Monday, April 23, 2007

Being and/or Nothingness?

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Anastikaya – Sanskrit’ use in Jainism to mean “nonphysical.”

Ouk – Greek term for nonbeing (nothing).

Sartre’s masterwork, Being and Nothingness [L’Etre et le Neant] ruminates about psychic life, but accepts, explicitly, existence; there is something: consciousness is directly a revelation of a being other than consciousness – an ontological proof for Sartre. [A Commentary on Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness” by Joseph S. Catalano, Harper TorchBooks, NY, 1974, Page39]

“Consciousness… by its nature is a revelation of a reality other than consciousness.”

Sartre, relying on Hegel, posits that nonbeing, nothingness, is only possible by the reality of being; that is, non-being (nothingness) is part of the gestalt known as being.

But what if “nothingness” is not an abstract as some say or the other side of Sartre’s life-coin – the complimentary of being?

What if nothingness is ouk, without the semantic hodgepodge of Hegel, Heidegger, and Sartre himself?

That is, nothingness is the total and actual state where existence (or being) is not just an archetypal void but nihilo, pure and simple.

Can that be? Is the Universe bounded by nothing? Creation in the midst of an absolute void?

Physicists (and that dying breed, philosophers) have to contend with being. It’s not just a matter of career, but a substance of the curious mind.

Yet, it is futile, that search for the explanation of everything, is it not? Because, after all, one bumps up against the possible demise of consciousness, not just the death of the body (and concomitant brain).

If Sartre is right, that being and nothingness, are two-sides of existence, then how can the fragile, non-tangible side exist without the physical attribute that constitutes the part of being that is accessible to reason, or seems to be?

Nirvana is bliss, not non-being, as some mistakenly think.

Anastikaya is only non-physicality, not the total absence of everything.

Nothingness does not, as Seinfeld told George, have to be something.

Nothing means no thing.

Is it possible for there to be nothing? After all our senses tell us that things exist.

But the senses can not tell us if things exist after consciousness departs from the body from which those senses operate. (Human senses are relegated to use by the body filled with life only.)

And we have the possibility (harking back to our previous post) that consciousness may not exist at all after death ensues.

Here’s the dilemma: There seems to be being. But the question of non-being seems to be unanswerable.

How is that part of the human equation to be addressed? Can it be? Or does it all boil down to nihilism or faith?

And even scientists have to have faith, else they’d quit searching for a theory of everything, since to go on seeking that theory implies faith that one exists.

Even the rabid Richard Dawkins has to admit that.

See if this helps:

http://faculty.fullerton.edu/jeelooliu/Cosmic%20principle.htm

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where does consciousness reside?

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Descartes' oft-quoted mantra “I think therefore I am” is pithy but not necessarily true, as most cognitive psychologists posit.

But when one is conscious and thinking, one can locate the thought, consciousness, as if it were somewhere above the eyes, hanging like a constrained cloud of intangible mass just beyond the cerebral cortex, but not outside one’s head.

Wikipedia has a concise section on consciousness:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness

And for the more academically inclined, Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a rather complete exegesis:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness/

But for this posting, we’ll set aside the amorphous cogitations on consciousness for a down-to-earth rendering….

If Descartes had stopped at “Je pense” (or just “Cogito”), he would have made a metaphysical statement.

But by adding “Je suis” he extrapolated beyond a reality that could be or can be verified.

Not wishing to get bogged down in the niceties of the philosophical meanderings about consciousness (or the “soul” for some), it is patently obvious that the person typing this is conscious.

And if that is only a reality in the typist’s firmament, then so be it. The “discussion” is valid within the framework created by the cogito dictum.

The question then arises, What happens to that consciousness when the typist expires, or goes dormant as with a coma or stroke?

Does it (consciousness) remain connected to the defunct human being, eventually to wane, along with the living tissues?

Or does it transport to an ethereal state, disconnected from the brain or pineal gland that generated it? (Did the brain or pineal gland actually generate it?)

What formed the consciousness in the first place? A nexus of sensory input accumulated over the lifetime of the typist? An accumulation of “spiritual-like DNA” provided by the Collective Unconscious? Or a combination of both, as Jung posited?

