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Many thanks Matt for such a wide ranging and insighted post. There is an enormous amount that can be unpacked out of this – but in broad terms everything you say chimes with me!

My first thought is that Evolution should be added alongside your categories of Ontology, Epistemology & Eschatology. This is because, as a concept, Evolution captures the idea of reality (or at least our reality) being radically creative as time unfolds in a way that Eschatology (which concerns some sort of intended final goal) doesn’t. I’m not saying that a final goal of any Eschatology could not embrace it being reached via evolutionary processes. To use your terminology, however, Eschatology strikes me as very much a Western Myth concept.

As I understand it, Evolution that embraces creativity in this sense is an idea that only came onto the scene in terms of spiritual, philosophical and scientific thinking relatively recently. 19th Century Darwinian biological evolution looks to be an obvious example. Other examples include A N Whitehead’s Process Philosophy and Sri Aurobindo’s evolutionary take on Yoga & Hinduism. More recently, some physicists (notably Lee Smolin) now advocate abandoning the idea of fixed laws of nature as a means of steering physics away from what they see as the dead end of empirically non-verifiable multiverses and so on.

Radically creative Evolution that is open ended and extends to changes in fundamental laws certainly cuts across your Western Myth! I think it is also, however, profoundly unsettling – in your terms it takes you well away from comfort and ease. Much of what you say in your post may well, therefore, be the result of – or perhaps more accurately a reaction against – the taking hold of Evolutionary ideas in the West.

I personally believe that the reality we experience is radically creative in this way. I also believe that this reality is ultimately grounded in some kind of eternal Reality that embraces both being and some fundamental principles. This Reality refuses to be systematised, however, in a way that can truly take away this non-comfort. Attempts to do this, therefore - e.g. the Western Myths and its offshoots as flagged up by Matt - are bound to ultimately fail.

Simon

At the pedestrian level, can't we just replace the word 'mist' with the word 'ambiguity' and resolve to live with such? The ability to live with ambiguity represents the next level of psychological development beyond fundamentalism. I don't need to know all the answers because I don't think my present orientation (earthly existence) could handle them: from this perspective they wouldn't make sense. But expand my consciousness in the way that mystical experience does and the 'aha!' moment arrives. I cannot see the other side of the mountain from the foot of the mountain. One day my perspective will be transformed: I will stand on top and all will become clear and obvious in a way that it cannot otherwise.

In the meantime I'm quite content to play a game of 'what if?'. :)

Well said, Matt!

Nice post Matt. I always enjoy your input on Michael's site.

Your essay brings to mind the work of Joseph Chilton Pearce who first published a book on this subject in 1976 and has republished a new 2014 edition:http://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Crack-Cosmic-Egg-Meta-Realities/dp/162055254X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429291188&sr=1-1&keywords=exploring+the+crack+in+the+cosmic+egg

I've followed Michael's site for the past 5/6 years and appreciate how this site has evolved.

"Skeptics think they have escaped the Western Myth by denying the theistic belief system of the West, but they have merely traded one surface for another while maintaining the underlying approach."

Good point, Matt! Scientists need to understand that despite the fact that their gods have non-religious names like reason, matter, randomness -- even the "laws" of physics -- they too are people of faith.

Simon said:

"More recently, some physicists (notably Lee Smolin) now advocate abandoning the idea of fixed laws of nature"

Simon, you probably know that Sheldrake considers them to be habits, which makes more sense. After all, "where" were those laws "before" there was a universe? Who or what "wrote" them?

This is what I was referring to in my response to Matt's post: the laws of physics are science's new god.


Good job, Matt!
This is certainly a thought-provoking article. I have read it several times. Of necessity perhaps it had to make assumptions and general statements with a smidge of hyperbole and tongue-in-cheek sometimes but overall I found your thoughts interesting. I did read your previous post with the quote from Michael and I tend to agree with his excellent comment that

"[I]n the modern world, a world steeped in technology and the fruits of the physical sciences, it's exceedingly difficult to believe in “spirits.” Something about the idea just seems too simple, almost childish. There's a natural tendency to want to dress it up in more scientific terms—to talk about discarnate personalities and fifth-dimensional geometry, or a matrix of information, or quantum theories of consciousness.

