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BibleThe Knight’s Move

by James E. Loder and W. Jim Neidhardt

Lorin Friesen, March 2014

The Knight’s Move is an unusual book because it was jointly written by a theologian (James E. Loder) and a physicist (W. Jim Neidhardt). Normally, one does not find these two professions collaborating on a serious work. My Master’s degree is in engineering and one of the topics that I have thought about over the years is the relationship between physics and Christianity. However, I have not felt confident enough about these conclusions to put this thinking down on paper.

Reading The Knight’s Move has both encouraged and driven me to take this step. On the one hand, if a book on theology written by a physicist together with a theologian from Princeton Theological Seminary uses analogical reasoning to compare theological thought with the thinking of physics, then I feel encouraged to use a similar analogical approach to analyze this data. When the typical theological book refers to physics, the author usually makes general statements because he lacks the expertise to deal with the subject adequately. In this case, both the references to physics and the references to psychological development are of a higher calibre than one typically finds. On the other hand, if this book uses a simplistic 1600-year-old theory to provide an explanation for only some of the data that it presents, and if the theory of mental symmetry can explain more of this data, then I feel driven to put something down on paper.

Before going further, I need to make a housekeeping point. When a book is written by two authors, then it becomes awkward to know how to refer to this book. One could say ‘the authors’ but that becomes annoying after a while. Therefore, in order to simplify this essay I will refer to Loder as the primary author. I should also mention that all Scripture quotations in this essay are taken from the NASB. (I like the NASB because it tries to be faithful to the original text. In contrast, many versions that are used today are more paraphrases than translations.)

If I had encountered this book three years earlier, it is possible that I would have been unable to analyze it adequately. However, it appears that the theory of mental symmetry has now matured sufficiently to be able to handle essentially all the content. First, as far as I can tell, the information presented in The Knight’s Move is consistent with the theory of mental symmetry. Second, Loder begins by describing the type of theory that is needed to analyze theology and physics in an adequate manner. The theory of mental symmetry meets these requirements. Third, Loder also emphasizes that it is very important to use a theory self-reflectively in order to think about thinking. The theory of mental symmetry can be used to analyze both the topic being studied and the person doing the studying.

Unfortunately, it seems that Loder does not follow his own advice. While The Knight’s Move contains a wealth of information, the paradigm that Loder uses to analyze this information is lacking. First, it does not meet the requirements for an adequate theory that Loder sets forth at the start of his book. Second, instead of explaining the information that is contained within the book, Loder is repeatedly guided by his paradigm to ignore most of the data that he presents in order to focus upon some specific aspect.

Consistent with this, Loder confesses in the epilogue that “Clearly, we have not investigated every conceivable form of relationality, nor have we attempted to construct a ‘theory of everything.’ Metaphysical doctrines of relationality, as well as sweeping cosmological theories, where relevant, have all been envisioned through the lenses of a specific form of relationality” (p.307). In contrast, I suggest that it is possible to use the theory of mental symmetry to construct a theory of essentially everything that is in Loder’s book.

If a general theory or paradigm could be compared to a restaurant guidebook, then reading The Knight’s Move gives the impression of repeatedly walking up to an elegant restaurant, perusing the menu, salivating at the expectancy of a delicious meal, and then being prompted by Loder’s guidebook to eat at the fast food establishment next door.

Requirements for a Theory of Christianity and Science

We will begin our analysis by examining what Loder regards as the requirements for a good theory of Christianity and science. Loder introduces this topic by looking at the duality between wave and particle that is found in physics. In simple terms, light can act either as a wave or as a particle, depending upon the situation. Loder refers to this as complementarity, and he says that complementarity has the following properties (p.78).

First, coexhaustiveness. “The two modes in question account for all aspects of the one being in question. The atomic object is wave and particle, but nothing else” (p.78). Second, mutual exclusiveness. “The two modes are, strictly speaking, mutually exclusive. They are not confused or mixed in any respect” (p.78). Third, common properties. “The two sets of concepts, though mutually exclusive, have some common properties” (p.78). Fourth, conjugate properties. “Though some properties are held in common, others are distinct conjugate properties. That is, some properties are actually defined in only one mode exclusive of the other” (p.78). Fifth, coinherence. “The two modes of explanation are coinherent in the sense that each may be spoken of in terms of the other. Thus, Bohr speaks of a particle in a ‘state of motion’” (p.79). Sixth, reciprocity. “The two modes are reciprocal in the sense that a quantum object evolves by the alternation of wave and particle modes... The wave collapses into a particle, and the particle expands back into a wave” (p.79). Seventh, completeness. “Each mode of explanation is complete in itself since a quantum object is not half-wave and half-particle, nor is it an ambiguous reality” (p.79). Eighth, equal necessity. “Both modes are equally necessary to give an exhaustive account of the atomic object, and neither mode is merely the epiphenomenon of the other. An atomic object is both wave and particle” (p.79). Ninth, asymmetry. The asymmetrical relation between wave and particle, due to the existence of the wave in mathematical space and the particle in three-dimensional space, gives rise to emergent qualities of the atomic object” (p.79). And tenth, pointing. “There is a pointing relationship which allows lower mode explanation to point to emergent higher-level accounts. This last point may almost be said to follow the rule of metaphor. It is intuitive, not provable; one may intuit the presence of the higher from the lower but not prove its existence thereby” (p.79).

This is quite an extensive list of properties to satisfy. Mental symmetry suggests that the mind is composed of the two distinct circuits of concrete thought and abstract thought. (One can see these two circuits on the diagram of mental symmetry.) Concrete thought uses Server actions to move between Mercy experiences, while abstract thought uses Perceiver facts to build Teacher theories. The basic element for concrete thought is the ‘particle’ of experience. An experience is some situation that occurs at a specific point in space and time. The basic element for abstract thought is the ‘wave’ of speech. Teacher thought uses words to construct general theories, and a word is an acoustic wave, a succession of sounds that occurs over time. Thus, mental symmetry suggests that the human mind contains an inherent dichotomy that corresponds specifically to the dichotomy between particle and wave.

This mental dichotomy between concrete thought and abstract thought also satisfies the ten requirements mentioned by Loder. First, the mind uses only abstract thought and concrete thought and nothing more. Second, abstract thought and concrete thought are distinct modes of mental operation. Third, abstract thought and concrete thought are related to each other through symmetry. In fact, many of the personality traits were originally worked out by observing a trait in one cognitive style and then looking for its mirror image in the symmetrical mode of thought. Fourth, despite these similarities, abstract thought and concrete thought remain distinct ways of thinking. Fifth, because of the deep symmetry between abstract and concrete thought, it is possible to describe one as a sort of mirror image of the other. Sixth, the human mind is continually alternating between abstract and concrete thought. Going further, mental symmetry suggests that the process of personal transformation involves leaving concrete thought for a while to reside within abstract thought. Seventh, abstract thought and concrete thought are both complete modes of operation. It is possible to spend most of one’s existence within one of these two modes. Eighth, both abstract and concrete thought are required for mental wholeness. Mental symmetry suggests that mental wholeness is only possible because the mind can temporarily leave concrete thought to reside within abstract thought. Ninth, there is an inherent asymmetry between abstract thought and concrete thought in the human mind and the human world. Mental symmetry suggests that concrete thought is concrete because there is a deep correspondence between the external world of physical objects and concrete thought with its Mercy experiences. As a result, the childish human mind will naturally become integrated around Mercy thought with its emotional experiences. Tenth, symmetry suggests that is it is possible for the human mind to reside in a mirror image ‘universe’ composed of waves rather than particles, And if one uses theory to examine the nature of this mirror image ‘universe’, it corresponds to the descriptions that one reads about angels and aliens. The existence of this mirror image realm cannot be proven, but it can be explored through metaphor and symmetry.

These various qualities are all analyzed in other essays, and are only being mentioned briefly here. What matters here is that abstract thought and concrete thought as analyzed by the theory of mental symmetry appear to satisfy the ten requirements mentioned by Loder.

Going further, Loder says that complementarity provides an explanation for the Christian doctrine of incarnation. “We will first show how profoundly the logic of the incarnation is rooted in the logic of complementarity, and then we will show how faith based on the centrality of the God-man, Kierkegaard’s phrase for the Chalcedonian formula, exhibits the presence of complementarity in human nature” (p.82). Similarly, mental symmetry uses the cognitive interaction between abstract thought and concrete thought to explain how the mind forms a concept of incarnation which is similar in detail to the concept of incarnation described in Christianity.

