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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knocking on the noggin

Natural law germinated and grew inside the noggins of humans, and without humans, would vanish. Religion and philosophy have been the keepers of natural law, adding and subtracting as time and place and circumstance and wisdom dictate, even projecting what is inside the head, thoughts, onto the outside world, as natural. Of course with noggins that are free of innate direction, each newborn brain/mind is shaped by the entire life experience of humankind, and too, is free to further reshape itself into uniqueness -- as well, free to not reshape itself.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The paths of life

The path of nature can teach one truth and false, but the path of the human mind can teach one good and bad through the discernment of truth and false. Good and bad are absent in nature, a concept that dwells only in the minds of humans. 
----
Two things fill my mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe: the starry skies above me and the moral law within me.  
-- Immanuel Kant

Monday, November 16, 2009

Author, Finger, Imagination, Almost, and Huh?

"The vastness, beauty, orderliness of heavenly bodies; the excellent structure of animals and plants; and other phenomena of nature justly induce an intelligent, unprejudiced observer to conclude a supreme, powerful, just, and good author."
--Robert Boyle


"The book of nature which we have to read is written by the finger of God."
--Michael Faraday


“When I worked on the polio vaccine, I had a theory. I guided each [experiment] by imagining myself in the phenomenon in which I was interested. The intuitive realm . . . the realm of the imagination guides my thinking.”
--Jonas Salk


 "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going."
--Francis Crick

“Science is wonderfully equipped to answer the question "How?" but it gets terribly confused when you ask the question "Why?""
-- Erwin Chargaff

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Do you see what I see

The human eyes and brain are wonderfully adapted to pattern recognition, one of the greatest survival tools of our ancient ancestors, quickly recognizing friend from foe, danger from safety, with but a minimal amount of visual input. But of course this 'quick and dirty' pattern recognition also provides for endless fun in seeing images in clouds, or the VIrgin Mary in the stains on a wall. But not to dismiss these fun images, for they do have importance, somewhat like dreams, they reveal what is of great import to ourselves. So I think of it as the outside world enters through the eyes, yet these perceived images are the mind exiting the eyes and creating Jesus on the wood grain of a door or a swirl of DNA in a ring nebula!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Imagine, a story

Ima was in her room, forbidden to go out doors to play with the other children, Rea and Int were strict parents, wanting only the best for Ima, so they knew best and Ima was homebound. Daily Ima peeked out the windows, in secret, while mother and father endlessly praised all the joys that the house held, on the mantel were knowledge and fact, each polished daily by Rea, it was almost a ritual. But one day Ima became ill, and the parents wondered why, of course they couldn't imagine why, for Reason and Intellect forbade Imagination, and of course, she soon died.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Imagine

Once the human mind arrived upon the scene, heaven and earth shrank to make room for imagination.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Starry Night


I've always viewed Starry Night with joy and excitement, never as disturbing or terrifying, for the painting combines the night sky out there with the night sky in here (mind). The feelings of excitement of say a Hubble photograph sometime cannot be seen in the photograph alone (one often adds words and statistics to create the excitement, of course an image in hand of countless galaxies as tiny swirls needs the added knowledge that in fact these tiny swirls are say, 100,000 light years across in diameter, or 587,862,537,318,360,800 mile across). So I think that is when artists are at their best, when they can take that excitement that dwells in the mind and add it to the images on the canvas, and so van Gogh's night sky swirls with excitement -- without a fact or statistic needed.

Addendum
I also see the 'dualing' images 'pointing' to the heavens, the 'natural' cypress and the 'symbolic' church steeple, and too, some speculate this connection to Joseph in Genesis 37:9

"And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me."

