Astounding

> From this, and this.

Descartes said that it is useful at some point in the history of our minds to doubt all things. He actually didn’t go far enough, in that “I think therefore I am” lends, for its own purpose, a certainty to basic logic. Logically, if I were not, then I could not be thinking. Substantively, as far as we are used to very fundamental things behaving, it is irrefutable. One might think someone daft, in fact, if he were to say that such a reliance on logic is in any way deficient. But if we do not hold that this is sure, that things could possibly behave in ways they never have, even if not in any case we have studied, we come upon a very interesting viewpoint. It is to say that we do not notice that miracles happen every day, simply because they happen every day.

Let me explain. If we do not take for granted things holding together: solidity, cause and effect, time itself: we may begin to see how awesome is the most common of things. Try it. Look at the basic building blocks that you may perceive about the universe. Things we do not in any case doubt that they could fail. It may be difficult: these miracles happen every day, they sustain us hour by hour, second by second. How magnificent the verymost mundane. If you begin to perceive how awesome are the most common experiences, you begin to spy the mystery of the God who is love. The very fact that there is such a thing as quality that may be felt: that there is feeling at all! We may begin here finally to make sense of things. And therefore, to wonder.

For we are born wired in the ways of space and distance, and the ordering and passage of time. We are born knowing an astounding number of things. How is it we first grasp at anything with our hand? The knowledge of sending out the correct signal from the mind, we are given. How is it that we imitate a sound we hear? Such correlation is an amazing thing, not one to simply take as standard issue. To think of one thing as tasting different from another, to look and to comprehend size, more than one vs. the one; spectacular is such faculty.

Now this is beyond astounding, too: we are born knowing how to learn. Anyone who knows what it takes to teach our machines to do the most rudimentiary form of learning will tell you that it is no small thing. No, indeed. And in that vein, pleasure and pain we are born knowing, too, born comprehending, no less. It doesn’t even require the learning, the tools we need to learn other things. Play and boredom, too: how we understand what to pursue in the courses we take; also given us, a higher form of pleasure and pain. They are a higher form of abstraction, like existence itself, known only by the things that exist: play only in terms of the games that invoke that sensation, “fun”. All these are given you.

The question is not, “what do we know?”, but “what can we forget?” Can we truly forget the notions of time and space? Can we forget being? For if we truly wish to do as Descartes advised, we must forget these things. Let us to forget functioning of any sort: can we do that? Perhaps that is the key. This is to doubt the logic of the very of mundane, that logic which allows one to be certain that when one says, “I am”, he cannot be refuted. Let us then be able to refute that, to think in a situation where nothing makes sense, and maybe we can go deeper down the rabbit hole than Descartes himself thought it went. And then perhaps we may worthily approach that lesson that Jesus Christ told me, while I was in the pit: “Work is magic.”

Believer

> From this.

Don’t ever think at any period in your life that you believe(d) nothing. That is impossible. We are walking around in the everyday world with a thousand assumptions at any given time. Some are useful, some are not, some are true, some are false. Believe it or not, most of them are true, contrary to what a cynic might think. If you think about it, this must be the case, or you’d be doing the equivalent of running into glass doors more often than not. The assumptions you operate under actually don’t have to be true to be useful, but generally, you’re better off believing in things that have verisimilitude. But it is pretty much inevitable that a bunch of the things you think you know are not, in fact, true. In both faith and science: in faith, especially, it is hard to know when you in fact have any of it down. A lot of times we can only have faith in our own faith.

Science, on the other hand, is a way to organize beliefs in such a way that one is able to weigh them according to evidence. Science also believes things, some things useful, some not, etc., etc. There is an art to science, and many who believe in science miss this. And there are times that science gets something really wrong. But one piece of advice: believe in something that is of science over something that is of faith, if the target about what they speak is basically the same thing. This is prudence. Because faith in faith is not on as sure a ground as the science of science. And finally, if you want a challenge, try to believe nothing, and end up with something. This is the most basic desire of science.

Incomprehensible

> From this.

