Saturday, February 27, 2010

What is Man that the Genome is Mindful of Him?

Well, time for one more post before I take off. Don't tell the new readers that it's a repost from last year...

In Wolfgang Smith's The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology, he discusses the distinction between the corporeal world -- i.e., the real human world that we can see, touch, hear, and taste -- vs. the merely physical world that is abstracted from the former.

The corporeal universe is "the world to which human sense perception gives access. And this is indeed our world; the world in which we find ourselves. This corporeal universe, moreover, is in fact the only objective world which our human faculties -- sensory and mental -- allow us to know."

In contrast, the physical universe is the "described universe," as seen through the lenses of our abstract descriptions. It is at least once removed from the corporeal world, and is irreducibly subjective.

Take, for example, the subatomic world: is it composed of waves or particles? It all depends upon how we look at it, or the questions we ask. Science is a systematic way to interrogate nature, so nature, like any good witness, will give its answers in conformity to the question.

Or, you could say that a scientific theory is like a net that we cast out over the ocean of being. It will catch certain facts, while others will either slip through the net or tear it to shreds. And others facts are swimming so deep below the surface, that the net can't extend that far (to say nothing of the winged facts that soar and glide in the atmansphere above).

Smith says what amounts to the same thing: "The physicist, it turns out, is not simply an observer, but a creator of secondary realities: he observes by creating, one could almost say."

However, this is not creation ex nihilo; it doesn't mean, as many new agers suggest, that the world is somehow entirely subjective, and that we "create reality" through perception. Rather, it is a much more subtle process, which I believe is most adequately described by Michael Polanyi, in particular, by his theory of tacit knowing and the distinction between subsidiary and focal knowledge.

Timelessness doesn't permit me a full evasion this morning, but Polanyi beautifully explains how scientific progress is only possible because of the human ability to simultaneously discover and create the world.

It sounds paradoxical, but it really isn't. Our scientific abstractions are analogous to the cane of a blind man, which he uses to "probe the dark" and construct a model of his surroundings. In so doing, where is the reality: in the solid matter touched by the cane, or the model he tacitly constructs in his head? Obviously it's a kind of dialectic, an ongoing interaction between the two. But the blind man obviously doesn't pay conscious attention the bare sensation of the cane against his hand. Rather, those sensations become (subsidiary) support for the (focal) interior map he creates.

Does this mean there are two worlds, or that our corporeal world is somehow an "effect" of the physical world? Think about it. Physicists describe a subatomic world that is shockingly different than the corporeal world, so much so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to see how they relate. To cite one obvious example, the simple act of willing my hand to make a fist has causes all the subatomic particles that supposedly constitute my hand to alter their courses, in such a way that the relatively crude model of physics is powerless to account for how it happens.

But the problem is only a result of a reductionism that inverts the cosmos and conflates the physical and corporeal worlds -- as if the quantum world is corporeal and not simply an abstraction. But "all knowledge of the external world begins in the perceptible realm: deny the perceptible object, and nothing external remains.... Contrary to what we have been taught in schools and universities, real tables are not 'made of molecules'" (Smith). No one can actually surf on a wave function, any more than you can feel the intentions of a selfish gene.

Now, what goes for physics goes for biology. Obviously, Darwinism does not explain man; rather, I think we can all agree that man explains Darwinism. That much is self-evident, except perhaps to metaphysical Darwinians, who put the genetic cart before the organismic horse, i.e., the physical before the corporeal. Humans are no more "made of genes" than this table is "made of atoms" or my consciousness is "made of neurons." Ironically, consciousness is not just "part" of the corporeal world, but its very essence, for what could be more concrete than awareness of your own being? You are fundamentally aware of being, not electrons or genes.

Once we invert the cosmos and reinstate our proper orientation, we understand its Reason. As DeKoninck writes, "The being in which resides the end of the cosmos must be both immobile and cosmic; both spirit and matter must be found in it, its essence must be composed of a spiritual principle which integrates the cosmos."

Thus, "Man is manifestly the raison d'être of the whole of nature," the "end of all possible natural forms." Indeed, "every natural form tends toward man." Furthermore, "nature could not be ordered to God except through man. God being the end of the universe, it is necessary that the universe be capable of a return to its Universal Principle. But only an intellectual creature is capable of such a return.... In other words, only a creature capable of making a tour of being can return to the source of being" (emphasis mine). So,

Life is the meaning of matter, that to which matter points and converges upon. Similarly, Mind is the meaning of Life, that to which it points. And now we realize the meaning of our very existence, that to which it has always been pointing and converging upon: the Unity of Reality. Once again, by turning the cosmos upside down, ultimate meaning is found not at its material base but its immaterial summit.... Only then do we find out what we are made of -- a Divine substance that has returned to itSelf, even though it never really left in the first place. --The Book of Toots

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Cosmically Infrahuman Agenda of the Proglodyte Left

This is kind of a longish post -- gosh! -- but that's on purpose, since it may have to hold you bobbleheads for awhile. I'll be indisposed for a few days for a memorial for my recently departed father-in-law. It's what he wouldn't have wanted -- he was a passionate atheist -- but we're doing it anyway just to spite him. Carrying out his actual wishes was just too impractical: pouring his ashes into the gearbox of the Popemobile.

This is also a repost, since I'm pressed for time. But it's full of fine insultainment, so it should provoke the anonymi into their usual fits of lashing out at truth and reality.... Plus it has the usual editing to weed out heresies and bring it up to current standards of metaphysical comedy.

Another universal trinity as it pertains to man's vertical development is that of purification --> realization --> union (even though it is not exactly a linear process, since each is holographically in the others; in other words, purification is a kind of realization and union, etc.).

Perhaps these three phases can also tell us something about our collective history, which -- let's face it -- is either a process that is leading somewhere, or just horizontal randomness onto which we superimpose fanciful patterns.

