Monday, June 16, 2008

Created Reality

I love the TED talks. Amazing stuff over there. Run over there and check it out.. i've watched a TON of things but i would like to know what strikes your fancy. let me know!

here's my big rant for today based on two TED talks. How do we create?



Why am i this person? why am i not someone else? I would prefer to be a Japanese heiress, why am i a white American from Ohio?

what Amy Tan talks about around 11 minutes is that we "notice disturbing hints from the universe that were always there." this is what i was talking about in the last post about Serendipity and synchronicity. we strive to gain our focus on the question "Why am i here?"

I have not read A Purpose Driven Life.. so i can't comment on that.. but i do believe that we all have internal blueprints and we have to follow and we get in trouble if we stray too far from these blueprints. Joseph Campbell's simple "follow your bliss" helps but we must be mindful of our bliss and our pursuit and what effect that takes on others. the question then of "why am i here" becomes a problem of big sorts, esp. if the universe is telling us in such obvious fashion. how can we miss such obvious cues?

the Christian answer is because we're fallen. The science answer is that our brians are miswired. Either one points to the fact that humans are limited and flawed.



i'm not in the Sinner Theological World... so i don't really buy the "inherently and permanently no good" of the original sin doctrine. i think that once we gain our focus, we can overcome a lot of flaws inherently built. God is helping in this process the whole time, helping us to wake up and become who we are and who we're meant to be.

In the book, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Helath, Wealth, and Happiness Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein points out how weird our brains actually are. Humans are very illogical: we eat more from larger plates, care twice as much about losing money as about gaining it, fret over rare events like plane crashes instead of common ones like car crashes. We need what Thaler and Sunstein call a "libertarian paternalism" that lure us to make the right choice. our brains are really weird.

but what about trauma? what about those events that happen to us that are SO traumatic that we will never get over them? things like rape, abuse, oppression, dehumanization... what about those things? these are results of what is attached to our memory. what is memory then? a collection of protein chains.

Neuroscience has discovered how we remember events in our brains through protein chains. An NYU neuroscientist Joe LeDoux, who studies fear memories in rats, tells us how with a one shock, one tone, and one drug injection, you can bust up this piece of matter, and prevent a rat from every making a memory. LeDoux’s research goes sci-fi, when he and his colleague Karim Nader start trying to erase memories. And Nader applies this research to humans suffering from PTSD. We heard about this when we were at Rolex in Lexington KY on the radio. Listen to it here! IT'S AWESOME! check it out, as this is the basis this post revolves around.

Particularly traumatic memories appear to be captured by two separate parts of the brain: the hippocampus, the normal seat of memory, and the amygdala, one of the brain's emotional centers. People incapable of forming long-term memories thanks to hippocampal damage can nonetheless form subconscious memories of traumatic events if their amygdala is intact. Someone suffering from the Memento condition would likely have a feeling of general unease encountering a person or a situation that had caused them harm in the past, though they wouldn't be able to put their finger on what was making them uncomfortable. In Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind, something like this happens. There are several instances in the movie where Clementine appears to have a trace emotional memory of an event that has been wiped from her waking mind.

Theoretically, if you could block protein synthesis in a human brain while triggering a memory, you could make a targeted erasure.

So not only does this show how we don't really remember who we are accurately, we don't preceive reality accurately, and we're generally in quite a state. once we realize this, maybe we won't be so hyper about disagrements. maybe the word HERETIC won't be a warcry anymore, but mean "to choose" like the greek implies.

this is post-modern thought. no memory is verifiably true. there is no objective reality only reality viewed from our context, with our prejudices and world view. or maybe there IS objective reality, but our brains can't handle it, misinterpret it, and ultimately misread it. so if there is objective reality, all we get from it are glimpses, small epiphanies. When we remember and view reality, it is an act of creation. Every thing we do is an act of creation. where then is God?

well Biblically this fulfills that we are active in God's creation that we are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 139:13-16). The apophatic tradition focuses on a spontaneous or cultivated individual experience of the divine reality beyond the realm of ordinary perception, an experience often unmediated by the structures of traditional organized religion or learned thought and behavior. so that place where words fail you.. that is God. can you describe what it was like the first time you saw the ocean? first time you fell in love? that indescribable part is where God lives.

