Friday, June 10, 2016

Man is the Dice with which God Plays

Don't expect much new product around here for awhile. Next week I have jury duty! Here's another post from the wayback machine, but which has some continuity with yesterday's soiled bobservations:

In our discussion of divine and human freedom, we left off with the orthoparadoxical idea that we live in a world which is good in the sense that it manifests the Divine and its reflected qualities. Nevertheless, the creation "involves a partial and contingent aspect of badness because, not being God while existing nonetheless, it sets itself against God or tends to be the equal of God" (Schuon).

This correlates with the vertical distinction between Being and Beyond-Being, which is the basis of theodicy, through which the problem of evil is explained and God's goodness is vindicated.

In case you've forgotten, this whole discussion started last week, with a post about fate, luck, and free will. Human freedom is derived from the Divine freedom. Again, our free will could never be explained from the bottom up. Nor without it could we know good and evil, truth and illusion, beauty and ugliness, and choose between them. If we didn't have free will, we could never know it -- just as, if we couldn't know truth, we wouldn't be able to know it.

Having said that, although there are analogies between divine and human freedom, the differences must be even greater. Human beings live their lives along this ambiguous vertical bridge, with God at the top and biology, physics, and other principalities down below (sort of like the electric lines and sewer pipes under the city).

As Schuon writes, "creation implies imperfection by metaphysical necessity." And the fact that human beings necessarily have the freedom to choose badly makes matters even worse.

One problem we encounter right away is that freedom implies change, whereas we are told that God is immutable. Perhaps we need to distinguish between the freedom that applies to Beyond-Being, vs. that which applies to Being.

In Beyond-Being, freedom is in a way meaningless, because there is nothing from which to be free. Freedom only comes into play in the context of restraint, of other, of world -- of subject over and against object.

And the highest purpose of freedom is "the possibility of choosing between the Substance and accident, or between the Real and the illusory" (Schuon). Since there can be no accident within the Godhead, our freedom is obviously quite different, being that our world is a tapestry of chance and necessity.

Speaking of which, the chance aspect of the world is insufficiently appreciated, both by the tenured and the wider population. I'm currently reading an interesting book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, and would like to work some of Taleb's contrarian and counter-intuitive ideas into the mix.

It seems that people are instinctively repelled at the idea of pure luck holding so much sway over their lives, which is why both the tenured and the religious invent various ex post facto mythological narratives to explain the past. In this regard, Darwinism is no better than certain other forms of fundamentalism.

I should hasten to add that Taleb shows no signs of being in any way religious (I'm only halfway through the book), such that he seems to be trapped in his own narrative that chance is all -- and more importantly, that chance is only chance and not, say, a teleological breakthrough out of a determined system, an escape from the Machine.

Indeed, in my view, the cosmic purpose of chance is to create a non-deterministic space in which the higher can operate on the lower -- or through which final causes can influence souls and events.

If the world were a deterministic machine that functions only from the bottom up, there would be no freedom and no chance. But being wholly determined from the top would make us no more free than being determined from the bottom.

Thus, freedom and chance go together like liberty and order. It is largely because of freedom that the future is completely unpredictable. But because we are aware of the past, we superimpose narratives on it that make it seem as if the future will be similar. Thus, we are always surprised by the "black swans" that no one predicted, and yet, have the most impact on history.

For example, to the very eve of World War I, no one saw it coming. But in hindsight, historians invent narratives that make it appear inevitable. Likewise other large-scale and highly impactful events such as 9-11, the recent real estate bubble, or the Great Depression. All were foreseeable from the future.

One thing that eludes historians -- by definition -- is all of the evidence of things that didn't happen. Obviously, we cannot know what we don't know (the unknown unknown), which no doubt represents majority of (potential) knowledge.

It seems that history is always on a knife-edge, and can easily be tipped one way or the other by sometimes trivial causes. This is true of any complex system with an infinite number of variables.

We'll get back to black swans later. I just wanted to introduce the idea that randomness is both our friend and our enemy, like water or electricity. Without it we couldn't be free, but with it we're always in for an adventure.

There is no accident in Beyond-Being. But the creation, in order to be separate from God, must involve relativity and therefore contingency.

Thus, one of the purposes of a spiritual practice is to distinguish between those things that must be versus those things that may be. As Schuon describes it, being that we are the "handiwork" and not "the Principle which alone is good," man "is a good inasmuch as he manifests the Principle, but he is not good inasmuch as he is separated from it."

