Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Monads, Quarks, Planks, Patterns, "I," and God
To use turns of phrases--
What’s in a name?
Why speak of a prank, er. a plank?
Which is more real, an object/fact or a pattern/process?
What’s God got to do with it?
“Imagine your uncle died and in his will he left you his beloved old wooden boat. You love your uncle and out of respect for him you decide that you’re going to fix up his old boat, making it good as new."
"And so you start with the hull, replacing old boards with new ones. But as you work rebuilding the hull, you realize that the deck needs replacing as well. And so the next year, you remove all of the boards on the deck and replace them with new ones, plank by plank, until the boat has an entirely new deck."
"But spending all that time working on the deck convinces you that the hardware isn’t reliable; you’re not sure which pieces would work if you were to actually start the boat, and which would snap with the slightest strain. And so you set out to replace all of the hardware..."
"If you keep this up, at some point you will have replaced the entire boat, and yet when you take your friends out for a ride, you will tell them that this is the boat your uncle left you in his will."
"The enduring reality of the boat, then, is in the pattern, not the planks."
"The planks come and go, but the pattern remains."
Objects, things, facts, cells, atoms and so forth come and go.
But patterns remain...well they come and go, too, but they usually last longer in one 'place' than cells.
"You are a pattern, moving through time, constantly changing and yet precisely consistent. Some have said we’re like ‘light at the end of a spinning stick.’”
-What We Talk About When We Talk About God(3)
Think about what Bell said. It’s so true.(4)
From scientists, facts about 'you':
"Your Body is Younger Than You..."
"Whatever your age, your body is many years younger. In fact, even if you're middle aged, most of you may be just 10 years old or less."
"The cells lining the stomach, as mentioned, last only five days."
"The epidermis, or surface layer of the skin, is recycled every two weeks or so."
"An adult human liver probably has a turnover time of 300 to 500 days."
Markus Grompe, an expert on the liver's stem cells,
Oregon Health & Science University
The entire human skeleton is thought to be replaced every 10 years or so...
"Your body is constantly replacing old cells with new ones at the rate of millions per second. By the time you finish reading this sentence,
50 million of your cells will have died and been replaced by others..."(5)
"In a year, 98 percent of the atoms in us now will be replaced by other atoms that we take in, in our air, food and drink. So that means 98 percent of me is new - every year...If you eat a hamburger one day, then the atoms and molecules in that hamburger will end up making up your cell walls and different organs and tissues."(6)
So does that mean, I'm long gone?
Despite all of these changes in my body in the last 70 years
(I wonder how many atoms from Wild Alaskan Salmon), I'm still me--
but still my same consciousness of self.
Glad to meet you, my name is I-Process;-)
I am still becoming at this very moment, even in the midst of my receding into old age.
My conscious, creative awareness transcends my physical body.
"Since we moderns are accustomed to thinking in materialistic terms, and assuming that the human body is somehow the most real aspect of humanness,
we are caught off balance by the claim that what is most distinctively human is, in fact, independent of the body...
a process which is essentially independent of any one of us."
Dwight Brown, UU minister
I exist in that stream of consciousness, moral choice, and creative endeavor. We all are a part of a creative process in which we get to participate for a very brief span of time. We are the opposite of puppets; we can be creators.
What is happening is far more than matter--trillions of atoms--moving around.
We as finite creatures, become aware, can knowingly participate and bring changes to existence.
So the materialists are wrong.(4,7)
Monads, quarks, and atoms don't drive us like shot bullets.
Contrary to what most atheists say, consciousness isn't only the result of millions cells
hard-determined at the tail ends
of 14 billion-long puppet strings.
Unlike plant biologist Anthony Cashmore's claim that we humans are "bags of chemicals" and have no more choice than "bacterium" or a "bowl of sugar,"
other scientists strongly disagree.
For instance, Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. and Rebecca Gladding, M.D. both
wrote an entire book explaining the exact opposite:
You Are Not Your Brain
Schwartz is a research psychiatrist at the UCLA School of Medicine and Gladding is a psychiatrist at the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. They are authorities in field of neuroplasticity.
Consciousness is an aware process that enables each of us intelligent primates to transcend our circumstances, to change our behavior, to seek new goals, choose good ethics.
We are sentient beings, able to take situations and things--and through new combinations of ideas, methods, and actions--to bring new ways into existence that never existed before.
Consciousness enables individuals to make creative choices, not repeat the same unjust, immoral actions of humans in the past,
whether the dysfunctional behavior of an alcoholic father or that of exacting revenge against a different human group by one's 50,000 years-past ancestor.
Consider one last analogy.
The squiggles on this virtual page are made up of pixels like the body of mine is made up of cells. But the squiggles don't determine what I write.
I as a conscious creator do that.
Then squiggles (with their attached meaning) follow.
The same is true of atoms and cells.
They don't determine whether or not I choose to do wrong or right.
But when I decide to send money for the impoverished refugees of Syria,
when I decide to squander my money on things I don't need,
then the cells and atoms of my hand go into action, pulling out my credit card.
Our future is hope
because we can influence that future, not yet here.
We aren't "bags of chemicals" fated by senseless energy, going no where for no purpose.
We can create poems, digital art, construct beautiful buildings, send probes on 10-year missions to Jupiter and beyond, and make many other significant differences.
That's what Enlightenment theism means.
Openness to God-- to speak of friendship with God, to love the good, true, just, and beautiful.
Now speaking of God--
The Divine Process
The Ultimate Becoming
To be continued--
In the Light,
1 monad: According to Hippolytus, the worldview was inspired by the Pythagoreans, who called the first thing that came into existence the "monad."
2 quark: "any one of several types of very small particles that make up matter" M-W Dictionary
3 Too often in new books, Rob Bell is too new agey. You finish one of his books, which is delicious to our readership taste, but at its end all that’s left in one's mind is mostly a cotton-candy afterward.
Sugar and air.
And throw a away a sticky stick.
No substance, except unusual word placement on the page, and fleeting good feelings.
But with this plank-not-dumb story, Bell struck gold, the sugar-load.
4 Well at least to most people, though not for the Sam Harris atheists of the world who claim that every person’s “I” (each of one of us) is an illusion, that the only reality are atoms determined since the Big Bang.
And such determinists state that if you harmed another person, you would always commit such abuse again, even if you had a chance to face that ethical moment a “trillion” times because you as a person have no real choice.
Your every thought and every action are totally determined, lockstepsecular-fated.
It's “tumors-all-the-way-down” claims Harris in his most fatalistic example.
Harris: "If determinism is true, the future is set—and this includes all our future states of mind and our subsequent behavior...each of us is moved by chance and necessity, just as a marionette is set dancing on its strings."
"There is no combination of these truths that seems compatible with the popular notion of free will."
7 "You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."