There is no such thing as “have to”. What is your ground(s) for saying that something “has to” be the case? We do come upon in this world where things work a certain way, and we continue on the basis that at least some of those functionings don’t change, and will continue to work in that manner. And you may ask, why do they work like that? One theory is that this might be the only way in which things can work: it “has to” be this way. There is no way to prove this is true. Nothing “has to” be as it has been; as it seems, sometimes, how things must be. Yes, it might be a facet of taking things for granted yet again. For one understands that given a circumstance, things have been observed to act in thusly. But what is the matrix for that circumstance, the matrix for that matrix, and on, and on? What ground(s) do you ultimately walk, along that path of (meta)logic?

Just because it doesn’t seem to make sense if, for instance, logic itself weren’t always logical, doesn’t mean logic “has to” be logical. Why does anything have to make sense to you? That’s inductive thinking, as is all logic or metalogic, when it comes down to it. Because it’s seemed to work a certain way from as far back as it has been recorded, doesn’t mean it “had to” be that way, nor that it “has to” be that way. But what if there is a purpose to all things, and how these things came to be? What if there is a Ground? Without such, we only have the logic of the “has to” to fall back on: it is because it is. (That actually may sound deep in some contexts. It isn’t.) One might turn to materialism as an escape, but this ends up invoking the anthropic principle: it is because, since we are here to observe it, it must be therefore so. This is trying to fill our stomachs up on the husk part of all the ears of corn.

The only way out of a chain of why’s without resorting to a meaningless solipsism is to believe in a transcendent Purpose. Otherwise, what we end up is a house of cards floating in space. And all that we can do is add more cards to that house, models building upon models, reasons relying on reasons. Yes, the material world can be taken “as is”, as some people purport is the highest of observation: to experience fully the moment. But without a why, how is person more than just an animal? Not that such experience is meaningless, per se. But what if we’re meant for something greater? We miss ourselves, then, if we look not to Purpose. It may not always make sense, at least not completely, and that is where faith comes in. Allows us to go in the way we should go.

Also, we can say that it is another astounding “coincidence” that things make sense at all. That we can rationally conceive of theories that model how certain things have worked, and continue to work. Astounding, because the models are not exact copies of what they model. Explain the concurrency of the theory and the reality and you have possibly the meaning of meaning. It is not a problem I have struggled much with, but I wager that it has to do with quality, or how things are perceived by us: if things did not make sense, quality could not, functionally, exist. Einstein said, “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.” I think he may have understood what I’m talking about, even before we met in the HALOSPACE.

Ergo

> From this.

Contrary to popular opinion, the statement “I think therefore I am” can, in fact, be refuted. You can deny your own existence. It doesn’t even have to be illogical to do so, either. We have something that “looks out”, and that is what most people consider their own personal “I am”. It is similar to what Leibniz called a monad. This epiphenomenon is what Descartes is talking about in his famous statement: when “we are,” the very fact of us relaying it makes the statement that it cannot be denied. If we denied it, then what is doing the denying? So you see, whatever that is, that must be the “I am”. Without it, we could not do anything at all, because we would not be anything at all to do it.

Could it possibly be another illusion, however? What if that which looked out were actually an extension of a greater thing that looked out, which you were not aware of, that lends you the sensation of authentic consciousness? That other knows what it is to look out for real, you just think you do. That would mean your “I am” is not, not really. It’s just borrowed, it is only a leaf on a tree, and is not the being that is actual, that is the tree, like it thinks it is. And this way of looking at things is not as wild as it seems, if you ever read some works in eastern religion. This is actually some mystics’ view of consciousness, that there is one cosmic consciousness (the tree) and that we are merely the One forgetting it is one and having become many (the leaves).

And however far out that view of things is, it’s within logical possibility. Now, if one were not to take logic for granted, we could go to town on Descartes’ irrefutable. Then nothing is sure, the very essence of what it means to be sure would have been yanked away, and you know what? Once again, like the fish who doesn’t know what water is, we do take logic for granted. For there is nothing really that guarantees logic has to be the process of the way things work; we just have a history that things do, indeed work through logic. It’s induction, which has been known to have problems, philosophically speaking. Something we will be visiting upon in a bit.

Vanity

> From this.

