[asa] Macro and Micro versions of Creation

From: Janice Matchett <janmatch@earthlink.net>
Date: Wed Oct 31 2007 - 13:40:36 EDT

Some of you may think this is a pretty interesting, too. ~ Janice

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I Think, Therefore I Am in Trouble

When you think about it, the only thing in the cosmos that can go
really wrong, at least on a massive scale, is thinking. So stop it already!

What I mean is that everything else in the universe works perfectly
harmoniously, without a hitch, from the solar system to the ecosystem
to the human body. I suppose you could argue that birth defects and
genetic illnesses represent "going wrong" as well, but these are
obviously exceptions that prove the rule.

No, there is no question that human thought introduced something
potentially satanic into the cosmos. When we say that people need to
be "saved," it's almost always from their own thoughts, is it not?

Now, Genesis, in its wisdom, obviously recognized this from the word
(lo)go. No sooner were "our eyes opened" than there's trouble in paradise.

Before that, human beings were living in harmony with creation, just
like everything else.

In his magisterial
Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, Kass makes many salient points
along these lines. For example in the first version of creation,
"things are said to be 'good'; in the second, there is a tree of
knowledge of good and bad, nothing is said to be 'good,' and one
thing -- man's aloneness -- is said (by the Lord God) to be 'not good'....

In the first story, human freedom appears to be our badge of
distinction; in the second story, human freedom is the source of our

Interestingly, the first version of creation is a macro view, from
which it is all good. Imagine if you could actually stand outside the
entire cosmos...and regard the whole existentialada as a beautiful
and benign star-making machine. What's the problem? No problem.

But wait! What's that! Down there -- on that little blue speck.

The second version of creation zooms in for a micro view of the
goings-on of a particular planet at a far corner of creation. Imagine
if you could actually stand outside history..and regard the whole
catastrophe, from alpha to omega, as one continuous thread with an
underlying pattern that keeps repeating again and again.

As Kass writes, the first version of creation "offers a cosmic
vision, majestically presenting man's place in a cosmic whole....
[T]he scene viewed is remote and all-encompassing, and what is seen
is eternal." The story provides "metaphysical scope and knowledge,
and it inspires in us wonder and cosmic awe."

But the second version "maintains a strictly terrestrial focus and
addresses the reader as a suffering moral agent, presenting him a
poignant account of why misery shadows human life."

This second version of creation does not contradict the first. It's
just from a different perspective, that's all. A different "vertex,"
as Bion would put it.

But this difference goes to the heart of man's problems, because one
presents us with eternal, intelligible, nonlocal metaphysical
principles, while the other presents us with man's deviation from
these principles, i.e., his own thought:

"A life of sinless innocence and wholeheartedness is virtually
impossible for human beings, thanks to freedom, imagination,
reason-and-speech, self-consciousness, and pride, and in the face of
neediness, sexuality, ignorance, self-division, dependence, and lack
of self-command."

In baseball, there are a couple of sayings that apply: "Don't think,
you'll hurt the ballclub," and "No brain, no problem."

And so we see that misery shadows human life, especially the Chicago
Cubs. Speaking of sports, I'm sure many of you remember a book that
came out in the 1970s,
Inner Game of Tennis, which taught that... Rather then trying to
think back on what the book taught, I'll just cite the amazon review:

"A phenomenon when first published in 1972, the Inner Game was a real
revelation. Instead of serving up technique, it concentrated on the
fact that, as Gallwey wrote, 'Every game is composed of two parts, an
outer game and an inner game.' The former is played against
opponents, and is filled with lots of contradictory advice; the
latter is played not against, but within the mind of the player, and
its principal obstacles are self-doubt and anxiety. Gallwey's
revolutionary thinking, built on a foundation of Zen thinking and
humanistic psychology, was really a primer on how to get out of your
own way to let your best game emerge.... The new edition of this
remarkable work... refines Gallwey's theories on concentration,
gamesmanship, breaking bad habits, learning to trust yourself on the
court, and awareness. 'No matter what a person's complaint when he
has a lesson with me, I have found the most beneficial first step,'
he stressed, 'is to encourage him to see and feel what he is doing --
that is, to increase his awareness of what actually is.'"

In short, the purpose of Gallwey's book was to help guilt-ridden
players overcome their divided selves and return to tennis eden --
just like the Bible. For it too posits "two natures" within man, who
is ultimately divided against himself:

"Human troubles are foreshadowed by man's dual origins: he is
constituted by two principles, the first one low ('dust from the
ground'), the second one high ('breath of life')."

On the one hand, we are stardust, we are golden, but on the other, we
are earthdust, we are fertilizer.

Either way, we've got to find our way back to the garden. No wonder
you're crazy! For once you have eaten from the tree of knowledge of
good and bad, "the human being cannot without trouble enjoy his own
existence. In its presence, he cannot remain undivided within himself."

Now this problem of "thought," as we were saying yesterday, is
undoubtedly worse for the intelligent than it is for the stupid.
Certainly it causes more problems for mankind at large.

That is, for the stupid person, his dumb ideas only affect himself
and those in his immediate vicinity.

Only the ideas of the intelligent can be truly catastrophic --
especially those of unironic secular do-gooders who are unaware of
the double-edgedness of human thought.

For as someone once said, philosophy is essentially error on a grandiose scale.

Likewise, the [...] debate last night reminded us once again of the
defunct economist Keynes' remark that "Practical men, who believe
themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are
usually the slaves of some defunct economist."

"...running out of time ..we'll pick up this thread tomorrow...I'll
just leave you with a comment by Schuon:

"The word 'thinker' implies that an individual activity is attributed
to knowledge, and this is significant. As for the 'contemplative,' he
is able to abstain from 'thinking': the act of contemplation is
principial, which means that its activity is in its essence, not in
its operations....

"When the heat produced by rubbing together two pieces of wood -- or
by a lens catching a ray from the sun -- has reached the precise
degree that is its culminating point, flame suddenly bursts forth; in
the same way, as soon as the mental operation is capable of supplying
adequate support, intellection spontaneously grafts itself onto this
support. It is thus that human intelligence assimilates its own
universal essence thanks to a kind of reciprocity between thought and
Reality." ..." ~ Bob Godwin http://onecosmos.blogspot.com/

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Received on Wed Oct 31 13:41:37 2007

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