The Center of Perception is the Middle of the Universe

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I’ve been giving some thought to the objections that have been raised by those who see anthropocentricity as an objection to creationism or even theism. The epistemological gap is fundamental and cannot be avoided. I can only see the universe through my perceptions and then rely on my perceptions of others to come to what really amounts to a perception-consensus about what truth is. Nobody in the RichardDawkins.net forum seems to account for the fact that even a unity of thought, as to what scientific observations/perception mean, does not warrant the conclusion that the issue of how the universe or Man came to be is resolved.

Name one scientific rule that is wholly infallible and which can never be changed. Does evolution theory get a special dispensation from its believers? Why not admit that evolution may very well be only a partial answer, a best answer, but certainly not the final answer? Until one ‘gets off the dime’ on the position of absolutism, there cannot be the possibility of argument. If either the the evolutionists or the creationists have the absolute final answer, there is nothing to talk about. If there are, among them, those who are willing to come off the absolutism platform, at least for purposes of argument, a discussion can be had.

As Denish D’Souza points out, for example, it may very well be that is has been accepted as a rule that light travels at 186,000 mph. However, no scientist knows whether that is true in all places in the universe or near wormholes or blackholes, assuming these exist. If there is a background noise, we don’t know what happens to light at the ‘edge of the universe.’ The law of physics as they apply to light, for example, are subject to revision. In several places in the God Delusion, and in Dawkins’ Darwin Lecture at Stanford, he does unequivocally claim that natural selection and evolution are the only plausible answer(s) for all that is — thereby allowing him to eliminate one more god from the list of others who have fallen at the hands of intellectualism and science. Nevertheless, he has not, and cannot, defeat the human conception that there is something higher than genetic destiny and that higher thing sits outside of our personal/human condition.

The response that I see to the anthropocentricity objection is essentially as follows:

I am the center of my perception as you are to yours. The further we look into the world the more we come to an understanding of the atomic universe and the principles that govern it. Incredibly, microbiology seems to be coming up with many of the same findings or observations that the astrophysicists are (i.e., as to the atomic structure of all that is and the rules that govern it).

Similarly, the further out we look into the universe, we revert to a principled view of the atomic universe. Under either analysis, we come back to the same place and remain the center of our universe. We are the center of our universe and we always come back to the same place — as we must. Can you separate yourself from your perceptions? What is it that you know about the universe that has not come through and by perception?

Just think about it — at any given time, you are at a center of Earth since it is a sphere. (unless there is a desire to get into a discussion about the earth’s magnetic fields and pole alignment). Indeed, you can begin measuring away from yourself in any direction and will reach the same infinitude in terms of space and time. Prove otherwise. Until the astrophysicists can measure from Earth to the ‘background noise’, the presumption seems to be in favor of treating the Universe as though it is infinite in any direction.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that we are so anthropocentric and limited by our human condition. My own anthropocentric perception is unique and cannot be the mere byproduct of a genetic destiny and yet be so vastly different from the perceptions of others. Again, animals seem to have a limited sense of self and the ability to change the self. Humans seem to be created by evolution, or otherwise, as something completely different as to function and purpose (or lack thereof).

We are each undeniably the center of the universe known for us. Separate yourself from your perception and you might have the opportunity to live the life of an animal. Our awareness of our own perception dictates our ability to strive for change in the self, environment, and a glimpse of something higher than ourselves. Our perception is the beginning of freewill. The question seems to be whether our ability to engage in freewill (moral behavior by ‘choice’) is the result of being created/evolved from something higher or different than the general animal kingdom. In any event, the anthropocentric position is equally applicable to evolutionists as well as the creationists. Self loathing by either side doesn’t seem to fix this fundamental problem.

Absolutism has absolutely no place in human existence where it has to be admitted that human perception, even in groups, is subject to revision.

We’re Stirring the Cosmic Soup: A Quick Retort to the Religion of Pure Atheism

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While it may very well be that all that we are nothing but a cosmic soup of atomic matter, it certainly does seem that humanity has the unique ability to stir the pot.

