Saturday, March 30, 2013

Part 1: Self


Introduction to Part 1: Self

[Under Construction]

For any interested readers, I moved the five following posts forward to permit this space in my 'live' book to be used for a brief introduction to this Part. (Soon I hope). I learned too late that this little move forever dooms four of those posts to have their titles and URLs mismatched, but so it shall be. Errors happen.

- c emerson


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to Read This Blog ...

(3/20/13) ... Can anyone write a 'meaning of life' blog that does not try to sell a particular point of view?

I doubt it ... but I am going to try.

That may strike you as a surprising claim. After all Ideas Are Physical suggests some kind of initial point of view. Yes?  Especially if there are only two contradictory choices for ideas: physical and non-physical. But there may be more than two choices. Or, there may be a host of qualifications on exactly what physical and non-physical might mean.

That sounds like hedging.  Maybe.  But let me ask you:  did it strike you as a surprising claim, that I might be able to write a 'meaning of life' blog without trying to sell a particular view?  If so, what struck you?  If you answer: the idea of maintaining neutrality or lack of bias, then can I not assert to you that you were just struck by an idea? In other words, did you not just agree that, in some sense, ideas are indeed physical?

Perhaps that was just some kind of metaphorical or rhetorical trick. Maybe so. Maybe not. Maybe it didn't work. But we do use phrases like 'hit upon', 'hit by', 'came across', 'found', 'wrote down', 'cooked up', 'sent you', and even 'tore apart' when referring to and talking about ideas.  Trust me, I realize these colloquial expressions don't come close to proving ideas are actually physical. It's hard to lay an idea out on the kitchen table, to look at and feel ... even though we know, for sure ... some ideas just plain stink, and ought to be dumped out with the cat litter.

What's the point? Well, for one, there is more to these things we call 'ideas' than meets the eye. And, I assert, this is also true of those bundles of ideas we tie together into neat packages and then call Scientific Theory A, Theological Concept B, and Philosophical Notion C. Yet, as my wife suggested in the previous post, we live by such bundles of ideas, even when we aren't always aware of it. Things we wouldn't put in our mouths, we put right into our brains.

Which leads me to the title of this Post:  How to read this blog?

The simple answer is --> Openly.

And after reading a post openly:  Express Yourself.

- - -
Yes, express your views in the comment section at the bottom of each post. Don't take my word for anything. Investigate, inquire and express yourself. It's your philosophy at stake, not mine. It's your meaning of life at stake, not mine. So express yourself.

The Comment period for each post will never close, at least not as long as the blog itself continues. So if you are reading a post a year or two after it is written, comment anyway. No one is going to solve the issues raised in this blog overnight. Just be courteous; that's the only rule.

One other point here:  use the 'My Index' tab to locate blog Posts that seem interesting. Regardless of when they are written, they will be organized there into a Table of Contents for easy reference. Dates of any Updates or Addenda to a Post will be listed there. Yes, I might change the shape, or structure, of any idea expressed in a Post based on the progress of my own thinking or based on the logic presented by your posts in the Comment sections.

So ... just throw some of those sweet-smelling ideas at me, would ya?


The song 'Express Yourself':
- original lyrics (1970) by Charles Wright
and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

- newer lyrics (1988) by N.W.A.
- even newer lyrics (2012) by Labrinth:
Ain't got the X-factor,
I'm not what they expect (listen)
But it won't be long before
my turn is next, to express
now with all due respect
Express yourself
A second song 'Express Yourself':
- original lyrics (1989) by Madonna
Additional credits to any of my readers who decide ... to express themselves.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What do people want?

(3/12/13) ... I've considered what I've written so far, about the world as possible code, and about the starting position of the known cosmos, and I'm pretty happy. It's a big world, with lots to explore.

c emerson asleep
on the Mojave

But the question I want to ask today is:

"What do people want?  What are they looking for?"

overview of
part of Arizona

My wife answered me:  "Not philosophy."

"Not theology, either, unless they are already into that," she continues. "And definitely not science."

"What, then, are they looking for?" I asked.

She thought a bit, while looking at my pictures:  "A safe landing zone," she answered.

And so it goes. She's right, of course. Ask yourself what most people do all day, what they spend their time on: family matters, children, grandchildren, caring for the elderly, going to school, finding work, holding onto work, worrying about work, eating, sleeping, finding a mate, finding a new mate, shopping, watching a football game, watching a basketball game, cleaning house, playing video games, checking Facebook, and, occasionally, going to a religious place, to a non-religious place, or to a movie ...

And what are we thinking about while we do all these things? Our appearance, clothes, sex, health, wealth, exercise, relationships, travel, hoped-for travel, hobbies, aging, and ... of course ... the weather.

Hmm ... I think she's right.  Not a lot of time in there for philosophy, theology or science.

Now wait a minute, I thought ... something's not right here.

So I changed the question, and asked her:

"What's the best way to live?"

"Easy," she said. "Live in the moment. Don't think too much about the past, the future, or all the bad news you see on TV. Get the most out of your day, with your family, or friends, or at work. I'm pretty spiritual, so I like to think of myself as an instrument for good. At least that's my philosophy."

"Your philosophy?"

"Yup! ... oh ... So I do have a philosophy.  Well, there you go!"

I think I'll take my wife to the movies tonight.  And - if ideas are physical - I'll want to think carefully about what to say, or ask, next.



- pictures courtesy c emerson (April, May 2008)
- post dedicated to my wife and family
- thanks TxLostWolf, Alan, Paige, Gritsma and others
- meanwhile I will continue to study the great 'What is?' of the Nevada and California Mojave Desert and those immense canyons in north central Arizona


Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Genesis Model _ Is Space = God?


