A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection?

Dame Piczek explains the complicated physics behind the image on the Shroud: “As quantum time collapses to absolute zero (time stopped moving) in the tomb of Christ, the two event horizons (one stopping events from above and the other stop-ping the events from below at the moment of the zero time col-lapse) going through the body get infinitely close to each other and eliminate each other (causing the image to print itself on the two sides of the Shroud).

In general relativity, an event horizon is a boundary in space-time, most often an area surrounding a black hole, beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. Light emitted from beyond the horizon can never reach the observer, and anything that passes through the horizon from the ob-server’s side appears to freeze in place.

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Religion & Philosophy

Why Are Mathew and Luke Genealogies Different?

At face value it may seem strange that Matthew and Luke record different genealogies of Jesus. Many, including Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, and Islamic apologist Shabbir Ally (Further Reading 4), have alluded to this comparison when accusing the Bible of contradiction.


However, these genealogies can be better understood with some general background information:

Biblical Genealogies

Biblical genealogies have different properties from the family trees that we are familiar with today.

Firstly, Biblical genealogies use the terms ‘son’ and ‘father’ loosely. They can mean either direct descendant or distant descendant. For example, we read in Luke 3:8 and John 8:39 that a group of religious teachers said to Jesus, ‘Abraham is our father’, which is absurd in the modern sense, since Abraham lived thousands of years before. Similarly, Jesus is described throughout the New Testament as ‘the son of David’ (Matthew 1:1), who lived hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

Religion & Philosophy

Vilenkin’s Cosmic Vision: A Review Essay of Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes- William Lane Craig

The task of scientific popularization is a difficult one. Too many authors think that it is to be accomplished by frequent resort to explanatorily vacuous and obfuscating metaphors which leave the reader puzzling over what exactly a particular theory asserts. One of the great merits of Alexander Vilenkin’s book is that he shuns this route in favor of straightforward, simple explanations of key terms and ideas. Couple that with a writing style that is marvelously lucid, and you have one of the best popularizations of current physical cosmology available from one of its foremost practitioners.

Vilenkin vigorously champions the idea that we live in a multiverse, that is to say, the causally connected universe is but one domain in a much vaster cosmos which comprises an infinite number of such domains. Moreover, each causally connected domain is subdivided into an infinite number of subdomains, each constituting an observable universe bounded by an event horizon. As if that were not enough, Vilenkin also endorses Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics, so that even the infinite multiverse is but one of an indefinitely large class of distinct multiverses. The result is a breath-taking vision of physical reality.

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Religion & Philosophy

Nothing but a pack of neurons?

 

 

The sort of Cartesian dualism that sees us as disembodied souls piloting a brain that exists only to sense the external (and internal) world and to execute action has long been difficult to reconcile with knowledge from neurology of the extent to which many aspects of cognition depend on the brain, in that they are impaired or lost when it is damaged.

More recently a wide range of techniques has been used to investigate information processing in the intact brain, both in humans and animals, so that for some aspects of behaviour we now understand not only which areas of the brain are necessary but also a good deal about the pathways and neuronal mechanisms involved.

While there is certainly much that we do not know about the brain and cognition, it would be fair to say that where it has been possible to define a quantitative procedure for investigating a cognitive task, it has been possible to find neuronal activity that correlates with the cognitive performance

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Religion & Philosophy

Dialogue with Richard Dawkins, Rowan Williams and Anthony Kenny

Sir Anthony Kenny chaired a dialogue at Oxford University between Archbishop Rowan Williams and Professor Richard Dawkins on the subject of “The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin”. The event was held on Thursday 23rd February 2012 in the Sheldonian Theatre, and was hosted by Sophia Europa (Theology Faculty) Oxford.

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Religion & Philosophy

Process Mind….Connecting with the Mind of God

The quantum mind is that aspect of our psychology that corresponds to basic aspects of quantum physics. The quantum aspect of our awareness notices the tiniest, easily overlooked “nano” tendencies and self-reflects upon these subliminal experiences. However, the quantum mind is not just a supersensitive self-reflecting awareness; it also is a kind of “pilot wave” or guiding pattern. . . . Physicists speak of the wave function “collapsing” to create reality. I speak about how our self-reflection uses and then marginalizes, rather than “collapses,” our dreaming nature. For example, after reflecting on a dream, you might think, “Ah ha! Now I will do this or that”; then you put the dreamworld aside temporarily while you take action in order to create a new reality.