Briefly summarizing how mental symmetry would analyze incarnation, humans are finite creatures that live in concrete thought. Mental symmetry suggests that a concept of God emerges when a universal theory is constructed in abstract thought that applies to personal identity in concrete thought. Angels are postulated to be finite creatures that live in what humans call abstract thought, while a concept of the Holy Spirit is related to universality in concrete thought. Incarnation is required to connect abstract thought with concrete thought. When incarnation connects universal abstract thought with finite concrete thought, then finite human existence is being connected with a universal concept of God. When incarnation connects universal abstract thought with universal concrete thought, then one is dealing with the economic Trinity in which incarnation is integrating God the Father with God the Holy Spirit. Again, this is only being stated here briefly but is expanded in other essays.

Loder bases his theory upon the Chalcedonian formula, which is the description of the Trinity formulated during the Council at Chalcedon in 451 A.D. In brief, this formula states that Christ was a union of a distinct human nature with a distinct divine nature. Quoting the pedantic language of the formula, “We all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man… one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistance, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son” (p.83).

The Limits of Rational Thought

Loder emphasizes repeatedly that he is following rational thought as far as possible and that rational thought forces him to conclude that existence is composed of the two irreconcilable elements of wave and particle, corresponding to God and man. “When these observations are made and the observer determines that light must be understood as a complementarity between wave and particle, the introduction of human decision does not imply a departure from the rigor of reason nor from the observed data. It is reason’s own limit that has been reached in the field of inquiry. The only way for choice to keep faith with reason is to affirm a complementarity of contradictories. This is the most reasonable and rational claim that can be made concerning the whole situation. Under the constraints of reason, no choice for either side against the other can be seen as final; opposites must be simultaneously confirmed if one is to stay within the limits of reason’s best grasp of the whole situation” (p.74). Stated simply, one can use reason to investigate the wave nature of matter and one can also use reason to investigate the particle nature of matter, but reason breaks down when attempting to bring these two rational subsets together.

Mental symmetry agrees—to a certain extent—with this assessment and we will look at this in more detail in a moment. However, before examining this, I want to point out that Loder does not follow his own advice by following rational thought as far as it can go.

Loder says that he is following rational thought as far as possible in analyzing the interaction between God and man in incarnation. “This place of the nonrational in respect to reason and its inherent limits is of particular importance to the epistemology of faith and the knowledge of God. Once again there are two realms to comprehend in terms of the one, so logical contradiction is necessitated as long as one adheres to the canons of classical logic. However, as we have attempted to show in chapter 5, the simultaneous affirmation fully God and fully human in the description of Christ nature is fully rational to the point of stating all that can be stated, but then finally we have to make a choice, the leap of faith, which repeats the existential origin of the statement of faith; the leap establishes our contemporaneity with all those for whom the Chalcedonian formula is the most rational account of Christ’s nature that can be given. One does not simply believe this because it is absurd; one believes it because one is compelled to by the limits of rationality by the conjunction of distinct realms, human and divine, in one nature” (p.142).

But in actual fact Loder is only following rational thought halfway and not all the way. When discussing the nature of God, Loder says that “An important difference emerges. In Einstein’s investigation of the natural order, the aim as he saw it was to exhaust all cases and eliminate mystery. In the case of the conciliar development of the nature of God, the aim was to preserve the true mystery of God, but to eliminate false interpretations – especially those that would eliminate all mystery, such as Arianism. This difference is behind Torrance’s assertion that in the final analysis it is almost sacrilegious to examine the inner nature of God when we might far better worship the God we would know” (p.200). In other words, Loder does not view religious complementarity as a relationship between two known quantities but rather between a known quantity and an unknown quantity.

This needs to be restated because it summarizes one of the major differences between the approach taken by Loder and the approach taken by mental symmetry. Physics uses rational thought to analyze both particles and waves. Similarly, mental symmetry suggests that both the human and the angelic realm can be analyzed using rational thought, and also suggests that both human thought and the essential characteristics of divine thought can be analyzed using rational thought.

Loder, in contrast, only uses rational thought to analyze man. Nowhere in The Knight’s Move is any attribute of God the Father discussed or analyzed rationally. Saying this more simply, physics compares particles and waves. Mental symmetry compares concrete thought and abstract thought and says that this is analogous to the relationship between particles and waves as well as the relationship between man and God. (The correspondence between a concept of God based in abstract thought and the attributes of the Christian God is analyzed in another essay.) Loder, in contrast, compares man and ---.

Notice the rationale that Loder gives for choosing not to use rational thought to analyze the nature of God. In his words, it is ‘almost sacrilegious’. Loder is afraid to ‘exhaust all cases and eliminate mystery’. Instead, ‘the aim was to preserve the true mystery of God’. The person who says that something is ‘sacrilegious’ is not attempting to follow rational thought as far as it can go. Instead, Loder specifically says that he does not want to follow the rational thinking practiced by Einstein’s investigation of the natural order because he wants to feel that God is a mystery.

And yet, Loder also says that “the concept of complementarity is not well served if the alternatives at stake are not the true limits of reason’s grasp of the whole situation. Similarly, it is not well served if the factor of the knower enters the situation in a way that overrides or confounds limits reason has reached. Again, it is not well served if the empirical facts that form the basis for reason’s best reflections are disregarded for the sake of a theoretical coherence” (p.74). But what is a person doing when he says that he does not want to follow the rational thinking practiced by Einstein’s investigation of the natural order? He is stepping back from following ‘the true limits of reason’s grasp of the whole situation’. Similarly, when a person tries to ‘preserve the true mystery of God’, then he is allowing ‘the factor of the knower to enter into the situation in a way that overrides or confounds limits reason has set’. Thus it appears that Loder is disregarding the advice given by Loder.

Is it possible to maintain a sense of mystery in the presence of knowledge? This question is pursued in another essay. I suggest that mystery will survive knowledge in a relationship if the two parties are inherently different. For instance, men and women are both physically and cognitively different. It is possible for men and women to study each other and understand each other, but some mystery will always remain because the two are inherently different. A man may learn to think like a woman, but a man is not a woman. A man is still using male thought to emulate female thought. Similarly, mental symmetry suggests that it is possible for mankind to understand the essential nature of God, but a sense of mystery will always remain because humans are not God. The two are composed of different substance.

Theology and Cognitive Development

When Loder suggests that the nature of God is a mystery, then he is following a practice known as negative theology. In simple terms, negative theology states that one can only say what God is not; one cannot make any statements about what God is. Negative theology, also known as apophatic theology, forms a core doctrine in the theology of the Orthodox Christian church, the branch of Christianity that began in the patristic era, right after the life of Jesus. Orthodox Christian theology is discussed in another essay. The Chalcedonian formula dates from the patristic era.

Does it make sense to follow a theological approach that is based in the thinking of the early church? Loder addresses this question in his analysis of Jean Piaget, who analyzed the stages of cognitive development in the mind of the child. Loder describes these stages on page 150, and Piaget’s findings fit well into the theory of mental symmetry and illuminate core aspects of this theory.

Piaget studied the cognitive development of children. Loder suggests that Piaget’s stages of childhood development can also be used to describe historical stages in scientific thought. “The progress of science parallels, in its movement out of conceptual or theoretical egocentrism, the development of intelligence in the individual” (p.152).

Loder describes this in more detail a few pages later. “The first phase is the formation of the concept of bodily objects and their classification into different kinds... Specifically in the history of physics, Einstein perceives mechanics and the efforts to base physics upon it as expressive of the first phase” (p.178). “In the second phase, it is evident that objects and kinds of objects are connected via operations...In the second historical phase, the definitive new concept was introduced by Faraday and Clerk Maxwell. Here Newton’s view of force, action at a distant, meant that electricity and magnetism were to be conceived as separate phenomena related by forces acting at a distance” (p.178). “The third phase is a constructive effort to formulate and systematically relate theorems that constitute statements about reality or laws of nature...This led to the third phase, the theory of relativity...the premise of the speed of light as a universal constant enabled Einstein to interpret the field concept as inclusive of space and time, both relative to the speed of light” (p.178). Notice that scientific theory begins by explaining concrete objects, it then extends to explaining the abstract interaction of waves, and then it places both objects and waves within the framework of a general theory.

I suggest that Loder is saying something very significant here, which we will examine in a few paragraphs. Before we do that though, I would like to examine Loder’s view of theology in the light of Piaget’s three stages. Loder suggests that a knowledge of God follows the three stages of Piaget (p.198). Mental symmetry agrees with this connection between cognitive stages and historical stages of understanding and the historical progression of Christian thought is examined elsewhere in a series of essays on Christianity.

The physics that is discussed in The Knight’s Move is at the third level of Einstein’s relativity. However, Loder draws his paradigm of Christianity from the first level thinking of the patristic era, basing his theory upon a pronouncement made by pre-scientific thinkers back in 451 A.D. If it is important for physics to function at Piaget’s third level, then one would think that it is also important for theology to function at Piaget’s third level. And yet, Loder is basing his theology upon an era which, according to Loder, functioned at Piaget’s first level.

