Recently I read a book about different world views. One of the questions that was used to describe each view was whether the universe was considered to be open or closed to transcendence. This is a short-hand way of saying that while the universe follows orderly (physical) processes, the universe may be viewed as open or closed to re-ordering by the actions of God and/or by human beings. For example, a completely mechanistic worldview does not accept that God exists and states that human beings are biological machines. Therefore, transcendence is impossible. The universe is closed.
I have a love/hate relationship with this terminology. On the one hand, I believe this is exactly how most people view the concept of transcendence in this age. As an accurate description of many cultural worldviews and personal mental maps, it is a useful way to look at how people think of themselves and their place in life. It affects how they look at the future (determinate or indeterminate). It explains how they view death and what motivates them in life.
Continue reading “What Is Transcendence?”
This morning, on a Facebook philosophy page, I saw the following post: “The concept of Death makes the entire human existence meaningless.”
I believe our culture’s loss of life’s meaning comes from the Existence vs. Essence debate we have covered earlier, but I wanted to add another thought about our physical existence that might lift some spirits.
When one thinks of the odds of life happening for anyone it is truly amazing. From the size of the universe, the distance between the stars, the odds of a planet forming that can support life, the eons of evolution, the DNA that managed to form us out of countless combinations, and then surviving the birth process when so many pregnancies end in the womb. The odds against us existing at all are astronomical. Yet, here we are.
Life is always an extraordinary event in the Universe. Celebrate your life.
This is Part 2 in the series: God is Not a Unicorn: The Myth and Physics of Creation
In Part 1 we looked at the reason why the question of God ‘s existence cannot be satisfied by an appeal to the imagination alone.
The question of why is there something rather than nothing has been with us for as long as man first acquired language and began to ask questions about the world around him. It is not a simple question and it does not belong to one branch of knowledge. The discussion of it can get complicated quickly, as you can see from the quotation below. In this post I will try to break the question down into simpler language so that we can understand the various approaches to answering it more fully.
Continue reading “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? (Part 2)”
A common argument against the existence of God is to use an analogy with imaginary things such as unicorns. It is said that because unicorns are a product of human imagination then God must be too. The reasoning goes that because unicorns have never been seen, they do not exist and so the same must be true for God. But this is a poor analogy and it is important to understand why before dismissing the concept of God altogether as a fantasy.
Narwhal tusks and Marco Polo
First let us consider the origin of the unicorn. One theory for the imaginative invention of the Unicorn is that Narwhale tusks were the model for the type of horn we see on European representations of unicorns as in the photo above. These unicorns look like an antelope or a horse with the narwhale horn coming out of the middle of its forehead. It is possible the unicorn started as a tall tale from a fisherman or a beachcomber.
Continue reading “God is Not a Unicorn: The Myth and Physics of Creation (Part 1)”
One hardly hears discussion of the kingdoms of the natural world anymore. It is introduced in the early grades of our public schools and hardly ever mentioned again unless one goes on to study one or more of the Kingdoms in college. Our secular culture is dominated by the ideas of science and yet so few of us spend any time engaged in the study or practice of science.
Our minds crave certainty and Science seems to fulfill this need. But while Science seems to function as a Culture (See Culture: Where Do We Go From Here?), in reality it falls short. To understand why this is so, let us look at the scientific categories of existence.
Since ancient times the natural world was grouped into four major categories or kingdoms: Mineral, Plant, Animal, Human. Each level has some element the lower level lacks. Each element is a necessary quality of that kingdom without which it would not exist.
The Elements: m, x, y, and z
The elements that separate the four kingdoms are: Matter (m), Life (x), Consciousness (y), and Self-Awareness (z). The letters in parenthesis in the previous sentences are a shorthand so that we can see more easily how each of the Kingdoms are composed This convention is proposed in a little book called A Guide for the Perplexed written by E. F. Schumacher.
Writing each kingdom with its elements, we have a table that looks like this:
Continue reading “Levels of Being: Putting the Mystery Back Into Life”