In this Philosophy of Science paper, mathematics & science rescue God from religion and place It in Its proper sphere; the logic in things that animate our brain to seek the true and real.
I. RESCUING GOD FROM RELIGION
The thing we call God has been held hostage all too long by religion. Time to rescue IT! God was taken hostage when religion imprisoned IT in the image of MAN.
By religion I mean that peculiar conceitedness to which we give the cumbersome label; ‘anthropomorphism.’ This conceit, that God is like us, began with the Zoroastrians in those lands of strife we call the Middle East. It became a bedrock belief of Jews, Muslims and Christians, developing as the gospel of progress in Europe and the Western world.
(Note: ‘Conceit’ is a 19th century word which has taken on a shallow meaning today. I use it in this modern sense, i.e. ‘he is conceited.’)
We exclude other beliefs which religious studies lump into the grab bag, such as those developed in China and India as well as the Aboriginals in the Americas. Their beliefs give the idea of God [IT], much more room to wiggle free of conceptual bondage.
By making IT a MAN, (albeit a super one), all the emotions and their results in the primitive brain were ascribed to IT such as anger, hate, elitism, greed, prejudice and gender inequality. So in spite of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, this conceitedness enabled us to treat our neighbours as less than ourselves.
Beginning with the Enlightenment and strongly in effect today, there has been a growing reaction to the God of religion. Led by philosophers and scientists, there has been an effort to dethrone God from His heaven.
This movement is called Humanism and its military wing is Atheism. But these intellectual movements have not tried to rescue God from being a hostage but instead, as Nietzsche said, killed IT.
While trying to kill the God of religion, they failed to get rid of the conceitedness that engendered IT. Humanism instead substitutes the strivings of MAN for the God of heaven. MAN is still the be all and end all of experience for them, although gender equality has been somewhat given lip service in Europe and the West.
So what is the cause of MAN’s strivings and his peculiar conceit? The brain. Our survival instincts, self-enhancement drives, skilled behaviour habits and emotions all come from the primitive or animal brain that sits on top of the spinal cord.
While the primitive brain is obviously important every animal has one. Nature’s generation gave MAN a step up the ladder with two more connected brains; the left and the right.
The left brain knows. The right brain understands what the left brain knows. Wisdom is knowing how to go on in our lives, by listening to what the left brain has given to the right brain.
The left brain seeks to know the parts of our experience and the right brain puts these parts into a whole. The ‘whole’ is that ‘AHA!’ illumination we call ‘God’.
This combination of left and right brain is what makes us human and gives us feelings, especially empathy, which distinguishes us from other animals.
This is not to suggest that animals do not have feelings. Anyone who has a dog knows they can love. But that cognitive union of left and right brain that gives us “the power of projecting our personality into (and so fully comprehending) the object of contemplation,” which is Empathy – this is distinctive of humans. (Oxford Dictionary) MAN has all too often operated by animal emotions and failed to live up to the standard of human empathy. The primitive brain is very successful in seducing the left brain.
Language is the thing most people think distinguishes us from animals. But language is how the primitive brain seduces us. Language operates by metaphor and lumps things we experience into like kinds. This abstract operation of language forgets the individual essence and existence of individual things and places them into generalized and universal categories.
Once we fail to fully comprehend the ‘object of contemplation’ in abstractness, we can manipulate that object for our own use. Thus the primitive brain seduces the left brain. The history of MAN is the story of that seduction.
So the union of the left brain (reason) and the right brain (understanding), has one more important job to do as well as making us human. That is to police the emotions and seductions of the primitive brain.
The primitive brain has seduced MAN into that peculiar conceitedness that has imprisoned God. How do we free God?
Long ago in ancient Greece, that singular genius, Euclid said, “The laws of nature are the mathematical thoughts of God.” He also said the axioms or foundations of human thought are equality and the ‘whole is greater than the part.”
In the 17th century, Euclid’s disciple, Baruch Spinoza said, by mathematical thinking and the laws of nature, we know the thing we call,’God.’ The whole is God and IT is greater than the part which is the thinking and actions of each individual MAN.
When our practical thoughts and actions make things equal and add up to union with the whole of nature, this is ‘ethics.’ Spinoza said this is our supreme good.
We do not know, Spinoza said, what this thing, God, is or why IT exists. This is the Halting Problem. We only know how IT operates. IT operates in our generated two-part brain as what Spinoza called thought and union with nature (extension). Conversely, our brain brings the essence of the thing we call God into our time and place.
Thus we have Spinoza’s abstract on how to rescue God from religion. This is by mathematics and the laws of nature. But do we have to be mathematicians and scientists to know and understand IT?
In our universe, which quantum theorists say is ‘weird,’ the answer is both yes and no. Scientists have discovered that atoms combine into both yes (1) and no (0). This is called ‘superposition.’ The direction in which an atom spins tells us whether we have yes (1) or no (0).
When atoms are separated, they still operate together. The communication between atoms at a distance is called entanglement. We put the same spin on thinking that atoms carry out in the universe.
Spinoza says that things tell us they are (exist) and what they are (essence). However, when we use language to express this truth, we can give things the wrong spin. Putting the wrong name to a thing can make it spin from adequate thinking to inadequate.
When religion imprisoned God in the image of MAN, such a spin occurred. Because things exist as both yes (1) and no (0), how we spin them determines whether we find what is true or what is false.
We call the study of what is true and false, logic. Logic is the foundation of mathematics and science. By the word, ‘God,’ we are talking about the logic that begins and ends the universe an all things in it including human beings.
The universe is not logical because we think it is but rather because it is logical, we think. We spin both yes (1) and no (0) into true and false. Why is the universe and our experience in it, logical?
