Joy beyond angst?

It is politically correct to assume a materialistic existence built on a series of microscopic random events unfolding in intransitive time. We live in the ship of our ego, afloat on an ocean of materialism. No wonder we are full of loneliness and fear.

Sigmund Freud observed that the more you avoid a fear, or abyss, the unhealthier you become. All of the mechanisms of dealing with unconscious pain (projection, avoidance, repression etc) simply lead at best to neurosis, at worst to psychosis.

The big fear, the monster lurking in the deeps is existential angst. The terror of nothingness inside the tiny baby inside each of us. How, then, to deal with that? It’s worth tackling, since our insecurity is rooted right there. The more secure a person is, then the more listening, creative, compassionate, generous, talented and capable of joy they are. Insecurity spawns withdrawal, narcissism, unhappiness and disconnection. So that horizons contract to world as prison.

How then does security arise?  Where do we find an ability to live in confidence? (Con Fides; with trust)? Some simply have faith. Probably they were securely attached as children. What about the rest of us?

Science is uncovering deep meaning at the most fundamental level. Experiments on matter at the most microscopic levels shows that existence is an infinite series of possibilities, potential – until observed. It is the act of observation that, in effect, crystallises out this particular existence from the cloud of possibilities. What then is this act of becoming, of creation that we are engaged upon together? . Surely there must be an “observer” to create this particular reality. Sure enough, our species are the most efficient engines of observation, whether through science or the arts. We each of us spend our life in observation (or as some would call it – witness, some knowledge). Interestingly our gathering of knowledge is escalating in a geometric progression. (Are we approaching Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point”?)

It appears to me our purpose as humans is to be just this – engines of observation crystallising out existence; and we do this together. That puts the onus on us collectively. It is OUR task to work for “good effect” – rather than trying to live with our eyes tight closed against the fear that we float on a sea of random meaninglessness.

…and then comfort comes; and connection and joy. Atman replaces ego, and angst evaporates. Until we forget and have to realise it all over again.

The (ephemeral) phenomenon of man

De Chardin wrote his “Phenomenon of Man” in the 1930s. I read it at University where I studied evolution, and it has been a constant influence since then. Like Jung and Buber he speaks to a unity of spirit and material. Indeed he saw the whole evolution of the universe as a story of coalescence of consciousness driven by the force of Love (aka God). Marked by phase transitions from physical evolution to chemical through biological now to the world of pure ideas, Homo Sapiens is a waypoint. A phenomenon, yes – because in us consciousness has become self aware; but ephemeral. A stage and not the end, or final purpose.

Around the same time Wilfred Bion identified the mind as simply a developing apparatus to help humans tolerate and organize experience.

“The apparatus for thinking, the capacity to have thoughts “has to be called into existence to cope with thoughts” (1967, p. 111). Thoughts exist prior to their realization. Thinking, the capacity to think the thoughts which already exist, develops through another mind providing α-function (1962, p. 83)—through the “container” role of maternal reverie.”

Our mind is the mechanism by which thoughts are made concrete.

Richard Dawkins simply stole these ideas, regurgitating them as his “memes”. Unfortunately he stripped them of context and hence of their meaning. Bions context was maternal reverie and de Chardins was Love – “the most powerful and most unknown energy in the world”. Rather than originality Dawkins simply displays through his evangelism a childlike rage against what he conceives of as God (in the image of his own father perhaps?).

I believe absolutely in purpose and progress; that there is meaning to existence and to our part in an unfolding story. I would wish that we each set aside our personal imagining of God (even when we label this “Science” or “Humanity”) and instead share this fundamental premise, and wonder together about miraculous existence.

What then of the darkness of Man? Of our destruction of the planet, of the holocaust, of loss of society to the maw of technology?

Perhaps we should look forward to a next chapter where humans are recombined with machines and connected in a giant web. Perhaps rather than contemplating that with fear – we should embrace this future as Love’s path to the Omega Point.?

Here below is Wikipedia’s summary of the book. A work of prophesy if ever there were one.

Reprint of Wikipedia ..

“The Phenomenon of Man (Le phénomène humain) is a 1955 book written by the French philosopher, paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In this work, Teilhard describes evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity, culminating in the unification of consciousness

The book was finished in the 1930s, but was published posthumously in 1955, and translated into English in 1959. The Roman Catholic Church initially prohibited the publication of some of Teilhard’s writings on the grounds that they contradicted orthodoxy.