Loder explains his theological basis in the following quote. “We have already spoken of the Councils of the patristic period, their great ingenuity and brilliance in formulating the essential doctrines of the church so as to say all that could be said, yet without reducing the mystery and holiness of God to propositional formulation” (p.198). Why does Loder choose to base his theological thinking upon patristic pronouncement? Because they do not make any ‘propositional formulations’ about the ‘mystery and holiness of God’. In other words, they only make statements about the physical world of concrete objects. Similarly, if one examines the behavior of Orthodox Christianity, which attempts to preserve patristic thinking, it places a heavy emphasis upon the concrete objects of religious icons and the physical world of priests, rituals, and holy buildings, while refusing categorically to make propositional formulations about God.

Medieval scholars regarded the physical heavens as a perfect realm of celestial spheres inhabited by God. One of the great breakthroughs of Isaac Newton was to show that both earthly movement and celestial movement are guided by the same general laws of physics. In other words, Newton made propositional formulations about a heavenly realm that was regarded as part of ‘the mystery and holiness of God’. And yet, Loder is basing his theological thinking upon patristic doctrine specifically because it does not make propositional formulations about the mystery and holiness of God. Using Loder’s standard, we conclude that Loder is theologically functioning at the pre-scientific level of Piaget’s first stage.

In the light of this, let us look at how Loder relates knowledge of God to Piaget’s three stages of cognitive development. Loder says that “the first level of theological knowledge of God was evangelical and doxological. At this level we were encountered by Jesus Christ within the structures of our common sense views of space and time...At this encounter level of the knowledge of God, ‘knowledge’ in Piaget’s understanding would not be operational. It is intuitive or preoperational in the sense that experiences may be classified into types, but there is no systematic effort to think through the connectedness of experiences, intuitions, and concepts” (p.199).

I suggest that Loder is making an accurate statement about the attitude of blind faith. Historically speaking, Christian doctrine has usually been viewed as something that is revealed by God which is believed by faith by humans. One of my primary goals is to escape this mindset of fundamentalism by reformulating Christianity as a universal theory based in cognitive mechanisms.

Moving on to Piaget’s second level, Loder says that “The second level of theological knowledge of God is ‘the economic Trinity,’ an expression derived from patristic theology that designates the orderly succession of God self-communication to us as ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ and ‘Holy Spirit.’ These are the distinctive personal modes of divine activity which, within our structures of space and time, God is active in self-disclosure. These three persons are related to each other through the logic of narrative and historical sequence, thus bringing God’s nature into succinct and more systematic expression” (p.199).

This sounds good. The problem is that Loder does not do this in his book. After all, how can one discuss ‘the distinctive personal modes of divine activity’ if the very nature of God itself is deemed to be a holy mystery? That is like discussing the relationship between ---, ---, and ---. If one insists that --- cannot be reduced to ‘propositional formulation’, then how can one discuss the relationship between undefined quantities? In contrast, mental symmetry notes that the concept of a Trinitarian God emerges when all cognitive modules are functioning together in harmony. Going further, it is possible to use the theory of mental symmetry to define how each of these three aspects function within the mind, how they interact with each other, and how they interact with personal identity. And if one compares this mental concept of God with the biblical description of the Trinitarian God, then one notices that these two correspond in detail, leading to the rational hypothesis that this describes the essential nature of God, based upon the hypothesis that man is ‘made in the image of God’.

Moving on, Loder says that “The third level of the knowledge of God is the higher theological or scientific level which builds upon the first to without reducing or sublating them. Rather, this level of conceptual advance works a transformation upon them, elevating the entire discussion to an examination of the trinitarian relations immanent in God’s nature...The analogy here to the history of science lies in the view that relativity theory underlay the classic Newtonian position all along, but it was only as these subordinate levels were developed that finally the ultimate set of intelligible relations could be formulated. In Piagetian terms, the formal operations of mature intelligence gain expression only as the underlying structures of intelligence emerge. This emergent potential eventually makes it possible to think about thinking in a way that allows all basic axioms to be questioned and the most intellectually elegant formulation to be made” (p.200).

I suggest that Loder is making a profound statement. He talks about discovering an elegant theory that can summarize the information acquired during the previous stages. This is precisely what mental symmetry claims to do. He emphasizes the need to think about thinking and questioning basic axioms. Again, this is precisely what mental symmetry claims to do. As a cognitive meta-theory, it can be used both to analyze other theories and to analyze the thinking of the person coming up with a theory; it can be viewed both as a general theory of human thought and as a guide to reaching mental wholeness.

Unfortunately, the patristic theory that Loder uses is not capable of doing this. Instead of including the information from earlier stages, it ignores this information. Instead of thinking about thinking about God, it declares that thinking about God is holy and suggests that thinking about thinking about God is blasphemous. Similarly, the very existence of all these inherent contradictions suggests that Loder’s theory is not helping him to think about thinking.

Loder describes what it means for theory to apply to itself when examining the cognitive stages of Piaget. He says “that there is really nothing added to Piaget’s position which might not have been predicted by his four stages of the development of intelligence. That is, note that the discussion has actually follow the very pattern that recapitulates the developmental history of intelligence structurally... We begin with an approach to basic concepts... We, then, begin to understand the stages in terms of the philosophical themes... Finally, these objections in which we are now engaged are thinking about the thinking we have done, examining and reflecting” (p.164). Similarly, I have found that this type of self-reflection continually reoccurs when working with the theory of mental symmetry. It is always reaching back to analyze the thinking that is being used to investigate the theory. This may be annoying, but it is also the sign of an accurate theory of the mind. If a theory of the mind does not explain the thinking of the researcher, then it cannot claim to be an accurate theory of the mind.

It is interesting to note Loder’s gut response to a theory of the mind that analyzes the thinking of the researcher. “This does not amount to an argument that all that has been said could be reduced to the formal structures of its outline and so satisfy the textbook view of Piaget’s project. Not only would that contradict and eliminate the transforming complementarity we have seen at the very core of his thought, but also it would return us to the meaninglessness of the four-stage sequence per se now with a sense that it is inevitable and devoid of any larger context of meaning” (p.165). First, Loder says that if Piaget’s theory applies, then this implies that it is more fundamental than Loder’s theory of transforming complementarity [which we shall examine in just a moment]. But asserting that a theory is more fundamental does not make it more fundamental. Instead, a theory becomes fundamental by explaining other theories. If Piaget’s theory explains the thinking of Loder, then this increases the generality of Piaget’s theory and makes it more fundamental. Similarly, if Loder’s theory ignores the data that Loder presents and focuses upon some fraction of this data, then this decreases the generality of Loder’s theory and makes it less fundamental.

Second, Loder complains that explaining all of human thought with a general theory makes human thought meaningless. Thus, we are back to Loder’s assumption that meaning requires mystery. (We will examine the question of human meaning at the end of this essay.) But understanding the laws of physics does not make human existence deterministic, because even though these laws apply to the entire physical universe, finite humans can only use these laws to predict simplified versions of reality. For instance, physics students can use mathematics to calculate the interaction between two or three planetary bodies, but the interaction between many planetary bodies is far too complicated to be worked out analytically. In addition, many of the laws of physics apply statistically. For instance, it is possible to determine with great precision what percentage of a group of atoms will undergo radioactive decay in a certain period of time, but it is not possible to state precisely which atoms will undergo this decay. Finally, by rejecting the idea of placing all of human thought within the structure of a rational theory, I suggest that Loder is rejecting the relativistic thinking of Einstein, which places all of physical existence within the structure of a curved space-time. Einstein proposed that the very fabric of the universe is shaped by natural law. Similarly, mental symmetry suggests that the very fabric of the mind is shaped by cognitive mechanisms. Loder finds this disconcerting, because he fears that it will remove the feeling of divine mystery.

Finally, as one can see in the following quote, Loder downplays the stages of Piaget in order to focus upon the aspect of Piaget’s thinking that involves complementarity. “If relationality is as central to Piaget’s thought as this indicates, we have, in the language of this text, the pervasive strange loop model giving expression to the claim that Piaget’s work is a work of the human spirit. Thus holding contraries in bipolar-relational unity, affirming both the poles and the dynamics of their relationality, Piaget constructed a view of the development of intelligence that is inherently more dynamic and relational then it is stadial and structural. This does not eliminate the value of Piaget’s stages, but places them in a larger dynamic context rather than the reverse. That is, the textbook appropriation of Piaget, which tends to place the dynamics of transformation in the container model of the stages, is profoundly misleading where Piaget’s larger project is concerned” (p.158). In other words, the textbooks may all say that Piaget’s theory involves various stages of cognitive development, but according to Loder, this is ‘profoundly misleading’. Instead, ‘Piaget’s larger project’ involves ‘holding contraries in bipolar relational unity’ as Loder does with his theory of incarnation. But is one truly placing Piaget’s stages ‘in a larger dynamic context rather than the reverse’ when one focuses upon the complementarity buried within this theory while downplaying the other elements of Piaget’s theory?

