53A Vane Attempt

"Don't Need a Weatherman To Tell Which Way the Wind Blows" 

A Series of Innocuous Blogs for Vainglorious Edification.

 

 Of God, Science and Man

“Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it.”  
Atlas Shrugged


There has been a coincidence of forces around planet Earth recently.  They have arrived unanticipated, in disturbing numbers and with more than a modicum of synchronicity.  One need not subscribe to an organized or mystical faith tradition to recognize the profound influence these forces exert on the emergent life we call human beings.   Revelations in science and of man’s place in the universe will soon bring about a new era of human introspection.  We may discover that we are not alone in this endeavor.  And we may find ourselves to be something of a chesspiece on a great cosmic chessboard floating across space and time. 

Let’s begin with the work of Edwin Hubble, a lawyer turned astronomer, who in 1924 confirmed that the galaxy we live in was an infinitesimal speck in a unimaginably vast universe.   His observations helped establish the big bang theory and the cosmological age and expansion of the universe.  Human beings gazed outward  humbled by the enormity of a universe exceeding even their imagination.  Seventy years later the orbiting telescope given Hubble’s name showed us ever more astonishing wonders.  One look at an Ultra Deep Field image from the furthest, most distant reaches of the universe, literally looking back in time billions of years - reveals a Jackson Pollack-like spattering of galaxies, novas, giant stars, gas clouds and stellar nurseries.  An astonishing cornucopia of color, shapes and textures making the hand and imagination of our most revered artists pale.

Theology in its best interpretation teaches us the value of humility.  It demonstrates how to be humbled by powers greater than ourselves can somehow confer those powers upon us.  Spiritual philosophies call this acceptance or surrendering to higher powers.  Other philosophies typified by Kant tell us that man’s self-image or ego disrupt his ability to enter and be entered by powers of  the ethereal world.  Such are the teachings of mystics and transcendentalists, including great thinkers like Gandhi, Lao Tze,  Krishnamurti, Spinoza, Emerson and Plato.  These philosophers might look at Hubble’s Deep Field image and see the common element of light and the invisible but implied connectedness of each galaxy, star and nova.  On another hand we find the Aristotelian philosophy of individualism and rights which lauds man’s inherent independence and insists that rational thought is what distinguishes man from the substrate of  life.  Such is the philosophy of Ayn Rand whose resurgent novel Atlas Shrugged is again raising hackles and sending perturbations across the universe.  Rand who acknowledges Aristotle as the philosopher she most likely embraces, uses her novel to portray man as a rational hero.  She insists that man’s ability to think, and to think brilliantly is the entire reason for him to exist.  With what flies in the face of current touch and feel politics, Rand’s novel tells us that rights, achievement, independent thought and happiness are the foundation of man’s true nature.  Subservience to the State, group-think, status quo and collectivism are anathema.

Were Rand or Aristotle to look at Hubble’s Deep Field image, they would see the cosmological confirmation of individuality.  No two stellar creations are alike.  Billions and billions (to borrow from Sagan) of stars, galaxies, planets and moons - each unique, different, independent -  like earthbound snow crystals.  And each representing an awe-inspiring aesthetic.  Because it is not only the magnitude of the cosmos, it is its magnificent beauty.  We see within each stellar creation the hand of high art, an astounding vision, and original design.  These are the very things that Rand’s protagonist Howard  Roark in The Fountainhead, strives to achieve.  Roark is a modern architect who is tossed out of architecture school for refusing to compromise.  He is later vilified in court for designing buildings that flout aesthetic standards and ridicule man’s “service to the status quo.”   Rand’s novels raise the ire of collective anti-egoists as she casts them firmly into the realm of mob rulers.   Her protagonists are men who fight for freedom to design and build with ideas that come directly from their rational minds.  She criticizes the Platonic suggestion that man is but a cog in the great wheel of social order.  She accuses that order of promoting subservience as man’s natural state.  And she predicts the demise of free thought and action by the invasion of totalitarian forces.  In a disturbing way Atlas Shrugged is prescient of politics today.   The novel's leaders of industry are accused of selfish disregard for community.  They are accused of self-enrichment and profit by exercise of intellectual property and invention.  They are told that no man is intellectually better than another and that to excel is to steal from communal equality.  A totalitarian state arises and soon industrialist inventor Hank Rearden and love interest Dagny Taggart are on the run.  The anti-ego, anti-industrial forces convince the public to accept nationalization of industry and a re-distribution of wealth.  The State takes control of the private sector and men and women of intellect and ability are driven underground. 

