Best Possible World: Gateway to the Millennium and Eschaton



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Just the fact that atoms are essentially relational does not make them the stuff of dreams, but it is a big step in that direction. What steps remain? There remains to reconsider the entire notion of independent existence. I maintain that the whole idea is incoherent. Let us consider the independent existence of the stars, just from the viewpoint of an astronomer.
Every day another star blows itself (nearly) out of existence, and we are none the wiser. We could care less. What metaphysical conclusion might be drawn? This says very little about the ontology of the situation.
Here is some ontology. The universe exists in a single unified dynamical space-time manifold. That manifold is what imparts many of the relational and physical properties to its contents. All of those contents once occupied a region vastly smaller than the volume of a single atom. Every star has had a long and complex history. That any star can exist at all is entirely the result of a remarkable balance in an intricate array of forces shared by every particle in the universe. Virtually no stars can exist outside the very complex dynamical systems of galaxies. The vast majority of stars were born in cohorts out of the death throes of a class of giant predecessors. In short, celestial phenomena are less ecological than the biosphere of the Earth, but only by degree.
Let us then consider the independence of existence on the Earth. Consider a baseball. Your typical baseball finds itself stashed somewhere in a locker. What is its ontological status? The materialist would see it as a collection of atoms assembled so as to physically conform, more or less, to an historically derived cultural convention. Despite these facts, its properties are completely reducible to the entirely local properties of its constituent atoms or molecules. We immaterialists beg to differ.
I will cheerfully concede that all of the physical properties of the baseball may be properly explained by physics. The question is whether those properties are the only ones that are essential to the baseball. The only essential qualities for the materialist are just the molecular ones, all other properties may be properly reduced to those. The other relations are external or circumstantial. For the materialist, all questions of ontological import reduce to those of physics. All other questions are epistemological, at best. We have already had reason to question the status of the epistemic/ontic divide. Just for instance, is this division itself to be construed as epistemic or ontic? I next point to mathematics as an obvious counterexample to any unambiguous division. And then where does one draw the line between mathematics and physics?
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My attack on the absolutist position concerning existence invokes the problem of identity. I question whether these problems may be properly distinguished. Without alluding to identity, the question of existence becomes abstract, hypothetical and counterfactual. Without reference to a particular individual, the question of existence is nearly vacuous. Identity and individuation can be made as objectively as one might wish, but only according to such a wish. Otherwise, identity erodes with more or less alacrity. Existence without strict identity is necessarily probabilistic.
To say that water exists is about as vacuous as any statement can be. Sure, water absolutely exists, but perhaps not in this universe. Well, thanks for the information! When we inquire as to existence, it almost exclusively concerns particular existence. But even if my concern was with water in general, we would have to agree on the semantic reference of 'water'. I dare say that too many books have been written on the identity of 'twater', i.e. something phenomenologically resembling water, but on a hypothetical 'twin earth'. Ontology cannot logically escape the strictures of epistemology.
Yes, we are all prone to the gut feeling that existence is an all or nothing, independent proposition. My baseball may or may not still exist, independent of almost everything else in the world, and especially independent of the state of my knowledge. It is an understandable feeling, it just doesn't happen to make sense. It does not stand up to scrutiny.
While on the subject of identity, let me point to another aspect of it. Identity is necessarily projective. Identity can only ever be reduced to the act of pointing, referral, or, ritually speaking, to a social act of 'baptism'. The foundation of all identity is in self identity. All identification points back to a particular set of selves. This is an obvious, but often overlooked fact of existence, or simply a very pragmatic fact of life. A materialist has no basis for positing existence of any kind without positing a particular self. If I am an illusion, then so may be my world and everything in it. Of course, I believe that I am, and that it is, but I may rationally entertain that belief only under the aegis of some greater and more real existence that is necessarily even more 'selfish' than myself, if you'll excuse the turn of phrase.

[2/8]
It does seem that God has not gone out of her way to make us feel like the co-creators of this world. However, if her powers are limited, then we don't have to ascribe malfeasance to her. It is hard for me and a lot of other people to understand why so many people so stubbornly cling to the notion of an omnipotent God, in the face of so much contrary evidence and argument. The fact is, however, in the minds of most believers and non-believers the notions of God and omnipotence are practically synonymous. This is surely the greatest obstacle to any form of rational theism. The irrationalists manage to control the premises of the debates about God.


Rational theism necessarily borrows much from pantheism, and must be considered almost as heretical. The metaphysics behind irrational theism is dualism. The Western mind has fallen very deeply into the trap of dualism. It seems that the theists have gladly granted the pantheists an exclusive franchise wrt monism. To our short list of ad hoc synonyms we must add theism and dualism along with pantheism and monism. This historical convention presents a considerable pedagogical barrier to rational theism.
There must be an historical explanation for the nearly ubiquitous juxtaposition of theism and dualism, but it is certainly not being touted. I suspect that the notions of dualism and omnipotence are mutually supportive, but this is not immediately obvious. Dualism is supportive mainly of deism rather than theism. Deism also has to be considered heretical, but apparently less so than pantheism.
What we may be facing here is a politically motivated metaphysic. Pantheism/monism is frankly subversive to almost any established order. Only the most stable of societies could afford to dabble in it. However, theism is subversive relative to deism, but even deism turned out to be conducive to the advent of the scientific revolution. Deism remained the herald of that movement for some time.
Gnosticism is the most common form of theistic monism, only its otherworldliness keeps it in check politically. That otherworldliness is a subdued or modified form of dualism. It is a moral rather than a metaphysical dualism. The constant threat of gnostic subversion has always tended to push established theism far into the deistic corner. Scientific materialism has been the primary beneficiary of this circumstance.
Pantheism is simply the decapitated version of monism. Without recourse to a higher authority, the would-be social reformer is severely handicapped. The caste system of India survived many centuries of Buddhist monism. The linkage between prophecy and social criticism, particularly of the puritanical variety, endemic to the West, was absent in the East. Concerted revolution in the East had to await the dialectical spin-off of scientific materialism. Meanwhile, the polytheistic Hinduism plods along seemingly oblivious to the rest of the world.
Be that as it may, we are stuck with dualism in the West. I am suggesting a this-worldly gnostic heresy to counter the dualism and deism that has become so entrenched in the modern world, not to mention the presence of downright materialism. There is what probably amounts to an unwitting conspiracy between scientific materialists and deists to maintain the present order and disorder of modernism. Postmodernism, pantheism and mysticism are hardly a threat to the established modern order. The deistic tendencies of fundamentalism are, for the most part, silently supportive of this order unless they happen to verge into activism and terrorism, which is atypical and ultimately controllable. Modernism long ago made its pact with dualism, to the point that they are virtually synonymous.
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Topical Index
1/15/04

Triumph of Science?



