"War waged without a clear mandate from the United Nations Security Council would constitute a flagrant violation of the prohibition of the use of force. We note with deep dismay that a small number of states are poised to launch an outright illegal invasion of Iraq, which amounts to a war of aggression."
International Commission of Jurists, 2002
"Today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over."
President Barack Obama, October 21, 2011
President Obama announced on October 21 that the U.S. would be withdrawing all but a handful of troops from Iraq at the end of the year. Despite taking credit in his brief speech for a new war strategy in Iraq following his election, Obama also reminded us that President Bush set the troop withdrawal deadline back in 2008. So the withdrawal deadline was not new, nor was it a surprise.
Obama put a positive spin on the war itself and its end. It would be hard for a sitting president, as Commander in Chief, to criticize the war itself as unjust and not worth the loss in life and treasure, particularly considering the harm our actions have wrought in Iraq. Candidate Obama did say as much, however, in 2007: “I am proud of the fact that way back in 2002, I said that this war was a mistake.”
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Saturday, November 19, 2011
“[God] has a primordial nature and a consequent nature. The consequent nature of God is conscious; and it is the realization of the actual world in the unity of his nature, and through the transformation of his wisdom.”
—Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (1929)
What is the ultimate nature of reality? And how does it interact with each of us?
Part I of this series introduced the idea of “twin ultimates,” the notion that there are two types of divinity worthy of our consideration. The first, the more fundamental type of divinity, may be referred to as the ground of being, the Source, God’s “primordial” nature (as in the Whitehead quote above), or any of a number of other names from various philosophical, scientific or spiritual traditions. The ground of being is the metaphysical soil from which all actuality grows.
The other ultimate, the Summit, lies at the opposite end of the spectrum of being and becoming. The Summit is closer to traditional western notions of God, and God is as good a name as any other for this ultimate.
This essay will explore the Summit in more detail and compare Source and Summit. As with all of my essays, I appeal both to science and spirituality in my explanations. This is the case because I don’t believe there is any fundamental distinction between science, philosophy and spirituality. To be sure, there are differences in current practice and focus, but in terms of conceptual structures—if not all their methods—these endeavors should be essentially the same (“should” being the essential word here). By this I mean that the “deep science” (to use Ken Wilber’s term) that meshes science, philosophy and spirituality together relies on logic, intuition, faith, and facts — recognizing that all human endeavors are a mix of these tools.
The deep science that reconciles science and spirit doesn’t ignore inconvenient facts, nor does it elevate reason above all other tools as the only source of legitimate knowledge. Deep science recognizes that all our attempts at understanding should be empirically based as much as possible, but it also recognizes that some sources of knowledge lie beyond empiricism and even beyond logic. Defining the contours of where facts and reason should give way to intuition and faith is an entirely personal matter. I tend to the intellectual and rational approach in my own explanations (particularly in these essays), while acknowledging that logic has limits; but I have no independent basis for preferring this prioritization. It’s entirely personal.
Read the rest here.
“The search for the ‘one’, for the ultimate source of all understanding, has doubtless played a similar role in the origin of both religion and science.”
—Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), Nobel Prize winner for physics
When, as a teenager, I first began engaging intellectually with the world, I often perused the philosophy sections of bookstores and libraries, avidly inspecting books for pearls of wisdom. If a philosopher dared to mention spirituality or God, I would consider the book misplaced and not relevant to my philosophical questions – it should have been in the religion section, an area for individuals with weaker minds and weaker stomachs. I was, for some time, an avid atheist, embracing the modern scientific and philosophical trend that has become quite pervasive.
My how things change.
I have realized in my own personal journey that examinations of God and spirituality are part and parcel of philosophy – if we define philosophy as the broad endeavor to understand the universe and our place in it. There are many functions of philosophy, to be sure, but this is as good a definition of philosophy as I have found.
Any rational inquiry into the nature of the universe – which includes science as a more specialized form of philosophy – and our place in it must face one of the most basic questions: How does complexity arise? It seems that it must arise from simplicity – this is, at least, the phenomenon we see all around us: Simpler constituents generating more complex forms through combination, separation, and emergence. What place should God have in this story of simplicity producing complexity? Can’t we explain the universe in terms of merely matter, energy, and space? In a word, no.
The modern trend has generally been to whittle away God’s role in the world and in philosophy. Modern science, with Galileo, Newton, Descartes, etc. began this trend by defining the scientific pursuit as rational inquiry into God’s work. This inquiry was, and is, all about discovering the rules that govern the world.
Read the rest here.