Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

The Logic Divinity Connection

June 27, 2010


The Myth of Religious Neutrality

Here’s a blog from Matthewherring’s Weblog. My comment is under it.

[Many thanks to Ioana for her notes!]

Last Tuesday, Ioana and I went to a lecture at WYSOCS by Professor Roy Clouser, author of The Myth of Religious Neutrality. He’s a great speaker, who kept our attention through some pretty heavy stuff (mathematics, logic). Here’s a short summary of what he said.

Every theory we hold is based on a ‘Divinity Belief’. This includes both consciously held and unconscious beliefs. We may disagree on who is divine, but we all know what it means to be divine. Clouser defined the Divine as that reality which is self-existent and everything else that is not divine depends on it. Others have approached the same definition by speaking of ‘the Absolute’, or ‘the Ultimate Reality’, or ‘the Unconditionally Non-dependent’. Thus, such things as worship, or ethics, are not necessary for a belief to be considered religious (not all religions involve worship or ethics, e.g. Theraveda Buddhism) and certain beliefs (e.g. atheism, materialism) not normally considered to be religious beliefs can now be counted as religious beliefs (because even atheists believe that something is self-existent, usually matter, physics or the like). Hence the title: it is a myth that anyone can be religiously neutral, or, put a different way, that secular society represents the base norm and religious beliefs are an essentially unnecessary, but troublesome, add-on.

A Divinity Belief lies at the core of every theory and the outcome of their arguments. This is inescapable. One’s worldview consists of one’s answer to these three questions: 1) what is divine? 2) how does everything else relate to the divine? 3) how should human beings live in order to be in a correct relationship to the divine. The atheist is subject to this just as much as the ‘religious’ person: an atheistic materialist might answer question 1 by saying that matter and physics are that reality which ‘just exists’. Therefore everything else that exists, including us, exists because matter and physics exist. How should human beings live in the light of that? Well, for one, they should stop worrying about any notion of heaven, hell and divine judgement and just live for this life!

Clouser goes further than linking Divinity Beliefs to big, worldview-scale beliefs, but goes on to say that all beliefs are conditioned by one’s Divinity Belief, even ostensibly neutral or trivial ones. The counter argument which is presented against this is that 1+1=2 is the same, regardless of your Divinity Belief. An atheist believes that 1+1=2 just the same as an animist, or a Christian. Clouser addressed this counter argument by asking the question, ‘what is a number?’ Throughout the history of mathematics there have been various answers to this question. Pythagoras, Plato, Leibnitz and others believed that numbers existed in a higher, more perfect world – the number world theory. Thus, Leibnitz would say that 1+1 would =2 even if there were no things to count or people to count them. Numbers are the self-existent reality. The second theory of numbers was that held by Bertrand Russell, namely that there are no numbers; numbers and mathematical laws are simply shorthand for logic. Therefore, the self-existent reality is logic itself. A third theory, held by John Stuart Mill, is that numbers are just our generalisation of what we see. They are based on sensation and observation – sensation is the self-existent reality. John Dewey believed that the marks we call numbers stand for nothing. Asking whether 1+1=2 is true or not is asking the wrong question. Mathematics is a tool: one doesn’t ask if a tool is ‘true’ or not, but what job the tool does. Our beliefs are tools to help us survive and thrive; we are animals who invent tools. Then there are formalists and intuitionists – the latter reject the logical formulation which goes, “either P or Q; it’s not P so it must be Q” and thus reject a whole school of mathematics. Leibnitz believed that negative numbers don’t actually exist – we just make them up, so 4-8=-4 doesn’t have the same status in truth as 1+1=2 (if you believe that numbers derive from quantity you also have to come to this conclusion, because you can’t have -4 apples. You can owe someone 4 apples, but the owed apples don’t actually exist). Some languages don’t have words for numbers over 3. If 1+1=2 is problematic once one starts asking what a number actually ‘is’, then for higher mathematics, which Divinity Belief you hold makes a huge amount of difference.

