Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Any-more More-Questions?

Following my offer to answer reader's questions, and the follow-up...

Are there any more?

Note: If you want; you might like to pretend (for the sake of the exercise) that I am a some kind of Eastern guru (!) who allows one question per pilgrim, and who will therefore ask each person: 'What is your question?'

Supposedly, this restriction to a single question is implicitly intended to provoke reflection in the asker; so that he must first learn what it is that most matters to him - and in that lies most of its benefit of the whole process, regardless of the answer given.

The consequence is, perhaps, that once you have decided for sure The Question you will ask, you could, maybe should, at that point turn-around, leave the queue, and go home.

But then what would you tell the folks? 


Luke said...

Do you have any ideas on how to live, for someone who is in their twenties? Even before I found your blog I was uneasy with what I saw, but now it seems impossible to want to be successful in the modern world. The thought of keeping my head down and lying for the next 40, 50 years is intolerable. The thought of selling my soul for a 6 figure salary is base. But without a career, how can I expect to have a family? What do I use my energy for? I cannot just sit around studying how get closer to God, I'm not a monk, I want to do something. I just don't want to achieve something in a corrupt system with corrupt people.
-Luke C.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Luke - You've asked something to which I can't give a good answer; because there is no 'generic' answer to the question.

Also, I can't see ahead for five years, never mind fifty - I can't imagine our civilization surviving that long - but of course I could easily be wrong. (For example, I thought the EU would have collapsed by five years ago, and I was completely wrong.)

In fact I can't even give this kind of advice to my kids, or to students who I know well - and I don't know anything at all about you.

So, probably you will have to work this out for yourself.

But if you can join and work with one of the remaining good Christian churches, that could be of considerable help - some of the large conservative evangelicals or, even better, the CJCLDS in an area of Mormon concentration.

It depends on your beliefs and character - I personally can't join a church. But if you start with Christian belief and work *from* that - it is the best you can do.

Unknown said...

Hi Bruce! I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I wonder what you favourite arguments for gods existence are? I realise your a fan of CS Lewis (as am I) so I'm guessing the argument from reason, but I'm probably wrong :)

with kind regards- Einar

Matthew T said...

Supposedly, this restriction to a single question is implicitly intended to provoke reflection in the asker; so that he must first learn what it is that most matters to him

Well - when you put it like that, I suppose the only question I can really think to ask is: someday, when I make it back to your Isle, whether you would like to meet for an ale...

Bruce Charlton said...

@Unknown - Direct intuitive knowledge is the only thing that convinces; but I personally find the 'second way' (or proof) of Thomas Aquinas to be convincing - as I read it in Edward Feser's little book Aquinas.

Roughly it sets up the impossibility that every cause must have a prior cause and this would go on to infinity - which would mean that that nothing could ever happen... *unless* there is a first cause (or uncaused-cause) which begins the sequence.

I interpret it, that this does not imply a single first cause, but that all causal chains must terminate in an uncaused casuer that is a Being with free agency/ free will.

So, everything that happens must begin with 'a god' (Aquinas said one god, but I believe there is one God in the sense of a single creator - but other creator gods within that creation - for example Jesus Christ, and potenitally others. This is a version of the pluralistic Mormon theology.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Matthew - Something like that... but 1. I am a curmudgeon, as is probably obvious from thsi blog, and among the most antisocial of people. 2. Although I liked beer a lot; I can't now (for about 15 years) drink alcohol for health (migraine) reasons. So meeting me is not exactly an Inklings experience!

John Fitzgerald said...

Were you ever a fan of early 70s Genesis - 'Supper's Ready', 'Selling England by the Pound', etc?

Bruce Charlton said...

@John - No, in fact I rather disdained that type of music at the time! - being a keen early music, traditional/ electric folk kind of guy (Steeleye Span and the Albion Country Band especially). My brother is more of a fan of the Yes/ Genesis/ Marillion type of rock.

Wes S said...

Mr. Charlton, has your perspective on the example and writings of Fr. Seraphim Rose changed any since your interest in him a few years ago? (I was introduced to him by your posts.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wes - It has, in the sense that I pretty much stopped reading him about five years ago.

I still regard him as a great man and a saint; but I found he (the understanding he had of the times, and the nature of Christian life) did not offer me hope in the actual context of here and now. This was because he placed the church (the Orthodox church) at the centre of the Christian life, and indispensable.

