Monday, December 03, 2007

Adding The Second Leg - Reasons of Reason pt.6

From the Poetic Heights, the Greeks descend to discover the World
The myths of the Greeks lifted men further than most, but they had difficulty going the last step of bridging man into the beyond. Though they did and would play a part in it, that would be for another people to accomplish (and for another post to cover). But in their time, the Greeks were supreme, their myths lifted horizontal concerns into the Vertical with something more than mere cardboard cutouts of God and Hero; they vividly illustrated Man as being a creature that should aspire towards both, but not through emulation alone. The Greek ideal was mindful of Homer but even moreso was conscious of the need to involve his thought, his choices, and always with the vivid realization that at any step he might be wrong – it was necessary to think things through, you had to question, question, question and yet be bold enough to act as well, and even more importantly, to take the consequences.

This relentless questioning was illustrated through Homer with (and I think all that has become Western Civilization hinges upon it) Achilles's realization of, reaction against, questioning of and eventual resignation to, Agamemnon’s seizure of Briseis; and through the spread of that questioning, some interesting discoveries began to be made. Principle, Rights, Honor, rose over and eventually into, tradition. The Greeks questioned the right of Kings, they questioned even the Gods, they questioned nature, and they examined what they found against ‘the facts as we know them’, and in that process they founded the West.

With all of their Questioning, the Greeks did something which no other people had done before, they discovered the World. They were the first to ask “What is this?” with the ends in mind being the here and now and the realization that Value and Truth were not solely the province of the deathless Gods. From the broad timeless questions of Religion and Myth, which they took very seriously, eventually they also focused upon the narrow & immediate, beginning, as far as we know, with Pythagoras. Pythagoras with his mathematical mysticism, served as something of a stepping point between the Vertical heights, and the horizontal facts, but it was really Thales who first sought to discover this world.

Thales of Miletus, was the first not to be satisfied with an answer couched in generalities of myth and tradition, or to substitute his own for them, as Pythagoras seemed to have. Thales and his followers, were the first to take clear headed notice that the Vertical pulled down and pasted onto the flat horizontal (is the Sun actually Apollo driving his chariot through the sky, or was it a burning stone?), was less than useless, it was wrong, and if acted on, led only to error and destruction.

Thales asked “What is it?” of the world, and looked no further than the Here and Now for his answer, implying that the Here was indeed Somewhere! He wanted to know what this was, here and now, and his speculations involved the agents of the natural world, not the supernatural world. It was Thales and his followers, who discovered the world as a thing upon which we lived, and existed, which could be verified, and whose answers didn’t bob and weave with the unforeseeable layers of discord which the tales of the Gods assuredly did. Here, this, this thing, we could examine, discover, and verify – and its answers either stayed put or could be followed and improved upon by others.

From these questions of the world began to issue out new layers of thought into the human mind, that of Science, Geometry, Rhetoric, ordered speculations upon what things were, how they were, and what that could and should mean to our daily lives. Soon, ideas such as democracy began to flourish, constitutions, Philosophy and later sub specialties of biology, medicine, mechanics, the foundations of all that our techne laden world rests upon.

When Worlds Collide
Here also we see the first collisions of the Vertical and the Horizontal in intellectual life. What began as an interesting dance between that of the Vertical and the Horizontal, and whose graceful turns begat the generation who first defended the West at Marathon, began to devolve into the Gods vs the Sciences, Truth vs Fact – an Either/Or opposition. Instead of an acknowledgement of Both within their context(the sun was, in the context of Apollo the god of Reason, that which gave light and warmth to your life, or the sun in the context of the sky, was some form of heat source, perhaps a fiery stone – each is true, in its proper context), they were left with an opposition which only exists, mistakenly, within a framework that is missing a vital piece of information and their relationships – a two legged stool of Reason missing it’s third leg – the balance and bridge between the other two.

