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.”

Doubt

> From this.

Doubt is not a sin. As the Bible says, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” For it may be that by faith we are saved, but it is by doubt that we learn. And if we hold that the one inclination does not kill the other, another quote comes to mind: “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.” (That’s Henri Poincare.) Thusly do I say to all the saints to try and doubt some of the things you hear, to all the scientists to try and believe some of the things you are told. For sometimes the lesson of doubt is merely that we should have had faith in the first place. Yes, faith can (often) be wrong, but there is a certain nobility in many of its failures.

It must be said, however, that it is better to question everything than to question nothing. Some of us are born with a particular certainty that allows that individual to understand many things, and allow for experiments that work on the first try; the rest of us go by trial and error (and repeat), and it is doubt that is more a friend to us than faith. Let us rather doubt that there is a God at all than believe in a God that is wrong, a God who is not love. On nobility’s flipside, there is virtue in this exact righteousness of unbelief, and I ask you to believe that it indeed is righteous. For you believe in less than nothing if you believe in a God who is not love. Thou callest good, evil, and thou callest evil, good: more hope be there for one born blind, deaf, and dumb than thee, for whatever understandest thou to be true in the world.

Interlocking

> From this.

How in the interlocking of gears, one turns another: that is magic. How gravity pulls a thing that is dropped, without fail: that is magic. I merely spot the teacup on the table: just that is twice magic, if not more. There are things that are magic within magic within magic. There is such spectacular magic in all things it is a blessing we are blind to all but the barest scratches of the miracles transpiring. Whenever you google something, those are magics in force, eldritch incantations being spoken by machine, machines which are levels upon levels of magic of themselves in arcane operation. For even that we do not notice these, the miracles of even the simplest forms of work: that in itself is magic.

How does anything at all work, at all? Is that not the fundamental of magic? The cause and the effect, the most trivial of physics: we should not assume that these all are guaranteed, for free, from some manner of how things somehow naturally are. “Natural”: that says nothing. What if there is source and purpose and meticulous the detail scripted and built, all with loving and infinite hand, to all of every of the simplest of function? That nothing came “for free”? What if on top of the effort to make of it, these all had to be fought for, tooth and nail, wing and halo? And if we see thusly, what is the triumph of the barest of function, we gain one glimmer of what it must be, what Einstein desired to glean: to know the mind of God.

Trust

> From this.

It comes down to trust. We trust that the Cogito, “I think therefore I am,” is something that must be true because we have verified that substantive logic is sure, it is secure. To deny the Cogito is nonsense. We trust that interlocking gears will turn each the other by the experience we have in contact mixed with motion, and in solidity and containment. Nothing in our whole observable universe contradicts the very notion that something like that could ever fail. But if we choose to take stock of such things, to notice what we take as given, we find there is a lot that we trust in to get us through the simplest days, to get through the very act of getting up in the morning.

How far does the trust go? Science works through reason and observation, and reason we have a lot of trust in, by its very nature. Observation we trust, that which we can hold in our hands, figuratively speaking. Logic explains itself to us, if we examine it closely enough. Such is the beauty of the world. And all of that, we have really learned to take for granted. (If we did not, perhaps we would all be frozen in wonderment at it all. Perhaps.) But behold: other matters of trust, of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: are these immune to science? I think not. Because we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father, and if we have seen the Father, then we may believe in His Spirit. That’s how things work. Have you not seen the Son? By Whom we number our very years? It is no sin of science to also believe.

Problem of Suffering

> From this.

I once thought about natural disasters in their relation to the Problem of Suffering. How can a good God allow undeserving people to suffer in this way? The Problem, when a human agent causes pain, it can pretty much be explained by the application of free will, which is a gift from God that people may misuse. That type of evil is not that big a thinker. But then you come to the question of large scale disasters: dozens, hundreds, thousands dead, pretty much at random: the wicked and the just in one mass of slain humanity. How can God be good while earthquakes kill thousands and maim thousands more? For some time, I couldn’t get a handle on it.

