argument is self-defeating. Scientism devours yet another immature mind.

If the sorry Homo saps sophering from materialitis and reductionosis were correct, our transcendent intelligence would have no cause and no explanation. Oddly, we would have this vast intelligence corresponding to... nothing instead of everything (and make no mistake, it's either one or the other, being that the ontological gap between Truth and Falsehood is infinite; 2+2 cannot kinda sorta be 4 -- it either is or isn't).

Obviously, no other animal has an intelligence that infinitely exceeds the necessities of survival. Rather, whatever intelligence they possess is easily reduced to its sufficient cause located somewhere in the environment, i.e., survival needs. But what is the sufficient cause of poetry, art, humor, music? Of mathematical truth, aesthetic truth, metaphysical truth? As I said in the Summa Coonologica, these are "luxury capacities" that are as different from animal intelligence as life is from matter.

To quote Arthur Koestler, "[T]he evolution of the human brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is also the only example of evolution producing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use; a luxury organ, which will take its owner thousands of years to learn how to put to proper use -- if he ever does."

And luxury is an apt word, for it is a kind of extravagant, or de-luxe Light placed in the middle of nowhere. As the zoologist and science writer Matt Ridley put it, there is simply no conventional scientific way to "understand how a costly investment in big brains today may be justified by cultural riches tomorrow."

In fact, there is a certain structural similarity between science and religion, to the extent that both are systematic forms of understanding a world or "plane" of phenomena. In both cases, there is a transitional, generative space that exists between something capable of "revealing" itself and our contemplation of it. Theology has the identical deep structure of science, only on a higher plane that ultimately shades off into pure metaphysics, or those necessary truths which cannot not be -- and without which the real but strictly limited truth of Darwinism could not be either.

Science has what you might call a "written revelation" and an "oral revelation." The written revelation is simply the Cosmos, the World, physical reality, or whatever you want to call it. It is the Object which was here before we arrived, and to which we are Subject. Science -- the evolving "oral tradition" -- takes place in the space between the exterior Object and our own interior Subject, whose intelligence mysteriously conforms to the Object on so many levels that it's positively uncanny -- as if the one were a deep reflection of the other.

Which of course it is. I have no problem with that, which is why I have no problem with scientific or any other kind of truth. The question is, why does the atheist have such a problematic relationship to truth? Must be a genetic defect, I suppose.

When unintelligence joins with passion to prostitute logic, it is impossible to escape a mental satanism which destroys the very basis of intelligence and truth.... When a man has no "visionary" -- as opposed to discursive -- knowledge of Being, and when he thinks only with his brain instead of "seeing" with the heart, all his logic will be useless to him, since he starts from an initial blindness.... Closing itself, above, to the light of the intellect, it opens itself, below, to the darkness of the subconscious. --F. Schuon


walt said...

"Sorry for being so rambly..."

A few days ago, you mentioned the distinction of "homesteader and wanderer." You have said you like movement, improv, jazz, and are easily bored. It's not like you hide it.

I am more of a homesteader: I like building things, growing food, and have an admiration of roots. Should I therefore discount what you have to say?

Important, I think, to live independent of the "good opinion" of others!

Gagdad Bob said...

You're right. It's definitely a jazz thing. Frankly, that's part of the reason for the made-up words. They say that jazz is "the sound of surprise." So one way I try to avoid cliches and saturated language is by tossing in a few linguistic surprises along the way. If you listen to, say, Thelonious Monk or Sonny Rollins, they do this all the time.

julie said...

I was thinking that, too - if they don't like you, they're probably not fond of jazz either.

One man's "discursive, incoherent, and unbearably pompous" slog is another (wo)man's early morning brain limbering light reading. To each his own...

julie said...

Okay, I'm diverging already, but bear with me; I blame the fact that I haven't been able to breathe properly through my nose in several days, and my attention span is shrinking from squirrely to gnat-like. Also, Bob's rambling is contagious. Yeah, that's it....

I just came across this observation:

"it really comes down to two fundamentally different ways of looking at the world: If one guy can’t make it somewhere, then nobody’s really guaranteed to get it done anywhere; and, if one guy can do something somewhere, then anyone else can do the same thing anywhere."

and while he was talking more about horizontal success, it struck me as being a corollary with what Fr. Lazarus was saying in the video BPM linked yesterday regarding the value of prayer (paraphrasing, "One hour of prayer is worth more than a lifetime of good works.") and the meaning of his vocation (dwelling in a cave next to St. Anthony's and praying for mankind). It simply serves as a reminder that if one man can realize his deustination, then all men can.