Again, the world is a tapestry of vertical and horizontal causes, of the real and the contingent, so we always see the one reflected in the other. This is why, for example, matter, which is otherwise so "distant" from God, has the metaphysical transparency through which beauty and truth nevertheless radiate.

And it is certainly why man may use his freedom to turn toward truth or illusion, atma or maya, O or Ø. The ego is a bipolar, janus-faced sumbitch, which it must be if we are to be free. It is why the left will always be with us, and why Bernie Sanders will never quit, both literally and figuratively.

Evil and falsehood remind us both that the world is not God (and therefore that God Is) and that there is no one good but the One.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Where God Begins and Ends

A hectic day today, plus not much inspiration anyway, so rather than force the issue, I give you a post from six years ago. As usual, the only criterion for inflicting it upon readers is that, hey, it kept my attention. Plus, it is occasionally helpful to consult the past to see if I have changed any fundamental views, or if I am still on the same page with myself. Originally titled Within and Without the Godhead -- a reference to Beatle George's Within You and Without You.


In recent days, we have been discussing the principial distinction between Being and Beyond-Being, as a prelude to mapping the vertical reality in which man has his being.

Why does any of this matter, you might ask? First of all, we've only just begun lifting and deveiloping our pneumagraphy of the vertical.

But the short answer is that it is the only metaphysic that not only makes sense, but makes total sense. Not only is it true, but all truth -- both religious and scientific -- is grounded in it. If you have a better one, I'd be happy to hear about it. But most alternatives are ridiculously shallow, inconsistent, or incomplete, at least when they aren't refuting themselves (e.g., scientism, Darwinian fundamentalism, or any other purely horizontal metaphysic).

As nine out of ten whollymen agree, only the Good is ontologically real, while evil is a deprivation; the same can be said of truth and falsehood, beauty and ugliness, freedom and slavery, liberty and leftism, capitalism and socialism. In each case, the latter term is only a cosmic possibility because it is parasitic on the former.

Schuon reminds us of Aristotle's dictum that it is in the nature of the Good to communicate or radiate itself. Here we touch on an aspect of the Trinitarian Godhead, for what is the Trinity but eternal communion?

But at this point we would like to discuss this in more general and universal terms. Plus, we are talking about the "descent" of the Good, so to speak, as opposed to the Good that abides within the Absolute. In other words, it is one thing to say that "God is good." But how does so much good end up down here, of all places?

For unlike some of our competitors, we don't spend a lot of time wondering how all the evil got here. Rather, we wonder about how all the love, truth, beauty, creativity, and freedom got here.

In speaking of "God's will," Schuon suggests that it matters whether we are talking about Being or Beyond-Being. One might say that Beyond-Being "wills" Being, and that Being wills creation. In short -- and this may unsettle Christians, but we'll find a way to make it work -- it is as if there are two levels in God, even though God of course remains one (similar to how he can be three and one).

A key point, in the words of Schuon, is that this creation or "manifestation by definition implies remoteness from its Source, so that in 'willing' manifestation, the Essence wills implicitly and indirectly that ransom which we call evil, on pain of not wishing to radiate or 'diffuse' Itself, precisely."

Again, if creation is to be -- a creation that is truly semi-autonomous and not just an extension of God -- then evil must be, even while being "impermissible." Thus, there is a reason why even in paradise there is a serpent -- who symbolizes the whole possibility of "falling vertically" further and further from the Source, even into the blind nothingness of pure evil and falsehood, i.e., hell. Here again: one might say that because God is, hell must be (since he is Justice, among other attributes).

Schuon raises a subtle but nevertheless critical point; not everyone will be comfortable with it, but I see no way around it: "[T]he Divine Will which wills moral good and for this reason forbids sin, is not the same as that which wills the world: the Will of Beyond-Being... wills the world itself, whereas the Will of Being... presupposes the world and exerts itself only within the world."

For me, this elegantly resolves the whole problem of theodicy. Sophists throughout the ages have tried to disprove the existence of God by saying that he is either omnipotent or good, but that he cannot be both, for if he can eliminate evil but doesn't, then he isn't good, and if he cannot eliminate evil, then he isn't omnipotent.

But if Schuon is correct, then this is an illusory problem rooted in a false metaphysic, in which there is only God and World, which is then covertly reduced to just God. In short, it presupposes a kind of single-level pantheism, so that God is personally responsible for everything that happens.

