Friday, August 23, 2019

Supernatural Selection: If Darwinism is Right, Atheism is Wrong

In Romans 8:22, Paul famously speaks of a cosmos -- the whole dang existentialada -- formerly plunged into hopelessness and futility, now groaning and laboring with birth pangs; and the Christians to whom he speaks are "the firstfruits of the Spirit" who too "groan within ourselves, eagerly awaiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."

So, births within births within births. This is an important point, for it seems that there are unforeseen and unforeseeable Easter eggs hidden in the cosmos, and indeed, that the cosmos itself is just such a fertile egg.

What I mean is that no one could have looked at the lifeless cosmos of 10 billion years ago and have predicted that it would suddenly come to life 3.8 billion years ago, nor that one of these life forms would become self-conscious and begin producing art, religion, and culture 50,000 years ago; or that the Creator would reveal himself to these self-conscious beings two or three thousand years ago.

Of that above passage, Balthasar writes that "When Paul refers to an indefinite and tense straining of all nature, it means in the first place that nature unconsciously strives toward man" -- not just the form but the substance, toward the fullness and fulfillment of human nature. Which is why we hope the groans and pangs of labor will end in liberation, redemption, sanctification, etc. You know the old gag: "work out your salvation with fear and trembling."

Of course, if Darwinism in particular and scientism more generally are correct, then "hope" is purely illusory, perhaps even a species-wide defense mechanism to prevent us from appreciating the gravity of the situation and just committing suicide.

If the atheist does not commit suicide he has no right to be thought lucid (NGD).

So, hope is either a genetic hope-a-dope strategy to trick us into keeping the circus going, or it is a kind of persistent "evidence of things unseen," i.e., the temporal shadow cast down and back by the fulfillment we hail from afar.

In the absence of this palpable evidence of things unseen, progress would be impossible because unthinkable. Hope and change always go together, except in the faithless liberal who forgets that beneficial change is only a hope and not a certainty, and certainly not something man can accomplish unaided. For the second part of Paul's crack about working out our salvation with fear and trembling is that "it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his purpose.” So relax and let God do the driving.

If Obama had proclaimed the other two theological virtues -- faith and charity -- his message wouldn't have been as resonant. For his kind of hope isn't evidence of unseen things but of things insane, like throwing away 15 million dollars on a coastal palace that will be under water in ten years:

AOC doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.

To back up a bit -- like a hundred thousand years or so -- think of the poor proto-human, sitting around and hoping for things to get better. But in a strictly Darwinian framework, what is he hoping for, besides the next meal?

One thing: a random mutation that doesn't weaken, sicken, or kill his spawn, but somehow results in a beneficial change. Note that even then, the change can't occur in him -- for his genetic destiny is fixed -- but only in his descendents. Strictly speaking, this isn't hope for improvement, only hope for a nonlethal change somewhere down the line; Darwin himself "jotted down as a stern reminder to himself the note 'never use higher and lower'" (in Purcell).

Which is why an intellectually consistent Darwinian would be the last to suggest that a Darwinist is somehow "higher" than a creationist -- unless the former are more successful at getting their genes into the next generation, which is not the case, otherwise secular Europe wouldn't be undergoing slow motion demographic death. Supernatural selection in action!

If reproduction is the point of natural selection, then atheism is wrong by the only conceivable criterion.

Now this business of becoming human, of evolving, of giving birth to ourselves. The thing about it is, unlike any other creature, it cannot just happen on the species level, as if the species does all the dogged, trial-and-error work of evolving, from which we passively benefit.

No other animal has to participate in his own psycho-pneaumatic birth -- to learn how to be that animal, notwithstanding a limited repertoire of tricks the mother might pass along to her brood. And certainly no other animal needs to be born twice in order to undertake post-biological evolution.

But for human beings, each generation needs to fulfill the human journey anew. In the old days, philosophers and metaphysicians spoke of man as the microcosm who mirrors the macrocosm. That's true as far as it goes, but it implies a kind of static view, as if humanness is a once-and-for-all fact instead of an ongoing attainment and acquisition.

Here again, Clarke's idea of reality as "substance in relation" is helpful, for with it we can posit the microcosmology of man in more dynamic terms, as a movement or action, such that evolution itself redounds to the self-revelation of being. Who knows what goodies -- what colorful Easter eggs -- lurk in the heart of being? Even time takes time, to say nothing of eternity. Or, time takes an eternity to get it all out.