In an interesting theological interpretation, Rand’s novels pit the human spirit against the non-human spirit.  She sees the opponents of individual rights as a mob of collectivists who feed parasitically off of soaring human achievement.  She paints this mob as a clan of dark forces, the embodiment of evil whose sole intent is to enslave humanity.  They are the “looters” and thieves who disguise themselves as altruists to force human beings to conform.  She depicts them as twitching fundamentalists who whisper in ignorant ears: human beings are unworthy, selfish, shameful people who must atone for sins originating in Eden.  Rand’s voice is that of the spiritual Aristotle against collective Marxists who, lacking the talents to create themselves - simply steal from those who can create.  It is an epic battle.  It touches all corners of our world and perhaps even a few beyond. 

While Hubble attests to the originality of the universe, many mysteries await .  The orbiting Hubble provides convincing evidence of a force we now call “dark matter.”  It is an unseen energy that pervades the universe.  It is a force or derivative element that causes the expansion of the stars and galaxies at an accelerating pace.  It is just such a mystery that challenges the best in man.  With each cosmic puzzle and its eventual solution, man grows in knowledge and in self-esteem.  The larger the problem the greater the rational achievement.  But man is a wonderfully complex creature.  Capable of comprehending and growing in many ways.  He’s learning that hubris, exaggeration, and irrational behavior will cause negative reaction.  Natural forces are far bigger than man has command of and environmental irresponsibility will met by natural response.  To this end, today we see positive movement to constrain industrial excess and democratize sources of energy.  That must continue.  But so too must the ability of man to build, invent and explore. 

Perhaps the most curious and revealing of Hubble’s cosmic vision is the theory of stellar origins.  If indeed our universe and its contents began as an infinitely small singularity, and all matter derives from its cataclysmic explosion; then we are all made of the same stuff.  Regardless of where we are or what we appear to be.  We are all made of the stuff of the stars.  Artists call it stardust.  Thus, regardless of political stripe, physical or non-physical embodiment, mental or conscious state  - we are all cousins at least.  Which gives rise to the rational idea that if there are cousins, there must be parents.  And somewhere, subtly therein, lies the mystery of the divine.



Of God, Science and Man

“Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it.”  
Atlas Shrugged


There has been a coincidence of forces around planet Earth recently.  They have arrived unanticipated, in disturbing numbers and with more than a modicum of synchronicity.  One need not subscribe to an organized or mystical faith tradition to recognize the profound influence these forces exert on the emergent life we call human beings.   Revelations in science and of man’s place in the universe will soon bring about a new era of human introspection.  We may discover that we are not alone in this endeavor.  And we may find ourselves to be something of a chesspiece on a great cosmic chessboard floating across space and time. 

Let’s begin with the work of Edwin Hubble, a lawyer turned astronomer, who in 1924 confirmed that the galaxy we live in was an infinitesimal speck in a unimaginably vast universe.   His observations helped establish the big bang theory and the cosmological age and expansion of the universe.  Human beings gazed outward  humbled by the enormity of a universe exceeding even their imagination.  Seventy years later the orbiting telescope given Hubble’s name showed us ever more astonishing wonders.  One look at an Ultra Deep Field image from the furthest, most distant reaches of the universe, literally looking back in time billions of years - reveals a Jackson Pollack-like spattering of galaxies, novas, giant stars, gas clouds and stellar nurseries.  An astonishing cornucopia of color, shapes and textures making the hand and imagination of our most revered artists pale.

Theology in its best interpretation teaches us the value of humility.  It demonstrates how to be humbled by powers greater than ourselves can somehow confer those powers upon us.  Spiritual philosophies call this acceptance or surrendering to higher powers.  Other philosophies typified by Kant tell us that man’s self-image or ego disrupt his ability to enter and be entered by powers of  the ethereal world.  Such are the teachings of mystics and transcendentalists, including great thinkers like Gandhi, Lao Tze,  Krishnamurti, Spinoza, Emerson and Plato.  These philosophers might look at Hubble’s Deep Field image and see the common element of light and the invisible but implied connectedness of each galaxy, star and nova.  On another hand we find the Aristotelian philosophy of individualism and rights which lauds man’s inherent independence and insists that rational thought is what distinguishes man from the substrate of  life.  Such is the philosophy of Ayn Rand whose resurgent novel Atlas Shrugged is again raising hackles and sending perturbations across the universe.  Rand who acknowledges Aristotle as the philosopher she most likely embraces, uses her novel to portray man as a rational hero.  She insists that man’s ability to think, and to think brilliantly is the entire reason for him to exist.  With what flies in the face of current touch and feel politics, Rand’s novel tells us that rights, achievement, independent thought and happiness are the foundation of man’s true nature.  Subservience to the State, group-think, status quo and collectivism are anathema.

