Turtles All the Way Down

Over the last few months, I have been reading and listening to a bunch of physics.  Particle physics and cosmology.  The micro and the macro of the attempt to understand the universe.  Limitless vistas of space with super clusters of galaxies and more exotic objects that stretch back to the alleged Big Bang.  And inside the proton are the ephemeral quarks and gluons flashing in and out of existence in (I kid you not) a yoctosecond.

And all of this hyperactivity of nothingness just to make it possible for me to push on the keys of my laptop to write this post.  All of those electrons and quarks following all these conflicting forces at various distances; the strong force, weak force, electro-magnetic force and gravity just so that reality can be felt and tasted.  All of these incredibly complex concepts and the mathematics that tries to describe it.  And the weirdness of quantum mechanics and its inherent and explicit ruling out of determinism.  All of this and how far we’ve come from Galileo and Newton.  And all we’ve achieved in technology.

And yet…

What are quarks made of?  What are gluons made of?  What happened five minutes before the Big Bang?  What happens five minutes after the End of the Universe?

There is no bottom.  There is no top.  There is no start.  There is no finish.

The human mind cannot encompass the infinite.  If we find something beneath quarks, I am sure there will be something under that.  And when the successor to the James Webb Space Telescope is put into service in twenty years at a cost of $100 billion or so I’m sure it will show us even further wonders that defy our ability to explain.  And so will the telescope after that.

And as the man said, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  But that’s the part you have to wrap your head around.  Thinking that scientists have the ultimate truth is a misnomer.  All they have is the latest and greatest explanation as to how things work.

But they’ll never be able to tell you why you’re here or why you should care.  Each of us has to do that all by ourselves.

It’s remarkable.  Five hundred years after the Renaissance put us on the trajectory of man is the measure of all things and God is dead, we come right back to the same place.  The universe isn’t a big windup toy that means nothing and will return to nothing.  And after science tried to convince us that Earth is nowhere and humans are less than nothing it turns out that life is really the only thing with inherent value.  And human life is the miracle that we started out with before we killed God.

The more we study life the more in awe we are of its complexity and miraculous properties.  The more we study humans the more we discover about their potential.

I do not mean to disparage science.  Wresting the secrets of the universe from Nature is a noble endeavor.  And done with proper humility it is one of the finest works that can be achieved by the human mind.  But surely by now all the best minds in the world must be aware that an infinite universe cannot be defined by finite beings.  God built this nursery for us and it’s built to hold us while we grow up.  I can’t imagine we’ll find the door to the nursery unlocked.  At least not on this side of reality.

04APR2021 – Easter Sunday – Doubting Thomas

John 20 / 24-29

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Happy Easter Christians.  Find some joy today.  The madness is just static.  Ignore it for the sake of the day.

Guest Contributor – Soterious – Some Thoughts on Religion, Organized and Otherwise – A Reply

(This post is a reply to an earlier article called Some Thoughts on Religion, Organized and Otherwise)

Great article and your observations are no doubt true about the subversion of the Catholic hierarchy and thus all of its institutions (can you think of anyplace more pagan than Georgetown University?). Unfortunately since the RCC is so top down in its formal structure, the Faithful have little if any input unless they simply withhold their envelopes (as was done in Boston when the pedophile enabling Cardinal was forced from his cathedral only to be made “archpriest” of a Roman basilica-a promotion!) and this would have to be done in a concerted transnational way with the US congregations indispensable in a leadership role. Historically, during the worst periods of venality and corruption in the RCC, the monasteries functioned as islands of piety, orthodoxy and reform. I can’t speak to their condition but if the seminaries have become bath houses and the convents are lesbian retreat houses celebrating Gaia, I have little hope for the monasteries, but I could be wrong since the homosexual population would tend to stay in the seminaries and parishes so they could have the most unimpeded access. What is especially galling is that the current Bolshevik bishop of Rome (am I a sedevacantist? I guess it depends if I really believe that the papal office itself is that important) has told us that climate change is the new dogma, homosexuality should be celebrated, but incredibly still he will not allow married men to become priests which would remedy the priest shortage and allow the RCC to enforce Benedict’s ignored directive to ban seminaries from accepting homosexual men from formation…..incredible.

