Monday, July 2, 2012

Dictionary of Micro Rants: Gods, Undead and Personal

Gods, undead and personal: gods exist but hide in plain sight, so that ironically atheists surpass theists in their respective knowledge of the divine.

If gods are ultimate creative powers, there are two kinds of gods which are obviously real: natural evolution and higher animal consciousness. The former is just the evident power of matter and energy to combine in various forms which interact and develop new forms in time, from molecules to galaxies and perhaps infinite universes. Nature’s creativity gives rise to complex patterns throughout the cosmos, but this prodigious power is impersonal; to be sure, like na├»ve children we anthropomorphize the sun, the wind, and the rain, but that’s just projection, the over-extension of our personhood onto the inhuman, so that we might mitigate our alienation from nature. Nevertheless, natural forces are divinely creative. Nature is thus neither living nor dead. The natural creator gods, named now by those modern wizards, the physicists, astronomers, biologists, and other scientists, are undead: creative but monstrous, inhuman, terrifyingly other than what we’re most familiar with and best capable of understanding, which is ourselves. 

Consciousness is the living, personal god which creates what the philosopher Kant called the phenomenal world by interpreting experience, beholding everything within a worldview, applying concepts and values, identifying the natural form and thus acquiring power over it. There’s no good reason to think that consciousness is naturally or metaphysically prior to nature; no mind created the universe out of nothing. However, the subjective aspect of everything in nature depends on conscious creatures. The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics calls this aspect the "collapse of the wave function." The point is that were life never to have evolved anywhere, there would still have been stars, planets, atoms, and all the other products of undead gods, but these products would differ from the ways we experience the world, given how our brains happen to process information we receive from our senses. We help create the world we experience, and to that extent we’re all divinely creative.

However, most conscious beings are doubly oppressed rather than reigning in glory. We’re entombed within the decaying body of the undead god, that is, within the natural totality that evolves as a result of the interplay of mindlessly creative forces. Also, most of us are forced to occupy lowly positions in power hierarchies dominated by conscious beings that, unlike so-called Christians, are genuinely twice born and doubly divine. The oligarchs who tend to rule societies conquer nature by understanding their experience within a worldview, but they also conquer their fellow conscious beings, identifying with the undead gods as the oligarchs compete according to social versions of the principles of natural selection. Oligarchs are thus avatars of monstrous nature, their sociopathic depths of vice symbolizing the menacing inhumanity of natural forces which afflict us despite our more modest divinity and limited power over nature.

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