Posts Tagged ‘worldview’

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!

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God Cares End Of Life Story Redemption Chapter 3

January 1, 2010

This post continues with a brief conversation between the devil and myself, and then switches over to an earlier conversation which is itself a continuation of the God’s Footprint–Determinism conversation of several posts back. That dialogue was set high in the Canadian Rockies where Stan, the English professor, Noel, the Philosophy professor, and Tony, the Physics professor, were trying to figure out the significance, if any, of the conceptual differences underlying the physics of the macro world, Relativity, and the micro world, quantum mechanics; however, in this post the dialogue moves away from physics and picks up with Stan’s interpretation of Whitehead’s process philosophy.

With The Courage To Face The Mystery The Possibility Of Communion Arises

Future Time Nine Continued

“You do realize,” said MV, “that growing closer to God is kind of a ‘coming of age journey’ and the first step in that journey is the one where you leave behind your parent’s home.”

“Tell me more,” I replied.

“Think of your parent’s house as whatever makes you comfortable,” responded MV, “upon leaving home, all preconceived notions about the world, — security and expectations, — all must go. And, as you have already pointed out, with the arrival of quantum physics, even some physicists have found themselves ‘coming of age,’ so to speak; when the concepts of causality and localization no longer apply, when the ordered world of space and time turns into a topology puzzle, there’s no going home again. Leaving solid ground behind is a scary thought, don’t you agree?”

“Yes, it’s scary, but it’s also an opportunity.”

“That’s my boy,” responded MV. “You had a good teacher eh! When an observer’s reference frame determines the veracity of measurement, and the ground under foot dissolves, that’s when the opportunity for a new kind of communion and comfort zone arises, albeit one that requires the courage to face the mystery head on and imagine new possibilities.”

“What you are saying won’t make sense to a person tucked away in their self-made protective cocoon,” I responded. “You’d be wasting your breath there! It’s too bad it took me so long to learn that lesson. I could have avoided a lot of grief if I had been just a little bit smarter.”

“Yes, you were slow,” replied MV, “but don’t be too hard on yourself. Life’s an investment you know, and everybody wants their monies worth. Even if all the evidence is against you, it’s very difficult to cast your fate to the wind and start over. It’s impossible for some people to give up their cocoon. That’s why leaving solid ground is such a scary thought—and it should be! But, getting back to the point; after a struggle, you succeeded in making sense out of those freedom and consciousness issues. It’s just too bad you couldn’t communicate that success to others. But, look on the bright side, you’ve still got me! And since I’m the ‘enabler’ here, you don’t need anybody else. Enjoy your success, and besides, it’s only a matter of time before others figure it out. Actually, your work is not that hard to comprehend. Your two term approach to reality, as opposed to Locke’s three term approach, certainly was a good start.”

“Yes, that was the beginning for me,” I replied. “When I gave that presentation back in 1981 I knew I was onto something, but I didn’t know where those ideas would eventually take me. Maybe that’s par for the course, though; after all, here I am asking the Devil to tell me about God.”

“You might say I’m helping you to remember your own work,” responded MV, “it’s a good thing too because you need all the help you can get. And, as far as giving credit where credits due is concerned, I’m the best one for the job!”

“Your reputation for humility precedes you,” I replied. “I’ll just ignore that last comment if you don’t mind. Anyway, let’s review Whitehead’s process reality; not only did Whitehead create a philosophy around the freedom-consciousness connection, he also articulated a unique understanding of divinity.

“As you wish,” replied MV.

Whitehead’s Occasions Imparted A Kind Of Sentience To Nature

Alfred Lifted The “Process” Out Of The Philosopher (Kant) And Put It Squarely Back Into Nature Where It Belonged

Consciousness All The Way Down

As I was saying in a previous post, my theory of knowledge, or the consciousness/aesthetic continuum theory of knowledge, replaces Locke’s consciousness/appearance/material world theory of knowledge. Immanuel Kant was, however, the first to eliminate the necessity of Locke’s appearance concept from knowledge. Sense experience, for Kant, was filtered through twelve categories of understanding, categories that mentally “structured” our experience of the so-called material world. In other worlds, Kant’s categories permitted knowledge of our “experienced world.” For both Kant and Locke, however, consciousness and knowledge were considered a unique human experience. Whitehead’s process philosophy changed all that.