The foreword to the book was written by one of the key advocates for natural selection and evolution of the 20th century, and a co-developer of the modern synthesis in biology, Julian Huxley.

Teilhard views evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity. From the cell to the thinking animal, a process of psychical concentration leads to greater consciousness.[3] The emergence of Homo sapiens marks the beginning of a new age, as the power acquired by consciousness to turn in upon itself raises mankind to a new sphere.[4] Borrowing Huxley’s expression, Teilhard describes humankind as evolution becoming conscious of itself.[5]

In Teilhard’s conception of the evolution of the species, a collective identity begins to develop as trade and the transmission of ideas increases.[6] Knowledge accumulates and is transmitted in increasing levels of depth and complexity.[7] This leads to a further augmentation of consciousness and the emergence of a thinking layer that envelops the earth.[8] Teilhard calls the new membrane the “noosphere” (from the Greek nous”, meaning mind), a term first coined by Vladimir Vernadsky. The noosphere is the collective consciousness of humanity, the networks of thought and emotion in which all are immersed.[9]

The development of science and technology causes an expansion of the human sphere of influence, allowing a person to be simultaneously present in every corner of the world. Teilhard argues that humanity has thus become cosmopolitan, stretching a single organized membrane over the Earth.[10] Teilhard describes the process by which this happens as a “gigantic psychobiological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the “super-arrangement” to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves today individually and collectively subject”.[8] The rapid expansion of the noosphere requires a new domain of psychical expansion, which “is staring us in the face if we would only raise our heads to look at it”.[11]

In Teilhard’s view, evolution will culminate in the Omega Point, a sort of supreme consciousness. Layers of consciousness will converge in Omega, fusing and consuming them in itself.[12] The concentration of a conscious universe will reassemble in itself all consciousnesses as well as all that we are conscious of.[13]Teilhard emphasizes that each individual facet of consciousness will remain conscious of itself at the end of the process.[14]

Atheism. The most dangerous religion?

Nothing can be proved (at least intellectually). Neither any kind of God, nor any kind of absence of God. Don’t take my word for it. Read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Read Heisenberg and Godel.

This means that any honest discussion about God or no-God equally must always be prefaced by the statement –  “I believe”. This applies to a-theism, just as to any theism. These are all equally unprovable belief systems.

You wouldn’t think so if you listened to Richard Dawkins. He’d have you believe that science somehow has disproved God. Nonsense. Literally non sense. What is more he, and other evangelical high priests of this religion, should know better.  It is mostly leaders of the old religions – Christians, Muslims, Hindus – who preface their statements with “I believe”. (Have you recited the Nicene creed recently?). But it’s Dawkins and his followers who try to blind you with their pseudo science.

The dangerous Dawkins delusion..

And the result? Worse than any major religion. Atheism preaches a morality of nihilism (there is no point, no spirit, no meaning,  there is only the material). Unshackled from morality mankind has released truly demons. Think Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Capitalism. Let the whole law by thyself. Why not indeed if your religion preaches that there is nothing beyond this material existence. There is a kind of logic. But no logic of kindness.

The Dawkins Delusion

The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. BUT, the mechanics are not solely, and probably not mainly Darwinian. (And certainly not NeoDarwinian). The field has been siezed by populists, whos belief systems masquerade as science. Richard Dawkins is the current example.

The problem is that the study of evolution is only partially open to the scientific method. It has much in common with history, spiced with population genetics. There are few facts and much interpretation. I specialised in Vertebrate Evolution at Cambride in the mid 1970’s. I can remember the sense of release (from the physcial sciences), because almost any theory could be justified by one’s interpretation of the evidence.

I remember the excitement of the publication of the Selfish Gene. I was an acolyte and saw this as advancing the truths of sociobiology.

But since then the accumulation of evidence has washed away the foundations of these ideas, but the establishment look the other way. This is shameful, and it isn’t science.

A couple of examples …

  • Neodarwinism predicts gradual progressive change which does not lead to increasing complexity. Since the 1970’s there has been an enormous increase in fossil discovery, all of which evidences sudden emergence of new forms followed by millions of years of equilibrium. Further, that the direction of evolution has always been toward increased complexity.
  • The whole premise of Darwinism is the “survival of the fittest”. That is that it is driven by competition. The gene pool alters (gradually, generation by generation) driven by the success in breeding or otherwise of the bodies for which they code. Darwin, that first populist, ridiculed Lamarck’s theory that the body affected the genes  (giraffe stretches neck, genes altered to express this in next generation). Darwin also drove out the theories of Kropotkin and Meretchkovsky who believed that cooperation and mutual aid were important drivers of evolution. Now there are hectares  of evidence both for Lamarckian  and Kropotkian evolutionary mechanisms:  indeed in all probability our human bodies comprise an agglomeration of different creatures  -even our mitochondria and ghe maternally transmitted genes probably originated as bacteria.

