July 31, 2006

Deity-free cosmos

Sunday, July 30, 2006 More Pneumababble With Sigmund, Carl and Alfred
The innerview with Sigmund, Carl and Alfred continues. I don’t know that all the answers will be as windy as the first, but the windbag bloweth where it will, so we’ll see. Fortunately, he doesn't charge by the word.
Q: Are morals and ethics really “moving targets”?
A: No, I think they are stable targets toward which we are drawn. Spiritual evolution--or devolution--is a measure of how close or distant we are to these generally unattainable ideals.
The concept of objective morality confuses a lot of people, because they conflate the realm from which morality arises with the realm in which we physically exist. But the two realms are clearly not identical. Rather, part of the “human project,” so to speak, is to bring these two worlds into accord. This is the meaning of “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In the esoteric understanding, the dichotomy of heaven and earth symbolizes the ontological vertical divide, without which we truly would be condemned to a meaningless flatland existence: a journey from nothing to nowhere, with a handful of gimme in between.
But the essence of our humanness involves our ability to intuit the realm of the real--to distinguish between appearance and reality, or maya and brahman. Remember, in philosophy, the "real" does not refer to the constantly changing material world, but to the abiding reality behind it. Platonic realism refers to any school of thought that attributes reality to general ideas that are considered universal. Now, there is a lot in Plato that I don’t care for (which you can say about any great philosopher... well, except perhaps for the pedophilia), but there is no getting around the fact that he was correct on this score.
For example, most truly great mathematicians, if they are of a philosophical bent and reflect upon what they do, are unabashed Platonists. Although great mathematicians possess a promethean creativity, at the same time, they know that they are not “inventing” anything. Rather, there is a deep and abiding sense that they are discovering permanent truths about existence. But where were these truths before the mathematician discovered them? Not only are these truths real, but in a certain sense, they are somehow more real than the world to which they give rise. In other words, these equations represent the enduring reality behind shifting appearances. A cosmos--which means "order"--is not possible without them.It is the same with modern physics.
There is a nifty little book entitled Quantum Questions: The Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists, compiled by Ken Wilber, who, by the way, has been stalking me for years and tapping my phones, but I really don't want to get into that right now. The book demonstrates how all these formidable scientific minds--Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Planck, Pauli, Eddington, et al--arrived at a mystical or transcendental world view that regards the world as ineluctably spiritual and conscious rather than merely dead and material. Among other things, they could not reconcile the awesome beauty of the timeless mathematical world they had discovered with any deity-free cosmos.
Again, as I mentioned yesterday, this kind of natural theology only gets you so far, because one cannot necessarily equate the “God of the philosophers” with the God of the Bible or the Upanishads. But it is certainly enough, in my view, to grant that latter God an interview. After all, it’s a pretty impressive resume. If he wrote the laws of physics, who's to say that he couldn’t have inscribed the moral law within our hearts? posted by Gagdad Bob at 8:21 AM 10 comments Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant

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