In order to ask “To be or not to be?”, one first has “to be”. As Hamlet goes on to say, “Aye, there’s the rub!” The fact that we “are” — is that a miracle? It’s definitely “miraculous” — considering the odds against anyone or anything getting “to be” to begin with. Even if you see a deity’s hand in your “being” — is that a “miracle”? After all, isn’t that what deity’s do — make things “be”?
What makes a miracle “a miracle”? What makes the miraculous miraculous — and are these things necessarily of one world versus another — the real versus the supernatural? How should we see “the miraculous” from a spiritual perspective? Better yet — can a spiritual approach (versus a religious or non-religious approach) offer any insight?
“I think therefore I am” said Rene Descartes. Ironically, we still don’t know quite “how” Rene did that — think. We have no idea how consciousness works. No idea how ideas form from nothingness into the words we use to articulate them. For all we know, thought itself is miraculous.
Wait — didn’t we put a “light” conversation on the schedule this week? Oh well, maybe next time.
Or, if you’d prefer to watch…
One thing I learned in Africa was that my own worldview had its limits and problems.
Kwame Bediako was raised in a Christian home, the grandson of a Presbyterian catechist and evangelist, and received his secondary education in the Mfantsi-pim School, Cape Coast, originally founded as part of a British Methodist mission. However, he would later become an atheist through French existentialist influences and pursue masters and doctoral degrees in the University of Bordeaux on African francophone literature. Yet during his time in France, he experienced a radical conversion event back to Christianity. Here is how he explained it:
From Bill Bryson’s excellent “A Short History Of Nearly Everything” —
“…For you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you. It’s an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once. For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally underappreciated state known as existence.
“Why atoms take this trouble is a bit of a puzzle. Being you is not a gratifying experience at the atomic level… It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you… The only thing special about the atoms that make you is that they make you. That is of course the miracle of life!”
The YouTube of Charles Taylor (Modern Dualism) brought to mind this passage from Yuval Harari’s “Sapiens”. Though homo sapiens have been around on earth — competing with the other humanoids — for about 150,000 years. But it was only about 70,000 years ago that our species suddenly exploded out of East Africa and began to slowly take over the earth.
Harari points out that Sapiens had attemped to move out of East Africa via the Levant 10,000 years before — and bumped into the Neanderthals around modern day Lebanon. The Neanderthals kicked our Sapiens asses. But, something happened during our retreat to the wilderness. We got smarter somehow. Harari calls it “The Cognitive Revolution”. Along with the Agricultural Revolution (about 12,000 years ago) and the Scientific Revolution (about 500 years ago), the Cognitive Revolution are, to Harari, the key pivot points in human history.
If our capacity to think is in any way “miraculous”? That miracle started somewhere back then. The “why” might be the greatest mystery about us.
Or is this where a “god” steps in?
Also — to add perspective, insight and just all around erudition to your thinking: I can’t recommend highly enough Yuval Harari’s “Sapiens”. Be prepared to have your eyes and mind opened.