I finished Foucault’s Pendulum. My favorite sections are here. It, along with my evolution/creationism class, has spawned a host of questions about the nature of the world. I started reading Metaphysics, by Peter van Inwagen; and The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell. Basically over the past few weeks I have been compelled to completely rethink my entire belief system and I have closed off very few of the fuzzy conflicts. One thing I did realize, though, is that I believe it is more important to spend time with family and friends than to constantly philosophize. Also, I think that most of the “hot button” issues today (war in Iraq, evolution/Intelligent Design in schools, abortion, homosexuality, technological control over our bodies and the natural world, etc.) stem from a small number of deeper, foundational questions. For example, many environmental conflicts result because it is difficult to establish what the difference is between a phenomenon that is anthropogenic and one that is “natural”. The concept of “wildness” is surprisingly elusive. Also, the question of what criteria we use to define “being human” or “science” is the deeper question that causes the issues of abortion and Intelligent Design to arise. I have made one conclusion about the evolution/ID debate: it doesn’t matter whether ID is true or not; what matters is whether it is science or not. I do not think it meets any of the usual demarcation criteria. Besides, as a Christian, why would I require any scientific evidence to justify my belief in God? I would rather believe in a God that is “beyond human understanding” than one that can be manipulated in an experiment.
Finally, I think people have a mythical urge to worship something. If not God, then what? We are natural idolaters. Just look at the pages of fashion magazines, like Vogue. These idols are modern day equivalents of Aphrodite and Isis. Many Americans are captivated by these “super-beautiful” celebrities and practically worship certain of them. Other people idolize financial success (by the way, I am opposed to state-sponsored gambling like the recent NC Lottery). There is idolatry going on everywhere, because people want there to be something more than God. In Foucault’s Pendulum, Eco quotes Karl Popper: “The conspiracy theory of society…comes from rejecting God, and asking who is in His place?” Despite the prolific problems associated with the mythical urge, I think it is good that we have it, because it causes people to instinctively seek God. This means that scientific, valueless, objective statements will never give people a satisfyingly complete worldview. Either they will become atheists and worship the mind and the thought process (akin to Weston in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra), or they will seek something deeper than mere physics and dwell in the realm of myth. Myth is not a derogatory term.