Obviously I believe the former is true; and in fact, one of man's prerogatives -- one of the things that defines him as Man -- is the ability to think historically. In other words, prior to this or that particular history is the intuition of absolute history itself. We could not understand any history if we weren't embedded in this total cosmic-historical drama.

Speaking of which, Dupree alerted me to the most appallingly fatuous piece of scientistic gobbledygook on dailykos the other day. If anyone wants to know why I so despise the secular left -- why it is the mortal enemy of the Coon way of life -- perusing this infrahuman dispatch from the bowels of metaphysical ignorance and tenure would serve as well as any, for it reveals the ultimate premise and goal of the left in all its hideously naked barbarity, which is to turn man into a beast. Entitled Science Friday: You Are Not That Special, it reads,

"a pair of recent articles point up the folly of making tool use the test of humanity. It appears that chimpanzees had their own 'stone age.' Around the same time the pyramids were being constructed in Egypt, Chimps in West Africa were using stone tools to get at hard-shelled nuts. It's not only chimpanzees of the past who use tools. It's long been known that some bands of modern chimps use sticks to tease insects from their hives."

There, you see? This ignoramus looks at the vast panorama of creation and concludes that one of the seven wonders of the world is indistinguishible from a hungry monkey cracking open a nut. By this logic, Kos himself is nothing more than a grubby chimp poking his little joystick into a cyberhole to satisfy his animal impulses. Which, of course, is entirely true, but that's beside the point.

The beast in question then asks,

"how can you draw the line between us and them? Emotions? Language? The answer is that you can't. There are no lines. Deeply unsatisfying as it is to the desire to group items into black and white (a tendency also not limited to humans), all the answers of science are grey."

Oh, really? What could be more black and white than suggesting that there is absolutely no distinction between animals and human beings? For example, even my dog knows better than this. Frankly she is in awe of Dear Leader and his magical powers -- indeed, even of Future Leader and the mysterious Trail of Food he leaves in his wake.

This somehow omniscient kosmonkey then presumes to inform humans -- but how would he know? -- that "Your species is not that special. Reading the text of paleontology and history, there is no bold message of certainty. Winding back the clock reveals no inexorable march in our direction, or even the triumph of 'better' over 'worse'.... [H]uman history has been defined as much by fortuitous placement of natural resources as it has been by human action. You're the tail end of the tail end of a process that much more closely resembles random chance than progress toward an objective."

Furtherless, "Your world is not that special. Your planet is not located at the center of the universe. Neither is your star, or your galaxy. Perhaps most disturbing at all, as telescopes have revealed to us the enormity of space, both astronomy and geology have revealed the breathless expanse (sic) of time. We are not just insignificantly small items living in a vast ocean of space; we're living in a moment so brief that it's barely a single tick of a clock that's already run through millennia without us, and will not pause when we are gone."

I don't mean to dwell on this moronic diatribe, but it is important. Don't worry, we're almost done. He concludes on a bizarre note, by assuring us that

"No, you are not that special. And yet, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable. Your species is a wonder, gifted with physical and mental resources that provide boundless opportunity. Your planet is a wonder, swarming with life in infinite variety and complexity. Your universe is a wonder, based on laws so precisely balanced that the slightest variation in any of them might have caused everything -- space, time, and everything that moves through both -- to never have appeared."

Let's de-deconstruct this confused and vacuous elegy to nothingness for just a moment, since it does such a fine job of articulating the satanic agenda of the left, and presents such a perfect mirror image of reality, so that everything is precisely backwards and upside down.

According to Valentin Tomberg, all evolutionary progress in the vertical is accompanied by a sort of shadow version in the lower vertical. (Catholics know full well, for example, that the shadow of evil unavoidably entered the church with its inception; or one could go back to Genesis, in which man's very self-awareness co-arises with knowledge of Death, as it must.)

Will has referred to this as the "ape of God" -- not "ape" in the animal sense, but in terms of aping, or imitating. It would be perfectly accurate to say -- and all true theologians know this -- that leftism itself is the ape of the primordial doctrine. It is not analogous to, say, paganism, which, as Will has pointed out, had its role in the arc of salvation. After all, religion had to start somewhere, as does any developmental process. It only becomes pathological if the developmental process becomes arrested, if there is a regression to the earlier mode, or if there is a "fixation" or a "complex" -- a closed and bounded area that does not enter the stream of development, but becomes "stuck" in exactly the manner of a mind parasite.

In other words, a human being can be quite developed in certain areas but completely fixated in others. One thinks of Alan Watts who, on the one hand, could speak so eloquently and charismatically about matters of spirit, but on the other, was an alcoholic with a masochistic spanking fixation.

(This is a topic for a different post, but it is possible to provoke an influx of spiritual energy before one is prepared -- i.e., to have realization prior to sufficient purification -- which can severely unbalance the personality, because it's as if everything gets infused with the Force, mind parasites included. Hence all of the warnings against jumping onto the path unprepared or without guidance. Nor do I mean to single out Watts, for one could cite dozens of examples.)

You will note, for example, how deeply flawed were certain heroes of the Old Testament -- David comes to mind, or even a secular hero such as Alexander the Great. These men had a critical civilizing mission to accomplish, and behavior that was perfectly acceptable in Phase I of the Arc of Salvation would be entirely unacceptable in Phases II or III. We are called to a much higher moral standard, but let us never forget that the gulf between animal-man and Phase I man was probably even greater than the distance between Phases II and III.

In his context, David is as great a man as any who has ever lived. Who knows, perhaps even Mohammed can be better understood in this context, since his task involved the evolution of the nomadic animal-men of the Arab world into Phase I. Islam began moving toward Phase II some 700 years ago, but then pulled back for a variety of reasons. And now they wish to re-impose Phase I on the rest of the world, completely halting its evolutionary progress.

