Let us continue with our story (of the cosmos), which has only two possible outcomes: for it is either the futile quest of a contingent and randomly evolved primate to understand his origins, OR it is the return to God of his only theomorphic creature. All else is just the frivolous noise of trousered monkeys and tenured flunkies.
As with Purcell, I was puzzled by that most basic ontological distinction in the cosmos between subject and object -- specifically, how IT IS (the great outdoors) relates to I AM (the great in here, or cosmic sensorium). In no way could I understand how one could ever derive the I from the IT, unless the former were somehow there with IT to begin with, whether implicitly or explicitly.
In any event, one cannot derive the greater from the lesser, let alone the infinitely greater (and the human person is infinitely greater than its material matrix, or we're back in the ivory tower of tenured babble).
A casual and eventually thoroughgoing acquaintance with science and philosophy establishes the fact that most thinkers don't actually deal with the issue, but rather, simply stop asking questions at some point, thus violating the principle of sufficient reason, which says that any effect requires a cause adequate to account for it; which is a fancy way of saying that you can't get blood out of a turnip.
In the golden words of our fine Colombian:
--Intelligence is a train from which few do not deboard, one after the other, in successive stations.
--The doctrines that explain the higher by means of the lower are appendices of a magician’s rule book.
--To believe that science is enough is the most naïve of superstitions.
And this doozy, which in many ways reveils the entire Doctrine, if you cogitate on it:
--The world is explicable from man; but man is not explicable from the world. Man is a given reality; the world is a hypothesis we invent.
In other words -- getting back to the thesis of this post -- IT IS being derived from I AM is at least conceivable, while the converse is strictly inconceivable: no one will ever explain how existence becomes experience, or how object becomes subject. It can't be done, and if it could, you couldn't be there to do it.
Another way of looking at this question is to say that before we accept an explanation, we have to first decide what would constitute one. In short, there is truth and there is adequacy, i.e., the principle of sufficient reason. To put in personal terms, some people are so stupid, or incurious, or compliant, that they'll believe anything. And The philosopher who adopts scientific notions has predetermined his conclusions (NGD).
This is indeed where evolutionists and materialists in general run into so much trouble, e.g., "man is just another animal, animals are just the expression of selfish genes, and that's the truth." One of these three statements is not like the others (doubly so if it is true)!
Bryan Magee has a good analysis of the problem in his fine biography of Schopenhauer:
It is possible for us to pose some sort of Why? question with regard to anything. As Schopenhauer puts it: "The validity of the principle of sufficient reason is so much involved in the form of consciousness that we simply cannot imagine anything objectively of which no 'why?' could be further demanded."
In philosophy a single naïve question is sometimes enough to make an entire system come tumbling down (NGD).
Now, the core of any discipline, whether science, philosophy, history, or law, revolves around this question of sufficient reason, of which there are different kinds. For example, physical causation is not the same as moral causation. If this weren't the case, then we wouldn't have free will, including the freedom to know the truth about free will.
For Schopenhauer there are four main kinds of sufficient reason: the type of direct physical causation that occurs, say, between billiard balls; mathematical determination; logical entailment; and the sort of "motivated action" that can only arise from a free subject, or mind.
In each case, philosophical questions arise, but the first three categories aren't nearly as problematic as the fourth: "[T]he scientist gestures in the direction of the philosopher," who then pretends to answer the question. The metaphysical theologian raises his hand and says "I know I know I know," but they refuse to pick him.
The bottom line is that "science is, in a serious sense of the term, occult, in that it explains everything else without itself being explained" (ibid). Ironically, this is one of the definitions of God, i.e., the uncaused cause.
An “explanation” consists in the end in assimilating a strange mystery to a familiar mystery (NGD).
Equally ironic is that, at the end of the deity, after all the science has been, er, settled, "the mystery of the world as such would be as great at the end of the process as it had been at the beginning" (ibid). Why? That's why: because we can still ask why?
Science, when it finishes explaining everything, but being unable to explain the consciousness that creates it, will not have explained anything (NGD).
In lieu of the above, we could probably save a lot of time with a one word, all purpose protest: Gödel!, proving once again that you can't crack the cosmic egg without breaking out the umlaut.
For "the laws of logic, like the basic concepts of science, and the axioms and the rules of mathematics... must involve circularity, since they themselves generate the justification procedures in their universe of discourse" (ibid).
But interestingly, we all recognize the flaw in this approach when it comes to moral justification. Our whole legal system is -- or was, before liberals hijacked it -- built around the idea that we do not allow people to get away with crimes just because they felt morally justified in committing them.
This whole discussion hits rather close to home, because, as a forensic psychologist, I am routinely asked to give a precise opinion as to what "caused" a patient's "psychiatric injury" (or "mental condition").
The problem here is that there is an utter conflation between the kind of causation that applies to matter vs. the kind of causation that is adequate to explain mental events. In no way am I permitted to provide fully comprehensive explanations appropriate to the subject -- for example, the percentage of causation that may be attributed to man's fallen nature, or just the fact that life is hard, so deal with it. Rather, I must pretend that the all mental causes are as discrete and proximate as those in a game of billiards. The whole absurd exercise rests on a massive category error, but it pays well.
In any event, as Magee explains, "there is a point where natural science, and indeed every branch of knowledge, leaves things as they are" and "does not go beyond this point."
Looked at this way, the belief that the "big bang" ends the discussion of our origins is no better than the belief that the cosmos was caused by the god Witoto taking a leak into the void. Neither one satisfies me. I mean, I certainly prefer the former, but it's not as if it's a self-sufficent explanation. Another key aphorism:
Every beginning is an image of the Beginning; every end is an image of the End.
For example, where do all those elegant equations governing the big bang come from? Who knows, maybe Witoto tinkles them into the void.
Or maybe, just maybe, as reveiled in the Encirclopedia Raccoonica, it was not good that this Godhead, the Most High, should be allone, so He expired with a big bong and said "let there be higher physics," and it was zo.
Two final aphorisms before we sign off. Both aren't only true, but alive with truth:
--Truth is a person.
--The truth is objective but not impersonal (NGD).