Then I was looking around the internet for ideas on the matter, and I found something very interesting, and like many things that make complete sense, I at first sight dismissed it off hand. Then I thought about it. I was approaching the problem incorrectly, which we might do if we base it on things like television newscasts. I was thinking of all the people involved in the great disasters en masse, as a big lump of humanity, when one should be thinking of them one by one, as we all live and love and breathe. Each victim has his or her own story, live or die. He might be taken in an instant, she might be wounded for the rest of her life, another has no more home to go to. If he is no more, it was his time; and other than that, each person is tested in their particular way, in the story that comes as with the flood. In the lives that are turned awry from the calamity that has ensued. For we all share one earth, but have each our stories we write, or that we are written into. Why does anything happen to anybody? Such is the question the storm stirs up.

Science

> From this.

Science is basically composed of definitions, which build on other definitions, which ultimately has some basis in reality (in as accurate measurements as can be observed). Reason uses science to understand things. For its part, mathematics has been used as a prime method of modeling things, but any logic may be used for the definitions of the forms that we study (though none have generally been found as useful as mathematics). But in any scientific endeavor, we must start with trust. For what science can be trusted whose basis is not things that are in turn trusted by it? One does not lay down a foundation for an edifice on the shifting sands (of whim, of fancy, of want).

Scientists do not usually think of this: we trust that logic which determines things to be true will itself stay true. Yes, they rely on past findings to be true, but they generally don’t think they need to trust that truth will be true. But without this basic trust, science is impossible. That trust also allows one definition to be a basis for another, that the logical connective, if it is itself well defined, will hold for the time required to relate things. In science, we have basis to believe these fundamental things may be trusted; after much observation and study, we can say that it is well tested. Those unfamiliar with its methods should know: science does not exist in a vacuum, but has a great and storied history of being consistent with how things really are.

Now, if we can arm ourselves with science, one might try to start with nothing and end up with something. We will not really be able to, but we may find you can get close to such an ideal of creation ex nihilo. If we trust in the basic foundations of existence itself, which gives us a certain logic to form and function, we may start with the Cogito, and trust that we ourselves must exist. Then once we trust in our own existence, by that foundational logic again, one can trust that we sense things, and that these senses are consistent with a reality that exists for you and other people. Thus we may start building structures in our minds, from the foundations the first level of basic reasoning, on and on higher, once we find what we currently hold is sound.

This is what comes about with science: once we start to trust, we may carry that trust, build on that trust, so that we might better observe the world, and find more to build. Science is basically an architecture of architectures, not for buildings, but for knowledge. It is the means by which we know what exactly it takes to build a rocket, send it off into space, and drop off a satellite in orbit. It is by what we can make that satellite draw its power from the sun, and be of use to carry signals from one part of the world to another. But it is the beginning of the science of things when we start with the science of ourselves, once we have doubted all things — to find that in the doubt, there is a leap we may take that allows us to believe in something. We can trust, when we doubt all things. What better magic is there than this?

Induction

> From this.

OK, now to get a little technical: what is called “induction” is when you make a theory based on enough examples that you observe, in which you find a certain consistency permeating the observations. You drop a rock, it falls. Drop it again, it falls again. At some point, you make the leap of logic that anytime one drops a rock, it will fall, and that is based on all the evidence. The interesting thing about induction is that you never can truly prove that the theory is correct, however many confirming correlations you evince. But, all it takes is one counterexample to prove any such theory wrong. Something else interesting is that a theory can still be useful even after it has been proven wrong. Newton’s law of gravity is one such example of that phenomenon. Einstein’s General Relativity (a greater theory of gravity) did not halt people’s usage of Newtonian gravity.

Now, I pride myself a scientist, but I also have aspirations to being a saint. Some people think that one cannot be rational and also have faith. I vehemently disagree. Myself, I have observed evidence after evidence that what I have faith in has truth to it, even if I do not understand it all at once. I must say that it is much like a madness, what I am able to connect, the whole works an incredible and vast web, one part reinforcing the other. At some point, it came to an “inductive pop”, from my skepticism on the whole issue. This is the point where enough evidence has accumulated, enough so that you must trust the validity of the theory in question, based on whatever you understand about anything that can be called rational. At some point, it becomes irrational not to believe. It is the hard way of believing, but one that is viable. I, for one, hope you, too will “pop”.

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The Great Blasphemy