Besides the ability we share with other parts of our universe to sense possibilities, self-reflect, and move from dreaming to everyday reality, we may have the ability to be in two places or two states at the same time, just as quantum physics suggests that material particles can behave. For example, in a dream you may be at once dead and alive – even though upon awakening, you come out of this unitive experience and soon begin reflecting, identifying with one or another of the dream images. Thus, we can characterize our quantum nature as nonlocal or “bilocal” as well as highly sensitive and self-reflective…

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Animal Rights and Buddhism


From a Buddhist perspective, it seems to me the tricky part of this question is not "animals," but "rights." The concept of rights developed in western civilization over many centuries and came to fruition during the 17th century or so, in the work of Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke.  But there was no such concept in the world 25 centuries ago, during the time of the Buddha.


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Advaita Vedanta – Adi Sankara’s views

Adi Sankara's treatises on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras are his principal and almost undeniably his own works. Although he mostly adhered to traditional means of commenting on the Brahma Sutra, there are a number of original ideas and arguments. He taught that it was only through knowledge and wisdom of nonduality that one could be enlightened.

Sankara's opponents accused him of teaching Buddhism in the garb of Hinduism, because his non-dualistic ideals were a bit radical to contemporary Hindu philosophy. However, it may be noted that while the Later Buddhists arrived at a changeless, deathless, absolute truth after their insightful understanding of the unreality of samsara, historically Vedantins never liked this idea. Although Advaita also proposes the theory of Maya, explaining the universe as a "trick of a magician", Sankara and his followers see this as a consequence of their basic premise that Brahman is real. Their idea of Maya emerges from their belief in the reality of Brahman, rather than the other way around.

Sankara was a peripatetic orthodox Hindu monk who traveled the length and breadth of India. The more enthusiastic followers of the Advaita tradition claim that he was chiefly responsible for "driving the Buddhists away". Historically the decline of Buddhism in India is known to have taken place long after Sankara or even Kumarila Bhatta (who according to a legend had "driven the Buddhists away" by defeating them in debates), sometime before the Muslim invasion into Afghanistan (earlier Gandhara).

Although today's most enthusiastic followers of Advaita believe Sankara argued against Buddhists in person, a historical source, the Madhaviya Sankara Vijayam, indicates that Sankara sought debates with Mimamsa, Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika and Yoga scholars as keenly as with any Buddhists. In fact his arguments against the Buddhists are quite mild in the Upanishad Bhashyas, while they border on the acrimonious in the Brahma Sutra Bhashya.

The Vishistadvaita and Dvaita schools believed in an ultimatelysaguna Brahman. They differ passionately with Advaita, and believe that his nirguna Brahman is not different from the Buddhist Sunyata(wholeness or zeroness) — much to the dismay of the Advaita school. A careful study of the Buddhist Sunyata will show that it is in some ways metaphysically similar as Brahman. Whether Sankara agrees with the Buddhists is not very clear from his commentaries on the Upanishads. His arguments against Buddhism in the Brahma Sutra Bhashyas are more a representation of Vedantic traditional debate with Buddhists than a true representation of his own individual belief. (See link: Sankara's arguments against Buddhism)


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The Large Hadron Collider May Allow us to Read the Mind of God

Today the LHC may have the potential to explain the origin of all four fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Physicists believe that at the beginning of time there was a single superforce that unified these fundamental forces. Finding it could be the crowning achievement in the history of science.

Through the LHC, we hope to finally prove the existence of the Higgs boson, which is the only particle yet to be observed by the Standard Model. There is a hypothetical, ever-present quantum field that is supposedly responsible for giving particles their masses; this field would answer the basic question of why particles have the masses they do or why they have any mass at all. According to CERN, "The answer may be the so-called Higgs mechanism. According to the theory of the Higgs mechanism, the whole of space is filled with a ‘Higgs field,’ and by interacting with this field, particles acquire their masses. Particles that interact intensely with the Higgs field are heavy, while those that have feeble interactions are light. The Higgs field has at least one new particle associated with it, the Higgs boson. If such a particle exists, experiments at the LHC will be able to detect it.”


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Spe Salvi facti sumus……in hope we were saved

In the encyclical about hope running into about 75 pages, Pope Benedict is not proposing a facile hope in heaven undoing injustices of life on earth. Indeed, this is where he brings in Dostoyevsky. The Pope asserts that "the last Judgment is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope". A world without God is a world without hope, and "God is justice". Only God can provide the justice that sustains hope in the better future—the eternal life—for one and all. "God is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ. Both these things—justice and grace—must be seen in their correct inner relationship."