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sometimes

Sometimes I know what I know and other times I know what I don't know and frequently I don't know what I know and more often than not I don't know what I don't know.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trees, forests, and sounds

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" But of course it produces what we call sound waves, but then we normally think of sound as being a tango between two, that which produces sound waves and that which can sense and make sense of the produced waves. Our brains can make sense of the sound of the tree falling via the ears, as well a tape recorder in the forest could record the sound waves, yet the making sense of the sensed sound waves needs an intelligence, and that being the brain that listens via the ears to the tape recording of the sound waves that the fallen tree produced. But without any sensors to translate the waves into 'sounds', then I'm afraid the tree falling in the forest will produce only waves that are not sensed -- a solo tango-ist. Surely the waves from the fallen tree existed, but did 'sound' too exist? Or, as George Berkeley said, "Esse est percipi" -- to be is to be perceived.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The nature of nature

Nature as evidenced by our ongoing understanding of evolution is a forever progression of change, neither good nor bad, neither progression nor recession, yet always locked in time and space, its playground. We of minds have two choices, be children of nature or be children of thought. Most chose the mind (usually by the default of evolution and tradition), and so construct sense from a surrounding nature that knows not sense. Good/bad now can become real in the mind(s) of humans, this and other concepts are constructed within, yet not found without. Nature ignorant of such non-material matters, matters that only reside within skulls, and as far as we know, found nowhere in that night sky, nor anywhere among those fuzzy yet colorful blotches populating each of those amazing Hubble snapshots. But in the end, amazing to us only, for nature is dumb to it all.
 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vexing words

With hammer in one hand and tongs in the other, gripping another vexing word, another of those misformed words that needs but the smite of my hammer to enform it to its should be shape, and smite I do, and to my amazement that thought to be iron-like word, that word that in my mind had but one shape, yielded to my smite, not like red-hot iron, but like clay, willing, if not eager, to mold to my mind, or to any mind, and assume a new guise, for that was its soul, to mean whatever like-minded minds wanted it to mean, and always ready to change, from this to that, and not from hammer beats, but from minds, minds that are ever reshaping the world, with its words.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Nature of Art

I find both these artists of extreme interest, both are not only inspired by nature, but use the stuff of nature to 'construct' their work, and the results are what I'd call meditations on beauty that provoke the mind to pay attention! What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Nils-Udo





Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Books, Honey, and We

I love the feel of a 'real' book, especially those printed before 1950 or so, those printed with 'hot type' where real lead type 'kisses' the ink to real paper pages, and if you look closely, those lead 'kisses' left behind a slight impression on each page. All this tactile pleasure I think is similar to a Jewish tradition of when a young child is first introduced to the Bible, a drop of honey is placed on the first page of the Torah, then the teacher or parent tells the child to lick the honey from the page, and forever more in the memory is the sensation that God's 'Word' is sweet.

And now we have come to a time when traditional paper and ink books are being replaced by electronic books. Even though I decry that time when traditional books will be no more, I have to admit that perhaps I'm not seeing the bigger picture, the bigger picture of what exactly is a book?

I think as we humans evolved, we more and more created things that became extensions of our senses, such as telescopes and microscopes to extend the range of our eyes, or every sort of audio device to gather and funnel every sort of sound wave to fit into our ears. And so books too extend our memory by solidifying thoughts by using a progression of symbols that the last of which are the printed words on paper. Yet perhaps the electronic page is a giant leap forward in that thoughts are not only solidified, but like the mind, are searchable. Ink on paper symbols need to be searched by the eyes in a very linear fashion, whereas electronic 'words' can be searched by the CPU, the 'brain' of the computer, in the blink of an eye.

Yet I find all of this so ironic, it is as though we have evolved over countless time with a very simple goal, that of recreating what is already here -- We.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Angels

An angel can illuminate the thought and mind of man by strengthening the power of vision.
--Thomas Aquinas

I would think angels are all about imagination, and so again the mind can take in the entire universe and still have room to create another, and another...