The coherence of scientific materialism is incredibly impressive and powerful. It has transformed the face of the world. Only a fool or a fundamentalist would dare challenge that great edifice of knowledge. Tilting at a windmill would be much more likely to succeed.
What I have come here to tell you is that the coherence of science, great though it is, can only be a pale shadow of what must lie behind it. We have become the masters of our material destiny, thanks to science. But will you believe me if I tell you that the magnitude of any imagined material destiny shrinks to insignificance before the reality of our true destiny? Our romance with science has just been our aperitif. Are we ready now for the full course? Trust me, no amount of preparation could ever have prepared us for what comes next.
Scientists have an understandable proclivity to hit us over the head with the incredible quantities that measure the vastness of space and time as well as the minuteness of the atom. Yet, these are window dressing relative to the intricacy of the processes that fill those realms. With the enormous complexity that nature has managed to throw at us, our minds not only cope but positively comprehend to the point of mastery. There is finally only one glaring omission in this story of scientific conquest. It is the instrument that has enabled our victory. Yes, a mere three pounds of gray matter. All the king's men remain baffled as they stand before it. Will we not awaken to tomorrow's headline trumpeting the scientific breakthrough that solves our last puzzle? Who am I to cast doubt on the final triumph of science?
What I am struck by is the disparity in the degree of coherence in the realm of natural science compared to everywhere else. The human sciences, for instance, remain in nearly complete disarray. There is all the appearance of a positive comprehension barrier between the human and natural realms. What could this signify?
It could simply be a minor time-lag or a jog in our path to full understanding. Or there could be a deeper problem. My diagnosis is no secret. I believe that reductionism has run its course. To move forward from here, we will be required to switch horses. I am not suggesting that the scientific juggernaut is about to come to a grinding halt. I am suggesting that a growing number of us will seek a coherent alternative.
The only rational alternative to reductionism entails a formidable gestalt switch. The success of analysis lies in its step by step procedures. As on a long hike, to reach the end, all you have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. Not so with synthesis. We will never be able to put Humpty-Dumpty back together without a plan, nay, without a veritable blueprint. Nothing will happen with synthesis until that blueprint arrives.
On these pages I can attempt nothing less than to deliver that blueprint. Anything falling short will be a waste of my time and your time. It is not that I reek with confidence, I have simply found myself with no alternative course. I can do none other. Here you see a former drip under some considerable pressure. As to the ultimate source of this pressure, your guess is as good as mine.
If there is a blueprint to be delivered and it gets delivered, it will have to be an event of biblical proportion. Only a fool could rush into such a spot. All that remains to be seen is whether I am a rational fool, or just a rash fool.
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The bad news is that we have been deceived. The good news is that we have only ourselves to blame. It is not God's fault that the world looks so darn natural. That's just how the Best Possible World should look, nay, has to look.
It is only natural to create the best possible world. There is involved in this process just the Principle of Least Action. Even photons know how to do that. In the realm of all possible worlds, one has got to stand out. It could be the worst one, but which one is that? I submit that it is no world at all. The only one that can truly stand out is the best one. The best world necessarily has the best possible creatures. It is all us critters who ultimately make the choice and do the deed in this necessarily co-creative effort. What happens to all the other worlds? In the very best quantum fashion, all the others will destructively interfere, going up in the smoke of our individual dreams and nightmares.
Granted, the best possible God is not your father's God, but that does not mean she is no God at all. She is not lazy either. She is an earnest cheerleader. Heavens, she will even stoop to bare a breast if that will inspire the troops. Some might call it entertainment, others will call it incarnation.
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About that gestalt switch? Think of it just as a pill to be swallowed. The bitter taste will not last too long. If you don't care to try it, may I interest you in some valium?
The world is a living organism. Most of it has gone to sleep, that is us creatures. Parts of it has gone numb, that is matter. In our sleep we dream of alternative realities. The dreams gradually coalesce around what will be the best of possible worlds. There is only ever one dream, but we see it through many prisms that we think of as our material brains. The real dreaming is done well beyond space and time. What we experience at night is just the chaff. What we experience in the day is the absence of the Telos. We are gradually pulled, reeled in as on a line, toward our eschatological awakening that is sometimes referred to as the rapture or the hieros gamos. It is the final Presence, our final Cause.
While we are asleep, the world runs on an auto-pilot of pure logic. Some call it physics. It is phenomenological cycles within cycles that have long been habituated and optimized. Gradually these cycles have been expanded to include the ouroboric circuit of the whole world and its history. We experience time slices of them. There are growing pains. Some cycles are broken, others collide. We are here to sort it all out and maintain continuity.
Lately we have been passing through the scientific phase of our history. We have been fascinated with atoms and space. We have come to think of these as the substance and container of our world. They are, however, just archetypes that we tend to reify in our systemic and instrumented probing of them. They are, after all, the only logically possible outcome of our analytic compulsion. They can be none other.
If we truly desired, we could send a space probe to Alpha Centauri. But what would that accomplish, other than to possibly extend our slumber of materialism? I don't recommend this stratagem; our appointed hour will not finally be diverted. And would it not be more amusing to persuade the stars to dance in the sky? I not sure I recommend this either, but I don't want to be a party pooper! The auto-pilot of our dreamship Earth conforms to our state of wakefulness. We will know what to do when we need to do it. That is how organicism works. Our dream will only ever become more lucid and pellucid.
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Is this so hard to swallow? I doubt that you would be reading this if you were not a prospective pill popper and gestalt switcher. However, if you are already feeling frustrated by the poverty of my gnosis, then your time has come. I'll see you on the other side of the gestalt.

[2/9]
Science has certainly triumphed, well beyond anything anyone could have reasonably expected at the outset. In its chosen arena, science has been unreasonably effective. This remarkable fact raises important issues:


* Should not science be embarrassed by its own riches? It seems that science can explain almost everything but its own success.

* Science may have to face a revolution of rising expectations that it has engendered but is unable to fulfill.