Were Rand or Aristotle to look at Hubble’s Deep Field image, they would see the cosmological confirmation of individuality.  No two stellar creations are alike.  Billions and billions (to borrow from Sagan) of stars, galaxies, planets and moons - each unique, different, independent -  like earthbound snow crystals.  And each representing an awe-inspiring aesthetic.  Because it is not only the magnitude of the cosmos, it is its magnificent beauty.  We see within each stellar creation the hand of high art, an astounding vision, and original design.  These are the very things that Rand’s protagonist Howard  Roark in The Fountainhead, strives to achieve.  Roark is a modern architect who is tossed out of architecture school for refusing to compromise.  He is later vilified in court for designing buildings that flout aesthetic standards and ridicule man’s “service to the status quo.”   Rand’s novels raise the ire of collective anti-egoists as she casts them firmly into the realm of mob rulers.   Her protagonists are men who fight for freedom to design and build with ideas that come directly from their rational minds.  She criticizes the Platonic suggestion that man is but a cog in the great wheel of social order.  She accuses that order of promoting subservience as man’s natural state.  And she predicts the demise of free thought and action by the invasion of totalitarian forces.  In a disturbing way Atlas Shrugged is prescient of politics today.   The novel's leaders of industry are accused of selfish disregard for community.  They are accused of self-enrichment and profit by exercise of intellectual property and invention.  They are told that no man is intellectually better than another and that to excel is to steal from communal equality.  A totalitarian state arises and soon industrialist inventor Hank Rearden and love interest Dagny Taggart are on the run.  The anti-ego, anti-industrial forces convince the public to accept nationalization of industry and a re-distribution of wealth.  The State takes control of the private sector and men and women of intellect and ability are driven underground. 

In an interesting theological interpretation, Rand’s novels pit the human spirit against the non-human spirit.  She sees the opponents of individual rights as a mob of collectivists who feed parasitically off of soaring human achievement.  She paints this mob as a clan of dark forces, the embodiment of evil whose sole intent is to enslave humanity.  They are the “looters” and thieves who disguise themselves as altruists to force human beings to conform.  She depicts them as twitching fundamentalists who whisper in ignorant ears: human beings are unworthy, selfish, shameful people who must atone for sins originating in Eden.  Rand’s voice is that of the spiritual Aristotle against collective Marxists who, lacking the talents to create themselves - simply steal from those who can create.  It is an epic battle.  It touches all corners of our world and perhaps even a few beyond. 

While Hubble attests to the originality of the universe, many mysteries await .  The orbiting Hubble provides convincing evidence of a force we now call “dark matter.”  It is an unseen energy that pervades the universe.  It is a force or derivative element that causes the expansion of the stars and galaxies at an accelerating pace.  It is just such a mystery that challenges the best in man.  With each cosmic puzzle and its eventual solution, man grows in knowledge and in self-esteem.  The larger the problem the greater the rational achievement.  But man is a wonderfully complex creature.  Capable of comprehending and growing in many ways.  He’s learning that hubris, exaggeration, and irrational behavior will cause negative reaction.  Natural forces are far bigger than man has command of and environmental irresponsibility will met by natural response.  To this end, today we see positive movement to constrain industrial excess and democratize sources of energy.  That must continue.  But so too must the ability of man to build, invent and explore. 

Perhaps the most curious and revealing of Hubble’s cosmic vision is the theory of stellar origins.  If indeed our universe and its contents began as an infinitely small singularity, and all matter derives from its cataclysmic explosion; then we are all made of the same stuff.  Regardless of where we are or what we appear to be.  We are all made of the stuff of the stars.  Artists call it stardust.  Thus, regardless of political stripe, physical or non-physical embodiment, mental or conscious state  - we are all cousins at least.  Which gives rise to the rational idea that if there are cousins, there must be parents.  And somewhere, subtly therein, lies the mystery of the divine.