The Genesis Model:
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
- the author of Genesis said that.
Gen.1:2-3, KJV (Thomas Nelson, Pub. 1972).

The Intuitive Transcendental Model:
When the mind opens, and reveals the laws which traverse the universe, and make things what they are, then shrinks the great world at once into a mere illustration and fable of this mind. What am I? and What is? Behold these infinite relations, so like, so unlike; many, yet one. I would study, I would know, I would admire forever.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson said that.
Divinity School Address, Harvard Divinity School (July 15, 1838).

I am not trying to answer the great question posed in the title, Is Space = God?  I am trying to raise it. Further, I am getting way ahead of my development plan, rough as it is, for this blog. But let's proceed anyway.

We remain at the carrefour of winter mysteries wrapped in spring enigmas, not yet in view, I think, of Emerson's famous refulgent summer, where the 'grass grows, the buds burst, the meadow is spotted with fire and gold in the tint of flowers.' Ibid. Emerson's address to the divinity school senior class, all seven or eight members of it, as quoted above, helped establish a transcendental view in favor of 'individual, intuitive thought and the role of nature in helping man to understand the divine,' and in opposition to the 'primacy' of authoritarian mechanisms.  Harvard gazette (Walsh, February 16, 2012). This elevation of individual intuition over the established framework of institutional tradition was considered so radical that Emerson was not invited to the Harvard campus again for 30 years.  Ibid.

Thank goodness for counterbalances all around, such as the next one.

The Scientifically-Generated Physical Model:
A story logically begins at the beginning. [And] In the very beginning there was a void - a curious form of vacuum - a nothingness containing no space, no time, no matter, no light, no sound ... But this story is about the universe, and unfortunately there are no data for the Very Beginning.  None, zero ... Now, where were we?  Oh, yes ... [then] it happened.  The nothingness exploded.  In this incandescence, space and time were created.
- Leon Lederman, with Dick Teresi, said that.
The God Particle. If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? (1993; p.1).

Don't you just love it? The drama and suspense of it all? Steven Spielberg, Ben Affleck and Stanley Kubrick, move over. God is coming through. Or maybe not.

Here is how this post came about (re-posting part of this from my other blog, Random Walk): In Robert Oerter's blog post, Collins vs. Stenger, the professor, a physicist, has continued his posts about possible scientific Fine Tuning of the universe. Robin Collins and Victor Stenger are both physicists. The idea is that certain physical parameters are both highly improbable and extremely critical for the emergence of life in this universe.

I supplied various comments on that subject on the professor's blog, and on a previous post on this blog, Is the Whole Word Just a Code?, because the subject relates to the possibility of God's existence, a subject I took up last October on Random Walk in a three part post I called The God is Possible Argument. (My previous post on this blog, incidentally, was prompted by some very interesting comments advanced by Alan on Edward Feser's blog post, Craig versus Rosenberg. Alexander Rosenberg is a philosopher at Duke. Wlliam Lane Craig is a theology professor at BIOLA. My grandfather studied at BIOLA back in the first part of the last century, but that's a story for another time.)

While doing all this commenting and blogging, the following thought occurred to me:  If space is something that can expand, then space is a "thing" with describable properties.  If so, then this changes the question about fine tuning of parameters to a question about what space itself is.  It also raises the interesting question of what space is "in"?  In Aristotelian terms, this would put space back into the category of having (or being) substance, and as such, space itself could be the ground of all being. To put this last step into a form that St. Thomas Aquinas might have said or used, this ground of all being we are accustomed to calling God.

In this form, this approaches a classical proof of the existence of God.  Yes?  No?  As TxLostWolf suggests (on my other blog), this argument may fit the Prime Mover form. If space is substance, it would also be essence. If the causal series per se terminates with space itself, then the argument would also fit the Uncaused Cause form.  Yes?  No?  Either way, would not Space = God under this, the Genesis model of the source of all matter and energy which emerged from space itself?

The reader may find this Universe Forum (produced for NASA by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) a helpful resource in re-visualizing the Big Bang as something other than a point-in-space explosion. In particular, here is a page entitled Brief Answers to Cosmic Questions. I found these two Q & A's illuminating with respect to the possible physical explanation (understanding) of space itself, as I applied it above:

Q:  Do we know where, in space, the Big Bang took place?

A:  It's a common misconception that the Big Bang was an "explosion" that took place somewhere in space. But the Big Bang was an expansion of space itself. Every part of space participated in it. For example, the part of space occupied by the Earth, the Sun, and our Milky Way galaxy was once, during the Big Bang, incredibly hot and dense. The same holds true of every other part of the universe we can see ... Artists may find it more dramatic to draw a "fireball" expanding into space, but as far as we know, there would have been no such "ball."

Q:  Does the term "universe" refer to space, or to the matter in it, or both?

A:  Just a hundred years ago, scientists thought of the universe in terms of matter. Space was just the "emptiness" in which matter lived ... Today, the situation is reversed. During the twentieth century, scientists learned that space is not "nothingness." First, Einstein showed that space has structure: It is flexible and can be stretched ... Later, scientists found other properties of space. For example, matter and anti-matter are routinely created in the laboratory from space itself (and an energy source); the kinds of particles that can exist reflect the structure of space. In fact, there is now evidence that space itself MAY possess some slight amount of energy of its own, of a form previously unknown. If so, space may actually have weight!

If this is the way it is, then Space is some "thing" from which all physical things, as we know them, actually came, mediated by the initial operation of the Big Bang. Under such a scenario, can we not reasonably view Space, which has structure and properties, as the immediate ground of all known being?

 -- copyright 2012-2013 by c emerson --