* There is likely to be a greater demand for the light of reason to be trained upon our ultimate questions. The triumph of our scientific gnosis cannot help but raise our expectations concerning a boarder or higher gnosis. I do not seem to be alone in this regard.
It has been said that man does not live by bread alone. Will the technology of the mass entertainment industry then be able to supply all the requisite circuses? History is quite clear that the motive force behind our scientific quest has always transcended purely materialistic explanation. The record is equally clear that, at the outset of science, it was seen, and even specifically recommended, as a constructive, non-subversive means to channel the all too human and otherwise heretical impulse toward gnosis.
It is widely recognized that, whatever may be the continuing technological fall-out, the gnostic aspect of science, tied as it is to analysis and reduction, has nearly played itself out. There will be many who will be content to rest upon those laurels, but are we then to suppose that gnostic impulse has been quenched? Cannot it not be that for the few, that impulse will merely have been whetted?
Science has been so dramatically successful, almost from the start, that its accomplishments have outpaced our ability to assimilate its larger import, to understand it from the standpoint of any larger historical narrative. It appears quite possible now that our process of assimilating science is finally catching up with the enterprise of it. For the first time we may have the ability and inclination to inquire after its larger context. It has long been the taunting mantra of the obsessively scientifically minded: Catch me if you can! Those days are coming to an end.
It will be increasingly difficult to ignore the gnostic origins of the scientific quest. As we reflect back upon those origins, we can hardly avoid comparing the original impulse with the eventual result. Science will be found wanting in the balance.
That the puzzle of the mind continues fall under the purview of science is strictly contingent upon its ability to meet some rather elevated expectations. Failing these, there will be the devil to pay.
There will be two ways to view science: either as a flash in the pan of history, or as a mission accomplished. There will, of course, continue to be the true believers in science; however, they will be increasingly pressed to explain their unflagging expectations. If all existence is material and accidental, then what could it possibly be that would underwrite their unlimited expectations concerning the future? And perhaps even more to the point, what would be the point? What is the Telos that they so fervently and blindly seek? In attempting to scratch the surface of 'futurism' and 'technosis', one can hardly fail to be impressed by the lack of depth and the almost infantile nature of the desires being expressed. Is technosis anything more than a smoke screen being thrown up against the present mystery of our inevitable gnostic destiny?
The only way to move forward with understanding will be to view science as a mission well accomplished. And if that is the case, reason dictates that it must have been our penultimate mission. How so? Once we turn our minds from analysis to synthesis, there will be no turning back. If there is a Telos to be seen, it will come into view at that turning, or it never will. But should not science now be seen as a false summit of the intellect? What is to prevent science from being followed by yet another false summit? The plain fact is that science never had a patron. Gnosis, if it is anything at all, is a patronage. If we have any further issues, we will know where to take them: to our Matron.

[2/11]
The main difference between materialism and immaterialism is the direction of the arrow of time. Materialists argue that the direction cannot be reversed due to the laws of thermodynamics. That this is a vacuously circular argument in support of materialism seems to bother almost no one, and certainly not the materialists. I am not claiming that we should ignore thermodynamics, any more than we should ignore gravity, I merely point out that they are two parts of the same package. It is only the package in its entirety that is at issue, not its individual parts.


Time is a much bigger mystery than virtually any scientist could either grasp or acknowledge. To the scientist, time is never more than a particular variable in particular dynamical equations. In physics proper, it has no direction. That it appears with directional specificity in the laws of thermodynamics remains unexplained. Time symmetry is broken somewhere in the transition between microscopic and macroscopic regimes. The best guess is that it has something to do with the quantum measurement problem, rendering it a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
In common parlance, the direction of time is usually associated with the notion that cause precedes effect. However, our conventional notions of causality are inextricably tied to our notions of intentionality, neither of which can have any formal role in science.
In short, the concept of time is a potential loose cannon on the scientific deck. Any significant loosening of its perceived tether places the whole ship in peril.
What is easily the most remarkable feature of time is the indescribable nature of its presence to us. The closest thing to such a description is simply the 'shining' present. Science's objectification of time seems impossibly at odds with our singular experience of it. By simply constructing a metaphysics of Presence, the entire scientific enterprise is thereby rendered moot. Immaterialism is necessarily the science of Presence. That is what these pages endeavor. If the Present is to be salvaged, it will be partly at the expense of a cannibalized scientific corpus, but let us eschew necrophagy in this undertaking.
As we focus on sheer presence, the directionality of time becomes open to reinterpretation. The past and future may be subsumed by mere absence. A more teleological view immediately recommends itself. The Telos can simply become an ever fuller Present. Time is thereby robbed of its gravity, or simply disrobed.
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Before launching into directionality, let me briefly point to a connection between time and perception that is seldom remarked. Much of our self-alienation from the world is tied up with our peculiar notion of indirect or representational perception. This ubiquitous presupposition is, perhaps, the single most poisonous ingredient in the whole materialist pot. Thus, so deftly, does materialism act to subvert the very possibility of Presence. All that we can ever experience is an ad hoc and subjectively reconstituted fabrication of reality. We can ever only be the passive recipients of sensory transductions.
The notion of indirect perception is the result of a totally illicit but perfectly understandable conflation of an informal causal metaphysic with a formal mechanics. It is also parasitic upon the completely gratuitous assumption that experience is only ever by and about the insides of our skulls. Gratuitous because science does not even recognize the existence of consciousness: consciousness doesn't exist, but if it did, you may be sure that it would exist entirely inside your skull! What easy marks we make of ourselves in the life and death game that is science.
It is just the alleged direction of motion of the photon from object to the subject that strongly reinforces the naive notion of object as transmitter and subject as receiver, which underscores the confinement of consciousness to somewhere behind the retina, opening a metaphysical chasm between it and its object. The nerve fibers behind the retina are simply another means of signal transduction. Since neuroscience does not recognize the existence of consciousness in the first place, there is no basis to relegate it to any particular mode of signal transduction, be it neuronal, optical or by any other means.

[2/12]
Please let me rephrase that last statement: given that consciousness exists, we associate it with the nervous tissue of living systems. However, all that can physically ever happen within that nervous tissue is signal transduction, so there is no reason to physically confine consciousness to any particular segment of that tissue. The pain in my stubbed toe is just a part of my consciousness located in the nerves in my toe. But once consciousness has been vouchsafed, we can, with the same logic, extend it back along the lines of signal transduction which now include the photon paths back to the surfaces of objects. Voila, direct perception. There is no logical or physical reason why we cannot incorporate the photons into our extended sensory signaling system.