The Divine is ineffable, an abstract experience that can only be recognized - that is, human beings cannot describe the essence of God, and therefore all descriptions if attempted will be ultimately false and conceptualization should be avoided (like using pronouns).

This is a super long post... with a lot of stuff in here for y'all to watch, listen to, and consider. so i'm gonna go on vaction here as i have to write my first sermon for my field education placement. so i'll let you catch up, please comment on what you think after you've listened and watched all this, and then we'll chat! i'll post next on July 1st.

20 comments:

John T. said...

Luke

Great vids. It brought new meaning to my joke saying that I have with my kids. "Daddy knows a lot of nothing"

Thanks they made me smile

Brad said...

Hrmmm... yet it begs the question (paraphrasing): If you can't trust anything, and you cannot make qualitative judgments about an ineffable God... how can you make that statement with any certainty? It sounds way too much like the agnostic who says that there is no exclusive truth... which of course fails because it is itself an exclusive truth claim.

Does that argument not fail on it's own merit?

Val said...

"The apophatic tradition focuses on a spontaneous or cultivated individual experience of the divine reality beyond the realm of ordinary perception, an experience often unmediated by the structures of traditional organized religion or learned thought and behavior. so that place where words fail you.. that is God. can you describe what it was like the first time you saw the ocean? first time you fell in love? that indescribable part is where God lives."
GOOD STUFF!!! my favorite part of the extra long

Luke said...

thanks John T.

Brad- funny you would object to that... that's the earliest view of God from the Orthodox tradition.

Val- rawk!

John T. said...

Hey Luke

Did you checked out that song "flawed design" ?

Luke said...

Hey John,

yeah i just checked it out and i LOVE IT. thanks for the suggestion, you're excellent at throw'n new music my way. i really like the part where he sings "Now, I'm having trouble differentiating
Between what I want
And what I need
To make me happy
So instead of thinking I just act
Before I have a chance to contemplate the
Consequence of action"

brilliant.

i just put Nickel Creek back in the player, have you heard their song "This Side"? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbxBa1XY2_A

rawk!

John T. said...

Luke

Glad you liked it. I will check out that other song later. Heres my email..Tatsden@rogers.com....email sometime and maybe we can exchange some more music and ideas.

John T.

Brad said...

Luke,

I don't object to it in principle, but to the narrow neglect of other qualitative aspects of God. Yes, God is ineffable in many ways, but He is also personal and very knowable. I object to taking that quality of God to an unintended conclusion that leaves us with a God PURELY of mystery, to the neglect of relationship with real knowledge of Him.

So again, how does that overemphasis not fail on it's own merit?

Luke said...

"but He is also personal and very knowable. I object to taking that quality of God to an unintended conclusion that leaves us with a God PURELY of mystery, to the neglect of relationship with real knowledge of Him." Brad.

I agree. God is knowable, but not completely. so i tend to be in the middle in this, we can know God but not totally.

nor am i saying there's no exclusive truth. i just don't know what that truth is. the only absolutely thing i see in this world is change.

it's like Vonnegut said in Hocus Pocus, "I went to college to find out that we don't know a whole lot about too much."

Luke said...

and i guess that's the miracle. not that we CAN'T figure out the universe totally and completely and absolutely... but that we can figure it out AT ALL! that's pretty awesome. no one begs to ask the question, "Why can we do science? how can we figure out reality at all?"

like gravity. knowing there's gravity really doesn't affect your day to day life. but the fact we can figure it out on a mass scale and predict orbit and g-force and what not to the mathmatical n-th degree is a miracle in and of itself.

John T. said...

Luke

I heard a good one a while back

"There was a time when religion thought it could explain all the world, then came science, they both come up short."

Brad said...

Hrmm... I guess I'm just missing you on how you explain it, because I agree with how you fill it out.

And I think you're also right that the "mystery" of God needs some long-overdue lovin'. We seek to provide entirely too many easy answers and solutions to honest questions. Acknowledging that we may not know (to a certain degree) requires a necessary dose of humility. Well said.

