Aug 4, 2022

Time

Contemporary views of Time include such ideas as: ‘there is no such thing; it’s an illusion; it’s a giant block and every moment is a slice; time is just one more dimension in spacetime,' etc.

Time

Aug 2, 2022

John Vianney

“He used to travel…to isolated barns for clandestine Masses…”

John Vianney

Jul 28, 2022

A Many Worlds Interpretation of Social Dynamics

“There was more cultural overlap between the Confederate States and the United States in 1860 than there is today between Red States and Blue.”

A Many Worlds Interpretation of Social Dynamics

Jul 26, 2022

Common Sense Academy Routs Info Tech, 97 - 3

"Imagine that the Borg Collective and Jean Luc Picard had a baby…"

Common Sense Academy Routs Info Tech, 97 - 3

Jul 21, 2022

Inside/Outside

Living in an orientable universe is no fun! Thank God we don’t live in such a universe!

Inside/Outside

Jul 19, 2022

Things Are Not Always the Way They Seem to Appear

This alternative turns a simple, two-stroke process of alienation into a four-stroke process of alignment. How so?

Things Are Not Always the Way They Seem to Appear

Jul 14, 2022

Special Issue Ahead--Your exclusive look at ATM's Summer Issue

All of us at AT are super excited about what we’re building: a hyper-active community of folks dedicated to the convergence of science, philosophy, and theology in the 21st century.

Special Issue Ahead--Your exclusive look at ATM's Summer Issue

Jul 12, 2022

God Calling!

“I wrote the answers to life’s riddles on the cuffs of your shirts, and I encouraged you to cheat. And still…”

God Calling!

Jul 7, 2022

The Sovereignty of God

God’s sovereignty is absolute; it is part of God’s essential nature and therefore cannot be subdivided, shared, or delegated…it can only be reflected.

The Sovereignty of God

Jul 5, 2022

How is Government Like Soft Serve Ice Cream?

Democracy, Oligarchy, Monarchy, Tyranny, even Anarchy, are means of government, not government itself.

How is Government Like Soft Serve Ice Cream?

Jun 30, 2022

Abraham Lincoln and the Book of Judges

“If time travel is perfected in my lifetime, I know exactly where…and when…I’ll visit first!”

Abraham Lincoln and the Book of Judges

Jun 28, 2022

Faith vs. Belief

“Courage is how 'who you are' overcomes 'what you are.'"

Faith vs. Belief

Jun 23, 2022

I'm Bored!

“We are co-responsible for the world. We are all always our siblings’ keepers!”

I'm Bored!

Jun 21, 2022

Everything is Interesting…What Went Wrong?

Childhood today could be and should be utopian, but it isn’t. Not even close! Why? How did we screw things up so massively?

Everything is Interesting…What Went Wrong?

Jun 16, 2022

Extra! Extra!

“Do I really have to wait three months for more ATM?" No, you do not! We’ve decided to add a special issue (7/15) to our 2022 publication schedule. Here's what we have planned...

Extra! Extra!

Jun 14, 2022

The Mass Shooting Epidemic

People who perpetrate mass shootings are searching for answers, for meaning in life…

The Mass Shooting Epidemic

Jun 9, 2022

Believers Need Not Apply

We’ve constructed a super-elaborate cosmology to explain how ‘it is’ arose spontaneously from ‘it is not.’ (If that doesn’t make any sense to you, trust me, it doesn’t make sense to me either.) How did the universe come to be? It just did! How did the ratios of the masses of subatomic particles get so finely tuned? They just did!

Believers Need Not Apply

Jun 7, 2022

ATM or ATM

But OT or NT, is the information fungible? Well, it may not get you a cool ride or an awesome crib, but it might just get you eternal life instead.

ATM or ATM

Jun 2, 2022

Two New Articles Added to Aletheia Today Summer Issue

We were thrilled when the opportunity arose to add these additional articles to our first issue.

Two New Articles Added to Aletheia Today Summer Issue

May 31, 2022

Official Launch of Aletheia Today Magazine

Your exclusive look at the all-new magazine for believers in science and God!

Official Launch of Aletheia Today Magazine

May 26, 2022

The Power of Intuition

I love to say, “I know.” Be honest, so do you! We all love to say it – well, all of us except Nicholas of Cusa (1401 - 1464), who preferred to say, “I don’t know.” But that’s another story for another day.

The Power of Intuition

May 24, 2022

Lao Tzu

Do we live life or does life live us?

Lao Tzu

May 19, 2022

Black Hole

“…We just caught our first glimpse of the big black hole that lies, curled up like my favorite pussy cat, at the center of our galaxy.”

Black Hole

May 17, 2022

The Algorithm Challenge!

…We do not experience ‘objective time’, we only experience ‘subjective time’. In subjective time, a minute never ends but entire years go by in a flash.

The Algorithm Challenge!