It is here that we run into the problem of time delay. The photons could be coming from a distant star that self-destructed before the light reaches our eyes. This, and only this, delay causes a problem for direct physical perception.
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But let us now come back to the Present. There is a gigantic metaphysical problem of Presence. The problem is to distinguish it from Absence. Where do we draw the line? This problem, I maintain, is closely related to the problem of attempting to confine consciousness; in fact, I will suggest that the two problems compound each other.
In order to distinguish presence from absence, we would also have to distinguish perception from inference. Simply impossible! Please recall: See Jane. See Jane run. Is Jane present to us? Suppose that Jane had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage in mid-stride. When does she stop being present? We can only ever infer the presence of persons. We can only ever infer the presence of oceans. Everything two hundred feet below the surface could have suddenly turned to ice without our being the wiser.
You can see why analytic philosophers despise the notion of Presence. Presence is in no way computable. But may our analysts thereby deny Presence? I would not recommend that course to them. Denying presence is vastly more subversive to a lived world than to merely deny consciousness, which many still do. Without the present, there is no past and future. Without being able to distinguish past and future, one loses contact with the concept of life and living.
Having said that, I will threaten to commit that same error myself. I am also going to deny the past and future, but only in deference to the unbounded potential of the Shining Present/ce. My Present will never lie etherized upon the analytical table.
As a direct perceiver, I have a very hard time with the notion of memory being coded and stored in configurations of atoms. But where else could it possibly be? Our DVDs do an admirable job of storing feature length movies along with the director's cuts. Why not our brain cells? Well, next to consciousness itself, the physical storage and retrieval of memories remains the biggest mystery of neuroscience. To call it an embarrassment to science would be a gross understatement. Over the years, I have ever only seen brief allusions to this problem, never an actual treatise upon it. If I were a rational scientist, would I not want to spell out the full nature and dimension of this puzzle, in all its gory detail, as the first logical step toward its eventual solution? Well, we may then surmise that either there are no rational scientists, or they all subliminally sense that they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of ever solving this little puzzler.
With direct perception: no problemo. We directly perceive the past, with just a slightly cloudy crystal ball, or is that supposed to be the future? Or is it the extended Present?
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Ev'ry time i see your face,

It reminds me of the places we used to go.

But all i got is a photograph

And i realise you're not coming back anymore. (Ringo Starr)


And what about that photo? Is this not a case of indirect, representational perception? How do we explain this, Kimosabe? I'm going to pull a fast one. I equate the photo with a slice of photographic memory. But is it not perfectly clear that the photo is not inside anybody's head? Neither are memories. Furthermore, I would compare a camera with a telephone: both actually operate as psychosocial channelers and facilitators of the psyche; that is, of our still hidden, from ourselves, psychic abilities. This is all part and parcel of immaterialism. If you don't like it, you are perfectly welcome to return to your materialist zombie-hood, atoms swerving in the dark, and all -- or is it nothing?
Should we not then each take innumerable photos of ourselves so as to ensure our immortal presence? Negative. You may, of course; but thereby demonstrate a noticeable lack of regard for unlimited presence. Photos and phones, even especially websites, are stopgaps, perhaps palliatives, wrt presence.
With excruciating crudeness, each of us ~10^10 souls is a 'neuron' of the eternal cosmic mind. That is true presence. What we now call presence is the palest of shadows. Phones and photos? We won't be needing them in heaven. My sincere regrets to AT&T and Kodak. Now it is perfectly possible that somewhere, this side of eternity, we will have implanted phone chips; but, if I'm not mistaken, my teenage son already has one of them. Nevertheless, as we walk naked through those pearly gates, I suspect there will be a full-body scan. Security, you know!
Do you get the picture? The hardest part of materialism is recovering from its hangover. Going cold turkey with immaterialism is just not in the cards. But, trust me, one day we will look back on this awkward transitional phase and chuckle.
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What I have ever so awkwardly been leading up to here is a rehash of teleology. Time and causation truly run backward, if they run anywhere at all. The past is constructed from the future, out of our 'memories'. That's how we can have confidence in our future. We couldn't have left home without it. Immaterialism is materialism running backward, kind'a.
Consider the dreamer and then the composer. You are going through an elaborate dream about a romance in a clock store, when one of the clocks starts to malfunction, noisily. As you reach over to fix it, you wake up realizing you are reaching for your alarm clock. This sequence raises some problems for efficient causation. More than one philosopher has recommended that, instead of final causation for the dream, we could simply say it all happened in an instant, but was experienced as a sequence. If dream time is illusory, why not 'waking' time.
Similar idea for the composer. It has not infrequently been reported that the idea for an entire symphony has emerged into the composer's consciousness in just a few moments of time. The composer may then spend the next several days turning that palpably memorable instant into a proper sequence. More commonly, when the title of a popular song is mentioned, some holographic nugget of its entirety flashes to mind. And here we are back to the problem of perception. Without that 'holographic' assist, could we ever experience anything besides bits of raw sensory data? Data bits which, you will recall, cannot even be defined.
The Metanarrative has always existed as an eternal moment. We creatures work it out, forwards, backwards and every which way. The seamless, forward experience of it is an artifact of our overlapping psyches. The director's cuts end up on our pillows at night. Time and space need never exist outside of the eternal moment of the Metanarrative that can only be the best possible one.
This is rough and ready. Crude beyond reason. But without a holographic scorecard, we'll never be able to follow the game. I have to sneak that hologram into both of our psyches, catch as catch can. This is real time for both of us. I remain confident that it will work out. If you want the finished product, just look ahead a few years! If you are already chomping at the bit, well, have at it!
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Allow me, please, to distinguish between photos and fossils. In doing so I will also be distinguishing between history and pre-history. Pre-history is an artifact of scientific materialism; or, by the same token, of our naturalistic aesthetic. In either case, it is not something that is ever present to us. Pre-history is a backdrop to history, just as surely as is the starry sky. In fact, one could hardly exist without the other; certainly not with any semblance of coherence.
Yes, the coherence of nature is a false coherence. It is an end to quite another means. It is the most aesthetic, nay, the best possible, countenance which may be put upon our necessary alienation from the Creator, and so, ipso facto, from our true selves. Just because this is the BPW does not mean that it will hurt us to imagine all the other possibilities 'out there'. We should always be considering the possibilities, regardless. That is mainly how we earn our co-creaturely keep.
So, where do we draw the line? That's always supposed to be a tricky question. How high is the sky? It all depends on the context. NASA's celestial context is a bit more expansionist (imperialist?) than mine. I would like to distinguish between archeology and paleontology. Come to think of it, dinosaurs are where I draw the line.
I have spoken, however, of Jurassic Parc. And there could as well be a Galactic Alley. This is my hypothetical 'computer' simulator in the sky. It's where we use a bit of cosmic smarts to circumvent those deadly dull 'billions and billions' of materialistic yawns that the scientists are ever so eager to foist upon the Creator. Thanks, but no thanks! Fossils are some of the blueprints that never got off the drawing boards at Jurassic Parc. Walt Disney and the paleontologists have taken care of the rest of it. As for the mechanics of it all, I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader for the time being. Let me know when you have an answer! I have no doubt that, between God and Pixar Studios, we can can work out an authentic dinosaur experience for you, if you'll just have a little patience. Heck, you'll have the option of being the dinosaur, if you like. Caesar, on the other hand, frequented these same shores, in real time. If you wish to experience being Caesar or the Second Coming, all in due course. I would submit that we already have, but have merely 'forgotten' it. That's just my own opinion. In dealing with the truly absent, past and future tend to meld together. Notions of reincarnation are part of that melding.
As we begin to accelerate into the shining eschatological presence, many lives and many psyches will begin to overlap. The 'dear departed' will not have to claw their way out of their graves; they need only open up their minds to ours, as if they haven't already. They are us, we will be them.