With justice comes grace, yet "grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on Earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoyevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel "The Brothers Karamazov”. Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened."

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Vatican welcome to Anglicans boldest move since Reformation

The Vatican launched an historic initiative Tuesday to make it easier for disgruntled Anglicans worldwide to join the Roman Catholic Church. The church said the move was not a swipe at the Anglicans but it could nevertheless result in hundreds of thousands of churchgoers unhappy with openly gay and female clerics defecting to Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI gave his approval to a new framework to bring back into the fold Anglicans who oppose their church's liberal stance on gay marriage and the ordination of women priests and gay bishops while allowing them to retain some of their separate religious traditions.

The move comes nearly 500 years after Henry VIII's desire for a divorce led him to break with Rome and proclaim himself as the head of the newly formed Church of England in 1534. The framework is the Vatican's most sweeping gesture toward any schismatic church since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and the Thirty Years' War that followed it in the 17th century. That war ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which acknowledged the right of monarchs rather than the Vatican to determine their national faiths, prompting Pope Innocent X to declare the document "null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all time."

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What happened at Lambeth 2008

THE 2008 LAMBETH CONFERENCE of Anglican bishops in Canterbury July 16-August 3 was a milestone in this march of relativism. While nothing extraordinary happened – no fist fights or beatific visions – a number of prelates came away from Lambeth realizing the Anglican Communion no longer worked. Its structures were not a place for holy men, but for hollow men: bishops who knew in their hollow hearts they were stuffed with straw, trapped in a purposeless whirl of apathy and spiritual torpor called "dialogue." The Anglican Communion had finally broken, coming to an end "not with a bang but a whimper."

While past Lambeth Conferences have endeavored to speak clearly on matters of common concern as a guide to the global church, Lambeth 2008 was designed to, and did, decline to draw the line between the irreconcilable claims of the left and right. Gene Robinson's cry that "God is doing a new thing," and that the affirmation of his election as Bishop of New Hampshire showed that "God has once again brought an Easter out of Good Friday," was left to stand alongside the claims of traditionalists like Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker, who argued that the standard the church must use in moving forward with change was the rule of Vincent of Lerins: a once-for-all received faith, witnessed everywhere and by all. Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.

While the liberal juggernaut has ground through The Episcopal Church (TEC) over the past generation, carrying prayer book revision and women's ordination with it across the 38-province Anglican Communion, Vincent's 5th century rule had been consistently applied to questions of sexual ethics. At the 13th Lambeth Conference in 1998, bishops of the Communion affirmed by a 7 to 1 margin the church's traditional teaching on human sexuality, as informed by Scripture and the church's unbroken teaching of 2,000 years.

The onus lies with those who seek change to convince the church of the need for it, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, explained after Lambeth '98. Listening to proponents of change acknowledges their honorable motives, he told the clergy of the Diocese of Central Florida in 2003, but entering into a conversation with them does not validate their arguments.

"Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent," George Orwell once wrote of Gandhi, and the same standard applies in the development of doctrine, Lord Carey argued. However, the 14th Lambeth Conference under the presidency of Archbishop Rowan Williams said goodbye to all that.

AT LAMBETH '08, Dr. Williams lost the confidence of his fellow archbishops, and left the Communion millions in debt, and on the same trajectory as before the Conference began. Left and right have rejected his pleas for restraint, vitiating the renewed call in Canterbury for moratoria on gay bishops and blessings and cross-border episcopal actions, pending putative rescue by an Anglican Covenant at some uncertain date. New layers of bureaucracy suggested at Lambeth (e.g. a "Pastoral Forum" and "Faith and Order Commission") remain to be developed at a time when many saw stronger measures to restore order as overdue. Meanwhile, Roman Catholic and Orthodox representatives announced the effective end of talks aimed at corporate reunion and the recognition of Anglican orders.

Philosophically, the Lambeth Conference witnessed the retirement of the historic Anglican guides of Scripture, Tradition and reason in divining truth. Scripture was subordinated to experience and culture, reason rejected in favor of political power, and Tradition debased into equal parts antiquarianism and haberdashery.

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Pope John Paul II and Suffering

Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

When Our Son Told Us He Was Gay


It is no secret that Karol Wojtyla, as a young man and even during the early years of his pontificate, was a picture of health, vigor and vitality. As an athlete skilled in soccer, swimming, canoeing and skiing, he exhibited a great physical presence.