May 12, 2022

Being and Nothingness

But there are holes in this Swiss cheese. First, while it is true that ‘events’ constitute the universe, what we’re calling ‘events’ (above) are rarely primordial events.

Being and Nothingness

May 10, 2022

Offense Taken!

There is nothing more self-satisfying or self-aggrandizing than ‘taking offense’.

Offense Taken!

May 5, 2022

Is 65 the New 45?

That’s conventional wisdom…and in this rare case, conventional wisdom is not wrong…but neither is it perfectly right.

Is 65 the New 45?

May 3, 2022

You have Nothing to Lose but Your Clouds...What if you could vote to change the weather?

Suppose every day we could vote what weather we were to have tomorrow. What fighting there would be, what killing of one neighbor by another…most things that we vote for do not really matter, you are a little more or a little less uncomfortable as the government does one thing or another but the weather oh dear…that would be a disaster.”

You have Nothing to Lose but Your Clouds...What if you could vote to change the weather?

Apr 28, 2022

Everybody's Autobiography

Is it possible to write an autobiography of everyone, to somehow incorporate the wildly varying events of different people’s lives into a single story? Absurd, right? But not so fast!

Everybody's Autobiography

Apr 26, 2022

May Day

A survey of Western traditions suggests that May Day might once have been the most important day of the year. That’s right, May Day! This day links pagan fertility rites, mythology, cosmology, Christian theology, and Marxist ideology. Quite a feat! Or is it?

May Day

Apr 19, 2022

And Then...

This was perhaps the last time we could say, “God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world.”

And Then...

Apr 14, 2022

Check the Date

You can’t resist the urge. You peek back at the front cover. Is this really a book about Eastern Europe c. 1000 A.D.?

Check the Date

Apr 12, 2022

Death Valley

We expect that death will seem closer each time we check, but surprisingly, that isn’t what we experience. It seems as though death were retreating from us. The closer we get, the further it recedes.

Death Valley

Apr 7, 2022

The Problem of Evil Through the Prism of Job

A famous paradox runs like this: “Is it good because it is God’s will, or is it God’s will because it is good?” In other words, is God subject to universal ethical standards or are those standards universal merely because God wills them?

The Problem of Evil Through the Prism of Job

Apr 5, 2022

The Riddle of the Sphinx

What walks on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three feet in the evening? Of course, by now we all know the answer: human beings. Babies crawl (4), adults walk (2), seniors often need a cane (3). But there’s more to this riddle than meets the eye.

The Riddle of the Sphinx

Mar 31, 2022

All or Nothing

Time is the spotlight of being. For a short while, we are in the spot; then we aren’t. We are merely ‘shadows of our former selves’ (shades).

All or Nothing

Mar 29, 2022

Pardon My Language! (An Introduction to Gertrude Stein)

For the most part, modern English limits itself to a handful of cases, voices, moods, etc. That would not do for Gertrude Stein. She needed more!

Pardon My Language! (An Introduction to Gertrude Stein)

Mar 25, 2022

“…And the Pursuit of Happiness.” (The Declaration of Independence, 1776)

We honor ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ as inalienable human rights, but not all of us can say with assurance that we are always on the side of ‘life’ and ‘liberty’. Sometimes we can’t even agree on what these words mean, and we certainly don’t agree on how these rights should be applied in specific situations. (For example, many of the men who wrote the Declaration themselves owned slaves. We don’t always see ourselves through the eyes of civilization or the lens of history.)

“…And the Pursuit of Happiness.” (The Declaration of Independence, 1776)

Mar 22, 2022

Can Subject/Verb Agreement Make the World Go Round?

We imagine that our world is made up of ‘things’ (nouns), their accidental qualities (adjectives), and the relationships between them (verbs). We imagine this because just such a classification system is embedded in our native tongue: modern English, for example, or most any other contemporary Indo-European language.

Can Subject/Verb Agreement Make the World Go Round?

Mar 10, 2022

Classified Information

Classification is a tool we use to organize our experiences into categories based on the intrinsic content of those experiences. Flying in planes may define a different category of experience from hiking in mountains. Of course, no two flights are ever the same, nor are any two hikes. Still, it is useful for some purposes (not all) to classify these experiences differently.

Classified Information

Mar 8, 2022

Where'd You Get That Spark?

Is the spark of the Hasidim the same thing as Whitehead’s Primordial Nature of God?

Where'd You Get That Spark?

Feb 28, 2022

The Gospel of Luke

In the Gospel of Luke, a lawyer questions Jesus: “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) The question resonates through all eras and across all cultures. Our mental apparatus is tuned to notice differences among otherwise similar entities; we find it much harder to pick out similarities. Intelligence tests given to children often ask them to distinguish differences: e.g., which of these shapes is not like the others? The same tests given to adults (e.g., MCAT and LSAT) are more likely to ask them to find similarities (i.e., analogies).