In contrast, mental symmetry suggests that Piaget’s stages exist because the mind is composed of cognitive modules which start functioning in a certain order in the human mind. Mercy thought is the first to function because the human body fills the mind with emotional experiences and Mercy thought remembers experiences with emotional labels. A mind that is governed by Mercy thought will exhibit the traits characteristic of Piaget’s preoperational stage. Perceiver thought organizes Mercy experiences into categories, leading to object recognition and factual knowledge. A child enters Piaget’s concrete operational stage when Perceiver thought is able to function independently of Mercy thought. Finally, Teacher thought comes up with general theories based upon Perceiver facts. (This will all be analyzed in a few paragraphs.) When Teacher thought is able to function independently, then the teenager will enter Piaget’s formal operational stage. As Loder points out, there is a mental discontinuity when the mind makes a transition from one stage to another. But this discontinuity is a transition from one cognitive stage to another cognitive stage. Without distinct, interacting cognitive modules, there would be no cognitive stages, and without cognitive stages there would be no transitions from one stage to another.

Loder’s Theory of Incarnation

Let us turn now to Loder’s concept of incarnation, which forms the basis for his theory of transforming complementarity that he uses to analyze everything in his book. As we shall see in this essay, the theology of Loder appears to be based almost exclusively upon the thinking of Kierkegaard. Loder mentions the central role that Kierkegaard places upon the incarnation of Jesus Christ. “Kierkegaard’s stance derives from a carefully reasoned articulation of his Christian convictional posture. As a major premise, he cannot agree that Jesus Christ is just one instance in the world historical process; rather He is its center and its turning point” (p.129).

Similarly, the concept of incarnation plays a central role in the theory of mental symmetry. Mental symmetry regards the mind as a ‘computer’ composed of seven interacting cognitive modules. The function of each cognitive module corresponds to the function of a specific region of the brain, and the connections between these cognitive modules correspond to major brain pathways. Mental symmetry suggests that people fall into seven different cognitive styles, with each cognitive style being conscious in one of the seven cognitive modules while the other six cognitive modules function subconsciously. This list of seven cognitive styles originally came from a list of ‘spiritual gifts’ mentioned by the apostle Paul in a passage on mental transformation.

One cognitive module, known as Contributor thought, plays the central role of holding the mind together and controlling the general direction of the mind. If one examines the behavior of Jesus Christ as described in the Gospels, it corresponds with the behavior of the Contributor person, who is conscious in the cognitive module of Contributor thought. Contributor thought is capable of functioning in one of two modes; in one mode it guides abstract thought, in the other it guides concrete thought. The process of integrating these two aspects of Contributor thought plays a central role in the process of reaching mental wholeness. When Contributor thought integrates the mind, it performs the mental function of an incarnation that bridges a concept of God in abstract thought with personal identity in concrete thought. This process of reaching mental wholeness corresponds to the path of salvation as described by Christianity and also corresponds to the stages in the life of Christ as described in the Gospels. These various aspects are analyzed in the essays on Christianity.

Notice that incarnation plays a central role because it ties the entire mind together, and not because it acts as some point within the middle of thought. Similarly, a complete mental concept of incarnation develops over time as the mind goes through the stages of becoming more integrated. Likewise, the mental concept of incarnation that emerges bridges the mental concept of God with the mental concept of identity by taking the same mental content and viewing it in a different manner. Finally, the correspondence between the mental concept of information and the historical account of Jesus is based in a comparison of many attributes of Jesus as described in the Gospels. Saying this more simply, mental symmetry suggests that incarnation is far more than one point touching another point, but rather involves one entire grid becoming interconnected with another entire grid.

In contrast, Loder regards incarnation as a singularity that occurred at a certain point in history. “For Kierkegaard, the once-for-all singularity of Jesus Christ was equivalent to the once-for-all in the creation of the universe. Redemption and new creation in him was the cosmic equivalent of the first creation, and faith by which the new creation is accomplished in an existing individual is equally singular. The singular event of salvation is not accomplished outside of history, as Kierkegaard’s stages and more significantly the incarnation and resurrection make clear; however, it is not accomplished by history or any historical process. It is not without universal impact and significance, but it is not accomplished according to any logically necessary principles or laws” (p.133).

Loder later repeats his view that incarnation has nothing to do with history. “Lessing implicitly set up Kierkegaard’s issue against Hegel by showing that history is one part of the duality, and the eternal – whatever its nature and substance – could never be reduced to historical truth. In fact, Lessing wrote that to base faith on history is to ‘hang nothing less than all eternity on a spider’s web’” (p.135).

Summarizing, mental symmetry views incarnation as a person who is God-and-man. A mental concept of personal identity (along with mental concepts of other individuals) emerges in concrete thought. A mental concept of God emerges when a general theory applies to personal identity in abstract thought. A mental concept of incarnation emerges when Contributor thought integrates abstract thought and concrete thought. All three of these are mental concepts of ‘intelligent beings’ whose essential nature can be described and analyzed by looking at the function of cognitive modules. Thus, ‘man’ is defined, ‘God’ is defined, and ‘and’ is defined, and all three of these definitions are—as far as I can tell—consistent with the definitions given in the Bible.

In contrast, Loder views incarnation as ‘Man ● ---’. ‘Man’ is defined, but God is not defined, and incarnation is regarded as a single point.

Compare this with the description of incarnation given in the beginning of the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it...He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth...For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

Notice the various points contained within this passage. First, incarnation is described as the Word who is God and who is with God. Words have meanings; words communicate. Second, we are told that incarnation is the source of all things. Thus, we are dealing with a universality that applies to all of creation and not just to some specific point within creation. Third, this passage says that the problem is not with God being incomprehensible, but rather with man being incapable of comprehending God. Fourth, both sides of incarnation are intimately related to physical reality. The divine side of incarnation made the world; the human side of incarnation lived in the world. But the world does not comprehend this connection. Fifth, incarnation is not simply a dimensionless point in time. Instead, incarnation lived over time within human history—the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Sixth, incarnation is not an irrational bridging but rather an expression of grace and truth that is related to law.

Loder says that it is not possible to expand the ● of incarnation through any examination of history. However, history tells us that Jesus was born a Jew, lived the life of a practicing Jew, and was viewed as the fulfillment of a series of historical prophecies regarding the Jewish Messiah.

It is apparent in The Knight’s Move that Loder places greater value upon the words of Kierkegaard than he does upon the words of either Jesus or the Bible, because he quotes repeatedly and extensively from Kierkegaard while quoting very seldom from the Bible or referring to the life or words of Jesus. Loder, as a respected academic, is very careful not to put words into the mouths of scholars and is fastidious about backing up his references to various scholars by quotes from those scholars. Unfortunately, he does not apply this same level of academic rigor when talking about the nature of Jesus and incarnation. Instead, he repeatedly puts the words of Kierkegaard into the mouth of Jesus and regards Kierkegaard as the ultimate source of authority regarding the life and nature of Jesus. For instance, “It is to this ultimate contextualization of the human spirit that we now turn as we discuss Kierkegaard’s description of Jesus Christ, the God-man, not under the aspect of the structure of the strange loop model, but under the aspect of experience, when the strange loop is embodied in the imagination. In a single phrase, it is Jesus Christ as the master image who presents the personality with the occasion to experience transformation transformed through what Kierkegaard called the ‘Absolute Paradox” (p.256).

Loder mentions the biblical phrase ‘the word became flesh’ that was quoted earlier in the well-known passage from the book of John, but instead of applying it to the personal life of Jesus, he connects it with the personal sacrifice of Kierkegaard. “As the word became flesh, so also in the complementarity of faith between eternity and existence: the higher may take on the lower that it may become evident to the lower what ultimate or eternal meaning is at stake, at the same time what great importance is attached to the lower so that such ultimate significance is ascribed to it. Humanly speaking, such a temporal reversibility is perhaps nowhere more evident than in Kierkegaard himself, who subjected himself in his writings to the most extreme criticism and rejection in order to point to the eternal truth of Christ which, as he made painfully obvious with the agony of his entire life, was not in the Christ of Danish Christendom. Today, however, he – not his distractors, endures to describe some of the most profound ways our humanity is revealed in the nature of the God-man Jesus” (p.116). This gives the impression that for Loder, Kierkegaard is the ultimate ‘word made flesh’ and not Jesus.

