Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The Buddhabrot is a kind of Mandelbrot Set, an image created by graphing the full extrapolation of a simple and essential mathematical function. In this case, the image generated by running the numbers for the set is strikingly similar to the iconic image of the Buddha, seated in lotus position, encased in a halo of light. To the informed eye, the image offers cues including, for example, intersections seemingly closely aligned with the seven traditional chakra points; the appearance of not only a figure seated in the traditional position, but having hair bound up in a tight topnot, and a central heart with two great arteries twinned forth from it.

The formula is actually quite simple:

zn+1 = zn2 + c

(*for all sets for which z0 = 0 does not tend to infinity)

As the number of iterations increases, and the depth and detail of the image are enhanced, it seems to become possible to see cosmic architecture within the calculations, to see our Universe. Its diverse worlds, its stars, its galactic clusters and gaseous clouds, become apparent within the form of the Buddha. This occurrence presents great affinity to Pandeism, for the Pandeist, too, sees mathematical formulae embedded in the truth of our Universe, and our Universe expressed in mathematics underlying all physics, all design.

Confessedly, the image is short enough on detail that some disagreement is possible over things such as the placement of the arms and hands. And it only presents the iconic view from the zero rotation, with the image 'on its side' from how it would initially be graphed at that rotation. From a sidereal rotation, it seems more like a slightly bent two-headed pancake. But the iconography of the essential image could not be more fundamentally presented, this being the most natural presentation of any asymmetric Mandelbrot set appearing to be stacked upon a single broad base.

And so, to a devout Buddhist, it might well seem that the incidence of this mathematical as if our Universe itself were tugging at our sleeves and declaring, 'hey, check this out.' One can only imagine how representatives of other religions might behave if mathematical formulae unexpectedly produced imagery of their symbols or favoured characters. But they don't so we may never know.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Pandeism and Science

I mean to state this proposition with great care and specificity: Pandeism has no conflict with science whatsoever; indeed, Pandeism embraces the scientific method and the awesome nature of scientific discovery, and as with religion, Pandeism fully accounts for science. This is not to suggest that the means of accounting are the same -- for Pandeism accounts for religious experiences -- to the extent they exist as something more than coincidence or psychological phenomena -- as manifestations of the underlying unconscious power of our Creator, often denoted by Pandeists as the Deus. But neither does this mean that Pandeism assumes generally that religious experiences are, in fact, anything more than coincidence or psychological phenomena. After all, one man's vision or revelation is another's hallucination; one man's prophecy is another's clever use of vague wording and exploitation of biases of  memory and expectation; one man's miracle is another's parlour trick.

And What Is Science?

Let us step back a moment and remember what Science is, and what Pandeism is. Science is at bottom not simply a set of beliefs about the nature of the world, but a method of arriving at principles. This method generally involves the specific steps of developing a theory which accounts for especial observations, of developing an experiment (or a series of them) which would serve to falsify the theory based upon contrary results, and performing this experiment. A rock bottom concern of such endeavours is the replicability of the results. That is, if one man conducts an experiment in Kansas City to determine the effect of mixing one enzyme with another, or of colliding two particles of matter, or of teaching a crustacean multiplication, then a counterpart in the field in Boston or Berlin or Bangalore ought to be able to sit down with the same materials at the same starting point, and achieve the same result. It is in this way -- by studying the means by which a proposition is tested, and replicating outcomes, that scientists gain confidence that the outcome is valid.

Confessedly, there are some fields wherein that sort of experimentation is not so simple a thing to engage in, either because of the scale or complexity of the elements involved, or the time frame over which results may be gleaned, or both. Cosmology and evolution offer examples of these problems. We might over a billion years observe two stars developing in different ways based on predictable differences in their known compositions; we might in that same period of time evolve a sea cucumber into a wombat and back again; but the human life span simply does not allow for observations of such periods. Naetheless, we are able to observe many billions of snippets of the evolution of stars and of life, and to make predictions which may be tested by examining stars and life forms known to be at certain stages in these processes. And so, science may equally gain confidence that even these more difficult areas (so far as experimentation is concerned) have provided for valid scientific outcomes.

And What Conflict Does Religion Raise?

