I know it’s been quite a while since I posted anything new here. Part of the problem has been that I have been overcome the last month or so with a powerful sense of lethargy. The lethargy I think, is a result of the fact that it has been quite hot here and I do not deal well with the heat. Fortunately, the heat is subsiding and it appears that Fall weather will be here any day now.
The main reason for the inactivity has been that I have been overwhelmed with ideas for posts on this blog. I have had so many posts running through my head the last six weeks or so that it has been really hard for me to decide where to go next. When I get that way, which happens every once in a while, I go into a mental shell and procrastinate and procrastinate and procrastinate, until I can kick myself into gear and get to work. I gave myself a good kick this morning, so let’s see where that takes me
I have come to the realization that I need to spend a fair amount of time and posts dealing with, for the lack of a better word, metaphysical assumptions from which I work. I don’t think everyone who reads this blog works from the same assumptions, so I need to lay out exactly what it is I use as the building blocks for my thinking. I warn you, this might get a little strange. There is some who think I am certifiably insane, but then aren’t we all? Sanity is not an absolute truth. It is relative to the time and place of the person making that judgment. One man’s insanity is another man’s genius. No, I am not implying that I am a genius. I am saying that we all need to be more open-minded about who is insane and who is not.
That is the issue that this post will deal with (my apologies to all English teachers about the dangling preposition, but that’s how I talk. This blog is not intended only for intellectuals. It is intended to be read by people in general. Therefore, I feel no need to show off my airs in diction just to impress people. Suffice it to say I do know the rules of English grammar and I do know a lot of big fancy words that I could be using but choose not to.)
As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction, whether literature, movies, or games. My favorite games are those based on the rules of Dungeons & Dragons, a game I started playing the pen and paper version back in the late 60s. I now play digital versions, especially Neverwinter Nights, which is set in the D&D Forgotten Realms universe. I am also a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien. I often dream of moving to New Zealand because, for me, that is Middle Earth. If you have not seen or are not familiar with the movies based on Tolkien’s novels, they were filmed in New Zealand and some of the sites they built still exist, as far as I know. I would love to live under the Lonely Mountain. After all, I am a dwarf, at least spiritually although I do have normal legs :-).
One of my major objections to fundamentalist thinking is that fundamentalists believe, although they will claim they know, that what we call reality has actual existence and that our concepts (language) is a true representation of what really exists. Some fundamentalists have even gone as far as developing so-called “proofs” for the existence of God. To me, trying to prove the existence of God is the height of arrogance. But then, we humans are notoriously arrogant.
Why do I say proving the existence of God is the height of arrogance? God, by definition, is infinite. That means God has no limits, no boundaries, and therefore exists outside of space and time. Humans, on the other hand are finite. We exist in space and time. We have limits. We have boundaries.
The question then becomes, “How the hell can something finite prove in any scientific manner the existence of something that is infinite?” You would think by this time that most, if not all humans have some familiarity with Einstein’s theory of relativity. Einstein’s theory says that everything in the universe that humans perceive is relative to the space and time in which we humans exist. Science fiction authors have used that theory of relativity to create novels about people who travel through space at the speed of light or faster and therefore can move through time without agent. Think Star Trek. Think the novels of Robert Heinlein. Somehow, fundamentalists missed the class in high school where the teachers discussed the theory of relativity. Either that, or they went to some really fundamentalist high school that does not teach evolution or relativity. In fact, the only science some of those schools teach is what is in the Bible.
People forget that the Bible was written by humans. These humans may or may not (the point is arguable) been divinely inspired. Be that as it may, everything that goes into a human’s brain is interpreted in light of what that human knows or thinks he knows. The Old Testament dates back thousands of years. The New Testament is roughly 2,000 years old. The science of the times when the Bible was written did not recognize the theory of relativity or the theory of evolution, for that matter. We cannot expect Moses to have written the book of Genesis using evolutionary theory. Whatever Moses was trained to be growing up as an Egyptian, it certainly did not include modern science. Therefore, he wrote the book of Genesis based on the assumptions and theories and beliefs he learned growing up. That is why the fundamentalist argument that the Bible should be taken literally is a crock full of horse manure. The Bible has to be understood in the context of where we are in space and time. Where we are is not the same as where Moses was 5,000 years ago or where the apostle Paul was 2,000 years ago or John the evangelist wise almost 2,000 years ago.
What this means is that our understanding of reality is very different from the understanding of reality that the Biblical authors had. We need to keep that in mind when we read the Bible and we need to interpret what those authors said way back then in light of our own reality. That is what perspective is all about.
Fantasy is understood by most people as the opposite of reality. Reality exists. Fantasy does not. That is the fundamentalist way of thinking. I suggest we need to be a lot more open-minded about the distinction between fantasy and reality. The Matrix movie franchise explores this idea quite nicely. If you have not seen at least the first in the franchise, I highly recommend you watch it. It might actually open up a few doors of perception for you.
So, what if what we call reality is really a species wide fantasy? What if we are deluded about what reality is? I’m not saying that reality is fantasy, but I’m also not saying that it isn’t. What I’m saying is that the fundamentalists, most religious and those that are scientific positivists, need to open their minds to such a possibility.
What if what we call reality is really nothing more than the creation of the collective consciousness of all humanity past and present and future? Emile Durkheim wrote a wonderful book, The Elementary Forums of the Religious Life, where he discusses the idea that there is such a thing as a collective consciousness and that this collective consciousness is what we Christians call God. If that is the case, and I certainly think it’s within the realm of possibility, then what we believe God to be, some incredible supernatural being that exists separate from humanity, does not exist. I’m not saying I believe this to be true nor am I saying it is untrue. What I am saying is that there is no way for us to know one way or the other. We can only believe in one way or the other.
Belief is not knowledge. Knowledge is based on empirical evidence, that is things we can see, hear, taste, smell, or touch. Belief is based often on things we cannot experience with our five senses. Knowledge is episteme. This knowledge is passed on through various traditions. This knowledge is what we learned in school and from “scientific” books. Belief is gnosis: revealed knowledge.
A hypothetical situation: someone you know claims that they talk to God and that they are the most recent messenger from God, the most recent prophet. What do you think society would do with that person? Well, one of my favorite rock musicians from the late 60s claimed he talked to God. He ended up being committed to a mental institution and underwent electroshock therapy. If Jesus Christ were to come back today, chances are damn good he would end up in a mental institution and perhaps also undergo electroshock therapy. Why is that?
That is because the religious establishment (Orthodox Christianity) decreed a long time ago that the possibility of new revealed knowledge no longer existed. That is why the Gnostics were branded as heretics through the centuries and why they still are. Addressing this issue is what this blog is all about. In future posts I intend to expand on the ideas expressed here. What I wanted to do here is open your minds to the possibility that perceptions, fantasy, and reality are all linked together and even perhaps the same thing.
Until next time, peace!