Ahhhh.... feeling nearly human again after doing mortal combat with a virus for a couple of weeks. Many thanks for your patience, and a special thanks to the gracious patron who purchased the painting form my online store yesterday.
Huzzah! Now I can buy alcohol, tobacco and firearms!
This seems to be a week for pipe smoking. The painting that sold is a pipe painting, and I also want to give a shout out to a couple of pipe forums I have enjoyed crashing around in while I was too sick to do anything productive.
The first is the Christian Pipe Smokers forum, where there is always a satisfying blend of curmudgeonly affection and fragrant clouds of grudging camaraderie. There are even a few very agreeable resident atheists and agnostics. Esteemed reader Del (with whom I was once privileged to share a pipe and a pint) turned me on to the site.
In response to one thread, in which the origin of matter was being argued, I recently posted thusly;
We keep slicing matter into smaller and smaller bits and, while I don't understand it clearly at all, I do understand that it would be very presumptuous any longer to think of matter at any level as something "solid". It seems likely as not to be a state of energy, or a whole panoply of energy states...
A healthy dose of humility along the lines of admitting "We really don't know what the hell matter is" would keep people on both sides [of the creation debate] from making unfounded sweeping judgments.
Another observation is that if the universe were not so ordered, we would never have known how disorderly it is. That sounds glib, but it's true.
Incidentally... I'm not a big fan of ID "science", because it ultimately seems like a kind of "bait and switch". I definitely believe in a designer, but I don't have high regard for those who pass off ID as hard science. I reject the idea that there is some ultimate choice that must be made between ID science on the one hand, and atheistic science on the other.
Even given that God exists, there will never be any kind of equation you can write out on a blackboard that will end in "= God". It is not a question that mere empirical science is equipped to answer, either in the positive or the negative. But those who think that a lack of scientific evidence for God = a lack of evidence altogether are badly mistaken. There is philosophical evidence - pure reason - that does attest to the existence of God. Check out Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica , for a start.
It's a bit silly of the ID folks to talk as if there is a scientific discipline that could ever prove the existence of God, and it's every bit as silly for atheists to talk as if "science" could in any way be used to disprove the existence of God.
Now, speaking just for myself, as an artist... I don't know why I would be thought especially crazy for looking at the world and recognizing the character of a work of art.
I don't think anyone on the forum would insist that this post or the others must be meaningless and random. So, we can know by experience that meaning of some kind really exists, at least in our communications here. Our words have meaning, road signs have meaning, the Pieta has meaning, "e=mc2" has meaning... how is it that Bergman's The Seventh Seal is meaningful, yet the whole universe is meaningless?
The alternative is to say that our communications (and other things we find meaningful) only seem to have meaning, but really don't. For some reason, we have a sense of meaning, but there really is no meaning.
That seems to me like a colossal feat of denial and self-deception, but it would at least be consistent. Saying that we only project meaning on to reality is the same thing. No one really lives that way or thinks that way, yet some people will talk that way to avoid thinking about the possibility that our lives really do have meaning.
The other forum I have enjoyed lately is the Smokers Forums, a pipe and cigar forum moderated from the U.K.. It's more densely populated and cosmopolitan than the CPS forum, and I don't feel qualified to jump in very often, as I am a novice smoker (only a couple of years of occasional pipe smoking). These guys are like, professors of the pipe.
Finally, tonight is the monthly meeting of The Ozark Pipe Smokers, and I'm looking forward to going. I haven't smoked at all - have had no desire to smoke - since I first got that nasty head cold a few weeks ago. As I'm doing much better, today, I'm anticipating a couple of tasty bowls and some good conversation.
If you're in the area... see you at Romeo's!