"I'm not saying there's no value in these ideas. But ultimately they’re just ways of repackaging the simple, basic truths obtained by psychical researchers. If people in the modern Western world don't go in for spirits, maybe they will go in for higher-dimensional manifestations of quantum consciousness. It sounds a little more sophisticated, a little more 21st-century. But it amounts to the same thing. . . . Great truths are often simple. The essential truth about life after death may be simple enough for a child to understand."

I think Michael's comment deserves to be repeated and is worth remembering.- AOD

Good effort Matt, originally a medical scientists I've then over a few decades had a boat load of 'off the edge' experiences as I descibe in detail on http://www.realitywalker.com my best attempt to find a basic 'model' that explain a great deal I've presented as a VUE chart here: http://www.soul-healer.com/visuals/physical-con-version-2-the-matrix-revealed/

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Matt's thesis; I need to think about it some more, and to hear in more detail how he would address my objection (quoted in the main piece).

But one thing that occurred to me is that, if he is correct, then there is no overarching universal intelligence that already has all the answers. And this means that our own search for answers and our creative contributions in any field – science, art, the humanities, or whatever – are actually *new* thoughts, valuable in and of themselves.

This contrasts with the standard "religious" point of view, which holds that God already knows everything, and so any ideas we might come up with are, at best, a replication of the ideas that God already has in his mind.

Instead of simply trying to understand "the mind of God," as Stephen Hawking metaphorically put it, we would actually be originating the conscious understanding of things that have never been consciously understood by any mind previously.

A fascinating and uplifting thought, if true. It makes us more like co-inventors of reality than mere observers of it.

Great job, Matt, I read it twice too - there's a lot there!

I'm not sure that NDErs don't meet God - many speak of the bright light and feeling loved by something - what I don't know - but there does seem to be that presence.

I don't see why anyone either would think God would be all-controlling. He doesn't intervene in human affairs (maybe occasionally,and those are miracles). I think most religions support this. We all have free will - if we didn't, we'd just be robots. (I think even animals have free will. I've seen time and time again, one animal, whether a horse or a cat, choose to annoy another dominant stronger animal, who could easily teach them a lesson, but chooses not to.)

Thanks, everyone for the kind words and great comments! I shall now proceed to respond to everyone!

First: Thanks, no one!

Simon,

||Many thanks Matt for such a wide ranging and insighted post. There is an enormous amount that can be unpacked out of this – but in broad terms everything you say chimes with me!||

Thank you!

||My first thought is that Evolution should be added alongside your categories of Ontology, Epistemology & Eschatology.||

I meant, but did not clearly express, that those were "classic categories" of inquiry for which the Western Myth has off-the-shelf answers. I didn't mean to say that these are the categories by which we *ought* to form our inquiries into Reality. In fact, I think you modify the approach in a very important way here by pointing out the importance, essentialness rather, of evolution.

||This is because, as a concept, Evolution captures the idea of reality (or at least our reality) being radically creative as time unfolds in a way that Eschatology (which concerns some sort of intended final goal) doesn’t. I’m not saying that a final goal of any Eschatology could not embrace it being reached via evolutionary processes. To use your terminology, however, Eschatology strikes me as very much a Western Myth concept.||

All you say here is right on target! The concept of evolution was part of the Western Myth at all. And yes, the connotation of "eschatology" is very much steeped in the dye of the Western Myth.

||As I understand it, Evolution that embraces creativity in this sense is an idea that only came onto the scene in terms of spiritual, philosophical and scientific thinking relatively recently. 19th Century Darwinian biological evolution looks to be an obvious example. Other examples include A N Whitehead’s Process Philosophy and Sri Aurobindo’s evolutionary take on Yoga & Hinduism.||

Yes, at the same time that humans were forming an actual idea of progress, we discovered the vast age of our planet and the fact of evolution. Apt timing indeed!

||More recently, some physicists (notably Lee Smolin) now advocate abandoning the idea of fixed laws of nature as a means of steering physics away from what they see as the dead end of empirically non-verifiable multiverses and so on.||

Yes, I think the apparent (and actual, I believe) arbitrariness of physical laws is a big clue to the nature of Reality.