He also argued that the spiritual link within that church had been severed - so the traditional life was no longer possible. After a few years of consideration. Orthodoxy 'works' when it is the state religion - practised as it is the The West is no different from any other church-going denomination (I tried practising it) - furthermore, it is a non-national church, catering mainly to a mix of recent migrants and offers little to an English native convert (unless, presumably, one was to enter a monastery).

Also, I never could convince myself that the early Church Fathers ought to be the basis of Christian understanding, or that God would have severed direct communication with 'lay' Christians. Indeed Orthodoxy has a strong strand of lay hermits who operated independently from church communication for many years at a stretch - in direct spiritual relation with God - and this principle could be extended.

Later I developed the conviction of Man's consciousness having developed. In sum, I feel that Orthodoxy was our beloved historic English faith (up to the Norman Conquest) but taht its time is long passed and we have other work to do from now.

So, I incorporated Seraphim Rose into my understanding; but moved toward a very different understanding of where we should go from here.

Bruce B. said...

Have you read about John Sanford’s ideas about creationism and “genetic entropy?” What do you think of his ideas?

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - No, I haven't come across him.

Tobias said...

"I am a curmudgeon"

If people are kind and pleasant to you, do you reward their efforts by reciprocating, or do you dig deeper into your entrenched determination to be a grouch, and chew their hand of friendship?

I've wanted to ask this for a long time now, but I was chicken. But you did offer to answer questions, so in all fairness, can you really get all grouchy about it now?

Cluck, cluck.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Tobias - Yes and No.

NLR said...

In your five living geniuses post:
you said that you had 'felt' the genius of these five people for yourself.
Can you give more details about how you experienced their genius?

For instance, I have read conflicting things about Watson and Crick, but I don't really know anything about molecular biology myself so I can't make a worthwhile evaluation; I would be interested to know in more detail why you consider them geniuses.

Bruce Charlton said...

@NLR - It isn't really a matter of detail, but simply reading their work and being able to appreciate and follow the way the mind works: the originality and creativity.

Bruce B. said...

Have there been any more developments in the "cognitive genome" idea you mentioned a few years ago?

Jared said...

Dr. Charlton,
I was thinking that the question that wasn't asked in the story about the guru that you told, was usually the most valuable type of question. So, that being said, I was wondering, do you think it's the same way with questions to God? I mean, He asks us to pray, but the things that really motivate us, we really have to do our own thinking about them?

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - I don't know. I pretty much stopped 'doing' science about three years ago, after writing a big paper on the metaphysics of biology; as my interests moved to metaphysics.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jared - At this time and place I believe the main problem is 'gowing-up' from spirual adolescence - and this means we must 'activate' our agency; must beging to think and live from our real, divine, selves.

This can only be done each for himself - and that is why our times are so unspiritual and evil.

In earlier eras, when Men were spiritually children, God could step-in and take-over - as a aprent does when a young child gets into a bad situation. But this is not the kind of situation that anyone can take-over - because our free will, and our ability to resist, is inbuilt, intrinsic to our natures.

A single Man can resist and reject the will of the creator of the universe! That is the ultimate source of pride - but it is also a simple fact.

The Man can do nothing for himself, perhaps, but he can refuse to join with the divine plan - because that plan is allied by Love; and a Man cannnot be made to Love.

Modern Man is demotivated because he rejects the divine plan (i.e. creation) - and outside that, there is only solitude in chaos.

Adamoriens said...

Hello Dr. Charlton! I have two questions -

1. How do you take notes when reading non-fiction? I read a tremendous amount, but I'm not confident I'm truly remembering and learning...

2. Is Barfield's "Saving the Appearances" thesis - that we humans primarily perceive a spiritual world suffusing the physical one -essentially identical to Bishop Berekley's thesis. I'm don't know if I truly understand either man; I'm just curious.

Bruce Charlton said...

@A 1. What I do is simply have a notebook (of a decent size for writing - A4 ideally, or A5 for portability - and a ballpoint pen on my right; and the book on the left - or on my lap. Read a bit - think/ write a bit - read a bit more etc. I seldom look at what I have written, except within the next day if I want to blog on the subject - it is the process of writing that helps at the time.

2. No it is not. I didn't understand the argument from StA but from reading its source - The Philosophy of Freedom by Rudolf Steiner, helped by the annotated selections from PoF by Otto Palmer. It isn't easy to grasp (because our minds are pre-filled by other, incoherent, ideas) - but it is positively life changing.