Life after death experiences and out-of-body anecdotes purport to tell us that consciousness continues to exist, away from the body.

But those episodes have not been substantiated in any real way, so one should discount them to maintain a kind of scientific objectivity.

If consciousness does continue to exist at the demise of the body that housed it, where does it go when the body no longer lives (exists)?

If it persists, consciousness that is, why can no one access it? Houdini, among others, wished to do so, but to no avail.

If it goes to another realm, as religionists insist, one can never access it, until or unless their consciousness also goes to that same realm. And if quantum physicists or string theorists are right, how can consciousness be tethered to one realm rather than any other? What would be the mechanism for the sorting of consciousness to one realm over another?

Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, as the maxim states, but consciousness is not matter. The essence of consciousness seems to be evanescence. Consciousness is a reality without substance – the only such reality.

How is it possible to concretize that insubstantial reality? It isn’t possible.

Consciousness, like many other discussable matters of philosophers, physicists, and in this instance, psychologists, is an ultimately non-provable state of being.

Like the concept of God, or the infinity of the Universe, consciousness will remain an unresolved enigma.

It can’t be deconstructed. It can’t be defined (and hasn’t been defined). And what happens to it will not be, cannot be, deter- mined, so sane persons should move on, to matters that can be.

But perhaps you disagree…..

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Neo-Philosophers: Decline and Fall of Science

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Science has regressed to the Grecian age of ratiocination, circa 500 B.C., when the meaning of existence was paramount or thinkers.

The regression isn’t a bad one, since the Greeks had a grasp of the fundamental questions plaguing mankind.

But it also means that science, even Einstein, the quantumists, singularity mavens, and now string theorists, have progressed not a whit, despite all the regurgitation of Greek thought, repackaged and regifted to those still hoping for answers to why we are here, and what can we do about it.

Richard Dawkins takes Thales one step further, but only a step. And Bohr, Planck, Heisenberg, Dirac, Penrose, Susskind, Smolin, even Hawking, have dealt with and extrapolated, minutely, what Diophantes, Apollonius, Hipparchus, Aristarchus, and Euclid (among other Greek greats) has cogitated about over 200 years ago.

Philosophy, like music, art, and literature, reached an acme in the 1800s, having evolved through Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, the great Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Comte, Wittgenstein, Russell, and Sartre to a point where physicists took it upon themselves to replace the old thinking with new thinking, which was, for all intents and purposes, a resurgence of recycled arguments for reality and God, but couched in mathematical terms that laymen (the whole of mankind) hasn’t been able to decipher, thus allowing the patina of new, unique thought to be the mantle of physics – a falsity that reigns to this day.

String theory, rightfully excoriated by Lee Smolin, is merely a reworking of the Atomists: Parmenides, Heraclitus, Leucippus, and Democritus.

(The Atomists contended that atoms were unchanging, but constantly rearranging into different shapes Richard Osborne relates in Philosophy, Page 10. Isn’t that what string theory proposes, replacing atoms with unchanging, constantly rearranging strings?)

But it isn’t the assumption of ideas from the Greeks (and the reworking of them) by 21st Century physicists that is the issue. It’s that philosophy has been co-opted by mathematical brigands who don’t give a fig about ultimate realities, preferring to masticate equations and hypotheses which take mankind and civilization nowhere; nowhere transcendental, nowhere practical, and nowhere edifying even in the realm of thought.

How did this happen? Lee Smolin touches on it in his book, The Trouble with Physics, but that only besmirches the obsession with string theory (as we’ve noted earlier here).

Smolin blames academe for the decimation of physics theories other than those regarding “strings.”

Yet it’s the whole scientific community that is excommunicate. Science – that is, mathematics – flush with concocted equations – has removed clarifying logical thought with esoteric logical thought, and thus taken profundity away from thinkers and replaced it with a Freemasonry kind of code and secrecy, not unlike that of the alchemists, who established their brotherhood as to appear more enlightened than those who wanted simple, clear answers about, not arcane nostrum and experiments which produce nothing but charlatanry and hokum.

