Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Into the terrifying Light

It’s fortunate that the mere animals that we call humans evolved on this planet, and to the point that they can finally replace God, whom they never needed in the first place. Fortunate, indeed, for scientist Stephen Hawking, whose brilliant computer-like mind has been kept alive along with his dysfunctional body for 49 years beyond the age at which medical science (at the time) said he should cease living. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the benefit of that mind to unravel for us the mysteries of the universe, of space and time, and yes, even of God, who probably doesn’t exist, since there’s nothing the universe needs from Him. Not only human life, but the universe itself, and probably all possible universes, have come into being through random quantum fluctuations.

‘I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,’ says the great scientist through his speech synthesizer (he cannot speak without it). When asked how we should live he says, ‘We should seek the greatest value of our action.’

Yes, the greatest value of our action. But where have I heard this before? The brain as computer, heaven and afterlife a mere fairy story, fear of the dark, I’ve heard all of these ideas before. Yes, Dr Hawking, I am a Christian and along with you I also do not fear death, and I don’t believe in fairy stories, and yes, I also agree that the brain is (in relative terms) a kind of computer. But what can you possibly mean by ‘the greatest value’?

Everything has value relative to something else, just as you can’t say a body is in motion except relative to a fixed point. The ancient Greeks even knew this, and they had to have something solid and immovable about which the universe revolved and from which all motion could be sensed and measured. They made that the earth, for physical realities, and the human mind, for metaphysical. They weren’t correct who made the earth that fixed point in the world of nature, nor were they correct who made the fixed point the sun, except for the local universe, as we now know, there is no fixed point. All motion is relative.

So after many centuries of trial and error on the part of the human spirit, as noble and as high as we have evolved our thought and our behaviors, the fixed point of what is beyond nature, which we used to think (and some still do) was the human mind, that idea can now only be supported by mental acrobatics and sleight of hand worse than Ptolemy’s epicycles, that tried to support the path of the wanderers, the planets. They should travel in the perfect path, in circles, but they seem to retrogress in a way that only epicycles could explain—if the earth were indeed the fixed point to the physical universe.

Finding out later that the sun was the actual center and that the movement of the earth around it caused the illusion of retrogression in the planets still didn’t solve a host of other problems in our observation of the world. Like it or not, our science had to keep moving forward, leaving behind all the false securities of human thought that make the universe livable. That universe terrifies us now more than ever, but that hasn’t stopped us from gazing at it in wonder. The same is true of the metaphysical science, which had to give up the idea that the human mind was the center and fixed point of all supernatural motion. In plain language, philosophy has its limitations.

Just as the introduction of a force outside of the physical universe, a missing sefirah, is necessary to explain that world, so the invasion of a Being outside the metaphysical universe, was necessary to explain, and I should add, order that world. This is, from a Christian view, and even from the view of many other religions, exactly what has happened. But this fact cannot be allowed by Dr Hawking and many others who are just as stuck in their ‘scientific’ beliefs as primitive religionists are stuck in theirs. In fact, all through history, it seems to me, the two groups produce each other, regardless of the level of intellectual or scientific sophistication. What passes for science and what passes for religion seem to be always at odds, and it seems they always will be.

But when we emerge from the safety of our tombs,
into the terrifying Light,
what, Dr Hawking, will there be left to say about
‘heaven’ and ‘afterlife’?

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