Last week, Aunty mused about how Early Man, cave dwelling Homo Sapiens, all seemed to "know" that thar's an infinite realm beyond what he could touch. A simple reflection on Cave Dwellers' art and funeral rituals prompts big questions--How did Homo Sapien even git the idea of eternity in his haid? All life struggles to survive--worms to wooly mammoths--but all die. Rocks and sand doan die, but all that wuz animated died. Only Man has the idea that some form of his being will survive death. Can we think the concept of eternity sprang from some observable phenomenon?
"How could it
be possible that we were only natural creatures, but that nature was
felt to be insufficient for our needs? Either nature must be in some
(old-fashioned) sense evil, or we have misconstrued our needs." (Adam
Phillips, Darwin's Worms).
How did hope and
expectation of an after-life germinate in the mind the Primitive Man?
What gave rise to religion in the first place? Why din't Cro-Magnon
jes' stick to science, that is, the observable reality?
Because man was
inspired to "know" eternity. Inspire--the literal meaning from
the root is "to breathe life into" Pneuma, breath, Spirit. "Then the
LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."
(Genesis 2:7) (yes, Aunty is fine wif' idea that this is poetic
language, though I ain't bothered by an actual Heavenly Breath)
this Lenten season I thought it might be fun to share some of the
readin' I'se doin' on the near truce thas' bein' formed a'tween science
As science soars into outer regions of the
"known"--a star hopping seeker who fantasizes about riding light saber highways into unknown galaxies--- to uncover relic radiation (leftover
from the Big Bang)*, or, quantum this an' that, the billion pathways of
Man's own mind is the inner frontier.
Y'all know that we still doan know
exactly how a thought is thunk? Why does this thought occur from that stimulus? Is it all jes' chemical? How did a primitive Sapien git the idea of a wheel in action?
two people look at the same ONE item in an otherwise stripped room,
they have different thoughts, but we ain't sure why. The association
each makes when viewing the same stimulus ain't identical, an' leads to
different thoughts. On account of that quirky truth, it is possible fer
many new ideas (in many brains) to suggest new lines of inquiry that arise from one stimulus...in
short, it can be said that the possibilities are infinite, not
limited to some uniformity of response. Two Nobel scientists examine the
same data, but may arrive at two very diverse inspirations for a future
exploration of the edge of the world we know.
am reminded of the quip about why God created so many kinds of
butterflies when one wuz enough to pollinate plants. Why? Because He wuz
havin' such a delightful time creating the beauties! For the sheer joy
of it, thas' why--not because it wuz needful, but JOYful. Or, because
He could, thas' why--He could make a world whar' beauty fer the sake of
beauty wuz reason (if you must have a reason) enough.
like manner, it seems, He endowed Man wif' innumerable neurons,
synapses, an' all manner of inner possibilities whar' no two
inspirations need be the same--fer the sheer joy of our individuality.
Some will paint, or sing, or invent, or dance, or write, or hypothesize, or explore.
However, the mechanics of inspiration is still unknown, otherwise the
Lefties woulda inspired us all right now into their planned Noosphere.
Man jes' HAS to know--his curiosity becomes passion,
an' next thang ya' know, Hubble constructs the mighty spyin' eye on the cosmos--because?
Because somethin' is out thar'. Because we'uns feel called, pulled, beyond this known into the unknown.
passion? A scientist declares himself "passionate" about disproving
any human need for the transcendent.(S.Jonathan Singer, The Splendid Feast of Reason) Really? Passion suggests purpose and meaning, not a dispassionate scientific methodology of inquiry open to the discoverable truth.
Molecular biologist Robert Pollack (The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith):
Irrationality does not necessarily contradict rationality, it lies
beyond it. "The unknown is not thew edge of everything. The unknown
itself is wholly bounded blurring into intrinsically inaccessible and
immeasurable unknowability... Science itself depends on the periodic
emergence of the unknowable for its own progress." Hence, scientific
insight--we might say inspiration-- is not strictly scientific:
"Scientific insight is not a phenomenon subject to prior scientific
is at the heart of the religious impulse--the first Cave Dwellers
understood that. But this impulse to know the mystery ain't a religious
escape from reality, but, seeing the vastness of reality, religious impulse is a movement toward the ultimate reality.
Non-scientific Seekers abound, but ineffectively for the most part. Book racks have dozens of versions of Chicken Soup for the Soul where more nourishment is had in The Cloud of Unknowing.
Folks is spiritually hungry, even Material Girl(s), an' they seek a
connection to their spiritual inner-self by burnin' aromatherapy
candles around the hot tub. This ritual is supposed to aid the seeker in
communin' wif' the cosmos, to find a connection to the Ultimate
Seems to Aunty that in direct proportion to
the rise of a Nietzschean "God is dead" sentiment, man, though
existentially sated, is starvin' for God. An' his passionate
exploration of the cosmos is a plaintive wail, "Oh God, where are You?"
*Images of the Cosmic Microwave Background are set for unveiling at a conference scheduled for Paris on March 21st,
2013--in case any of y'all is curious. Or jes' want a decent croissant.