The Gospel of Luke

Feb 24, 2022

500 Year-Long Nap

It’s 1000 A.D. and Pope Sylvester II is the undisputed leader of the Christian Church in Europe. He is also generally regarded as the continent’s most accomplished scientist.

Faith was strong at that time, but it did not interfere in any way with the exploration of nature. The relationship between Science and Religion was symbiotic…and synergistic. It was widely accepted that God revealed himself through the structures & processes of the universe as well as in Scripture & Tradition.

500 Year-Long Nap

Feb 17, 2022

Big Ideas

Homer, the blind poet, and Parmenides, the pre-Socratic philosopher, provided European civilization with its first comprehensive view(s) of the world. Homer gave us the Iliad, an epic poem detailing major events during the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, an epic focused on the experiences, thoughts and values of one man, Odysseus, himself a Trojan warrior.

Big Ideas

Feb 14, 2022

There Are No Theists in Foxholes

“There are no theists in foxholes,” at least not according to ‘conventional wisdom’. After all, even Dostoevsky had a death bed conversion! So, in this rare case, it turns out that conventional is, in general, correct.

Or was he correct! I do not think it is correct any longer. Why not? What changed?

There Are No Theists in Foxholes

Feb 10, 2022

Turing, Searle, & Penrose

According to Alan Turing of ‘Turing Test’ fame (1950), we can have no privileged insight into the state of another entity’s consciousness. Turing taught that we can only evaluate the consciousness of another entity by experiencing the behavior of that entity. If a machine interacts with you in a way that is indistinguishable from the way another human being would interact with you, then you have no logical grounds for regarding the machine’s thinking process as different in any meaningful way from your own. Who knows, as we subject a machine to the Turing Test, that same machine may very well be conducting a Turing Test on us!

Turing, Searle, & Penrose

Feb 7, 2022

Dr. Martin Luther King

“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.”

Dr. Martin Luther King

Feb 2, 2022

Candelamas

Today is the feast of Candlemas, aka Groundhog Day.

Candlemas is a Christian holiday commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. In accordance with Leviticus 12, it falls on February 2nd, which is also final day of the Christmas–Epiphany season. In some countries, Christians don’t remove their Christmas decorations until the day after Candlemas.

Candelamas

Jan 31, 2022

Voice Verbs

“I am stuck on Band-Aid ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me!”

So says the jingle for one of the world’s most iconic products. But more importantly, and quite unexpectedly, this slogan is one of the best examples of ‘middle voice thinking’ in American pop culture.

Voice Verbs

Jan 27, 2022

Viktor Frankel

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ——

These words are attributed to Viktor Frankel, holocaust survivor, philosopher, and author.

Viktor Frankel

Jan 24, 2022

Book of Job

Continuing with the Book of Job theme, Job is arguably the most important work in the entire Old Testament, possibly the second most important book in the whole Bible – behind the Gospel of John. Some Jewish commentators claim that it is the 5th book of Moses and rightfully belongs as part of the Torah. It is frequently quoted in the works of the Church Fathers (100 – 500 AD), perhaps more than any other single book of the Bible, and it has inspired a number of modern adaptations (e.g., Archibald MacLeish’s J.B.).

Book of Job

Jan 20, 2022

Adam and Eve

In one respect at least, The Book of Genesis and the Book of Job are mirror images of one another. In Genesis, mankind (Adam) finds itself in Paradise with all its needs met; yet ‘Adam’ chooses to sin. In Job, a man (Job) finds himself in the most dire straights possible; yet he continues to practice virtue and he defends both God and Goodness against the relentless taunting of his wife and 3 (or 4) so-called “comforters”.

While Adam put his ‘significant other’ (Eve), the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (apple), and even the serpent (Satan) ahead of God, Job never waivers in his monotheism: “For I know that my redeemer lives and that he will stand on the earth on the last day, and though after my skin (is gone) worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine own eyes shall behold, and not another’s.” (Job 19: 25 & ff)

Adam and Eve

Jan 18, 2022

Trinitarian Model

Last week (1/10/21) we talked about the idea that God is better understood as a ‘process’ than as a ‘person, place or thing’. Readers have asked me to clarify, and perhaps expand, on that thought.

While most religions and spiritual practices share ideas, there are a few ideas that are unique to Christianity, e.g., the Trinitarian model of God. According to this model, God is one entity (or ‘substance’) expressed in three ‘persons’: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Each of these ‘persons’ is wholly and fully God; and yet God is not God without these three distinct expressions of Godhead. In the Christian view, the nature of Divinity is to be understood as the relationship among three independent persons.

To add yet another layer of complexity, in the Trinitarian model The Holy Spirit is the relationship between the Father and the Son, but that relationship is in no way subordinate to the Father and Son. Rather, the Holy Spirit is a person in his own right, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son.

In 325 A.D., the Council of Nicaea published the basic tenets of the Christian faith in a document now known as the Nicene Creed. This Creed reads, in part, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified.”