As of late, I have given some thought to the arguments of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Edward Wilson, Peter Singer and a number of other players in the current debates about God, morality, and evolutionary biology.  Their basic premise seems to be that what it means to be human or a part of nature can only be explained by evolutionary theory.  Moreover, this theory leads the to the inexorable conclusion that all can be reduced to an explanation as to how atomic physics have played out in the last however many billion years or so. (See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe ). Nary a thought is given to the real fact that all of us have an epistemological gap between us and the beginning of time, such that no present explanation of our world can suffice to explain it entirely.  God does readily fill that epistemological void.

While it may very well be that all that we (and the universe we have our be-ing in) are nothing but a cosmic soup of atomic matter, it certainly does seem that humanity has the unique ability to stir the pot.  This ability is seen nowhere else in the ‘natural world.’  Indeed, it is this very deviation from cosmic destiny, evolutionary theory, or even simple neuro-psychology, that uniquely defines what it is to be human.

Unlike the natural world, we are not dependent on the synchronicity of our coexistence with/in  the many moving and interactive elements of the earth’s evolved environment.  Ostensibly, we are readily able to defy what nature might otherwise dictate.  Singer and others have, rather oddly, concluded that behavior which defies nature is somehow ignoble or immoral.  Isn’t everything “natural,” in the sense that all that is must be derivative of evolutionary processes and atomic destiny?  What possible moral difference could stirring the pot of cosmic existence make, if we can only have derived our ability to stir the pot from the very substance found in the pot?  There has to be a clear distinction made between the subject and objects confronted by human existence.

As an aside, this does not mean that morality would have to be completely dependent on some traditional notion of God. It is simply a matter of distinguishing a difference between intentionality, conscious acknowledgment and the human experience of what is “moral,” from that which is simply a byproduct of evolutionary necessity and atomic structure. Whether these aspects are distinguishable from each other is the question that Professor Dawkins raises. The conceptual parsing done by Dawkins is actually quite admirable and necessary to the understanding of either side’s argument.

Moreover, it seems readily apparent that the process of evolution for the ‘natural world’ moves at the same pace as it has from the beginning of time (barring any natural disasters).  Animals and plants are not dependent on us for their existence in a natural state.  They only evolve at certain scientifically definable rates in accordance with the environmental variables which govern the process.

Simply put, humans command the ability to even deprive ourselves of the natural synchronicity with nature.  It is indeed arguable that we sometimes separate from nature and defy it.   At a minimum, we stand out from nature.  For example, a lion cannot simply redefine itself or make claim to an existence other than that which it has at its essence. A view toward’s Heidegger’s philosophy on death would also underscore the reality that humans are perfectly capable of  experiencing “unnatural” deaths.  Most lions and other creatures will die substantially the same way and of the same causes.  Humans, however, bear a capacity for defining even the parameters of our own deaths.  Certainly, our nearest alleged “relatives,” chimpanzees, can hardly lay stake to such abilities.  In other words, there is something about the human experience that can be completely differentiated from that of the animal experience.  Indeed, this statement can be made even without accounting for the unique capacity of humans to conceive of [a] God, to understand beauty, and to engage in the fine arts.

Nevertheless, we can rightly claim that humans engage in unnatural acts.  They engage in acts that defy natural selection and the otherwise undisturbed progression of the natural world outside of humanity.  Animals are not generally self destructive in any real way.  Humans, on the other hand, are completely competent to destroy themselves and everything else around them.  Indeed, humankind is readily able to change its environment quickly and drastically.  And, in so changing, it becomes apparent that we are the only creatures on earth that are capable of self-directed evolution, even to the point of destroying ourselves.   Seemingly, evolutionists are ready to deprive of humankind of this sacred and distinct attribute shared by no other living creatures.