All is vanity, and chasing after wind. All these words have been written before, I tell you nothing new under the sun, for what is written shall ever be written again, in as many cycles as there are years upon years, as we live under the turning of the great Wheel. What hope have we, to mean something before we are scattered into the winds, like the dust we are, and never gathered together again? Chasing after wind. Vanity. Dust in the wind. Airs. What meaning have those whose works are remembered, for do they not also go to the grave? Mostly we are shivering in a Brownian daydream, and then we are gone, and after those who remember us are also gone, so we are blown away as inconsequential infinitesimals.

Or shall we believe that there is more? Can we conceivably have the notion that the God of small things listens to the cricket’s chirp, to know every fluctuation of temperature in every crevice, and what transpires in the smallest capillaries of our bloodstream? To Him there is no vanity. To Him, who knows from where the wind comes, and to where it goes, life is not a poor player. We must follow where He goes, and we will perhaps arrange these written words anew, find meaning even in the dregs of our language. Surely in the attempt, to deny the entropy another minute of the heart’s erosion.

We must to understand where the meaning is to be gathered, out there in the vasty show of streetlamps and buses and pigeons. True love, free: ask and it shall be given to thee. Free love, true: ask and it shall be given to you. True love, after all, is to be found: I am found! I found it! Newly discovered, having been there from time immemorial. And just everywhere: past, travelers through the corridors of memory; present, for those who have eyes to see; and future, in the most solemn hope; even in the very imagining, in the dreaming — so to join in the tune our spirits, to the time of the grand and awesome song of creation.

Granted, Again

> From this.

It really is amazing just how much we take for granted. I harp on this point a lot. One would imagine that an extreme case of it would be the tweets after Christmas of spoiled children not having gotten the exact color iPhone, and subsequently posting, and I quote, “FML”. Seriously? Do you even have the barest awareness that there are other people in the universe at all? I suppose you can say, however, that we are all guilty of this, if you think about it a bit, perhaps it being only a matter of degree what we truly do not give a second thought to. How much we are totally unaware of, because like fish who have no idea what water is, we rely upon these necessities just as matters of fact, and think no further on them.

But let us imagine, let us go, to the other extreme: in the other direction, which might be to recognize that all good things we have we are given, and even that good which we do have not source in us at all — that only the mistakes we make are truly ours. Our intelligence, our ability, our will (if true), our capability to exert effort — all these are gifts, even all the elements of developing skill in anything at all. All of whatever is good ultimately comes from God. Really, all we actually are composed of are the small sparks our brain makes when deciding something. Be therefore thankful, in the worst of your moments. There is still hope, even in these, and that hope, too, is a gift.

Music!

> From this.

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there is an animal called the Babelfish. Placed in the ear, the effect is to translate any language heard into the one you speak. Such an animal is deemed to be so useful it is the proof of the non-existence of God (it removes faith from the equation, and without faith God is nothing, the joke goes). In my thinking, music is like the Babelfish. (There are other things, but this is number one on our survey.) How is it that we can enjoy music? How does blind evolutionary process bring about attuning to certain sequences of tone? Its only purpose seems to be the conveyance of emotion, if it has anything like a practical application at all. We don’t need it to survive. Diplomatic treaties and instruction manuals are not written in musical notes. (Maybe they should be, to convey the spirit of the document all the better.)

It is a stunning coincidence. Can we look at this, and all that which is fortunate in our existence — how long until it becomes irrational not to believe in a higher pattern? Because music makes one question what “coincidence” actually may be.

We of science have believed that we are a run of the mill planet revolving a rather ordinary star, in an average position in our galaxy, which is itself nothing to write home about. This makes me think of the researcher who averaged the faces of serial killers and when he did so, came up with a more attractive face than all his inputs. If you “average”, he found, one comes up with beauty. How long will the white coats ignore that what they call “average” is what they mistake beauty for? And coincidence? Do not such phenomena deserve a different word? Those who believe God is luck, and not that God is love. Maybe that’s the paradigm shift they should be working on — from selling God short. Eggheads, before you try to absolve other people’s ignorance, start with the man in the mirror.

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The Great Blasphemy