Thursday, February 13, 2014

On Distinguishing God's Aseity from a Hole in the Ground

A riddle: what is without a doubt the biggest gap in all of creation? It's an important question, because evidently even a modest sized gap provokes religiosity.

For example, according to the geniuses at (living on borrowed) Time Magazine, There Are No Atheists at the Grand Canyon. Thus, "all it takes is a little awe to make you feel religious."

Awwwww... isn't that nice?

I yield to no one in my awe at the canyonesque emptyheadedness of the MSM, but it doesn't make me feel especially religious. Rather, vice versa: the wisdom I derive from religious tradition renders me speechless in the face of such numinous cluelessness. Confronted with such a gap between words and reality, I can only remind myself that man is a fallen creature, especially when he doesn't realize it.

I'm almost afraid to read the article, because there is nothing to be gained by shooting down an idiot. Doing so can puff up one's pride, but it doesn't take a genius to run circles around a retard.

And I use the latter term advisedly, since there are spiritual retards, just as there are intellectual, moral, aesthetic, and social retards. Not to prejudge the case, but I'm guessing the author is catastrophically vertically challenged.

"Any fool can feel religious around the holidays."

Spoken like a true fool. Better start by defining "religious." Besides, it sounds like the point of this piece is that any fool can feel religious while looking at the Grand Canyon. Thus, it appears that Kluger literally doesn't know God's aseity from a hole in the ground.

Into which he only digs himself deeper, for "there’s nothing quite like nature -- with its ability to elicit feelings of jaw-dropping awe -- to make you contemplate the idea of a higher power."

Well. Yes and no. Nature has no such "ability."

Rather, it is human beings who are able to see beyond appearances to the underlying reality. Human intelligence is intrinsically (and quite literally) supernatural, in that it is conformed to a reality that is not only beyond nature, but the source of nature. Yes, the world is metaphysically transparent, but not to lower animals and MSM hacks (but I repeat myself).

We interrupt this article for a distracting link to another brainwave, this one on why It’s Social Ties -- Not Religion -- That Makes the Faithful Give to Charity. First of all that is grammatically incorrect: Social Ties make, not makes. Second of all, everyone knows it's the IRS that makes us give to "charity." Religion only encourages us, minus the threat of imprisonment.

"All awe contains a slight element of fear or at least vulnerability, and the sooner we have an explanation for what it is we’re seeing and how it came to be, the more reassured we are."

Hmm. I know all about what the IRS is and how it came to be, but I am not reassured. Rather, I'm still frightened of it.

Kluger's point also makes no sense vis-a-vis the Grand Canyon. I mean, everyone knows the Grand Canyon is a result of erosion. So, why does the awe persist?

And it seems to me that fear is quite distinct from awe. I'd probably be awfully afraid to ride one of those donkeys into the Canyon, but I can't imagine it would be a religious experience.

The author concludes by tossing out the same reductionist garbage he disingenuously inserted at the outset: "couldn’t the awe-inspiring also be explained by the random interplay of chemistry, physics and time -- nature in other words -- rather than a spiritual being?"

Hmm. Are we really in awe of randomness, which is another word for the high entropy absence of information? If so, then the most awe-inspiring thing would be the kind of absolute stupidity reflected in this article. Sometimes a gap is just a gap, i.e., a space full of nothing.

"And if so, couldn’t scenes of space or the Grand Canyon make you seek answers by becoming an astronomer or a geologist, rather than looking to religion?"

Yes, I suppose so, for it scarcely matters what sorts of stories frightened monkeys make up in order to sooth themselves and try to make the awful awe go away.

That was an unanticipated digression. Back to our riddle: what is the biggest gap, the grandest canyon, in all of creation?

Well yes, man obviously. But what accounts for man?

I think it has to do with what is hinted at on page 125 of the book, Nature's Greatest Invention: The Helpless Baby. Specifically, the "premature" birth of the human infant at a neurologically incomplete stage confers a kind of infinite plasticity on the human mind.

No, not literally infinite, in the sense that there are also nonlocal guardrails that guide development and give it form. But the brain itself is the closest thing to infinitude in all of existence. Some people put the number of possible brain connections at 100 trillion, but I think the real figure is incalculable.

So the human infant is without question the most awesome gap there can be, this side of the Creator. I haven't read Benedict's Infancy Narratives, but I'll bet there is some relevant information there, because there is no doubt that the Word could not become man without first becoming an infant, a fetus, an embryo, a blastocyst, all the way down. For the abyss between man and God must be filled at the very foundation in order for the gap to become a bridge.

How perfectly awe-ful!


julie said...

Oh, so much to add, but I'm on the run.

Bertie Wooster comes to mind, except that his observations about the rummy things in life are exponentially more harmless...

julie said...

Okay - notably, it's just the excerpts which remind me of Wooster. The actual article just make the guy sound like a complete tool.

I find the whole "people are just religious because they are afraid of what they don't understand" argument to be extremely tiresome, not to mention completely unimaginative. And quite probably a form of projection, inasmuch as atheism is a way of freeing oneself from the humbling realization that comes from knowing oneself to be an assoul. Along those lines, I once had someone tell me, while I was reading either MotT or one of those big tomes by HvB, that they imagined I was interested in these religious books because I was afraid of dying. I was so incredulous, I couldn't even come up with a response, though of course I have one ready now: I am not afraid of dying, I am afraid of failing to become the person I am meant to be.