The role of consciousness in Whitehead’s philosophy was not restricted to human awareness. For Whitehead, consciousness was not a secondary attribute of the world; rather, it became the primary attribute. His process philosophy was developed after Kant, Einstein, and the revolutionary advances of quantum physics had totally deconstructed the worldview of the 18th and 19th centuries. What follows is a three-way conversation set in the Canadian Rockies between university professors; a rendering of an actual event which took place back when Peter (my backpacking partner) and I met up with these three professors while backcountry hiking in Jasper National Park. The conversation below, however, is fictionalized. The dialogue represents my efforts to come to terms with my reading of Whitehead’s philosophy.

The Conversation Continued

“Wouldn’t you know it,” said Stan, “I’ve lost my train of thought. But I do have a few more observations, albeit a little off topic.”

“Go for it,” said Noel, “it’s time to move on anyway.”

“Well, it’s not totally new,” Stan replied, “it’s just that when I was listening to your bantering, I felt like I had heard it all before. In my youth I studied Alfred North Whitehead. In fact, he inspired my desire to attend Harvard. He ended his career teaching there. Did you read him Tony?”

“No, I shy away from metaphysics,” responded Tony. “But I know about
him. You can’t go to Harvard without becoming familiar with prestigious alumnae.”

“Whitehead spent the first half of his academic career as a Professor of Mathematics,” Stan continued, ” he and Bertrand Russell attempted to prove that the axioms of number theory could be deduced from the premises of formal logic. Their book on that subject, Principia Mathematica, is quite famous. Whitehead also published another book on mathematics in which he formalized a set of rules and theorems, from which the theorems of Euclidean geometry are derivable. All this was done, for the most part, before Einstein published his famous theories. Whitehead, not surprisingly, took a keen interest in Einstein’s published works. And, like Cassirer, he
wrote a book on relativity theory; only in his book he disagreed with Einstein. As I recall he didn’t like the elevation of the velocity of light to a law of nature and he was critical of the flexible nature of space. Whitehead’s formalism was based on the premise of uniform space, or more precisely on the ‘non-contingent uniformity in spatial relations.’ As might be expected, in the scientific community, his ideas fell out of favor, but they played a
major role in the metaphysics that he developed latter in life. In that metaphysics, Whitehead lifted the ’process’ out of the philosopher (Kant) and put it squarely back into nature where he felt it belonged. Man, the symbol-generating animal, became instead, the product of process reality.”

“I guess this is as good a time as any to bid you fine fellows ado,” interrupted Peter, “It’s past my bedtime. But thanks for making my sleeping bag look so delicious. See you in the morning.”

“Sleep tight,” Stan replied, and then throwing another log on the campfire, he continued, “what you were saying about ‘organic unities of time’ constituting our inner sense of being really made me think about Whitehead. He too believed that ‘whole movements’ or ‘epochs’ constituted individual unities of experience. He called those unities of experience occasions and then he went on to base his metaphysics on those occasions. For him, occasions came all at once or not at all and ultimately provided nature with a kind of sentience. What’s interesting is that, at their most elementary level, where occasions are overlapping events, they still possessed a kind of sentience. Is anybody familiar with what I am talking about?”

“Yeah, it’s called animism,” replied Noel, “Eh, I’m only joking.”

Whitehead Understood Occasions To Be Processes Of Self-Development, Self-Creation

Elementary Events Overlap And Become Part Of The Actual World, Develop Into A Biosphere Full Of Sentient Qualities, Which In Turn, Develop Into The Very Words We Are Speaking Now

Conversation Continued

“Sure I’ve heard of Whitehead’s metaphysics,” said Noel, “but I haven’t studied it in any depth. As I recall he turned nature into a kind of sentient being, and thus sidestepped all the epistemological problems that arise in subject-object opposition and in the self-world dichotomy. But, in his philosophy, didn’t he understand occasions as processes of self-development, or even self-creation?”