Frankly, it seems inconsistent to stand by an evolutionary biology explanans for why things are the way they are, and yet complain about the seemingly out of control, or even allegedly  immoral, progress of humanity.  Morality simply has no place in a universe driven only by the predisposed nature of atomic structures and the rules of physics to which they are bound.  In a very important sense, the effect of human existence on the environment is no less evolutionary or atomically driven than any other process that is claimed to have arisen from a purely evolutionary beginning.  That is, if one believes that all must have come from simple existence which led to a graduated complexity.

In order to speak of “moral” behavior, one must first believe that there is some constituent part of the universe which can be moral or act in a moral way.  If we rely simply on the synaptic firing of our neurons, coupled with a genetic destiny, it simply does not make sense to incorporate a moral lexicon into human existence.  However, if one believes that moral behavior is a step above, or uniquely differentiated from, the coldness of evolutionary survival of the species, it must follow that one believes that there is a higher arche to the human existence.  Whether this is attributable to God or a higher being/be-ing (a template for higher being or a more complex nature outside of the natural rules that apply to all other creatures), or not, seems to be the real question.

There are a good number of evolutionary biologists and philosophers of our time who readily conclude that all of human existence can simply be explained by reference to the primordial atomic soup from which all has evolved.  They do not explain where the atomic structure/fabric came from, they do not explain the source of the energy driving all that is, they ignore or gloss over the origins of art and beauty, and they completely ignore the obvious fact that the human line of species significantly deviates from otherwise predictable genetic destinies or even basic natural evolution of the rest of nature and its evolving complexity.

At first glance, the basic problem with evolutionary biology is that it rests upon what appears to be a purely linear view of the time-space continuum.  This purely linear view adds an unnecessary viscosity to the stream of the cosmos and nature itself. The evolutionists view does not account for the fact that all matter, or representations of matter, derive from an admittedly common source and theoretical moment of being put in motion.  That is, all things that can be perceived in the real world are the same age by reference to atomic matter, interactivity, and movement of the cosmos.

The only difference between one atomic structure and another is the ‘present’ constituency of the thing perceived.  Under a non-linear view of time, it may just be the case that the “age” of things is a function of where they are in the movement of the “cosmic swirl.”  An evolutionist should not confuse the properties of age with actual age — if time can even be said to be a good structure for cosmology.  If there was a single moment of creation, moving forward, differing “ages” of the atomic world’s constituents are not so obvious as to merit the conclusion that the universe actually is 13.7 to 37 billion years old or any other specific age for that matter.  If, at the time the cosmos was put in motion, certain aspects of reality were given characteristics in their atomic structure that give off the impression of being “older,” it may simply be that the evolutionist has been fooled in much the way a purchaser of art might be fooled by the acquisition of a good faux painting.  The thing acquired or perceived has all of the characteristics, but is lacking in the need of its original creator and an understanding of the process leading up to the perceived masterpiece.

In other words, the moment of creation may simply have been a stirring of the pot by an Omnipotent and wholly self sufficient Primary Mover.  A cyclical or interwoven time structure is not the same as a linear structure which starts from a given point and brings us to something called “today.”  The ‘swirl’  of the cosmic mass we call reality should not be confused with a purely linear view of reality, upon which evolution must rely (i.e., reliance on a Big Bang, primordial soup, then various periods of evolution/advancement of varying species).  Obviously, if linear time is the framework for the edifice of evolution, there is a strong likelihood that evolutionary theory is defectively constructed.

Additionally, it seems that the atheist opposition confuses their perceived improbability of God with ultimate exclusion from the range of all possibilities.  In the view of Dawkins and his company, it is nearly an absolute truth that God does not exist.  Were it the case that Dawkins could overcome the long standing objections that might be made by George Berkeley as to the importance of human perception in all of this, perhaps a better argument could be made.  However, Dawkins and his crew presuppose the validity and concrete values of their perceptions and just assume that a consensus gentium argument will carry the day because a vast number of other evolutionary biologists happen to agree on the notion that God, Creationism or Intelligent Design are improbable or altogether wacky.  Solipsism remains a strong enemy of confidence in the truth values of our own perceptions.  In fact it does seem that the utility and efficacy of certain “memes” bears out this very problem.  Cultural evolution is a product of passed on perception, without necessary regard to or of principles deriving from mathematics or physics.