Lacking that third leg is was what led to Socrates being voted to death (an interesting take upon the execution of Socrates, in a much less favorable light than Plato paints it, can be found in I.F. Stone’sTrial of Socrates” (at Amazon). His research tells a tale that works out more along the lines of something we might better grasp in our time as what if the West had lost the cold war? Might some anti-American 'thinker' such as Chomsky have been held responsible for it? And what if something of a Michael Moore was the only one who bothered to tell the tale? My deepest apologies to Socrates and Plato for that offensive comparison). Socrates was the first to begin groping for that third leg, but being the first to seek it, his attempt was unavoidably and understandably, flawed, and the stool, even more unbalanced, and came crashing down hard upon him.

Efficiency had become a goal, aka Sophistry, and the Sophists saw the goal of education as being cheifly to make you first and foremost effective in your pursuits. Effective in rhetoric in order to win lawsuits and other arguments, to make pretty poetry, to make stuff that works, to mobilize the masses into voting your way, effective in becoming the leading and dominating city-state of the Aegean… but in the dazzling light of Athenian progress and the beautiful reality of this world, it had become a goal shorn of a higher purpose.

Efficiency alone, is an awesome – in all the dark and troubling aspects of the word – an awesome power to unleash, and unleashed, without guidance, it brings destruction. Destruction efficiently came to be visited upon the structure of the Polis, and upon the people, most obviously evident in War. The Peloponnesian War was the first such War where efficiency in strategy and technique ruled both sides of the exchange, and death was the currency, limited only by the effectiveness of their technology. But effective for what? Whatever is needed at the time, of course – hello Pragmatism, goodbye civilization.

The Descent In Art
You can see the course of the Greeks descent from the Vertical to the Horizontal played out in remarkable clarity through the telling of the same tale, that of Orestes returning home to avenge his father’s death (Agamemnon was killed by his wife Clytemnestra upon returning triumphant from the Trojan War, partly in revenge for his sacrificing their daughter Iphigenia, to loose the winds of war upon Troy) as told in different periods by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.

As a comparative side note, it’s interesting to note that the lifespans of the three supreme Greek Tradgedians Aeschylus(524 BC – 456 BC), Sophocles (496 BC - 406 BC) and Euripides (480 BC–406 BC) fall within a similar timeframe and perspective as that which might have been reflected in our time as the generations that fought in WWI, the ‘greatest generation’ which fought in WWII, and the baby boomers of Vietnam and the Cold War; adding 24 and a quarter centuries to their birthdates would situate them as being born in 1900, 1929 and 1945. For an even more glib example in this illustration, they might also be contrasted with the drama’s produced by C.B. Demile, Frank Kapra and Mel Gibson. With Demile we get productions of pure Hero’s, the Biblical epics and Dough Boys who fight the Good Fight, with Kapra we have Men who do heroic deeds as a result of ‘just doing our job’, that common refrain of WWII vets, and with Gibson in movies like Braveheart, we receive visions of doomed men of Heroic stature defeated by events and the corruption surrounding them.

In Aeschylus’s ‘The Libation Bearers’ it is Orestes's sister, Electra herself, who discovers a lock of hair that he has left at their father’s grave, she sees that it resembles hers and her fathers and leaps to the conclusion that it must be her Brother Orestes returned to avenge their Father’s death. In Sophocles’ telling, it is Electra’s sister who finds the lock of hair and a footprint and who is convinced of the same, but Electra has heard false news of his death, and convinces both it can not be. Even when Orestes later reveals himself to her, she is doubtful, he must show his Father’s signet ring, and still she questions a moment more before admitting the Truth of him standing before her. Here we have a visible distancing from higher Truths, a slipping away of the Higher and older beliefs in Belief - they are still there, but are struggling for purchase in the present. By the time Euripides rolls around with his telling of Electra, he has Orestes in guise as a traveler confronting and practically accost Electra, each completely unaware of the identity of the other. Later an Old Man (which at the time it was first produced, would have put him from Aeschylus’s generation) tells her he found offerings and a lock of auburn hair similar to hers at Agamemnon’s tomb, and she rebukes him

“In the next place, how should our hair correspond? His is the hair of a
gallant youth trained up in manly sports, mine a woman's curled and combed; nay, that is a hopeless clue. Besides, thou couldst find many, whose hair is of the
same colour, albeit not sprung from the same blood. No, maybe 'twas some
stranger cut off his hair in pity at his tomb, or one that came to spy this land

, here we have the evidence of Higher Truths fully hidden, and not just lost, but forced out with grasping rationalizations in favor of perceived truths (how did she know it was a man’s lock of hair? She see’s but won’t acknowledge, Truth) forced out by the particular evidences of the senses and logic, little ‘r’ reasoning masquerading as Reason. Eventually, what must be done is done, but not for the Good.