Back to leftism. It is not not just a fixation, a regression, or an arrested mode of development. Rather, it is in every respect a parallel, or "shadow" of principial truth. Let us review the sinister faith of the bipedal kosmonkey referenced above:

1) Man is an animal, fundamentally no different than any other.

2) Values are an illusion; nothing is actually any better than anything else (e.g., the Giza Pyramid is a stick in an ant hole and Shakespeare is Maureen Dowd).

3) Emotion and language -- or heart and head, meaning and truth -- cannot actually exist in any intrinsically human sense. My dog knowing where to poop or when it's time for a walk is fundamentally no different than the theory of relativity.

4) Nothing can be known with certainty, which is simply another way of saying that nothing may be known except falsehood -- which is no knowledge at all.

5) Cluelessly ironic though it may be for a "progressive" to say, there is actually no direction in history, no objective standard of measurement, no better or worse. Our unique Western values have nothing whatsoever to do with our extraordinary "success" as a culture. As that other fourteen-karat boob, Jared Diamond, has argued, it's just a matter of geography, disease, and fortuitous placement of natural resources.

6) There is no intrinsic meaning in the cosmos, much less in your life -- which is simply a tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a cushy lifetime gig at taxpayer's expense.

7) The secular leftist takes an appallingly violent wrecking ball to the entire realm of the vertical, in that not only are you not special, but you are insignificantly small. Furthermore, the world is not special -- which of course makes us wonder -- but not really -- why all these leftists cheer the fanatical message of Al Gore, which is obviously premised on the doctrinal truth that the earth is of infinite importance; here again, a fine example of the "ape of God."

8) Neither human beings nor the planet are at the center of the universe, since there is by definition no center once the vertical has been demolished by tenured monkeys with sticks.

Again, the correct doctrine is that of course human beings are at the very center of the cosmic drama if viewed vertically. The center of a three-dimensional cone is a line that descends from the point to the base, not anything located along the base. Reduced from three to two dimensions, we are left with only a circle at the base. This is the self-imposed "circle of hell" inhabited by the the secular left, which they -- no different than the Islamists -- would like to impose upon the rest of us.

No, we're not done, because once the leftist has annihilated the vertical -- which is Job One for the left -- he performs a bait and switch, inserting the horizontal values of the left into the hole he has created with his clumsy monkey stick. This is where the "ape of God" comes into play. Some leftists are more slick and clever than others -- i.e., Obama or the Clintons -- but the kosmonkey is not subtle, to say the least. In one sentence he declares,

1) No, you are not that special.

And then, in the very next sentence, 2) Yes, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable!

As you folks with a rudimentary grasp of logic will have noticed, there is no way to derive (2) from (1), the eternal yes of life, love, hope, meaning, truth and beauty from the NO! of abject nihilism.

But here your troubles have only just begun, because -- to paraphase someone -- hell is the place where logic is rendered null and void, as in a Kafka novel, or the Keith Olbermann show. I will just end with something I wrote a while back, and let you draw your own conclusions:

"As Scott summarizes him, Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftist thought in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection.

"The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation. This materialistic skepticism is then combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind.

"However, being that the moral impulse remains in place, there is no longer any boundary or channel for it. One sees this, for example, in college students (and those permanent college students known as professors) who, in attempting to individuate from parental authority and define their own identities, turn their intense skepticism against existing society, denouncing it as morally shoddy, artificial, hypocritical, and a mere mask for oppression and exploitation. In other words, as the philosopher Voegelin explained it, the vertical is 'immamentized' into the present, expressing the same religious faith but in wholly horizontal and materialistic terms.

"What results is a moral hatred of existing society and the resultant alienation of the postmodern leftist intellectual. Having condemned the distinction between good and evil as dishonest, such an individual can at least find pride in the unblinking 'honesty' of their condemnation. Since ordinary decent behavior can never be safe against suspicion of sheer conformity or downright hypocrisy, only an amoral meaningless act can assure complete authenticity. This is why, to a leftist, the worst thing you can call someone is a hypocrite, whereas authentic depravity is celebrated in art, music, film, and literature. It is why, for example, leftist leaders all over the world were eager to embrace a nihilistic mass murderer such as Yasser Arafat, or why they so adore the anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-capitalist thug Hugo Chavez."

Let us stipulate that we are engaged in a cosmic struggle between human beings and monkeys with sticks, newspapers, academy awards, Supreme Court seats, UN resolutions, suicide bombs, tenure, and more. Choose sides wisely. It's up to you, but my advice is to choose the side for which the possiblity of genuine spiritual wisdom exists, and to steer clear of the side that ecstatically thrashes it to dust with its primitive tools.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On Economic, Intellectual, Spiritual and Political Bubbles

We all know that there are economic bubbles that inevitably burst and punish investors for their irrational exuberance and willing suspension of disbelief about the laws of economics.

In fact, it seems that these bubbles are not so much built into the free market system as built into man, since we have more or less averaged about one per generation over the past two or three centuries. Thus, the "law of the economic bubble" is a painful lesson that each generation must learn anew.

I'm not an economist, but it seems to me that a bubble occurs when price outruns value, and it bursts when price returns to value, i.e., its actual worth. In 2006, the price of my house was absurdly higher than its value. In fact, even now its price is too high, but that's California for you.

But this is not a post about economics; or perhaps we could say that it is about "psycho-spiritual economics," for what I would like to suggest is that what occurs in economics reflects a deeper principle, and that there also exist intellectual and spiritual bubbles that eventually burst and send their investors hurtling to the ground.