A traditional and historic difficulty arises with theistic religions, for these tend to present their own theories about how things came to be, with specific ideas presented as to the time frames, order, and means. And theological accounts tend to be based not on observation or experimentation or verification, but simply on a claim that somebody wrote down in the distant past, almost invariably asserted to have been communicated to that writer by their deity. Religion comes with several built-in defenses to the scrutability of these claims. One is, when somebody comes along and observes for example that the Earth goes round the Sun despite religious authorities teaching otherwise, to kill that person and burn their documentation of the fact; or to at least beat them up, or threaten them with torture, so that they recant the claim and cause others to cower from making such claims. Indeed, recantation of scientific claims is thusly accorded great weight in religious circles, there being no end to the assertions that Charles Darwin recanted his theory of evolution. But recantation is meaningless in science, where replicable experiments by one scientist, even an opponent of the recanted theory, can produce documentation of the truth of that theory. Darwin's recantation held no more power to change the facts observed than did Galileo's or indeed than would a recantation by Pythagoras of the Pythagorean theorem.

But religious literalists have no choice but to soldier on, attempting to prove for as long as possible that the Sun orbits the Earth, that animal species are not related by common descent, that rocks in the ground are thousands rather than billions of years old, that homosexual couples raise maladjusted children, that illnesses are caused by evil spirits, or that the lights in the night sky are pinpricks in a great blanket. The next option is to deem the scientific results to be a test, or a creation of an evil spirit designed to fool us. It is, they might imagine, an evil being who put those strange skeletons in the ground, and who made it appear to us that light was coming from stars millions of light years away. A final defense is to effectively rewrite the scripture so as to cast accounts which contravene science as simply metaphors for the actual scientific results, or to simply pay them no mind at all and focus on those things which are yet claimed to be beyond the ken of science.

And How Does Pandeism Reconcile Science and Religion?

Pandeism need raise none of religion's defenses. For, to the Pandeist, who believes that an intelligent Creator set forth our Universe, logically needing do no more than provide its energy and establish the governing dynamics which guide its behaviour, science is precisely the practice of discovering those very governing dynamics. Gravity, electromagnetism, radioactive decay, evolution, these are not things to be disputed or explained away, but discoveries which take us ever closer to fully knowing the measure of our Creator's design. If the scientific method indicates that our Universe is 13.72 billion years old, then that soundly indicates that our Creator set forth our Universe 13.72 billion years ago. If the fossil record and DNA combine to indicate a common ancestor for man and apes, then that soundly indicates that our Creator set forth a Universe wherein evolution by natural selection would likely lead to some branches of life evolving the capacity for intelligent thought (and in every instance where this is so, it follows that the branch so evolved would have a similar branch lacking such capacity as its closest evolutionary relation).

And, returning to the proposition that Pandeism fully accounts for both scientific and theological evidence, these things are made complementary through it. As a theology of reason, Pandeism does not assume that theological accounts are true, but firstly notes the proposition of David Hume that in order for a miracle to be credible, the documentation supporting it must be such that it is more likely that the miracle occurred than that those purporting to have witnessed it are lying, or were mistaken, or were deceived. A plausible scientific explanation for a perceived miracle would render mistaken the belief that it was miraculous. The possibility of a scientific explanation, or of a simple misreporting or misunderstanding of what was observed, raises a substantial, though perhaps not impenetrable, barrier to the assumption that any recounted miracle is indeed a true account.

It is only if that barrier to believability is overcome that Pandeism need provide a metaphysical accounting for the miraculous thing, and this is fully accomplished -- for all faiths -- by the pandeistic model of an underlying unconscious sustaining power. And no science yet known to man can provide evidence contravening the possibility that such is the nature of what is fundamentally responsible for the Creation and sustainment of our Universe in being.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Pandeism and Sexual Pleasure

When the impact of religion on sexual freedom is considered, it most generally is a strongly negative one. For it is the gist of religions that sex is either highly regulated by suppressive divine decrees, or that it is at least some sort of inherent flaw, distracting men from the path to enlightenment.

The most typical restriction imposed by religion is that sex must be restricted to married couples -- which, in this day and age oddly juxtaposes secular government giving its stamp of approval on a piece of paper, without which it matters not what the couples' religious advisers contend, nor what their congregation would have. It seems these days no one is married until the government puts in its two cents. As to actual sexual activities, the 'marriage' requirement effectively precludes threesomes (and foursomes, and fivesomes, and I think anything above that would qualify for general orgydom). Polygamy (and polyandry) might ameliorate this a bit, but both are becoming rarer and less acceptable amongst the religious, even amongst those whose doctrines once lauded the practice -- and to the nonreligious, they have little relevance because marriage itself originates as a religious institution, and outside of that life is the free-for-all.

Religious mores may require the wife to be submissive (and note, it is always the woman whom religion puts down; and with all that submissiveness implies); may limit sex to purposes of procreation (which cuts out a great many activities and endgames); and may bar masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, homosexuality, partner swapping, and all other activities consensually maximizing sexual variety. Theistic adherents may contend that they are able to find sufficient sexual release within the constraints of their own beliefs, though this is hardly a justification for wishing to will others sexual rights away.