Anyway, as to feeling religiously inspired due to feelings of awe or fear, I think the reasearchers are off base, again because they cannot imagine the truth. We feel religious awe in the face of greatness because it makes us humble. When we are exposed to great people, we may feel humbled by them: we see how small we are by comparison. When we are exposed to the greatness of nature, what - or rather, Who - is the measure? Deep down, everybody knows. But it takes a real assoul to essentially pray (or whine, rather) that there is no measure, just a peculiar arrangement of molecules that makes people feel odd.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

We interrupt this article for a distracting link to another brainwave, this one on why It’s Social Ties -- Not Religion -- That Makes the Faithful Give to Charity. First of all that is grammatically incorrect: Social Ties make, not makes. Second of all, everyone knows it's the IRS that makes us give to "charity." Religion only encourages us, minus the threat of imprisonment."

Now that, sir, is an awesome zinger that would make (not makes) even the mighty Iowahawk proud!

mushroom said...

...but I can't imagine it would be a religious experience.

I imagine God's name gets called a lot, though.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That Time imbecile is afraid of the Grand Canyon?
I reckon that makes sense to a very limited and superstitious mind but it's difficult to imagine fear of beauty.

I mean, I suppose if someone were to push me over the edge of the canyon that would evoke fear but not the very sight of it.

The mindset of the author does explain why liberals love pajama boy and the non-existent Julia.
It also explains why liberals are so afraid of the beauty of rural America.

Cities, to a leftist are like a pacifier and have very little beauty to fear.
Of course, crime, particularly in lib strongholds like Chicago is much more scarier than beauty, IMHO.

mushroom said...

Some might even say that the fear of the unknown isn't called religion; it's called randomness.

"Random" and "chance", AKA, sciencey names for all the stuff we don't like to think about and can't possibly figure out.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

The sheer stupidity of that Time author is scary awesome!

Van Harvey said...

""All awe contains a slight element of fear or at least vulnerability, and the sooner we have an explanation for what it is we’re seeing and how it came to be, the more reassured we are.""

I'm guessing the word he was prevaricating for was "Sublime", but not knowing his assoul from a theisOrAss in the cosmic ground, he settled for his go-to talismanic spell: "you don't believe what I do because you're too scared to!"

And that is a bit scary.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Julie, you forgot to add, "sir," at the end of your observations.

You are doubly endeared to me for mentioning my DIL's absolute favorite book/series. :o)

Gagdad Bob said...

Can't think of a good excuse for having not read every adventure of Jeeves & Bertie.

Gagdad Bob said...

I read this 650 page beast to Tristan when he was in utero, hoping to spur the development of a sophisticsted sense of humor. Seems to have worked.

julie said...

I have that on my wish list, but it wasn't available around Christmas. I'm currently working my way through the one I received instead: "The Most of P.G. Wodehouse." It's over 600 pages, but only four of the stories are about Jeeves and Wooster, and I have those in other books. Their acquaintances do pop up on occasion, though, and toward the back there's a full-length novel called "Quick Service."

We are currently working our way through watching Downton Abbey; I enjoy it, but can't help thinking a few Wodehouse-inspired moments would take the series from being good to great. The setting is perfect for that...

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "Can't think of a good excuse for having not read every adventure of Jeeves & Bertie."

I can't think of an excuse for putting yourself into the position of needing the excuse. Positively rummy thing to do.

Still unpacking, my Wodehouse must be in the last box... best for last and all that, but the library won't be sound and the house won't be home again until my tome is back in its rightful place.

Gagdad Bob said...

I would like to think that anyone who loves Wodehouse couldn't possibly be on the left, because the sensibility of the leftist is so sour, pinched, and serious, whereas Wodehouse is so breezy and whimsical. But I guess it's not that simple. Still, how could, say, the feminist, not be offended? All the women in the stories are either domineering old aunts, moon-eyed romantics, scheming manipulators, etc. And, as in Mayberry, there are no people of color at all, reason enough to dismiss it as racist trash.

Gagdad Bob said...

Can't see how the leftist would relate to the innocence, either. Leftists are credulous but not innocent.

julie said...

Re. people of color, well, there was that one story about the minstrel show...

julie said...

Which was of course completely innocent, but nobody today would see it that way. In fact, I'm kind of surprised that one made it into the TV series, but I guess you could still do that back in the 80s

Gagdad Bob said...

I remember looking forward to the TV show, but there was no magic at all. Just doesn't translate to the screen. Interesting that for something that revolves so much around dialogue, the dialogue is difficult to depict outside the imagination.

julie said...

True. And switching the supporting actors after a couple of episodes didn't help much.

Even so, I enjoyed the show - I just tried not to remember the written stories while I was watching. Maybe it helps that I lived there; Hugh Laurie back then reminds me of a family friend who used to babysit us.

julie said...

I just thought of one more reason feminists should hate Wodehouse: in all the tales of romantic hijinks, not once does it ever occur to any of the hapless fellows that they should be having sex with anyone outside of wedlock. And there's not a trace of rape anywhere to be seen; in fact, a careful reader might note that the women pretty much call the shots and hold all the cards.

Heaven forfend; someone might get the idea that women had it better back then...

NoMo said...

Much the same as equating reality to intentions.