Monday, August 17, 2009

To Dis Appear

We of life, the living atop the evolutionary creative mechanism, humans, with minds that can create the universe within our many skulls, create a collectively unique universe, each mind similar enough in matter and design, design by what we call evolution, similar in sensors, in scale, so that we can collectively experience similar views, views constructed in our many minds, yet the constructed universe (the all) that is in our skulls is ours, and ours alone. This uniquely constructed universe in our minds exists only in our minds, in our collective human minds, for without a human mind (and all those brain/minds that are evolutionary less developed than humans, for they too view this universe in our uniquely mind-constructed way), this universe that we think we know would disappear -- vanish when the last mind is no more. Oh yes, you may think that time and matter and atoms and stars and galaxies will still exist, but certainly not in the way that our uniquely evolved sensors and minds have created them to appear.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Maybe this, maybe that

"Life in Universe - rare or unique? I walk both sides of that street. One day I can say that given the 100 billion stars in our galaxy and the 100 billion or more galaxies, there have to be some planets that formed and evolved in ways very, very like the Earth has, and so would contain microbial life at least. There are other days when I say that the anthropic principal, which makes this universe a special one out of an uncountably large number of universes, may not apply only to that aspect of nature we define in the realm of physics, but may extend to chemistry and biology. In that case life on Earth could be entirely unique."

--Carl Woese, Microbiologist

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Our Unique Universe

And without the "I" all the other ceases to exist in the unique human brain/mind way, for no other life form has the exact same sensors as well as the unique way that humans unscramble the sensor data and reconstructing it "ALL" in the brain and thereby allowing the mind to take a stab at making sense of it all. And the sense it does make, is a unique sense, unique to how the human brain evolved and how it gave up much of the innate for the malleable, an infant brain "needs" to be shaped, shaped from the inside as well as the "outside" -- by the collective history of the entire universe.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Musing on a hot summer day

I imagine that when the human brain evolved into a mind that could understand "love," "graciousness," and "justices" (and project those attributes onto a Creator that they could now think the originator of these positive attributes), this "new creature" observed and reasoned and also came to understand "jealousy," "anger," "hate," and "violence" and further understood that some attributes are positive to peace and tranquility, while others are negative. From all that came a new concept called values -- agreed upon positive behavior that could provide the most peace and tranquility to the most folks. A new tool -- common values -- allowed humans to move from the natural to the artificial with a degree of peace and tranquility, even when living in the most unnatural of settings, towns and cities.

Monday, July 20, 2009

YHWH

Physicists come up with words like, 'quark' (lifted from James Joyce) or 'charm' or 'up' or 'down' while theologians come up with words like tetragrammaton. That for how the Hebrew scribes penned the 'unpennable' or the 'unspeakable': YHWH. Four Hebrew consonants, and the 'missing' vowels. Without the 'missing' vowels, the 'word' is unpronounceable, or more likely, not to be uttered by humans. Even the modern-day Hebrew scribe writes in English: G-D. Yet most do utter YHWH, guessing with Yahweh and even further guessing at the unknown vowels and coming up with Yehovah or Jehovah. It is as though the original Hebrew scribes captured in writing the essence of the mystery of what most today, cannot imagine. For we simply utter God, or god, without a thought to the sacredness of our utterance.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nature proclaiming

There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls into the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and the mercy of God to the whole world.

--Thomas Merton (1915 - 1968)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Hmmm, and what would Michael Jackson say?

Well, he did say a few things.

“In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.”