To cite the most recent dramatic example, the climate change industry has been revealed to be a classic intellectual bubble. As with economic bubbles, its worth as a scientific theory became absurdly overvalued, to the point that more and more outrageous claims were required to prop it up. People were willing to pay the price, so long as the illusion of value was maintained. But since the bubble has burst, intellectuals who invested heavily in it are left holding penny stocks that even then no one will buy, for they are essentially worthless.

Most people are not scientists, just as they are not economists. Therefore, they rely on economic advisors to tell them how and where to invest, and they rely on science to tell them "what to believe," i.e., where to invest their credence. But science itself becomes a classic bubble when it morphs into scientism, because it pretends to know things it not only cannot know, but can never know in principle. And because man is everywhere man, this is when science begins taking on all of the trappings of a primitive and poorly thought out, ad hoc religion.

Darwinism is another example of a classic bubble. Obviously the theory of natural selection has some genuine value -- it is hardly worthless -- but nor is it remotely as valuable as its fundamentalist adherents make it out to be, for it is way out in front of its headlights. For the Darwinian faithful, the theory is virtually "priceless," since it explains "everything." It is a totalistic worldview into which the Darwinian invests all of his cognitive and spiritual funds.

But one of the first rules of investment is diversification. You want to invest in a variety of instruments with differing timelines of maturity, depending upon one's stage of life.

In my case, for example, I have some safe, short term investments in science, and some liquidity in the form of common sense and practical wisdom, but the bulk of my longer term investments are in religion, which is unaffected by transient intellectual bubbles (excluding, of course, heretical "manias" that predict the Second Coming, or a new caliphate, or a messiah in the White House, etc.; you might even say that false religions are always spiritual bubbles).

We all understand why it would have been a mistake to ask a man who had all of his holdings in real estate about the health of the real estate market in 2006. Even if he had his doubts, it would be very unlikely that he would broadcast them and place his economic position in peril.

Just so the global warmists. Even before the rest of us, they well understood that their theory -- and their intellectual fortune -- was in peril, so they needed to essentially engage in the sort of thing Enron did -- insist to all of its investors that their money was entirely safe and that the theory was "sound as a dollar." In order to do this, they had to "borrow" truth that did not yet exist. In other words, they used the collateral of their present knowledge to take out loans on future certainty. They assumed that the science would eventually pay off and confirm their intuitions despite the contrary findings.

But they cooked the scientific books in order to take out those intellectual loans, and now that the loans are due, they are in a position of intellectual bankruptcy. In 1995 they assured their creditors that 15 years hence, the planet would be dramatically warmer. This was good enough for the investors. But unfortunately for them, the planet did not cooperate, since there has been no appreciable warming since 1995. This is analogous to a business borrowing millions of dollars based on an economic forecast of a certain amount of profit and growth which fails to materialize.

At that point, the only option is bankruptcy and dissolution. Or a government takeover, which is what is occurring with the warmists. Their theory -- and their industry -- is simply "too big to fail," so now we are in the absurd position of the government not only owning failed automobile companies and banks, but non-viable scientific theories. But a non-viable scientific theory is in many ways indistinguishable from a religion, so the state is in the position of propping up and favoring an established religion, the religion of "radical environmentalism."

Science, just like the free market, is supposed to reward success and punish failure. Thus, under normal circumstances, there are built-in mechanisms of "progress" and "conservation" in both, the former promoting risk, creativity, and leaps of imagination, the latter promoting caution, consolidation, and extraordinary proof for extraordinary claims.

Thus, just as investors should have been skeptical of the extraordinary financial claims of a Bernie Madoff, people should have been far more skeptical of the extraordinary scientific claims of the warmists before investing in the theory. It might have passed as a decent intellectual hedge fund, but certainly not one's core investment.

President Obama is another example of a classic bubble. Why did otherwise sane people invest so much in this cipher? Indeed, why did they ignore all of the evidence that he was absurdly overvalued?

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Evolving Under the Banyan Tree with the Holy Spirit Dangling Down

Man is himself "made in the image of God": only man is such a direct image, in the sense that his form is an "axial" and “ascendant” perfection and his content a totality. Man by his theomorphism is at the same time a work of art and also an artist; a work of art because he is an “image,” and an artist because this image is that of the Divine Artist. Man alone among earthly beings can think, speak and produce works; only he can contemplate and realize the Infinite. --F. Schuon

Some commenters failed to understand my point about Man, -- not this or that man, but Man as Such -- that he cannot evolve further, because he is the end of evolution. As Northern Bandit put it in a comment, we are adequate to the Absolute, and that is as far as you can go -- unless you think you can "be" the Absolute, which is an absurdity on the way to a crime.

Of course this does not preclude such categories as improvement, learning, purification, illumination, union, etc. Again, we are not the Absolute; we only know it. Nor are we (yet) the likeness of God, only the image. I accept the Orthodox view that our own personal evolution, as it were, takes place between image and likeness, or potential and actualization. To put it another way, all men are born with the potential of becoming the likeness, but few people make it all the way. We call them saints, or starets, or mystics.

A few readers will no doubt wonder how this squares with Sri Aurobindo's cosmic evolutionary scheme, but I don't think his views can be wrenched from their Hindu context. We're talking mostly about Christianity here, in which the "descent of the Supermind" has already occurred; we call it the Incarnation, which is the bridge between God and man that assures us that our own little ladder goes all the way to the top floor. In the absence of the descent, we could only ascend so high from the doubthouse to the repenthouse.

I have said before that in my view Aurobindo was (without knowing it) very much "Christianizing" Vedanta, no doubt because of his western education at Cambridge, in which he absorbed not only Christianity and evolutionism (which was all the rage at the time -- and not just the Darwinian kind), but the whole Western canon.

Other methods of yoga are purely "ascending" paths, like, say Plotinus in the West. Only Aurobindo's is a descending, this-worldly path, the goal of which is to "divinize" oneself and creation -- very much analogous to the Christian goal of personal theosis and of redeeming the world. This is not to immamentize the eschaton, in which the distinction between transcendence and immanence is obliterated and man is made God. Rather, it is to live in the dynamic space between them.

