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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.

Comments

bobby1933
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.
amaebi
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.
bobby1933
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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