Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Church of Darwin -- or -- where mind meets matter

Ruminations on Al Gore, the nature of God, politics, science and consciousness
By Aussiegirl

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm sick of politics lately, and so I find myself returning to the verities of science. Here at last, I think, I can shelter in objective truth and reason and find reality. But even here I find that politics is intruding, in this case the politics of the left and the Rt. Rev. Al Gore, Archbishop of the First Church of the Boiling Globe. (And then there's stem cell research, and we start slip-sliding down the slippery slope.)

But what is this politics that is interjecting itself into the supposedly pure realms of science if not the new religion? Yes, political correctness is nothing more than the catechism of the left, the orthodoxies and strictures of which may not be breached without wholesale inquisitions and excommunications. Only now in place of the Holy Roman Inquisition we have Al Gore and the militant environmentalists enforcing their doctrine as holy writ upon society at large. Why, it occurs to me that the new religion even has the doctrine of indulgences. You remember those, they ultimately led to the Reformation and the nailing of those pesky theses on the cathedral door. You could sin all you wanted, and then buy your way out of hell or purgatory.

Well, the First Church of the Boiling Globe has its own doctrine of indulgences -- it's called "carbon neutrality". That's right -- that's what allows Al Gore to fly around in private corporate jets and drive his limousine the two blocks to the Cannes Film Festival without guilt or without contributing to Global Warming, because -- according to the Rev. Al -- he's carbon neutral. He saves so much carbon by driving a fuel efficient car (when he's not in that limousine), and other (unspecified) environmentally correct methods that he is entitled to waste thousands of gallons of precious and polluting jet fuel to fly all over that boiling globe. On a larger scale, countries and industries can also purchase indulgences -- they trade "carbon points" with one another as long as the net effect is "carbon neutral".

Obviously this religion has Darwinism as its foundation and core belief. Fine. I have no quarrel with evolution, as far as it goes. Obviously the fossil record shows that life on earth evolved from the simplest life forms to increasingly complex ones, culminating in the vastly and startingly different species of homo sapiens, who has been able through his reason and intelligence to rise up from the primordial goo and discover the very secrets of the universe from which he rose. Pretty
good for a piece of protoplasm that is the product of blind chance.

But let me get this straight. Life sprang up from dead matter -- right? OK -- I'll concede that, although no one has yet been able to replicate anything even close in the lab -- somehow it did -- that's for certain. Then as this life became more complex it became conscious -- are we still together? We are aware -- so are animals. There is a "there" in there -- or in here -- that looks out at the world and perceives the world -- and also perceives itself -- as separate from the world. It appears that there was a time when it wasn't there -- but now it is.

So -- where did this consciousness come from? Is it a natural byproduct of the minerals and amino acids and basic elements that our bodies are made of? If so, it would seem to me that consciousness must be inherent in the universe -- no? Otherwise where did it come from? If we are conscious (I assume we agree on that), then we must assume the universe has as its ground and at its fundemental core somewhere a universal consciousness from which we spring. How is this incompatible with a belief in God, for want of a better word?

You know, I think there is a fundamental problem that people who are materialists have with the word "God". To them "God" implies a sort of super person sitting up there somewhere on a throne -- a bearded gentleman who is either benign, or uninvolved, or vengeful, or just plain mean and stupid, but some guy who sort of runs things and tunes up the universe from time to time from behind the curtain. And of course this concept seems kind of silly. In the Orthodox church we approach the concept of God in an apophatic way -- that is we cannot ever say what God IS -- but we approach him in a roundabout way, by what he is not. Quoting from a book about the theology of the Orthodox Church written by Bishop Kallistos Ware:

"Because God cannot be properly comprehended by the human mind, all language that is applied to Him is inexact. It is therefore less misleading to use negative language about God, rather than positive -- to refuse to say what God is and to state simply what he is not."

So, I'm just thinking out loud. If we are conscious -- and we evolved from a dead material universe -- then consciousness must be implicit in that universe somewhere. We are a reflection and a small bit of that universal consciousness. And whatever is the ground of this consciousness -- is God -- or call it what you want. The universe is at some very basic level -- conscious. The materialists among us would deny this. But how do they explain that matter became conscious?

Maybe this is just stupid rumination in a mind gone mad with the futility of politics and politicians. The question might be -- are THEY conscious?

And then I really despair.


At 12:01 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

I love that line ``the first Church of the boiling globe``!

Your argument is rock solid! I`m sure the Darwinists will STILL fight you on it, though; nothing is THEIR religion.


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