The hair in Aeschylus’s play was to poetically evoke the highest like minded soulness – or physical expression of their same soulness between brother and sister, of common bond of One among the many. Aeschyles’ generation of Heroes (who fought at Marathon, as did Aeschylus, to make the world safe for Freedom) understood that, later in Sophocles’s generation and the ‘First’ Peloponnesian War, Athenians began to question their beliefs, to leaven it with ‘Lets be practical’, and Euripides’s generation and the horrors of the full Peloponnesian War coming to its conclusion, out and out snickered at it “Besides, thou couldst find many, whose hair is of the same colour, albeit not sprung from the same blood”.

How High Can You Fly ... and never, never, never... reach the Sky....
In those centuries leading up to 400 B.C., the Greeks Olympian Gods hit a brick wall of humanist motivation and interests; the Greeks took the Human realm as far as it could go in this world, and could go no further. At that point they could progress no further, religiously speaking, their myths lacked the lift to keep them from crashing back into earth as Daedelus did; if care is not taken, the particular wax used to carry you aloft, is ultimately melted in the heat of the Sun, the ingenious techne of feathers would begin to fall apart without a cohesive glue, and the soarer plummets into the ocean depths.

It is Reasoning that separates us from, which raises us up above, the animal world, through the communal creation of Culture, and which is primarily nourished through the Arts. But in order to rise above the animal, you have to be striving for something above the animal. Destroy the Arts (and ‘Realism’ is the corrosive best suited to doing that - then as now), those things which direct our spiritual and intellectual interests and reverences, and you will destroy the culture and destroy the man. Without the support of a sound culture, that which buoys us up above the animal world, we will fall, and as someone leaping onto rotten floorboards, we will plunge far lower than the animal world, into the subhuman realm. There, there is fire and burning and gnashing of teeth.

Aristotle separated realms of thought into those which are susceptible to Reason, and those which are not. Where you are not playing an active role in the apparent process of Reasoning, then you are passively letting impulse and habit carry you through rationalizations for affirming raw desire through our emotions and yearnings. Those impulses are there, they exist and motivate you whether or not you acknowledge them. They exist in the areas that are slowly self-constructed within us thorugh daily reverence and habit – through Traditions transmitted to the young in story and in daily teachings. In such situations of in-the-moment reactions, of deep seated yearnings, in those moments there exists no Reasoning, only response - the fruits of Character, and if not well and deliberately constructed, there too the floorboards rot.

The inferred and distilled poetic inspiration that is Religion and Tradition, serves as the souls navigational stars in the sky – seemingly unmoving and unchanging or at the very least doing so very slowly. They carry the eyes upward and lead us on. When, however, they trespass from the realm of metaphor to actuality, when they become things they sink and fall into rote and literalist memorizations without deeper understanding - and conversely as well; there are two likely results that can be expected. With the first we get situations such as Calvin’s Geneva or Moohamit’s islam, with the second we get Marxism and Political Correctness.

In mirror like imagery, Theology shook off the chaos of paganism, but attempted to seize all power unto itself. Science shook off the grasp of Religion and immediately seized all power into itself. Both are but wobbly two legged stools of Reason, and they tumble down – hard– it is only with something else, with the three legs upon the stool of Reason that we get the Founding Fathers America. But that third leg isn’t permanently attached, it must be continually tightened.