During his papal trip to the United States in 1979, he rode through Manhattan in the back of a limousine with an opening in the roof that allowed him to be visible to the crowd from the waist up. He was in excellent physical condition, waving to the crowds with just the right amount of drama as the vehicle moved slowly along. (This was before the 1981 assassination attempt in Rome and the days of the “popemobile,” with its bulletproof glass protecting the pope.)

These are all reminders of John Paul’s healthier days when he had all the physical stamina and charm any human could want. The pope did regain—for a time—his health and vigor after recuperating from the 1981 assassination attempt.

In the early 90s, however, a series of health problems began to take their toll. In 1992, the pope had colon surgery, involving removal of a noncancerous tumor. The next year he fell and dislocated a shoulder. In 1994, he suffered a broken femur in another fall. An appendectomy followed in 1996. During these years, moreover, a Parkinson-like condition, if not the disease itself, began to reveal its visible effects.

The point of these sobering details is to show that John Paul was clearly entering the part of his life’s journey marked by failing health and suffering.

Describing the Holy Father in the fall of 1998, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stated: “The pain is written on his face. His figure is bent, and he needs to support himself on his pastoral staff. He leans on the cross, on the crucifix….” Certainly John Paul was beginning to lean on Christ’s cross in more ways than one.

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Pope calls for a new Pentecost to launch renewal of American Church

Apr 19, 2008 – Six thousand people flocked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York this morning for a Mass that Pope Benedict celebrated for clergy and religious. In his homily, Benedict XVI called for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church in America so that it can overcome divisions and allow all of its gifts to be spent for the sake of spreading the Gospel.

After thanking Cardinal Egan for his welcome and recalling the examples of the pioneers of the Catholic Church in America, Pope Benedict turned to the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

“As we give thanks for past blessings, and look to the challenges of the future, let us implore from God the grace of a new Pentecost for the Church in America. May tongues of fire, combining burning love of God and neighbor with zeal for the spread of Christ’s Kingdom, descend on all present!” he exclaimed.

The Pontiff then pointed to the example of the late Cardinals Cooke and O’Connor whose “heroic witness to the Gospel of life” should inspire this kind of zeal. “The proclamation of life, life in abundance, must be the heart of the new evangelization,” the Pope said.

“This is the message of hope we are called to proclaim and embody in a world where self-centeredness, greed, violence, and cynicism so often seem to choke the fragile growth of grace in people’s hearts,” the Holy Father encouraged.

Pope Benedict said that the challenge in some ways is to bring this message of life in abundance to “a society where the Church seems legalistic and ‘institutional’ to many people.” The Church’s “most urgent challenge is to communicate the joy born of faith and the experience of God’s love”, he said.

He then turned the congregation’s attention to different aspects of the architecture of St. Patrick’s.

Noting how from the outside the stained glass windows appear dim but from the inside of the Church their true beauty is revealed, the Pope said, that communicating the joy and love of God “is no easy task in a world which can tend to look at the Church, like those stained glass windows, ‘from the outside’”.

Besides a spiritual conversion, Benedict XVI explained that an “‘intellectual’ conversion” is necessary to be able to discern “the signs of the times, and our personal contribution to the Church’s life and mission”.

“For all of us, I think, one of the great disappointments which followed the Second Vatican Council, with its call for a greater engagement in the Church’s mission to the world, has been the experience of division between different groups, different generations, different members of the same religious family,” Benedict said.

The solution to these divisions, the way to move forward, Benedict explained, is “if we turn our gaze together to Christ!” Turning away from division and towards Christ, is the way that true spiritual renewal will occur, the Holy Father said.

Pope Benedict once again brought up the sexual abuse scandal in the context of striving for unity.

“I would like say a word about the sexual abuse that has caused so much suffering. I have already had occasion to speak of this, and of the resulting damage to the community of the faithful. Here I simply wish to assure you, dear priests and religious, of my spiritual closeness as you strive to respond with Christian hope to the continuing challenges that this situation presents.”

Benedict drew attention back to the architectural structure to make his final point.

“The unity of a Gothic cathedral, we know, is not the static unity of a classical temple, but a unity born of the dynamic tension of diverse forces which impel the architecture upward, pointing it to heaven. Here too, we can see a symbol of the Church’s unity, which is the unity – as Saint Paul has told us – of a living body composed of many different members, each with its own role and purpose. For the Spirit never ceases to pour out his abundant gifts, to awaken new vocations and missions, and to guide the Church, as our Lord promised in this morning’s Gospel, into the fullness of truth.”

“So let us lift our gaze upward!” the Pope called out.

