31 Comments

Wonderful piece. Our ironic post-modern world is desacralized. Profane vs sacred in the way Mircea Eliade described in his work. We are surrounded by wonders but fail to appreciate them.

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True, true, man. But, fortunately, all we have to do is learn to appreciate them and we are freed.

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

I very much agree with this sentiment. The mundanity of the miraculous today is, well, truly a sight to behold.

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Loved this. Though it sounds crazy I’ve had three people independently tell me they feel like there is a portal in the right corner of my backyard. I kind of feel it too now, though it could be from their suggestion. If anyone else says it to me I’ll be so freaked out.

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Try spinning in it!

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Oct 1, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

At first I struggled with your claim that Eric's claim is not metaphorical: that the Sagrada Familia is a portal. But on later readings, I realized that the statement is not meant to be interpreted logically. It is trying to touch on the mythos:

I love video games because they infuse my world with jawdropping fantasies about magic and story and adventure and superpowers and so on. Why shouldn't I believe in the church portal just as much as those fantasies? It's a shame I haven't been there myself, but I think we've all experienced a similar sort of awe in our own lives, in some way. Mine comes from games and competition and certain passages I've read.

I don't immediately accept your claims about "Art is objective" and that "Christianity is driven by the search for truth (The Logos)." I felt like you sort of dusted your hands on those, like you initially did with Eric's claims. I personally think that brutalist architecture is stunning and inspiring, and technological feats like the Burj are too.

But I do agree with you that the missing link is the connection between dreamers and logicians. Too many people are one or the other. Most are too hardcore addicted to science and unwilling to take a leap of faith. But I've also met a bunch of "spiritual" people and "enlightened" psychedelics users who don't do anything useful with their dreams. Or they are unwilling to understand how the world works, and just want to "change" it, in the abstract.

I don't think all kids should dream of discovering a revolution in science-- that's only for a select few, and always has been. But that doesn't mean we can't instill every kid with a desire to both understand the world and dream of ways to improve it.

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Oct 1, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Atheist and a Theist are separated by only a single space. I haven’t seen it better articulated than in this piece, even though I tried a few years ago. Great post!

https://gfpatterson.medium.com/a-t-h-e-i-s-t-68cfb172ec69

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Sep 23, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

This line stopped me short: "True pioneers are motivated by the potential of transcending their existing beliefs." I don't know that I fancy myself a pioneer, though as a seminary-educated, mainline-denomination-affiliated clergyperson in a 21st century Western, urban setting, it is impossible for me not to recognize the insufficiency of my narrowly defined Reformed theological matrix to support the complex, tragic, diverse, and expansive realities swirling around me. This is not to say that I suspect my belief set is wrong, only perhaps incomplete. Then again, perhaps my heresy-radar's sensitivity level is turned up too high, but the siren song of "pluralism" and "relativism" that promises to smooth everything over with a big, clumsy everything-is-true-if-it's-true-for-you spatula hits some pretty sour notes; I can't sing along. 'Transcend' is a good word, but maybe better if it can be combine with 'transfigure.' Closer inspection continues to reveal Christianity to me as the best harmonization of 'balm for human existential dread' and 'answer to the soul's mating call for a loving, powerful, well-intentioned and all-seeing higher power.' The problem has always been the bitter sectarian cul-de-sacs Christianity gets stuck in as it continues its long journey upwards. I guess here's the point, I wonder how my own personal faith in Jesus will transcend/transfigure the shape and scope that I inherited as I open myself to some pioneer bushwhacking. Heresy be damned!

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Wow, I need to think about this one for a day or so, Kyle. As a person trained more in the secular philosophical tradition, I'm sort of gobsmacked by the magic of faith. But it still doesn't surprise me that there are traps on other side of the aisle. No matter where search for answers and mastery, you'll always find people, and people are corrupted by their fear and shortsightedness.

I'm very thankful for this dialogue, anyway. And also a place (the church) that some of these high falutin theories can ground themselves.

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Apr 21Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Chiming in as a professional physicist/quantum computer scientist, this was a lovely article. And you are absolutely right to highlight the need for the sublime as inspiration for scientific reasoning. That said, how you characterize the field as being resistant to far out there ideas isn’t accurate. To the contrary, when someone comes to the physics community with something genuinely new and strange, _and_ is able to suitably justify it with credible arguments, it’s tremendously exciting. Just last week, a researcher in China (Yilei Chen) claimed to have broken one of the key post-quantum encryption efforts, and put out a long paper proposing a new algorithm to do so. It was an innovative and serious effort, and caught the imagination of the whole quantum CS community, though on very careful inspection it turned out to have a subtle but important flaw that invalidated it as currently construed. These things happen of course, and he lost no respect for having made a valiant effort that ultimately didn’t hold up.