Bearing in mind the above, when we say that man is the image and likeness of O, it means, in the words of Clarke, that "all finite beings, which are imperfect images of the Source, bear within their very natures this same divinely originated dynamism of active self-communication to others." In this way, we are simultaneously rich and poor -- or, contra Darwin, high and low, -- in that

every finite being insofar as it is... rich, pours over to share its perfection with others; but insofar as it is poor, deficient in the full plenitude of being, it reaches out to receive enrichments of being from others, sharing in their riches (ibid.).

This is just another way of saying that man is an open system, both vertically and horizontally, and that God, the Absolute, O, the toppermost of the poppermost, must be understood in the same onederful threeway.

For what is the Incarnation but God "making himself poor," in which context we may understand certain paradoxymorons regarding the meek inheriting the earth, the last being first, and the blessedness of holy poverty?

Now, this interior activity of the Godhead, how to describe it?

Sorry, can't do that. That's well above our praygrade. We can, however, undescribe it, which we might symbolize something like (↓ ↔ ↑) to convey the total circulation of metacosmic energies in the perpetual now. And evidently we can participate in God because God participates in us.

If I were to reduce it to plain English, I don't think I could do better than Schuon:

If by "science" we mean a knowledge that is related to real things -- whether or not they can be directly ascertained..., religion will be the science of the total hierarchy, of equilibrium, and of the rhythms of the cosmic scale; it takes account, at one and the same time, of God's outwardly revealing Manifestation and of His inwardly absorbing Attraction, and it is only religion that does this and that can do it a priori and spontaneously (emphasis mine).

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ultra-Science and Infra-Religion

This is a revised and updated post from over seven years ago, but it serves as a useful commentary on the previous post:

Turns out that Darwin wasn't necessarily the vulgar Darwinian his disciples and detractors make him out to be. For example, Purcell quotes a letter from 1870 in which he frankly confessed that "I cannot look at the universe as the result of blind chance." Oopsie. No tenure for you!

To another author who had published a book in 1881 that "defended evolution and theism together," Darwin wrote that it "expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the universe is not the result of chance." Indeed, for Darwin, "the rationality and moral probity of God underlay the rationality and meaningfulness of science" (Gillespie, in Purcell).

Which only goes to show how fundamentalists and extremists in both camps -- ultra-Darwinists and infra-religionists -- get it wrong.

I attach the prefix "ultra" to the former because it conveys the idea that they over-interpret the theory, and push it beyond its rightful limits. And I apply the prefix "infra" to the latter, because in my opinion they fall short of the deeper meaning of religion by rigidly applying a manmade framework on God, just because God must speak in a certain way in order to make himself known to human beings.

Analogously, I must speak in a certain way in order to make myself understood by my seven year-old. But it would be an elementary, if understandable, error on his part to assume that I have the mind of a seven year-old who's just bigger than he is. While I don't patronize him, neither do I gratuitously toss in words and concepts he can't possibly understand.

In fact, both types -- the ultra and the infra -- make the error referenced in yesterday's post, of imposing an ideological grid on reality in order to make the mystery go away. Of all people, you'd think that postmodern folks would be aware of the irony of engaging in this futile enterprise. But it seems that one of the properties of ideology is to blind the ideologue to its presence. Or just say that some people have a hard time recognizing their first principles -- especially people without any.

One of the dangers of ideology is that it doesn't just operate like a static map one uses to navigate the world. Rather, it is much more like a mind parasite, in that it actively hijacks the thinking process and thereby restricts the scope of reality.

In his Tyranny of Clichés, Goldberg quotes Orwell's famous essay on Politics and the English Language, in which Orwell highlights "the special connection between politics and the debasement of language."

It's easy to see how parasitical clichés can "construct your sentences for you" and "even think your thoughts for you," while performing "the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself" (Orwell) A political cliché operates "like a pill with a pleasant protective coating" which "conceals a mind-altering substance within" (Goldberg).

Although that might sound like a cliché, it is critical to realize and understand that it is literally true. The human mind cannot function in the absence of an "operating system," of some way to organize reality and convert experience into ideas, the question being "which one?"

For example, I've mentioned in the past that when I first began studying psychoanalysis, it was liberating at first but eventually became restrictive and confining, because, once internalized, I couldn't help interpreting everything in terms of its principles. I lost my perspective, such that the tool started to displace the man. Come to think of it, that's how you become a tool, isn't it -- by seeing everything in terms of a theory or ideology?

This is what ideology does. You might say that it results in damage to, and sometimes annihilation of, the person. I hasten to add that the Christian operating system doesn't (or at least shouldn't) do this, because it is not an ideology, rather, a cure therefrom (a subject worthy of a separate series of posts).

Many important Aphorisms come to mind:

--Ideologies are fictitious nautical charts, but in the end they determine which reef one is shipwrecked upon.

