Here’s something different. Think of this post as being consistent with my thesis/story, but not part of it. My thesis (Prejudice: Empirical Data Beckoning Toward A Theory Of Self, Ambivalence, And Tolerance—CMU 1997), unbeknownst to my Professors, succeeded on two levels. First, it satisfied an MA degree requirement, and second, it enhanced my argument for the existence of God, an argument that predated my studies in Sociology. In so far as the Not-Me-Self is a value assessment mechanism that critiques the inner deliberations [or] silent arguments conducted within a single self, it does so by using a voice based in self/other interdependence. In my argument below, this voice not only establishes God’s existence, it also establishes the right of the “Other’s otherness,” as it binds a person’s “self” to “others,” to society, and to the Universe at large. For me, the possibility of “right thinking” and “good behavior” necessarily follows from God/Divinity. On a more personal level, however, what also follows from Divinity (but not necessarily) are my inner deliberations that identify “right and wrong.”
[Mead’s I-self, in the God argument below, is symbolically indicated by ~bb, while Mead’s Me-self is indicated by b~b. Being What Is Not While Not Being What Is, when understood in this light, describes “the participatory moment of a conscious self in the physical event of a self-conscious being.” With this interpretation of Mead’s I-Me couplet, and by using survey research to link certain kinds of private self-conscious activity to a tolerance of ambiguity and, thus, a low level of prejudice, I was able to accumulate empirical data (scientific evidence) that not only gives the concept of the Implicative Affirmative of the Not-Me-Self credibility, it also adds indirect evidence that supports my claim that God exists.]
Lift A Stone And God Is There; Ask A Question And God Is There — My Argument For Why God Exists
In The Beginning was the paradox: How does unity coexist with multiplicity? How does oneness make room for otherness? How does the all-perfect source of everything become something less than itself? God, being up for this challenge, solved this dilemma, and She (gender is optional here, in fact, it’s probably best to think of God in terms of process, in terms of “processing divinity”) did it by liberating Her own non-being. This event had to be performed in such a way as to both be and not be God in the same phenomenon. Her solution is doable, even logically doable, in the form of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. In this double negation, God becomes free in the phenomenon of not, not being God, (~~b) while affirming (by implication) the God that is free to not be God. In other words, the liberation of God’s non-being becomes God’s immanence while, at the same time, there exists an implied transcendent God. God’s immanence is particularly important to humans because it is what we call “reality.”
[Footnote: The idea that God is free to not be God is unusual but not unique. In the journal, Deconstruction and Theology (1982, p. 89-90), Robert P. Scharlemann, in the article The Being of God When God is Not Being God, adds some documentation to this idea when he says: “The thesis I should like to propound here is that, in the theological tradition of this picture (the concept of finite being as ens creatum) is that the world is itself a moment in the being of God; what cannot be thought is that the world is the being of God when God is not being deity, or the being of God in the time of not being.”
It follows from this view that an infinite amount of diversity is both permitted and discovered in God’s freedom to not be, a diversity that, ultimately, is at one with God. What makes this possible (and logically consistent) is the peculiar state of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is, for, in addition to characterizing God’s freedom, this divine state of being also characterizes the liberation process that evolves God’s freedom (God becomes more free as freedom evolves) and this freedom, ultimately, characterizes physical events, biological events, and psychological events, (or the divine self-consciousness of “now”).]
Pure change, or that which is release and preservation, bond and liberation, is what’s happening within the polarity of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is, i.e., the defining poles of God’s immanence. Unqualified change is simply change, but this change, over time, evolves into more complex forms of change, eventually creating the conditions that support life. But even here change is ongoing, life in its environment continues to change and evolve, bringing forth more evolved, complex forms of life. And, as life acquires more consciousness, freedom expands.