The difficulty here is the need for sufficient evidence; wild claims with nothing to back them up are rightly ignored. And since such projects are naturally high-risk, and often take years of work, one generally needs to be a pretty established scientist well into their career before making such an attempt. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but it does mean that the era of physicists making Nobel-worthy discoveries before they turn 30 is far in the rear view mirror. One can make plenty of other legitimate critiques of how science is done these days but close-mindedness to radical thinking isn’t a real issue, and least in my experience. The burden of proof, quite rightly, is just very high.

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Apr 20Liked by James Taylor Foreman

As someone who spent 43 years as an ardent Catholic before very publicly and dramatically losing his faith (I founded and ran one of the most-read trad catholic websites in the world when faith left me), I can't overstate the profound resonance this has in me, despite the irony I feel in saying that.

One of the things I absolutely lost track of as a Catholic was a sense of wonder. I was batting down superstition and purity spiraling and tribethink all the time, while I was personally caught up in a world of legalistic, scrupulosity-inducing rubricism. I spent my life trying to placate the wrath of a God I could never find a way to love, and eventually I ran out of performative acts of devotion that felt like they could work.

This piece captures the ethos of what I love about the intersection of science and belief where they meet inside The Real. It doesn't hurt that Eric Weinstein is currently my favorite thinker on the planet, and I try to catch every podcast appearance he does. I am fascinated by his religious atheism. He does not believe, but as he likes to say, on Friday nights he prays like he does.

My thoughts are inchoate here, and I'm rambling. I've been writing a long time, and I'm not usually moved like this by a piece of writing. Well done. Glad I found your work. I will be following.

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Apr 20Liked by James Taylor Foreman

That is a nice attempt by the AI but that is not Eric’s face lol

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Ha, yeah it's almost like a 3rd Weinstein

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It was close enough that I immediately knew it was him, and far enough that I was suddenly in the uncanny valley.

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Nov 17, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Great essay. “The way to save the world is through courageous play.” - will definitely be using this in some upcoming writing...

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“Hedge Fund Director and Podcast Host says Sagrada Familia is a Portal to Interstellar Travel”

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Thanks for commenting!

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Eric is well spoken podcaster playing the role of contrarian of physics genius. He thinks physics generate new tech, maybe sometimes it does, but really new tech let’s us see physics.

He says earth is too unstable. It’s never been stable yet here we are. He says we need new physics to go multi-planetary. This is false. His podcast stories sound nice and nerdy but they are full of holes and sensationalizing.

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Yeah and that Einstein sure is full of shit with his space-time nonsense and dreams about spaceships going the speed of light!

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My non-smarmy point is that breakthroughs always come from dreams, not reasonableness. If you don’t make room for dreams, you never make breakthroughs. In science of in personal life.

Hence, physics has stagnated for 50 years.

Also hence, dreams are dead and people are horribly depressed.

lol sorry for my sarcasm

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Or*

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

"I'm not suggesting that we dumb ourselves down to 'pre-reason' but wake ourselves up to 'post-reason.' Allow the dream that took us this far to take us even farther. Regain some damn vision."

To coin a phrase: "Amen!"

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That's good... might catch on!

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haha! I better copyright it before it's too late!

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Sep 16, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

This was wonderful, Taylor, so much I am in accord with, and a vision of knowing and knowledge, of the potential of the future under (stained) glass.

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Love this comment, Edward. Under stained glass, indeed.

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Sep 16, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

You're tugging at portal doors yourself Taylor in your writing and I'm very appreciative of your skill and passion for jarring some of those hatches open for us to peek through. I was thinking throughout this piece exactly what you circled round to in the end, "That's why the ceiling of Sagrada Familia is a portal to interstellar space. But not just interstellar space — to everything wonderful in our personal lives, too." Truth and beauty are indeed portals to our own inner stellar space.

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Love it, Rick. Keep brining the light, man!

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Surely he is echoing Dawkins. He is a cultural Christian.

Unfortunately you can’t just pick the bits of Christianity you want or like.

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> Bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth is not some old idea in dusty books and musty churches. It continues the long legacy of dreams that pulled impossible scientific and cultural achievements from the void.

Please, be extremely careful of this line of thinking. That's what the Babylon tower project was about and it was a mess - portal of the gods. Also, all the milleniaristic regimes of the 20th century had a similar idea. That also didn't end up well. "My kingdom is not of this world" said Jesus.

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