A tale of two Hitchens
Another interesting two legged case in point can be seen played out in the lives of the Brother’s Hitchens, Christopher and Peter, of England, and for two brothers, they are as dissimilar as they get. The younger brother, Peter Hitchens, is a Margaret Thatcher conservative, religious, married – still, raising his children in England, working as a columnist, his book 'The Abolition of Britain' is an excellent call to arms for those of the English world view to retain a hold of England. Particularly striking is his central image, that of how British Traditions and its people have been visibly degraded in the contrasts between the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill... and Princess Diana. Peter, while having a similar manner and incisiveness as his older brother, employs his in defense of God and Country, whereas Christopher’s are well known to be employed vociferously against God, and has abandoned England in favor of America.

Peter has seemingly managed to keep his intellect in concert with his Reason, whereas Christopher's Intellect has trod his reason into a somewhat mishapen image, although to his credit he has somehow managed to grasp the existence of Right and Wrong, of Truth, he leans heavily towards Socialism (now he only leans, he was more enthusiastic for it in the past) and a strident, even virulent antipathy towards all things religious – not that some supporters are unhinged, but that religion and tradition as such is, in fact, Evil.

Christopher Hitchens strident anti-theism colors his view of the world, rather than it being merely an observation within it. He, widely known to have a fondness for strong adult beverages, makes statements such as having sympathy for the miracle in canaan (turning water into wine), but wholly rejects the rest, and finding those who don’t reject them as being pathetic, gullible, fools. ‘Reason is the first and last word on this, and the idea of religions is solipcistic and deranged.” During an extended interview on “C-Span In Depth”, and in response to a caller whom he granted sounded like a sweet old lady who had stated that she “no longer believed in organized religion, but still believed in ‘something’ out there, we can’t be here alone”, he replied “ You must not count yourself disbelieving things because you might not want them to be true, or believing things because you might like them to be true."

Now that statement is not so remarkable on its own, it’s actually fairly good advice, and I don’t cite it as proof for or against miraculous claims, but I mention it because it is glaringly in contrast to his statements just a few minutes later, and I think it points up the apparent requirement of the human mind to conform to something answering the description of religion, even if not having that actual title. For soon after his out of hand rejection of this womans deistic speculations, he said in response to another callers inquiry after his thoughts on global warming: ‘we have no other biosphere to experiment with, and so we must act as if it is true…”; not only is this little different from what the little old lady said, but is really just a reworking of Pascal’s wager, the same Wager which he himself has ridiculed and ripped apart in debate after debate, after debate.

Personally, I agree, Pascal’s wager is a completely inadequate argument for or against any conviction, but the fact that he falls into essentially making it for something which he supports – and in the complete absence of the solid verifiable proof he demands be produced in support of religion – points up the apparent fact that the human mind naturaly tends towards faith (a loaded term I’ll do more to define in later posts), towards some form of wider all encompassing view – and one which seems to always temper us towards forebodings of an impending doom. With that being the case, putting yourself into the self delusion of having exorcised religious faith from your belief system, while acquiring an unwitting but nonetheless enthusiastic faith, seems to me far more dangerous a situation than those who rely upon a known and defined faith, one regulated under religion, and one which is much more easily self examined and publicly managed.

A faith which attempts to attach itself to demonstratable, verifiable, scientific methods and materials as the scientifismics do, inevitably veers into defensive (and indefensible) dogma, unsupportable bureaucracies and political correctness fully comparable with those of the worst of the Calvinist or Catholic church’s past misbehaviors. Sure, you can argue that Scientists haven’t burned anyone at the stake, but you can't argue that their positions haven't directly led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands worldwide, and the persistent impoverishment of millions.

Christopher Hitchens, in response to a question of how he conceives Happiness in the absence of a belief in God, replied that he sought more for Satisfaction than Happiness. Satisfaction over Happiness? I suppose the halved hierarchy leaves you shortsighted, for it necessarily devolves into the Efficient over the Good, and the Greeks already demonstrated the world such an approach will lead to (see Thucydide’s description of the revolutions of Corcyra) - and Christopher should be warned, that there is little satisfaction in store for inhabitants of such a time and place.