Addressing the question of how we acquire our Divinity Beliefs, Professor Clouser stated that knowledge is not by faith. It’s the other way round: we have faith because we know who god (or God) is. Fitting it into the Christian framework of the Fall, we were created with knowledge of God. The Fall consisted in our wilfully replacing God with some other object (a cover for our real aim: putting ourselves on the throne). Romans chapter 1, in the Bible, states that mankind suppresses the knowledge of God. We are made with antennae for picking up knowledge of God. With the Fall, these became distorted and now focus on other things and can only be fixed by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. As to why some people latch onto one god and others to a different god, Professor Clouser said that this was something that one could not know (or at least he didn’t). However, he did venture that our Divinity Beliefs chose us rather than the other way round. Certain beliefs just seem self-evidently ‘right’ to us – hence the person brought up to be a devout Jew who encounters a materialistic professor at university and goes, “That’s it! That’s what I’ve always thought!” And the penny drops. To this extent, our beliefs are not under the control of our will (try making yourself believe something that is self-evidently not true).

Lastly, Professor Clouser proposed a thought-experiment for telling whether a Divinity Belief is true or not. Think about some aspect of reality (Clouser’s example was his glass of water) and strip away everything except the self-existent reality (in other words, our ‘fictions’ about that thing). Taking the example of the glass and the belief of materialism, that means stripping away notions like beauty. It also means stripping away quantity. Then shape. Then position in space. And so on. If you strip away everything but matter away from the glass, you end up with nothing, because nothing is exclusively material. (I’m not sure I understood this test – surely something has a particular shape because of the matter it is made of – but this is what he seemed to be saying. Perhaps he’s saying that, in the final analysis, shape doesn’t exist if the ultimate reality is just ‘matter’ in its generality and the particulars of this particular piece of matter are not germane to that. If you strip away everything but matter, you end up actually with nothing. I think he’s saying that nothing but God is adequate as a ground for reality).

******

After the lecture, Ioana and I cycled down into the centre of Leeds (from Horsforth, where WYSOCS is based). This was really good fun. We passed Kirkstall Abbey. Bits of Leeds reminded me of Glasgow – we passed the ends of a lot of Victorian brick tenements on streets which climbed steeply upwards from the main road. There’s something about the space of those sort of streets that I really like. You could see into the rooms of the flats on the end: people’s intimate lives separated from a busy thoroughfare by nothing but a few inches of brick. The contrast between the intimacy of the rising street, with its front steps, gardens, windows, neighborhood dogs and trees, and the anonymous rush of the main road.

bwinwnbwi’s comment

I agree Matthew–we cannot be religiously neutral (great blog by the way). Professor Clouser’s lecture pushed so many of my buttons that before this comment ends you will have a good summary concerning the significance of all of my blogs and my beliefs, and, I also agree that. my beliefs chose me and not the other way around–not because I’m an easy catch, but because the answers to questions I brought to the table of inquiry ended up painting an unmistakable picture of divinity!

1) I also agree with this: “It is a myth that anyone can be religiously neutral, or, put a different way, that secular society represents the base norm and religious beliefs are an essentially unnecessary, but troublesome, add-on.”

2) For me, God is logic and because of this our beliefs make sense to us, but they must also be held accountable to the rules of “non-contradiction” and consistency. In other words, what makes sense to us must conform to what makes logical sense. I agree with Bertrand Russell here, “namely that there are no numbers; numbers and mathematical laws are simply a shorthand for logic. Therefore, the self-existent reality is logic itself.”