So, God is indeed ‘process’ (i.e., relationship, dialogue, love). So, while God transcends all parts of speech, God functions more like a verb than a noun. From 1 John 4: 8 to the latest hippie bumper sticker the message is the same: “God is Love.”

Most religions and spiritualities emphasize the importance of Love. Those that include the concept of God often crave God’s love. Their bumper sticker might read, “God loves!” paraphrasing the ever popular, “Jesus saves”.

But a God who loves is not the same as a God who is Love!

But when we think of process, we think of something that unfolds in time. God, however, is eternal (non-temporal); he exists outside of space and time. So how can God both be pure process and non-temporal? How is that possible?

For the most of the Church’s history, this was a mystery that had to be accepted on Faith alone. But those of us privileged to live in the 20th and 21st centuries can see that non-temporal process is not an attribute of God alone. In fact, non-temporal processes underly the entire phenomenal world. The temporal processes that we work with every day are just the tip of a much larger, non-temporal iceberg.

Specifically, I’m talking about ‘non-locality’ (Bell) and ‘the collapse of the wave function’ (Schrödinger). John Bell showed that once subatomic particles have interacted with one another they can remain entangled no matter how far apart (in space or time) they may come to be. In that case, for them there is no space or time. And it is believed that most subatomic particles in the cosmos today are ‘entangled’. Therefore, the web of non-local, non-temporal entanglement is much more fundamental and universal than the web of space-time.

Likewise, Schrödinger (famous for his ‘cat’) showed that what we call ‘things’ and ‘events’ depend upon the ‘collapse’ (or resolution) of a probability function known as the ‘wave function’. Before collapse, the wave function does not exist in spacetime but rather in a dimension we know as ‘probability’. Only after the wave function has collapsed (possibly as the result of a broken ‘entanglement’, above) does it enter into spacetime (as an object or event).

So, we ‘moderns’ do not have to accept the idea of God as non-temporal process based on faith alone. Rather, we have empirical examples of non-temporal processes right in our material world.

Trinitarian Model

Jan 14, 2022

Four Noble Truths

A dear friend of mine recently responded to an email I had sent. I loved this response and wanted to share the relevant parts with you:

Four Noble Truths

Jan 10, 2022

God is Eternal

According to the Trinitarian model, God is relatedness, dialogue, love. Therefore, God is process, the process that animates the spatiotemporal world and the process that constitutes His own Being. But when we think of process, we think of something that unfolds across time. God, however, is eternal; He exists outside of space and time. So how can God be both pure process and atemporal? How is that possible?

God is Eternal

Jan 6, 2022

Pre-existing

In my last post, I reflected on the idea that all the world’s ontologies (philosophical, theological or scientific) fall into one of two camps: (A) Some sort of Determinism, where the ‘actual’ is ultimately embedded in what is falsely called the ‘potential’ or (B) some sort of Indeterminism where potentiality is selectively converted to actuality through an agency that somehow, in some way transcends pure potentiality itself.

Pre-existing

Jan 2, 2022

There Must Be Something Before There Can Be Nothing

From Aristotle to Whitehead, from Sartre to the 20th century ‘quantum mechanics’, there is a broadly held view that Being at its core is Pure Potential. Potentiality is selectively converted to actuality through the agency of something other than pure potentiality itself.

That agency is called ‘Creativity’ by Whitehead, ‘Le Neant’ by Sartre, or ‘Collapse of the Wave Function’ by Schrödinger. In none of these cases, however, does pure potentiality alone determine its own actuality (that would be Determinism and would negate the concept of ‘potentiality’ entirely). Something other than pure potentiality itself must convert what could be to what is.

The Apostle John expressed the same idea: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him nothing was made.” (Jn 1: 1 – 5)

According to John, “the Word of God’ (Christ) is what converts potentiality to actuality. Everything that is comes to be through that ‘Word’ and without that ‘Word’ nothing comes to be.

In final analysis, I think that all the world’s ontologies (philosophical, theological, or scientific) fall into one of these two camps: (A) Some sort of Determinism (where the ‘actual’ is ultimately embedded in what is falsely called the ‘potential’) or (B) some sort of Indeterminism (where potentiality is selectively converted to actuality through an agency that transcends pure potentiality per se).

Group A would argue that there must be nothing before there can be something; Group B would reverse it: there must be something before there can be nothing.

There Must Be Something Before There Can Be Nothing

Nov 29, 2021

God Hypothesis

A much beloved friend and family member sent this to me T-day morning. Much appreciated! But I could not help but notice the care taken to avoid any reference to “God, the father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth”. I am not suggesting that everyone must believe in God. Far from it. But I am suggesting that substituting various ‘pagan’ alternatives does not work: “god (as if God could be anything else but a proper noun), universe, life, earth”. Imagining that any of these could be sui generis capable or creating all that is ex nihilo is absurd. If you don’t buy into the “God Hypothosis”, ok, well and good, but suggest a viable alternative.