There are people who misuse religion, no doubt about it. While internal knowledge is examinable, it is so ultimately, by you and you alone. You can discuss its findings with others internal descriptions, but you can not proscribe step by step actions based upon it. Taking what is entirely Vertical, and attempting to apply it directly to horizontal action, is disastrous. There are most definitely people and organizations which are anti-rational in both their beliefs, and actions and understandings of Reality. But that comes from a lack of understanding, or refusal to understand, Man’s religious nature.

But Christopher Hitchens shows that all encompassing world views are held even by those who claim to reject them. We do need what religion offers, by whatever name which you deign to give it. The more thoughtful the person is inclined to be in such matters, the more the stories will be seen in a conceptual light rather than a literalist, but that doesn’t lessen their belief, only clarifies the details of the points ageed upon.

Where there is no vision the people perish – and where there is no perspective the vision blurs
The Universe IS. Existence exists, and the whole ball of wax of it is One, and Truth is whole and pervasive through out it all. Attempts to discover it, reveal it, within and without. Those stories that the modernist, anti-theists so readily dismiss, are deeper than they permit them to appear. The Wise grasp the interweaving of Truth, and their expressions in Art, Song and Story, reveal it to those willing to see.

That all religious material is written by human beings I do affirm. I do not believe that any person has ever received an inscription penned by the divine. Do I think Christ literally walked on water? Fed hundreds with a couple loaves of bread? Brought a dead Lazarus back to life? Sorry, no. Do I think that Mary underwent immaculate conception and had a virgin birth? No. (parthenogenesis has been observed in many species, including recently – to the surprise of scientists everywhere – in a higher level creature, a Komodo dragon – but there is no evidence that mammals have ever have accomplished it) I’d need some serious dna evidence to buy that. If that puts me outside some peoples conception of religion, then … oh well. But, is the literal factual occurrence of scenes from these tales relevant?

No. Not at all.

Do I accept that those tales convey far more truth about the Man and his message than any historically accurate detail of his daily doings would likely convey? Yes indeed. Do I experience them in some cold, bookish sort of way?

No. Not at all.

They, for me, live and breathe with a central fire I cannot help but conceive of as being far warmer than ever would be possible to those who only believe them as factual tales they've been told are true – but that’s from my perspective… each person brings to and takes from them as they are able and require.

“An eye for an eye” - Is the fault in the tales, or in those retelling them?
An eye for an eye, can be taken as poetically conveying the principle of proportionate punishment, as in "Let the punishment fit the crime", or it can be taken as a proscription for revenge, you kill one of us, and we kill ten of yours, or an eye for 'an eye will leave the world blind'. The later examples here, take a Vertical distillation, and attempts to apply it directly to physical directions. The former, restates it in clear conceptual principles, and having done so, it will be able to be used to initiate a properly descending conceptual chain into intelligent application in action.

In the case of Religion, particularly, it is for the forming from the outside in, of the moral structure of a person. The surface of the tales do create a, lets say spherical structure of morality. For large numbers of the population, those who will have no interest, inclination or abilities to advance deeper into them, they suffice. ‘Thou shalt not Kill, Thou shalt not Steel, Thou shalt not Envy…” and so on, will suffice quite well for their day to day progress through life. Such surface level understandings will not, however, suffice for those who rise up into, or against, deeper conceptual structures and understandings.

Shalt not Kill? What about in self defense? What about a psychopathic murderer? What about in War? Is it equally justifiable for soldiers in a communist army to kill ‘enemies’ as it is for soldiers in a proper Western Army (US, UK, Australian, Canadian…) to kill their enemies? (NO it isn’t).

At this level, it rises out of and above the ability of a literal reading of scripture to be applied to the world. A Preacher has (or Should have) a deeper, more esoteric, philosophical understanding of the Bible, than their average lay person; that a preacher not only preaches but foments a literal reading of the Bible, preaching that it means nothing more or less than the words expressed in it, is in my opinion, monstrous – and I use that word very deliberately.