Evolution, in addition to evolving content, evolves “form.” A change in form is not necessarily a change in meaning however, e.g., two means 2, 1+1 means 2, 4-2 means 2. In the same way that the meaning of the number 2 is conserved in the subtraction of 120 from 122, so to the meaning of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is, is conserved in the decay/death cycle of life. This birth/death cycle is God’s way of conserving non-being in feeling-sensing life forms as they evolve into more complex life forms. Eventually, life forms become sentient, sentient to the point of answering to a more highly evolved “form.” One might be tempted to imagine that I am suggesting the existence of an alien creature here, one that walks among us yet is not one of us. Aliens do exist, but we walk among them because we are them. Life forms that answer to a “more evolved form” are symbol generating, problem solving, psychologically complex life forms that go by the name Homo sapiens. Being born into this select population brings with it not just self-awareness in a physical environment (the participatory moment of a conscious self), but also the potential to expand one’s freedom and horizons. To simplify: below you will find a description (an image) of the “forms” that, ultimately, culminate in Homo sapiens, the species that answers to a higher “Divine form” of God’s freedom.
Let the V image represent God’s freedom. Let the left side of the V represent the empirical world (the world of our senses) and the right side of the V represent the liberating aspect of freedom. Identify the vertex, the bottom of V, as ~~b (the purist form of unity). Somewhere above the V vertex, on the freedom side of the V, let the letter b represent life and ~b represent the negative space of life (~b on the empirical side). Life moves freedom forward and in this case upward too. Further up the V, let ~bb (discontinuity occurring in continuity) represent the next higher transformative state of freedom, i.e., the participatory moment of a conscious self, and let b~b (continuity occurring in discontinuity) represent, on the empirical side of the V, the physical event of self-consciousness, i.e., the body/brain/expressive behavior of a conscious self. With the advent of self-consciousness, freedom again moves forward. The V grows larger (and wider) as the history of human civilization unfolds.
What the above transformational states of God’s freedom are defining is God’s immanence in the phenomenal world while simultaneously implying a transcendent Divinity (the God of all religions). All we can know about transcendent God is that God exists—the space of logical implication tells us that much. On the other hand, we can know a great deal about God’s immanence because as sensing/self-conscious beings embedded in an environment, we partake in inquiry, analysis, conscience, imagination, calculation, and prediction. Now, let’s take a closer look at what is entailed in ~bb (the ~bb of b~b~bb), i.e., the freedom to think thoughts.
Discontinuity occurring in continuity (the ~bb of b-b-bb) is like a chisel splitting wood, consciousness (conscious wood in this example) experiences a self-gap or self-hole. The gap, hole (or emptiness) experienced is the result of the “higher transformative state of freedom, i.e., the participatory moment of a conscious self.” This experience (some call it psychological time) when deconstructed, has produced a litany of accomplishments. Descartes turned this experience into doubt and then proceeded to doubt everything, thus concluding that doubting implied a doubter, thus Descartes established the validity of his own existence. The psychologist and structuralist, Piaget, identified this experience as the center of functional activity, or the locus of the “constructionist self.” The philosopher, Sartre, labeled this experience the pre-reflective Cogito, thus recognizing that human consciousness is based in this experience. Of the three examples cited, only Sartre put the horse in front of the cart as opposed to (as they say) putting the cart before the horse. Non-being is the antecedent of understanding. Non-being is the antecedent of any stand alone “mental given.”
“Mental givens” are experienced front and center in consciousness (the unreflective consciousness) while not being the object of consciousness permits conscious reflection on the content of consciousness (the “mental given”). Functionally, ~bb, or the cognitive experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity, not only identifies the source of conceptual representation (symbolic meaning), it also explains why our thoughts should be able to represent the world outside our mind, especially when it comes to the application of mathematics to theories of physical phenomena. It should come as no surprise that since both the world and our ideas are coupled to the logical form of God, that, on many occasions, a necessary correspondence arises between logical form (deductive reasoning) and the physical events predicted by that form. In other words, the laws of nature correspond to the laws of mathematics reflected in our minds because both are based on a more fundamental law–the logical form of God becoming freer in the phenomenal world. Applying this supposition to the variances that crop up in comparisons of the physics of the macro world to the physics of the micro world produces some revealing insights. (Disclaimer here, I read books “about physics,” I am not physicist. The supposition I am defending, however, is that both the universe and our ideas are coupled to the logical form of God, thus the physics of the universe, on one level at least, must be describing the same phenomenon).