And I fully accept Aurobindo's thesis that in order for there to have been an evolution, there must have been a prior involution. This idea is concordant with hermetic Christianity and Kabbalah, and basically means that God is both the ladder and the goal.

Just yesterday I was reading a very clear expression of these ideas in Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church, in which he describes the point at which "Christianity" really began. Was it with the Incarnation? The Transfiguration? The Resurrection? No, not exactly. Those were all cosmically necessary, but not quite humanly sufficient causes. It was with Pentecost, which marks "the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles at Jerusalem.... On that same day through the preaching of St. Peter three thousand men and women were baptized, and the first Christian community at Jerusalem was formed" (emphasis mine).

The preaching that day that was so effective because it embodied a horizontal propagation of the vertical descent into Peter. Absent the descent, his words would have been mere pneumababble with no intrinsic power (or celestial mandate) to convert others.

Have you ever seen a banyan tree, like the ones in Florida, where I'll soon be visiting? It's a very strange tree, in that it sends down filaments from the branches, which descend to the ground and create what looks like another ascending trunk of a separate tree; it's as if the root system is above, not below. No wonder they're considered sacred symbols in India. You might think of the body of Christ as analogous to the banyan tree, which has all the individual "trunks" that are really just part of the single tree descending from above.

Elsewhere, Ware perfectly describes the (↓) (↑) symbols used in my book, as applied to Christianity. He quotes St. Paul's statement about Christ sharing "our poverty (↓) that we might share the riches of His divinity (↑)." This process of man's gradual divinization is called theosis:

"No one less than God can save humanity; therefore if Christ is to save, He must be God. But only if He is truly human, as we are, can we humans participate in what He has done for us. A bridge is formed between God and humanity by the Incarnate Christ who is divine and human at once."

And here is the money quote, from John 1:51: "Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending (↑) and descending (↓) upon the Son of Man." And as Ware adds, "Not only angels use that ladder, but the human race." (Please note the critical point that when the Third Person of the Trinity Incarnated as a man, he also did so as mankind, otherwise we would have no access to the ladder.)

I think that Schuon was the quintessential humanist, in a way that a secular humanist can by definition never be, since the latter denies any genuine possibility of the (↓) and (↑) that are our lifeline and our salvation. Some of his observations about Man are luminously and beautifully accurate:

"Man is spirit incarnate; if he were only matter, he would be identified with the feet; if he were only spirit, he would be the head, that is, the Sky; he would be the Great Spirit. But the object of his existence is to be in the middle: it is to transcend matter while being situated there, and to realize the light, the Sky, starting from this intermediary level. It is true that the other creatures also participate in life, but man synthesizes them: he carries all life within himself and thus becomes the spokesman for all life, the vertical axis where life opens onto the spirit and where it becomes spirit. In all terrestrial creatures the cold inertia of matter becomes heat, but in man alone does heat become light."

"Man -- insofar as he is distinct from other creatures on earth -- is intelligence; and intelligence -- in its principle and its plenitude -- is knowledge of the Absolute; the Absolute is the fundamental content of the intelligence and determines its nature and functions. What distinguishes man from animals is not knowledge of a tree, but the concept -- whether explicit or implicit -- of the Absolute; it is from this that the whole hierarchy of values is derived, and hence all notion of a homogeneous world. God is the 'motionless mover' of every operation of the mind, even when man -- reason -- makes himself out to be the measure of God."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Evolution Without Darwin

We had another troll last night arguing that free will doesn't exist. I won't get into his ridiculous arguments -- which he wasn't free to make anyway, nor am I free to accept -- but perhaps they illuminate a central reason why the left doesn't value liberty: it doesn't exist. And they have Darwinism to prove it!

In fact, the denial of free will is a kind of all-purpose dogma for the left, as it is the underpinning for so many of their cherished beliefs: poverty causes crime, America causes Islamist terror, Israel causes Palestinian savagery, etc.

But they never hold this dogma consistently, for they don't apply it to white collar crime; nor have I ever heard a leftist argue that Islamic terror is the cause of "American imperialism," or that Muslim Jew hatred is the cause of "Zionist expansion," or that provocatively dressed women are the cause of rape, or that blacks were the cause of their own lynching. It's always a one-way denial of free will that excuses the left's various mascots while robbing them of their dignity and humanity, i.e., their free will.

Oddly, only the enemies of the left have moral freedom. But they always exercise this freedom in an evil way, in order to exploit and harm their victims. This is what "hate crime" legislation is all about. Leftist mascots have no free will, so "hate" doesn't enter into their crimes (remember, they are passive pawns of "societal forces" and similar ghostly presences). But white European males do have the gift of free will, so they require an extra penalty for having willed their crimes in a hateful manner.

Conversely, the left never wills anything bad, despite the disastrous consequences of their policies. Millions of Africans dead from malaria due to the banning of DDT? We meant well! Destruction of the black family due to welfare and other perverse entitlement programs? Oops! Skyrocketing crime rate due to judicial leniency? Sorry! Hispanic children who are illiterate in two languages due to bilingual education? Lo siento! Real estate bubble due to government-mandated loans to unqualified people? D'oh!

The problem with Darwinism is that it can (if we are generous) account for will, but not free will. For what is free will? It is conscious choice between two actions, including actions that may clearly be counter to our genetic interests. Remember, it only takes one black swan to prove that all swans aren't white, and it only takes one act of free will to undermine genetic determinism.

Another point that persistently eludes our trolls is that Darwinism does indeed reveal evolution, but that evolution undermines Darwinism. For the benefit of careless readers, I most definitely believe in evolution. What I do not believe is that natural selection alone can account for it. I believe that evolution is directional, whereas Darwinism insists that their kind of pseudo-evolution has no direction, meaning, or end.

