Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vital Statistics

     "If the sun and moon should doubt
      They'd immediately go out."-William Blake

  As far as we can tell , humans have always required a higher power to call upon for securing their well-being; whether it be for the  blessing of  a hunt, a crop, or  a good and restful place to go to in our afterlife.  Whether God created us in his image or we created him in ours has been, of course,  subject to debate for centuries, but what is not open to debate is that there  is an inherent need, even if  only  at certain times, for us to have a "parental figure" of some kind to depend on to carry us to our fates.  Your god usually depends on your geography, or your station in society.  You may not even consider the higher power a "god" as such, but the faith that is put into any force that cannot be 100% quantifiable is , in the end, not unlike any other.  They all have their degree of unlikeliness that must be handed over to some degree of faith.  
  In his book, Beyond the Occult, Colin Wilson discusses the "anthropic principle" which propounds that "the existence of life in the universe seems to argue that the universe was somehow designed to create life and that life is finally destined to colonize the furthest corners  of the universe."  He then tells of  the vitalist view , saying that rather than life arising through some fantastically unlikely combination of chemical compounds out of the dead matter of the universe, perhaps it entered the universe from outside, that life invaded matter, which was really just a cosmic machine created for its expansion.  "Life is," he says, "in some fundamental sense, independent of matter."  This is certainly the spiritual view.  He makes an interesting analogy that we are like cosmic explorers who, after making a spearhead into the unknown country, lost contact with our mother source, and after centuries of struggling independently in the colonies, have only subconscious and mythic reminders of that source.  But we still have that need to keep contact.
  It is interesting to play with  such provocative  ideas.  The concept that the dueling forces of the universe , God vs. the devil, good vs. evil, light vs. dark, are all poetic readings of life vs. matter is certainly intriguing.  In some ways it is beside the point, as Bob Dylan said "you either got faith or disbelief, and there ain't no neutral ground."  But I think that what makes atheists and agnostics out of many people is there definition of god.  It is understandably difficult in the Age of Science to buy into certain ancient mythologies.  However, the old cliche "there are no atheists in foxholes"  still rings true.  In this turbulent era  we realize, to some degree, that our whole world is a "foxhole".  We have hardwired in us the need and ability to have faith in certain things; the stripes in the center of the road are just licks of paint, but if we didn't have the faith that the majority of drivers would  honor what those stripes symbolize, we would never dare go down the road.  
  Faith is part of us, part of our evolutionary survival, as individuals and as a species.  What we do or do not do with it is our free will, and everything hangs in the balance.  So the struggle continues...

1 comment:

Brer said...

The position between the choices of God or the devil seems to put them on equal footing, but it should be remembered that though they are "duelling" they are never "dual"; that is, they are never equal or balanced like the concepts of Yin and Yang. Even if we were express the magnitude of Satan to Man as a hundred thousand million billion trillion to .01, we would both be of the same mathematical signicance to the infinity of God's power. The question naturally arises why God doesn't simply get rid of the devil if he's so powerful, and a peculiar answer came to me last night; perhaps he loves the devil as much as he loves us.

As for vitalism, it is certainly "a" spiritual answer, if not "the" spiritual answer. It is a Platonic or Gnostic concept that crept into Christianity in its early years and influenced much of its thinking; that "matter" is base, and "spirit" is noble, although the worst of evils like pride arise in the spirit and God pronounced all creation "very good", even before the arrival of Man. The Gnostic idea is that people "in the know" can remember their divine origin and escape vile matter; the Christian idea is that the whole of creation groans together in the birth pangs of redemption; the risen Christ's possession of a body, and one that was marked by his suffering and experience but not limited by it, seems to point to the importance of this world and our experience in it.