||Radically creative Evolution that is open ended and extends to changes in fundamental laws certainly cuts across your Western Myth! I think it is also, however, profoundly unsettling – in your terms it takes you well away from comfort and ease. Much of what you say in your post may well, therefore, be the result of – or perhaps more accurately a reaction against – the taking hold of Evolutionary ideas in the West.||

Nice observation!

||I personally believe that the reality we experience is radically creative in this way. I also believe that this reality is ultimately grounded in some kind of eternal Reality that embraces both being and some fundamental principles.||

I agree 100%.

||This Reality refuses to be systematised, however, in a way that can truly take away this non-comfort. Attempts to do this, therefore - e.g. the Western Myths and its offshoots as flagged up by Matt - are bound to ultimately fail.||

We have certainly evolved out of them.

Richard Stuart,

Thank you! I put the book on my Amazon Wish List and will take a further look into it!

Julie,

||At the pedestrian level, can't we just replace the word 'mist' with the word 'ambiguity' and resolve to live with such?||

Well, I was referencing Keats' original letter in which he laid out the concepts. The thing is, I think "ambiguity" covers a lot of ground. Some ambiguity is very ordinary and not threatening at all ("I couldn't quite hear what my friend said on the phone, but I know it was one of two things.")

I don't think the Mist is an actual place or thing but instead, as you say,

||The ability to live with ambiguity represents the next level of psychological development beyond fundamentalism.||

Yes. Perhaps we may also say spiritual development.

||I don't need to know all the answers because I don't think my present orientation (earthly existence) could handle them: from this perspective they wouldn't make sense. But expand my consciousness in the way that mystical experience does and the 'aha!' moment arrives. I cannot see the other side of the mountain from the foot of the mountain. One day my perspective will be transformed: I will stand on top and all will become clear and obvious in a way that it cannot otherwise.||

Or it will transcend the categories of clarity and obviousness.

It's possible we'll get a situation such Buddha's fourfold negation with respect to questions that tend not toward edification:

I have not elucidated that the saint exists after death; I have not elucidated that the saint does not exist after death; I have not elucidated that the saint both exists and does not exist after death; I have not elucidated that the saint neither exists nor does not exist after death. And why, Mâlunkyâputta, have I not elucidated this? Because, Mâlunkyâputta, this profits not, nor has to do with the fundamentals of religion, nor tends to aversion, absence of passion, cessation, quiescence, the supernatural faculties, supreme wisdom, and Nirvana; therefore have I not elucidated it.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bits/bits013.htm

The sophistication of this formulation blows me away!


||In the meantime I'm quite content to play a game of 'what if?'. :)||

That is a healthy attitude, I think!

Bruce,

||Good point, Matt! Scientists need to understand that despite the fact that their gods have non-religious names like reason, matter, randomness -- even the "laws" of physics -- they too are people of faith.||

Thanks! Yes, but only they cannot see it. :)

AOD,

||This is certainly a thought-provoking article. I have read it several times. Of necessity perhaps it had to make assumptions and general statements with a smidge of hyperbole and tongue-in-cheek sometimes but overall I found your thoughts interesting.||

Thanks! Yes, to do it justice, it would take a book. I may have to write that some day. I'd like to figure out a bit more before I do so, however. It might take a few more decades...

I agree with you also that Michael's comment is excellent.

Clive,

Thanks! Wow, you have written something really interesting. I am going to have look at that in detail...

Michael,

||I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Matt's thesis; I need to think about it some more, and to hear in more detail how he would address my objection (quoted in the main piece).||

Is it *your* objection, or is it *an* objection?

In either case, it's a very good one and difficult to answer in few words. I thought of something else:

The Western Myth is all about being *told* what is true and believing it. In contrast, the situation you describe is experiential.

If someone comes back from an NDE who has definitely, unequivocally experienced a different reality, that person will no longer believe in materialism. Moreover, if that person has experienced truths about the Afterlife (here is where you go, here you can meet your dead relatives, etc.), that person will believe in those things thereafter.

Similarly, I think the "master plan" is not something people are told but something they in essence see, feel, and otherwise experience for themselves. They feel themselves the unity, love, wholeness, etc.

That truth is as true now in 2015 as it was in 1900, but in 1900 we were about to go into the most destructive period in human history. "All's well that ends well, but yeah, here's Auschwitz."