--In order for a multitude of diverse terms to coexist, it is necessary to place them on different levels. A hierarchical ordering is the only one that neither expels nor suppresses them.

--The philosopher who adopts scientific notions has predetermined his conclusions.

--The Christian who is disturbed by the “results” of science does not know what Christianity is or what science is.

Ultimately, The universe is important if it is appearance, and insignificant if it is reality. Boom. It's fine and appropriate to argue over appearances, contingencies, and relativities, which is what science does. Just don't conflate its appearance with its source. Never forget that Truth is a person, or better, the Person, and all this implies.

To the extent that the Raccoon has an "ideology," it would have to be called "Mysterian," in that it holds the human mystery to be the axis around which it revolves. We can never eliminate the mystery, we can only hope to circumscribe it. And A fool is he who thinks that what he knows is without mystery.

The human mystery (or mystery of the human) does not, and cannot, stand alone. Rather, for reasons articulated in yesterday's post (and many previous ones), the "human substance" isn't just some featureless and isolated blob, but has certain distinct properties, the most important ones being relation and sanctity (or potential sanctification, i.e., theosis).

These essential properties are a consequence of our deiformity. By which I mean that the source of our dignity, our wisdom, our freedom, our greatness cannot be from within ourselves. If we do locate the source there, it doesn't turn us into gods, but rather, monsters -- like domesticated animals that revert to ferality in a generation or two. Or, like the secular left, which becomes more feral by the day.

de Lubac writes that "It is not true, as is sometimes said, that man cannot organize the world without God."

Rather, "what is true is that, without God, he can ultimately only organize it against man." In other words, as we have discussed on many occasions, "exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism" (ibid.), because its very first principle rids the world of God in order to claim a greatness that only God can confer, and without whom we are hardly "everything," and not even nothing, really. At which point you can get away with anything.

As Schuon writes, "Respect for the human person must not open the door to a dictatorship of error and baseness, to the crushing of quality by quantity," or to over-valuation "of the crude fact at the expense of the truth."

We are immersed in a world of ceaseless change, so it is natural that we seek reliable landmarks and fixed lighthouses to navigate our journey. Ultimately these landmarks must concern origins (from where we set off); our present situation (where we are); and our course (to where we are going). Thus there are elements of both space and time, the latter of which being especially relevant to "where we are going," which naturally takes time to get there. For in the words of Kerouac, walking on water wasn't built in a day.

But ideologies tend to spatialize time, for the same reason they immanentize the transcendent. Schuon characterizes certain deviant neo-paganisms as "reactions of space against time." This can be seen in the reactionary left, which always.... Put it this way:

--If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors.

--“Human” is the adjective used to excuse any infamy.

--“To have faith in man” does not reach the level of blasphemy; it is just one more bit of nonsense.

--To believe in the redemption of man by man is more than an error; it is an idiocy.

Having said all this, it is nonetheless true that, from a certain perspective -- and largely in reaction to the errors and superstitions of the infra-religious -- "it must be admitted that the progressives are not entirely wrong in thinking that there is something in religion which no longer works," and that its "individualistic and sentimental argumentation... has lost almost all its power to pierce consciences."

This is because the "usual religious arguments" often don't probe "sufficiently to the depths of things," since past editions of man, unburdened by ultra-science, didn't really demand such explanations. The whole thing made sense intuitively, and there wasn't even really a framework in place to oppose it, or to understand it in any other way.

Which leads back to our mission and blog-hobby, which is to deploy arguments of a higher order to illuminate the lower, and to make religion once again relevant to the ultras and more efficacious or integral for the infras.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The XYZ Affair

We left off the previous post with an aphorism and a question. The aphorism: Intelligence is the capacity for discerning principles. The question: So, what interferes with knowledge of principles?

Being that intelligence is the capacity to discern principles, then failure to discern them would be a consequence of "minus intelligence," AKA stupidity. But that's not quite right, because -- or so we have heard from the wise -- any man has the capacity to understand the Principles That Matter, by virtue of being a man.

We might say that what distinguishes man from the animals is knowledge of the principles that distinguish man from the animals. That might sound like a tautology, but only if we situate these principles on the plane of man, instead of being anchored in the heavens, or in the nature of things.

It reminds me of E.F. Schumacher's Guide for the Perplexed, which I must have read over 30 years ago. Can't find it at the moment, but I'm looking at the sample on Amazon, which has a chapter on the Four Kingdoms, and now I'm wondering if this book had an unconscious influence on my own. That's my alibi, anyway.