This is not solely a rant, I think there is an escape hatch….Orthodoxy may well represent the life boat for the RCC fatihful. Don’t get me wrong, Orthodoxy has its issues (phylestism or the conflation between ethnicity/state and religion) as the current schism over Ukraine exhibits, but the Orthodox Church has never strayed from the tenets of the ancient church and has the added advantage of never having a Vatican I (infallibility and the Assumption) or Vatican II (the “Novus Ordo” or new mass, a disaster that brought us the “folk mass” and gender neutral hymns and bible translations). However, what has always bothered me is that joining the Orthodox Church means abandoning the cultural and emotional ties of childhood religious experiences (think of the Easter and Christmas hymns with triumphant organs playing before these were destroyed) and however beautiful the Divine Liturgy is, its not my culture.

Fortunately, one eastern Orthodox Church (the Greek Church of Antioch) has created a “vicariate” overseeing what they call “Western Rite Orthodoxy”. In its best formulation, it takes the Tridentine Mass, adds an “epiclesis” and conducts the Mass in English and allows these parishes to keep their Western Christian identity but within a hierarchical framework that precludes the perversions of the RCC. As an added bonus, children are not baptized and then “excommunicated” as they are in the RCC by not being confirmed (“christmated” in the eastern parlance) or allowed to Communion. These all happen at baptism which is followed by anointing and a drop of Eucharistic wine. Along with triple immersion at baptism, these elements would be the only thing foreign to a RCC member who decided to go over. My advice, find a nicely built abandoned Church from the high Anglican tradition, find some disillusioned ex-RC who left the seminary after realizing that he was surrounded predatory swingers who got married and got a job but always wished he could have ministered to the faithful and then approach the Western Rite Orthodox Vicariate and ask that your ex-seminarian be trained, he could very well be ordained and become your pastor. Soon as you ca, have the parish start a grammar school and then high school and you can save your kids.

What I just described has happened, reproduce it. Last one out, shut the lights in the RCC at least until there is a second Cluny.

A Short Book Review of Rod Dreher’s – The Benedict Option – Part 2

A Short Review of Rod Dreher’s Book, “The Benedict Option” – Part 1

Today I finished “The Benedict Option.”  Regardless of whether you are a Christian or just someone who adheres to the traditional cultural norms of western civilization this book gives you a great deal to think about.  And for someone trying to live as a Christian in this post-Christian world and even more importantly someone raising Christian children this book is extremely relevant.

Dreher presents his thesis as bad news/good news, in that order.  The bad news is we’ve lost the culture wars and the younger generations have rejected the Christian precepts on sexuality and hedonism.  He declares that to pretend that we can win back the culture is delusional and counter-productive.

The good news is now Christians can prove that they are Christians.  His thesis is that because we thought we could depend on the Christian nature of America we didn’t have to do the hard work of living the Christian lifestyle and making sure our children were brought up in the faith.  We assumed our kids would pick up faith through osmosis, even if we ourselves didn’t really reflect this lifestyle.  America stopped being Christian because Americans weren’t living as Christians.  Basically, the communists who were running our schools and Hollywood made an end run around religion by replacing God with fairness and used the highly materialistic consumer culture that is present day America to convince our children that this culture is really all there is to America.  And they bought it.

His logic is that in order to survive in this anti-Christian society we’ll have to return to the mindset and behaviors that the Christians adopted when they lived in a non-Christian society.

After this Dreher compares the present-day situation to late 5th century Italy when Saint Benedict was starting his monastic system to allow Christians to survive the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome.  There is a good deal of description of the components of the Benedictine Rules and how these would apply to lay Christians.  This is followed by chapters that describe the ways that Christians can circumvent the dangers of present day educational and work-life anti-Christian realities.  These sections are full of examples of individuals and groups building organizations and support systems that are referenced in the Notes section at the end of the book.  I was surprised at how much already exists to allow parents to locate traditional Christian schooling or resources for home schooling.  But most important is the need for parents to heavily involve themselves in teaching their children what Christianity means.  One thing that I found interesting was his insistence that in order to inoculate children against the sexual hedonism of the modern world parents were going to have to learn how to talk about sex with their children.

And finally, the book stresses the fact that it wasn’t really an enemy from without that destroyed the Christian West.  It was the logical conclusion of the Enlightenment philosophy that puts man at the center of the universe.  Basically, there was no longer a place for God.

For those interested in practical solutions to the problem of living a traditional Christian life in these godless times I highly recommend this book.  Even if you disagree with some of the suggestions you will find yourself thinking of the world and your place in it in a totally different way.