Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ping-Pong With the Devil

Haven't posted here in a while and Andrew gave me a little nudge. Sometimes that's all I need.

The topic of the day, of the week, of the ever at this blog is the whole atheist-theist debate, which explains in a way why I've been so long in posting here because you see, quite frankly I'm sort of tired of that ping-pong table. It's a ball that can be batted back and forth a lot without resolving anything and ultimately it's something one either gets or one doesn't, and where you go from that moment of getting it depends on which side of the fence you come down on. Either way you're pretty unlikely to be convinced otherwise at a later date so it's a personal decision of great consequence. It's ping-pong with the devil, you see: if you win you get to walk away from the game and if he wins he gets your soul, but the funny thing is he's got you thinking you have to win on points when the truth is you can get what you're playing for just by putting down your paddle.

Beliefs have an enormous effect on how one perceives the world around them. It can be useful to slip on, or into different beliefs to see how much of the world they provide a good explanation of. Science is of course great for this because of the fantastic detail with which it allows the world to be described, however it is all too easy to get so lost in the minutia of any one given sub-discipline that one loses awareness of it's context within the whole, which is inevitably of a cosmic nature and thus (by any scientist's own admission) ultimately not fully describable by rational means. Offering a full description of reality would mean the end of science in many ways, for a perfect description of the cosmos and everything in it could never be improved on. Thus awareness of a truly cosmic context cannot be attained through rational, scientific means. It is, however, very much open through an a huge profusion of traditions some of which are demonstrably older than history; anyone who follows one of those systems far enough will almost inevitably come to understandings of the universe that are remarkably alike.

Neither set of beliefs is complete in itself, of course. Nor are belief-sets of any other nature. This is why it is useful to have an open mind, exposing oneself to as many different systems of belief as one can in order to synthesize one's own understanding. It's also necessary to have discernment; you have to be able to tell truth from lies, because as complex as the universe is the situation is further confused by the addition of numerous (indeed, an infinitely greater number of) lies into the equation, many of which strongly resemble the truth. The problem with a lie is, it'll lead you down the wrong path, staring into your own reflection when you should be paying attention to the world around you; the bigger and more subtle the lie you swallow, the further you go, and the longer you're led astray, very likely to your doom should you follow it long enough.

Now, on one side you've got people saying that the universe is, essentially, the living mind of God, and thus (with the understanding that all is mind and thus all mind is one) a cosmic context that is necessarily accessible both to any human but to every particle of creation (though understanding it requires suppressing normal ego and consciousness, leaving behind language and even memory, and allowing oneself to experience oneself as part of the flow of the cosmos, rather than an isolated pocket of awareness around which the cosmos just happens.) On the other, are those who say spirit and matter are separate, or even that spirit does not exist at all and there is ultimately nothing to the history of the universe save deterministically random reconfigurations of matter. As a result the only valid tool for understanding the cosmos is reason, a careful and painstaking practice that has unearthed the treasures of technology from the logos even whilst casting a heavy swath of suspicion on any attempt to come into contact with that logos itself.

Those who take the atheist tack generally charge that anyone following the mystical path is chasing illusions and refusing to deal with the reality that's there before them. The mystics shoot back that if you stare at nothing but the muck, you shall remain forever stuck in it. Undei no sa jyanai ka?

Me, I'd go a step further and say the whole concept of materialism as a detailed philosophy - and also it's predecessor, the monotheistic tradition - was unleashed specifically to keep people from trying to contemplate things from a wider perspective, and achieving it's goals with increasing success as time goes on I might add. Think of it as a gigantic historical con job whose purpose has been nothing less than epic mind control of a (dare I say it?) Biblical scale lasting for an entire age of humanity. So my argument isn't one of Episcopalians vs. Darwinists, nor is it between Catholicism and Behavioural Psychologists. It's this: either everything is spirit, or it isn't. And if it is ... what then? A lot of things jump out in very sharp relief if one contemplates this question long enough; a lot of questions resolved; a lot of mysteries, explained. Things that before one would go out of their way to notice become a part of the expected background of things.

And as for the atheism debate? As it recedes into the past, it's significance dwindles to that of a lesson learned, though who can say which way of learning that lesson is right? Not me, that's for sure, but I'll tell you this much: a lot of people wouldn't answer that way, and you might want to think why that is.

Hey, look at that. You got an essay out of me ;)


Andrew said...

Guess what. I have a few questions.

1.) What is your definition of the "logos?"

2.) You talked about random determinism. It seems that you don't completely agree with this concept. I was wondering if you could explain more about why you feel that way. If I read you wrong, and you don't really have a problem with it, then could you explain more about what you think about it? I just feel like it needs to be covered more...for at least my own edification. I think I used that word correctly.

3. What are your thoughts on objectivism and subjectivism? Which would you say you lean more towards and why?

I kind of come from the objective and random deterministic view. When I hear someone say they are against those things and hear the way they say it, it feels like...why do they have those feelings? If things are all random and reason is king, what's the problem? Why does there "need" to be rhyme and reason? It's just a perception. No matter which one you pick, it doesn't really relate to the universe as a whole. It might just change you a little bit and how YOU interact with the universe. That doesn't imply any cosmic shit. It's just how your worldview (synapses in your brain, etc...PHYSICAL stuff) changes and affects you...whoever you are. A lot of this view comes from an objectivist bias. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

psychegram said...

Now do you mean Objectivism with a big O? Because that's a whole different kettle of fish.

Listen, as I said in the post, this isn't a debate that I have a whole lot of time for or interest in. I'm not out to convert anyone to my point of view, nor am I all that interested in defending that point of view. These days I'm more or less done with arguments. Discussion is a different matter, but for fruitful discussion to take place the parties involved must agree on a certain set of precepts, otherwise you spend all your time talking definitions.

Here's the thing, Andrew: you can collect all the facts and arguments you want, but ultimately none of that is going to resolve the matter at hand for you because it is a 'matter' that is very much beyond the reach of facts and arguments. Now, obviously you're interested in all this, or you wouldn't be spending so much of your time thinking about them. So might I suggest you take one of two views, right now: either it's all bullshit, in which case you don't ever have to trouble yourself with it again, or ... it's not. I'm not going to tell you which way to go, just that you have to choose a way. Sit on the pot too long and you'll get hemorrhoids, dig?

Andrew said...

Yeah, I understand. It's just interesting to talk about these kinds of things and I admit that I actually like to argue. I, unlike most people I come across, really feel like I actually get something out of argument. I feel like I actually got somewhere and even feel good after an argument. Most people just feel drained afterwards. I'm sorry if this was a bit bothersome, but it's just something I thought was interesting. Thanks for the post and comment.