Here again, all humans, by virtue of being human, can recognize the four kingdoms: Matter, Life, Consciousness, and Self-awareness. "Life," for example, not only has a mysterious power lacking in matter, but

there is nothing in the laws, concepts, and formulae of physics and chemistry to explain or even describe such powers. X [i.e., life] is something quite new and additional, and the more deeply we contemplate it, the clearer it becomes that we are faced here with what might be called an ontological discontinuity or, more simply, a jump in the Level of Being.

As it so happens, just yesterday I began reading a newish book -- this one by a biologist -- called Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something "Alive" and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It, which makes the same point, more on which below.

Back to Schumacher: if we symbolize matter (m), then life is (m) + some mysterious and inexplicable power we shall call (x). Similarly, animals would be (m) + (x) + (y), while humans are (m) + (x) + (y) + (z). This last variable is defined as the ability to both think and to be aware of thinking; or, one might say, it is thinking about thinking, or self-awareness:

Consciousness and intelligence, as it were, recoil upon themselves.... There is something able to say "I" and to direct consciousness in accordance with its own purposes, a master or controller, a power at a higher level than consciousness itself. This power z, consciousness recoiling upon itself, opens up unlimited possibilities of purposeful learning, investigating, exploring, and of formulating and accumulating knowledge.

We can invent a word to point at (z), but we must remember that it is only a word, not the thing itself. What do they say about philosophy? That it is a way to avoid being bewitched by language? Well, here is a perfect example. We have words for everyday, irreducible mysteries such as being, life, and mind, without having any idea what these actually are.

This is indeed one of Turner's points, that one reason we lack any "Darwinian explanation for the origin of life" is that we lack "a good Darwinian explanation for what life is in the first place" (emphasis mine). For that matter, "Darwinism is also having a rather hard time explaining what an organism is," and before that, what a gene is, or how it could ever be.

I'm only up to page 12, but all of these mysteries presuppose a very specific kind of cosmos in which such mysteries can exist. What kind of cosmos would that be? Well, first of all, a cosmos, which is to say, a total order, or ordered totality.

Back to my possible unconscious plagiarism of Schumacher. He ultimately solves the problem not by positing Life as (m) plus (x), but rather, by turning the cosmos right-side up and starting at the top. We begin with the highest principle, which immediately remedies the fallacy of trying to derive the greater (x, y, and z) from the lesser (m).

So now you know why I start (and end) with O. I do so because there is logically no other place with which to start. Any other position from which you start will redound to absurdity and self-refutation. Just try. I dare you. If you fail to see the contradiction, then you have failed to discern one of the principles alluded to in the first paragraph above. Ironically, you have used your own intelligence to render yourself stupid. And not just temporarily.

No, literally. This is not intended as an insult. For example, Turner references a prominent atheist who unequivocally declares the following (which I will render in poetic form, just for the hell of it):

There are no gods

no purpose, no goal-directed forces of any kind....

There is no ultimate foundation for ethics,

no ultimate meaning to life

and no free will for humans, either.

Yes, exactly:

Actually, someone could know that. For as we've said many times, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it. Conversely, if he does exist, then only man can not know it.

Back to Schumacher:

In a hierarchical structure, the higher does not merely possess powers that are additional to and exceed those possessed by the lower; it has the power to organize the lower and use it for its own purposes.... Are there powers that are higher than self-awareness?

Again, this cannot not be the case. Nothing that essentially defines man can be derived from the bottom, but can only be explained as a prolongation from the top, e.g., freedom, interiority, truth, beauty, unity, goodness, love, etc.

Just about out of time, but I'll leave off with a couple observations by Schuon which I bumped into yesterday:

those who seek to enclose the Universe within their shortsighted logic fail to see, at least in principle, that the sum of possible phenomenal knowledge is inexhaustible and, consequently, that the present "scientific" knowledge represents a total nothingness beside our ignorance....

In this desire to to accumulate knowledge of relative things, the metaphysical dimension -- which alone takes us out of the [vicious circle] of the phenomenal and the absurd -- is expressly put aside; it is as if a man were to be endowed with all possible faculties of perception minus intelligence; or again, it is as if one believed that an animal endowed with sight were more capable than a blind man of understanding the mysteries of the world.

Quite simply, it is as if cosmos minus (x), (y), and (z) explains the cosmos. Then who is speaking? And to whom? For (m) + (m) is just more (m).

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Does the Geneva Convention Cover Spiritual Warfare?

That's a rhetorical question. The Geneva Convention presumably treats all war as war, even vertical warfare between immaterial entities.

Which of course allows the demonic forces a foothold on the same plane as the angelic, which is the raison d'être of the U.N. Imagine, for example, Iran on the Human Rights Commission, or Islamic countries condemning Israel as "racist." Demons in high places.