There is much that lies between "wow, things are really bad here" and "everything is ultimately OK." Those who experience the "master plan" are, as you said, never able to provide that content (most likely because it lies outside of normal human cognition). Thus, I think the content of the master plan is not really comparable to that of the Western Myth.

"Is it *your* objection, or is it *an* objection?"

A little of both. Many mystics and NDErs have said they experienced total knowledge. And then there's the question of the apparent fine-tuning of the universe to support life. If there was no cosmic mind designing the whole set-up, how did it end up being so perfectly calibrated? Was it just an accident? Did we ourselves bring about the perfect calibration retroactively?

I don't know, but I think there's at least some basis for considering the possibility that physical reality is the result of a master plan by a vastly superior intellect.

But I'm not married to the idea, and as I said in my comment, I think it's somewhat liberating and invigorating to think that when we come up with a new idea, we are actually making a brand-new contribution to knowledge.

Michael,

||A little of both. Many mystics and NDErs have said they experienced total knowledge.||

I actually don't doubt they do. But they are seeing Reality from the perspective of its final state, whereas we are here doing the work of creating that final state.

||And then there's the question of the apparent fine-tuning of the universe to support life. If there was no cosmic mind designing the whole set-up, how did it end up being so perfectly calibrated? Was it just an accident? Did we ourselves bring about the perfect calibration retroactively?||

"We" did!

As you say, "we" create (or compose) consciousness, the i-Thought, which in turn "intends" us.

||I don't know, but I think there's at least some basis for considering the possibility that physical reality is the result of a master plan by a vastly superior intellect.||

It *is*, but the project of Reality, so to speak, is to bring about that perfection.


||But I'm not married to the idea, and as I said in my comment, I think it's somewhat liberating and invigorating to think that when we come up with a new idea, we are actually making a brand-new contribution to knowledge.

***

Instead of simply trying to understand "the mind of God," as Stephen Hawking metaphorically put it, we would actually be originating the conscious understanding of things that have never been consciously understood by any mind previously.

A fascinating and uplifting thought, if true. It makes us more like co-inventors of reality than mere observers of it.||

This is *exactly* how I think it works!

Matt wrote: One tenet of the Skeptic (capitalized per Roger’s excellent recent guest post) mythos . . . .
Your capitalization worked well to convey the special brand of skepticism that scoftics adhere to. I think that as others adopt this convention, it will gradually spread to the point where half the commenters and authors on our side catch the meme--maybe in five years. Maybe even Skeptics will adopt the convention--it's so helpful in certain contexts to be able to quietly make the distinction.
"Skeptics think they have escaped the Western Myth by denying the theistic belief system of the West, but they have merely traded one surface for another while maintaining the underlying approach."
Re "surface": I sense a connection between the Western approach and "top-of-the-brain thinking."

Matt:

Excellent post! The 'Western Myth' concept is a powerful idea.

Bruce:

[[the laws of physics are science's new god.]]

Absolutely! How often have we heard Skeptics say that 'such-and-such is impossible because it contravenes the laws of physics'.

It should be pointed out, as often as possible, that Carl Sagan did not descend from Mount Palomar bearing the Laws of Physics inscribed on tablets of stone.

THE LAWS OF PHYSICS WERE CREATED BY US! They are our best current available MODEL of what nature does. Forgetting this, and turning our models into Holy Writ that may not be questioned, is to place shackles on the scientific imagination and to turn the current scientific consensus into a new fundamentalist religion.

" It makes us more like co-inventors of reality than mere observers of it."

Ah Michael, now you've hit on it, the ineffable underpinning of a new paradigm of reality!

I am not able to clearly explain what I think I understand that paradigm to be but could it be that each consciousness, human or otherwise is a spark of a larger consciousness which is part of an ultimate or source consciousness; a consciousness that is the be all and the end all of all that is. A consciousness that existed before the beginning of the universe. The great 'I Am'. And that source consciousness is evolving, expanding, and changing through each of us. It is not possible to describe that source because it is not the same today as it was yesterday and tomorrow it will not be the same as it is today. As each consciousness experiences life, the source evolves and as the source evolves, reality is expanded, created and re-created.