Why do Dawkins et al still defend the outdated neodarwinian fallacy? Largely of course its to maintain their careers and material power and wealth. They founded a theory on conviction and  have ignored these inconvenient truths.

Disintegrating Humanity

On December 24th I stood in a queue to collect a goose for Christmas. I was there for around 20 minutes with neighbours, most of whom I had never met. There was banter and chat, about local and global issues. It was an enriching, exhilarating experience – a slice of life from 30 years ago…

How changed is social intercourse. In my twenties, all of life was like that queue. Community. Real people talking to each other. Face to face; and inter-acting with their whole self. This is slipping away, to be replaced by partial, or dis-integrated, connection. We “chat” by text through a device – txting, twittering, f-booking. (But 70% of communication face to face is non-verbal. A facebook “chat” is NOTHING like a real chat.) We share images (oh, so many, many images). We listen to music through the ether, which in its constructed perfection makes real music played by real people, live – often seem second-best.

And so.. we experience each other in bits, or bytes, disintegrated and de-humanised parts, rather than face to face and in groups. Our thoughts in posts (!), our faces through a machine, our sounds through apps. Thus is humanity degraded and dis-integrated; and new generations won’t even know what they are missing. We are becoming bits of information to be traded. We have given our very selves to the service of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon – which aren’t even under our democratic control.

Humanity is disintegrating.

(…and it is not, in my view, a co-incidence that materialism and atheism march together. They have a common aim. But that’s another post…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schrodinger and humanist Khat

Schrodinger and humanihumanist Khat?

Schrodinger was an Austrian physicist, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics, an early western promoter of Vedanta an Buddhist philosophy, winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize for Physics. He is popularly well known for his proposal of the Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment. The following from his “Science and Humanism” (1951)

“The scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and … delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good and bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not incline to take them seriously.

…So, in brief, we do not belong to this material world that science constructs for us. We are not in it; we are outside…The reason why we believe that we are in it – that we are in the picture, is that our bodies are in the picture. Our bodies belong to it. Not only my own body, but those of my friends, my dog and cat and horse… This is my only means of communicating with them.

Science is reticent too when it is a question of the great Unity – the One of Parmenides – of which we all somehow form part, to which we belong. The most popular name for it in our time is God – with a capital “G”. Science is very usually, branded as being atheistic. After what we said, this is not astonishing. If its world-picture does not even contain blue, yellow, bitter, sweet – beauty, delight and sorrow – if personality is cut out of it by agreement, how should it contain the most sublime idea that presents itself to human mind?”

Steven Weinberg, honest atheist

I am interested in the philosophy and beliefs of the great scientists. Einstein, Bohr, Pauli, Schrodinger, Heisenberg. It strikes me that in almost every case they are led to a wonder at the harmony and structure underlying existence. What a refreshing contrast to the childish un-scientific preaching of Dawkins (all religion is “child abuse”).

Speaking at the “Beyond Belief” symposium in 2006 Steven Weinberg (Nobel Prize for his electroweak theory) was quoted as saying  “the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief”. He is an avowed atheist, but since he’s a proper scientist he also said:

“I have to admit that, even when physicists will have gone as ar as they can go, when we have a final theory, we will not have a completely satisfying picture of the world, because we will still be left with the question ‘why?’

Dixi et salvavi animam meam

(I spoke and thus saved my soul)

Wolgang Pauli in a letter to a fellow physicist, on pressure to comply with the atheistic positivism of his god-father Max Born:

“Many physicists and historians have of course advised me to break the connection between my Kepler essay and C.G. Jung… I am indifferent to the astral cult of Jung’s circle, but that, i.e., this dream symbolism, makes an impact! The book itself is a fateful “synchronicity” and must remain one. I am sure that defiance would have unhappy consquences as far as I am concerned. Dixi et salvavi animam meam!”

 

Wolgang Pauli, Nobel prize for discovery of the exclusion principle, discoverer of the neutrino and father of supersymmetry.

What Wolfgang Pauli Believed

Pauli was – with Bohr, Planck, Heinsenberg, Dirac et al – a pioneer of quantum mechanics and Nobel Prize winner for Physics for discovery of the exclusion principle. He could equally have won the prize for his discovery of the Neutrino or of PCT Symmetry.

