Cross-posted from Ambiance
. . . of huge changes, we are. Will we make it across this threshold? Will we fall back into comfortable darkness, still warm and smelly and shaped to our bodies like a dog’s nest? Will we disintegrate trying to cross the threshold, like a spaceship shuddering apart under the stress of approaching the speed of light?
Science has everything to do with it. Working with science is making me perpetually uneasy. First of all it is disorienting. And humiliating. Finding out how infinitesimally tiny and limited we are. We’re just big enough, and just smart enough, to have found out how tiny and dumb we are, in a teeming, swarming universe that doesn’t need us and that we’re too short-lived and body-burdened, with our brief window of negentropy before we fizzle out like Roman candles, even to get a tiny little piece of. We were better off when we were as myopic and as obsessed with our own blown-large biological affairs as ants, or rutting deer. (Maybe I’m only speaking for myself and how fearful it is to lose the rosy blinders and the purpose of sex.)
With science comes terrifying power that we’re not wise enough to wield, and . . . and a loss of orientation that is expressed both in the unwarranted cockiness of atheists whistling in the dark and in the head-in-the-sand atavism of all kinds of fundamentalists. We’re going over the threshold into an understanding of the cosmos and the gene that will require that we throw out the horse-and-buggy metaphysics that got us this far and almost start over from scratch. Anybody — New-Ager, “Bright,” or traditionalist — who thinks there’s a quick, easy, comfortable answer to that is in denial.
Even more tha[n] in Hayek’s days, the ecology of the real world is becoming too complex for Aristotelian logic: very, very little of what we do can be safely formalized, meaning asymmetries matter more than ever. Which puts the Western World today at the most dangerous point in its history: unless we get the Bernanke-Summers crowd out of there, it will eventually be destroyed by the machinery of arrogant, formal-thinking civil servants, and Ivy-league semi-retards.
Finally, beyond the current mess, I see no way out of this ecological problem, except through that tacit, unexplainable, seasoned, thoughtful, and aged thing crystalized by traditions & religions –we can’t live without charts and we need to rely on the ones we’ve used for millennia. Le 21e siecle sera religieux, ou ne sera pas!
Is that so? Can religion handle this? Can anything aged handle this, anything that was built on the snug foundation of our ignorance? Can the moral parts of religion withstand cosmology’s assault on its myths? Isn’t religion a willfull staying childish? And isn’t atheism just braggart adolescence with zits? Aren’t all bets off? Can religion’s knowledge about us, what we are, what we need, survive stripped of the myths? Or are the myths part of what we need? If so, then we cannot evolve beyond our current condition, we should never even have gotten this far, and we’ve hit a wall.
Economic lack of confidence coming at the same time is a double whammy. Boom times make people feel manic and optimistic and anticipatory. It’s like those pirates chewing qat for courage. Bust times make us feel shadowed and threatened and like no good can come of this. We’ve swum out too deep, it’s cold and the drug is wearing off.
Afterthought: Maybe we must cling to the comforting husk of religion for a while (a century?) the way a butterfly or moth clings to the chrysalis it has just crawled out of while its wings expand. (I’m not saying religion’s knowledge of human nature isn’t deep and wise. I’m saying that scientific discoveries are shattering the myths and explanations that were among religion’s major mechanisms for managing that nature. Of course, I think those discoveries are also shattering the assumptions of mechanistic atheism. So again, all bets are off.)