The Hardest Problem

Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Kate, her memory, her sweet and blessed memory. Jon, a memory. Another cool Night, good sleeping. 41 this morning. Spanish Grand Prix. Nuggets game 2 tonight. Another gray Morning with Clouds slipping over the peak of Black Mountain. Reading the Bacchae and the Iceman Cometh for monologues. Dionysus. God as metaphor. Consciousness. The hard problem. The waning Shadow Mountain Moon. Ingenuity, the little helicopter that could. On Mars. American space exploration. Yes. The James Hubble.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Consciousness, hard problem or not

One brief shining: So the brain takes in information from the senses to predict how to survive in the next few moments its job for millions of years and in the process has to build a map of reality-remember though the map is not the territory-and then move our enfleshed DNA to find food, hide from a predator, find a willing partner for reproduction all the while keeping track of its own reactions to better enhance its performance and in the process creating a narrator who can sift through and identify learnings, help in non-immediately crucial tasks like talking and laughing and wondering thus creating the Self?


Been having lots of various ideas over the last week or so. One of them tentatively expressed above. A summary of this article in Quanta, What Is the Nature of Consciousness?. Then a building notion, one nurtured over years of skepticism tempered by yearning. About God. Got this new idea from a book I’ve bought but not read, God Is Here. By a Reconstructionist Rabbi. Its thrust is to update metaphors about God. Fair enough. They need it. But, I realized. What if even an update has the wrong end of the stick? Makes more sense to me that God is the metaphor. Satan, too, for that matter. As Shiva and Vishnu and Brahma and Ganesh and Kali. Allah. The Tao. Chi. Prana. Soul.

Metaphors for this ages old dance between organism and environment. What is Fire? Water? Earth? Air? Death? Love? Sex? God as a metaphor for the wrestling organisms do with a problem even harder than consciousness, how to survive in an often hostile world, a world accessed only through the mediation of the senses, a world we cannot know directly-Kant’s ding an sich, the thing in itself-yet in which we must move and love and have our becoming. A mystery compounded of mystery. The ineffable world critical to our next action. Did that work last time? Why? Will it work again? Why? Is there a way to optimize my/our reactions to ensure our life? At least for now?

One of my favorite Torah stories: Jacob wrestling with the Angel at the Jabbok Ford. Yes. Our moment to moment struggle. Leaning into behaviors that have served us in the past yet finding ourselves blocked by new circumstances, ones inscrutable based on our learnings to this point. Or Abraham and Isaac. What must we be willing to give up to continue. To make our next actions a bit more likely to avoid serious injury or death? And, critically for God as metaphor, who or what says this behavior is the right one? That is, the one most likely to advance our DNA into the future?

Guess this work is appropriate to Sunday morning. Would not preach in a Presbyterian church, but a UU church or a Reconstructionist synagogue might hear it.