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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Time to Set Sail! ... again

I have been contemplating a hike of sorts, perhaps a few days, or a few weeks, and with a near full moon and the desert somewhat between the hot of summer and the freeze of winter nights, I think I should set sail. A time in the wilderness sounds almost ... cozy.

"If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever."

--Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Potential revisited

The difference between a 3-month old human and ‘little apes’ is ‘potential’—what baby humans possess and what the little apes don’t. Leaving university vocabulary behind, I would say baby humans have a very advanced CPU, not simply ‘hardwired’ —- for the human brain isn’t hardwired, it is ‘fluid-wired’ with the potential to grow evermore complex, not only from generation to generation, but within the lifespan of each human brain. But that very advanced CPU has little potential without the software to drive it. As research on feral children have shown, the potential of the human brain is wasted, the ‘wild child’ advances very little beyond a very clever ‘little ape’ … alas, given a mother, that baby immediately begins to ‘download’ software to drive that CPU/brain. And a father and immediate family adds more software for the tiny brain to process and adapt to, and the neighborhood provides even more variety of ‘programming’ to the CPU to work with, yet the fledgling CPU in a baby's skull haven’t even begun to reach its potential. Ever more circles of community input more software into the tiny brain, software that becomes ‘fluidware’ that interacts with itself. Slowly from potential springs forth a mind, and even yet more potential is ever present and awaits that which will feed it. And what became of our dear ‘little apes’? I would say that they have not the ‘image of God’ as we humans have. The image of God? For those who view everything in evolutionary terms, perhaps you can think of this as that point in human evolution when humans first became self aware, when they first could think of themselves as apart from their surroundings, and therefore could make decisions for themselves, that first dawning of freewill. The Biblical genesis story paints this picture as Adam and Eve and a fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Or perhaps you could call it the tree of loss of innocence? Evolution or Biblical story, humans crossed over from being unaware of selfness to self awareness, from union with nature to apartness from nature. So, it is we humans who are created in God’s image and thereby have the potential to act like God, in that potential brings the gift of creativity, and with creativity we can experience on a minuscule scale the joy of creation.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A beautiful sunset

After the sun set and the blaze of colors disappeared, we could make out the glow above the mountains far to the southwest. The mountains are ablaze. I feel ashamed that I saw beauty in that sunset. Fire. It knows no pity. It knows only hunger. And right now it is eating an entire landscape, and wants more. From afar we watch. What else can we do?

The survival of grandmas

Bro. Clarence was musing about how evolutionists have trouble with grandmothers. As he explained, in a strict evolutionary sense, females past menopause would seem to be less valuable to the group, and with increasing age, would become a negative for group survival. So what is so valuable, in a group survival sense, about grandmothers? I came up with the idea that it is the grandmother's eyes and tongue and memory that ensures the survival of the group, in that they are the survivors of countless food gathering expeditions, they the ones that identify the good mushroom from the bad mushroom, to illustrate the obvious benefit of having a good grandma. Of course the younger females with less sharp eyes and taste and memory fall by the wayside early in life, sampling way too many bad plants. Of course the men are always suspect with some mistaking greens for reds, so they are send off hunting where such mistakes are less harmful to the group. And like a good encyclopedia of plants and herbs, grandmas are well protected and kept ever handy, for without them the next meal you eat may be your last. Bro. Juniper thought that a bit too complicated and offered that grandmothers provided grandchildren with warm love (and treats) that created a bond between the two generations that the parent's generation would surely not break.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Autumn leaves of green

In summer when we seek comfort under those trees that work mightily to deflect and reject the cool greens and stand tall with leaves shimmering with the absorbed reds and golds, yet it takes autumn for us to realize what summer held when in turn those trees of grandeur finally accept that tiny slice of the electromagnetic spectrum that we call green, hidden to our eyes dazzled by the now rejected waves of reds and golds.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How's the weather?

Could the environment shape the language shape the thoughts and I think they did, until the age of great migrations stirred things up a bit, but Kierkegaard was a product of how many gray-sky generations? And Thoreau was a newcomer to a more sunny and varied clime than that his ancestors were shaped by. And I wonder if Bro. Paul will notice that too in the folks that he meets that have been shaped by forever generations in that sunny clime of West Africa?

Does not the sun peel away the clothes and produce an extroverted people? While the forever gray skies cover one with layer upon layer and deep within this wrapping the body and the mind becomes introverted?

And we, a generation of choice, with our controlled environments, and freedom to move from clime to clime, yet hidden deep inside of each of us is that clime that shaped the countless generations of our greatest of great grandparents.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Faith and Reason. Friends or Foes?