I believe that Human beings, through the nature of their minds, perceive the Unity of the world around them, of truth, and of the Spirit created through civilization and culture. We perceive through ‘natural’ inductive perceptions, a sense of source, of consequence, and of the importance of an hierarchy in the unity of man and matter in the Universe (I've touched upon this more here and here).

Reason is the process of attention within which our thoughts must navigate with and through; utilizing both a direct focused reasoning, associated with logic, and wider understandings indirectly acquired through general attention to the goings on of life, such as tradition, culture, etc, are essential to the integrative process that is able to draw from both of these areas, or sides, of mind, so inform and guide your choices - that is the Capital R Reason which I am interested in these posts.

Right and wrong were late arrivals on the Human scene, at least in ways that separate them from the merely effective and impressive, and that which is not. All people Reason, few people are aware that they reason, fewer still – those of the West, are deliberatively self aware in their Reasoning, this produces self critical tendencies, a somewhat frantic awareness of shortcomings, and an urgency to becoming better at maintaining a grasp on their goals.

Reason brings wide and narrow into focus in a lived life
Reason is like a set of bi-focal lenses. Imagine a person with poor unfocused vision, they surely see movement, color, but little definition. Reason, as with a pair of glasses, brings that shape and movement into clarity – now you can see what things are and move among them with greater certainty. With the coming of science, the standard glasses are exchanged for bifocal lenses. They must have properly shaped lenses, with a focal center lens set in a secure frame, and all work in tandem to deliver a clear focused vision of reality. Now you are able to not only see in general, but to also see items up close in detail. As science refines the technology of spectacle making, perhaps you will find need to exchange them for a pair of jewelers glasses, one of those types with little circular lenses which can be rotated into use giving you a microscopic view of particulars; but it is necessary to keep all in perspective, to keep an awareness of one cohesive view, and not be misled into thinking that the focal points are separate and individual particulars.

The Vision is one, though some parts may be in greater clarity, still, the Vision is One.

Even more important, is the need to remember, that the glasses themselves are not the view. People have a tendency to adorn in exaggerated embellishment, the armature which supports the lenses; gone are horn rimmed glasses, and in come the sleek, gilded frames, sprung steel and polarized lenses – but it is not the frame or even the lenses which are the point of glasses. They are not even where vision takes place. Care must be taken to ensure that the world that is seen is remembered to be the purpose of the glasses, and that the true vision takes place within the Eyes and brain, the glasses are but tools, and the more they are in the way, the less they serve their true purpose.

All of the focal lenses, and jeweler lenses are but detail view of the broader whole, they exist integrated into the broader whole, not as the separate instances which appear to your eye when focusing on them. The wider lens are deeper perspective of cultural inductive experience and knowledge. The focal lens, are our focused attentive reason, operating by method & cross checking facts. They must work together to deliver a proper image of reality and to maintain your place within it. Shorting one lens over the other, or failing to have them properly placed upon the bridge of your nose – means that your perception will be distorted. We must see, we must peruse our vision, integrate it and direct it.

Our Western Layer Cake
Down through the line, preceded by Pythagoras mystical attempt to define the world, we soon find reasoning as a tool to discover the world. Socrates applied it not only to what could be touched, but to the higher realms as well, and found sharp reaction against him, sharp enough to cost him his life. Plato recorded, expanded upon, and built another layer of higher truths, but partly as a consequence of being among the first, his views were unbalanced.

Aristotle exemplified a balance between the three, built upon the surface of the eternal. Without that balance, that clarity of perspective and focus, without a wider guide for our actions and intentions than that which we merely want, we will be reduced to becoming merely effective. He codified how we could discuss and verify the tangibles of life through the technology of Logic– those areas where people can examine an item or thought, here was a tool for thinking effectively, for integrating - it is only with the modernists that it has become an intellectual gadget for logic chopping. But the process can only be applied to that which is sharable knowledge. He had the philosophical foundation, but his religious complement was too thin for emotive fingers to grasp a hold of.

