The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge
I wish to return to and idea that has to do with the parable in our last post, and that is: Consciousness, free will and thought are non-negotiable: No theory can deny them without destroying itself in the process. If I say, “I propose I am not thinking right now,” then the proposal itself loses all credibility, for if I am not thinking, then I am not proposing. You cannot propose a thought without thinking.
Similarly, we have also said that no moral system can deny that morality is objective without destroying itself in the process. If I say “morality is merely an illusion” then any moral pronouncement I make (“thus and such is hateful”) becomes meaningless.
This is a recap of course. But what these two ideas have in common is that both are key features of the modern mind. We modern people like to think (or accept as unquestionably true) we are educated and sophisticated and are so much more advanced than our forebears. But we claim morality is merely a byproduct of evolution and yet continue to make moral pronouncements and live as though things like right and wrong actually exist. And we say consciousness is merely a chemical phenomenon, not realizing the very claim we are making is a product of that same phenomenon. For being so educated — and pardon the bluntness — we come across a bit dim.
There is also something troubling about such claims. It means things like beauty and truth and virtue and awe and splendor and compassion and love do not exist. These things seem core to who we are as human beings, even vital to what it means to be human. And yet we — as modern people — are willing to part with them. Quite easily, in fact. We are willing to part with them even if our very claims about truth that cause us to part with them are logically incoherent.
Why is this? I think it is because of the alternative. If we allow ourselves to recognize the logical incoherence of our conclusion, we would have to acknowledge that one of our assumptions is invalid. In the case of human thought being an illusion caused purely by chemical reactions, we would have to say, “Wait, no. That cannot possibly be true.” And then we would have to challenge the assumption that gave rise to that assumption: That humans are no more than biological machines. But what gave rise to that assumption? That reality itself is purely physical. This is the base assumption that cannot possibly be true.
But if our whole notion that reality is purely physical is not true, by definition that would mean reality is more than physical; it is more than nature. It would mean we live in a supernatural world. And this is something the modern mind is simply not prepared, or perhaps willing, to accept.
It is more willing to divest itself of all that is sacred and destroy itself in the process than acknowledge what cannot be denied. In short, it seems the modern mind would rather become nothing than acknowledge God.
Photo by Denis Degioanni on Unsplash