And yet, Loder says that “If one begins with the logic of the incarnation in its biblical context, one understands the irreducible starting point for the entire complex corpus of Kierkegaard’s thought, and to correlate its logic with the diversities of modern culture is to understand why his thought continues to be so compelling and yet so unclassifiable. It is as deeply grounded as the biblical literature, as coherent as the incarnation, and as pluralistic as the modern mentality” (p.65). But we have seen that neither Loder nor Kierkegaard “begin with the logic of the incarnation in its biblical context”. We have also seen that Kierkegaard ultimately suppresses logic, that the strange loop model does not explain a diversity of modern culture, that the incarnation is ‘explained’ as incoherent, and that there is little grounding in biblical literature.

Why does Loder practice this type of intellectual dishonesty when discussing incarnation? We will address this question in more detail later on, but I suggest that Loder is not doing this deliberately. Instead, It appears that Loder deeply believes that God and incarnation have nothing to do with either the intellect or with intellectual honesty. As quoted earlier, Loder says that “in the final analysis it is almost sacrilegious to examine the inner nature of God when we might far better worship the God we would know”. In other words, Loder thinks that God should be worshipped and not analyzed. But by worshipping God instead of analyzing God, Loder ends up ignoring the Word of God.

Thus, one concludes that the most accurate description of Loder’s theory of incarnation is not man-and-God, but rather ‘Kierkegaard’s interpretation of Jesus ● ---’. It is this specific form of incarnation that Loder uses as a universal theory to explain various aspects of human thought.

Is Loder’s theory of incarnation a good universal theory? The Knight’s Move contains a wealth of carefully presented information that makes it possible to address this question in considerable detail.

The Limits of Technical Thought

Our first topic will be Loder’s description of how the mind constructs a universal theory, which is one of the best descriptions that I have read anywhere. This bears repeating. The Knight’s Move contains an excellent description and analysis of abstract thought that is based directly upon Einstein’s analysis of how he thought.

We will begin by looking at how mental symmetry analyzes abstract thought, using concepts contained in a paper presented at the Canadian National TESOL conference in 2012. It appears that both abstract and concrete thought are capable of functioning in a rigorous manner which mental symmetry calls technical thought as well as a less rigorous manner called normal thought. The mental circuit used is the same but technical thought requires well defined facts for Perceiver thought, well formulated sequences for Server thought, and a ‘playing field’ that is restricted to a limited set of facts and sequences. Concrete technical thought is guided by a clearly defined goal within Mercy thought while abstract technical thought is guided by a clearly defined paradigm within Teacher thought. Thomas Kuhn’s book on paradigms and paradigm shifts says that science usually uses abstract technical thought, which he refers to as ‘normal science’. Thomas Kuhn adds that normal science breaks down during a paradigm shift, resulting in a temporary episode of revolutionary science, which reverts back to normal science once a new paradigm emerges.

Technical thought is analyzed in detail in other essays. What concerns us here is that logic and mathematics use technical thought, philosophy places a heavy emphasis upon the technical thinking of logic, and science uses the technical thought of mathematics to analyze the physical world. What also matters is that technical thought does not build general theories. Instead, it solves problems by using some general theory. Saying this another way, technical thought does not spend its time formulating games but rather it focuses upon playing some game as well as possible guided by the rules of that game.

The distinction between technical thought and normal thought provides us with a cognitive explanation for Loder’s concept of complementarity. As was mentioned earlier, physics realizes that objects can be viewed either as particles or as waves. In other words, it is possible to use two incompatible versions of technical thought to analyze physical matter. On the one hand, one can view objects as particles using the mathematical rules that have been developed to analyze particles. On the other hand, one can also view objects as waves using the mathematical rules that have been developed to analyze waves. Physics knows how to analyze objects using technical thought. Physics also knows how to analyze waves using technical thought. What bothers physics is the fact that objects sometimes appear as particles and other times as waves. It is as if a group of athletes is simultaneously playing a game of hockey and a game of soccer, and that players are jumping between the game of hockey and the game of soccer. When a player is playing hockey he is obeying the rules of hockey, and when a player is playing soccer he is obeying the rules of soccer. The problem is that the rules of hockey are not the same as the rules of soccer. Despite this, players are continually switching between these two games.

Because of this continual jumping to and fro between one game and another, the observer using technical thought is forced to conclude that the athletes are hockey/soccer players. Similarly, physicists conclude that objects are particles/waves. Loder’s theory of incarnation is based upon the ‘/’ that ties hockey and soccer or particle and wave together, and Loder connects the ‘/’ of objects with the ‘●’ of his interpretation of incarnation. Thus, whenever analyzing a situation or theory, Loder looks for the presence of a ‘/’ or ‘●’ and relates this discontinuity in technical thought with incarnation.

Loder says that he is not constructing a ‘God of the gaps’ (p.219), but I suggest that this is precisely what he is doing. Loder says that incarnation is revealed in singularities that are not subject to the laws of nature, a singularity is a gap in technical thought, and this gap is the only thing that we can know about God. In the words of Loder, “For Kierkegaard this seemed to be a necessary way to think about the God-man, the uncreated light of the world, whose redemption and recreation of the created order was the singular event par excellence. Faith in the existing individual and the individual existing in faith is participation in his uniqueness, and this raises each individual into a knowledge of the uniqueness of his own particularity through the singularity of Jesus Christ. Thus the nonrational resides not on the periphery but at the very heart of rational scientific and theological discourse” (p.221). In other words, Loder is not just looking for evidence of God in the miraculous gaps in natural law, but rather he is viewing miraculous gaps as a universal theory that defines the essential nature of incarnation. In Loder’s mind, gaps do not just prove that God exist, instead gaps define incarnation, and the repeated presence of gaps indicate the universality of incarnation. (Notice also in passing how Kierkegaard is again acting as the source of Loder’s understanding of Jesus Christ.)

Mental symmetry suggests a different approach. The tendency is for technical thought to divide existence into ‘technical thought’ and ‘other’ and to treat ‘other’ as a gap in the universality of technical thought. For instance, Kuhn refers to technical thought as normal science and says that science experiences occasional episodes of non-technical thought. Mental symmetry, in contrast, suggests that technical thought itself is the aberration. Technical thought is very useful for exploring and optimizing thought and activity within some limited realm. But if one wishes to deal with normal life, then one must use normal thought and not technical thought. In other words, life is more than just ‘playing hockey’, ‘playing soccer’ and gaps between playing these two games. Instead, life uses normal thought and normal thought is punctuated by episodes in which one uses technical thought to do things such as ‘play hockey’ or ‘play soccer’. This distinction becomes obvious when studying the TESOL field. Speech is clearly not an expression of technical thought, because it jumps to conclusions, uses partially defined words, changes the subject, and makes all manner of assumptions. Despite this, linguistic researchers have historically tried to use technical thought to analyze speech, leading to Noam Chomsky’s universal grammar or Paul Grice’s maxims of implicature.

What happens when one insists upon continuing to use technical thought? First, one will repeatedly discover that there are gaps in technical thought. Life is more than just hockey and soccer. Objects are more than just particles and just waves. Thus, one will be forced to come up with some concept of complementarity, some idea that there are gaps in the coverage of technical thought. This inherent limitation of technical thought is described in the passage that was quoted earlier. “This place of the nonrational in respect to reason and its inherent limits is of particular importance to the epistemology of faith and the knowledge of God. Once again there are two realms to comprehend in terms of the one, so logical contradiction is necessitated as long as one adheres to the canons of classical logic. However, as we have attempted to show in chapter 5, the simultaneous affirmation fully God and fully human in the description of Christ’s nature is fully rational to the point of stating all that can be stated, but then finally we have to make a choice, the leap of faith, which repeats the existential origin of the statement of faith; the leap establishes our contemporaneity with all those for whom the Chalcedonian formula is the most rational account of Christ nature that can be given. One does not believe this because it is absurd; one believes it because one is compelled to the limits of rationality by the conjunction of distinct realms, human and divine, in one nature” (p.142).

Second, one will be unable to analyze the situation adequately. Technical thought may be unexcelled at using the rules of some game but it is poor at stepping back and evaluating games and rules. This inherent limitation is also described by Loder. “The reason such paradoxes as the Cretan’s statement or Gődel’s proof appear is that no conceptual order with linguistic expression, however sophisticated, can grasp the agent of its formulation. However quickly thought may move or subtle its recursive grasp upon its own formulations, it cannot ever catch the thinker in the act of thinking” (p.43).

