Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Reflecting on the Awe and Wonder of Reality

If we as humans reject the horrific unethical beliefs of many Muslims, Christians, and Hindus such as their claims that a god plans all evils, natural disasters, plagues, famines, murders, rapes, and human slaughters...
And we already have rejected delusions and fanciful mythological stories of religions in general as various thoughtful theists have done since Plato...

do we limited human primates go about thinking about “Ultimate Reality”
(usually and traditionally termed “God”)?

Ah, the God question.


Nothing like trying to solve the nature of existence, multi-billions of years of cosmic history, why the Big Bang happened, and why is it possible (to paraphrase Einstein) that mere primates came to self-aware consciousness
and the ability for creativity, reason,
science, technology, aesthetics, music,
moral realism including justics, human rights, and compassion.

The how is often answered by cosmologists speculating about multi-verses and quantum events. Fascinating stuff. As for humanity’s sometime actions of altruism, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins speculates that ethical ideals might have come about by a “misfiring” of evolution.

However open agnostics such as the astronomer Chris Impey of the University of Arizona-Tucson raise very good questions about the unusual anomaly of Homo
sapiens in the midst of what appears to be an unconscious, thoughtless, amoral cosmos.

Astronomer Impey: “If the universe contained nothing more than forces operating on inanimate matter, it would not
be very interesting."

"The presence of sentient life-forms like us
(and perhaps unlike us) is the zest, or
the special ingredient, that gives cosmic
history dramatic tension."

"We’re made
of tiny subatomic particles and are part
of a vast space-time arena, yet
we hold both extremes
in our heads.”
How It Began By Chris Impey

Yes, the amazing ability of conscious primates to hold the concept of the macrocosm to the microcosm within each of our heads, to create new things which never existed, to have a sense of ought which often thwarts what is biologically advantageous...

So, if we humans want to move beyond our personal feelings and inner intuition in regard to Ultimate Reality, we need to look to brilliant scientists and philosophical thinkers.

While atheist thinkers have posited that everything is due to cosmic
Chance (Jacques Monad, Stephen Jay Gould)
Necessity/Determinism (Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne),
in striking contrast
astrophysicists such as George Ellis,
thinkers such as mathematician/philosopher
Alfred Lord Whitehead
and philosopher Charles Hartshorne
think that Meaning and Creativity and the Good
are at the center
and beginning of

Consciousness, creativity, reason, morality, aesthetics are somehow inherent
in the essential essence of the cosmos,
not meaningless anomalies like atheists claim.

Since Charles Hartshorne comes from a Quaker background, attended Haverford Quaker College
and is the most recent brilliant theistic thinker,
let’s first take a look at him
and his concepts and philosophy
which he terms,

Earliest Spiral Galaxy

For Hartshorne, the future is OPEN. Creativity, possibility are there. God and all conscious life have real alternative choices to create.

"A hallmark of Hartshorne’s neoclassical theism is that the universe is a joint creative product of (a) the lesser creators that are the creatures, localized in space and time, and (b) the eminent creator which is God whose influence extends to every creature that ever has or that ever will exist."
--Donald Wayne Viney, Pittsburg State University

"Charles Hartshorne, (born June 5, 1897, Kittanning, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died October 10, 2000, Austin, Texas), American philosopher, theologian, and educator known as the most influential proponent of a “process philosophy,” which considers God a participant in cosmic evolution."

"The descendant of Quakers and son of an Episcopalian minister, Hartshorne attended Haverford College before serving as a medical orderly in World War I. He completed his undergraduate education at Harvard University...earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1923. Hartshorne studied in Germany (1923–25), where he met Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl."

"He returned to lecture at Harvard (1925–28), after which he taught philosophy at the University of Chicago (1928–55) and at Emory University in Atlanta,
Georgia (1955–62). He then taught...philosophy at the University of Texas--Austin...He also served as president of the American Philosophical Association and the Metaphysical Society of America."

In the LIGHT,

Dan Wilcox

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

JOHN BARLEYCORN or Alcoholic Memoirs by Jack London

What an unexpected find! The very powerful, suspenseful memoir by Jack London. When checking out all of my shelf section of London books in the garage in preparation to take a few with me for a Jack London study an Alaskan Cruise, especially when we get to the '98 Gold Rush pass up at Skagway to B.C., I came across Barleycorn.

Side note: I had evidently picked the memoir up somewhere some years ago but never got around to reading it. There are--as I’ve discovered reading an extensive London bibliography online, at least 7 or 8(!) books by London I’ve never read! So odd, since I thought I had read all but a couple.

Not only is Barleycorn a fascinating memoir, riveting with London's excellent ability at writing suspense, the book gives personal, private details and reflective musings about his youthful times and some deep complex philosophical thoughts. All of this, he expresses in his amazingly powerful poetic prose.

London wrote his memoir against heavy drinking, against getting drunk, promoted Prohibition and did so while also supporting women's suffrage! Tragically, despite his opposition to heavy drinking, getting drunk, and his keen awareness of how alcohol contributed immensely to his tragic life problems, London never quit drinking.

It was his constant abuse of alcohol, too, (besides tropical diseases), which led to his extremely early death at only 40 years of age. That and his negative life stance based in an almost suicidal nihilistic materialism.

The book is an intriguing analysis, with vivid stories, of his own introduction to drinking when very young and the social reasons why he engaged in life-long drinking even though he didn’t like the taste of beer!

He reflects upon the historical fact that drinking alcohol is primarily men’s social way, how they find friends, express themselves emotionally after hard work, party, share, let their macho image down and commune—all around Ethyl. How sometimes alcohol-imbibing even took the place of women!

Only about 20-30 pages in the third 4th of the novel are weak. They are too abstract, miss the intense storied details of the rest of the memoir, and seem sort of thrown together.

Especially fascinating about his memoir, is the story of his unlikely rise to becoming the world's most well-paid writer. When one considers how London's had a spotty unfinished formal education, how he missed most of high school yet got accepted into college after cramming on his own in prep for the entrance exam but then dropped out after only one semester, his accomplishments are amazing. His prose is lucid, complex, poetic at times, incredibly good.

Barleycorn is well worth the read.

Another result of reading this is that I am much more strongly inclined to stop drinking in general, except when I have a little with Betsy for supper or out for a social event.

This book helps me see the horrific result that drinking has caused for multi-millions of humans, especially working men. I understand, again, why my mom so strongly opposed alcohol and why and how my two uncles were so deceived by drink and how it led to tragedy and wreck in their lives and their family’s lives.

In the last 5 years, I had forgotten all of that being too caught up in the fun side of having a glass once-in-a-while, after unexpectedly starting with that Category 5 Hurricane at Joe’s Crab Shack 8 years ago at Pacific Beach, California.

In the Light of Truth, Goodness, and Justice,

Dan Wilcox

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

After the Yellow Warning Light

At the stop before the exit
I hunch, feathered, on my late day perch
Above the overhead red light
Next to this enameled quick cam,

Black next to white,
I glance at the human tech
Then down its lens,
Wide the aperture
To the hectic-busy stopped cars

Gazing down through time
To their future deaths
These preoccupants
Too busy for this Present,
Way too many,
So it goes--

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox