Friday, August 06, 2010

Let us consider

... The Evils of Evolution. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There is a part of me -- a part that seems to be exerting increasing influence on my thinking and feeling -- that causes me to wonder if we simply do not know -- indeed cannot know -- what is going on in life. Not that what is going on has no point, but that we can never figure it out, that no one ever has, nor ever will, and that we just have to live and see what, if anything, happens when it's over for us. More and more my prayers address this fundamental uncertainty. But I do pray -- mostly for forgiveness.


  1. How can we possibly understand the scope and meaning of the ineffable infinite while we our bound to our extremely finite position within our necessarily limited here and now? Thus, the impossibility of understanding of all that is beyond our knowledge opens the door to the necessary possibility of faith.

  2. Because we can experience it. That's well-known and well-documented. Moments of transcendence. What Maslow calls peak experiences. What all the world's mystical traditions call experiences of Oneness or Unity. Which are never purely spiritual experiences, but experiences of wholeness, which include the workings of the "mundane" world. Those experiences do not make us less than we are, but more.

    if we insist on being either rational or faith-based only, and ignore the real evidence in art, literature, music, and all the other arts, of experiences of Oneness, or if we ignore the testimonies of all mystical writings ranging from Rumi to St. Teresa of Avila to those South Indian devotees of Shiva, then we have closed ourselves off from a whole range of experiences. I find it interesting how most people do indeed reject the evidence that has always been there, right in front of them, of their own birthrights of peak experiences and of intuition.

  3. Perhaps a bit tangenital, but here is a memorable passage from the great, much-maligned Berlinski:

    "We seem to live our lives in perfect indifference to the Standard Model of particle physics, the world we inhabit nor only remote from the world it describes but different in detail, thank God."

    "Over there, fields are pregnant with latent energy, particles flicker into existence and disappear, things are entangled, and no one can quite tell what is possible and what is actual, what is here and what is there, what is now and what was then. Nothing is stable. Great impassive symmetries are in control, as vacant and unchanging as the eye of Vishnu. Where they come from, no one knows. Time and space contract into some sort of agitated quantum foam. Nothing is continuous. Nothing stays the same for long except the electrons, and they are identical, like porcelain Chinese soldiers. A pointless frenzy prevails throughout."

    "Over here, space and time are stable and continuous. Matter is what it is and energy does what it does. There are solid and enduring shapes and forms. There are no controlling symmetries. The sun is largely the same sun now that it was four thousand years ago when it baked the Egyptian deserts. Changes appear slowly, but even when rapid, they appear in stable patterns. There is dazzling variety throughout. The great river of time flows forward. We anticipate the future, but we remember the past. We begin knowing we will end."

    "The God of the Gaps may now be invited to comment--strictly as an outside observor, of course. He is addressing us. And this is what He has to say: You have no idea whatsoever how the ordered physical, moral, mental, aesthetic and social world in which you live could ever have arisen from the seething anarchy of the elementary particles."

    "It is like imagining sea foam resolving itself into the Parthenon."