Normal Thought and Analogy

I do not know how to bridge the complementarity in physics between wave and particle. But I do know how a mental concept of incarnation bridges the corresponding cognitive complementarity that exists between abstract thought and concrete thought. We have seen that Loder compares Piaget’s stages of cognitive development with the history of scientific thought. If this is a valid comparison, then it is possible that a solution to the problem of cognitive complementarity might throw some light upon the problem of scientific complementarity. In simple terms, what is needed is normal thought. (In a few paragraphs we will analyze Loder’s description of normal thought.) Technical thought uses well- defined Perceiver facts and well-formulated Server sequences. Normal thought uses partially defined Perceiver facts and partially formulated Server sequences. Technical thought uses logic and clearly defined rules. Normal thought uses metaphor and analogy. Technical thought limits thought and action to a restricted playing field. In normal thought, the playing field is open, goals can shift, and paradigms can change.

For an example of normal thought, one simply has to turn to Loder’s book. The ‘logic’ that this book uses is based upon analogy. Loder compares the development of scientific thought with cognitive stages and theology in order to find common patterns. Mental symmetry suggests that it is possible to take the analogical thinking used by Loder and make it both more rigorous and more theological. Analogies are easy to find, but how does one know that one is using the right analogy? How can one distinguish between a good analogy and a bad analogy? Mental symmetry addresses this problem by using analogies that are based in cognitive mechanisms that are related to the functioning of specific brain regions.

For instance, a recent neurological paper discovered that a single region of the brain (the medial orbitofrontal cortex) is activated by many forms of beauty. Visual beauty, musical beauty, moral beauty, and mathematical beauty all activate a specific region (A1) in the medial orbital frontal cortex. Mental symmetry suggests that all beauty is being interpreted by the core of Teacher thought, which mental symmetry would associate with the left orbitofrontal cortex 1 Two conclusions can be drawn from this paper. First, mathematics is emotional, something that every mathematician knows but which many researchers seem to ignore. One of the primary suggestions made by mental symmetry is the simple statement that theory generates an emotion. The second conclusion is that analogy is a valid neurological concept. It is valid to use analogies that compare visual beauty with musical beauty, moral beauty, and mathematical beauty because the human brain treats all of these forms of beauty as fundamentally related.

This second conclusion is backed up by another recent neurological paper which discovered that a single brain region (the right inferior parietal lobule) interprets physical distance, social distance, and temporal distance. Mental symmetry suggests that the right parietal lobe provides automatic processing for Perceiver thought, the cognitive module that deals with maps and connections. Again we see that a single brain region is interpreting several forms of distance, indicating that it is neurologically valid to compare physical distance with social distance and temporal distance.

The analogies used by mental symmetry did not originally come from neurology. Instead, they came from a detailed analysis of 200 biographies done by Lane Friesen in the 1980s using a system of cognitive styles based in the spiritual gifts of Romans chapter 12. This biographical research led to a list of character traits for each of the seven cognitive styles, and it was noticed that most of these traits were expressions of fundamental character traits. It was then discovered that these fundamental character traits correspond to the functions of different brain regions and that these fundamental character traits could be summarized using the diagram of mental symmetry. Neurology continues to confirm the relationship between brain regions and fundamental character traits that corresponds to the functions which were originally discovered through a study of biographies.

If one examines analogy from this cognitive/neurological perspective, then this suggests that Loder is using analogy in an invalid manner. This is shown by the following quote. “The analogical function of the strange loop model will enable us to connect Kierkegaard to Bohr and to Chalcedonian Christology in ways that are essential to all three, and it will allow us to place both Bohr and Kierkegaard in the much wider theological context of the Chalcedonian explanation of Christ’s nature. Obviously, no exhaustive account of these positions can be given, but it may be assumed that when there is convergence on the central qualities of the model, it is pointing toward reality shared by all three fields of discourse” (p.64). On the surface, Loder is using analogy in the same semi-rigorous manner used by mental symmetry. If one can find the same pattern repeated in many different situations, then this suggests that this pattern ‘points toward a reality shared by all three fields of discourse’. In order to notice such similarities, Perceiver thought (and Server thought) must be functioning. However, what pattern is Loder comparing? The strange loop model of complementarity. And what is the basic premise of complementarity? That Perceiver thought cannot find a connection. (We will examine this in more detail in a few paragraphs.) Thus, Loder is using Perceiver thought to look for the presence of connections guided by the absence of a connection. He is treating the lack of an analogy as an analogy. That, I suggest, is using analogy in an invalid manner.

I have suggested how it is possible to take the analogical thinking of Loder and make it more rigorous. I suggest that it is also possible to make this thinking more theological. I have mentioned that Loder is looking for incarnation in the gaps and leaps that separate various aspects of thought. Mental symmetry suggests a more direct approach. Instead of looking for evidence of God in the gaps contained within the analogies, mental symmetry suggests learning about God through the analogies themselves. Using the analogy of games, Loder is looking for incarnation in the jump that players perform when going between playing hockey or playing soccer. Mental symmetry, in contrast, suggests that it is far more profitable to look for similarities between the game of hockey and the game of soccer. Instead of looking for God in the gaps between content, mental symmetry suggests looking for God by comparing one content with another. Instead of presenting data and then ignoring most of it, mental symmetry suggests presenting data and analyzing it. But one can only analyze data if one has a theory that is capable of analyzing this data and translating it into theological language, which is what mental symmetry attempts to do.

Loder refers to God as ‘universal’ or ‘eternal’. Mental symmetry adds content to this statement by suggesting that a mental concept of God emerges when a general theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity in Mercy thought (This was stated earlier as a general theory in abstract thought applying to personal identity in concrete thought. The words and theories of abstract thought reside within Teacher thought, while the experiences and images of people of concrete thought reside within Mercy thought.) We have seen that technical thought is inherently limited. It is not possible to build a universal theory using only technical thought, because technical thought will only throw light upon some specific region. If one wishes to form a universal theory, then one must use the analogies of normal thought to construct a meta-theory based upon similarities between various technical theories. Loder takes this approach when he compares physics with cognitive development and theology. Physics itself is based upon the assumption that there is a deep similarity between the structure of mathematics and the structure of the physical universe. Why would such deep similarities exist? The only rational explanation is that these various realms are similar because they all reflect the essential characteristics of a single source. Quoting Dirac the famous physicist, it appears that God is a mathematician. The relationship between math and physical law is extensive, but as Loder points out this correspondence has its limitations and is torn asunder by the gap separating wave and particle. Mental symmetry takes one step back and constructs a meta-theory based upon cognitive similarities. This larger viewpoint makes it possible to integrate theology with the philosophy of science as well as numerous other fields, such as the TESOL field which includes culture and linguistics, the spiritual realm, and the realm of the supernatural. But taking this cognitive step backward means questioning Loder’s fundamental assumption, which is that God is unknowable.

Analyzing the Thinking of Einstein

That brings us back finally to Loder’s analysis of Einstein’s way of thinking, which we will now examine. When Lane Friesen analyzed biographies back in the 1980s, one of the individuals he studied was Einstein, and he concluded that Einstein had the cognitive style of Teacher person. In other words, Einstein was conscious in the cognitive module that constructs general theories. Having collaborated with a Teacher person for many years, I know from personal experience how this unusual mode of thought functions. Guided by these personal experiences as well as by the theory of mental symmetry, I have attempted to analyze both how normal thought functions in general, and how it functions within the mind of the Teacher person. This is where Loder’s analysis of Einstein’s thinking is particularly interesting. I did not know that Einstein had analyzed his form of thinking. Therefore, it is encouraging to note that Einstein’s description of how he thinks corresponds in detail to mental symmetry’s analysis of how the Teacher person uses normal thought. This is the type of independent corroboration that provides evidence for the theory of mental symmetry.

Einstein divides thought into three stages. “The first stage is the formation of a concept of bodily objects and their classification into different kinds. Here a reciprocity between sensation and conception constitutes what Piaget called intuitive or preoperational intelligence in which objects could be grasped and classified but classifications could not be logically or operationally related” (p.178). Translating this into mental symmetry, Mercy thought is programmed with experiences (that have emotional labels) from the physical environment. Perceiver thought then organizes these Mercy experiences into categories based upon similarities and differences. This process of object recognition is indicated on the diagram of mental symmetry by the arrow that runs from Mercy to Perceiver, and as the quote indicates, this first stage is based in concrete thought.

