History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Theism, atheism, world history and the ‘evidence’ of ‘god in history’

April 8th, 2015 · 6 Comments

8:00 AM: 4/8
The attempt to put buddhism’s atheism against the version of the new atheists, as here with NK, is useful and of interest, but in the end the ‘god’ question is not so simple. I think we can prevent ourselves from going mad in a false debate by adopting the Enlightenment version of sanity proposed by Kant who found antinomies at the core of all such debates.

In an age of science atheism of various kinds is tending to come into the ascendant. But we should keep in mind that atheists have ended up promoting a false version of evolution to suggest falsely that design arguments, so called, are false. Thus atheists are thus creating the same kind of mythology that ended up discrediting theism. The key antinomies pointed to by Kant are almost weird: they drive the mind into a frenzy in a hurricane of ‘dialectical’ contradictories.
We should consider the question of the origins of monotheism, or that of the Israelites: they invoked ‘god’ (they didn’t use that term) because they suspected/detected a ‘something’ that could operate over whole regions over time with ‘actions’ that could hardly be mechanical. Originally, this was a sensible insight. But they moved into a contradiction: if this ‘god’ was really ‘god’ why did it act over the space of ‘Israel/Judah’ and yet also in the age of Abraham? Soon this issue was forgotten, if it ever registered, but we can see that they were really discovering our macro effect with its distinction of continuous/discontinuous, or stream and sequence, effects. We can refer to our model here in WHEE.

The question of god is thus not really very simple. Look at my ‘macro’ effect. Atheists say there is no evidence for god. But in fact the evidence in world history is so overwhelming that it stands out in ‘bold’. We see a ‘mechanical’ agent passing over into a ‘willing’ agent, one that can generate transformations in whole cultures over short intervals of centuries on a global scale. It even raises the question as to whether ‘god’ generated buddhism, for example. But at that point the argument peaks and begins to go sideways…
The Israelites couldn’t quite distinguish between an ‘age of revelation’ producing a god religion, and a god religion which said that god produced that religion through action in history.

Thus as we pursue this further we begin to see that this evidence which is overwhelming isn’t really evidence for god. If fails a key test: it is local and temporary in its action, and switches on an off. And yet it is also a reference to a ‘god’ whose action is universal throughout all space and time. So a really ‘good idea’, bon idee, ended up in multiple versions of Kantian crash and burn. And after an initial clarification atheism has also failed. We can see that there are phenomena, such as the Axial Age, which neither religion nor science can handle.

My response to these issues is to, first, point to the cosmic expansion of scale that puts the ‘god’ idea in a larger context: historical action in a specific planetary system in very short intervals, doesn’t seem so believable anymore although they are compatible with views of godly omnipotennce. But somehow the intimate interaction claimed for the era of the old Testament doesn’t seem so cogent anymore. It is too provincial. But, still, we are confronted with evidence, not of omnipotence, but of something that can do some fairly impressive wonders over the course of world history. But can’t science move to close the explanation gap and ascribe those wonders to mechanical action? It is ironically similar to the kind of contraction we see in the wave/particle duality, a very different situation to be sure.
We can’t resolve a ‘will’/’mechanism’ dilemma, at least as yet. The ‘macro model’ so-called scores a strong plus for ‘mechanism’ with its pointing to the way the evidence exhibits a very close resemblance to a particular kind of system. But further study shows the action of this system to be also very suggestive of design issues. That springs from its creative character and the awy it can generate ultracomplex things like art, poetry, etc…The issue is still more complex: it can generate these but humans carry out the specifics. Homer, btw, was very specific about this: he explicitly claimed that his poetry was ‘generated’ by a muse, a clear design agent! Was he correct? He was in the same confusion as the Israelites: he couldn’t distinguish a muse acting universally over time versus within the boundaries of the Axial Age! The issue in this case is especially tricky: our stream and sequence argument shows that Homer’s idea of a muse has the same problem as the Israelite conception of ‘god’, or in fact, ‘Jehovah’. But is Homeric poetry therefore purely human in creation? That probably won’t work either: the actual collation and crystallization of Greek epic, although it used ‘stream’ elements of great antiquity, that suddenly, as we can see, more or less, as they cross the ‘Axial’ interval entered into a different process.
Enough…This kind of discussion can go on and on, and in the end theism and atheism as we take them are in shreds. So the current ascendance of ‘atheism’ is, like theism, subject to a reversal of fortune at the end of which the whole ‘god’ question becomes murky, as Kantian analysis suggests.

It could hardly be otherwise: we are unable to define a ‘god’ we can defend as believable or unbelievable: we can have no debate unless we can first define ‘god’. And that we cannot do. And we are left with the clear action of something that resembles ‘god’ acting in world history. But we have no definition nor any proof via that definition of anything one way or the other.

Tags: General

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 NK // Apr 8, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I find WHEE interesting and you’ve clearly found an important pattern, but, if we’re talking about the Buddhist perspective, the issue only has provisional importance. World history may go through ups and downs and may show a teleological pattern, but the central human existential dilemma always comes down to agency, action, and the end of action. Steven Collins wrote a book about this; the sutras related to this issue are clearly satires and not meant to be taken literally, but the point they’re making is that even if society reaches something like utopia, it still won’t escape the central issue:


  • 2 NK // Apr 8, 2015 at 10:56 am

    “…always comes down to agency, action, and the end of action”

    And that is really the issue “God” beliefs are incoherently trying to address without realizing it:


  • 3 nemo // Apr 8, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    This was not an attempt to debunk buddhism, only a suggestion that biospheric ‘evolution’ has a larger scale than anything an enlightened sage could manage. In fact, I wasn’t critiquing buddhism at all: the Axial Age effect whatever it was gave buddhism a depth and amplification absent in the isolated ashrams of individual gurus. More on this later.
    The issue of the Axial Age and then the post-Axial synchrony of Mahayana and arising Xtianity is another significant issue.

    I will get around to your comments as soon as possible…thanks…

  • 4 nemo // Apr 9, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Another response here: buddhism (and Mahavira’s Jainism) is one of the classic data zones for the macro effect. So there is no problem with buddhism, but maybe buddhists? : The question arises: how to interpret the macro effect? The rise of modernity is surprising hard to figure for many new agers, or rather their traditionalist guides. The issue goes back to the nineteenth century and the shock of a new era and the false sense that modernity was a form of decline. The assault on modernity became an occult obsession, and we see the final extravagant counteract in way occultism generated nazism, something we still don’t understand…That was insane, and as the facts become known, if they ever do, the result could be an earthquake.

  • 5 NK // Apr 13, 2015 at 11:13 am

    “This was not an attempt to debunk buddhism, only a suggestion that biospheric ‘evolution’ has a larger scale than anything an enlightened sage could manage. In fact, I wasn’t critiquing buddhism at all:”

    I didn’t take it as such and wouldn’t care if you did. I’m probably harsher on “Buddhism” than anybody else and don’t agree with much of the mainstream canonical views. My point is that, understood correctly, it has understood the central issue.

  • 6 nemo // Apr 13, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    It was Osho who lavished the most praise on buddhism, but then bragged he would produce more enlightened disciples. We will see. I seem to see at least twenty enlightened disciples already, a better average than most to say the least. Check out Ozen Rajneesh for me??? A mysterious buddha in the Osho Commune.
    I think that noone will ever compete with Gautama because the time and era demanded a world religion for better or for worse. A lot of resources flooded into it and supercharged the whole thing. Buddhism just goes on and on in a labyrinth of worlds touching it, Tibet and all sorts of different histories in the Hinayana worlds, plus China and Zen, etc…

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