I believe human beings are the end of evolution and all this implies, whereas for the Darwinian, every organism is transitional -- a means to some other genetic end. Which is why I believe that human beings are infinitely precious, because they are the "last word" of evolution, which is none other than the "image of God" -- and one cannot "evolve" higher than that.

Evolution cannot produce something "higher" than man as such, since man knows the absolute, and the absolute cannot be transcended, whether we are speaking in terms of truth, beauty, or virtue. To imagine that somewhere in the cosmos there is a writer superior to Shakespeare is pure fantasy, but it is also a failure to understand Shakespeare (and timeless and universal art in general).

Please bear in mind that there is nothing "anti-evolutionary" about Christianity. To the contrary, Genesis clearly reveals the workings of a God whose creation unfolds in time. Man does not enter the scene until after light, planets, stars, water, land, oceans, vegetation, and animals. Here is how Jaki describes it:

"What Darwin and the Darwinians failed to see -- and this is why Darwin's theory, though not his vision of evolution, failed -- was that time needed a womb, a purpose, if it was to issue ultimately in the most purposeful activity of science and not merely in its stillbirths. For evolution has a a direction marked by time's arrow, analogous to the one designed to mark direction, which through its very meaning serves as a pointer of purpose" (emphasis mine).

The only answer of the Darwinians is that the second law of thermodynamics does not preclude the possibility of local areas of negentropy. This is entirely true, but transcendental truth, beauty and virtue are not mere instances of local negentropy that will decay with time! It's not as if the radiant truth will eventually rust and decompose into a dusty pile of worthless lies.

Rather, truth is true forever, in this or in any other cosmos. Stephan Jay Gould famously said that natual selection was so random, that if we could unwind evolution and start it over, it would have taken an entirely different course that wouldn't have included human beings. I won't get into that argument, but I can say with absolute certainty that evolution would never have resulted in 2 + 2 equalling anything other than 4, or E equalling anything other than MC squared, or murder being anything other than wrong, or in slavery being preferable to freedom.

Unless you are a Darwinian living in an upside down cosmos. For example, as T.H. Huxley said, "the thief and murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist." Or as Darwin himself wrote -- and nothing could be more contrary to genuine evolution -- "A man who has no assured and no present belief in the existence of a personal God or a future existence with retribution and rewards, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones."

This is a recipe for destroying in a generation what it took eons of evolution to create. But enough about the left.

As Jaki observes, "a society which does not believe in angels cannot lay claim to policemen who behave like angels." Rather, like everyone else, they're just self-interested replicating machines following their impulses: Every cop is a criminal / and all the sinners saints.

But do not despair. Darwin was still an optimist: "Looking at the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world." For genocide is just doing what comes naturally.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Myopia of the Darwinian Vision

Of the many philosophical problems of Darwinism, "the question of purpose is the most fundamental" (Jaki). As mentioned in my book, Darwin simply took the world as he found it, and did not trouble himself with the (very specific) kind of cosmos necessary for life -- or evolution -- to even exist in it. In short, he "never engaged in speculations about the nonliving world" (ibid).

This reminds me of what Thomas Sowell calls the fallacy of "one day at a time" rationalism, which involves the strict application of logic to an artificially constrained situation -- for example, treating wildfires as discrete crises instead of predictable outcomes of environmentalist policies that create overgrowth.

Sowell is mainly talking about intellectuals who ignore historical context and long term trends, but the same principle could equally apply to space as time; call it "one space at a time" rationalism, in which, for example, the evolutionist posits a narrow theory that ignores everything outside its little field of application. This ends in the absurdity of the Darwinist who devotes his life and career to the purpose of proving that purpose -- i.e., final causation -- does not exist. But instead of pretending that final causation doesn't exist, or that it is an illusion, why can't they at least be honest and just admit that they have no idea why final causation exists, since their theory by definition cannot account for it?

Darwinism begins with the assumption that life operates mechanistically. In reality, it is a way to find out what we can about the the biosphere by viewing it mechanistically. Which is fine. There is nothing wrong with the scientific method. It's only when one confuses method and ontology that problems arise. For example, I don't mind that my wife's doctor looks at her body as a machine. But if I were to do that, we'd have problems. (Come to think of it, we'd also have problems if he looked at her as I do.)

A method can easily transform into a vision, often without the person even realizing it. I certainly saw this in my psychoanalytic training. However, in my case, I didn't care for the vision that was emerging, which is why I never completed the training. I knew that it was somewhat like joining a religion, and that in order to be an effective psychoanalyst, I would have to go the whole hog and assimilate the entire vision. But in order to do that, one must exclude so much reality -- most especially, the realm of spirit -- that I knew I couldn't continue without doing violence to myself.

This happens with any vision, whether it is Marxism, or feminism, or environmentalism, whatever. Look at how feminists saw the Tim Tebow Superbowl ad. Instead of perceiving what was plainly there -- a loving and playful exchange with his mother -- they literally saw an act of violence toward women! But this is what their vision compels (and condemns) them to see. I give them credit for being honest, as tragically crazy as they are.

We also see it with global warming, which has long since transformed from theory to vision. Please note that a vision cannot be falsified, so that, for example, if there is a little less fog in the San Francisco Bay, it's a consequence of global warming, as is too much fog. Or, if the Great Lakes fail to freeze over, that's global warming. If they do freeze over, then that's global warming too.

Now, do traditionalists have overarching visions? Of course! The difference is, we call them by their name: visions. For example, we have a vision of limited government and a virtuous empire of liberty in which all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and duties. Can I prove this scientifically? No, of course not. These are values, not a scientific facts.