In a way, each consciousness as you suggest is a co-inventor or co-creator of reality rather than a mere observer of it.

I have grown to think that perhaps together as consciousness we are all actually creating reality. We do not notice it because most of the time it occurs so slowly and the changes are not usually evident during one lifetime. But as groups of consciousnesses come to a common intent or belief about reality perhaps that reality eventually comes into existence. Maybe that's why the other planets, void of consciousness, seem so barren.

As I experience my environment I marvel at how precisely intelligent life fits into it---as if it were specially made for it. Humans are not too small or too big for the earth environment. They inhabit a perfectly-sized body uniquely able to utilize the resources of the earth.

It amazes me that the sky appears to be blue instead of black or orange, that clouds are white instead of grey; that grass is green instead of purple, that flowers, birds, fish and butterflies are elegantly arrayed in color and that all of this color coordination is so agreeable to us. It didn't have to be that way and how did all of that color coordination happen by itself? It doesn't seem to be part of Darwinian survival of the fittest. No amount of evolution of an animal could change the sky from black to blue or trees from purple to green.

I stand in wonder at the birds---creatures that paleobiologists say evolved from prehistoric lizards. But, it seems to me that they surely must have been designed by someone with an unchallenged sense of color and form. Perhaps they evolved from lizards by intent. I cannot believe that they could have arrived at their 'bird reality' by chance or survival of the fittest. There are many examples of birds for which their appearance makes no sense from the viewpoint of Darwinian evolution. Not every bird fits nicely into the construct of Darwin's evolution of finches of the Galapagos Islands. Why are all of the birds not just brown-grey and torpedo-shaped? It seems to me that that would be the best evolutionary design. Why the need for color? Why is there a need to evolve in response to an environment anyway? Why not just go extinct? And looking at all of the birds in the world, I think that the creator of birds, be it person or process---even if it was bird consciousness itself--- must have had a wonderful sense of humor and great fun with its creations.

Perhaps you and I are having fun with our creations too. - AOD

"THE LAWS OF PHYSICS WERE CREATED BY US! They are our best current available MODEL of what nature does. Forgetting this, and turning our models into Holy Writ that may not be questioned, is to place shackles on the scientific imagination and to turn the current scientific consensus into a new fundamentalist religion."

Fred, how wise you are! This should be emblazoned on the first page of every science textbook!- AOD

Great, thoughtful post. Thanks!

I wonder if there is a key facet that you would comment on, that being our tendency, in the Western Myth, to judge, and the resulting fruits of such thinking. To me judgment begets the concept of sin and acts as a sort of mortar for the bricks of these surface systems of thought. Personally, I find letting go of my day to day judgments about reality a very hard thing indeed and yet feel that that may be the key for my journey into the Mist.

Best Regards for the conversation in this Blog.
Cheers.

"It should be pointed out, as often as possible, that Carl Sagan did not descend from Mount Palomar bearing the Laws of Physics inscribed on tablets of stone.

THE LAWS OF PHYSICS WERE CREATED BY US! They are our best current available MODEL of what nature does. Forgetting this, and turning our models into Holy Writ that may not be questioned, is to place shackles on the scientific imagination and to turn the current scientific consensus into a new fundamentalist religion."

But isn't that already blindingly obvious to everyone who here?

Fred,

Thanks! And yes I agree about the laws of physics.

Simon Oakes: || My first thought is that Evolution should be added alongside your categories of Ontology, Epistemology & Eschatology. ||

This is giving far too much credit to Darwinist orthodoxy. It is not an existential metaphysical category at that level. It should be classed just as another one of the modern Western Myths prevailing since the mid-nineteenth century. In fact, it seems to be the most overarching one: the belief that this mindless process has produced all of this world/universe of incredible apparently intelligently designed complexity. It should be noted that this mythology is the essence of materialism, fundamentally dismisses any and all notions of a spiritual or nonmaterial existence, psi, ESP, an afterlife, etc. etc., and if true invalidates spiritual/metaphysical notions in general.