Or something.

Quin Finnegan said...

I've certainly enjoyed checking in on this blog over the last year or more. You definitely cast a wide net, which is one of the things I like. I picked up the book, and confess that I didn't like it as much.

I wonder if the blog format works better for you for the same reasons you describe for jazz "working" the way it does.

The opinions of others can also be flat out wrong. "Unbearably pompous"? Where's an example of that? "Self-aggrandizement?" I just don't see it.

If you haven't read him already, I do think you'd appreciate the works of Girard (Baille is a nice introduction, but Girard's own stuff is especially good). Kierkegaard is also a must, if you haven't read him - especially on "subjectivity". Regarding the gnostic trend in your writing, there's certainly a wealth of orthodox material out there. Personally, I prefer the mystic moments in Augustine and Aquinas to the entire book of Eckhart.

Thanks for all of your own reading tips - I've discovered the Meditations, Schuon, and a lot of great music through your site.

julie said...

And then, there's this:

"In life, we constantly make decisions whether we are going to please self or please God. (Frost) chose one path, and the school committee chose the other."

I'm guessing these guys would really not like you, Bob.

(Yep, gnatlike attention span.)

Jim said...

Where you said"The "funny" thing is that I try to be the opposite of these badjectives" It brought to mind the ability of some hurtful people to home in on prexactally what our soft spots are, the things we particularly try to avoid doing or being and hurl those at us, simply to hurt.

Let not your soul be troubled for you trully are doing His work here below. You are the primary reason I found the correct church for my needs, for which I shall be eternally grateful.

julie said...

Give me a plainspoken man who can focus, make his point, and shut up.

The original Teflon therapist.

...discursive, incoherent, unbearably pompous, authoritarian, convoluted, unfocused, rambling, needy, grandiose, narcissistic jerk.

These all just kind of give me the giggles, by the way. Anyone with eyes to see knows that none of that is true.

Right, that's probably enough from me this morning...

Joan of Argghh! said...

I totally get that verbal deconstruction gig you've been blessed/saddled with. I think Jesus was a jazzie, too, what with the old, "before Abraham was, I AM" conundrum he threw out to the people standing just beyond the ring of pharaisees expecting to hear something focused and direct.

Personally, on my deathbed I hope to hear, "she's not dead, she's sleeping" from those incomparable jazz stylings.

Wake me, don't bake me, Lord. Oh yeah.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Jazz is a joke. If you get the joke, you're in, and no velvet-rope ape can keep you out.

Robin Starfish said...

b'ob the rambling man
out mavericks the gray suits
surfing safari

Van said...

Hmmm... given the choice between hanging out and having a grog with one of the two,

"You Like meee... you reeeally liiike meee!!!


"You don't like me? You really don't like me? Huh."

Yeah... I'm going with the later.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh #2please



Anonymous said...

Theofilia is multitasking today mega-time whilst trying (also) to make Van laugh for change (last day's blog)... Whatdya know, eh?

Patting self on the back:)


Anonymous said...

Theofilia is multitasking today mega-time whilst trying (also) to make Van laugh for change (last day's blog)... Whatdya know, eh?

Patting self on the back:)


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good riffs always throw the twitterbaited crowd for a loop.

Skully said...

"I do want to be provocative, but never for its own sake. Rather, in order to talk about God, a little destruction is always necessary -- i.e., some disassembly required."

There's nothin' like some good Bobolition to bring down da house.

walt said...

Hey, Ben!

Folks been missing you!

julie said...

Yes, they have. Ben, if I could I'd give you a great big hug. I hope you're doing alright.

On another note, I like the new Schuon quote, Bob. There was a point once, way back when, where I was looking up a definition for some arcane and archaic term (possibly also rewordgitated), thinking that there must be some easier way for you to say what you were saying. Then when I found it, I realized you were actually using the simplest expression you could.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Walt n' Julie (n' Van, got yer msg)!
Thankfully, I'm good to go now. :^)

Anonymous said...

Van? he-he-ha-ha?


w.v. niseria
traveled there once in an out of body experience but that be a story for another time....too be cont.....

julie said...

This has got to be one of the best Mother's Day presents ever.

Anonymous said...

I'm a long time reader here, and frequent commentor under the anonymous banner, and I can say that I love you, Bob, in an ungay manner although I am a man.