But that is not how the cosmos works. And it is especially not how man works, since he has free will and is able to make the conscious choice between good and evil. Our free will is a legitimate gift, not some illusory side effect of God's iron will. Rather, we may obviously go against God's will, which is the only reason why we may align ourselves with it.

The cosmos is shot through with degrees of freedom which are the residue of the Divine freedom, so to speak. Thus, we can follow its traces to the very periphery of creation, for example, in the quantum indeterminacy, or in the upward thrust of the genome.

But the higher up the vertical scale, the more freedom. This, of course, presupposes that there is a virtually infinite range of freedom within the human being as well. Being that the human being is the microcosm -- a cosmos within the Cosmos -- he may be as enslaved to an extrinsic program as an ant, or as free as the saint or sage who has conquered illusion and aligned himself with the Real.

Schuon expresses the same point in another way: "Beyond-Being desires good as radiation, manifestation or world, whereas Being desires good as the participation of things in the Divine Good."

Yes, God is good, but in different ways, depending on one's perspective. Note that after the creation, God blesses it as good. This refers to Being itself, which is essentially good, in spite of all the mischief that will ensue as the result of a quasi-autonomous creation that is relatively separate from God. It is surely a core truth that the mischief is ineveateapple.

Elsewhere I read of a good analogy. That is, I willed my son into existence. But I do not will the badness he does, even while knowing full well that he will inevitably do naughty things. To extend the analogy, willing him to exist is Beyond-Being, whereas willing him to be good is in the realm of Being.

This also speaks to the distinction between guilt and innocence. Civilization cannot exist in the absence of a system of justice, even though it can never be absolutely just (rather, only God can). There are always going to be "extenuating circumstances" if we look hard enough, especially with the development of modern pseudo-psychology, which can provide an alibi for anything.

Which is why the Christian is enjoined to love the sinner but not the sin. In other words, he is to judge acts and not souls.

You will note the cultural mayhem that ensues (and that did ensue) when this principle is ignored, and we engage in the impossible task of trying to judge souls, as the left has been doing for the past fifty years or more. We must understand criminals (except white collar or skinned criminals), empathize with them, get to the "root causes" of their sociopathy and criminality.

Or, we must understand why the Palestinians and Islamists behave like such monsters. No, actually we mustn't. Rather, we must kill them, insofar as they insist on behaving like monsters -- just it was necessary to kill Nazi and Japanese supremacists.

The left would like us to displace God and judge souls, which is strictly impossible for man. It is well above our praygrade, which is why it is preferable to stick with acts that we know to be wrong.

So, there are different levels "within" God. Or are there? That is the question. Or, the question is whether there is any support for this view in the Bible or in tradition.

There would appear to be, in the distinction between God and Godhead, the former corresponding to Being, the latter to Beyond-Being. Or, perhaps one could say that God is cataphatic, whereas Godhead is apophatic.

And Meister Eckhart often makes this distinction, without which his theology doesn't make sense. For example,

When I dwelt in the ground, in the bottom, in the stream, and in the source of the Godhead, no one asked me where I was going or what I was doing. Back in the womb from which I came, I had no God and was merely myself. And no one misses me in the place where God ceases to become.


God acts but the Godhead does not act. The mystery of the darkness of the eternal Godhead is unknown and never was known and never will be known.

So, this would also resolve the question of how God can change and yet not change....

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Jokers & Dark Knights of the Soul

I lost the post I was working on, so by way of compensation, an old post from eight years ago which I found mildly innertaining, even if its takeaway, if it has one, is somewhat obscure. It will be edited as necessary.


What is intelligibly diverse must be unified and whole, and only what is whole and unified can be intelligibly diverse. At the same time, only what is diversified can be intelligibly one. This is because change requires continuity if it is to be change of anything at all, and the parts of what is continuous must be distinguishable or else it congeals to a dimensionless point (or instant).... Although a whole is a single unity, it is at the same time a unified diversity. The reality of time, therefore, establishes concurrently the reality of a whole which is nontemporal. --Errol Harris

Atheistic types like to accuse religious folks of being naively uncritical about scripture, and no doubt many are. But the same can be said for radical secularists who adopt a naive and credulous stance toward the natural sciences, as if they require no metaphysical foundation and simply "speak for themselves."

But there is no meaningful scientific observation that isn't theory-laden, and as soon as one examines the implicit theories with which science is laden, one is led back into the realm of pure metaphysics. And once that happens, you soon discover that the naive religionists are not so naive after all.