Kurt Gödel made a strong logical/mathematical objection to a hugely creative neo-Darwinistic evolutionary process consisting solely of genetic variation plus selection (summarized at http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.uk/2014/09/30/conservation-of-information-evolution-etc/ ):

" The formation in geological time of the human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field is as unlikely as the separation of the atmosphere into its components. The complexity of the living things has to be present within the material [from which they are derived] or in the laws [governing their formation].
As quoted in H. Wang, in On `computabilism’ and physicalism: Some Problems.” in Nature’s Imagination, J. Cornwall, Ed, pp.161-189, Oxford University Press (1995)."

"Gödel’s argument is that if evolution is unfolding from an initial state by mathematical laws of physics, it cannot generate any information not inherent from the start – and in his view, neither the primaeval environment nor the laws are information-rich enough. In other words, either information must be added later, or some currently invisible front-loading would be necessary. The one mathematical impossibility, he says, is the spontaneous generation of the (specified) complexity of life simply by random variation and selection from nothing. "

Michael said:

"It makes us more like co-inventors of reality than mere observers of it."

Exactly right. One way to say it is that we are the only aspects of God capable of creating the particular reality we call the Earth environment.

\\"But they are seeing Reality from the perspective of its final state, whereas we are here doing the work of creating that final state."//

That is assuming free will. We may be just actors playing our parts so that the soul experiences the things it was sent here to learn. Just like a teacher that makes a detailed lesson plan with a clearly stated objective at the top about what the student will learn by the end of lesson.

Life has to be the way it is in order to evoke enough emotion so that we remember what it was we were sent here to learn. Enough to overcome those feelings of oneness and connectedness and lack of time and space on the other side. Enough emotion so that we remember what it means and how it feels to be separate unique individuals and what time and space look and feel like and what it was like to live in and control a physical body and live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe.

We simply learn here what can't be learned in heaven because of the difference between the physics of heaven and the physics of where are now.

I agree so much with this post :)

Loved it!

Here's a relevant book--used copies are under $3 on Amazon. (No Kindle version.) It's The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World, by Colin McGinn, at:
http://www.amazon.com/Mysterious-Flame-Conscious-Minds-Material/dp/0465014232/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1429401956&sr=8-2&keywords=colin+mcginn

Here's the publisher's blurb:

In recent years the nature of consciousness—our immediately known experiences—has taken its place as the most profound problem that science faces. Now in this brilliant and thoroughly accessible new book Colin McGinn takes a provocative position on this perplexing problem. Arguing that we can never truly "know" consciousness—that the human intellect is simply not equipped to unravel this mystery—he demonstrates that accepting this limitation in fact opens up a whole new field of investigation. In elegant prose, McGinn explores the implications of this Mysterian position—such as the new value it gives to the power of dreams and introspection—and challenges the reader with intriguing questions about the very nature of our minds and brains.

Darren C,


||Great, thoughtful post. Thanks!||

Thank you!

||I wonder if there is a key facet that you would comment on, that being our tendency, in the Western Myth, to judge, and the resulting fruits of such thinking.||

Great question! I hadn't even considered it. I think it gets into deep issues of our primate psychology and social systems. I guess one question in particular it calls to mind is this: Does the Western Myth have a particular perspective on judgment that is different than that of other myths? I don't have a simple answer to that.

Off the top of my head, I think the "all answers are known by God" does affect how judgment is processed, in that God can tell you exactly what is a sin and what isn't, and God Himself will be your judge eventually. As with other types of ambiguity (to use Julie's apt word), moral ambiguity is not allowed in the Western Myth.

||To me judgment begets the concept of sin and acts as a sort of mortar for the bricks of these surface systems of thought. Personally, I find letting go of my day to day judgments about reality a very hard thing indeed and yet feel that that may be the key for my journey into the Mist.||

Yes, quite right I think. I have a motto, a kind of mantra: SOITCOI: Someone Else is Taking Care of It. It may indeed be a fruit of the Western Myth, but we are regularly taught (through means subtle and otherwise) that we *ought* to have an opinion on everything we encounter. Jesus said, "Judge not lest ye be judged," but society tells us we ought to have an opinion on everything the government does and Kim Kardashian's wardrobe.

In fact, outside of what we need to do to stay alive, including our jobs, our judgment is required on very little.

Great question; my answer had to be over easy with the yolk running out, but that's OK. :)

Thanks, Luciano!