[2/14]
Have we made any headway against materialism?


We do find that atoms could not serve as the foundation of materialism without the non-local relational properties conferred upon them by the Quantum. Molecular properties are thereby irreducible to atomic properties. Those properties may be predicted mathematically, but the electronic wave functions that are employed are themselves irreducible. They are the irreducible basis functions for a particular representation of the 'matrix mechanics'. Their complexity defies actual computation in all but the simplest cases. In point of fact, the 'three-body problem' is theoretically unsolvable in either its classical or quantum versions.
Our struggle with materialism then devolves to the question of mind independence. This is tantamount to the objectivity of material objects. I point out that objectification and identification cannot be disentangled. The materialists' position then amounts to the claim that objects may exist without benefit of objectification.
This latter claim technically runs afoul of the measurement problem. The definite location of macroscopic objects is only the result of a yet to be understood, or even formally definable, transition from quantum to classical realms. But I don't want to win this on a mere technicality. It is too important. We need an argument that subverts the admitted gut-level appeal of mind-independence.
The Mars rovers provide a case in point. The rocks they observe on the surface of Mars seem just as real as any rocks back on Earth. Does this not point to the independent existence of material objects in general? How can the rocks on Mars be attributed to our co-creational activity? Will we not have to make a special appeal to the Creator? Is this not similar to the problem of explaining stars and fossils?
Do not these objects exist without benefit of ever having been objectified? My fall-back position is to invoke the problem of Presence. Is it legitimate to distinguish existence and presence (or presentability)? This is possible only if we can distinguish between absence and non-existence. It seems reasonably clear that this latter distinction is untenable. The latter then undermines the tenability of the former. Recall, furthermore, the lack of formal distinction between presence and absence.
We think we have a clear notion of existence. But can we distinguish it from observability, about which we can only have a contingent and dispositional regard? To distinguish between objectivity and objectification is one matter, but to distinguish between objectivity and objectifiability is another matter.
Is it legitimate to posit the existence of anything that is logically unobservable or unknowable? This even goes beyond the problem of the epistemic/ontic divide. It is the counterfactual shadow of that divide.
I am tempted to say that our gut disposition favoring mind independence is, ironically, nothing more than the overworking of our imaginative faculty. Science surely offers not the slightest support for the reification of the unobservable. To posit such entities is to negate the scientific method.
Can we accept this conclusion? Does it subvert our gut instinct? Another test case involves SETI. What is the ontic implication of ETI? Giordano Bruno was burned at the Inquisitional stake for being an early advocate of ETI. Immaterialism rules out ETI, but not UTI (ultra-terrestrial intelligence, e.g. God). In this instance, immaterialism agrees with the orthodox ontology of intelligence. For immaterialism, separate worlds entail separate creations, if not necessarily separate Creators. The Creator(s) hardly have the option of 'physically' linked creations. Therefore, a radio search would be logically futile.
As a footnote, let me just remark that Hindu cosmology, certainly in its theosophical version, invokes the mind-independence of perpetual cosmic rounds, thereby confounding its general proclivity for immaterialism and even for monism. My notion is that Buddhist cosmology is less inconsistent in this regard. I don't see that pantheism could be compatible with mind independence, despite its decapitated monism.
I am claiming to have provided the outline of an argument for the prima facie incoherence of mind independence. I am not yet aware of an equivalent argument elsewhere. Is there any life left to be beaten out of materialism? What remains of it? Only the occasionally nagging hangover. The fact is that you cannot kill a zombie, but you can cut its power supply. If it is cut off from all logical discourse and recourse, it can only continue to shrivel.
I remain under the impression that materialism, dualism and pluralism are still being tolerated in academic circles where such shortcomings should be inexcusable. This plain fact is perhaps the best testimony we have to the radical implications of the one coherent alternative to all of the above.
--------------------------------
Materialism is a straw-man for science. It is the ontology of scientism. Science certainly strives toward objectivity, but only, legitimately, in the sense of intersubjectivity. If ever it strives for objectivity, it surrenders to the facile 'metaphysics' of scientism. To confer a metaphysical status upon materialism is to concede too much. Metaphysics implies a minimal system of logic. Mind independence cannot even pull itself up to that threshold. Virtually by definition, there can be no discourse that could count for independence. At the very most, one might construe a discourse that would end by pointing toward independence, but in that limit all argument must cease. There exists no means for maintaining such a position. The most it could be afforded is the occasional salutation.
Splendid isolation from all discourse, perhaps that is an enviable position. Is it not unassailable?
Let us revisit the logic of the unobservable universe. To avoid the metaphysically radical implications of the Anthropic Principle, materialists posit the existence of an infinite ensemble of universes, virtually all of which could contain no observers in principle. The only implication of their existence would be to vouchsafe the contingent status of the remarkable hospitality of our own universe. The implication is that there might have been no observability whatsoever.
The question is sometimes posed: why is there something rather than nothing? By appealing to the possibility of nothing, do not the materialists only serve to underscore the mystery of existence: a notion that is unsympathetic to any form of absolutism? The objectivity of matter is contingent upon the possibility of there being nothing.
The preclusion of existence is the least coherent of any possible ontic position. Can such a position lend support to any other position? But is it not the logical reductio of any reductionist endeavor? I believe that it is. Might there not have been nothing? We can probably say that this is vastly more unlikely than that there be something. Does not potentiality qualify as other than nothing? In order for there to truly be nothing, we would have to preclude all possibility. But is this possible? It is not possible to appeal to the possibility of nothing, without thereby negating all possibility which is impossible. If there were nothing to begin with, this would be no problem, but since there is something, it is impossible to argue back to something that precludes all possibility.
Yes, frequently we romance the notion of non-being. This is a favorite pastime of existentialists. Then have I not gone too far with my counterargument? Could this argument not be construed as an argument against individual mortality? Certainly it is an argument against the cessation of mind. Also it is an argument against the absolute distinction between individual mind and cosmic mind. In that sense it precludes the obliteration of any aspect of mind.
It is just the necessary mind dependence of all existence which affords substantiality to the world and all its aspects. Reductionism can only be self-negating. It can lead only to an absolute nihilism. Nihilism sounds scary, but, as we have seen, it is even less substantial than a paper dragon. Nay, it is impossible, it is even inconceivable. It is, at most, a symptom of the diseased and illegitimate language game that passes as 'reductionism'.
------------------------------
It is possible that contingency is impossible. If one thing is possible, then everything is possible, but that cannot be, because nothingness is not possible. But if anything is possible, then there must be the best possible world. But if contingency is not possible, then the BPW is the only world. It is not possible that there could only exist the second best world.
This sounds incredibly simple minded, but I believe that contingency must be part of the reductionist package. It has no other use. Once you let in one bit of it, it takes over the whole world, and then all the other worlds. It is an all or nothing affair. The only recourse is to opt for none of it.
Coherence and many other things may turn our to be all or nothing propositions. Coherence does not countenance contingency. We will have none of it.
Have we not wasted an incredible amount of time worrying about nothing? Well, it was not possible not to worry! Shoot me if I am being too simple minded. But before you do, you had better check your own logic.
Does this mean that the rocks strewn across the surface of Mars could not have been strewn any other way? Well, it's just WYSIWYG. It will never be any other way. To posit another world may be inconceivably hypothetical. You can't really blame me for that possible fact. Materialists used to be determinists. Perhaps they should have stuck with that thought.
Would not the best possible world allow for free will? It may be that free will need not entail contingency. It may be primarily a subjective reality. No one is in a position to claim to know the true nature of whatever it is that we believe in, when we believe in free will.