3) God, again for me, is affirmation. As you have already said: “If you strip away everything but matter, you end up actually with nothing. I think he’s saying that nothing but God is adequate as a ground for reality)”. Arthur Eddington said it best when he said:

“If you want to fill a vessel you must first make it hollow. 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.” (Quantum Questions, Wilber, p. 194)

4) I agree that one’s worldview is based on your three questions and here they are with my brief answer to each one: 1) What is divine?….logical structure/b~b~bb, freedom/liberation, emotion/love, affirmation/wholeness. 2) How does everything else relate to the divine?….through the logical structure of b~b~bb, i.e., wholeness/affirmation, life/death, and self/consciousness/affirmed physical events. 3) How should human beings live in order to be in a correct relationship to the divine?….not an easy answer, but here’s what I have said elsewhere:

We struggle to become educated and, in the process, obtain reasonable beliefs that endure. However, when faced with blatant evidence to the contrary our beliefs may change (ought/need to change). In the absence of contradictions, though, we choose to believe emotionally fulfilling beliefs. In conclusion (and without embellishment), here is a list of reasons why I find my worldview emotionally satisfying. Oh, and by the way, this is also my reasoning for why some values are not culturally relative:

1) Religion and science are brought into harmony; that is, they may be equally reverenced without conflict. 2) Because human self-awareness, life, and the physical-chemical processes that support life, are all embedded in divine extensive connection, humans are born with the potential to right the wrongs caused by “ignorance based injustices.” 3) The values used to judge right from wrong follow from the extensive connection process; that is, values used to judge right from wrong are life affirming and freedom affirming values. In other words, in terms of a minimum quality of life, within the prevailing economic realities, no person should be denied the basic necessities of life; and further, sufficient freedoms (within the limits of reasonable expectation) should be in place to allow for meaningful self-expression (the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution are a good place to start). As long as these two conditions are satisfied market competition, within prevailing economic realities, should be permitted. Anything less than this—the minimum standard of living for all human beings, — is an “ignorance based injustice.” 4) And finally, in regards to a religious afterlife: death is not the end, but things like virgins, talks with Jesus, and eternal bliss, are spurious and misplaced expectations–therefore, ecological stewardship–preserving the quality of life for future generations–is the first and last commandment to which we must pledge our allegiance. Thanks for the opportunity to post!

Advertisements

The Voice Of The We Of Divinity Concluded

November 21, 2009

This is a continuation of lasts week’s post, but I have more to say in this one. There is some explanation for why I believe the We Voice of Divinity exists, but, there is more description than explanation; that said, I’ve decided to stay with this theme in future posts, at least for a while. Because of the lack of explanation, for the next couple of weeks, I will be describing some of the considerations that brought me to affirm the We Voice of Divinity. I will talk about God’s footprint. Yes, a lot of why I say what I say is because the length of God’s footprint extends up out of the strange behavior of quantum phenomena and into the heavy determinism of the physics of relativity—big footprint. The depth of the footprint extends as deep as the observer/observed relationship described below, which, in turn, is based on the experience/existence of the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self, or the ~bb of b~b~bb also described below.Here’s a quick sense of what I’m getting at (by chance I discovered this as I was shutting down my computer, I wrote it but I don’t remember when): God is a recursive loop of increasing complexity that liberates consciousness. Initially, this content/form relationship produced very little consciousness, but, upon increased complexity, the content of consciousness became human, while the form of this relationship remains imbedded in its source, i.e., God.Horizons Of Self: Mind, Emotions, And Body

Language, politics, morality, and religion originate here. Justice gets done here. Worldviews are created here—the purple quadrant.

This new physics, to be sure, is still in the midst of growing pains, but whatever the outcome, John Locke’s concrete material substance is history. We do not exist a three-term relationship (mental substance, material object, appearance) we exist a two-term relationship with the second term being our theoretically postulated, hypothetically designated component of experience while the first term of experience is the immediately sensed determinate portion of the aesthetic continuum,– which is part of our very being. The immediately sensed component is relative to each individual while the theoretic component is public, exists within our understanding, and therefore is accessible to everybody, everywhere.

We experience our three horizons–emotional life (red), embodied life (pink), and psychological life (yellow)–in their aesthetic immediacy, within which differentiations come and go. In this way, change and understanding change, is pervasive. Theories follow from questions, and correct theories follow from confirmation of experimental results. In other words, the scientific method is one way to expand our horizons, but that method works best when dealing with physical phenomena, the embodied state (pink horizon). The scientific method is less effective when it comes to expanding our psychological and emotional horizons. However, with education, all three horizons expand. Understanding, whether it comes from the hypothetically conceived, experimentally verified component of our experience, or whether it comes from the “school of hard knocks,” so to speak, still educates.