We do not know. We only know that it is. Spinoza discovered that this is the ‘how’ of God.
So do we have to be mathematicians and scientists to know and understand God? No. Most of us are not good at manipulating abstract symbols. Fortunately, there are individuals who are good at this. They are our guides in the weirdness of both the yes (1) and no (0) that we experience.
However, when these guides use language to express what they have discovered, these individuals whom we call mathematicians and scientists can also, like us, put on the wrong spin.
After all, we are finite creatures in an infinite reality and would not know things, including the thing we call God, unless they informed us of what they are.
Do we have to think mathematically and organize our senses as scientists do to know the world? The answer is yes. We all have this skill. It is called, ‘common sense.’ We have such a skill because our brains add and subtract things from our experience and organizes them into parts or wholes.
All of the operations of mathematics that have been discovered, like functions or set theory are just extensions of the brain’s organization. George Boole discovered in The Laws Of Thought that our brains operate mathematically.
Boole also discovered that all the numbers we have invented can be reduced to only two: 0 and 1 or yes and no. His discovery led to the subsequent invention of computers.
The discovery by quantum scientists that the universe operates by both yes (1) and no (0) will soon give us quantum computers. The adequate spin mathematicians and scientists put on things in our universe, enlarge our knowledge of God.
By this distinct understanding, we rescue God from religion and place IT in ITs proper sphere; the logic in things that animate our brain to seek the true and real. Spinoza said “truth is God Itself.”
II. HOW TO BUILD AN IDEA OF GOD
Building an idea of God is much like building anything else. You start with the foundation (logic), then put up the structure (aesthetics) and finish it off with the practical work (ethics).
After graduating from high school, I followed my father into construction as a ironworker. The job was erecting the steel in structures. It started with an engineer planning the building and an architect doing the design. Then an ironworker got the blueprints which were carefully laid out to handle the stress that would be placed on the structure.
This was all human work of course, but when we are building an idea of God, do we need to postulate a human God? In my paper, ‘Rescuing God From Religion,’ I suggest the answer is no.
We need the same intellectual skills when building an idea of God that engineers need; mathematics and science. These skills are necessary to rescue God from religion and place It in Its proper sphere which is the logic in things that animates our brains to seek the true and real.
Mathematics and science however, are only the foundations on which we build an idea of God. The human spirit soars beyond with structures of creativity which bring beauty to practical expression in our lives. These structures include music, art, poetry, prose and even religion.
In Washington State I worked on the first freeway in Seattle as an ironworker and then on a building for Boeing Aircraft. I laid footings for a large bridge in Spokane. Then I worked on Boundary Dam in a cavern underneath a river. Eventually the plugs that held back the water from that cavern, failed and three workers drowned.
I worked on factories making building materials from bricks to aluminum. I worked on a missile site and helped build the first Holiday Inn that ever existed. I worked on a lot of office buildings.
Just like other occupations, Ironwork had its elites and its punks. Elites were those who connected the high steel while the less skilled worker punks laid reinforcing steel, usually in the foundations.
That was me though I did some high steel work on a B-52 bomber hanger at a SAC Air Force field. However, I was mostly familiar with rebar. I put it into foundations, the most important part of any structure. More than a few structures have collapsed due to faulty foundations.
As a punk I usually worked for subcontractors. We called them scab outfits. While they had to pay union wages, they tried to cut corners and skimp on safety.
The plans of the engineer on the missile site specified 4-six inch thick, 70 foot long rebars with 3 foot bent ends which were to cover the entire floor. The big bars were supposed to be laid and all the other rebar interlaced around these bars.
However, the foreman was in a hurry. The mud (cement) was to be poured that day. We were told to lay the other steel first and just tie the big bars on top. Since the mud was poured immediately after, his shortcut went undetected. The site would collapse the first time a missile was fired. Much of our human thinking goes like this.
We carelessly lay a foundation. One such error is anthropomorphism in religion, thinking God is like humans. When the stress of life hits, we ask, “How could a personal God let this happen to me?”
In Part I, ‘Rescuing God From Religion, I discussed that nature is not generated for our use but rather we have been generated to express its logic, like everything else that exists.
Once we have a solid foundation, human creativity can place a functional structure on it. Philosophers call such a structure, aesthetics. In all the arts including religion, humans have built magnificent edifices that connect together in the lifting of our spirits.
Last week on PBS, I watched Verdi’s Requiem Mass: Resistance. It was broadcast on Holocaust Day, showing how music lifted the spirits of Jews in a Nazi concentration camp, above their suffering and pain. High steel in deed!
Logic and aesthetics are impotent without practical actions or what philosophers call, ‘ethics.’ Every structure of thought is built for a practical purpose.
While I worked on the steel foundations and erection of structures, skilled craftsmen such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, cement workers and others, made them fit for their purpose.
From ancient Greek thinkers onward, philosophers have made the concept of treating our neighbour as ourself, the practical expression of the duty of humans. Emmanuel Kant called such action, ‘the ethics of practice.’
Jesus of Nazareth, as Spinoza noted, caught the essence of this duty when he said:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
However, since the word, ‘God’ is in some disrepute today, let us paraphrase Jesus’ words as: “Your whole duty is to love truth with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and your neighbour as yourself.”
While Jesus was a product of his times and saw God in anthropomorphic terms, (as did his interpreters who made him a Christ), he saw clearly the logic, aesthetics and ethics on which we build an idea of God.
All of the great leaders of religion from Moses down through Martin Luther King, had the same vision of our duty. Such a vision has been expressed in the practical arts of human nature.
Verdi’s Requiem Mass is an example. While its dogma is questionable, the music lifts our spirits into a true and real idea of God.
So we build an idea of God on logic, aesthetics and ethics.
And on the human spirit.