Thursday, September 01, 2016

One Man's Floor is Another Man's Ceiling

Yesterday we came to the surprising conclusion that not only is a good problem already implicit foreknowledge of its solution, but that all knowledge is of this nature.

That is, any knowledge is a stepping stone to deeper comprehension, thus pointing beyond itself in ways we cannot fully predict or render explicit.

Indeed, "if all knowledge is explicit, i.e., capable of being clearly stated, then we cannot know a problem or look for its solution."

A good problem is a function of simultaneously not knowing and yet implicitly knowing: "somehow we are able to appreciate the wealth of its yet undiscovered consequences." If we knew its consequences explicitly, then it wouldn't be a problem.

Know them by their fruits: good problems are fruitful, whereas bad ones are like that barren fig true that irritated Jesus.

Again, the process of discovery doesn't function like a linear machine, or we'd already know everything. It would just be a matter of drawing conclusions from premises.

Having said that, this is what many thinkers do. For example, we can trace the known laws of physics back to a singularity some 13.7 billion years ago. That requires no "discovery," just an application of the math.

If we do treat this as a discovery, what exactly have we discovered? What we've actually discovered is that mathematics has built-in limits, and that we shouldn't confuse these limits with the limits of existence or being. In other words, just because math "ends" at the singularity, don't think this this means existence does. Please. Have a sense of proportion.

Even religious folk make this error, confusing the Big Bang with God's creation as such. But God's primordial creativity operates vertically, no less today than 13.7 billion years ago. This transcendent creative source is a metaphysical necessity irrespective of whether the cosmos is eternal or came into being at a specific point in time. If the Big Bang theory were disproved tomorrow, this would do nothing to negate the necessity of God.

Yes, the Big Bang was and is a creative act. But so too is everything else. Moreover, the Bang is still banging, and from God's perspective, it occurred just now. And now. And now.

Think of God's creativity as a lamp held at the end of a chain. No analysis of the chain will explain how it is held to the ceiling. God is the ceiling from which existence hangs, every moment, before, during, and after the so-called Big Bang.

The Big Bang is indeed a very curious event, such that it no doubt "points" to a Creator. But what isn't a Curious Event? Events themselves are curious. As Einstein said, physics has no explanation for why there is a Now from which to perceive these Events.

This is what I was trying to drive home in the book, that the sudden appearances of life and mind are no less mysterious and in need of a deeper explanation than can be provided by mere physics or biology. As with the Big Bang, we can trace the origins of life back (as of today) 3.7 billion years ago. Now, exactly what does this prove -- I mean in a meaningful sense, not just in terms of an abstract number?

For the researchers, whose minds are confined by their data, this pushes "the established fossil record more than 200 million years deeper into the Earth’s early history," and provides "support for the view that life appeared very soon after the Earth formed and may be commonplace throughout the universe."

Whoa, slow down, partner! It does no such thing, for shaving off 200 million years does nothing to alter the inexplicable suddenness with which life occurred on earth. And the notion that life "may be commonplace throughout the universe" is really an assumption masquerading as a conclusion. What they're really saying is that there wasn't sufficient time for life to develop as a consequence of chance, therefore it must be built into the nature of things.

Well, yes. It might be a "cosmic imperative," as one person puts it. But what does this even mean? That it necessarily and inevitably appears, like an output from a linear machine or program?

Again, compare it to tracing physics back to the singularity. Biology can trace life back to an outer limit, but do not confuse this limit with the origin, which must be vertical. Life, like existence, is held by that same chain affixed to the ceiling.

We know this, because it is quintessentially true of the Mind that engages in physics and biology. Nothing about the mind makes sense if it isn't dangling, so to speak, from the Absolute. To remove God from the equation is literally like removing the ceiling and expecting the lamp to remain suspended in mid-air.

Now, the mind is what explains everything below itself -- for example, the Big Bang and the origins of life. Furthermore, this mind is explained by the God without whom the mind explains nothing, precisely. Our minds can peer downward and skirt around "origins" of various kinds. But in order to make sense of these, it must look "upward," on pain of the ceiling being indistinct from the floor, and therefore having no "space" for humanness to flourish.


julie said...

Along those lines, dark matter may not exist:

“The desire is for dark matter to not only exist but also to solve other outstanding problems of the Standard Model,” says Jesse Thaler, a physicist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Not every new discovery can be a revelation like the Higgs, where afterward theories suddenly fit together much better. Sometimes new particles just make you say, ‘Who ordered that?’ Do we live in a universe where each discovery leads to deeper, more fundamental insights or do we live in one where some parts have rhyme and reason but others don’t? Dark matter offers either possibility.”


mushroom said...

Dark matter and dark energy sound too much like "it must have been leprechauns".

Joan of Argghh! said...

If we knew its consequences explicitly, then it wouldn't be a problem.

And yet, we still have massive bureaucracy.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

When one of the pair is killed chaos runs amok. When the whole is discarded and our science is submerged in particles and fragmented issues and in names that have no concrete evidential support except mathematical equations which as Whitehead said the ultimate goal of mathematics is to eliminate any need for intelligent thought. They are searching for god C the one who has no comparable, the one who contains the cosmos and not contained in it) in the particle, the god that has no comparable, the one they have said they have found him in the bison then retreated. When the companion of god has no zeal and no will to fight for his companion and the aggressors have all the zeal to move forward and to fill the void by all these terminology of eleves and zombis and holes that retain everything that go in it, a very good registry for god to use in the day of gathering, it is only natural to face the pandemonium we are facing. The faithful needs to regain his faithful knowledge and the will to struggle in this murky water. I am glad that I have found a warrior in this struggle against this weak phenomenon despite its apparent strength and hope to be of some benefit in this constant path of life struggle,that know no rest until the final act of death.