Saturday, June 03, 2023

I Believe in Miracle

 We left off yesterday with a little problem:

Just as the emergence of consciousness is a miracle, brute emergence of Being from non-Being is either the miracle of all miracles or a straight impossibility.

The problem is where to situate our miracle. 

What exactly is a miracle? Whatever else it is, it usually involves a violation of the known laws of nature. Now, even the existence of laws of nature violates the known laws of nature, since there is no law that can explain how they got here.

Natural laws are irreducible to explanation, like any mystery.

On a more or less serious note, it seems to me that whatever your metaphysic -- from religious nut at one end to atheistic nut at the other, and everyone in between -- you will have to sneak in no less than one axiom or principle that cannot be reduced to anything else, and just is. For a theist it is God (whatever that means); for a materialist it is matter (whatever that means). 

Just as no one knows what God is, nor does anyone know what matter is. Regarding the latter, it seems the more we know, the less we know:

Matter itself is an abstraction that no-one has ever seen: we have only seen elements of the world to which we attribute the quality, within our consciousness, of being material.... 

Materialism derives the only thing we undeniably know, the concreteness of experience, from an unknown abstraction: matter (McGilchrist).

He quotes a physicist on the matter:

Materialists appeal to physics to explain the mind, but in modern physics the particles that make up a brain remain, in many ways, as mysterious as consciousness itself. 

And another:

On many matters, such as experience, physics is simply silent. If you're not clear on this limitation, you have no idea what physics is. 

At this point in my cosmic adventure, I find such arguments boring and tedious. Of course materialism, naturalism, and physicalism are irredeemably stupid and inadequate. The question remains--

What are you gonna do about it? 

You asked that yesterday. This predictable and unproductive argument between matter and consciousness has been going on since the second philosopher arrived on the scene to disagree with the first. Is there anything new we can add, a novel way to approach the question?

Yeah, what he said!

Challenge accepted. As alluded to above, people who claim to be materialists presumably do so because it is less weird and miraculous than religion, but it turns out to be equally weird. It makes me want to elevate weirdness itself to a principle, and why not? 

In the beginning was the Weird, and the Weird was with God, and the Weird was God. 

Something like that. 

What some call religion hardly astonishes us more than what others call science.

There are two ways of going about this: there is the ascending (or analytic) approach that proceeds from the senses to the Principle (we won't yet say God, because it assumes too much, and is too saturated with arbitrary and idiosyncratic meaning); then there is the descending (or synthetic) approach which begins with the Principle and deduces consequences and entailments therefrom.

Hmm. It makes me think that the first is an LH specialty, the second an RH. In fact, this seems pretty clear, since the LH specializes in analysis, the RH in synthesis and integration. And let's not forget the mysterious third, the corpus collosum that unites them.

Now, although we can tackle it from either side -- top or bottom -- the fact remains that reality is one. This suggests that there is only one miracle, the rest being consequences of it. It makes no sense to situate the miracle at the bottom, because, supposing you do, it's not going to be enough; rather, you will need a multitude of miracles.

For example, the first miracle will be that there is something instead of nothing. I say "miracle," because you simply have to assume it as first principle. But then, after a few billion years of so-called matter just doing what it must, it suddenly comes to life. How did that happen? Miracle, I guess.

Okay, but then rational souls appear on the cosmic stage. What explains this miracle? 

Nothing explains it. It's a miracle!

What about the principle of parsimony -- the one that says we shouldn't multiply hypotheses? Occam, and all that? 

Why don't we reduce all the miracles to one big one -- one that is, say, eternally subsistent -- alive, conscious, intelligent, free... one, true, beautiful, creative... intrinsically related in love to its consubstantial other...

Sure, it's a little weird, but is it weird enough?

This leads to a related subject, but it's different enough to deserve a post of its own.


julie said...

Why don't we reduce all the miracles to one big one -- one that is, say, eternally subsistent -- alive, conscious, intelligent, free... one, true, beautiful, creative... intrinsically related in love to its consubstantial other...

In other weirds, miracle goes all the way back to Personhood. A miracle, at its essence, is Someone choosing to Act on someone else's behalf instead of simply allowing things to progress as they would with no intervention.

Prayer works (though of course not always in the ways we hope or expect), and it does so for a reason. When Jesus was walking among his people, healing them and taking away their sins, even then he didn't do it for everyone. At the very least, usually someone had to ask him; it had to be personal, even if only personal by proxy.

Anonymous said...

Where you from, you sexy thing? Since my little miracle arrived, all lying next to me, giving it to me, I’ve started wondering just where the hell she came from. Enough to make one wanna believe in miracles.

But enough about my own sex life. What we really need more of around here, are personal anecdotes about the miraculous. Preferred would be stories about changing back to one’s own birth sex, of course, but stories about any miracle might do. Who’s up for this?

Anonymous said...

I just visited our friends at Gateway Pundit. Globalists are vilified (even though they’re an inevitability from free trade and deregulation). Gays are despised (even though the site owner is gay). Putin is beloved as freedom fighter (even though he’s a dictator). Zelensky is despised as a Nazi provocateur (even though he’s Jewish and just doing his job in defending his nation). American support for Ukraine is wasted money (even though the military industrial complex is raking it in). And whatever conspiratorial factoid that pops into whatever head gets compulsively spilled out as pure fact with last tag no tagbacks.

Good God ya'll. It’ll be a miracle if that place ever focuses the hope so it can make a comeback.