“The meaning of life is contained in every single expression of life. It is present in the infinity of forms and phenomena that exist in all of creation.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just musing

I think that humans discover, assemble, or create in the limited sense that they assemble the tinker toys (as Chet Raymo has referred to all the stuff the universe is made of, the building block elements) in new and unique ways. All of God's tinker toys were here way before 5 billion years ago, all with their 'built-in' potential, potential to assemble and make more complex stuff, that which too with potential for ever increasing complexity. So do humans really create? Perhaps in a limited sense, for without the Tinker Toy set, humans are without. Are physics and mathematics creations of humans? Is the ability of a life form to think abstractly when seeing 4 objects, then looking at the hand and holding 4 fingers up, and understanding that apart from objects and fingers, 'four' is something unto itself. Living in a world full of discrete objects, being able to group similar objects and using an abstract idea (numbers) to hold/memorize a particular 'group' would have great evolutionary advantage to that creature that discovers this 'trick' -- a trick that resides only in the brain/mind.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Human architecture - Part IV

A free will thought

In the pre-quantum, pre-chaos theory world of Pierre-Simon Laplace, he defended causal determinism with, "We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes."

I think the word 'free will' is such a general term, the ability to make a choice, think, act voluntarily without outside coercion or pressure -- it begs for a playing field to play upon. And so that is what we consciously (or unconsciously) do, we construct playing fields to fit how we are using (or understanding the use of) the term. The super intellect in Laplace's quote would have the broadest playing field for free will to play upon, and so, free will would be lost in the observation of the every cause and effect that lead to the 'free will' act.

I can imagine a spectator in the stands watching a baseball game, with full view of the play action, this spectator would have a great view and understanding of the complete game. Yet say a TV spectator is watching the same game, and say the camera is fixed upon the pitcher the entire game! What an entirely different understanding of the game this viewer would have.

We are living a TV view of reality, and our brain/mind can but gather a 'sample' of this reality, yet using this sample, it 'reconstructs' all the missing data. In this reconstructed world, I think we do have free will. It is real to the world we live in. Of course if we ever evolve to become like Laplace's super intellect, then we will have to deconstruct and rewrite this story.

Human architecture - Part III

Thought 1 (rethinking a previous thought)

I view all life infused, if you will, with potential, much of the inorganic too is infused with potential, potential in that elements can and will combine to create compounds, in physics scientist postulate that fundamental matter particles (quarks) combine to create protons, neutrons and hadrons. This 'potential' seems to be the given in the cosmos, we don't see a Big Bang exploding with a bunch of 'somethings' that forever remain separate 'somethings', but we do see a bunch of 'somethings' interacting, combining, mutating, structuring, building upon one another to create new 'somethings' that never existed before (or so we think). Darwinian evolution is all about potential. Life is all about potential. When you awake in the morning, once you open your eyes the world bursts forth with potential. Potential for what? Perhaps only our imagination can tell us that. To imagine what does not exist as if it did exist and further to exploit potential to make that imagination a reality, what do we call that? Creation?

Thought 2 (a new thought)

Perhaps 'God' is thoughtless? Of course most humans hold tight to the matter of 'thought' as if it were the nature of that which some call 'God' -- yet we are allowed to imagine -- and that in turn makes constructs within the brain -- in that something called mind -- and as every maker of things knows, the construction is normally limited by the tools and material at hand, so in our human minds we construct anthropomorphic imaginations of even that which we acknowledge is beyond the everyday stuff of the universe that we dwell within.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Human architecture - Part II

We are star dust

Carbon atoms, we are, originally from stars, exploding stars, carbon star dust, the building blocks of our every cell, the matter that makes us something, visible and touchable, the matter that most think matters.

But a thought is a matterless matter that 'real' matter fails to grasp, yet all around, the entire universe, the mundane of sameness -- sameness in all carbon atoms, one at the far-end of the universe and another in the cell of your fingertip -- mundane of sameness abounds, yet again, each of us that live, hold matterless matters within our skulls, bony carbon shells to protect the less (our existing right-now self awareness) from the more (the boundless universe of atoms and stuff).

Friday, May 01, 2009

Teeter-Tottering

Just as "God did it" is a closed door to deeper investigation, "I don't know" is a closed door to human imagination, yet "I wonder" opens all the doors, if one indeed is open to opening that which, when closed, provides so much superficial comfort.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Human architecture - Part I

"Miracles can be explained."