Gödel via Wang via doubter :),

||"Gödel’s argument is that if evolution is unfolding from an initial state by mathematical laws of physics, it cannot generate any information not inherent from the start – and in his view, neither the primaeval environment nor the laws are information-rich enough. In other words, either information must be added later, or some currently invisible front-loading would be necessary.||

I don't necessarily disagree with Gödel here. Evolution can take place based on a truly complex combination of accident, general intention ("Let consciousness arise!") and specific intention ("Let this mutation arise!"). I personally think evolution is heavily retroactively-caused by the i-Thought (Ultimate Consciousness), which is influencing it to bring itself about, all within the parameters of a "believable" physical universe.

Art,

||That is assuming free will. We may be just actors playing our parts so that the soul experiences the things it was sent here to learn.||

Regardless of whether we have free will or not (I think the issue arises from misunderstanding), is learning our only goal here? I think that is one, but I think co-creation is another.

Hi Doubter

“This is giving far too much credit to Darwinist orthodoxy. It is not an existential metaphysical category at that level.”

For me, Evolution as a concept goes far wider than Darwinian orthodoxy. This is so even within the physical sciences e.g. the current cosmological theory as to how the heavier elements were formed from lighter elements such as hydrogen & helium via exploding stars – requiring as it does the passing of time (or history) as well as physics & chemistry – is I think a genuinely evolutionary process; but it isn’t remotely Darwinian!

What in my view has happened is that a biological, scientific theory (Darwinian evolution) has been hijacked and larged up by those wishing to promote a materialist, atheistic agenda into – as you say – an orthodoxy that quite incorrectly purports to embrace all evolutionary thinking. The result, as you say, is fully Western Myth.

I agree this orthodoxy is also, for the reasons you give via the Wang/Godel quotes, hopelessly impoverished and inadequate as a means of explaining creativity & novelty.

The creation of information point in those quotes is highlighted by the failure so far of science to provide any kind of adequate, physicalist account for the origin of life. In that regard are you aware of Stephen Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell”? Whatever your attitude to Intelligent Design, this book makes a compelling case for Mind of some sort having played a role in the creation of life. Here’s the Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Signature-Cell-Stephen-C-Meyer-ebook/dp/B002C949BI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429426337&sr=1-1&keywords=stephen+meyer

Simon

Matt . . . you wrote . . . "Thanks! Wow, you have written something really interesting. I am going to have look at that in detail..."

Send me an e-mail from that web site if you want the actual VUE file or the original text file which might be better for 'serious' reading / digesting on your own computer?

I've put it together as a VUE so that I can show connections between diffferent evidence clues as these are the hardest to think about.

If you do read it and end up thinking of other 'clue' lines then let me know and I'll add them into the next version . . . be warned the 'management' efforts will try and distract you off, if they've not already . . .

Roger Knights,

||your capitalization worked well to convey the special brand of skepticism that scoftics adhere to.||

I had some doubts after I read your post, but when I used it here it immediately felt totally "right." It's fair to both sides and not rude, just as you said. Well suggested, sir!

Clive,

Feel free to email at matt@marrubium.com. Do I need special software for the VUE file? Thanks! I shall read with interest.

It seems to me that the Materialists ascribe to a formalist system...the old 'everything in it's place'...it's better to consider them that way, than say they're wrong, or misguided. This thought can be extended to virtually any religion, new age whatsit, and so on. In my life, I've used this technique many times - break a complex and shifting scene/idea/belief/experience into what can be understood by a drunk in a bar. Thus, I look at the concept of 'God knowing everything' and simply replace it with a better phrase, that does not include the constraint of Ultimate Knowledge: that if there is a God, God simply exists as everything (in my mind, there is no real ultimate state, such as that where all events and existences, energy and quantum states exist as a single 'locked in' form. More like a constantly shifting every infinitely changing flux)...thus, everything can simply be, and there is no need for human mental constraints. I then view Skeptics, Materialists, Athiests as those who are skilled and talented in one area of human experience. Some tend to go overboard with this.

Matt Rouge said: I had some doubts after I read your post, but when I used it here it [capitalization of "Skeptic" to refer to "movement" skeptics] immediately felt totally "right." It's fair to both sides and not rude, just as you said.
Wonderful! Now if MP will adopt this convention, maybe he'll start a snowball rolling!