This collection of Perceiver facts that was gathered from object recognition then provides the starting point for abstract thought. Using an analogy, Perceiver facts are like mental bricks which Teacher thought attempts to assemble into the ‘building’ of a general theory. The mental bricks of Perceiver facts are not emotional. Teacher theories, though, are emotional. Teacher thought feels good when there is order-within-complexity, when many items fit together to form a unified whole. For instance, this explains the feeling of mathematical beauty referred to a few paragraphs back. Loder describes the emotion that a theory produces. “The great theoreticians in mathematics and physics have long known that our understanding of the universe is as indebted to beauty as it is to empirical observation... This is a point already made above in relation to Einstein’s discovery of general relativity which was based on only one piece of evidence, a tiny anomaly in the orbit of Mercury. His confidence in the theory was based on aesthetic grounds. He said, ‘anyone who fully comprehends this theory cannot escape its magic’... Apparently there is a deep coherence between mathematics and art on the basic principle of beauty” (p.228).

Loder goes further to describe that this emotion is related to a discovery of order-within-complexity. “Jacob Bronowski, borrowing from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s definition of beauty as unity in variety, said that science is nothing else than the search to discover unity in the wild variety of action… Poetry, painting, the arts are the same search for likeness... Instead of metaphors, rhythmic harmonies, and the like, physics uses the ‘likeness’ of numbers. Thus as von Baeyer has written, ‘the equality of ratios is to physics what rhythm is to poetry and balance to painting’” (p.229).

That brings us to the method by which one discovers order-within-complexity. The process of assembling Perceiver bricks into a Teacher structure of order-within-complexity can be driven either by Perceiver thought or Teacher thought. As a Teacher person, Einstein used primarily the version driven by Teacher thought. In simple terms, Teacher thought will overgeneralize and then Perceiver thought will come up with counterexamples that either limit or disprove the general theory. For instance, linguists have observed that children practice overgeneralization when learning language—and words and language form the basic building blocks for Teacher thought. When a child first learns a rule of grammar, this rule will be applied universally. The child will then learn through counterexamples where this universal law should not be applied.

How does Teacher thought know what to generalize? Teacher thought will pick some element, treat it as universal, and then see if this new universal theory survives. One could compare this to picking some person off the street, crowning him as monarch, and then seeing if he is capable of bringing order to the realm. If he does a good job, then he will be given the job permanently. Loder describes what this means for a Teacher person who is conscious in Teacher thought. “New knowledge, then, derives only ‘indirectly’ from the empirical information, only initially from existing theory, and most immediately from the ingenious imagination of Einstein himself” (p.177).

This type of thinking is illustrated by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Scientists had discovered that the speed of light is a constant, regardless of a person’s frame of reference. Einstein took this fact about the speed of light and turned it into a universal theory. Every other scientific fact about movement, space, and time was then adjusted to fit the single fact that the speed of light is a constant. In the words of Loder, “the speed of light...was a universal constant in the universe in which everything else was understood through and relative to it” (p.170). Using an analogy, Einstein took some ‘person’ (the speed of light in a vacuum) off the street of science and then expected every other ‘citizen’ of science to acknowledge the supremacy of this new ruler.

One can see also this flavor of thinking portrayed in the following quote. “In the second phase it is evident that objects and kinds of objects are connected by operations... Such ‘operations with concepts’ and all that this implies constitutes ‘the eternal mystery of the world...its comprehensibility.’ That such a comprehensibility is possible can only be apprehended ‘intuitively’, and when it occurs it is ‘a miracle’” (p.178). Note the underlying assumption that it is possible to come up with a general theory. Notice also that this theory is acquired intuitively and that a successful theory feels almost like ‘a miracle’.

Einstein describes the various elements involved in choosing a possible universal theory. “The basis of theory in physics, Einstein said, cannot be obtained through distillation by an inductive method, but only by free invention. The truth of such inventions can only be proven by demonstrating a useful connection between the theory and sense experience. However, the advancement of physics is in the direction of obtaining the most comprehensive account of sense experience that is possible, based on the fewest possible logical premises. ‘Free invention’ is not guesswork, but based upon an immersion in the knowledge and methods of the field” (p.173). First, notice that Einstein is using ‘free invention’, essentially choosing possible candidates for a universal theory in an arbitrary manner. Second, once a possible general theory has been chosen, then its validity is tested by attempting to hold on to it in the presence of Perceiver facts. (Thus, a successful universal theory could be viewed as being able to continue concentrating upon some sequence of words. Overgeneralization is simply an attempt to continue concentrating on the same set of Teacher memories. It is interesting to note that the Teacher person, the Mercy person, and Contributor person are the three individuals that have an unusual ability to concentrate.) Third, the goal is to be able to explain all the facts using the simplest theory, in order to generate the greatest order-within-complexity. Fourth, even though it may seem that Teacher thought is picking possible theories at random, this choosing is being implicitly guided by the underlying grid of knowledge.

Having worked with a Teacher person, I know from personal experience that this is exactly what happens. The Teacher person will focus upon some aspect of understanding and then proceed to interpret everything else in the light of that specific aspect. If this fails, then the Teacher person will focus upon some other aspect of understanding and proceed to interpret everything in the light of this new aspect. From the perspective of a Perceiver person, it feels as if the Teacher person is continually jumping from one overgeneralization to another. Loder describes this type of interaction occurring between Einstein the Teacher person and Niels Bohr the error checker. “The healthy creative mind will come forth with insights of convincing significance that simply are wrong. Thus Einstein would repeatedly be taken by a new insight on how to resolve the dilemmas posed by quantum theory. Then Bohr would systematically show how Einstein’s image of the solution was not accurate or sufficient. They pursued their debates – together with other figures of this period – as they tracked the errors of the imaginative insight to get to the truths it concealed” (p.242).

This error-checking of possible Teacher theories describes the third stage of Einstein’s thinking. “The third phase is a constructive effort to formulate and systematically relate theorems that constitute statements about reality or laws of nature, which constitute science – as distinct from an empty scheme of concepts – only as they are returned to sense experiences as comprehended by primary concepts” (p.178). In other words, once Teacher thought has come up with a general theory, then this Teacher theory is tested by comparing it with the known Perceiver facts of science. One might think that this third stage occurs automatically. However, Teacher thought can use concentration to focus upon certain topics and ignore other topics. When Teacher thought ignores topics, then the end result is an ‘empty scheme of concepts’ and not a general theory. For instance, one notices in The Knight’s Move that Loder repeatedly presents information and then ignores it because it is not pertinent to his general Teacher theory of complementarity. It is for this reason that I try to explain most of the concepts contained within a book when analyzing it. Explaining some of the information is easy. Explaining all of the information is much harder.2

Notice that the error-checking occurs after Teacher thought chooses a new possible general theory. “In a celebrated conversation between Einstein and Heisenberg, Heisenberg said ‘a good theory must be based on directly observable magnitudes.’ To this Einstein responded, ‘It is quite wrong to try founding a theory on observable magnitudes alone. In reality the very opposite happens. It is the theory that decides what we can observe’” (p.175). Thomas Kuhn refers to this viewing of Perceiver facts through the lens of a Teacher theory as incommensurability. In his words, the person with a new theory actually views the physical world in a slightly different manner, seeing things that were ignored before and ignoring facts that were previously regarded as significant.

This Teacher-Perceiver interaction takes on a different flavor when it is driven by Perceiver thought. This describes the type of research that I have been doing the last few years. Because Teacher thought is subconscious in my mind, I am not good at coming up with new theories. Instead, I am conscious in Perceiver thought. When I was working with a Teacher person, I used Perceiver thought primarily to limit the natural overgeneralizing of the Teacher person, as Bohr did with Einstein. However, given some initial theory, such as the theory of mental symmetry, I have discovered that I have a natural ability to use Perceiver thought to notice similarities and analogies between this theory and other theories. Thus, I can expand the theory of mental symmetry by reading books, such as The Knight’s Move, and then using Perceiver thought to translate between the language of mental symmetry and the language of the book I am reading. So far, the paradigm described in the book that I am reading has always ended up a subset of the theory of mental symmetry. This gives me confidence that the theory of mental symmetry is accurate. Similarly, when I use the theory of mental symmetry to investigate theology, I use Perceiver thought to compare the conclusions of mental symmetry with the Perceiver facts of biblical Christian theology. So far, all of the discrepancies that have emerged have been between mental symmetry and the thinking of theologians. I have yet to encounter a solid discrepancy between the theory of mental symmetry and the content of the Bible. This gives me confidence that the theory of mental symmetry is theologically sound.

Loder ends the chapter on the thinking of Einstein by focusing upon the centrality of complementarity. “Although Einstein’s attack on the intrinsic necessity for probability and quantum physics seems to be one up on Bohr in this respect, Einstein’s God is still the God of rational objectivism... It might be said that this aspect of these great debates raised what is the decisive theological question in the quest for an approach to the wholeness of truth that includes the human nature of the questioner... Theologically speaking, this aspect of the debates approached the realization that universal claims about reality in the particularity of the knower cannot be combined in any ultimate fashion that does not grasp the irreducible strange loop connection between the divine spirit and the human spirit. It is precisely this connection, of course, that Kierkegaard explores with such intensity. In the context of human nature, he spells out what being human does and does not mean when this bipolarity is taken seriously and convictionally. What comes into focus for his work is the fact that this bipolarity is infinitely elusive unless it is revealed the nature of Jesus Christ, the One who embodies perfectly what we must always experience partially as the strange loop dynamic between eternity and existence, the Divine and the human, in human nature” (p.190).

