Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Matter and Consciousness

 I continue to somewhat struggle and significantly enjoy the 1375 pages of "The Matter With Things" -- I'm on page 1225, so God willing, I'm going to make it. 

It is undeniable that there is significant hard work in reading, meditating on, noting, attempting to understand,  a work like this. I regularly reflect that real life was never intended to happy, easy, distracting, entertaining, etc. Only in the very latest of modernity has it been possible to very nearly do nothing at all. Our water, food, sanitary systems, electrical power, transportation, shelter, communication, entertainment, etc are increasingly effortless. This is all courtesy of our left brain that sees the world as a problem to be "solved" either by physical means or an equation, a project to be competed, a challenge to be defeated, an enemy to be conquered, or an unmeasurable "thing" to be ignored. 

The left brain has been a servant that has provided us much, however, as McGilchrist laments it is increasingly our master, converting our enchanted universe to a DISenchanted one. Well described by Charles Taylor in a nearly as massive book, "The Secular Age".

So what are "we"? 

Conscious beings with no clue what consciousness is. Our left brain helpfully finds a simple solution based in the material world to get this supposed problem out of the way as rapidly as possible. Perhaps consciousness is an illusion that doesn't really "exist", since it can't be measured, and in a materialist universe, things that can't be measured do not exist by definition (according to the left brain)? No problem to even solve! 

Perhaps it "somehow emerges" when you get enough neural stuff together ? 

On page 1037, McGilchrist provides a simple model that blew my mind. 

"But do we know that matter can give rise to consciousness? This is merely an assumption. When a TV set malfunctions, it can distort the image or sound it relays in a large number of ways, depending where the system malfunction lies. To an engineer, the nature of the distortion may be a clue to the location of the problem, as the nature of brain pathology is to the neurologist. To an observer from another planet, it might prove impossible to tell if the TV set did not generate, but merely transmitted it's output. Pull the plug and the show ceases to exist. 

The intimacy of the relationship between two parties has in itself nothing to say about its nature. In the history of the cosmos, matter might give rise to mind, or mind to matter; or each might equally give rise to the other interdependently; or might run in parallel, because they are different aspects of some ultimately unified phenomenon. When it comes to the brain, the intimate relation between brain activity and states of mind cannot in itself help distinguish between theories of emission, transmission, and permission as its basis. In other words, the same findings are equally compatible with the brain emitting, transmitting, or permitting consciousness. (the last two are similar, excerpt that permitting substitutes the the idea of a constraint that is creative, fashioning what it allows come into being, for the merely passive idea of transmission)." 

McGilchrist goes for the latter explanation as most likely. The commonly accepted first option is based on the left brain idea that while we don't understand consciousness, we do understand matter, ergo ... It must all be matter! 

This is akin to the drunk looking for his keys under a streetlamp because the light is better there. The sad part here is that there is no "streetlamp" which the left brain assumed! Quantum Field Theory (QFT) has now assured us that we DON'T understand matter, and the left brain has again thrown up "helpful" models like the "many worlds", which postulates 10 to the 400th<400> universes. More comforting for modern man to believe than "God" (or another "thing" we don't understand,) although explaining nothing. What caused all those universes to happen? 
<400>
<400>The BIG model shift is to one where mind PRECEDES matter! It turns out that many of our famous physicists; Einstein, Pauli, Bohr, Feynman, etc either hinted at, grasped faintly, or decided that "it's all fields".  No particles, thus no "matter" in the sense we think of it. 

Consciousness seems to be a field rather than a "thing" (matter). If the base of the universe is a field rather than stuff, what do we refer to it as? "The Force"? 

It seems that every civilization has an "un-word" that is sacred and if spoken, spoken in awe ... Logos, Tao, li, Brahman, ri, Allah, YHWH -- and "God". "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name".  “And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am". I found that Harold Bloom gave some insight into some of the "naming issue" in "Jesus and Yahweh. The Names Divine". 

The title "The Matter With Things" shines out as increasingly appropriate. We have been duped by our left brains into believing a hopelessly meaningless materialist view of life, the universe and everything, while our right brains scream "Is this ALL there is???". We think all is matter, and therefore, a "thing". Our materialist model is so deep it affects everyTHING (I'm not going to keep doing that, but you get the point -- our very language is materialist) even increasingly, our religion. 

We are drawn to a materialist view of God as some sort of old guy in the sky, and the Bible as a history book of THINGS and literal events.  If someone can cast doubt on the material "fact" of anything in the Bible it isn't "true". We confuse "truth" with a materialist chain of actual material events, even though the Bible itself really tries to dissuade us.