Calling on the Holy Spirit to help the Church grow in holiness, he added, “If we are to be true forces of unity, let us be the first to seek inner reconciliation through penance. Let us forgive the wrongs we have suffered and put aside all anger and contention. Let us be the first to demonstrate the humility and purity of heart which are required to approach the splendor of God’s truth. In fidelity to the deposit of faith entrusted to the Apostles, let us be joyful witnesses of the transforming power of the Gospel!”

Pope Benedict closed by calling on American Catholics to “go forth as heralds of hope in the midst of this city, and all those places where God’s grace has placed us. In this way, the Church in America will know a new springtime in the Spirit, and point the way to that other, greater city, the new Jerusalem, whose light is the Lamb For there God is even now preparing for all people a banquet of unending joy and life. Amen.”

General Blog Religion & Philosophy

Some Characteristics of Medieval Thought

SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF MEDIEVAL THOUGHT

IN the earliest days of his upward evolution man was satisfied with
a very crude explanation of natural phenomena–that to which the name
"animism" has been given. In this stage of mental development all the
various forces of Nature are personified: the rushing torrent, the
devastating fire, the wind rustling the forest leaves–in the mind of
the animistic savage all these are personalities, spirits, like
himself, but animated by motives more or less antagonistic to him.

I suppose that no possible exception could be taken to the statement
that modern science renders animism impossible. But let us inquire in
exactly what sense this is true. It is not true that science robs
natural phenomena of their spiritual significance. The mistake is often
made of supposing that science explains, or endeavours to explain,
phenomena. But that is the business of philosophy. The task science
attempts is the simpler one of the correlation of natural phenomena,
and in this effort leaves the ultimate problems of metaphysics
untouched. A universe, however, whose phenomena are not only capable of
some degree of correlation, but present the extraordinary degree of
harmony and unity which science makes manifest in Nature, cannot be, as
in animism, the product of a vast number of incoordinated and
antagonistic wills, but must either be the product of one Will, or not
the product of will at all.

The latter alternative means that the Cosmos is inexplicable, which
not only man’s growing experience, but the fact that man and the
universe form essentially a unity, forbid us to believe. The term
"anthropomorphic" is too easily applied to philosophical systems, as if
it constituted a criticism of their validity. For if it be true, as all
must admit, that the unknown can only be explained in terms of the
known, then the universe must either be explained in terms of man–i.e.
in terms of will or desire–or remain incomprehensible. That is to say,
a philosophy must either be anthropomorphic, or no philosophy at all.

Thus a metaphysical scrutiny of the results of modern science leads
us to a belief in God. But man felt the need of unity, and crude
animism, though a step in the right direction, failed to satisfy his
thought, long before the days of modern science. The spirits of
animism, however, were not discarded, but were modified, co-ordinated,
and worked into a system as servants of the Most High. Polytheism may
mark a stage in this process; or, perhaps, it was a result of mental
degeneracy.

What I may term systematised as distinguished from crude animism
persisted throughout the Middle Ages. The work of systematisation had
already been accomplished, to a large extent, by the Neo-Platonists and
whoever were responsible for the Kabala. It is true that these main
sources of magical or animistic philosophy remained hidden during the
greater part of the Middle Ages; but at about their close the youthful
and enthusiastic CORNELIUS AGRIPPA (1486-1535)  slaked his thirst
thereat and produced his own attempt at the systematisation of magical
belief in the famous Three Books of Occult Philosophy. But the waters
of magical philosophy reached the mediaeval mind through various
devious channels, traditional on the one hand and literary on the
other. And of the latter, the works of pseudo-DIONYSIUS,  whose
immense influence upon mediaeval thought has sometimes been neglected,
must certainly be noted.

The most obvious example of a mediaeval animistic belief is that in
"elementals" –the spirits which personify the primordial forces of
Nature, and are symbolised by the four elements, immanent in which they
were supposed to exist, and through which they were held to manifest
their powers. And astrology, it must be remembered, is essentially a
systematised Animism. The stars, to the ancients, were not material bodies like
the earth, but spiritual beings. PLATO (427-347 B.C.) speaks of them as
"gods". Mediaeval thought did not regard them in quite this way. But
for those who believed in astrology, and few, I think, did not, the
stars were still symbols of spiritual forces operative on man.
Evidences of the wide extent of astrological belief in those days are
abundant, many instances of which we shall doubtless encounter in our
excursions.