As Errol Harris writes, "all the stock arguments against metaphysics, from Kant to Wittgenstein, have long been exposed as self-refuting, so that far from being impossible, metaphysics is indispensable and unavoidable, always inescapably presupposed in whatever philosophical position is adopted -- even one that repudiates it."

Now, metaphysics aims at the comprehension of the cosmos in its totality, both in its vertical and horizontal aspects. Any scientistic metaphysic which aims only at an explanation of the horizontal world eliminates in a stroke the very realm where metaphysical truth abides. This is the principial realm of which the horizontal is a prolongation -- which is why it is said, for example, that the Torah is prior to the world, or why Jesus could say that "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Likewise, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God..."

Of metaphysical certitude, Schuon writes that it results from the "coincidence between truth and our being; a coincidence that no ratiocination could invalidate. Contingent things are proven by factors situated within their order of contingency, whereas things deriving from the Absolute become clear by their participation in the Absolute, hence by a 'superabundance of light'... which amounts to saying that they are proven by themselves. In other words, universal truths draw their evidence not from our contingent thought, but from our transpersonal being, which constitutes the substance of our spirit and guarantees the adequacy of intellection."

I suppose there is one way to avoid metaphysics, and that is to be genuinely psychotic, and to truly live in a world without a priori meaning, sense, and coherence. I am told that the Joker in the new Batman film is such a person. Of him, commenter Dusty writes that he is

"a perfect personification of transcendent evil. That is, the act of rejecting transcendence a priori at the same time downwardly transforms that person into an inverted reflection of the saving grace from above. True transcendent evil is a faceless force until given a temporary one by an earthly personality.

"Notice that the joker in Dark Knight is in truth a faceless terror all throughout. He really has no personal history: no name; his clothes are self-made; the past that he does reveal turns out to be contradiction and lies; and even the face that we do see is painted in the style of the Jungian archetype of the mad clown. There's nothing there but a trail of violence and disaster. Whence did he come? Where did he go?"

You see? A diversified chaos, with no wholeness or unity. You might say that the Joker is deconstruction incarnate, or the archetype of Tenured Man:

"He is chaos personified, and the only connection that he does have with grace is a masochistic-like dependency on the archetypal hero who opposes his will. Even the darkest of nights, night within night, evil for the sake of evil, must necessarily maintain contact with the light, or else there would exist an absolute hell, which is strictly impossible unless God chose to suffer it himself. But if God is Good, he would choose eternal delight, and not an eternal dark night."

That comment is loaded with insights that need to be unpacked. For example, notice how our scientistic troll [we were being pestered by an irritating troll at the time] is indeed dependent upon us, not vice versa. We do not seek him out, and do our best to ignore his irrelevance. But he "must necessarily maintain contact with the light," hence his desire to associate with us rather than with his own kind, which would indeed be a kind of cold and dry hell. Just imagine those scintillating conversations between blind atheists sharing stories of what they cannot see!

Let's discuss the idea of "a perfect personification of transcendent evil." Now, evil cannot actually be transcendent. Rather, it can only mimic and mock transcendence by escaping the obligations of our humanness from below.

This is one of the things that creeped me out about the opening ceremony of the Peking Olympics a few nights ago. I only caught the first 20 minutes or so before turning if off. Yes, I could see that there was a kind of bombastic majesty taking place, but toward what end? Toward man as ant, or the elimination of man as such. It was like a leftist mass, I suppose.

2000 drummers playing in lockstep? Give me one immortal jazz drummer playing around with the beat, adding his own flavor, throwing in his own unpredictable syncopations, being an individual. For that is what America is all about: not the ant as ant, nor the ant in opposition to the hive, but rising above -- i.e., transcending -- it.

Man can "get around" the ego from above or from below. In the case of a great jazz musician, while he "stands out," it can never be in a selfish way, or it won't be jazz anymore. Rather, the whole point is that in real jazz, each of the parts is subordinate to an emergent, higher unity that is being spontaneously created in the moment, in an organismic manner.

I don't think it's any coincidence that jazz was invented in America, as it is our quintessential art form, combining as it does a maximum of freedom (which is to say, individuality) and discipline, for it obviously requires much more discipline to be a great jazz musician than it does to be in a glorified marching band. Likewise, anyone with a mediocre intellect can understand science. But not everyone can understand Aquinas or Schuon or so many other true theologians.