There is something noble in your dedication to this blog. I don't always agree with what you say, but do detect your genuine good will towards mankind and there is something very fine, very loving there.

Your obvious tenderness towards your son reveals you true character.

You are a unique writer, very talented, and I must say that your rate of grammatical errors is low and and general level of editing is very high. Not many can squeeze out that amount of verbiage with such precision. It is a feat worthy of some recognition.

In scholarship you excell in your wide scope although you can't be said to be a specialist in other than UF, Bion and Schuon. Your facility with Aurobindo is appreciated.

Your most irksome, yet somehow endearing trait, is your obsession with atheists and leftists. I am an addict, and I know obsession when I see it. You have the disease of addiction, and it takes a very strange form. Your readers are all enabling you as codependents, because none are willing to stand up and say, "Sir, you repeat yourself endlessly. Whyfore do you do this?"

Ah, so be be it. You are, as they say, the bomb, Mr. Godwin. God bless.

hoarhey said...


You may be an addict but are you able to recognize manipulative codependency when you see it?


ximeze said...

OMG Bakon Vodka

Oh, Skullleeee...

walking stick said...

Van said (sic),

Hmmm... given the choice between hanging out and having a grog with one of the two,

"You Like meee... you reeeally liiike meee!!!


"You don't like me? You really don't like me? Huh."

Yeah... I'm going with the later.
So when does your "later" bus arrive Van? Good luck on your decision to turn your self-endowed tenure in for some old-school hard knocks. We'll think of you often. The "comments" section will be drastically shorter for your leaving. But as Bob's just pointed out, where's the challenge in preaching to the choir? So glad to hear of your progress. Bye now. Goodbye. Bye. Adios.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Walking Stick, don't be silly!

Soldier Sam said...

Anon 9:25,

You could say The Son was pretty obsessed with all that right and wrong business, unbelievers and snake oil salesmen.

If Bob were to cede one inch to the Legion, they would surely take it. And march on. And let me tell you, the inch Bob commands is one really big shoo. Pray this blog doesn’t fall.

“I’m Spartacus!”

Ricky Raccoon said...


Good to see you. I shoulda figured you’d be holding the night watch.

Happy Mother’s Day, ladies.


Ricky Raccoon said...

This post is one of those “hand-ups”. Very full of immediate use, cuts out the condiments. It reminds me of that earth shattering thing you said once...never forget it, “Either God exists, or he doesn’t.” I half-expected to see it in this post.
Also, I might add, the object (which is the post and its “point”) is also the very proof of its subject (the author and his “point”).
Now, how is that possible? Some tricky set o’ genes.

Anonymous said...

Loyal Reader for several years now and the way you dissect and explain ideas is phenomenal. When you blog on a daily basis I guess anyone could accuse you of rambling, but your rambling is definitely extraordinary and I have never had a more rewarding reading experience than on this site.

I first discovered this site via a link on another site and the other blogger's selling point for your site was "Visit One Cosmos - Your Brain Will Thank You"

It's been almost 3 years and I totally agree with that statement.

Van said...

Hmmm... I see Mothers Day has stirred up the tender feelings in our aninnymesses.

Oh my... swear,


Van said...

('Loyal Reader' not meant to be included in my last comment)

baldilocks said...

The chronically lazy will not "get" you. When I'm feeling lazy, I stay away.

baldilocks said...

And they'll blame you for it.

Buzz said...

I also suffer from becoming easily bored (I chalk it up to an INTP curse/getting too caught up in horizontal pursuits).

It was said that the mind loses interest in things to the degree that it comprehends them.
The Atheist mind bars the door and seals up the windows in order to better study every aspect of the confined space that it occupies. In reality it has locked itself into an ever confining prison of understanding, a hell of its own design.

It most likely wasn't so bad for the early adopters. There were plenty of nicks in the walls and rust on the bars to catalog back then. I can't imagine Darwin himself being life's wet blanket in the same way Maher or Queeg have become.

Unfortunately, as vertical knowledge has become persona-non-grata in our public education system, the boredom is hardly confined to the scientistic community. How many of us have witnessed to the zeal for life displayed by "uneducated" kids in impoverished nations and compared it to the vacant stares of our own enlightened and facebook-tethered young? (In an interview several years back, Miyazaki had commented on this. He considered it a serious issue in Japan and tried to use his films to counteract it.)