But Pandeism takes quite a different approach. So much so that it may well be claimed to be the most sex-positive of all religious beliefs. Indeed, the sacredness of sexual pleasure is consistent with the core of understanding and practice of Pandeism, and one reason why it might modernly be enjoying greater popularity as it receives wider exposure to open-minded persons of a spiritual bent. Recall that Pandeism is the belief that our Creator not only created the Universe, but in fact ceased to be a separate entity and instead became our Universe in order to experience existence through the experiences of the Universe (and thereby to learn what it was like to face obstacles and limitations unknowable to a deity). Pandeism teaches therefore that our Creator shares in and learns from all of our experiences, and thus our positive experiences, including our consensual and mutually enjoyable sexual practices, must be no less than a gift to our Creator!!

Now it must as well be further recalled that Pandeism holds our Universe and our experience of it to be essentially natural phenomena, existing in accordance with the governing dynamics designed by our Creator and actuated in its becoming of our Universe. But within that scheme, our ability to experience pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, are not intentional bestowals from a Creator using such things to test or control us. They are evolved capacities. True, they have come to pass in accordance with our Creator's physical laws, but not as part of a specified plan. They are instead happenstance outcomes, outpourings of the randomness with which our Creator imbued our Universe, so that it might generate a useful variety of experiences. Thus, there is no 'wrong' in receiving pleasure sexually, any more than in receiving physical pleasure through other natural functions such as eating, drinking, or basking in a cool breeze on a hot day or a warm spot on a cold day. In each of these instances we may be assured that nature rewards our essential enjoyment of them because they in some way tend towards the benefit of our progression as a species -- a progression which is itself surely appreciated by our Creator.

In this light, there can be nothing immoral about any consensual act between persons who are competent to make decisions for themselves. When a man and woman (or two men, or two women, if so inclined) find mutual attraction in a smoky bar, and hasten to release their desires in a one-night-stand of passionate pleasuring in multiple positions, our Creator necessarily shares in each moment of pleasure, for they are of our Creator. When one person contracts with another to be brought to orgasm with the other's mouth, our Creator experiences the wonder of orgasm (and perhaps the prostitute ought to rejoice in giving to our Creator that wonderful experience); when one is privileged to participate in a menage a trois with two sensual specimens of the opposite sex, who pleasure the lucky third with their fingers and toes and multiple orifices, perhaps even their elbows, our Creator shares equally in this arousal. Our Creator must delight in the pleasure of those moments as much as either of their human actors; and when a man (or woman) sits alone in front of the tv or computer screen or simply a magazine and masturbates while viewing the topography revealed by pornography, our Creator experiences the enjoyment of that orgasm as much as its recipient.

There can be few better lives lived than those in which the experience of giving and receiving pleasure is maximized by the sharing as great a variety of sensual joy with as many people as possible!! So long as this is done honestly and consensually, it is no harm but a positive good to share sexual pleasure with others, and reap the same for oneself, to be shared among all in the end.

It is true, naturally, that sex may be used to inflict suffering, which imposes suffering upon our Creator -- and in the end we will perhaps share in this suffering as well -- and the responsible party will have the most poignant experience of the suffering he has caused. There may be no question that to force sex on another, through brute strength or through more subtle emotional or financial extortion is still an immorality!! Although I lauded the gift of the prostitute before, if that person is not acting of his or her own free will, but instead out of a compulsion to feed a terrible drug habit or provide for an abusive pimp, so would our Creator experience the deprivations of such a condition. And further, some consideration must be given to the suffering that even consensual sex can cause to the spouse who finds him or herself cheated on, to the parent who fears their offspring's loss of 'innocence,' even to the complete stranger who is distressed that sex is happening at all. But these feelings must be taken with a grain of relative rationality -- consider the racist or the homophobe, who is angered by sex between people of different races, or of the same gender -- this act does him no harm, so his 'suffering' is irrational, a self-inflicted bogeyman; it may only be in another next life, when he shares in the pleasure of these experiences (which he may have denied himself in life) that he will realize what a gift he was receiving when these objectionable acts were carried out, and how thoughtless was his disdain for the experience of them!!

So let us not disgrace our Creator by denying ourselves the wonderful gift of sexual titillation, the pleasures of sensual play, and the ultimate joy of a rain of orgasms!! An understanding of Pandeism opens our eyes to the possibility that such denial is the greatest immorality!!