“Yes, that’s exactly right,” Stan responded. “The idea was that an
occasion was a ‘prehending entity’ in active interaction with its whole environment. Whitehead thought of these ‘prehending entities’ as processes of self-formation with ‘subjective aim.’ They began as simple overlapping events, evolved, and, as they say, the rest is history. Right?”

“Of course,” said Noel, “I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, you
are aware that teleological explanations of the world are not just history, they’re ancient history! Isn’t that why we call it meta-physics, eh Stan?”

“Don’t forget about the problematic areas of science,” Stan responded. “Whitehead’s metaphysics speaks directly to those issues, especially the ones at the quantum level. Just hear me out.”

“I’m all ears,” replied Noel.

“Just as in quantum theory,” Stan continued, “where physical reality is at best, quasi-continuous, where successive leaps or vibrations of energy fuse together to form physical objects perceived by us as continuous, so too in Whitehead’s occasions we see physical experience taking place in leaps of becoming. His ‘process reality’ moves from becoming to being. For him, potentiality is rendered specific with the becoming of each event. What this all means is that the whole system that we take to be space and time literally
grows out of the way that events are systematically related to one another in nature.

“Again, in quantum mechanics, where the discontinuous existence of
fundamental particles forms the continuous existence of larger physical bodies, in Whitehead’s occasions there is a parallel state of affairs going on. First, elementary events overlap and become part of the actual world. Then these enduring occasions develop into a biosphere full of sentient qualities, which, in turn, develops into this–our present state of affairs, specifically, into the words we are speaking right now. But that is not the end of it. In fact, it doesn’t end. The ‘subjective aim’ of the occasion presses in upon the environing realities of all physical, biological, and psychological phenomena, and in combination with these realities, continues to create a more fully developed reality. Species evolve, and so it goes, one occasion after another, unfolding, pushing this ‘now’ into the past while receiving ‘what is’ and ‘will be,’ again and again. Novelty arises as new forms of self-expression and new vistas of self-fulfillment unfold. Ultimately, what is going on in Whitehead’s metaphysics—in addition to eliminating the subjective /objective split that occurs in the philosophies of Descartes, Locke, and Kant, is a ‘bootstrapping’ of self-development, a bringing into existence a more self-fulfilling, self- expressive, sentient nature.”

“This is getting too ethereal for me,” said Tony. “What’s next,
God?”

“Well, yes, that’s exactly right,” responded Stan, “But apart from the God thing, I believe Whitehead’s thought speaks directly to the concerns brought up in this conversation.”

“If you say so, “Noel replied,” but what about God? How did
Whitehead perceive God, anyway?”

If The Call Is For Retributive Justice The First Mirror Will Pinpoint The Guilty

In So Far As Self-Aim Conforms To Its Immediate Past, There Is Determinism, But In So Far As Any Entity Modifies Its Response Through The Subjective Element Of Feeling, There Is Freedom

Some Freedom Is Not Divine—God Cares

“If you say so, “Noel replied,” but what about God? How did Whitehead perceive God, anyway?”

“Same o, same o,” replied Tony, “as a redeeming father figure.”

“That’s not true,” said Stan, “Well, maybe it’s a little true, but it’s more complicated than that. Whitehead would be the first to admit that if religion didn’t exist, it would have to be invented. From a sociological point of view, it does too many things for too many people for it not to exist. Religion is necessary for another reason, though. It deals with permanence amid change, and for Whitehead that meant connecting the idea of permanence up with the idea of ‘extensive connection’, or the general ordering that takes place in process reality. In other words, God is co-continuous with all the ‘happenings’ of the world.”

“Go tell that to Dostoyevsky,” replied Tony, “As far as he was concerned God was a mass murderer of innocent children.”

