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Naperville, January 2014

Happy new year. Hope you are all doing well.

As of January 2014 the main activities of the Alpheus web site will be conducted on the WordPress blog section.

The opening pages and posts are:

Welcome to the updated Alpheus
Introduction to the changed format and content of Alpheus.

About Alpheus (Amended)
Revised statement about its intentions.

The Jaynesian Paradigm and Beyond (Draft)
First article/blog taking Julian Jaynes’ definition of consciousness as an entry point into a reconsideration of esoteric philosophy and the teachings of Krishnamurti.

Entertaining, Type-II Error-prone, Axiomatic Skepticism: An Incomplete Form of Systemic Doubt. A justification of conspiracy theory based on evolutionary psychology by way of criticizing a problematic skeptical position. (Released earlier on the ‘old’ Alpheus).

Please sign up on the blog to keep informed about new material. I will for a while send updates through Yahoo groups.

Govert Schuller

As my first official post apart from commenting on another, I thought I should bring up a conundrum I’ve been unable to resolve in myself for some time now.  Namely, the question is: what exactly is intuition and what is its source?

Intuition
To illustrate what I’m trying to get at better, and to let you know how I’m using (or misusing) the word intuition, I’ll try to describe it more experientially.  Most of my decisions are made by relying on some combination of two mental processes.  My little decisions throughout the day are made very quickly and easily through relying on habituated responses, like deciding to wash my face and brush my teeth first thing in the morning. Bigger decisions rely on a mental-emotional analytical process in which I sort out and weigh things, like practical concerns, foreseen consequences, the social impact, how I feel about the situation, and responses of friends, family or those affected by my decision, etc.

However, when I more regularly engage in meditation or other spiritual exercises which quiet the mind and reactive impulses, I find in almost all situations there to be some sort of background urge that is pushing me in a particular direction, which I “know” (or feel or sense) is what I “should” do—the “right” decision.  Continue Reading »

In the overwhelming ocean of information available online, I still find the best way to stay afloat is with a book.  For the surprising issue of Intelligent Design, I’ve decided to focus on one particular book by a proponent of the form of Intelligent Design that I find most worthy of scrutiny, William A. DembskiThe Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design.

The fundamental claim is this:

There are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence. (p. 27)

Put in the most succinct way possible, if true this would represent as great a challenge to institutional science as Darwin did to traditional religion.

The question, then, is whether or not there are natural systems that cannot be explained in such terms.  Or, as Dembski writes, whether the formula “time plus chance plus matter entails life” is truly tenable.

While I’ll engage this work with as an open mind as possible, my position at the outset is that though Theosophy would agree that natural forces are directed, such direction may not be detectable by “probability theory, computer science, molecular biology, the philosophy of science and the concept of information”, the combination of which Dembski believes will justify an intelligent designer.  Rather, Theosophy states that natural forces are subject to natural law, but that higher forces working on higher planes are the ultimate source of such law and that access to such planes is a spiritual act inseparable from personal development.

But first, let’s look at a key concept in Dembski’s work: specified complexity. Continue Reading »

In my last blog post I raised the question of the relationship between Theosophy and Intelligent Design.

My first college level philosophy class was a philosophy of biology class intended for post-grad science students.  At that time, Creationism was vying for equal time in the classroom with Darwinism and the contrast between the two was so obvious as to make the former’s claim to ‘science’ laughable.  The situation made a convenient, if charged, test case for defining the parameters of science.  Creationism’s science was actually natural theology, or the study of god’s work in the natural world, with the Judeo-Christian God of revealed scripture as an unquestioned premise.

Intelligent Design, or ID, emerged into public consciousness several years later, initially as an attempt to replace the term ‘creationism’, which the Supreme Court declared in 1987 could not be taught as science in public schools. It was simply a substitute term, not a substantive difference in theory.

As such, when I raised the question of ID, I was fully prepared to find creationism with a mere patina of psuedo-scientific jargon.  What I have found instead makes explicit claims of difference from creationism and aspires to nothing short of a scientific revolution.
Continue Reading »

I’ve been trying to get evolution recently. That is: I’ve been trying to see whether I feel that Amit Goswami, in his book Creative Evolution, solves things for me. I’ve studied a bit of quantum mechanics as a chemistry teacher, and am perhaps a bit more equipped than most to see whether Goswami stays true to his roots as a theoretical physicist. The answer is, unfortunately, that to a very real extent he isn’t. Continue Reading »

The other day I visited David Reigle’s excellent web site of the Eastern Tradition Research Institute and found again his paper on “The Centennial Cycle.” In this paper he discusses the origin of the policy by the Brotherhood of Mahatmas of enlightening the “western barbarians” on a centennial basis. Here I read that the very last of the Druid mystery schools in Europe was according to H.P.B. at Bibracte in Burgundy, France.

Drawing of bibracte as it might have looked like 100 B.C.E.

Drawing of Bibracte as it might have looked like 100 B.C.E.

Bibracte was the capital of the Celtic tribe the Aedui and around 50 B.C.E. Caesar conquered this important Celtic settlement during his Gallic campaigns. During the reign of Augustus its inhabitants left the place for the newly founded Augustodonum (Augustus-city, now Autun) 14 miles east and nobody else replaced them, leaving the site pristine for archeologists to uncover 1900 years later.

Digging out Bibracte

Digging out Bibracte

Apparently after this loss the Brotherhood instituted its policy of sending every last quarter of a century somebody to instruct the West in the Wisdom-Religion, with H.P.B. being the one for the 19th century cycle. Continue Reading »

In high school, it was, unexpectedly, exposure to biology that first awoke me from the dogmatic slumber of atheism.  I had taken the truth of scientific materialism as a given, assuming with the confidence of a zealot that whatever phenomena had not yet been explained by perfectly rational means would be so soon.  While no doubt in part an adolescent, contrarian reaction to the christian fundamentalism that was the dominant form of spiritual expression around me, religion just seemed . . . well, silly.

However, the more I learned about how much was actually unknown in biology, concurrent with an exposure to to intellectual traditions that took spirituality seriously, theosophy and Joseph Campbell in particular, the more I realized, at the very least, how premature my verdict was.  As a professor later replied to me regarding a direct question about his belief in God, “Well, a whole lot of people a lot smarter than me have taken the idea very seriously.”

So while I ‘believed’ in evolution, or rather, the ability of the theory of evolution to explain observable facts with greater clarity, simplicity, consistency and beauty than any other theory, I saw no discrepancy between such a belief and the possibility of an intelligent order inherent in the universe.  In fact, it began to seem more like evidence of such.

When a classmate followed up my affirmation of evolution with what to her was an obvious and unavoidable consequential, “So you’re an atheist?”, I was surprised and thrown.  Part of the reason the Theosophical Society quickly became such a home for me was that they took it as a given that evolution was both a material and spiritual story.

Does that mean Theosophy is Intelligent Design?

This is a question I’ll be exploring in my next blog post, a response to Will Thackara’s Evolution & Creation: A Theosophic Synthesis.

In the meantime, I’d like to start hearing your thoughts on the debate between evolution, creationism and intelligent design, and theosophy’s place in the discussion.

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