Conversely, the Darwinian believes that free will and purpose cannot exist because their theory cannot account for them. Thus, you can see that this is a caricature of true science, since science must at least begin with the facts, not just eliminate them through the magic of deductive thinking.

Deduction naturally has its place, but, as in the case of physics, it should lead to legitimate new discoveries, not just make unwanted facts go away. This is what occurred in the 19th century, just prior to Einstein's revolution. The mechanistic paradigm, pursued to its logical end, resulted in persistent anomalies for which mechanism could not account. Only with Einstein's breakthroughs was there the basis for a new paradigm that could account for the anomalies.

If this is true of physics, why do Darwinians pretend it doesn't apply to biology -- i.e., that their paradigm generates anomalies for which it cannot account? There's no shame in that.

Again, look at contemporary physics. As sophisticated as it is, it still has no idea how quantum and relativity theories -- i.e., the subatomic/micro and the cosmological/macro -- relate. So what? The fun is in trying to discover how they do relate. Eventually some brilliant scientist is going to come along and make a breathtaking creative leap that unifies the two. I personally have faith in this, because I know -- or perhaps I should say that in my vision -- the cosmos really is one, i.e., a harmonious totality of objects and events. There cannot be two "fundamental" theories to account for it, for the same reason that there cannot be two Gods.

In other words, as incredibly accurate as their theories are, physicists nevertheless realize that they are "wrong" -- or incomplete -- in the ultimate sense. Why can't Darwinists acknowledge the same thing? Why pretend that today's knowledge is final? The irony is that in the Darwinian vision, nothing can be fixed and final. A human being is not the "end" of anything, just a genetic resting place on the way to something else that cannot be foreseen. Thus, how can the meaningless cognitive effluvia of an intrinsically changeable being ever know an unchangeable truth?

Again, to quote Darwin himself, "the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there were any convictions in such a mind?"

No, of course not. But that just highlights an instance of Darwin's "one space at a time" rationalism, which becomes self-refuting if mindlessly applied to a human space which self-evidently plays host to true convictions.

In his autobiography, Darwin asked if "the mind of man which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience?"

As you can see, there is a premise in the question, and if one accepts the premise -- that the mind of man is not fundamentally different from any other animal mind -- then one must either accept the conclusion or rethink the premise.

Or, put it this way: the radical skeptic can have no ontologically real mind with which to doubt. "Darwinism is, therefore I'm not."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The One Cosmos Cult: Controlling Minds Since 2005

For today's Sunday morning repast, I decided to see what was cooking in the Cosmosphere three years ago. This one caught my attention. It has to do with the ins & outs of how I operate my cult to keep you people under my thumb.

Which I may need to reimagineer, since the cult has only grown smaller in the interim. Have I made mistakes? No, that's impossible. I was just so busy getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of me that I think I lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the Raccoon nation about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values. I realize this makes no sense, but that's what Petey put into the blogoprompter.

Perhaps I need to create more of a mystique around myself. I'll have Dupree work on that. Or maybe increase the annual dues, since people devalue what they get for free. Yeah, that's it. New policy: as of today, the initiation fee is increased from $1.50 to $1.75.

As a perceptive troll observed yesterday, "What we see in this post is a drift towards a 'cult' mentality. All cults require a dire threat from the outside in order to create an 'us against them' atmosphere. Without the external threat, a sufficient level of internal cohesion cannot be created.

D'oh! I hate it when trolls find out the truth about the Transdimensional Order of the Friendly Sons & Daughters of the Cosmic Raccoons.

But what took this genius so long to figure it out? Without an external threat, how can Dear Leader be expected to maintain internal cohesion and cult discipline -- as the left does by villifying George Bush and promulgating apocalyptic fantasies of global cooling.... er, nuclear winter.... ahh, global warming.... umm, climate change?

As you are about to see, I've been playing up this dire existential threat in order to create a "Coon-against-the-world" siege mentality ever since my very first post on October 5, 2005 (which we celebrate as "Metacosmic Coonday"). In what follows, I'll go through that post paragraph by paragraph and demonstrate how the left really is such a boon, I mean existential threat, to our sacred fundraising efforts on behalf of the cult:

1) "I don't think it's healthy to orient your life around politics 24/7, as does the secular left, for which politics (including radical environmentalism) is their substitute religion. Politics must aim at something that isn't politics, otherwise what's the point? Politics just becomes a cognitive system to articulate your existential unhappiness. Again, this is what leftists do -- everything for them is politicized."

This is axiomatic. In a famous remark that reflects one of the defining characteristics of modern conservatism, Eric Voegelin noted that the very basis of the leftist project is to "immamentize the eschaton," which, in plain language, means to horizontalize the vertical. Just as the Roman Empire collapsed partly as a result of "horizontal barbarians," leftism represents a kind of vertical barbarism for which nothing transcending the immediate senses is ontologically real.

Thus, for example, all truth is relative, free will is attenuated through the cult of victimology, envy (perhaps the greatest enemy of spiritual fulfillment) is promoted as a defining virtue, and transcendent moral obligations are reduced to an arbitrary cultural agreement.

Leftism is defined by an externalizing consciousness that locates the reason for unhappiness or failure outside the self. Conversely, one of the greatest gifts of a proper spiritual education is that it teaches one to locate the reasons for one's unhappiness within. Every leftist politician arrives with the perverse gospel that, "it's not your fault! You are a victim! Don't be responsible for your life! Liberty is a pernicious illusion anyway! Transfer your power to me, and I will rescue you!"

2) "One of the general purposes of this blog is to try to look at politics in a new way -- to place the day-to-day struggle of politics in a much wider historical, evolutionary, and even cosmic context. History is trying to get somewhere, and it is our job to help it get there. However, that 'somewhere' does not lie within the horizontal field of politics, but beyond it. Thus, politics must not only be grounded in something that isn't politics, but aim at something that isn't politics either."