“Okay, Tony, for the sake of Dostoyevsky, lets hold God accountable for all the world’s sins,” responded Stan, “but first lets look to see on whose behalf God exists. Remember, occasions are environing events with a self-aim; they represent the creation of novelty and change—and, as such, the entire physical universe is processing its way back to God–the conceptual, eternal, side of God. God is ‘eternal presence’ and bears witness to all past and present occasions. The future, however, is like an unused role of film. Being exposed, it is always in the process of being developed. The untimely deaths of innocents are part of that process, part of the internal constitution of God, as God works through the transition from the eternal to the actual, and from the actual back to the eternal. God is the reason for all becoming, and nothing exists that is separate from God. All ‘passing’ is absorbed back into the eternal witness of God.”

“That’s not good enough,” Tony replied, “whose pain or whose suffering is not the issue. The fact that there is way too much pain and suffering is the issue. With all the pain, cruelty, and injustice in the world, we just can’t let God off the hook, even if, as Whitehead believes, God shares in all of it. Believe me, God would be convicted by a jury of his peers.”

“Tony’s right,” Noel replied, “God has to go.”

“I’m not finished yet,” Stan responded, “there’s more than just witnessing what’s going on here. In fact, there’s a dynamic that shouts out for change; if indeed a retributive justice is called for here, then one has to look no farther then the first mirror to pinpoint the guilty.”

“Hold on! Who’s getting huffy now,” replied Tony, “I didn’t start this. I didn’t ask to be born. I’m just here, doing what I can to stay alive. How the hell can I be held responsible for God’s handiwork?”

“Do you feel sad when you see dying children,” said Stan.

“What’s that supposed to mean; of course I feel sad,” shot back
Tony, “but I can’t change it. I block it out of my mind.”

“Well that’s what brands you as guilty,” Stan replied. “It’s the playing out of those self-expressive, self-fulfilling feelings that you can’t avoid that gets you into trouble. Insofar as occasions conform to their environment, insofar as the ‘self-aim’ conforms to its immediate past, there is determinism, but insofar as any entity modifies its response through the subjective element of feeling, there is freedom. Feeling and freedom are codependent for Whitehead, and God is in touch with all feelings. He is there, inside agonizing screams, and He is there in all suffering, especially suffering caused by injustice. He is also there, however, in all hopes, joy, and happiness, in addition to fears, regrets, and sorrows. Good feelings move the world forward to a better place. It is feeling that gives subjective aim to occasions. We encounter, in good feelings, the ‘allure of realization.’ It is possible to create a more humane, peaceful, and loving world. Whitehead said as much, and Gandhi taught us how to proceed, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’—both in life and love.”

“I must say, that’s an interesting brand of pantheism,” responded
Tony.

“It’s not pantheism,” replied Stan, “it’s a divinely anchored
process reality.”

“You can call it anything you like,” said Tony, “its still
pantheism.”

“Not according to Whitehead,” replied Stan, “The future is empty, and in that emptiness resides the freedom to create a better world– the freedom to replace emptiness with ‘goodness.'”

“Or the freedom to create a worse one,” interrupted Noel, “if change
is pervasive, it doesn’t have to be good.”

”True enough,” replied Stan, “accept the same God who is there inside another’s suffering and pain will not be there in the masochistic and sadistic cravings of those individuals who pleasure themselves by inflicting pain and suffering upon others. Nor will God be found in the laws of a society that refuse to recognize the destitute, oppressed, and persecuted—God’s children.”

“Do tell,” exclaimed Noel, “How can God be in touch with all feelings—your words not mine, yet be inside some feelings and not inside other feelings?”

“Feelings that preserve, perpetuate, and expand consciousness,” replied Stan, “always trump feelings that dehumanize, degrade, and destroy consciousness; the former is a product of divinity, the latter a product of neglect. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not proposing the impossible here; that is, the elimination of all negative feelings, but striving for that goal is divine. Everything else is just plain human.”

“I don’t know,’ said Noel, “Whitehead’s got himself a hard sell there. The God thing aside, nobody has ever been successful in merging feelings with reason, if indeed that’s what he’s trying to do. I’m afraid I just don’t buy it. It’s not doable. Go ask Plato if you don’t believe me.”

“Not doable because you don’t buy it,” said Stan, “or not doable
because it can’t be done?”

“Both,” replied Noel.

“That’s ditto from the scientific point of view,” chimed in
Tony.

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.