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Going Deep And Coming Up Empty


"...Hohlenstein-Stadel is the only cave in the region where archeologists have found no everyday tools, bones, or rubbish.  It is deeper than theother caves too,  It's not difficult to imagine that within its chambers early hunters venerated the Lionman and that Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave was an early (40,000 years ago) locus of prehistoric religion.  This was 'a holy place.'..."  -- "The first artists," Chip Walter and Steven Alvarez, National Geographic, January, 2015, p 58.

"...America's Large Underground Xenon detector, the most sensitive of its kind, is situated in Lead, South Dakota, right off Main Street and 4,850 feet down by elevator.  It started operating in 2013 but came up empty-handed.  It is currently resuming the search at a higher sensitivity.  Other searches produced ghostly clues, but none has found definitive evidence of dark matter...." -- Timothy Ferris and Robert Clark, "The first glimpse of the hidden Cosmos," National Geographic. January, 2015, p.118.

It seemed to me  that these two quotes belonged together.  I will never know why our ancestors went so deep underground to look for meaning.  Scientists say that dark  matter, whose detection may be the next step on the path toward the explanation of everything, might only reveal itself if undistracted by "light" matter, (ie. the world of appearances)  Going deep underground limits the effects of "particles of light matter" which are always floating around on earth's surface.  The laboratory and the sanctuary are similar in being (partially) sealed off from the influence of that which might interfer with finding "reality" or some little piece of it.  Coming up empty may be because, as the scientists say, we have not yet developed the right theories or the right tools.  Or it may be because, as the mystics say, we creatures are not equipt to approach the Creator with our creaturely understandings and tools.  These two statements may be saying  the same things.


Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, but their hubris is at least matched by that of the cosmologists and quantum theorists. Dark matter* seems to be another name for something we know nothing about and dark energy is what we call the cause of its alleged activity. At least the anthropologists are studying what seem to be products of people with brains similar to our own.
Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:16 pm (UTC)
Whoa, I couldn't agree with you more if I had a dump truck. :D
Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:21 pm (UTC)
* Do we now have to start referring to matter as "light matter?"
I think i saw that term used in the Nat Geo article.
Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:33 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you know that the concept of dark matter/energy arose to name entities that must exist if prior physics theory is basically correct, but has missing parts-- going by the data.

Now, in this sense the concept of dark energy/matter is an artifact of taking the current body of theory in astrophysics as given but partial. And possibly there will a scientific revolution to a new paradigm that better explains empirical results, which will make the adjusting concept of dark energy/matter unnecessary.

That is, perhaps dark matter/energy is epicycles.

But the premise that other humans have minds like ours in a strong enough sense to mean that there's got to be some religion in there, and in the absence of evidence the absence of evidence must indicate religious impulse? That seems very different to me.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 04:49 am (UTC)
Does reflective self consciousness drive us to seek meaning? If it doesn't and the discovery/invention of religion was a happy or unhappy accident like cooking or gun powder then we cannot assume that we have always had religion. But the need for meaning may be so much part and parcel of consciousness per se that something like religion was inevitable.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 11:07 am (UTC)
We are certainly meaning-makers uncomfortable with true randomness, by and large, let alone ergodicity. But it isn't at all clear to me that all meaning-systems would or should be classified as religion.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 07:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, i find distinguishing among religion, philosophy, science and education to be useful, but also problematic. And culture itself is basically a meaning system.

Religion as a word has an uncertain etymology, (maybe re-leg-io, from leig- to bind) By general agreement it deals with the "supernatural," the sacred, the non-mundane and non-profane. Yet others argue that for, say, communists, psychoanalysts, or Masons who practice no other religio. Communism, Psychiatry, or freemasonry could be considered as religions.



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