It’s seem time that philosophers, the non-mathematical kind, reassume the high road of thought, taking it away from the whiz-kids of geometry and arithmetic so that the human race can come to grips with the existential reality confronting it, and has always confronted it, well before the raft of “scientists” pillaged rational thinking.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cosmic Intelligence and Black Holes

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The paper by Vladimir A. Lefebvre, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine and Yuri N. Efremov. Sternberg Astronomical Institute. Moscow State University, Moscow, titled above, takes the idea of Teilhard de Chardin and others, about the “living” -- even divine – universe, and puts a scientific patina on it, providing a new operative template for SETI in the process,

The paper can be read by clicking here….

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The number four is a clue to the universe (and reality)?

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The fundamental forces of the physicists consist of four: gravitation, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force.

Swiss psychologist and philosopher Carl Jung posits the number four as an archetype (from Quodlibet.net):

QUATERNITY. "The quaternity is an archetype of almost universal occurrence. For instance, if you want to describe the horizon as a whole, you name the four quarters of heaven...There are always four elements, four prime qualities, four colors, four castes, four ways of spiritual development, etc. So, too, there are four aspects of psychological orientation. The ideal of completeness is the circle or sphere, but its natural minimal division is a quaternity.” (Jung’s Psychology and Religion: West and East)

Four is the secret number of Kabbalists.

And this is what Wikipedia has to say about the number four:
Four is the only number in the English language for which the number of letters in its name is equal to the number itself. This is also true in several other languages.

Four is the smallest composite number that is equal to the sum of its prime factors. As a consequence of this, it is the smallest Smith number.

It is also a Motzkin number.

In addition, . Continuing the pattern in Knuth's up-arrow notation, , and so on, for any number of up arrows.

A four-sided plane figure is a quadrilateral (quadrangle) or square, sometimes also called a tetragon. A circle divided by 4 makes right angles. Because of it, four (4) is the base number of plane (mathematics). Four cardinal directions, four seasons, duodecimal system, and vigesimal system are based on four.

A solid figure with four faces is a tetrahedron. The regular tetrahedron is the simplest Platonic solid. A tetrahedron, which can also be called a 3-simplex, has four triangular faces and four vertices.

The smallest non-cyclic group has four elements; it is the Klein four-group. Four is also the order of the smallest non-trivial groups that are not simple.

The four-color theorem states that a planar graph (or, equivalently, a flat map of two-dimensional regions such as countries) can be colored using four colors, so that adjacent vertices (or regions) are always different colors. Three colors are not, in general, sufficient to guarantee this.

Lagrange's four-square theorem states that every positive integer can be written as the sum of at most four square numbers. Three are not always sufficient; 7 for instance cannot be written as the sum of three squares.

Four is the first positive non-Fibonacci number.

Each natural number divisible by 4 is a difference of squares of two natural numbers, i.e. 4x = y2 − z2.

Four is an all-Harshad number and a semi-meandric number.

4 is the supreme number of the universe according to the Time Cube.

Now how does reality or the universe come into the picture?

Underlying all laws of physics, all theological discourse, and all philosophical postulations resides something that defines nature, the universe, human existence.

Scientists search for it in evolution, string theory, or mathematical constructs.

Theologians look for it revelations from God.

Philosophers seek it in discourse.

But it is elusive, as has been the case since time immemorial.

The number four is the cover for that ultimate reality; the red-herring that takes mankind away from the underlying truth of life.

By disguising reality as a composite of four things (many listed above), the progenitor(s) of the idea have confused even the most brilliant of minds – Jung is a prime example.

Jung’s God doesn’t consist of just the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost – the Paraclete); it also consists of a fourth entity, Satan or Evil – the dark side of the godhead, shorn by the early Church fathers so as not to confuse the masses or derail the political thrust that the Church needed to maintain its worldly power.

But Jung’s quaternal God only answers the conundrum of Evil in the world; that is, God is both Good and Evil – all things, as Aristotle proclaimed by his captain of the ship analogy and which the great Thomas Aquinas didn’t exactly quell in Summa Theologica.