Determinism, locality and continuity allow for the reductionist methods of science to work only until science penetrates deep into that area where the integrity of the physical universe breaks down, where the deterministic motions of mass points no longer exist. At the depths of the material world there exists a fuzzy world that exhibits statistical behavior, behavior that only becomes determinate when we observe it. At this ground level, we find a physical reality with no uniquely determinable location, a physical reality that exists in several states at the same time, a physical reality structured by a mathematical equation. In God’s non-being, or, in this context I guess I should say, in the theory of freedom’s structural form, “two forms” stand out as a way to better understand the contradictory concepts which remain at odds with one another in the theory of relativity and quantum physics.
The same attributes (discontinuity, indeterminism and non-locality) that characterize self-consciousness, characterize also the “double negation” that serves as the ground of freedom. Both of these “forms” generate implication. At the “ground of freedom” implication remains open (until observed), while in self-consciousness, implication opens up the human world-historical-process. In other words, the negation that lies at the center of self-consciousness, the negation that permits our capacity to solve mathematical equations, lies also at the “ground that serves as the ground of freedom.” Because observation takes place in the space of continuity, determinism and locality (self-consciousness’s negative space) there is an unavoidable clash of worlds—the world of continuity, determinism and locality (relativity) clashes with the world of discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality (quantum physics). Bottom line here is that the theory of relativity accurately describes natural phenomena. Einstein’s equations, when applied to the world of physical events, provide accurate information concerning our status as participating agents in the physical universe. Likewise, quantum mechanics accurately describes natural phenomena. Only the phenomena being described are “fuzzy” because, as it is throughout freedom’s dialectic, the space that separates also embeds and connects. On the quantum level, self-consciousness confronts its own ground state in the form of the phenomenal strangeness of quantum physics.
Ultimately, from the most holistic of perspectives, what this connection—the connection that connects logical form, world, and freedom tells us—is that were it not for the negative space of determinism, continuity, and locality, the discontinuity, non-locality, and indeterminism of human consciousness (opposites are necessary to conserve wholeness)—would not be free in a world of our own experience (by degrees, experience of our own choosing)—seeking truth, justice, and religious meaning!
Summing up my worldview, the worldview of “forms” that, ultimately, culminate in Homo sapiens, the species that answers to the higher “Divine form” of God’s freedom—is: very close to what Wolfgang Pauli believed; Pauli, a Nobel Prize winner, earned a reputation for being a ruthless critic of ideas during the time when physics was birthing the principles governing sub atomic particles. His contributions were numerous, including the famous “exclusion principle” and the prediction of the existence of the neutrino. At the center of Pauli’s philosophical outlook was his “wish for a unitary understanding of the world, a unity incorporating the tension of opposites,” and he hailed the interpretation of quantum theory as a major development toward this end. (p. 173)
(The three physicists I paraphrase and quote here are described in Ken Wilber’s book: Quantum Questions, Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists)
My worldview is also very sympathetic to the profound reverence Einstein held for rationality. Einstein believed that scientific knowledge ennobles true religion—not the religion that inspires fear in God, but rather a religion “capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself.” For Einstein, “the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence” was the highest religious attitude. (p.113)
But, even more than with Pauli and Einstein, my worldview resonates with what Arthur Eddington believed. He was possibly the first person to fully comprehend Einstein’s relativity theory. He also headed up the famous expedition that photographed the solar eclipse which offered proof of relativity theory. Eddington believed that if you want to fill a vessel you must first make it hollow. He also said, “our present conception of the physical world is hollow enough to hold almost anything,” hollow enough to hold “that which asks the question,” hollow enough to hold “the scheme of symbols connected by mathematical equations that describes the basis of all phenomena.” He also said, however, “If ever the physicist solves the problem of the living body, he should no longer be tempted to point to his result and say ‘That’s you.’ He should say rather ‘That is the aggregation of symbols which stands for you in my description and explanation of those of your properties which I can observe and measure. If you claim a deeper insight into your own nature by which you can interpret these symbols—a more intimate knowledge of the reality which I can only deal with by symbolism—you can rest assured that I have no rival interpretation to propose. The skeleton is the contribution of physics to the solution of the Problem of Experience; from the clothing of the skeleton it (physics) stands aloof.” (p. 194)
In my God argument above, without the Not-Me-Self, science, literature, ethics, all that gets called civilization, would not exist. The Not-Me-Self has an even greater significance though, for it implies the existence of the God that Is. The Implicative Affirmative of the Not-Me-Self is, in fact, the Logos image of God made whole in woman/man/humanity.