God Hypothesis

Nov 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Really? With COVID, economic insecurity, terrorism, etc. what do we have to be thankful for?

Only everything! Literally…every thing. Being is a function of being good. (Don’t tell that to my 10 year old self.) We ‘are’ only in so far as we are ‘good’. We don’t realize it, but we have a blind spot. Sadly, we are not “all that we could be”.

But what is this thing called ‘Good’ that we celebrate this week? It’s God. It’s what makes Being be. It is the yardstick by which we measure everything in our world. But because it is a yardstick, it can’t be among the things that it measures. It must transcend our everyday world. And what transcends our everyday world is what we call “God”.

Happy Thanksgiving

Nov 15, 2021

Electricity

“The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” is a movie currently playing on Amazon Prime. Louis is an early 20th century English painter with zero artistic merit…but that’s not important. What is important is the way Louis experiences the world.

From time to time, he encounters the ineffable in the course of his everyday living. He imagines that what he is experiencing is a form of ‘electricity’ that permeates the world but lies beneath the plane of ordinary sensory perception.

Many of us have had a similar experience; but I doubt if any of us called it “electricity”. In my day, it was fashionable to call it “energy”; Star Wars called it “the force”. I wonder, what’s the current nom de jour?

The ineffable is the ineffable because it is…well, ineffable. It is the ‘immanence of transcendence’ in our everyday world. If we must name it, we must name it metaphorically. It is, after all, ineffable.

In classical times, it might have been called “beauty”; in the middle ages, “God”. But to Louis Wain, it is “electricity”. How come?

Louis Wain lived in the final days of a dark age ironically known as The Enlightenment. Though long past, it still casts a shadow. The Enlightenment was rooted in materialism and mechanism and in the certain belief that technological progress would inevitably bring about Utopia. So “electricity” was the closest anyone of that era could come to naming the ineffable.

We know better today; but we are still struggling to find our own metaphor for the immanence of transcendence in the world.

Electricity

Nov 8, 2021

Becoming

Absolute evil is non-being. But non-being is inconceivable since whatever we conceive is conceived as at least potentially being. Non-being is not and has no potential to be.

Becoming

Nov 4, 2021

Everything IS Possible

Yesterday, my 8 year old grandson told me, quite authoritatively as usual, “Nothing is impossible, everything is possible.”

My first thought was, “Hmm, that doesn’t seem right.” But I should have known better; whenever I disagree about anything with any of my grandchildren, I am usually wrong.

In this case, I started coming up with examples of things that are impossible. For example, a circle that is also a square. But then I realized, it’s not that a ‘squared circle’ is impossible, it’s that it’s not a thing.

Despite riddles to the contrary, you cannot have something that is black and white at the same time. The meaning of the concepts themselves, the words ‘black and white’, preclude something that is both. (White is the sum of all colors; black is the absence of any color.)

On the other hand, a unicorn, even if does not actually exist, is certainly possible. There is nothing about the attributes of a unicorn that would make its existence an impossibility.

So, historically we’ve gotten this all wrong. Everything IS possible! But not every random combination of attributes constitutes a thing.

Everything IS Possible

Nov 1, 2021

Prologue

It takes roughly 100 years for the bleeding edge discoveries of science to be fully integrated into the popular psyche. For example, Newton’s 17th century discoveries did not become common knowledge until the 18th century. And this is great news!

20th century science produced three absolutely revolutionary discoveries: relativity, quantum mechanics, and non-locality (Bell’s Theorem). Today, a “what you see is what you get” view of the world is entirely untenable. But don’t tell that to your neighbor: popular culture is still firmly rooted in 19th century mechanics.

But if past is prologue, the 21st century will see these insights integrated into public consciousness. Science, which plunged us into the so-called Enlightenment, will provide a tunnel out of that Dark Age into something brand new…and unpredictable. Exciting times!

Prologue

Oct 28, 2021

Entropy

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (aka ‘entropy’) ensures that the universe will meet with a bad end: oblivion! Our lifelong battle against evil (the absence of order, i.e., the absence of being) is ultimately hopeless. Evil will triumph in the end…gradually, sporadically, but inexorably! But this all takes place in spacetime; what if spacetime is not all there is to Being?

Spacetime represents an unrelenting progression from past to future; we know it as ‘aging’ (mortality). But there is a problem with this model. If everything is either past or future, then nothing is present, and if nothing is present, then nothing actually is. Bottom line, if there is being, there must be a ‘present’. But there is no present in spacetime (and if there is, it is infinitesimal and so of no consequence).

If there is Being, there must be a Present. That is where Being resides. To be is to be present. The Present is a dimension perpendicular to spacetime. It is what people mean when they talk about ‘God’.

The world consists of events. No event is 100% evil and only one event (God) is 100% good. The Present (God) preserves what really is (i.e., the good) and harmonizes every such good into a single event which, per Alfred North Whitehead, is God’s Consequent Nature.