Just as three (The Trinity) is a falsehood, so is the number four. We know what three is pulling us away from, but what is four pulling us away from?

Pi

Yes, Pi…..3.14 (ad infinitum?)

If scientists – mathematicians, physicists, abstractionists – can’t arrive at the Pi culmination, how can we expect them to arrive at the ultimate singularity, the so-called theory of everything?

To derive the final integer of Pi would provide access to the final mystery that confronts man.

Yes, since the game of God, or the consciousness that pervades (we assume) the universe, and certainly this Earth and mankind, will be made clear when (or if) Pi is finalized.

Is there an end to Pi? Or is it infinite in the same way that some say the universe is infinite? Or does Pi have an edge, as others say the universe has?

Pi is God, some say. We won’t go that far, but we do think it’s what 3 and 4 masks, and that Pi, which includes, upfront, 3 and 4 (and significantly) the number 1, seems portentous, and not just in a mystical sense, but in a practical, mathematical, scientific sense.

Do we not have the computing power to bring this about? Or will we, as an intelligent species, continue to be flummoxed by the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter?


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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Nothing new under the sun [Ecclesiastes]

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Physicists, philosophers, theologians all regurgitate ideas that were examined by the Greek philosophers [circa 500 B.C.] or Oriental thinkers [circa 650 B.C.] and pretend they are the discoverers of new concepts.

Darwin’s theories, especially evolution, has antecedents in Anaximander [610-547 B.C.].

Einstein’s relativity is hinted at by Thales [640-546 B.C.]

Quantum Theory originated with Leucippus and Democritus [circa 540 B.C.]

Hawkings’ mathematics can be found in the works of Pythagoras [570-500 B.C.]

Perhaps if all the works of the early Greeks or Orientals were available – most have been lost to us – the answer sought by today’s scientists could be found, or helped along.

The point of all the theorizing extant is a solution for the meaning of life one supposes, which is exactly what the early thinkers hoped for also.

The problem today is how to mingle technology and the apparent evolution of thought with the great ideas of the past.

But will today’s scholars set aside hubris to do that? Some may, most will not.

The brilliant Douglas Hofstadter has tried, but mostly confuses the hoi polloi, and not a few scientific elites, as has Penrose, Paul Davies, and a few others.

Early thought, more often than not, intermixed ideas about the gods of God. Few scholars today, and even fewer scientists, concede there are gods or a God. And they are right to eschew the concept (for reasons we enumerate elsewhere).

But can a definition for the idea of God, a Supreme Being, be mitigated to allow its integration into the hypotheses and theories of science, as mathematics have been integrated?

Or is the idea of a God not necessary for an explanation of the mysteries that still rankle science?

One can do work-arounds (eliminating God from theoretical equations) but will that allow for a final solution of questions asked, such as why does string theory, relativity, or quantum not produce answers that satisfy, that will not produce a “theory of everything”?

We’ll address all this with notes from the literature, new, old, and arcane.

Meanwhile, let us suggest a simple but thoughtful book to get started:

Human Destiny by Lecomte du Nouy, available at Amazon, Powell’s, and other online bookstores.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Why life on Earth?

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Let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that we (humans) exist and that our conscious recognition of that “fact” is real.

Then why is this so? That is, why do we exist? Why did life originate on Earth? And human life in particular?

The argument from design is interesting, but then so is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Both have elements that make them agreeable to lots of persons; one based in faith and circumstantial evidence, the other based in tangible evidence and fossil records.

That aside, why did life originate here? The accidental implication of Darwin’s hypothesis is without serious flaw.

The purposeful implications of design and a God-oriented creation make sense – if one posits a God, with a purpose for creation, here, on this one planet, in all of space and the universe, rather than anywhere else.

If there is a God (and the arguments for Him will not be addressed here), why would such a divinity select this place, in this space-time, to create a race of beings that are truly insignificant in the great scheme of things – the total reality of the universe?

The purpose of being seems more likely to be found in the outreaches of the universe than here on this picayune planet.

It makes little sense for an omnipresent, omniscient deity to select this one little ball of material to create a race of creatures who matter not in the great scheme of things: the universe as it seems to exist.