In order for anyone’s argument to work with respect to great cosmological arguments, it does seem that the veil of basic human perception must first be torn and put aside in favor of an unobstructed view of reality.  Humanity has proven itself quite incapable of divesting itself from its condition as a status which depends purely on the senses and humanized logic.  Professor Dawkins and his ilk may be assured that just as great a number of scientific theories have fallen, after ready acceptance by consensus, as have arguments for the existence of particular gods or ontologies.  In large part, it seems that the human defect of limited perception is the cause of a great number of these many failed scientific theories throughout history. Indeed, it seems apparent that our singular or collective experiences limit the conclusions to which we may arrive.  Experience naturally limits the parameters of what we can actually know.  Admittedly, the breadth of one’s “experience” can be widened with knowledge/exposure to mathematics, physics, chemistry, theory of biology, philosophy, and other areas of learning.  However, the expansion of theory is dependent on the limits of our own personal knowledge and that of our colleagues in thought.  The limits of humanity do not give way simply because one believes in evolutionary biology.

Father Time has proven himself to be a bitter enemy to the life span of most scientific theories.  As human perception ‘evolves,’ scientific theories die.  Sometimes they die by the weight of their own complexity or the simply are shown to be inconsistent with the collective perceptions of an advanced humanity.  Oddly, however, the explanatory value of a higher cause or higher being has not died since the conceivable beginnings of human thought about the source of our being and the reasons for our existence.  This may be simply because a belief in God does provide a fabric to all that is.  Or, it may just as well be that the vast majority of humans have perceived something that can only be described as God.  For as many scientists and theologians as there have been in history, there have probably been nearly as many fools among them.

The pervasive perception of God, or the empirical basis for the use of a word such as “God,” cannot be simply disregarded.  Simply because Dawkins has not personally perceived something that might be called God does not allow him to summarily dispense with any Wittgensteinean objections as to the limits of our language and ability to articulate what we experience.  It is undeniably the case that the Judeo-Christian view of the world has rather successfully sufficed to unite an advancing/progressive group of humans, indeed the entirety of Western Culture, of which Professor Dawkins would be a participant.  The “memes” of, or which are, Christianity have proven to be a rather powerful force by any account.  See generally, John 1:1-4 (KJV).

It seems to me that the evolutionists of our time ought to give some minor consideration to the thought that the theoretical explanans and the actual explanandum of human existence are conceivably different.  If truth be the sum of its complete, necessary and agreed upon conditions, the evolutionary biologists/theorists have plenty of agreement, but could not possibly have a complete or necessary epistemological basis for the ultimate truths they espouse.  Admittedly, the same applies for a strict historical or epistemological view of Christianity.

In the case of both Evolutionary Theory and the belief in God, there is indicia of pure religion.  Religion requires certain elements, which appear to be:  1.)  A redemptive or explanatory story for what is;  2.) An explanandum/definiendum which outside of complete human perception or experience;  3.) Preachers and prophets of the truth or content contained within the explanans/definiens; 4.) A body of the faithful who simply may have no epistemelogical basis for a belief in what is explained or the explanation itself; 5.) A desire to operate by explanatory fiat or ultimatum.  Zealotry on behalf of any such religion can lead to discord and unnecessary viscosity in the stream of otherwise valuable arguments.  Certainly, both sides of the Intelligent Design argument seem perfectly capable and willing to lift the sword toward the other.

Or it may very well be that the enemies of God are simply asking the wrong questions even about their own existence and be-ing (Dasein) in the Heideggerian sense.  Perhaps it is just that they think it important to “stir the pot” in the proverbial sense.  But what sense does it make to stir the pot if you’re in it?

 

 

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