So, the battle against evil is ultimately hopeless, but the struggle itself is the source of all hope – the fruit of all faith and the expression of all love.

Entropy

Oct 21, 2021

Antonyms

In school we were taught to recognize homonyms, synonyms and antonyms. But there are no antonyms! Cold is not the antonym of hot; they are both relative measures of molecular motion. Likewise, ugly is not the antonym of beauty. Everything, no matter how ‘ugly’, contains an element of beauty; otherwise, it would neither be ugly nor beautiful…it would simply not ‘be’ at all! “Everything is beautiful…in its own way!” ‘Ugly’ is somewhere on the aesthetic scale just as cold is somewhere on the scale of molecular notion (aka ‘temperature’).

All of which leads us to a surprising conclusion: there are no antonyms (plural), but there is an antonym (singular). One, single, universal antonym! One word is the antonym of all other words; and that one word is ‘evil’ and its many synonyms (different word, same meaning): non-being, nothingness, etc.

Antonyms

Oct 18, 2021

How and Why

Prior to 1600, to be accepted in the West, any new scientific theory had to demonstrate that it was compatible with the basic tenets of Christianity. Since 1600, every religious doctrine has been required to demonstrate that it is compatible with the discoveries of modern science.

How and Why

Oct 14, 2021

If He Chooses to Do So

My previous ‘thought’ concerned God’s dual role as ‘Creator of heaven and earth’ and ‘comrade-in-arms’. Further reflections:

How can God be the creator of a radically free universe and yet play a role in the evolution of that universe? The answer lies in standing an old proverb (‘Man proposes, God disposes’) on its head. In fact, it is God who proposes but ‘man’ (i.e., worldly events) that disposes. Consider God’s words in Deuteronomy (30:19): “I set before you life and death (God proposes). Therefore, choose life. (Man disposes)”

If He Chooses to Do So

Oct 12, 2021

God

The Creation Story in Genesis makes it clear that ‘Adam and Eve’, and by extension the entire cosmos, are entirely free; otherwise, the idea of ‘creation’ would be a sham. If the cosmos is just a figment of God’s imagination, subject to his absolute control, then it is not ‘created’ at all but just ‘dreamed’. Creation implies that a new entity comes into being that is no longer subject to the will or the whims of its creator.

God

Oct 8, 2021

Nihilism

Nihilism comes in two flavors: Ontological Nihilism (“Nihilism of Being”) and Ethical Nihilism (“Nihilism of Value”). Shakespeare (anticipating post-Enlightenment science: bootstrapping, heat death, entropy, etc.) would be an example of an ontological nihilist:

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” (The Tempest)

Nihilism

Oct 4, 2021

Joy

Joy is what we experience when we live according to God’s Will, Natural Law or Transcendental Ethics (take your pick – whatever you’re comfortable with – they all amount to the same thing in the end). Joy is very different from happiness, contentment, peacefulness, etc. These later qualities pertain solely to our own internal state of mind; they imply nothing about the outside world or our relationship to it.

Joy

Sep 29, 2021

Worth Knowing

“A World Worth Knowing” is the title of a new series on The History Channel that features William Shatner. But is its premise, that we live in a world “worth knowing”, true? After all, ‘the standard model of contemporary cosmology’ holds that the universe arose, uncaused and with no purpose, from nothing and that it will inevitably return without a trace back to nothing. Why would such a universe be “worth knowing”?

Worth Knowing

Sep 27, 2021

Maya

“Nothing is everything” is an advertising slogan for a new drug that treats plaque psoriasis. Of course, in this context “nothing” refers to unblemished skin while “everything” refers to the goal of the treatment. But what could “nothing is everything” mean in other contexts?

Maya

Sep 23, 2021

Hidden Life

An earlier “Thought” introduced “The Hidden Life of Trees”, the reflections of a career forester. The book focuses on communities of trees. In these communities, trees demonstrate the ability to communicate, to share resources, to perform selfless, eleemosynary acts, to recognize and care for progenitors as well as offspring. Are these activities enough for us to ascribe a type of consciousness to these communities?

Hidden Life

Sep 20, 2021

Rabbi Shlomo

According to Hasidic Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (1925 – 1994), “original sin” is rooted in gender inequality. According to Rabbi Shlomo, in the Garden of Eden, God spoke directly to Adam and through Adam, the ‘Rebbe of Eden’, to Eve. Eve’s innate sense of justice (we all have such a sense) told her that something about this arrangement was not right: “I wonder why he wouldn’t talk to me straight.”

Rabbi Shlomo

Sep 17, 2021

Nothing Exists

“What’s the good of anything? Nothing!”

These 6 words, placed in the mouth of 12 year old Archibald Rennick in a 1892 play, “The New Boy”, may be more philosophically important and ontologically revolutionary than Nietzsche’s entire corpus. How so?

