Does "God" exist?
This question has haunted mankind down through the ages. The essential point in time when Culture becomes Civilization is partly determined by the point in time when intellect destroys the cultural "soul." That destruction occurs because the advanced intellects of the mature Culture focus their skills on the mythology of their essential religious beliefs and find them wanting. When the end result of sifting all known facts through the engine of reductio ad absurdum is but emptiness and nothingness, they declare that God never did exist because there is no residue of him left after the application of all of their logical processes.
However, any real scientist will tell you, just because your experiment finds nothing at its conclusion, that is no reason to presume that nothing is there. All scientific inquiry is limited by the skills and methods of the inquiring mind.
Spengler certainly sees the "hand of God" in the formation of each Culture. As he defines it:
"A Culture is born in the moment when a great soul awakens out of the proto-spirituality of ever-childish humanity, and detaches itself, a form from the formless, a bounded and mortal thing from the boundless and enduring."
It is the "soul"
of the Culture which inspires its people to create the great art, the
great religions, the great sciences, and the other great things
associated with that Culture. That "soul" inspires mankind to create order out of the chaos of a primitive existence.
And therein lies the key: God manifests himself by inspiring mankind to create order out of chaos. God may thus be said to be an anti-entropic force.29
Calling God "anti-entropic" labels God with the only true facts which mankind is presently capable of discerning about God: 1) God is "outside" of the universe as perceived by mankind;30 and 2) one way that God operates upon the universe of mankind is by applying an inspirational force (called a "soul") which gives mankind the psychic energy necessary to create a grand order (Culture) out of the chaos of primitive existence.
How all this operates is presently a matter of pure speculation. But it is a recent phenomena in the history of mankind. Consider: all men and women alive today are descended from one man and one woman who lived roughly 150,000 to 250,000 years ago, but it was only about 15,000 years ago that mankind first exhibited behavior which was in any significant way distinguishable from the beasts of the jungle.
The road to Civilization begins when mankind ceases to be a hunter-gatherer and begins to farm and domesticate animals. Before that point, mankind did little to distinguish his behavior from the other animals. Before that point, mankind's existence was strictly controlled by "The Law of the Jungle."
The motivation to begin farming can only come from an inspiration to create a controlled and ordered existence out of the chaos of jungle-like behavior. Before that, mankind was not particularly different from the other animals of the jungle. After that, Man becomes the dominant species on this planet, creates Culture and Civilization, and begins his long search for Truth.31
What great event occurred roughly 10-15,000 years ago and inspired mankind to begin traveling down the road to Civilization and Culture? Only God knows, and He isn't available for questioning! But it must be admitted that something happened, and that something inspired men as geographically diverse as the Inca, the Egyptian, and the Chinese to each begin their journey down that path.
Whatever something happened, in that great long ago age, mankind ceased to be just another beast of the jungle, and began the long search for knowledge. The search for knowledge leads naturally to the search for ultimate Truth. In turn, that search leads to the "birth of a myth of the grand style, expressing a new God-feeling, world fear, [and] world longing."32 That myth is, as Spengler notes, the first step on the road to Culture, which so far each time has led inexorably to Civilization and death.
The essence of all this appears to me to be:
Through some as-yet unknown mechanism, God infuses Man with an anti-entropic spiritual force (which we choose to call a "soul"), which force motivates Man to seek Truth; and in the process of seeking Truth, Man so orders his affairs that Culture forms and arises out of the chaos of mankind's formerly jungle-like existence.
is the only answer which (for me, at least) fits all of the known
facts. That does not (I would be the first to admit) make it true. But
it does answer the fundamental question which plagues mankind in the
late Culture and throughout the period of Civilization. God does exist,
and the evidence of this existence is the anti-entropic spirit force
which mankind feels within himself, if he would only look for it.
Down through the ages of man, various religions have formed and dissolved, all concerned with this essential question: "What is the proper relation between Man and God?" In the early primitive stages, Man never asks: "Does God exist?" That is a question which is reserved for the time when Culture is dying. Once intellect arrives at the answer: "I see no real evidence of the existence of God," then Culture dies and the Civilization is born. But in that process, mankind loses its soul.
This, then, is the power of Spengler's vision: it illuminates the place where our Civilization lost its knowledge of God. Spengler tells us exactly where to look. God is most present in the "soul" of the young Culture, inspiring Man to create the great wonders which we still marvel at today (architecture, art, music, etc.). When the anti-entropic force of the "soul" dies, the Culture transforms to Civilization, and from that point, there is only the increasing entropy of the chaotic "decline" into oblivion. When the cultural "soul" dies, mankind loses its ability to tap the outside well of anti-entropic force which I call God. It is not that "God is dead;" instead it is that "God is dead" in our lives. We have merely lost our contact with the spirit force which made Man to be a non-animal.
