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Ebert, Dawkins, Maher, & Hitchens’ Neo-Determinism

Painting from "The Red Book" by C.G. Jung

Determinism, the idea that everything can be explained, has a “reason”,  died in 1906, the “Miracle” Year when Einstein came up with Special Relativity. Turned out Light didn’t care what the Victorians thought and didn’t obey “reason.” By 1925, with the Quantum Theory, whatever vestige of this mechanized view of the World was laid to rest once and for all.

Or so one would “think.”

But it seems lately in the voices and writings of Roger Ebert, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, and Christopher Hitchens, among others (those are the ones who spring to mind), it seems to be the “Pragmatist’s Badge of Honor” to drag this dusty, worn out, good for nothing idea, back up from the basement.

For what “reason,” I have no idea, and the irony is that they seem to be invoking “Science,” the very craft of which is the idea’s undoing, as their main witness. Even though “Science” has testified time and time again, that what it saw and is seeing under that microscope and telescope is totally irrational and makes no “sense” at all.

There’s always been this sense that Science and Mythology are at odds with each other, but in this century and with every day that passes, Science seems to be only confirming what the roots of mythology has always been symbolizing.

This “Neo Determinist” Zeitgeist has been on my “mind” a lot over the last few years, mainly because of the above mentioned and other “influencers” of the day, it has become a Zeitgeist, even a hundred years after it was Scientifically swept away. But reading Roger Ebert’s “meta” review the Clint Eastwood movie, “Hereafter,” today motivated me to write comment on his blog, and then hence this blog post.

I say “meta” because it was mostly, not a review, but his take on the whole “new age” movement, so to speak, spirituality specifically, and of course his cynical view of it, but through the course of the blog it seemed like he was trying to rationalize or “bail” Clint Eastwood out, saying the subject matter of the movie could be “explained” without the need of the “supernatural.”  One of the first lines of his “review” jumped out at me:

“All the events we can perceive take place in a rational universe governed by physical laws.”

And lead me to leave this comment:

“Actually there’s nothing rational about the Universe at all. From what we can tell from the IMAP satellite images it began about 13 billion years ago from something weighing less than an ounce, and then for reasons unknown expanded at faster than light (Inflation Theory), symmetries fell apart under these extreme conditions forming “forces” that condensed matter into what we know and see today. But even today the very fabric of the Universe is un-rational. The very fact that electrons, for instance, are in multiple places at once around the nucleus is the only reason our bodies hold together. We can describe this but we don’t know how it works.

Even if we knew how they worked, who’s making them work? We describe the physical laws but who or what is executing them? In this sense then “God” as Joseph Campbell said, is a symbol of that which is beyond thought, beyond what is even possible to be thought.

“Reason,” as Blake said, is simply “the bound or outward circumference of energy”

So, we may can come to “know” this mystery, but not through reason or thinking. We can study for years, for instance, a chemistry book on “how” a baby is born, but a woman’s body actually executes the act without thinking.”



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