Here again, it goes without saying that this is a kind of talk that is unknown -- because unknowable -- on the left. Their project always involves the diminution of spiritual freedom in order to attain a purely worldly goal that third parties -- horizontal leftist elites -- deem worthwhile. Thus, a few days ago, Hillary Clinton promised that if she is president, she will confiscate the profits of legal corporations at the barrel of a gun and use them in the way she sees fit. Likewise, she will no doubt attempt to take health care out of our hands, and appropriate a substantial portion of the economy through government rationed healthcare.

3) "This is not an abstract, impractical or esoteric notion. The ultimate purpose of politics should be to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of the American founders, so that humans may evolve inwardly and upwardly -- not toward a manifest destiny but an unmanifest deustiny."

This one almost goes without saying. The left does not value spiritual liberty but horizontal equality. Once you recognize this distinction, you will see how it animates nearly every one of their domestic policies. To the extent that they value freedom at all, it is only the shadow version of true liberty represented by license -- which is generally much closer to vice than it is to liberty. Just as our freedom to know is only meaningful if we use it to conform ourselves to truth, our liberty is only meaningful if we use it to conform to virtue.

4) "For example, when we say that politics must be grounded in something that isn't politics, we are simply reflecting the philosophy at the heart of the American revolution, that the sacred rights of mankind, as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, are written in human nature 'by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased by mortal power.' In short, human beings possess a 'spiritual blueprint' that is antecedent to politics, and which it is the task of politics to protect, preserve and nurture."

Here again, this idea is entirely foreign to leftism, which is a wholly materialistic philosophy. For them, the purpose of politics is hardly to preserve and protect our liberty, but to impose ideological conformity and to diminish freedom through government intervention. There is probably no place less intellectually -- let alone, vertically -- free than liberal academia, which eliminates dissent through political correctness and speech codes. As Dennis Prager says, "the larger the state, the smaller the citizen."

5) "The founders, who were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics, did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that 'vertical' purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary reactionary and anti-evolutionary leftists, they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological 'Kingdom of God,' or 'city on a hill,' drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges.

A ubiquitous project of the left is to deny and undermine our unique Judeo-Christian heritage. As I have said before, they are callously destroying the vertical habitat in which the Raccoon -- and any other higher mammal -- actually lives.

6) "Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the 'axis of the universe,' and history as 'the drama of human liberty.' Thomas Jefferson wrote that 'the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.' It was for this reason that Jefferson's original idea for the design of the seal of the United States was Moses leading the children of Israel out of the death-cult of Egypt, out of the horizontal wasteland of spiritual bondage, into the open circle of a higher life. America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to 're-launch' mankind after such an initial 100,000 years or so of disappointment, underachievement, and spiritual stagnation."

The left believes there is nothing special or exceptional about the United States -- unless it is exceptionally bad, as famous leftists such as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Michael Moore never tire of telling us. Just the other day, John Kerry mentioned at an international conference that the United States is a pariah among nations. I give him credit for his honesty, as all lefists believe this, but, just like Yasser Arafat, never reveal their true feelings to the wrong audience.

7) "Although it may sound slightly heretical, without human liberty, the Creator is helpless (in a manner of speaking) to act in the horizontal (since his primary activity is vertical). This does not diminish the Creator but exalts him, for a moment's reflection reveals that an intimation of our spiritual freedom absolutely belies any mere material explanation found within the horizontal confines of history. For ours is an inwardly mobile cosmos, and as the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, our free will brings us 'face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in midair unless suspended [vertically] from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator."

Again, true freedom can only involve aligning our will with the Creator, otherwise there can be no such thing as liberty -- just as there can be no such thing as knowledge unless it involves aligning ourselves with Truth.

8) "Tip O’Neill is evidently responsible for the cliché that 'All politics is local.' The greater truth is that all politics is nonlocal, meaning that outward political organization rests on a more fundamental, 'inner' ground that interacts with a hierarchy of perennial and timeless values. Arguments about the surface structure of mundane political organization really have to do with whose nonlocal values will prevail, and the local system that will be established in order to achieve those nonlocal values."

What leftist would ever say such a thing? Since a leftist is by definition a metaphysical yahoo, his only recourse is to ridicule that which he does not understand.


So that pretty much lays out the basis of our little cult in my very first post. The question is, do we really have an enemy -- i.e., is the left really opposed to the Raccoon platform -- or are we pretty much "on the same page" as our fellow Americans, with only minor quibbling at the margins?

I do not personally adhere to this sanguine view of our differences. I will speak only for myself. When you talk about the differences between me and a typical leftist, you might as well be talking about different species. The left, of course, is obsessed with trivial racial differences, but the differences between me and a white leftist are infinitely greater than any differences based on race, class or gender.

A Raccoon is a member of the same race as anyone who shares his values. Therefore, Tom Sowell and I are members of the same race, just as Margaret Thatcher and I are members of the same gender. On the other hand, the girlish John Edwards and I are the opposite sex, and Al Sharpton is from another planet altogether. "Race" hardly defines our differences in any meaningful manner, and yet, the racist left believes that it is All Important.

There is a reason why leftism is an ideology that appeals to victims, losers, misfits, the envious, the unhappy, the self-defeating, the educated-beyond-their intelligence, and the addle-brained young. It is not that leftism creates the demand. Rather, these people demand an ideology to cater to their various pathologies and deficits. In other words, it is a demand-side politics that arises from certain unfortunate but ubiquitous trends in human nature. However, once the ideology is created, then its central task becomes the creation of more lost souls who demand the ideology of leftism. Here again, this is one of the keys to understanding most any leftist policy, which fosters dependency, envy, narcissistic entitlement, and victimization.

So which is the real cult?

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