Monday, January 10, 2005

And God Spake Unto Me and I Spake Back, Saying: "I Thought I Told You Never to Call Me at Home?"

I am sure the French have a phrase for it like nostalgie de la boue or l'esprit d'escalier. The thing that needs describing is those ideas you get while shaving that, to your surprise, still seem like pretty good ideas when that last bit of lather is wiped away from your throat. Let us call them The Philosopher in the Mirror -- le philosophe dans le miroir.

I'm not saying they are good ideas. But they are ideas. They are not just anticipating breakfast and noticing your receding gums.

Now that I have hit 60, those moments are all the more precious to me because they encourage me to think that senility isn't just around the corner. I have my little morning idea and I think, "Please god don't let my brain die before my body does." And then I think, "Not to tell you your business god but I am not inviting you to make one of those dramatically ironic strokes in which I am run down by a car and rendered completely paralyzed while my brain goes buzzing on. Jeez, don't be so literal" And then I think, "Wait. I don't even believe in god! This is a clear case of les flocons d'avoine dans la tĂȘte, or as we put it in our bastard barbarian tongue, Oatmeal in the Head."

As you see morning is a very lively time in front of my bathroom mirror.

Anyway, the idea I had this morning is this. If you believe as I do that even if there is some kind of god -- an original maker, a first cause -- It certainly takes no interest in the individual freckles on the face of Its creation, and if you also believe that there is no pantheistic oversoul of all-encompassing reality into which Oneness we can plug through meditation or inspiration, then what we know at 60 is pretty much all we are ever going to know. And it ain't much. It ain't Truth. (Age 60 is not the necessary threshold to realizing this sense of limitation, but nice round numbers do prompt one to generalize, don't they?)

I mean, our brains are little meat computers. They process information at a certain rate. They store information with a certain efficiency up to a certain capacity. Perhaps we are working far below peak efficiency in both cases, but I have been doing it for a long time so you can bet your old-age pension -- the part that Bush is going to leave intact; good luck with the rest -- that tomorrow I will be slightly less efficient than the day before and so on and so on. And somehow that makes me more acutely aware that not only am I less able methodically to add to my small store of knowing, there aren't going to be any shortcuts either.

My point is that at 60 I am sensitive about what I suppose I have always understood: There aren't going to be any revelations. My late father -- it was thinking about Pops who bedevils from the grave at all times of night and day that brought this on -- he believed that god was going to whisper in his ear at any moment. And I have some friends who believe that through some intuitive burst they may yet punch through to the floor of being -- I don't quite get the metaphysics of this but I don't press them. And I'm thinking that from an empiricist's point of view, I've turned over almost all the cards I'll ever be able to get my hands on in what is admitedly a very large deck. Of course, someone else may discover amazing new things and tell me about it, but that's not quite the same thing. And that's not what I mean. I am thinking of myself as an agent of inquiry, Now, I am not rejecting that some inner voyage of startling self-awareness is still possible, some change in intellectual perspective that would make me realign all my fragments of knowledge and see them in a new way .... Nah. I don't really believe that. Odds of my personality having some paradigm shift are some where between a very slim slim and a very robust none.

Of course, this doesn't mean some small new fact -- some bobbing ice cube -- might sink my boat as easily as an iceberg. "What's that, baby? You're running off with the yard man. Well. I did not know that."

Okay, now I'm shaved, dressed and ready for the day. I've had my little blogworthy idea, some little notion that I can toss on the blogfire to keep it hot.

...5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Time for a metaphor shift.

Blogging is like wine tasting. You have a thought. You hold it in your mouth .You roll it around. You spit it out.


Anonymous said...

English doesn't need a lot of French dressing. It's nourishing enough as it is.

Anonymous said...


Library : Modern Documents : Theism : Arguments for the Existence of a God

Arguments for the Existence of a God
Apologists rely on a variety of arguments to substantiate the existence of a God, or to support the claims of divinity by a particular denomination's founder(s) or for its sacred texts. This section contains material that confronts and rebuts these theistic arguments.

Links below are to the most common categories of theistic arguments. Arguments for atheism or the nonexistence of a God can be found in the Arguments for Atheism section.

Please send comments or suggestions for new material to Stephen R. Welch.

Argument from Holy Scripture [ Index ]

Divine inspiration is often claimed for features of religious texts, constituting evidence of God's existence or the truth of a religious doctrine. In addition to the Holy Bible, subsections on the Qur'an, and Mormon and Scientology scriptures are included.

Argument from Miracles [ Index ]

The occurrence of miracles is frequently purported to be evidence of the supernatural, and therefore of the existence of a God.

Argument to Design [ Index ]

The Argument to Design is one of the bulwarks of the "new" Creationism (though it is not, in fact, "new"). Today known as the "Intelligent Design" theory, this argument asserts that the enormous complexity found in nature can only be explained by the presence of a cosmic "designer," i.e. God.

Cosmological Arguments [ Index ]

The notion of God as a "first cause" or "prime mover" of the universe has been argued since Thomas Aquinas. Modern "Big Bang" cosmology has given new impetus to this notion, though, and is now cited by theists as evidence that a God created the universe ex nihilo.

Moral Argument and Divine Command Theory [ Index ]

It is believed that universal moral standards are required for the proper functioning of society. Since objective standards of morality indeed exist, it is argued, so must God, since God is the only possible source of such standards.

Ontological Arguments [ Index ]

Ontological arguments conclude that God exists from premises derived by reason alone, and not observation of the world. For example, take St. Anselm's concept of a being than which no greater can be conceived--if such a being fails to exist, then a greater being--namely, a being than which no greater can be conceived, and which exists--can be conceived. However, nothing can be greater than a being than which no greater can be conceived. So a being than which no greater can be conceived--God--exists.

Pascal's Wager [ Index ]

The seventeenth-century mathematician, Blaise Pascal, formulated this pragmatic argument for justifying belief in God: which is worth the risk of error, belief or nonbelief?

Religious Experience [ Index ]

The "self-authenticating witness of God's Holy Spirit," or other mystical experiences, are argued as direct evidence of an individual's communion with a God.

Transcendental Argument [ Index ]

The Transcendental Argument is something of a "macro-argument" which encompasses rationality and even the preconditions for presenting an argument. It is impossible, the argument claims, for any authoritative rationality (including an atheist's) to emerge from inchoate matter--the existence of God must be assumed, therefore, in order to deny God's existence.

Other Theistic Arguments [ Index ]

Various articles related to general and other arguments for God's existence.

Books [ Index ]

Purchase titles relating to theistic arguments, philosophy, atheism, freethought, and other topics.

Reviews [ Index ]

Reviews and critiques of books and articles whose authors argue in support of theistic arguments.

Debates [ Index ]

A selection of debates on arguments for the existence of a God.

Links to Other Sources [ Index ]

Selected links to other sites of interest relating to theistic arguments.


Stephen R. Welch maintains this page.

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Last updated: Sunday, 11-May-2003 01:03:49 MDT

Anonymous said...

Here come the nuts.