Here’s how F. S. C. Northrop describes the two-term relationship of a fully known thing: “Both components are equally real and primary, and hence good, the one being the complement of the other… (He states) “To be any complete thing is to be not merely an immediately experienced, aesthetically and emotionally felt thing, but also to be what hypothetically conceived and experimentally verified theory designates.” (The Meeting Of East And West, p. 450) So, we may ask, into what do our self-horizons expand when they expand? In other words, I now want to talk about the blue, green, and purple quadrants in the above diagram. By way of introduction, and to keep the topic focused, here is another person’s take on why the three-term relationship is no longer needed; the physicist Henry Margenau, like Northrop before him, described human experience in terms of a two-term relationship.

In his book, The Nature of Physical Reality, Margenau elaborates on what the theoretic component of our experience entails when he says, “…that we come to knowledge of our experience in two ways—through the mental states of prepositional attitudes and sensation.” He then lumps these attitudes and sensation together in what he calls our P-plane experience—a combination of immediate experience with its significance (sensed qualia embedded in a knowledge matrix). In this way we come to “know” the same thing in two different ways, through sensed qualia and through the significance that we attach to this sensed qualia. For Margenau, there are four levels of P-plane significance. Language, with its lexical, syntactical, and contextual designations represents the first level. The second level, science, raises P-plane significance by connecting P-plane experience with the propositional aspects of our cognitive experience via what Margenau calls rules of correspondence—the sensed aspect of what may be inferred or deduced from theoretical postulates. On the third and fourth level of P-plane experience, significance deals with ethical behavior and existential meaning. Here the cognitive connection to P-plane experience does not entail the rigor of analysis that describes the scientific method. But, according to Margenau, this lack of rigor does not impose a lesser degree of significance.

Connecting understanding up with ethical behavior and existential meaning moves P-plane experience out of the blue quadrant—or the science of how our body works, and into the purple quadrant,–why we make our body do the things that it does. Here, in the psychological mind quadrant, we are constantly being stimulated, inspired, (and disgusted) by the hermeneutic circle of communication that comprises this quadrant. The independence, integrity, and freedom of the individual,–the groups, organizations, and institutions that the individual participates in, all are encountered in this quadrant. Language, politics, morality, and religion originate here. Justice gets done here. Worldviews are created here. “Approved life styles” are affirmed here. Hamlet gets read, discussed, and criticized here. When our yellow horizon expands, it moves us further into this quadrant, into that place where the scope of human discourse burgeons. In brief, to quote Lett, (speaking in a different context) this is the quadrant “where people will assign meanings to their activities and experiences and will invest considerable intellectual and emotional currency in the development, expression, and preservation of those meanings.” (James Lett, The Human Enterprise, p.97) But, even though our mind is, so to speak, set free in the purple quadrant (yellow self-horizon), our body remains in the blue quadrant. So, where do we go when our pink horizon (blue quadrant) expands?

If we’re lucky, and say, for instance, that we’re in the middle of a Michigan winter, we pack our bags and go to Florida. For those of us who can’t quite swing a Florida vacation, however, we continue to punch the cloak, put in our 40 hours per week, and all for the purpose of keeping food on the table, rents and mortgages paid, and a little spending money in our pockets. The blue quadrant is the brick and mortar world we live in. It is also where scientific predictions are confirmed, and, on a more solemn note, where justice and injustice are experienced. Take me, for instance, I’m sitting in front of my computer screen and when I look up, I immediately see sand and cement laden material used in the construction of, oh well, you name it. In order to get into my room, I had to shove against an atmosphere pressing against my body with a force of fourteen pounds per square inch, a body constituted by a physical-chemical system, e.g., bone, nervous system, and cortex-brain. This physical body lives approximately 70 years, dies, and breaks down into constituent parts—rots. While I’m alive I am presented with voluminous products for the purpose of consumption, and, if I were able to invent a product that everybody desires, I would be able to follow the sun to my heart’s content. But, enough said about the blue quadrant; it’s depressing to note that many intelligent people never get beyond the blue quadrant, i.e., see everything as a by-product of the blue quadrant.

