Thursday, August 25, 2005

Unintelligent design

With all this controversy about "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolutionary theory, let us step back for a minute and think about what the world would have been like had it been the product of Unintelligent Design.

With intelligent design, you would of course have the leader of a country who was articulate, well-informed, reality-based, and highly ethical. With Unintelligent Design, that leader would get into office by stealing the election, would pursue ruinous social and economic policies based on lies, relentlessly pummel the populace with slogans and verbal pabulum that had no relationship to the facts, and unconscionably take refuge in willful ignorance to protect himself from the immeasurable human suffering produced by his policies. With an intelligently designed world, people would have the natural intelligence to perceive what was going on in such a case and quickly oust the pretender, restoring the social system to its optimal state. Conversely, in an unintelligent design, they would easily succumb to the stupefying effects of mass media, of tendentious pundits telling them what to believe, so that the hideous perversion of democratic ideals could be allowed to fester with impunity.

But if, as we are exhorted by the Discovery Institute, the theory of intelligent design should share equal billing with evolution in the schools, then so should the theory of Unintelligent Design, because it perhaps explains some phenomena that the other theories do not. The devolution of human being into chimp, for example, seen lately at the highest levels, is inadequately dealt with by Darwin; it is here that the burgeoning science of Unintelligent Design truly shines. And yet, despite the continued elaboration of these sophisticated theories, there will always remain the entreaty lingering pathetically on our lips: "Say it ain't so, Lord!"

Monday, August 22, 2005

The transparent revolution

A new book is attempting to popularize the word translucent to describe what is essentially an enlightened state of awareness, except we aren't calling it enlightenment anymore. These "translucents" were interested in enlightenment fifteen years ago, they've been through the guru trip, they've maybe experienced some form of "radical awakening," and now they're into being integrated and holistic and not separating the material from the spiritual. So they're not really here nor there, and that's why we call them translucent. All these unsung translucent types are out there quietly integrating, changing the course of history from the meditation rooms in their upscale exurbian homes. They might be your neighbor; they might be you. But it's a revolution, and you'd best get with the program and buy this book and sling the term around to demonstrate your translucitude.

In search of a new marketing slogan to push my next spiritual best-seller, I am contemplating trying out "The Transparent Revolution." I think this might have much more popular appeal than "translucent." Remember science class in school, when they taught you the difference between translucence and transparency? You saw this piece of clear plastic, which was transparent, and this piece of cloudy plastic, which was translucent. Well, it was interesting that they had a word for it, but that first brush with translucence did not, I must admit, exactly inspire me. I mean, I did not there and then become a collector of pieces of cloudy plastic. As for transparency, I have gotten a lot of good over the years out of looking out of windows, and reading clear prose from transparently-written books. So I could argue that transparency has been practical in my life, even a source of inspiration.

Making an ideal of translucency strikes me as an attempt to make those who ran the enlightenment gauntlet and for one reason or another crashed and burned, feel good about their relative level of spiritual accomplishment, and give it a name. No enlightenment please, I'm translucent!

Well, get ready for the next phase. In my book, you're going to see through the crap like you've never seen before, O transparent one! Things will be crystal clear to you. You won't even see the separation between you and them. It'll be almost like...being there!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Seek ye first

Recently I was attending a lecture by a spiritual teacher who several times addressed us as "seekers." While I did not take violent exception to the classification, I felt somewhat uncomfortable with it. In truth, I don't think in my life I've ever felt much like a seeker; I prefer the word "explorer." The difference is this. If I am seeking, it means I am looking for something and I probably have some idea of what I'm looking for. As an explorer, I know I am in unknown territory, and though I will do a lot of looking around, and make discoveries in the process, I cannot predict in advance what they will be, or even what category they will be in. I may think I am looking for a new shape of cloud and discover instead a hedgehog.

Even before I seek the kingdom of heaven, I will explore the world without and within, because that is where I find myself, and perhaps I will stumble upon heaven in the process. Anyway, they just might have stuck it in a place you wouldn't ordinarily look.