The most basic view of God which mankind possesses is God the Creator. It is part of the Old Testament in the Bible, at Genesis 1, verse 1, with the famous phrase: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." That same concept is present, in one form or another, in virtually every formal religion. Clearly, many people, regardless of their background, are motivated to feel this most fundamental of beliefs, that of being a creation of God.
This ancient concept of God the Creator is entirely consistent with the vision I have of God as an anti-entropic force. This is the essence of theist arguments 14 and 18 (see Book II, Section C), which I accept as true to the extent which those arguments embrace the concepts which I enunciate in this Section. Because of the ancient roots of this concept, I could hardly call my theory of God as an anti-entropic force "new." And the reference by Dr. Moreland to the "Second Law of Thermodynamics" during his opening piece in the debate would clearly indicate that the advocates of God's existence have long ago jumped upon this scientific concept as a basis for their arguments.
The difficulty arises in that we have yet to come to grips with the concept of the Universe as a "closed system" which we can then analyze in enough detail to assure us of sufficient internal evidence of action which is only explainable if you accept that some outside force (i. e., God) has acted upon our Universe. The laws of Thermodynamics lose their validity if you cannot isolate the system which you desire to analyze from the effects of known "outside" forces.
As one example of this difficulty, let us consider the process of evolution. The fundamentalist Christians are scared of that concept because it goes against the explicit words of the Bible. Thus, the theory of evolution is attacked by religious bigots at every opportunity. In the larger sense, however, these bigots are attacking the greatest evidence we have FOR the existence of God! You see, evolution is also an anti-entropic process.
But if we look at evolution on Earth in detail, we can clearly see that the principal driving force does come from a known physical source outside of our planet: our Sun. In essence, this implies that we have wrongly defined our "closed" system to exclude the Sun. If we include the Sun as part of our "closed" system, then there is an explanation for evolution as entropic: it is a process driven by the energy coming to Earth from the Sun.
But, you say, we now know that our Sun was formed about five billion years ago from a collection of random gas molecules which were floating around in space. The recent (early 1996) photographs from the Hubble telescope clearly show several stars emerging from a cloud of gas, which is essentially a stellar nursery. So, is the creation of the stars themselves, including our Sun, an anti-entropic process? That begins a debate.
We do not yet know enough about the cosmological processes involved in building stars for us to truly conclude whether those processes are anti-entropic or not. If they are, then we can declare that some outside source is causing stars to be built here in our own little Universe. We could then choose to identify that outside source of star building as one of the Hands of God.
The same could be said for the psychic energy which I choose to call a "soul." We know that various forms of matter and energy can be transformed into each other by some processes we understand and others which we do not. Accordingly, just because we find some new form of matter or energy, in this case a "psychic energy," we cannot say with any certainty that this is an entirely new creation from "outside" of our closed system. It could well be that what we call "psychic energy" is just a transformation, by processes which we do not (yet) understand, from some other, more recognizable, form of matter or energy. In other words, we cannot truly say with scientific certainty that "psychic energy" is a manifestation of an "anti-entropic" source (i. e., an "outside" source, such as a "Hand of God").
29 "Entropy" is a concept from thermodynamics. It is a measure of the state of "disorder" (chaos) in a given system, and is usually discussed along with the catch-phrase: "entropy always increases." If the system is isolated, the entropy (disorder, chaos) in that system must either remain the same or increase, and that increase is proportional to the work performed. Entropy (disorder, chaos) can only decrease if contact is established with something outside of the allegedly "isolated" system. Thus, it may be said that anything which creates order out of disorder (chaos) is "anti-entropic" (it goes against entropy, or is "reverse" entropy), and by saying that, you are admitting that it comes from outside.
30 The universe perceived by mankind is thus the "isolated" system required for an analysis of the entropy state. If you feel tempted to consider, for example, the planet Earth as the "isolated" system, just walk outside at noon on a Summer's day and feel the heat from the Sun; you will then perceive an obvious thermodynamic effect from "outside" of our planet. Life is not simple.
31 All scientific inquiry is a search for Truth. So too is all philosophical inquiry. In the earliest systems, those of the classical Greeks, like Plato, philosophy and science were two aspects of the same discipline. While modern thought has now separated all knowledge into numerous fields, it is still correct that each field of knowledge is a (now specialized) search for Truth. The only possible exception would be Religion, and even there, mankind searches for an ultimate Truth about God and the existence of mankind in relation to God. It is just that Religion, as opposed to every other branch of knowledge, first begins with an answer, and then attempts to fit all the questions to that answer. It simply cannot succeed; as soon as the right question comes along, one which cannot be fit to the predefined answer, "Faith" evaporates, and the "soul" of a Culture dies.
32 The quotation is the first entry on "Table I. `Contemporary' Spiritual Epochs" at the end of Volume I of "The Decline of the West."
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