Now, the cosmos is ordered (as we all know, cosmos is from the Greek word for order). Everywhere we look, order. There is incredible mathematical order in the equations of physics, in chemistry, in the genome, everywhere. There is also order in the human psyche and in the human spirit, two distinct categories that people have tended to conflate over the past 300 years or so. But the psyche is more or less the area addressed by psychology, while the spirit is the domain of religion (although there is admittedly much overlap, as there must be, just as there is overlap between physics and chemistry, or chemistry and biology).

Toward the end of the 19th century, when reductionistic materialism was at its zenith, there was an attempt to reduce the psyche to a purely material or "energic" phenomenon (and to eliminate the spirit altogether). One sees this in the theories of Freud, which absurdly reduce the mind to a kind of pressure cooker seeking to let off the steam of primitive instincts and impulses; or in the behaviorists, who imagined that there was no such thing as a psyche, only behavior.

In fact, there are people who still believe this. I remember during my internship, getting into a heated debate with a fellow intern who was a behaviorist. At the time, I didn't yet realize that the discussion would be as pointless as trying to bring light to our scientistic troll. After all, how does one impart truth to someone who believes only in behavior? I suppose by physically striking him on the head with a book.

Anyway, this is an example of a man who voluntarily cashed in his humanness for a kind of faux liberation, in which nothing means anything. Thus, he succeeded in escaping the pain of the human state from below.

Isn't this what the Joker would say? He's just a behaviorist with the courage of his absence of convictions. He's just a mindless man thinking. Or, in behaviorist terms, just a dead man walking, a living death.

Existence is unavoidably tied up with language -- with the Word -- because to have existence is synonymous with having a definition, even if we cannot put it into purely logical words. For example, Just Thomism writes that

"The idea of soul arises when we notice that some bodies are alive and others are not. Our judgment of what is alive and what is not is far from infallible, but it remains that among the physical things we know, some are alive and others are not. Words like 'soul' were first imposed from primitive theories of what made a living thing alive: early words for soul simply meant 'breath'; although it is unclear if they thought that breath was really soul or if it was more the clearest sign of whatever soul was. Theories about the soul quickly became more precise. The Greeks had a vast multitude of opinions about what makes something living -- the best of which was that the soul was some kind of organization in a body which involved the mixture of various elements in the right proportion."

Thus, for someone who is alienated from his own soul, it will simply be a kind of nonsense word that corresponds to nothing real, like "unicorn." This is one of the crude arguments that bonehead atheists commonly make, all the while imagining themselves to be sophisticated, courageous, or clear thinking. But the joke is on them, for

"Our modern scientists who deny the spiritual existence of the soul because they can account for human life without it are no different than a bookbinder who denies the existence of writing style or syntax because he can account for the whole book without mentioning them at all. In a sense he is right. He can completely account for the book without once invoking syntax or grammar. For that matter, the marketer, bookseller, and distributor needn't speak of syntax and grammar in order to give their own complete account of a book. Their way of analyzing a book into its relevant parts doesn't need to include this" (Just Thomism).

So our troll is correct, in that he does adequately convey the universal truths of the undead.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Look What I Found

Just a short post. Not much time this morning. Feel free to add to my anemic exegesis.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The first thing that occurs to us is that the treasure is completely unmerited, or at least not tied in with any.

Rather, the man apparently stumbles upon this valuable find. It's as if he has won the lottery, except he didn't even know he had a ticket. This is unlike the pearl of great price, which the merchant was actively seeking.

All of salvation history, says Rutler, can be seen as "an account of how the bumbling and stumbling human race won the Great Lottery," for "grace is gratuitous."

This is something I was trying to impart to my son the other day. He is prone to moods in which he questions the existence of God, or proclaims the whole business to be stupid or made-up. I remind him that thus far he has grown up in a Christian context, both at school and at home (and socially), such that the graces that have come to him as a consequence may well be invisible to him.

I tell him to imagine different circumstances in which there would be no channels for these graces. As Rutler puts it, if we could see behind the veil, we would likely "be astonished at how many times holy grace dropped into our laps without recognizing it." We would see how entitled and how spoiled we had been.

There is the grace and the response to it. In the parable, the man responds to the unexpected grace by selling everything and buying the field. He presumably sells everything because in light of what he has discovered, everything amounts to nothing.

I give this claim No Pinocchios, because a de-spiritualized life is hardly worth living, especially after one has tasted the alternative. If one has never experienced the grace -- if one has shut it out, rather -- then the treasure won't even be recognized as valuable.