Nothing Exists

Sep 13, 2021

Alfred E. Newman

As a child of the ‘50s, I thought I had witnessed the virgin birth (1956) of 12 year old Alfred E. Newman in the pages of Mad Magazine. Four years later (1960), I followed closely his Quixote campaign for the Presidency against Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy. (Spoiler alert: Newman did not win.)

Alfred E. Newman

Sep 7, 2021

Fractal

Mythology exists in the space between cosmology and psychology. It is consistent with the modern notion of Being as a fractal: it reveals the same patterns on every scale.

Ancient Norse cosmology begins with Yggdrasil, the ‘Tree of Life’. It is the center of the cosmos and all else exists around it. It includes the Nine Worlds, each one inhabited by a unique ‘ontic entity’, for example, gods, elves, wolves, humans, etc.

Fractal

Sep 1, 2021

Zeno

Earlier we talked about Zeno. In most minds it is thought that Zeno proved that any tortoise with a head start will always beat Achilles in any foot race. But of course, we know that that is not true…and Zeno knew so too. What Zeno did prove is that we cannot account for Achilles’ victory based on ordinary mathematical assumptions. Achilles wins the race but how does he do it?

Zeno

Aug 25, 2021

Motion

Everything that is is in motion. As Thomas Aquinas pointed out, that ‘motion’ can take at least two different forms: (1) the growth and subsequent (or simultaneous) decay of an entity itself; (2) a shift in an entity’s position in space and time relative to the other entities in its frame of reference. (Ultimately, these two forms of motion may turn out to be one and the same – but that’s not what I’m thinking about today.)

Motion

Aug 23, 2021

Achilles and the Tortoise

You’ve no doubt heard about the race between Achilles and the Tortoise. My 8 year old grandson has so I assume you have too. It took place 2,500 years ago. The tortoise challenged Achilles (an anachronism in itself) but asked Achilles to give him a head start (1/2 the distance to the goal line). Supremely confident , Achilles agreed.

Achilles and the Tortoise

Aug 16, 2021

Love Thy Neighbor

A subscriber to Thoughts While Shaving recently sent me the following:

“This moment that humanity is living through can be considered a door or a hole. The decision to fall into the hole or go through the door is yours.

If you consume information 24 hours a day, with negative energy, constantly nervous, with pessimism, you will fall into this hole.

Love Thy Neighbor

Aug 11, 2021

Being and Becoming

In the context of a conversation about Being and Becoming, a friend of mine asked, “Is eternal becoming possible?” My first reaction was that the concept of becoming was inherently dependent on time and that time is the antithesis of eternity. But then I got to thinking…

Being and Becoming

Aug 9, 2021

Antonyms

Antonyms. No such thing! Not-X includes the shadow of X. Example: ‘Pretty’ and ‘Ugly’. ‘Pretty’ refers to the totality (gestalt) of a person, place, or thing. ‘Ugly’ refers to those elements of the aforementioned that are not consistent with a ‘pretty’ whole. ‘Pretty’ and ‘ugly’ appear to be antonyms…but they’re not. In fact, they operate on two entirely different syntactic levels.
‘Ugly’ actually derives its meaning from the concept of ‘pretty’. Therefore, we can say ‘ugly’ includes “the shadow of ‘pretty’”; but not so the other way around.

Antonyms

Aug 4, 2021

These Are The Dark Ages

A cursory reading of ethnographic surveys (Frazer, Spengler, Toynbee, et al.) shows that almost every human culture includes the recognition of a ‘transcendent’ dimension to reality. Sometimes this dimension is called “God”; other times it is better described as a “force” or as a “layer of eternal values”. What is not found are cultures that embrace WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) aka ‘naïve realism’…with one glaring exception: the culture of contemporary Western Europe and North America.

These Are The Dark Ages

Aug 2, 2021

Nothing is Everything

Nothing is everything” is an advertising slogan for Skyrizi (AbbVie), a dermatological drug. I assume it means that the absence of skin blemishes is ‘everything’, at least for some people.
But it got me thinking: what else could “nothing is everything” mean?

Nothing is Everything

Jul 30, 2021

Relationship

Following up on an earlier post, in an I – it relationship, the ‘I’ has complete dominion over the ‘it’. The ‘it’ is merely a passive receptor for the actions of the ‘I’. Therefore, this model ascribes infinite intrinsic value to the ‘I’ and zero intrinsic value to the ‘it’. But can such an arrangement be called a relationship?

Relationship

Jul 26, 2021

Punctuation

Classical Western languages (e.g. Hebrew, Greek and Latin) for the most part lacked anything we would recognize today as ‘punctuation’. When marks did appear in texts, they were merely to guide actors and orators in their declamations. The same is true of Medieval languages (e.g. Old English, Old French and Old Norse).

Punctuation

Jul 23, 2021

Pronouns

Today, we are all about our pronouns. This incidental part of speech has suddenly replaced the noun and the verb as the focus of popular, and linguistic, attention.