Reason. Is it reasonable to place such great value on it? I think so. But why should I think so? Is it not but an evolutionary formed pattern of brain cells that the human mind found more desirable in order that puny long-limbed and clumsy creatures could organize in groups for protection from the more wily beasts that could and still do make easy meals of solitary humans? Sounds reasonable to me. And me, spending many hours each day talking to the Creator of the universe, is that reasonable? I dare say I know how most will answer. But for me, it is as reasonable as the tiger catching sight of you and quickly making a meal of you. You might think of it as an innate drive in me, one that some would sooner wish to quell with reason than allow to have its way. For me, I let it have its way. And freer I feel I am, when reason reluctantly yields, to the One that gave it will.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Meditations on a Korean celadon vase

The formless lump of clay that finds itself atop a spinning world, a spinning world that does give it symmetry, but from the bottom up, the guiding pressure of the potter's hands lifts this lump of primal ooze up and into a celadon vase of a thousand cranes, a thousand cranes awaiting to burst free from their earthen home to fly away in a thousand different ways.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Muddled?

This morning at break fast Bro. Sedwick said that my writing in recent days seems rather muddled. Bro. Juniper interjected a hasty "yes indeed" while Bro. Clarence simply smiled as he passed me some fried tofu. Muddled? You think so?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Riding the arrowhead of time

As far as I'm concerned, we God-created evolving humans are riding this arrow of time, we at the arrowhead with the future rushing toward us like a desert zephyr, yet still the most tinniest speck of time is all that we know, but behind are sands and rocks and mountains of time past. Still, we are the culmination of the past, all the past that evolution attempts to describe the building of, and what is it that we must carry on? Carry on to a distant future? A future that will find the children of ten thousand generations of our great grandchildren -- they -- they then will be riding that arrowhead, and they will carry that riddle that must never be lost. The riddle of the ultimate why. Why life? Why are we here? For what purpose and point? For if this quest for answers is tossed aside as being pointless, then will all those past evolutionary forces that produced within us a questing will to seek the unknown be all for naught?

Today's meditation

"When we seek goodness and sanctity, we defy nature."
--David Gelernter

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Just a thought

Perhaps what we call free will is how intelligence attempts to deal with chance. In all other life forms chance is an intruder that has its own way, whereas in humans, we have the potential to direct chance with free will.

Monday, October 08, 2007

When one can't get past the first sentence

In discussions with atheists, or those who believe that God or Creator or Designer does not and never existed, I don't think I've ever "preached" beyond Genesis 1:1, but I have spoken about humankind and their organizational skills, of which Paul of Tarsus was skilled indeed. But all beyond Genesis 1:1 is for another post, so for me the genesis question, or the prior Big Bang question is what needs to be answered before one can say life has ultimate value (even if that value is unknown to us) or not. I say that if God/Creator/Designer exists then some ultimate value "is there" for us to seek, whereas if "Nothing" is what made all this happen, and "Nothing" is exactly that, nothing, and cosmos evolution came about by various interactions of "laws" that simply were, and further along the evolution that Darwin discovered continued the process of interactions, and that nothing ever caused it to begin, that nothing interacts with the laws and the matter besides the laws and the matter, then I see no ultimate value in life, safe for what we with minds to observe it can create. If we are the only minds (that we know of), then we are the gods, we are the ones that create values, create purpose, or not. And as I imagine it, then we spend our time alive in the way we think works for us, but when we die, then we are no more. And every thought and memory will disappear into nothingness, save for the very simplistic memories of the still living of that person who is now nothingness. I say simplistic memories because I think no two persons can ever know the depths of the mind of the other except for short moments of "ah ha! I know exactly how you feel" But saying all that, I believe that if one cannot get beyond Genesis 1:1, then the rest of the story holds not much meaning, for the foundation is missing. And finally, I have no doubt that many who don't get beyond Genesis 1:1 celebrate life in various manners (and have fun doing it), for life can be so interesting, if one comes to it with a questing mind. But if we find ourselves here "just because", and in spite of that, we go ahead and marvel in wonder of it all, then my mind cannot help but recoil, for purpose too would be as dead a word that humans' ever came up with.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Imagining gone awry?

Oh, I imagine that if I believed that God did not exist, and that this ALL is just just, and is is, and beyond that is nothing and once one takes one's last breath, then for that being all is nothing, if I believed in no Creator, and I found myself here, now, and infinite nothingness for my being once I die a physical death, then I suppose I would either busy myself with "whatever" that would keep me distracted and comfortable, or I would attempt to prolong life as long as possible, and if life was created by chance and happenstance, then I suppose my mind would think that if we could only break life down to the most common denominators, and then reconstruct life without evolution-defined limits, so that a human mind could live on indefinitely, with of course all sorts of cell manipulation and creation of not only limb and organ space parts, but space parts in the micro realm of the human body. Yes, that would be the only quest, and it seems to be the current unspoken quest of science, to make what evolution created and transform and make it "better." But of course I don't believe in life as chance and happenstance. But then that's another story.

The religion of science

And will we celebrate that day, that day when science has made fact each and ever material bit and piece of the human brain to expose the mind for what they announce it is? When the computer that they unveil can replicate any and every though, impulse, wonder of the evolution created computer? When scientist can tweak the program this way or that way and dazzle the audience with oh so human feelings spoken with a very perfected simulation of a warm and caring human voice -- when it is all exposed, when it is all accounted for, when it is all a matter of matter, then will we be happy?