If, as contend elsewhere, the Supreme Being, is playing a game with humanity – that is, God wants man to discover His ploy – why just here, in this moment, when a Prime Mover would likely, if we can discern His thought processes, have better venues in which to ply His shenanigans?

If, however, God, or the Force that is the Universe or total being, is an unaware entity, that is just pure existence – His or Its essence, and that alone – one has to accept the idea that this creation, on this Earth, was, as Darwin (and others) postulate, accidental, unless….

…unless existence itself is purposeful, in some strange way that is without consciousness and direction, a paradoxical thrust or stasis that mankind can never understand or fathom.

This may be the goal of scientists, physicists mainly, and/or theologians without an axe to grind: to discern what the pattern of life, existence, is or means.

Did the discovery of quarks help in this discernment? Does string theory work toward that understanding?

Does a faith in God bring about meaning? Only if one is Gaia-centric and believes that this one place, in all the universe(s), is where a God would place His or Its raison d’etre.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

String Theory resolves nothing

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Lee Smolin, in his excellent pysmatic “The Trouble with Physics” [Houghton Mifflin Co., NY, 2006], excoriates the ubiquity of string theory in academic departments of physics, and rightfully so.

String theory, which as you know, posits (in simple terms) infinitesimal vibrating strings as the absolute basic elements or structures of all things; the constructs that make up reality.

Dr. Smolin (he’s a Ph.D.) takes to task the emphasis on string theory which, to his mind, hasn’t gone anywhere since promulgated and will very likely not go anywhere in the near or far future.

But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Smolin is wrong (we don’t think he is) and that string theory is the answer to the physics Holy Grail: a “theory of everything.”

What does the theory tell humans about the most significant questions of existence?

What preceded the Big Bang? Is the Universe infinite or not? Is there a First Cause, a Prime Mover? Does consciousness cease when one dies? And if not, where does consciousness go upon death?

String theory, like relativity or quantum, gets us nowhere.

Theorizing about strings, or any physical adjunct, is interesting, enthralling even, but it takes individuals, society, and civilization – mankind – nowhere.

Strings, multiple universes, parallel universes, building blocks of existence don’t answer the question of why humans exist – the purpose or meaning of life.

Meister Eckhart, the 14th Century mystic, theologian, and alchemist, about whom Carl Jung was often panegyrical, proclaimed that God was “naught” – in alchemical terms, beyond comprehension; the same view as Augustine, Saint Dionysius, et al.

If string theory is valid, does it provide a clue as to the nature of God, or no God?

Patterns in physics, logical properties of matter, were flummoxed by quantum mechanics. String theory could reassert Newtonian or even Einsteinian sense to physical laws. And even if it did, is the result one of clarification, in the metaphysical or cosmological scheme of things?

The escape from or even into reality (both psychological maladies) by way of string theory by physicists is tantamount to transcendental denial – but a denial of what? God? Immortality? Nivana? A total cessation of life, consciousness, at death?

For us it not true that all things die? Even God?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Moby Dick: God

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Herman Melville’s great book, Moby Dick, gives readers the essence of God: impervious to human existence unless provoked by thought (about Him or directed to Him).

The novel, subliminally, asserts that Christians, Jews, and other religious people, even heathens, will, if they pray to or evoke their God, bring down upon themselves a perceptible wrath – for the intrinsic element of God is malevolency.

Most religious concepts provide for a God in battle with evil – Zoroastrianism is one, where God (Ahura Mazda) supports truth (Asa) and the Devil (Ahriman) promotes the lie (Druj).

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And while the Roman deity, Janus, has two-faces, the archetype only suggests that God is of two natures, good and evil. The mythology doesn’t attribute to God the element of evil; it merely implies it.

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Moby Dick goes beyond this.

What Melville did was open the door to a quantum God, one which acts when acted upon – when measured or observed, like Schrodinger’s cat or quantum particles.

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God, in Melville’s book, exists in the universal realm (the sea), impartial to mankind, until mankind seeks Him out; in the pursuit of Ahab to kill Him, for transgressions of the past (when Ahab sought Moby Dick and lost a leg in the finding of Him).