And yes, my fingers are right now tapping on a keyboard and how many 'things' are going on, from my mind to brain to my 'nervous system' that 'makes' my fingers tap the 'correct' keys, and then the human invention that I am tapping on, the keyboard, and tapping what? Oh yes, letters and words and sentences -- thoughts. All too miraculous these symbols/codes that other humans are able to decipher, to recognize, to assemble and reform a semblance of my thoughts in their minds. And each step of the way -- how many steps? -- science could explain most of those steps, I believe. But many steps are still out of reach of today's science, understanding not yet understood. And understood? All the understanding is ours, created by us, within this human package that we find ourselves dwelling within. Of course an understood miracle was at one time a not understood miracle. In both cases, the 'miracle' is independent of understanding or not understanding. Understanding is just a nice 'gift' that 'nature' cares not about, or I should say, nature -- the physical world -- is ignorant of. For as far as we know, we are the only ones with the wherewithal to organize our sense data and recreate a semblance of the physical world within our skulls and to ponder and muse about it as well as wonder how we fit within this world and too, even imagine a different world. I like to think that this is what Genesis 1:27 means by "So God created man in his own image..." -- God muses and so we too.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Desert Ramblings with a pipe of peace




We humans communicate with symbols, spoken symbols, symbols written. As in the Rene Magritte painting, "The Treachery of Images" -- the words in French translated: "This is not a pipe." We could say this symbol is once removed. A realistic depiction of a smoking pipe, no abstractions involved, so this painting symbolizes a "real" smoking pipe. Of course an abstract image could be said to be twice (and more) removed from the "actual" -- the material. And Magritte plays a double trick, he paints the realistic image of the smoking pipe, with the symbolism of a painted image, and then uses the "words" below it to announce to the viewer that this "pipe" is not a "real" pipe. And the viewer reads the symbols of the alphabet that combines unique individual symbols (letters) to create yet a far more complex symbol (a word) and further by combining these complex units of symbols (words) Magritte (and all writers) create a sentence, a complete thought. And where am I going with all this? Of course, to pronounce that we humans are creatures of symbols, and so too are our stories, even the one about "In the beginning ..." this "God" created everything (everything in the world we find ourselves dwelling within) and because this ... this ... this un-nameable something ... this something that we can only communicate about to one another with our human symbols when written spell "GOD" and what else? How does one attempt to speak of the ... the the? With the only thing we symbolic-communicating creatures have, our vocabulary of our self. And we speak of "the the" in anthropomorphic terms, the only ones that our symbolic-communicating minds can grasp in a storytelling sort of way. Otherwise, if we cannot accept this, this symbolic communication, then we cannot speak, and just shrug our shoulders, and then in dumbness touch only that which is touchable.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

God's architecture - Part IX

"Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more seriously reflection concentrates upon them: the starry heaven above me and the moral law within me." -- Immanuel Kant

Does it all come down to 'it all depends upon the mind that is mining'? The miner picks at the mound and the mining shapes the outcome, creating a void that the miner perceives as the reality, a reality created inside the miner's mind?

Okay, I was taking a bit of poetic license on how Kant showed how the human mind is an active player in the 'construction' of reality. I use the example of the candle, at arms length, burning, and yes the photons from the flame strike the retina and all the rest that takes place inside the eyeball and where the 'photograph' is 'coded' and this electro-chemical coded message takes flight through the optic nerve and arrives and is translated in the brain as a dancing flame, then the mind takes that interior dancing flame from the mush of gray matter and projects it at arm's length in front of your nose, and the flame you think you see before your nose is actually the 'projected flames' dancing perhaps a nanosecond in time behind the actual dancing flame before your nose. Then the mind makes you think the projected flame and the actual flame are one and the same. Yet the 'real' flame, or I should say, the flame you think you see, is actually an imaginary flame hidden in the darkness in the center of your skull, a flame without a photon, without light, without matter.