[2/15]
It does seem to me that possibility is predicated on the possibility of nothing. So if nothing is not a viable possibility, then neither is possibility itself. Does this make sense?


Another strike against nothingness is the lack of an epistemic/ontic divide. If there can be no epistemology associated with nothingness, then neither can there be an ontology.

[2/16]
In Hilbert space there are infinitely many mutually orthogonal vectors. If we think of each vector as a narrational world, there could be infinitely many non-intersecting, non-overlapping worlds. Actually, each point in Hilbert space constitutes a function, typically a quantum wave function. More likely, each function could represent a life, and then a world would be a mutually consistent linear combination of these life lines. As long as there were only finitely many lives in a world, there could still be infinitely many 'orthogonal' worlds.


I am doing this as an exercise in nothingness: no creation, no worlds, no nothing. With just two (orthogonal?) creations, there are two worlds separated by...nothing? By what are they separated? They could be two ships 'passing' in the night -- no interaction. This might make sense from the view of the creatures, but not in the view of the creators, if there be such. Can there not be orthogonal gods? Perhaps, but not orthogonal creators.
The issue comes back to whether there can be non-relational existence. Even for a non-relational system, such as materialism, we have to ask what would constitute the minimum possible world. Could there exist an atom in isolation? It could not be a physical atom or particle, because these must be embedded in a space-time manifold. The minimal steady-state space-time manifold is infinite. If we invoke Mach's principle, it would also have to contain an infinite dispersion of matter.
Physical cosmology does presently countenance an indefinite number of non-interacting universes, be they finite or not. They may emerge spontaneously from the background quantum potential. This quantum potential is not unlike our Matrix. As I have noted, almost all of these universes are assumed to be unobservable.
One problem with unobservables would be their possible lack of properties. There are many isolated and temporary features of this world that go unobserved, but we infer by continuity that these features exist. If continuity does not apply, properties are less coherent. If we do not know the physics, we have no basis to infer physical properties. Physicalism provides no basis to infer existence in contexts where hypothetical properties may not accord with knowable physics. How far may we extrapolate from the known to the unknowable? This is turning out to be a largely subjective question. Once again, the epistemic/ontic divide haunts our attempt to invoke mind independence. The possibility of mind independence seems more related to epistemology than ontology. The harder the ontology is pushed, the closer it veers toward epistemology. Yet, it is precisely the hypothesis of mind independence that is the basis for materialism. Does that 'system' not have all the attributes of a house of cards?
The concept of isolated existence is turning out to be highly problematic. Material existence beyond this universe raises many more questions than it could possibly answer. But I still do not have a handle on the possibility of an isolated creator or of an isolated matrix. Previously I have only been able to invoke the Identity of Indiscernibles to limit such possibility. If one Matrix is good, would two not be better? I am wondering if orthogonal potencies are sensible? Without apriori restraint, there is no sense in limited potency, but could there be separate omni-potencies, each eventually producing its own version of the BPW? We could end up with innumerable BPWs. What is to prevent such incoherence at the outset?
If there were to be separate matrices, would there not have to be some basis for separation? If relations are the natural basis of existence, as we generally maintain, separation would be unnatural and require explanation. There would have to be an extra-matricial physics to prevent a potential infinity of matricies from 'bumping' into each other. But then the question of source is just pushed back another step. Such redundancy would vitiate any notion of the BPW. In the non-denumerable set of matrices, it seems unlikely that no two could ever interact. But if two could, then they all could and would, and we would suddenly collapse back to our singular Matrix, before the god of matrices could even blink an eye.
The whole notion of redundancy is probably just a residue of the materialist mind set. Eventually it will disappear of its own accord.
Behind redundancy is the notion of non-relational existence. This notion does not stand to scrutiny. It is an illogical extrapolation from an incoherent basis. That it is an endemic presupposition of science does not augur well for the thoughtfulness of that enterprise.
The philosophical depravity of science provides an excellent counter-argument to pantheism. There is, after all, no such thing as distributed intelligence. There is no such thing as isolated intelligence. Mind is all or nothing. The alleged atomicity of our egos should be the most transparent of all illusions.
I am also underscoring the fact that the best possible world is the only possible one. The term 'possible' is retained for mainly pedagogical reasons. Is the notion of Creator rendered otiose? No more than is the notion of creature. Both notions are strictly relational.
--------------------------------
The fact that this is the only world, need not limit our freedom, nor the fact that no better world might reasonably be produced, nor the fact that I can know this beforehand. None of this need count against our freedom.

