Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Our Kenotic Univiverse?

Since i read The Tao of Physics (1975) and The Dancing Wu Li Masters (1979), i have wanted to try to relate my emotional and spiritual understanding of reality to my intellectual understanding of it and i have eagerly awaited updates on the subject of modern science and contemporary religion.  From my point of view, Capra and Zukav were not just the first, they were the best expounders on this connection.  My most recent venture was a very brief glance at Nancey Murphy and George Ellis, On the Moral Nature of the Universe Cosmology, Theology, and Ethics (1996). I cannot say my time was wasted, there were some very valuable phrasing of ideas; but it was a disappointing experience.  The idea of a Kenotic Universe is beautiful and appropriate, but the word kenosis is "owned" by Christians and i could not escape the conclusion that the metaphysic most appropriate to our understanding of the universe would be some form of Christian Theology.

Since modern science was invented in christianized countries, the idea that science and Christianity were compatable (when they were not totally incompatable :( ) has been common.  at least two "scientists" whom i highly respect have insisted that a form of Christianity was most compatable with modern (early 20th century) history and sociology (Max Weber--German Reformed Protestantism) or biology (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin-- Roman Catholicism). But Weber died just as the first fruits of quantum mechanics were being tasted and Teilhard de Chardin was in China doing archeology during the entire time this work was being done in Europe, mostly below the radar of most non-physicists.

I find the idea of a moral universe plausible and possibly necessary.  Further, i consider the ethics teachings of Jesus (as revealed in the hypothetical Original Book of Q) to be the briefest, clearest, most useable statement of a universal ethical and moral life.  I also believe that this statement is essentiallly identical to statements in Taoism, Buddhism, Sufism. animism and every other religious perspective i know of.

As interested as i am in the manifestations of Mystery, i.e. stuff; i am more interested in partaking of the Mystery itself.  Can i best do this as a Christian? Christians say yes.  Buddhists and Taoists tell me i must find the answer to that question for myself and within myself.  Sort of like God, according to Murphy and Ellis    I do believe that Mystery is called mystery for a reason.

A kenotic universe, a universe that is an outpouring of sacrificial love?  Could be.  I hope so. but kenosis cannot be a word owned by a specific religion or theological point of view.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)
"I find the idea of a moral universe plausible and possibly necessary. "

Could you explain what you mean by that? Mostly in the term "moral universe"?
Jul. 2nd, 2013 04:58 am (UTC)
Some people like the word moral and dislike the word ethical; others have it the other way around. Often the reasoning of both groups is the same: the rejected word seems cold, narrow, and not all all descriptive of the kind of life human beings ought to live. I like both terms and often i use them interchangably, as i did in the sentence you quoted. I don't think of morals as being about sex. I take the term as derived from mores -- codes of conduct which are more than folkways, being derived from the presumed essence of reality; but not laws which are enforced by penalties and official rule overseers. So morality is in that grey area of semi-sacredly endorsed conduct which is too important to be dismissed as custom, yet not legally prescribed nor prohibited. Thus lying may be immoral, but only illegal when it occurs in sworn testimony. I think immoral actions are those from which i benefit at the expense of other beings. I don't think that i have ever tried to define ethical, since ethics statements are often contextual -- social work ethics are not the same as police ethics. I struggle to try to understand how behavior can be ethical but immoral, or moral but unethical, but i know it can happen (unless, like me, one uses the terms interchangeably)

"Moral Universe" is a term i took from Murphy and Ellis. It is a universe so structured that moral (ethical?) behavior is possible because reality is lawful but allows for free will. (Don't worry i don't think that i understand the concept either!)

Edited at 2013-07-02 05:01 am (UTC)
Jul. 2nd, 2013 01:38 pm (UTC)
Actually, I think that I do understand what Murphy and Ellis mean! Thanks! :D

"Moral" and "ethical" do swim about kind of amorphously in discourse, don't they? I like both terms as well. For me, morals (as such, not of stories) are the big principles one adheres to, or that feels structure a fruitful reality. For example, for me, favouring creation over destruction. And for me, ethics are the ways one finds for applying those morals to the bittiness and quirkiness of daily life. So I'm similar to you when it comes to ethics.

I suppose that ethics that are formed on morals contrary to mine would seem immoral to me. Indeed, they often do. I think particularly of extremely individualist and materialistic USian ethics, which presumably come out of moral systems with those flavours.

I set aside official codes of ethics, as for police or pastors. Those often enough reveal morals I find fairly repugnant.
Jul. 2nd, 2013 04:02 pm (UTC)
I find the distinction interesting and think i like it. It places morals above ethics on a values hierarchy and i would have thought the opposite. But ..... yeah. By being ethical i strive to be moral.
Jul. 2nd, 2013 06:11 pm (UTC)
You know, I tend to resist [non-spatial] constructions in which one thing's "above" another. And thinking about that, and morals/ethics, I first thought that, for me, morals are behind ethics. And then I thought, WAIT! It's like faith/works. People's true moralities are worked out in ethics, as faith is demonstrated in works. They are intertwined.
Jul. 2nd, 2013 06:41 pm (UTC)
Yes. And just as there are those who do good works because of their faith, and others who hope to find faith through doing good works, there must be those whose morality leads them to ethics and others whose ethics lead them to morals. Here i contrast Franz Jaggerstatter with Etty Hiiiesum. One whose Catholic morality led him to oppose Nazism and one whose opposition to Nazism lead to a more moral life (or perhaps it was a more compassionate life -- i find them hard to distinguish). Or perhaps i find "morality" repugnant only when it seems uncompassionate and i will not take the moralist's word for it when he says he is compassionate.
Jul. 3rd, 2013 03:05 am (UTC)
Yes! One of the things that made me insane in seminary was people insisting that there has to be just one direction of causality, between theory and action. I guess because that's what's intellectually respectable, by and large.

In economics, in multi-period models, people with multi-period objectives take into account the future effects of decisions they make today. Then, today's decisions affect tomorrow's outcomes. "Isn't that circular?" I've heard an economist ask. Why, yes. Because that's how things are.

More similar to morals/ethics and faith/acts, mission and justice are sisters who sing better together.

I was going to write more about biblical perspectives on dispute. But I reckon I'll keep that for later, on my LJ.... (I hope. Spending my days doing family errands and providing my son with summer transport and support is limiting my writing rather badly.) I only jsut noticed it, and I find it cheery.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



Latest Month

August 2019


Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow