I have been unable to sleep lately. For one thing I've been staying up late and waking up later and extending a cycle of madness. For another I just got rid of a bad tooth after a weekend of suffering. So in a bold attempt to get some sleep, I decided to put on the most boring podcast I could think of. I made a mistake and put on Will Durant.
Will Durant is one of those names from my childhood that used to arise whenever people asked who was the smartest man in the world. Aside from the typical answer of Einstein, people used to say it was Bertrand Russell who was such a super-genius that took a genius to appreciate him. It seemed that only Will Durant was smart enough to understand Russell, whereas once the bomb was built anybody could steal the blueprints. But I've already talked about information thermodynamics...
So I put on the podcast and this time, unlike the last time I had insomnia, I actually absorbed a bit of it. And so decided to play it during the daytime as well. So now I know what the big deal about Spinoza is, and I am happy to say that I have found in Spinoza's remarks, precisely some of the same troubles I've had with lesser forms of Christianity.
I'll boil it down thusly. If you are like me, then you simply refuse to gamble that there is no possibility for the existence of God. To put it simply God's mind is the Universe. God's law is physics. God's name is Pi. Or maybe e. Or better yet, e to the power of pi. People struggle mightily to understand the universe, and the lazy people think such knowledge will be Revealed, in the meantime industrious people are figuring it out. It's not wrong to have faith, but the real value of faith is not found in its ability to explain the working of the world. Spinoza recognizes as do I, the false dichotomy between the natural world and God's miracles and explains religious dogma as the dumbed down version of communicating the nature of things to lazy or otherwise non-brilliant people. If God created everything, why would he need to suspend the rules of nature in order to make himself known? 'He' doesn't and he wouldn't. It's just superstition maintained for the interventions of religion. Something lazy thinkers need to believe.
There are a great number of other quotations I have forgotten, but that one is a stunner I have long believed myself, without of course, the ability to put it concisely before my encounter with Spinoza.