The New Model Of The Observer/Observed Relationship Continued

The source of everything, including Northrop’s two-term relationship, lies embedded in the indeterminate aesthetic continuum.

As was pointed out above, considerable emotional currency goes into preserving the meanings that give us comfort. In an odd sort of way then, you might say the more invested we are in production and consumption (blue quadrant) the more we expand our red emotional horizon. However, a passionate desire for wealth and power has little in common with the empowering emotion that calls us to love, beauty and truth. The gorgeous sunset that sometimes swells our eyes to tears is not just a product of the spinning earth; it is also part of the spontaneous, pulsating, emotion that flows from the whole of the aesthetic continuum. The material of the poet, painter, and musician is not the product of Locke’s mental substance; rather, it is the empowering emotion that inspires life, imagination, and awe. The mental substance, which Locke presupposed as necessary in order to explain the existence of appearance, is no longer necessary because appearance is not just appearance, it is the real stuff of the universe. It is too bad the syntactically designated, indirectly and experimentally verified, theoretic component of knowledge treats the reality of the aesthetic component as a mere sign. The immediately grasped, emotionally moving ground out of which all things arise,–the aesthetic component of our experience–beckons us to seek the impossible, express the unspeakable, and imagine the inconceivable.

Emotions, therefore, are not, as Locke believed, and many of the religiously informed persons who followed him also believed, the product of bestial urges that must be subdued. It is also unfortunate that Plato, although recognizing emotions to be an inseparable part of the human psyche, identified them with evil. For Plato, reason was the great charioteer, forever reining in the unruly emotions. It is to the credit of Northrop’s two-term relationship of the aesthetic-theoretic experience that emotion gets valued on par with reason. Indeed, reason becomes sterile without emotion and emotion without reason becomes misery–more often than not. The poet William Blake said it best when he said: “It is good when you are in a passion, but not when a passion is in you.” All emotion is meaningful, but that meaning is unjustifiably limited by Locke’s use of the three-term relationship of appearance, material object, and observer. We do not exist a three-term relationship, we exist a two-term relationship with the second term being our theoretically postulated, hypothetically designated component of experience while the first term of experience is the immediately sensed determinate portion of the aesthetic continuum. The continuity of emotion/reason follows naturally from this two term relationship, as does the psychological freedom that, if actualized, leads to reverence for all that is true, good, and beautiful in life.

Without psychological freedom we would be condemned to blue-quadrant existence—a life hardly worth living. Not to worry, though, the allure of freedom has, throughout history, inspired “greatness in thought, word, and deed,” and, when practiced in environments of some spiritual disciplines, this freedom is said to produce incredible “experiences of emancipation,” e.g., Patanjellie’s eight steps of yoga, the Buddha’s eight fold path to enlightenment, and, the more recent schools of transpersonal psychologies which, I believe began with Maslow’s self-actualization psychology, but now these schools are researching such things as meditation, higher levels of consciousness, and even Para psychological phenomena. Encouraging awareness, understanding, and the appreciation for this kind of in depth freedom is what my up dated description of the observer/observed relationship is supposed to be about. Ultimately, though, to fully comprehend the meaning of this freedom we must rethink what it means to be alive and belong to this universe of ours, and, in the process, we must get beyond the worldview that has outlived its usefulness and now inhibits.