Still though, Aristotle succeeded in laying down another layer of thought into the RAM of Western Civilization. The Ideas of the west have ever since been expanding and deepening the layers of conceptual landscape that exists within us, but they exist only after being created in our mental RAM - by us, each of us, individualy. Ideas that began with Homer, then the Polis, then Poetics, the Roman atop the Greco, the Christian upon the Judeo, Rights, Statehood, and then Nationhood – each of these builds upon the previous layer – and the previous layers must be learned and laid down, for the next one to be properly acquired and poured upon that. At any point, a person or even an entire period, may get it wrong - it's a difficult cake to bake.

Science is affixed in time and place, it deals with the shared evidence in our experience, but all of us know or should know, that our deepest sense experience, of self, is not sharable. We can do nothing but attempt to evoke it and allude to it, recognizing in others attempts seeming similarities, entry points for discussion and inspiration, but not shared examination.

Truly profound thoughts to each person, come in parts as first Inference, of a larger picture. You begin to discern a pattern, anticipate a picture, they are an inference of that larger Truth above and behind all patterns of reality. Then in some part of that expectation of Form you are hit with the apprehension of some portion of that wider picture, and through discernment you begin to lay hands upon the whole in order to bring it into graspable quantities.

Only the areas where time and space intersect may be focused upon, reasoned upon, Rights we can examine, but not our interior cavescapes – Rights are reflected throughout them, but not inscribed upon them, our personal lasxous’s are our wider inner truths. There we find resonation or revelation but not communal examination. Inferential, but not deductive, Truth, yes, but... There is where you must stand alone and unarmed before… I AM … you can euphemize it as yourself, Truth, your conscience, your fears or God – name it as you will, it is there and you know it.

The Zen Koan asks “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” We Are! We are that sound! The One has nothing to clap against, nor would there be another to hear it if it did, all clapping against, and sound from it, must come from and within the confines of the interior of the One. It IS, and it is not with others, but from within IT, that we are. It is only from within the hand of God, the One Cosmos, the molding creative instrument, that we, the created, are heard to be clapping.

Ok, I'm not going to be able to condense it all into this post, so next time, the Third leg, What Athens has to do with Jerusalem and America.


Ephrem Antony Gray said...

They, for me, live and breathe with a central fire I cannot help but conceive as being warmer than I ever would have imagined possible if I were to only believe them as factual tales told – but each person brings to and takes from them as they are able and require.

Van, the central point of those stories is 'beyond them' - non-local. When we get too concerned with the number of angels on the head of a pin we miss the Person who is the whole point of the Book.

Certainly there may be places and times to discuss the possibility of miracles - for myself, I never thought them impossible. I at times doubted their veracity (as I still do) but I don't imagine at all that miracles - which may very well break natural laws - don't exist.

There are certain ones that I am certain of, but the rest I allow some wiggle room. Some people's bodies end up being incorrupt (non-rotting.) some people are healed in weird ways. There are a thousand other things that might just have been miraculous, but we don't know. It takes the greater-R Reason to discern; and then only by the person who sees the Miraculous.

Chesterton made it clear for me what I had the inkling of, and that is that God is a Will behind the Universe. If the universe is consistent (or consistent enough) it is because he wants it that way. God isn't fettered and neither are we. And that's how he likes it. If the universe were ever-changing in laws and properties our free will would be useless - as soon as we understood something it would change. (etc.)

It is because God is Good that he is this way; we can't claim to understand the fullness of the Good of God through our narrow conception of it (why does God allow animals to die, etc?) but we know that our idea of Good is at least a reflection of God (an Image, anywho.)

In this sense the potential of the miraculous is fully reconcilable with a Universe with regular law. It's a law just regular enough to define but just irregular enough to prevent us from being purely Logical.

So each law is like a door to a chamber which itself contains doors (exceptions.)

Miracles (many) may one day be explained by some natural law; maybe they won't. Anyway, the Miraculous is not necessarily the point of Christianity (or Religion/Theology) anyway.

My advice is that if you want to choose one Miracle to believe in, it should be the Incarnation. Because that's really the only one that has to be true.

And if it is true, the Resurrection isn't too much of a stretch. Everything else can remain rightly a mystery ('cause that's what it really is...)