It has been said that the theological and philosophical atmosphere
of the Middle Ages was "scholastic," not mystical. No doubt
"mysticism," as a mode of life aiming at the realisation of the
presence of God, is as distinct from scholasticism as empiricism is
from rationalism, or "tough-minded" philosophy (to use JAMES’ happy
phrase) is from "tender-minded". But no philosophy can be absolutely
and purely deductive. It must start from certain empirically determined
facts. A man might be an extreme empiricist in religion (i.e. a
mystic), and yet might attempt to deduce all other forms of knowledge
from the results of his religious experiences, never caring to gather
experience in any other realm. Hence the breach between mysticism and
scholasticism is not really so wide as may appear at first sight.
Indeed, scholasticism officially recognised three branches of theology,
of which the mystical was one. I think that mysticism and scholasticism
both had a profound influence on the mediaeval mind, sometimes acting
as opposing forces, sometimes operating harmoniously with one another.
As Professor WINDEL-BAND puts it: "We no longer onesidedly characterise
the philosophy of the middle ages as scholasticism, but rather place
mysticism beside it as of equal rank, and even as being the more
fruitful and promising movement."

Alchemy, with its four Aristotelian or scholastic elements and its
three mystical principles–sulphur, mercury, salt,–must be cited as
the outstanding product of the combined influence of mysticism and
scholasticism: of mysticism, which postulated the unity of the Cosmos,
and hence taught that evervthing natural is the expressive image and
type of some supernatural reality; of scholasticism, which taught men
to rely upon deduction and to restrict expermentation to the smallest
possible limits.

The mind naturally proceeds from the known, or from what is supposed
to be known, to the unknown. Indeed, as I have already indicated, it
must so proceed if truth is to be gained. Now what did the men of the
Middle Ages regard as filling into the category of the known? Why,
surely, the truths of revealed religion, whether accepted upon
authority or upon the evidence of their own experience. The realm of
spiritual and moral reality: there, they felt, they were on firm
ground. Nature was a realm unknown; but they had analogy to guide, or,
rather, misguide them. Nevertheless if, as we know, it misguided, this
was not, I think, because the mystical doctrine of the correspondence
between the spiritual and the natural is unsound, but because these
ancient seekers into Nature’s secrets knew so little, and so frequently
misapplied what they did know. So alchemical philosophy arose and became systematised, with its wonderful
endeavour to perfect the base metals by the Philosopher’s Stone–the
concentrated Essence of Nature,–as man’s soul is perfected through the
life-giving power Of JESUS CHRIST.

I want, in conclusion to these brief introductory remarks, to say a
few words concerning phallicism in connection with my topic. For some
"tender-minded " [1] and, to my thought, obscure, reason the subject is
tabooed. Even the British Museum does not include works on phallicism
in its catalogue, and special permission has to be obtained to consult
them. Yet the subject is of vast importance as concerns the origin and
development of religion and philosophy, and the extent of phallic
worship may be gathered from the widespread occurrence of obelisks and
similar objects amongst ancient relics. Our own maypole dances may be
instanced as one survival of the ancient worship of the male generative
principle.

What could be more easy to understand than that, when man first
questioned as to the creation of the earth, he should suppose it to
have been generated by some process analogous to that which he saw held
in the case of man? How else could he account for its origin, if
knowledge must proceed from the known to the unknown? No one questions
at all that the worship of the human generative organs as symbols of
the dual generative principle of Nature degenerated into orgies of the
most frightful character, but the view of Nature which thus degenerated is not, I think, an altogether unsound one, and very interesting remnants of it are to be found in mediaeval philosophy.

These remnants are very marked in alchemy. The metals, as I have
suggested, are there regarded as types of man; hence they are produced
from seed, through the combination of male and female
principles–mercury and sulphur, which on the spiritual plane are
intelligence and love. The same is true of that Stone which is perfect
Man. As BERNARD Of TREVISAN (1406-1490) wrote in the fifteenth century:
"This Stone then is compounded of a Body and Spirit, or of a volatile
and fixed Substance, and that is therefore done, because nothing in the
World can be generated and brought to light without these two
Substances, to wit, a Male and Female: From whence it appeareth, that
although these two Substances are not of one and the same species, yet
one Stone doth thence arise, and although they appear and are said to
be two Substances, yet in truth it is but one, to wit, Argent-vive."[1]
No doubt this sounds fantastic; but with all their seeming intellectual
follies these old thinkers were no fools. The fact of sex is the most
fundamental fact of the universe, and is a spiritual and physical as
well as a physiological fact. I shall deal with the subject as concerns
the speculations of the alchemists in some detail in a later excursion. Ideas expressed by Stanley Redgrove

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