He is less known for his work on the philosophy of knowledge and for his work with Carl Jung on the links between physics and the psyche. They wrote papers together (in some of which Einstein participated) , which were only discovered and published in the 1970’s and also co-authored the book “The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche”.

In 1955 he gave a lecture at the University of Hamburg, “Science and Western Thought”, which he later described in analysis to Jung and to Niels Bohr. His interest throughout his life was to reconcile the “rational-critical” (Western Science) with the “mystical-irrational” (Eastern thought), to try to create a single framework of the physical and psychical.

“it is precisely by these means, that the scientist can more or less consciously tread a path of inner salvation. Slowly then develop inner images, fantasies or ideas, compensatory to the external situation”.

His belief in complementarity was fundamental; not just in physics but in general. For him and Jung the conscious and unconscious are mirrors of each other, and an understanding built solely out of one or the other is necessarily incomplete. (What Pauli sometimes referred to – witheringly – as “not even wrong”). This extended to his views on wider existence. He had an abiding interest in the views of Kepler and Newton – scientists working out of the alchemy tradition – “as above, so below” whose physical discoveries were incidental (to them) in their pursuit of the truth of God.

Pauli, with many great creative scientists, was a polymath. His scientific credentials are impeccable. His god-father was Ernst Mach and he was mentored by Arnold Sommerfeld. Albert Einstein proposed him for his Nobel Prize. He was a lifelong friend and collaborator of Bohr, Heisenberg and Dirac. All of his inquiring brought him to a concrete sense of the motive force and nature that lies beyond the physical or material world. He had a strong sense of humanity and humour, dealing gently with those of other or non-belief. For instance in response to Paul Dirac (who famously could not tolerate the religions and their politics) he quipped – “Well, I’d say that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the first commandment of this religion is ‘God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet'”.

Here he is on the nature of knowledge itself:

“the natural laws are of such a kind that every bit of knowledge gained from a measurement must be paid for by the loss of other, complementary items of knowledge.. the process of knowing is connected with the religious experience of transmutation undergone by him who acquires knowledge. This connection can only be comprehended through symbols which both imaginatively express the emotional aspect of the experience and stand in vital relationship to the sum total of contemporary knowledge and the actual process of cognition. Just because in our times the possibility of such symbolism has become an alien idea, it may be considered especially interesting to examine another age to which the concepts of what is now called classical scientific mechanics were foreign but which permits us to prove the existence of a symbol that had, simultaneously, a religious and a scientific function.”

Walter Heisenberg wrote of Pauli’s beliefs (in his book – “Across the Frontiers”)

“Pauli.. points out that even Kepler’s conversion to the Copernican theory, which marks the beginning of modern natural science, was decisively affected by certain primeval images or archetypes. He cites this passage from Kepler’s Mysterium Cosmographicum: “The image of the triune God is in the sphere, namely of the Father in the centre, of the Son in the outer surface and of the Holy Ghost in the uniformity of connection between point and intervening space or surroundings”.

Continuing to:

“Pauli considers, moreover, that Kepler’s symbol illustrates quite generally the attitude from which contemporary science has arisen. “From an inner centre, the mind seems to move outward in a sort of extraversion into the physical world, in which all happenings are assumed to be automatic, so that the spirit serenely encompasses this physical world , as it were, with its Ideas.” Thus the natural science of the modern era involves a Christian elaboration of the “lucid mysticism” of Plato, in which the unitary ground of spirit and matter is sought in the primeval images, and in which understanding has found its place in its various degrees and kinds, even to knowledge of the word of God.”

Imagine…

… that the universe is really one and that we and everything in it is connected, a part of the same thing – and so a part of each other. The loneliness and insecurity that is the subtext of all of our living would be illusory. So, indeed would be death. We would be all, part of each other. The making love, the smile shared with a stranger, the sense of one-ness within a brilliant landscape, the tenderness and awe holding your baby… all intimations and pale imitations of what existence would be. If we removed our blinkers. And, this is what scientific discovery points toward. So indeed does our brother, Jesus. What did he actually say? Love thy neighbour (as thyself), by the fruits shall ye know them, forgive over and over and over again (70×7), rich men shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Christ would have been, in our modern world, a revolutionary – but not a divider of people against people. He would have been, and is, the true blueprint of a socialist radical.

Imagine, if the universe is really one and that we and everything in it is connected, a part of the same thing – and so a part of each other. After all its what the science points toward.