That way, you won't spend too much time trying to prove logically the existence of these miracles and just let them be stories. They could very well be true stories - but that is something that the big-R Reason has to reveal with study and time.

A big mistake of the Fundies, IMO.

But I'll do a post on the key error of Fundamentalism probably tomorrow. It hit me during a Vespers service (it made me laugh, even.) It involves the logic of Liturgy and Music.

Suffice it to say that you may swap words that are similar for poetic sound when you already know what you're talking about. The Fundamentalist, who requires things to be LITERALLY TRUE can not do this. He is fettered.

Van Harvey said...

Not sure whether or not this was clear to you, but on rereading it, it wasn't clear to me,
"They, for me, live and breathe with a central fire I cannot help but conceive as being warmer than I ever would have imagined possible if I were to only believe them as factual tales told – but each person brings to and takes from them as they are able and require."

I'm change it to,
"They, for me, live and breathe with a central fire I cannot help but conceive of as being far warmer than ever would be possible to those who only believe them as factual tales they've been told are true – but that’s from my perspective… each person brings to and takes from them as they are able and require."

I used to do the 'ya know, if Jesus knew that Lazarus had narcolepsy, that he tended to fall into a deep sleep easily confused as death, he would have rushed back on hearing that he'd died, and fling open the tomb, wake him and lead him out - and the tale would grow and spread.'

But... I think that it's not only counter productive, but a little like writing a detailed pixel by pixel report on spectrum RGB ratio's in a picture of your true love - what in the Hell is the point?(sideways pun intended). That particular miracle can be taken as a marvelous example of God's power, or a metaphor of how Truth and Goodness can bring life to the cold and dark tomb of materialistic life, if you only let it - and as you well know, a wide variety of other meanings.

The Truth of it is, as you said, that the Truth that they point to is non-local, the tale draws the resonance out of you that you are capable of rising to - some may hum like a tuning fork tuned to 'G', some may strum as a 'G' chord strummed on a guitar, some a two handed piano chord in 'G' major, and there are no doubt those rare genius's who will Mozart-like effortlessly let flow forth a Symphony in G Minor - each person brings to and takes from them as they are able and require.

"...God through our narrow conception of it (why does God allow animals to die, etc?) but we know that our idea of Good is at least a reflection of God (an Image, anywho.) In this sense the potential of the miraculous is fully reconcilable with a Universe with regular law. It's a law just regular enough to define but just irregular enough to prevent us from being purely Logical."

As I expressed in the two links in the post "...(I've touched upon this more here and here)", my suspicion is that the universe is exactly as it needs to be, our conceptions of pleasure and pain but peripheral points in the scheme of things, as consequential to and useful for living, as guitar picks and violin bows to producing music, but not to be mistaken for the music they help produce; and I suspect that there is a Reason why we don't have a 'Made in Heaven@' trademark stamped behind our ears - the whole point is to live, judge, choose and act as You are best able to Reason - and consequences will follow. And again, my internal speculation, but I suspect that Consciousness is more inherent in the Cosmos, than something outside of, or behind it, but then again, all guesses by parts about the nature of the whole, are gong to be only partially correct.

"That way, you won't spend too much time trying to prove logically the existence of these miracles and just let them be stories", as I said, I spend no time on that at all, their value lies elsewhere.

"The Fundamentalist, who requires things to be LITERALLY TRUE can not do this. He is fettered."


Good comments River, thanks!

Allotetraploid said...

Hi Van!
Finally I got the last piece together. Hope it will be worth a read and looking forward to your concluding post(s).

Van Harvey said...

Allo, I was wondering what happened to you!

Thanks, I'll be over soon...

Allotetraploid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allotetraploid said...

Hi Van!
I think you missed two others posts I've made. There are two more posts as reply to your earlyier posts, they can be found here and here. This is only a reply regarding your latest installment.
As to my wherabouts I've been reading up for an exam in statistics and involved in some homegrown quarells with the local believers :)

Van Harvey said...

Doh! So I did, thanks-