Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The path towards a rekindled faith, continued

Is philosophy just math in words?

I get words. I love words. But philosophy trips me up almost as badly as math once did, back in the days when I was forced to take it in school.

I try to understand it, in blogs and in books, but my eyes glaze over and it goes right over my head.

That being said, I wish it were different. Philosophy is the study of wisdom, and the study and comprehension of wisdom compliments science as the crowning achievement and glory of the human species.

Having survived his boyhood, CS Lewis (see earlier posts) now takes me into the deep waters of philosophy. I must swim with him if I am to understand how he reclaimed his faith after years of intense atheism.

The first step, and he didn't consider it even a step at the time, appears to have been his realization of the following:

"The whole universe is mental. Our logic is participation in a cosmic logos or Absolute."

Any thoughts from smart people? Interpretations for the layman? Suggestions of refutation?


Chase March said...

I saw a television show recently. I can’t remember what it was. It might have been Brian Greene’s Elegant Universe. Anyway, a scientist or philosopher type of person said that dogs cannot understand the world on the same level as humans and it is illogical for us to think otherwise. He went on to say that there are aspects of reality that it is possible that we are simply just not able to understand.

Albert Einstein said it best, “The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It doe s not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books---a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.”

I love that quote and I think it sums it up perfectly.

eastcoastdweller said...

That mysterious order deeply fascinates me. How about the recent buzz regarding "dark energy" in the universe?

On the one hand, such order seems to be evidence of a Divine Intelligence.

I once walked down a lonely country road and realized that, hidden by the leaves, living and dying without a human to observe and appreciate them, were numberless snails of what I perceived to be great beauty.

Does the beautiful color of a snail shell serve an evolutionary purpose for such a species? I can't think of one. A warning against predators? Doubt it, since no snail other than a marine cone is known to be poisonous. Camoflauge? Only if the thing lived on some old man's Hawaiian shirt.

Hence, it seems an argument for a Divine Intelligence who appreciates such beauty even when only He can see it.

On the other hand, Twain famously lampooned the basic cycle of violence that dominates the natural world -- dragonfly killing some other fly, frog dining on dragonfly, heron dining on frog, etc., a bloody cycle of horror in which complexity is consistently crushed and ruined and pain and terror are multiplied.

And would a beneficent Divine Intelligence create a wasp that tortured caterpillars by turning them into a helpless feast for its young?

Or parasites in general that make life a misery for their hosts?

I've believed. I still go through the motions. I want to believe again, so badly -- not live with the horror that utter annihilation is the destiny of all beings and that life has no ultimate meaning, that after our few short decades on a planet which is ultimately doomed to destruction anyway, we fade away and are forever forgotten.

Chase March said...

There is obviously an order to the universe. It is amazing, beautiful, and enigmatic. I think that through science, philosophy, literature, and art we can come to some answers about it. I also don’t think that any of these disciplines can hold the truth alone. I think that if we combine aspects of all of these things we can learn a sliver of the truth of the universe. But I don’t think we will ever be able to get the full and complete definitive truth.