One small example ... John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ...". First he says "I AM" (hint, hint), then "the way", clearly not a material path, then "the truth" ... he is at that point a "fully man" physical person (but what is physical?), that is also the conceptual truth, and "the life" -- which gives us another good hint that we are beyond words here. Materialistically today, we don't know what "life" is, only that we can't create "it". It certainly isn't an "it" (thing"/matter). 

No, there seems to be WAY more. Our "seemingly physical" bodies, and our much more real consciousness may be much better represented as "eddies" in the universal conscious field, that is "God".  

Tragically, the important "sense" does not translate into words hardly at all. Music, art, awe, poetry ... all much better, and unfortunately all of which I am grossly untutored and therefore insufficiently appreciative of.  I'm hoping the last few hundred pages move me along, but in all probability, it may be something like attempting to describe "blue" to a man blind from birth.. 

To a writer, the fact that text is a left brain, dangerous abstraction from the wonder, mystery, awe, and deep meaning of the much better right brained "whole" is disconcerting. Is it too late for me to become a poet? Perhaps writing with appropriate warnings that what I'm struggling to express is ultimately beyond textual representation.

Monday, March 13, 2023

White What?

 "Privilege" you say? 

I'm still waiting for mine. Why do we have an MLK day, when his values have been brutally rejected? 

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” (MLK) 

This Spectator article does a decent job of explaining why it is a very bad idea to judge people by the color of their skin.
Underlying the white-privilege thesis are two basic claims: first that “white” is a useful category in which to place everyone from Elon Musk to a cleaner in a Tesla factory, and second that being in such a category imbues people with privileges denied to those outside it.

Are Jews "white"? Are Asians? This article points out the fact that US colleges discriminate against Asians and Jews ... and it is increasing.  Why? Based on merit, the majority of our top universities would be Asians or Jews. Are they smarter? No, they have a culture that values education, hard work and strong families, even  when living in a country that in general values neither. High achieving Black students are often castigated by their same race peers as "acting white"? 

JD Vance covered some not so privileged whites in "Hillbilly Elegy". 

There are a lot of poor white people that have started to have the same culture as is common among blacks ... broken homes, addiction, welfare, no parental or community push to be educated, etc. 

Could the real factor be culture, community, family, hard work, and the concept that nobody owes you anything at all? Nah, it must be my White Privilege thinking heresy like that! 

We are already at the front edge of the time where your pilot or surgeon might have been more a product of DIE (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity)  ... of course they prefer the acronym DEI, because when your surgeon was primarily "qualified" by his contribution to the high DEI score of the hospital, DIE may be a bit too accurate. 


It MUST Be Climate Change

 I had never heard of an "Atmospheric River", but of course they are all the rage now. Here, the WaPo helpfully tells us how Climate Change will make them "worse". 

In 2022, the problem was record drought

The WaPo story, posted in early January, proclaimed that although these Atmospheric Rivers were providing a lot of water, they were providing less snow. 

Atmospheric rivers play a critical role in supplying mountain snowpack, which serves as an important source of freshwater as it melts in the spring and summer. Some research shows the weather systems provide about a quarter of the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Yet as temperatures rise, snowfall is decreasing.

 On March the 3rd, the NY Times helpfully reported that California was getting record snowfall and freezing temps. 

Record snowfall and freezing temperatures have altered the landscape and lives of millions of people in California in recent weeks. The mountains behind the iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles are dusted in white. Yosemite National Park is closed to the public, and mountain roads are coated with black ice.

Vineyards in Napa Valley were dusted with powdery snow. Snow met the sand on a beach in Santa Cruz.

The climate industry still really pushes "Global Warming" as "The Science", but in brilliant marketing, they have rebranded as "Climate Change".  Heads I win, tails you lose. 

The climate tech market was $13.8 billion in 2022, with a healthy CAGR of 24.2%, it should be $147.5 by 2032. Compare that growth rate with how your stock portfolio is doing! 

We have learned so much about climate in the past few years ... things we were unaware of before. Record cold is now caused by "Polar Vortexes" which are a result of Climate Change. I'd never heard of a "Derecho" until one hit Iowa in 2020.

"Haboob" is another term that has showed up in the past few years. 

We used to use pedestrian terms like "lots of rain". "cold weather", "high winds", and "dust storm". How could we be so stupid to use such non-descriptive terms when the master communicators are much more precise with terms like "Atmospheric River"! It pretty much nails what you need to know! 

Keeping the suckers off balance by changing what things are called is a way to make them think something new is happening. Well, the WORD is new ... or at least it's public use is new. 

One of the most read posts from my old blog was "-36, It's Toasted" that gives a bit of insight into the relationship between marketing and reality. 

We have gotten a lot more gullible since 2017. At this rate, we soon won't even know what a woman is! ... oops

I don't post much on climate anymore, after all, unless you are some evil denier, IT'S SETTLED! 