Growing up in the ‘60s, we were accustomed to asking one another, “What is your sign?” Now, 55 years later, “What are your pronouns?” has become the ice breaker of choice. Even some business colleagues of mine have embedded “my pronouns…” into their electronic email signatures.

Pronouns

Jul 19, 2021

The Shmita Year

Someone sent me this and it’s so good I had to reproduce it in Thoughts while Shaving:

“The beginning of Deuteronomy is filled with promises about taking possession of the land of Canaan. But…remember that our ancestors lost possession of that land and went into exile. The Torah teaches that the way to live long in the land and avoid exile is not by having the strongest army, but by fulfilling the covenant of the Torah. And it tells us that one mitzvah is most important for making this happen: the Sabbatical or Shmita year, when the land rests.

The Shmita Year

Jul 16, 2021

Afraid of the Dark

Most young children are afraid of the dark. As adults, we tend to dismiss those fears. But as in so many other ways, it is the children who are right…and we who are wrong. They have not yet wrapped themselves in the cocoon of consumer goods. They still see life as it is.

Afraid of the Dark

Jul 14, 2021

Fact to Fiction

Following up on my previous post, in Ancient Greece the concept of the individual as actor had not yet emerged. Human beings were the passive pawns of forces beyond their control, or even their ken. A late 20th century movie, “The Gods must be Crazy”, could easily have been set in Ancient Greece (rather than contemporary Africa). In fact, you could view Greek Mythology as the first Literature of the Absurd.

Fact to Fiction

Jul 12, 2021

Unintentional Consequences

Since I was 12 years old, I have found Greek Mythology baffling. What exactly is the role of the gods? I told my grandchildren that the Greek gods are like our Super Heroes, but even that analogy didn’t totally satisfy me. Now, more than half a century later, I think I’ve figured it out (with a major assist from Oswald Spengler). In Ancient Greece it is the gods who act, not the people. Individuals go through the motions, but their intentions are meaningless and their actions entirely without effect.

Unintentional Consequences

Jul 7, 2021

Thrown

According to Existentialist philosopher, Martin Heidegger, each of us has been “thrown” into an alien and potentially hostile world. It is as if an ocean suddenly disgorged us onto a strange beach populated by strange creatures. But of course, it’s much worse than that because initially we don’t know what a beach, or even a creature, is and we have no previous life experience to draw on.

Thrown

Jun 30, 2021

Mistakes

Have you ever made a mistake and then repeated the same mistake years later? Well, the British government has. In 1776, they underestimated the determination of the American people to be independent of Britain. Then, approximately 250 years later, they underestimated the determination of their own people to be independent of Continental Europe (the EU).

I hope our British cousins will celebrate America’s Independence with us on July 4th. I know I will celebrate the UK’s independence with them on January 31.

Happy 4th everyone!

Mistakes

Jun 28, 2021

Oswald Spengler

In his seminal work, The Decline of the West, Oswald Spengler (c. 1920) both predicts and explains the global conflict in which we are now embroiled. He divides world history into a number of distinct “ cultures/civilizations”. That’s not unique to Spengler. What is unique is the classification scheme he uses. For example, he speaks of a Magian culture and a Faustian culture.

Oswald Spengler

Jun 27, 2021

Artists

The existentialist philosopher, Martin Heidegger, defined “art” as anything that shows us something new about the world, ourselves, or our place in that world. Most of us think we gain new insights through expository prose (like mine). What a paltry palette that gives us! Sure, expository prose can teach us much…but not that much. The medium of expository language is extraordinarily limited.

Artists

Jun 15, 2021

German Philosophers

The Germans, wow! Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche, Spengler, Heidegger – each one turned philosophy and/or intellectual history on its head. (How many heads are there – apparently a lot more than we once thought.) Spengler, for instance, offers a totally novel interpretation of Western culture and world history. There are some weak points but overall it is both eye-popping and prophetic.

German Philosophers

Jun 11, 2021

Christianity

In an earlier post, we talked about the need to think ‘complementarily’ in order to understand the cosmos and our place in it. We spoke, for example, of the need to understand sub-atomic entities as both waves and particles. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, we need to think of the entire universe in such terms.

Christianity

Jun 10, 2021

Little Children

The Gospel of Matthew (18:3) quotes Jesus as saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Why not? What is it that little children have that we don’t? Turns out, little children have an ability that almost all of us have lost: the ability to hold several different, and superficially inconsistent, models of reality at the same time.

Little Children

Jun 9, 2021

Nature of Motion

Death. It is the mother of all our fears. Fear reflects our vulnerability and, ultimately, our mortality. Pain, however horrible, is ultimately bearable; death is not! And yet, no one has ever experienced death and no one ever will (the definition of death is “the absence of all experience”). What we think we know about death comes entirely from external observations of other organisms (including loved ones).

Nature of Motion

Thoughts While Shaving

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