Taking life seriously
Being lost in space is the essential metaphor of modernity. This metaphor harks back to the Copernican revolution, which has come to define our modern condition. Humanity is the result of a chemical accident that occurred on a speck of stardust.
One can argue that this mindset was a necessary prerequisite to our technological ascendancy, but most observers point to the pronounced admixture of deism as a requisite ingredient. It is this irrational matter/spirit dualism that truly defines the modern psyche.
As our infatuation with material progress plays itself out at the close of the second millennium, thoughtful people reexamine their beliefs. We question the rationality of either materialism or dualism, but we tremble at the implication of the only alternative. Immaterialism seems to subvert the entire modern project, and so it does. The full consequence could only be apocalyptic in all senses of that word, and particularly in the biblical sense. Whoever is the child, who is first able to state convincingly that modernism is naked to the core, that child will bring down the kingdom of materialism, that child will then be the messiah of the apocalypse, the second coming. I can understand that the angels tread very lightly on this path, but where are all the other fools?
What then is the imminent apocalypse that I entertain if it is not the prophesied harvest? My only innovation on the standard scenario recalls my Universalist roots. I foresee a bloodless universal salvation, but I can be confident of that only by logically appealing to the christ-event and the salvific blood that was spilled therein. If you know of any better substitute please let me know.
Copernicus took the path of astral literalism, and it is not easy for us now to consider the alternative of astral metaphor toward which Leibnitz, Kant and even the postmodernists point. As one surmounts the obstruction of astral literalism, what does one envision?
The Anthropic principle of cosmology and the participatory universe of J.A. Wheeler are small steps toward a neo-anthropocentrism, and that is where immaterialism now leads. By turning the Anthropic principle around one could argue that given humanity, the cosmos is determined, if not overly so. Appealing again to Leibnitz and the christ-event one can argue contra Giordano Bruno's idea of many worlds.
Many-worlds is an easy escape from our Cosmic stage fright. At the end of history the music has stopped and we are left standing like the deer caught in the cosmic spotlight. There are other worlds but ours is maximal in its material density and its historical cosmic isolation. If there were any other such anthropically maximal domains, how could they be distinguished from ours in any non-trivial fashion, particularly if you include a christ-like event? Could there be any significant experience in another such world that would be distinguishable from one here. One might argue that the apparent experiential redundancy of this world would support the redundancy of other worlds, but a liberal interpretation of the Identity of Indiscernibles precludes this move, in my opinion. Pace Bruno.
The precariousness of the lack of cosmic redundancy is offset by the operation of final causation. We are destined for universal salvation even if fate has to drag us kicking and screaming as it will and we will. We are the body of the resurrected God, that destiny is non-negotiable. God will be recycled over our dead bodies if need be, but our final deaths will not be needed.
Finally we move from the sublime to the seemingly ridiculous. In time of crisis we look to the skies for salvation, for the literal deus ex machina, the UFO bringing our savior. The denizens of other worlds know where the action is, and that this is going to be the Greatest Show of all. Imagine the price of the tickets. Some of us might think that the peanut gallery would be preferable, but we have already paid the price of our history to be on-stage.
The ET's have plenty of gratuitous advice, but they are smart enough finally to keep their distance. Their most critical role is to oversee that El Nino will indeed be allowed to point to the nakedness of our King Herod.