 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Christian Nationalists

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2023/02/24/idaho-christian-nationalism-marjorie-taylor-greene/

The linked article is intended to put "the fear of God" or maybe more precisely, 
fear of the Godly" into WaPo readers. Most likely it makes many of them quite afraid. 

Earlier this month, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican, addressed the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, whose purview runs from this small resort city up along the Washington state border. Before she spoke, a local pastor and onetime Idaho state representative named Tim Remington, wearing an American-flag-themed tie, revved up the crowd: “If we put God back in Idaho, then God will always protect Idaho.”

I'm not convinced at all that this particular movement is "the one", however the fact that a few people are organizing to attempt to alter the downward spiral of America is hopeful to me. Is there likely to be a price? Almost certainly. Was the 30 years war too high a price for allowing people to read and follow the Bible? I'm not going to judge that, I'm just saying that religious freedom came at a cost. 

What about "nationalism"? Historically, and even today, many people are patriotic ... to America, to  Canada, to Ukraine, to Russia, etc. 




Morality requires a shared set of standards. Adams assumed Christian morality found in the Bible. Officials are still sworn in on the Bible, although today, few of them even know of, let alone attempt to practice the moral principles found there. We once were a nation founded "under God", even though that didn't go into our pledge until 1954, largely to clearly differentiate the US from the USSR which was proudly atheistic. 

A scan of the article contains a lot of things that I definitely don't agree with, however this summary paragraph is more comforting. 

While sectarian varieties of Christian nationalism certainly exist, the version most ascendant — and the kind activists say is working its way through the state legislature — relies not on theological purity but an alliance between conservative Christians who collectively oppose liberal policies and what they deride as secular culture

I'd like to have a modern Christian revival where in somewhat MLK fashion, there could be a a leader and organization following a  sort of -- "I have a vision of an America founded on a transcendent God, where "love your neighbor as yourself" was shared by nearly all. Where being Christian meant following the Bible, and Secularists honestly declared that they had no fixed moral principles rather than falsely claiming to be "Christian"". 

That is a "flavor", not intended to be even close to what a reality of such a statement might be. 

While it certainly sounds corny, the Beatles "All We Need Is Love" if it is interpreted as all we need is love of God, might even be in the running. If you love God, you love your neighbor. Every religion other than Islam could fit under this banner. Reading the "Regensburg Lecture" by Pope Benedict gives a decent understanding as to why Islam is an issue. 

Secular Humanism? I'm probably overly optimistic that the rise in drug use, suicide, crime and hopeless broken lives may cause more people to understand the folly of that ideology, as they have at least began toi understand the problems with the totalitarian ideologies oif fascism and communism. (they have a longer path to understanding the problems with the world oligarchy they live in). 

Are we ripe for the flowering of revival, or "ripe" in the sense of stinky rotten decay? A seek must fall to the ground and die before a new shoot of life can grow ... let us pray for the cleansing sunlight of God's power. Much like the start of foundation of Christianity through Christ, the trieals of the "Dark Ages", the Reformation, and the founding of America, to road that God has decreed as been promised to include much pain in the way to Christ's return. Based on the path traveled so far, it does seem mostly a downward spiral, however it is not entirely a dark path. 

We WILL suffer, however it is our mission to reduce that suffering where possible. 


John 16:33 NIV

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Buttige Hurt In Ohio

Stolen from Powerline

"Instead of going to East Palestine, Biden jetted off to Ukraine and Poland, thus prompting a chorus of “America last” criticisms. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was already a laughingstock. As some have said, he has done such a bad job that for the first time ever, Americans know the name of the Secretary of Transportation."

The Biden administration is so incompetent they can't even pull off a gimme photo op, 

A number of left wing figures have pointed out that Ohio voted for Trump, "so what do they expect!". Some of that is along the lines of "if you vote for the wrong party and something bad happens ... well, don't ask us for help!". Some of it is "well Trump reduced environmental regulations, some of which contributed to the accident" ... there is no evidence of that, however a left winger making a statement "without evidence" is never labeled as "without evidence". That is just government/media policy. 

If one wants to waste some time digging just a bit however, there may be some counter actual evidence

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board – the lead agency investigating the crash – has said that the improved braking system wouldn’t have applied to the train that veered off its tracks in East Palestine, but environmental groups are pushing for the Biden administration to reinstate the rule anyway.
I know, I know, why would we we trust the head of the NTSB? Well, I don't, but it is "evidence", I didn't say it was GOOD evidence! Even if some reduction in regulations can be attributed to an accident, rational people recognize that LIFE is a rist/reward tradeoff ... even living in a padded room doesn't insure complete safety. (like think a bit ... the building the room is in could burn down, be flooded ...) 

Take a look at the link to see what leadership looks like. 

What a competent leader does