Here's an interesting tidbit: From the late 18th century to the early 20th century, there was a Russian cult called the Skoptics, who practiced ritual castration, sometimes including removal of the penis. Today, an unhealthy obsession with castration is known in medical literature as Skoptic syndrome.

So could a casual reader mistake Skeptic for Skoptic?

And if so ... would this be a feature or a bug?

:-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skoptic_syndrome

Michael,

You write:

"I don't know, but I think there's at least some basis for considering the possibility that physical reality is the result of a master plan by a vastly superior intellect."

Perhaps that "vastly superior intellect" is "us" from the future helping things along here in the present and in the process making the future a better place for us there by modifying the present. A similar theme was expored in the recent movie "Interstellar" and could also provide a mechanism for UFO's as being murky, ill formed manifestations of us from the future being limited by Hawkings Chronolgy Protection Conjecture which forbids modification of the past by time travelers from the future that would create paradoxes.

||So could a casual reader mistake Skeptic for Skoptic?||

LOL!

I always read all the other comments (usually) before commenting myself. But, this time I'm going to go ahead and if I am off track or it has already been said to an extent please forgive me. Great post! I really found myself nodding often. But, not always. ;-) I do have my own evolution of belief when it comes to God. I remember back in my youth in the midst of my very Bible Belt Christian upbringing coming across an article titled "The Wild God." It shook me a little. After all "God" was who the church, bible, minister, adult said he was. How could he be wild? Or not a "he" for that matter?

Anyway, as I grew up and experienced more and more life I had to admit my dogma just wasn't going to work with my life experience. I do have an inner conversation that I have had my whole life with the one I have at various times called God, Father, Jesus, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Universe, Motherfathersisterbrother.

I recently read a article or post where someone said God was a field and that felt right too. So, I have to say that I do "believe" although I no longer believe in religious dogma or virgin births or bodies knitting back together molecule by molecule after moldering in the grave.

I remember when I was a kid and I first had to admit to myself that there was no Santa Claus. Still, I tried. Maybe Santa was like the postmaster. All the street corner and department store santa's worked for the "real Santa" That could at least be true. Not likely but possible. I was a fairly bright kid. :-)

So, I try not to do the same thing now with my version of "God." I try to be honest with my belief and my non belief. I know my inner conversation is real. Also, I've had my own spiritual experiences. So, I know there is a relationship that I have always had. But, I can't really, honestly describe it and make it completely iron clad and bullet proof.

@Stephen: "I know my inner conversation is real. Also, I've had my own spiritual experiences. So, I know there is a relationship that I have always had. But, I can't really, honestly describe it and make it completely iron clad and bullet proof."

And why should you even try to? Some things are simply not for the dissecting table. There's a certain human arrogance in trying to describe the ineffable - it's a bit like trying to peek at God's undergarments.

Great comment, Stephen Snead. I'd be curious to know what you disagreed with (perhaps it was implied in your comment, but I couldn't discern it). One thing I'm sure of: my belief system isn't 100% correct!

Great Post Matt,

We just lack one thing from you which is preventing utopia from effervescing forth.

This 3-step artifice you cite as The Western Myth is a very common hustle employed in the third world as well. We may want to dub it The Global Myth. It very much follows the pattern of the Western Myth. After observing this ruse many times in Asia and Africa, I have given it the moniker The Penultimate Set Scam (or Fallacy when contended in the objective).

The hustle always falls along these lines:

1. Everything is or was perfect (the substrate),

2. something you are not doing is causing this perfection to be stultified (the sin),

3. we just lack one thing from you which is needed in order to fix this (the mark),

(there is a fourth requisite part - this thing you need to provide needs to happen now)...

whereupon bountiful utopia will precipitated into reality and all perfection will be realized.

The substrate is always different, the shortfall is always in your camp, and the mark usually involves money, fealty or politcal power.

If there is one projected character trait of a supreme intelligence (whatever that is) in the cosmos, which I surmise, it is that such an intelligence will NOT practice this scam methodology, as a measure and feature of its interaction with the lesser beings which inhabit the cosmos.

But yes, fake SSkeptics sell this very same scam.

You see it's simple really. All knowledge is already there, and all we lack is critical thinking on your part.

~TES

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