Thursday, September 30, 2010

God vs. Evolution. Why Argue?

Seeing the issue of God and Evolution in mutually antithetical and opposing camps seems shortsighted for both camps.The problem is when one camp makes absolute statements about the falacies of the other. Both faith and the scientific method fall short in certian areas involving the ultimate questions of human knowledge. My stance is somewhat oblique in that it does not pit one idea against the other as antagonistic approaches to the question. I put both together on a mosaic w/ complex interfacing joints. Why choose between God or evolution? They are both part of the stream of human creativity. Why frame questions of faith and science as opposite weights on the scale? Both are evident and verifiable as part of human experience. Faith and religion exist; there is a long record of this fact. Evolution also exists as a modern development in human thought. On one hand, if we approach the question of God's existence by exacting the pure scientific method, basing our conclusions on empirical facts, we can no more preclude or include God in the great cosmological design. It is an act of faith that posits God as the creator of the world and the heavens; On the other hand, Darwin himself knew of the profound implications of his theory, but he never spoke or wrote definitively that his work necessarily inferred the death of god either. Evolution attempts to explain the phenomena of mutational change over time; it does not attempt, per se, to disprove the existence of God.

It is a strange and somewhat novel approach to the religion/evolution question I am posing here. What I mean to suggest is that the notion, the idea, the concept of "God" as it developed in the human narrative, and in the actual anatomic development of the human brain, is indeed part of the evolutionary process itself. Religion, and the notion of "God" for all their ills and iniquities -and great benefits- was a crucial development in the survival strategy of the species Homo sapiens.

In other words, evolution contains and explains the notion of "God" and religion. God and religion, however, cannot contain, nor can it explain evolution. Where in the Bible or Koran, or any religious text for that matter, does the idea of slow adaptation explain how species change in small increments over time? Can Lao Tzu explain the eons of time found in the geologic record of rocks ? As we further understand the power of evolutionary thought, we will come to accept that God and religion, though seemingly antithetical to evolution, are crucial developments, just as opposible thumbs, and the development of language were to species survival. Still, having said all this, the notion of a God should always remain an open question.The enemy is the absolutism that structures some faiths and some scientific gospels alike. They need not fix themselves at opposing ends of the question.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On The Problem Of Language

Maybe we put too much emphasis on the phenomena of language as the only facilitator of meaningful thought. As crucial a development as language has been, it seems that wordless thought has been held captive by millennia of this arbitrary creation.Can you think without that silent voice streaming in your head? We who now communicate our minds out loud to one another in spoken words are the descendants of distant ancestors who did not do this. They could contemplate in solitude with unencumbered, wordless thought. What must this have been like? Has this languageless mind been disremembered somewhere back along our evolutionary path? Is this why the saints and mystics try to bring us back there by contemplating our own breathing and stilling the relentless stream of internal talking? Have they remembered what common folk have forgotten? OOOOooooohhmmmmmm.

Imagine what thought forms went through our ancestors brains before the invention of language? It was an astonishing stroke of fortuitous luck that the human animal became aware of its own anatomical capacity to fashion various sounds that could symbolize coherent internal thoughts that could then be audibly transferred from mind to mind.

But however marvelous it is, it is often left wanting; often too blunt an instrument to articulate the finest filigree of nuanced thought or feeling. How can we possibly relate the strange emotional surrounds in certain dreams for example? How can questions on the absolute existence or non existence of God ever be reconciled by spoken or written word? It seems that a pruden standing down is what's needed here with the ultimate questions irreducible to language; or at least admitting to its limits. Maybe wordless thought should be reinstated in the human condition when it comes to the infinitely mysterious questions.

Perhaps a definition of being human is the drive to reach. Reach like the lemurs and gibbons in the primeval forests. To reach limb to moss covered limb higher into the crowns is to be human. This is why we speak to each other. We reached out and higher up figuratively after millions of years of reaching out physically alone. We reached out of the silence and solitude of individual existence to form sounds that would come to song and poetry one day. In this way our individual loneliness was lifted a little.

But still, striving as we must, we put too much stock in the efficacy of language to figure out all the mysteries that thought contemplates. After written language became an established form in human intercourse, we came to save all these writings in great accumulating records called Bibles, Philosophical Discourses, Text Books, Qurans, Homeric Epics and such. And in time these writings became immutable truths steeped in time, unquestioned and inviolable. This time honored homage seems to me to be one of the fundamental problems in human conflict.

How can any language, spoken or written, regardless of its apparent logic, poetry or practical purpose, presume to conjugate in absolute terms, the existence or not of so profound a concept as God? It is supremely fatuous at best to even think that this is possible. Yet, this has been attempted for millennia without any definite answers and much strife and struggle for the competing versions of such ineffable questions. Perhaps in these areas the inner sanctum must remain alone in the realms of language less thought.

As positive and progressive a force language has been, it cannot and should not be depended upon to render the answers to these muses in any final form. Neither the majesties of song and poetry fable and parable in the verses of the Quran or the Bible and Torah should lead us to any final terminus on the existence or not of God. Nor should the beauties and power of an exquisite scientific theorem be expected to deduce the ultimate answers to first cause. Both of these majesties can only speak to us in a form of self realized narcissism, of the beauty and power of human creation.

Listen to Bach or Handel or Mozart- whale song, the cry of the loon, so human an expression on the stone face of the Pieta' and speak or write not of origins and universal causes then. Let the internal language stop and maybe it is the God force within that is trying to come through in the form of languageless thought.