[2/17]
Freedom is precious. It is reserved mainly for the Author's creative freedom. We participate in that freedom only in our alignment with the Creator's creativity. Heretofore that alignment has been largely unconscious. Freedom is not a feature of ego consciousness. Our creaturely freedom is to be realized in the Millennium.


Possibility remains an artifact of creative freedom. It is an artifact of our dreams. But there are no 'possible worlds' out there: WYSIWYG. There is just this one. Possibility down here is no more real than the nothingness from which it would have to be derived. Exploring the possibilities is done on the drawing boards. The Creator is paid to master the possibilities. Has our freedom been stolen? No, only our illusions.
What does this have to say about our political economy? What I see less of in the future is raw competition. What I see more of is management by objective. Society will be more organic. There will be a continuing risk of shortcut reversions to tribalism. Tribalism is not bad in itself, but it will have to be closely managed. I don't have any formulas for that off the top. Such techniques will continue to emerge. It will be more difficult to manage in homogeneous societies. The world will have to reorganize itself around the Telos before our true creative freedom will emerge. In short, I do not see any need for an external radical reform of democratic capitalism. The only meaningful reform will come from within the individual participants. Despotism of all varieties will continue to wither on the vine. I don't feel too sad when the sway of some entrenched despots is deliberately cut short.

[2/18]
I'm going over the last few pages to see where we might head next.


Naturalism in Question, noted previously, is to be released in May. It should be worth the wait.
John Leslie discusses his book, Infinite Minds (2001). I should not have missed this one. Here is the first chapter. I am perusing it now online. John has almost everything except the BPW. So near yet so far!

[2/19]
John's book is important. I recall having glanced over it at a bookstore. I read with interest John's other book, The End of the World (1999). In that one he makes the statistical argument that we must be near the end of human history.


John calls himself a Spinoza pantheist. He comes closer to theism than many pantheists. He does attribute morality to the cosmic mind as an argument against the existence of perverse worlds, but like most pantheists he also embraces the apeiron. He excludes the possibility of coherence by postulating an infinity of gods, each creating an infinity of non-perverse worlds. Creation is haphazard, at best. There is no metanarrative. Despite his other book on the statistics of eschatology, there is no notion here of teleology or a Telos. However, there is an extended argument for immaterialism. I shall see what we may borrow from it. I am also not seeing any explicit arguments against theism per se, only against the dualist versions of it -- a strange but characteristic omission, characteristic, that is, of non-sectarian intellectuals generally. There must be a line in the sand between pantheism and theism. It is as if the theologians are able to maintain a closed shop. I am under the impression that virtually all theologians maintain sectarian identities. This seems to conform to a self-imposed defense against gnosticism. Yes, otherwise gnostic excess would be a real occupational hazard. I ought to know! Now, let me get back to the book.
On p. 22 John misses an opportunity to take up the cause of Presence. He implicitly dismisses it in favor of Einstein's (another Spinozist) non-relational, non-teleological relativity of time. Yes, his immaterialism is sorely lacking any significant relationalism. He passes up Presence in favor of an infinite ensemble of 'nows'. This is consistent with his embracing the 'many worlds' interpretation of anthropics. Yes, John is consistent, almost obsessively, in maintaining his posture of incoherence. Or is it anti-coherence?
What John Leslie is calling the divine mind, I would call the Matrix. There is no dialectic here and so no X. There is hardly even a Z.
In the next section, starting on p. 23, he takes up the problem of divine incoherence. He is talking about the Matrix. He does not envision the possibility that the Matrix is just the source of being. He is an absolutist in regard to ontology; he does not understand that existence must be relative. If immaterialism is not relational, then it can hardly be distinguished from materialism.
On page 24 things get worse. He refers to David Lewis' modal realism, which is not unlike Meinong's anti-relational, anti-contextual, anti-holistic realism, but observe this caveat in comparison with Plato. Remind me to follow up on the fact that Ernst Mally of Ontology (Metaphysics Research) Lab fame was a Meinongian. One does need a scorecard to follow this game. As the card gets bigger, the plot gets thicker. Here is John referring to Lewis, 'He accepts endlessly many gods, despite picturing our universe as entirely godless.' (p. 25). Can't people see that this is a perversion of logic. John seems unable to distinguish between his own and David's ontology. What a shame.
What I see John doing in the next few pages is laying out a detailed argument for the reductio ad absurdum of the 'many worlds' interpretation of quantum physics, anthropics, or of modal realism in general. This makes me feel more comfortable with my position contra modality and possibility. He finally, on p. 30, has to revert to aesthetics to defeat modal realism. But is there any logic to limiting aesthetics anywhere short of the BPW? The only reason to arbitrarily limit aesthetics is to avoid the obvious theological consequences of not doing so. Can John not see this? On pp. 33ff, he explicitly borrows from theology to refute modal realism. On p. 35 he assumes that the human mind is based on matter, while the divine mind is not. This is a bizarre form of dualism, particularly for a pantheist. He is rapidly losing it. He has gone off the deep end of the apeiron. Omniscience is obviously a hobgoblin. Consistency without coherence is no virtue. This is becoming painful!
It is clear that the only way that John can rescue pantheism from modal realism is by making explicit appeals to theism. Until John started beating on this dead horse of modal realism, I did not realize what a significant skeleton it was in the pantheist closet. Perhaps no one can save pantheism from its most conscientious or obsessive adherents.
On p. 38, he begins what may be a significant appeal to holism. Perhaps John's arguments against modal realism are serving as arguments against atomic or reductive realism. Surely the quantum, at least, should save us from Maxwell's demon. Is holism necessarily anthropocentric, or in the anthropos holi-centric?
Well, I just reached my page limit on Amazon, but it is available at the local Borders. I need to read the chapter 'Best & Infinity', where John discusses the best possible cosmos. I'll report back ASAP.
The book was not at the store. I have to juggle computers to read more. I am not terribly amused by this process. If the academicians, theologians and any others want to participate in discussions that could determine the fate of the world, they will have to take full advantage of the Internet. John is not doing this. If he does not consider his ideas of sufficient gravity to warrant free access, then he need not expect others to take them seriously. I will proceed, nonetheless, as best I can.
There are much worse offenders than John. Almost every theologian is a living indictment of rational discussion, not by their own doing, but because of the restrictive system in which they operate. Not many of us have the good fortune to be able to do freelance theology.
------------------------------------
With some judicious skipping of pages using another computer, I think I have gotten the gist of Infinite Minds. Yes, he does discuss the BPW hypothesis, and even the Identity of Indiscernibles in regard to multiple Gods. In each case he comes to conclusions that flatly contradict the ones obtained here. We can't both be right.
My biggest problem with Minds, however, is the 'so what?' question. He states more than once that there is no phenomenological difference between pantheism and materialism. If so, then what is the point? Is it just an exercise in trying to feel better about the way things are? Is it just an exercise in therapeutic psychology as is sometimes claimed even by the adherents of the traditional pantheist systems? Perhaps I missed where he explains his motivation.
It is painfully obvious that John exhausting his resources in trying to thread the needle between the Scylla of materialism and the Charybdis of theism.
The pantheist God is the Hippocratic God: do no harm. Lets call him Pan. Pan evidently has only sufficient skill to avoid creating morally repugnant cosmoi. We should be grateful for small favors; but how many of us, if we had the choice, would choose such a lame duck?
You and I have a definite advantage over Pan. We have the power of imagination. Pan does not. Imagine that! Recall, please, the curse of Midas' touch. Everything he touched turned to gold. The curse of Pan is infinitely worse. Everything he imagines turns into a reality that some poor creatures like you and me will be forced to sit through, if not suffer through. Are we really expected to pay forty bucks to vicariously suffer through this incoherent collection of creations? Is this what half of the world actually believes? 99% of everybody facing a life and death situation, given the chance, will utter the name of a deity, even if it be as if in vain. Heck, most of us will do so upon stubbing a toe.
John is sincerely trying to do his very best to make sense out of what is patently intended to be nonsensical. Many more of us might have failed to notice the logical death of this particular horse if it weren't for the well intentioned John Leslies of the world who regularly come along to beat on it: a noble service to the rest of us.
Many Gods? If God is good, then two Gods should be wonderful. No? If God is infinite, what is the point of having another? The only point, it seems, is to eschew theism. For all I know, there could be a Creation Committee, but I do know that there can only be one BPW. Anything else is going to never make it off the drawing boards. Stealth Creation? Cheaper by the dozen? Schismatic God? These ideas hardly get off the ground. Correction, I do know there is a Creation Committee, because we are on it!
Pantheism ought to be a non-starter. But, more to the point, it will be an easy act to follow. It survives so long as it can avoid contention. In the age of the Internet, that is not a good bet.