Speaking of demons in high places, we could also veer into the usual diatribe about the media/academic complex. But I want to make a slightly different point -- that we know President Trump is waging effective spiritual warfare in light of the frenzied reaction of our journalistic and tenured demons. The New York Times, or Washington Post, or CNN, don't need an ombudsman. They need an exorcist.

How do we identify demonic activity? And how do we distinguish it from the usual give and take of political conflict?

Yes, Nicolas? To scandalize the leftist, just speak the truth.

Quite the case (and we're talking about leftists here, not liberals). As we know, each leftist is a unique combination of ignorance, low IQ, dishonesty, indoctrination, and/or mental illness. One leftist might be quite intelligent but thoroughly indoctrinated to the point of tenure, while another might be stupid and malleable, yet another envious and resentful. All equally precious in the eyes of Marx!

I used to think the above gag was sufficient to explain the left, but we've seen such an acceleration of the crazy during the last 15 years or so, that some other factor must be involved. Let's first consult MOTT to see if our Unknown Friend can provide any clues.

"There are spirits whose thought and imagination are put to the service, without reserve, of that which is true, beautiful and good..." Which is precisely as it should be. We are all in contact with angelic presences all the time, or we'd be utterly lost in this cosmos. Indeed, couldn't even know that this is a cosmos.

If you have a fine intellect but aren't motivated by the love of truth, then something is deeply wrong with you. Your mind -- or soul, rather, since the soul is our organ of vertical perception -- is being influenced and possibly hijacked by something un- or anti-divine. After all, the intellect is of the same substance as the truth it seeks.

Thus, if you are one of those postmodernist cretins who don't believe in the existence of objective truth, then it follows that you don't believe in the existence of your own mind. Or worse, you willfully insist on its existence with no basis.

There are also "spirits whose will, infatuated with an aim, make use of thought and imagination so as to win others to their cause, so as to sweep them away by the river of their will." That wasn't entirely clear, but I think the main point is the misuse of our God-given freedom for anti-Divine ends.

To back up a bit, man qua man is characterized by intellect, will, and sentiment, which correspond to the true, good, and beautiful, respectively. It cannot be overemphasized that each of these -- intellect, will, and sentiment -- is an adequation; each has a proper object. If this isn't the case, then our highest gifts reduce to nothing.

Yes, literally. For if there is no truth, then of what use is the intellect? If no freedom, then what use the will? Moreover, like the Trinity, these three can be distinguished but never separated, for if we do not possess free will then we cannot know truth, and if we cannot distinguish good from evil then we cannot rightly exert or will. Likewise, if we cannot discern and create beauty, then art is impossible.

In addition to truth, beauty, and goodness converging on their own objects, the three together converge upon the highest object, AKA, God. Here again, if they don't, then there is no explanation for how and why truth is beauty and vice versa. Nor could there be such a thing as a beautiful soul.

Later MOTT speaks of two principles that must be distinguished, a serpentine one involving "opposition from which there proceeds friction which produces energy," and an angelic one involving "concordance from which comes fusion which engenders force." It is said that

"Truth springs from the clash of opinions," but actually it is not the truth which springs forth, but rather combative intellectual energy, for truth is revealed through the fusion of opinions and not through a clash. A clash certainly produces intellectual energy, but hardly ever discloses truth.

At least on the principial plane we are discussing. We're not necessarily speaking of the "prudential plane," so to speak, which is much more ambiguous. Principles are not and should not be ambiguous. It reminds me of a couple of important aphorisms:

Intelligence is the capacity for discerning principles.

And Engaging in dialogue with those who do not share our assumptions [or principles] is nothing more than a stupid way to kill time.

Notice how intelligence is rendered stupid by engaging in such argument. For example, I believe in the Constitution. Others believe in the "living Constitution," which logically reduces to no constitution at all, and its displacement (as per the above) with the will, no longer anchored in anything but force.

Or, I believe a baby is a baby, while another believes the baby is a part of the woman's body. But to even use the word "baby" (or fetus) is to acknowledge the lie. With equivalent logic one could say the mother is simply the baby's body.

Just about out of time, so we'll end with a few more aphorisms. Being that I used to be a liberal, I can certify the following as 100% true:

Let us say frankly to our opponent that we do not share his ideas because we understand them and that he does not share ours because he does not understand them.

If they understood them, then they could explain them without resorting to lies, distortions, and slander.

Two more:

The intelligent man quickly reaches conservative conclusions.

Therefore Conservatism should not be a political party but the normal attitude of every decent man.

So, what interferes with knowledge of Principles? Stay tuned.

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