No doubt this is why God withdraws the grace from time to time, so we don't lose our perspective. If it were always there, we wouldn't notice it -- like my son.

"What is granted can easily be taken for granted, without the faintest amen."

Christians who have not lost their perspective do not pretend to be better than non-Christians. Rather, they just stumbled upon the treasure. And "once this sacred deposit of faith is discovered by the gift of grace, the stumbler buys the field."

Monday, June 06, 2016

Wise Men From the Yeast

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.

Jesus told the the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:

'I will open my mouth in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.'

The original prophecy occurs in Psalm 78: I shall open my mouth in parables; I shall speak of hidden things from of old.

Hidden since the foundation of the world. Three thoughts occur immediately: what is the foundation of the world?; what is hiding in it?; and how does Jesus know these two things?

As to the latter, either he was there or someone in a position to know told him. The Psalm goes on to say that What things we heard, these we also knew. And our fathers described them to us. It was not hidden from their children in a different generation, and will someday be known by children yet born.

So the Psalm is adverting to a lost spiritual heritage, but Jesus seems to speaking of an unknown knowledge that surpasses even this, and that no man has ever known. Rather, it has been hidden since the foundation of things.

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast. It seems that this yeast has been here since the foundation; it was mixed with the flour of creation, such that there is something in the cosmos -- something in the (supernatural) nature of things -- that causes it to "rise," so to speak.

What could it be? Now interestingly, there is no science that can function without reference to this yeast, although of course it is never acknowledged. Let us assign the variable y to this yeastly factor that pervades science, from physics to biology to interpersonal neurobiology and beyond.

Now, what do I mean that y pervades science? Well, let's begin at the bottom, with physics. For votaries of a scientistic metaphysic, physics is "the foundation of the world." There are surely things hidden there, but nothing mysterious (?!), rather, just mathematical equations and such.

For example, when Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, he discovered something that had presumably been there all along, hidden in plain sight, ever since the cosmos came into being.

The other day I was reading the original humanist manifesto, which also presumes to speak of things hidden since the dawn of existence, and to correct various misconceptions to which man is heir.

In its prelude it assures us that "The importance of the document is that more than thirty men" -- thirty men! -- "have come to general agreement on matters of final concern and that these men are undoubtedly representative of a large number who are forging a new philosophy out of the materials of the modern world."

So it's pretty important. Self-important, anyway.

Note that they are claiming to "forge a new philosophy out of the materials of the modern world," whereas Jesus claims to explicate an ancient wisdom that has been here forever. But the humanists assure us that religion has lost its significance and is "powerless to solve the problem of humans living in the Twentieth Century."

That's a bold statement. Let's examine their first point: "Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created."

Hmmm, how'd that work out? Turns out the universe is not self-existing; rather, it not only came into existence at a specific time, but time itself paradoxically came into existence with it. Furthermore, the universe is implicate with all sorts of mathematical codes, and no code can encode itself. Just ask Gödel.

"Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process." Well, yes. But the statement you just made -- that man is a part of nature -- transcends nature. If it doesn't, then no true statements are possible and you are speaking from faith, not knowledge.

I don't think I want to spend this post fisking the Humanist Manifesto, deserving though it might be. But to say that man emerges as a result of a continuous process is to acknowledge that he is somehow baked into the cosmic cake. A humanist can only pretend to understand how this is possible.

We say it is possible because of the y-factor. The latter is precisely what causes -- or better, permits -- life to emerge from matter, humanness to emerge from biology, and spirit to emerge from man. The invisible yeast is always at work, otherwise the process we call "evolution" could never occur, not on any plane of existence.

The parable, says Rutler, tells us how the Kingdom of Heaven develops: "the process is slow, but it is a procession with a purpose. Through the persuasive influence of personalities transformed by love, Christians will be the yeast that raises the culture through them" -- the Resurrection being the last Word in yeastly rising.

This implies that the Resurrection itself was and is not only hidden from the foundation, but is the foundation.

"Without the yeast of grace, the human race us stale and dying.... Christ alone can save culture. There will be dark ages and golden ages, but Christ is the Light through them all."

Or the yeast. Which is to say, y.

To quote MotT,

"In order to be a religious scientist or a scientific believer honestly..., it is necessary to add to the definite horizontal aspiration the definite vertical aspiration, i.e., to live under the sign of the cross...." You might say that the horizontal axis is the flour of matter and energy, while the vertical axis is the yeast of ascent.