[2/20]
I had forgotten what a pushover pantheism would be for rational theism. There are two things that are propping up pantheism: science and irrational theism, i.e. sectarianism. The irony, or beautiful symmetry, is that science is in a very similar position to pantheism in this regard: it is also being propped up by irrational theism as well as by pantheism.


Thus there is the ungodly troika of science, pantheism and sectarian theism. In that triumvirate, pantheism and sectarianism are the weak sisters. Once rational theism is able to rise above the general cacophony of the Internet, thoughtful people will start realizing that, as an alternative to materialism, it will be nolo contendere in favor of the BPW. Then materialism will be in big trouble. For the first time in its short life it will have a run for its money.
Rational theism is rather simple, if not quite simple minded. In retrospect, the most amazing thing is how it managed to stay hidden for so long. Let's see about that.
There is also a theistic troika: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Among these, the Christians have long prided themselves on being the least rational; and, superficially, they do seem to have a point. But why the pride? The pride goes back at least to Paul:
1 Cor 1:17-27

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel-- not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,

23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.



(NIV)
Paul is not mincing his words. Ron Ritchie has this to say:
To the Greek world of Paul's day, the word of the gospel seemed to be nothing but foolishness. The same could be said of our own world today. The gospel message is sneered at because it seems foolish. But that did not deter Paul, nor should it deter us. The gospel will always seem foolish unless the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of those to whom it is being preached. I confess I have often felt foolish myself for preaching it. I have sometimes wondered how it could possibly penetrate hardened hearts. But that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our job as Christians is to proclaim the good news.
It could well be that Paul is the prototype of the anti-intellectual. Yes, the skeptics hardly have to go digging to discover the 'irrationality' of Christianity. It is positively thrust in their faces: 'Take this, smarty-pants'!
What is going on here? Was Paul already fighting gnosticism? That could only be part of it. Ron has the larger part. Until Constantine came along, Christianity was running purely on fumes. It was the biggest charisma machine in history. Those early Christians followed the simple dictum: don't bother talking or thinking while the flavor lasts. Go with the spirit. Who needs soldiers? But, like death and taxes, the flavor runs out and the charisma gets routinized. Only then do the rationalizations and the apologetics begin; and, in case those fail, the Christian soldiers suit up.
The intellect is poison to the spirit? That certainly remains a popular sentiment. It is also well noted that the intellect is no friend of sectarianism.
And, if I am not mistaken, the number two anti-intellectual in history was Martin Luther. Surely we cannot dispute his anti-gnostic, fundamentalist credentials.
For Christians, 'theo-logy' has always been an oxymoron. I was surprised when I first discovered this in talking to a theologian. The surprise wore off quickly. 'We don't need your dirty mind, we have our Holy Spirit.' Ouch!
And then along came Sophia, whispering 'sweet nothings' in my ear. The rest of the story you see here. Thanks, girl. 'Theology' is an easy act to follow. It is hardly any act at all.
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