To recap, the #8 bridge binds and separates life and death while the #9 bridge binds and separates the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self and the physical event, (or the emotionally felt immediate experience that at any given time may be hypothetically conceived and experimentally verified via its predictable consequences). The bridge that is not depicted in the diagram above is the bridge in which the universe lies suspended. Logically, this bridge is structured along the lines of a double negative (the logic of neither this nor that). The universe then hangs suspended in a Logos that is the equivalent of God’s non-being, but, via the Logos, God’s non-being implies transcendence. This is, obviously, a lot of information to take in. Hopefully, however, by incorporating a V structure and logical design in the paragraph below, I will have summed up (and simplified) the Divinity that simultaneously exists inside of Nature and outside of Nature. In this sense, Divinity is somewhat like the one sided surface of a Mobius strip; Divinity existing both outside and inside the loop.

Let the V image represent God’s freedom. Let one side of the V represent the empirical world (aesthetic continuum) and the other freedom. Identify the vertex, the bottom of V, as ~~b (the purist form of unity and the ground of the Logos that structures all existence). 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 stage of freedom—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 a conscious self. With the advent of self-consciousness, freedom again moves forward. The V grows larger (and wider) as the story of civilization unfolds.

Freedom here defines God as immanent (the phenomenal world) and transcendent (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, on a day-to-day basis, that’s what “we call reality.”

We struggle to become educated and, in the process, obtain reasonable beliefs that endure. However, when faced with blatant evidence to the contrary our beliefs may change (ought/need to change). In the absence of contradictions, though, we choose to believe emotionally fulfilling beliefs. If you’ve read this far, you probably have found something I’ve said interesting. Thanks for that. In conclusion (and without embellishment), here is a list of reasons why I find my worldview emotionally satisfying. Oh, and by the way, this is also my reasoning for why some values are not culturally relative:

1) Religion and science are brought into harmony; that is, they may be equally reverenced without conflict. 2) Because human self-awareness, life, and the physical-chemical processes that support life, are all embedded in divine extensive connection, humans are born with the potential to right the wrongs caused by “ignorance based injustices.” 3) The values used to judge right from wrong follow from the extensive connection process; that is, values used to judge right from wrong are life affirming and freedom affirming values. In other words, in terms of a minimum quality of life, within the prevailing economic realities, no person should be denied the basic necessities of life; and further, sufficient freedoms (within the limits of reasonable expectation) should be in place to allow for meaningful self-expression (the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution are a good place to start). As long as these two conditions are satisfied market competition, within prevailing economic realities, should be permitted. Anything less than this—the minimum standard of living for all human beings, — is an “ignorance based injustice.” 4) And finally, in regards to a religious afterlife: death is not the end, but things like virgins, talks with Jesus, and eternal bliss, are spurious and misplaced expectations.

For many of us, saying “yes to God” is easy, but getting to know the meaning of the relationships behind that affirmation is the all-important, and difficult, next step. At the end of the first part of this essay (last week’s post) I let Martin Buber have the last words, and likewise, he gets the last words here. Martin Buber understood that affirming the existence of God is no more difficult than affirming the ground out of which duality arises. In his book, I And Thou, he alludes to the spiritual significance of this affirmation when he says:

“Dimly we apprehend this double movement –that turning away from the primal ground by virtue of which the universe preserves itself in its becoming, and that turning toward the primal ground by virtue of which the universe redeems itself in being –as the metacosmic primal form of duality that inheres in the world as a whole in its relation to that which is not world, and whose human form is the duality of attitudes, of basic words, and of the two aspects of the world. Both movements are unfolded fatefully in time and enclosed, as by grace, in the timeless creation that, incomprehensibly, is at once release and preservation, at once bond and liberation. Our knowledge of duality is reduced to silence by the paradox of the primal mystery” (1970, p. 149).

“That you need God more than anything, you know at all times in your heart. But don’t you know also that God needs you–in the fullness of his eternity, you? How would man exist if God did not need him, and how would you exist? You need God in order to be, and God needs you for that which is the meaning of your life.” (1970, p. 130)

Newsflash Extra Extra Proof Of Gods Existence

October 9, 2009

Here’s something different. Think of this post as being consistent with my thesis/story, but not part of it. My thesis, unbeknownst to my Professors at the time, succeeded on two levels. First, it satisfied a 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 both release and preservation, bond and liberation, is what’s happening within the polarity of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is,–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 is the meaning of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-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 that evolve from simple to more complex life forms.