Melville’s God – Moby Dick – is white, to show that mankind perceives Him as good and pure, but the reality is that Moby Dick – God – is exactly the opposite of good and pure……but only when He is acted upon: the quantum measurement.

Most scientists, as we note earlier on here, do not believe there is a God or that a god ever existed.

But Melville’s magnum opus gives those scientists a way to reconcile their observations of the universe and quantum reality with the possibility of a God who exists as the ultimate quantum, thus resolving the singularity question that plagued Einstein and those who seek the Theory of Everything.

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The Moby Dick metaphor isn’t just a vehicle for a good yarn. It’s the intuition of Melville that, like Cosmic Consciousness or the Thomistic epiphany, leads the way for physicists to look at the idea of a Prime Mover who can be explained by quantum mechanics.

Melville suggested he wrote an evil book, evil in the sense he wrote about a concept that would be anathema to the culture he was surrounded by.

Yet, he did more than write an “evil book.” He provided a clue for those in the 21st Century as to what they might pursue in their quest for the definitive answer to what this existence is all about.

Monday, April 02, 2007

God was, and is no longer? Or never was?

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Most physicists, including the provocative Richard Dawkins, do not believe in a God, at least not a God as represented by religion.

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There is the God of Einstein: He who does not play dice with the Universe.

And there is the God of Teilhard de Chardin: the mystical (and real physical) body of Christ – which comprises the Universe and reality, in toto.

A review of Dawkins’s book, The God Delusion, had this to say:

Dawkins not only portrays the "psychotic" God of the Old Testament as "arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

Dawkins view is a ripened take on the Gnostic view of the Old Testament God, Yahweh, propounded in the years after the death of Jesus/Christ.

Carl Jung’s view in his “Answer to Job” is that God finally recognized how badly He had acted toward His creation, and thus atoned by sacrificing Himself, as the Second aspect of The Holy Trinity, Jesus/Christ.

The demi-urge (demiurgos) of the Gnostics was not God, but a god beneath God, the Supreme and ineffable deity.

Yahweh was only a pretend God, and accounts in the Hebrew texts (The Old Testament) seem to confirm that.

Whatever the power of that God, Yahweh, was, it was tremendous but required the intervention of man, just as the Bible had to be written by men because God/Yahweh was incapable of doing so Himself apparently.

The Hebrews had to do the killings that God required or wanted. And the Hebrews were constantly rebuffed by their God, long before the Holocaust.

But what happened to Yahweh? Yes, He died as Jesus, but did He die altogether?

Did Jesus/Christ replace His Father? And where is Jesus/Christ? Neither aspect of the Trinity (and maybe not even the Holy Spirit) has made communion with humankind after the alleged Ascension of Jesus/Christ, forty days after his Resurrection.

(We’re discounting the vision of Saul of Tarsus, St. Paul; it seems likely to have been an hysterical hallucination brought on by the guilt he felt for his persecution of early Christians, his Jewish brethren.)

But Dawkins, and his cohorts in the scientific community, just plain out reject a God altogether.

God is not a part of their reality, never existed, and has nothing to do with human life, the evolution of humankind, or even the laws of physics.

The belief is palpable, to reasonable persons. The sufferings of mankind can’t be explained away by theological arguments such as the one that states God has a plan for humanity and we, his creatures, just don’t understand it or can ever know it.

But we contend that, perhaps, the inscrutability of God is what one might call The Game of God: The God Game.

God, not Yahweh, is, indeed, ineffable, but hoping to get His creation to discover Him, and this is what physicists, and all of us, are supposed to be doing; that’s the purpose of His (our) creation.

Some scientists and philosophers contend that God is simple; others say He is complex, like the universe.

And, as noted above, some say He is the universe.

Then there are those who say God is dead or has gone underground, disappeared:
Nietzsche and Richard Elliott Friedman (in The Hidden Face of God) respectively.

So, in this spot, we shall examine the parameters of the arguments, for and against the existence of God, and the cultural elements affected by the pro/con debate.