Luke said...

John T you continue to astound me with great quotes and awesome music! keep this up!

Brad.. yeah dude.. sorry that it didn't come across at first. You're just going to get the "elevator speech" 9 times out of 10 on here anyway. complex things boiled down to tid bits (which the wife still claims that these posts are too long! haha!). I'm not a duelist, so it's not a matter of God is either completely knowable or completely unknowable... it's a both/and.

i guess i carry some more catholic baggage with me than normal. we were taught in sunday school that knowing God, or getting to close to God, was a death wish. God would DESTROY your earthly body because God cannot full be comprehended in our current form as God is too awesome. they call this reverence. i think there's some truth to this, but this type of reverence is also named (aptly by king james) as "Fear". fear and love cannot exist in the same place at the same time. wonder and love can... i think that's a little more healthy.. what do you think? does that make any sense?

John T. said...

F-false
E-evidence
A-appearing
R-real

Luke...

Check out an acoustic version of the song "Save me" by Shinedown, its from clear channel stripped studios. Awesome vocals, and lyrics :)


PS when you come up to Canada you can buy me a pint

Luke said...

that shinedown rawked! checked the video too... great song. reminds me of Marilyn Manson's Long Hard Road Out of Hell...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzCX8IKDmk0

i've also been listening to a folk artist named Carrie Newcomer.. great! but vastly different from Manson... I heard an Owl is a great song.. but can't find it on youtube.

peace and RAWK!

Sam (Opossum's Creed) said...

re: accurately remembering vis-à-vis disagreements, I just "read" (audio book on my iPod) a chapter from David Sedaris' new one "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" about being accused of being a liar by a jerky limo driver, when in fact Sedaris was sure the limo driver was a liar himself. He found the proof he needed and was going to write the driver a nasty letter, but then discovered he'd gotten several of the details of the story (one about a flaming mouse burning down a house) wrong himself. Upon backtracking, he was able to decipher his misconceptions in light of what was going on in his own life at the time. It was a thought-provoker.

Brad said...

1.) Shonedown does indeed "rawk." They are an incredible band...

2.) In Re: to the Catholic past... that makes total sense. They are right in the sense that the Holiness of God would destroy us if we drew near (a la Moses' experience in the Pentateuch), but because of Christ's love and sacrifice for us, it is HIS holiness that "closes the gap" (imputation of righteousness) Because of Him, we can draw near to God. But that only comes close to the real truth, which is that God draws near to us.

So yeah. That makes perfect sense. Ultimate and infinite Holiness (truth) without Christ (love) brings destruction to all things tainted by sin (us). Jesus is the ultimate revelation, the ultimate "drawing near" of God, done out of pure love and grace BY GOD HIMSELF and not because of anything we've done.

Mindblowing.

Brad said...

I'd also like to add a note of empathy.... It is because I struggle with understanding the Fatherhood and personal nature of God that I so often harp on that emphasis. It's just not easy to appreciate how the all-powerful Creator of... EVERYTHING can also be loving and very interested in the welfare of yours truly. But for God to be infinitely Good, He must be both powerful (capable of) and personal (and wanting to love us).

So yeah, I hear ya bro. It's a tough line to walk, and even tougher to wrap our minds around it.

Luke said...

Brad, i'm impressed that you're still pondering this.. thanks! it is incredibly hard to put into words, in fact, some make careers out of it ;-)

"Ultimate and infinite Holiness (truth) without Christ (love) brings destruction to all things tainted by sin (us). "

i agree! i've heard the argument that Jesus was the first panentheist and i tend to agree with that. we are vessels of God yet not God ourselves. some would say that this is a logical paradox and dies in it's own logical impailment, but what in this world isn't a paradox? gravity is! quantum physics are! life tends to be a paradox. the mistake would be to wait around until it logically makes sense. that is true foolishness.

so let us go forth and be holy fools for God. ;-)

Brad said...

"so let us go forth and be holy fools for God. ;-)"

Amen, brudda! Being made in God's image is a weighty, yet delightful responsibility.