Some evolved 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. True, aliens do exist, but we walk among them because we are them. Life forms that answer to a “more evolved form” are the symbol producing, problem solving, psychologically complex life forms that go by the name Homo sapiens. Being born into this select population, being alive in the species that “answers to this more evolved form,” brings with it not just self-awareness in a physical environment (the participatory moment of a conscious self in the physical event of a self-conscious being), but also the immense potential to expand one’s freedom and horizons. What I am trying to communicate here is unfamiliar, so what follows is my attempt to simplify the language with a picture, a picture of the “forms” that, ultimately, culminates in the species that “answers to a higher “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 transformation state of freedom—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. With the advent of self-consciousness, freedom again moves forward. The V grows larger (and wider) as the story of the history of human civilization unfolds.

What the above transformational states of God’s freedom are defining is God in the phenomenal world as immanence 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 the ancient Greeks have told us, in Mythos and Logos is where the world lies. We, as self-conscious beings, embedded in sensual experience, participate in inquiry, analysis, conscience, and imagination. Now, let’s take a closer look at what the form of ~bb, (of b~b~bb) entails, i.e., the freedom to think thoughts.

Discontinuity occurring in continuity (~bb) is like a chisel splitting wood, the wood (conscious wood in this example) experiences a gap, hole, or emptiness in itself. Likewise, in human consciousness, the gap, hole, or emptiness experienced is the result of discontinuity occurring in the continuity of consciousness. 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 (the “mental given”) of consciousness. 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 perspective, the connection that connects logical form, world, and freedom tells us: 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!

To sum up my spiritual worldview as it relates to modern science (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 very close to what Wolfgang Pauli believed. A Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Pauli, 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)

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, books, ethics, all that gets called civilization would not exist. The Not-Me-Self has an even greater significance, though, for in it resides the potential to liberate Divinity. The Implicative Affirmative of the Not-Me-Self is, in fact, the Logos image of God made whole in woman/man/humanity.

I want to conclude this post with a brief account of the social implications that follow from the Not-Me-Self (the “~bb” of b~b~bb). In addition to liberating human cognition, the Not-Me-Self also liberates good and bad feelings. The “or else,” that typically follows a command, is written in the blood of the rise and fall of civilizations. The civilizing process, to be sure, is not just a product of war mongering, influence peddling, and greed. Benevolence, generosity and good will move the civilizing process forward. I believe that, under the best of conditions, humans will choose kindness and consideration over uncaring and selfish behavior. In fact, for me, altruism, compassion, the “golden rule” (in all its forms) defines the Omega point of Divine liberation. This is not just wishful thinking; it is the only voice that calls forth from the Not-Me-Self. Because this voice is based in self/other interdependence, whose only claim to authority is a claim to contingency, this voice grounds individual freedoms and the emancipatory right of Others. This contingency, at the center of the Not-Me-Self, establishes the right of the Other to his/her otherness while it also establishes the basis of legitimacy from which to construct, express, and defend my own rights. Because this voice is universal, it also provides an ideal basis from which to critique the legitimatization of social and political power structures, as it also provides the ideal basis from which to evaluate justice, equality, and individual and collective freedoms.

Following from the right to my own contingency, and following from the right of the Other to her/his contingency, arises the politics of emancipation. This politics entails 1) the freeing of social life from the fixities of tradition and custom, 2) the reduction (or elimination) of exploitation, inequality and oppression (which includes the right to a living wage, universal health care, and protection from wrongful harms), and 3) the liberation of Divinity—the perpetuation of a more egalitarian social order, a social order that is based on insuring the availability of a standard of living (quality of life) sufficient for the actualization of individual freedoms. In other words, in the language of “how one ought to behave,” one should behave in a way that is consistent with Divinity’s liberation, consistent with self/other interdependence, consistent with life enhancement—righting the wrongs that perpetuate unnecessary suffering and pain.