Unfortunately, by embracing Kierkegaard and taking bipolarity ‘seriously and convictionally’, Loder ends up ignoring most of what he has just discussed about the thinking exemplified by Einstein. In contrast, mental symmetry suggests that it is possible to include the thinking of Einstein as well as the nature of Jesus Christ in a way that is consistent with both the words of Jesus Christ and the rational thinking of science.

Normal Abstract Thought

Moving on, Loder describes normal abstract thought in more general terms in a later chapter. We have already looked at Loder’s analysis of Einstein’s thinking. Let us now examine Loder’s description of what he calls the five stages of normal abstract thought.

The first stage is incoherence. “The deep structure of generative activity begins in restless incoherence, dichotomy, or fragmented situations that defy but do not defeat our elemental longings for beauty in a reintegration of the separated” (p.230). I have mentioned that Teacher thought feels good when items fit together. By the same token, Teacher thought feels bad when items do not fit together. One can see from the diagram of mental symmetry that Teacher thought is connected with Exhorter thought. Exhorter thought turns Teacher (and Mercy) emotion into a drive that motivates behavior. (The level of Exhorter thought appears to be related to the brain chemical dopamine.) When Teacher thought experiences disorder, then this leads to an Exhorter drive to remove this negative Teacher emotion. The average person who has not experienced the depths of Teacher emotion does not realize how strong this drive can be. Thomas Kuhn says that a scientist who has a paradigm is mentally incapable of returning to a state of not having a paradigm.

The second stage is a search for resolution. “We cannot rest with the incoherence at a conscious or unconscious level... The drive toward consistency to avoid or resolve dissonance is a restless force in psychic life” (p.231). Loder says that “much of this may also take place under the surface of awareness” (p.231). For most cognitive styles, I suggest that this is true. However, mental symmetry suggests that the Teacher person is conscious in the cognitive module that develops theory, and the Teacher person may actually destroy his health in an attempt to find order. For instance, Isaac Newton, another Teacher person, experienced two mental breakdowns in his search for Teacher order.

The third stage is a construction of new meaning. “Sooner or later the ingenuity of the psyche will surprise and delight us with a constructive resolution by means of which it will reshape the elements and substance of the incoherence to bring about a new context of meaning that more than meets the issues of difference and disjunction. It transforms the conflict and frames of reference into a new context of meaning that transcends the original frames of reference without diminishing their integrity” (p.231). Notice the emotional response that results from discovering a new Teacher theory. Loder attributes this to ‘the ingenuity of the psyche’, implying that Teacher thought functions subconsciously in his mind. Notice also that the facts do not change, but the interpretation of these facts does. Thomas Kuhn refers to this as a paradigm shift, which he describes in one passage as ‘picking up the same bundle of sticks from the other end’.

The fourth stage is a release of energy. “It is a basic principle of the psyche that to deal with incoherence, we invest energy in holding onto the elements of the incoherence, trying again and again to reorder them for the sake of effecting, if possible, a transformation. As a result when the constructive resolution appears, there is a release of the energy that had been bound up with the conflicted elements of the incoherence” (p.231). Loder refers to this more simply as the Eureka moment. As I have mentioned, Exhorter thought is attracted to strong emotions. When ideas do not fit together, the resulting Teacher emotional discomfort will continue to attract the attention of Exhorter thought, driving the individual to fixate upon the problem. When Teacher thought comes up with a theory that brings order to the complexity, then the abrupt change from Teacher pain to Teacher pleasure, combined with the novelty of the new theory, will lead to an abrupt change in Exhorter focus and a sudden increase in Exhorter energy.

The fifth stage is verification. “The mind cannot rest until it has put even the most ingenious insight to the test. Does the insight really fit the terms of the conflict? Does it really correspond to the way other minds see the same problem? Thus, the final phase in the generative act of intelligence, or of the human spirit more generally, is verification... This last step is essential in that there have been many beautiful physical theories that are simply wrong” (p.232).

Remember that Teacher overgeneralization occurs first and then Perceiver thought cuts a Teacher theory down to size by coming up with counterexamples. In terms of the monarch analogy, a person is first chosen off the street to head the country, and then the effectiveness of this new leader is tested. Saying this another way, a theory is not usually constructed out of facts, but rather a theory is generated and then it is tested to see if it will survive the facts.

The Zen Solution

One corollary of this is that any Teacher theory will survive intact if Perceiver thought can be prevented from coming up with counterexamples. One way to do this is by getting Perceiver thought to give up. Perceiver thought requires confidence to function. A Perceiver fact is simply a set of connections that are repeated. Perceiver thought gains confidence in a fact when it continues to notice that the connections are repeated. Similarly, if Perceiver thought continues to discover that a set of connections do not exist, then Perceiver thought will gain confidence in the lack of a fact. Perceiver confidence in the lack of a connection will ensure that Perceiver thought does not prevent Teacher thought from overgeneralizing.

I suggest that this explains the cognitive mechanism behind the transition from Kierkegaard’s Religiousness A to his Religiousness B. Loder says that “since the decisive turning point for Kierkegaard is between Religiousness A and Religiousness B (Christianity), we will focus this discussion on these two stages and the ‘leap of faith’ that makes the transition from A to B” (p.92).

Going further, Loder says that “In religiousness A, there is a radical breach between human existence and the eternal, and the more fully this radical breach is grasped, the more clearly one can apprehend the issue posed by the contradiction in the nature of the God-man” (p.93). Using the language of mental symmetry, Perceiver thought continues to discover in religiousness A that there is no connection between God and man. The repeated failure to come up with a Perceiver connection between God and man will build confidence in the lack of a fact. Loder describes this growing Perceiver confidence. “In its purest form, then, religiousness A prepares the way for B by renunciation, by stripping away every self-deception that might cloud or diminish the essential dichotomy in human nature. Only in this negative way can despairing, one-sided, or dualistic evasions be made to exhibit their inadequacy” (p.94).

Eventually, Perceiver thought will give up, making it possible for Teacher thought to overgeneralize without being restricted or limited by Perceiver facts. As Loder says, “reason is carried as far as it can go in relationship to the issue at hand, a limit discovered only after thinking every related thought through completely, thereby exhausting all possible ways to think it. The leap of faith, as we will see, solves the dilemma of how to embrace the full limits of reason and yet make a coherent and contingent claim for human nature” (p.95).

The transition to religiousness B occurs when Perceiver thought gives up and stops using facts as counterexamples to restrict Teacher theories. “The positive, historical reality of the God-man takes up existence into himself, and without losing the tension between the opposites brings to pass for the individual, through the leap of faith, a determinant position which is ‘infinitely higher than existence.’ Existence is now transformed by being redefined via the nature of the God-man, in whom eternity and existence reside in the antithesis of complementarity. This is the positive absurd in which the opposites of God and humanity, eternity and existence, are held in a tensive unity by the ‘happy passion’ which Kierkegaard calls ‘faith’” (p.96). Notice exactly what is happening. The Perceiver facts do not change. There is still no Perceiver connection between God and humanity or between eternity and existence. But when Perceiver thought gives up, then there is a ‘leap of faith’ in which Perceiver facts no longer prevent Teacher thought from overgeneralizing. Perceiver thought still recognizes that the answer is ‘absurd’ but there is now a ‘happy passion’ which indicates the presence of a Teacher theory.

I suggest that a similar mental transition occurs in the Zen koan. The Wikipedia article on koans describes the mental process that occurs through the use of a koan. “In the Rinzai-school, the Sanbo Kyodan, and the White Plum Asanga, koan practice starts with the assignment of a hosshior ‘break-through koan’, usually the mu-koan or ‘the sound of one hand clapping’...Wumen (Mumon) wrote:

‘... concentrate yourself into this ‘Wú’ ... making your whole body one great inquiry. Day and night work intently at it. Do not attempt nihilistic or dualistic interpretations.’ Arousing this great inquiry or ‘Great Doubt’ is an essential element of kōan practice. It builds up ‘strong internal pressure (gidan), never stopping knocking from within at the door of [the] mind, demanding to be resolved.’...

The continuous pondering of the break-through koan...leads to kensho, an initial insight into ‘seeing the (Buddha-)nature.’ The aim of the break-through koan is to see the ‘nonduality of subject and object’...Various accounts can be found which describe this ‘becoming one’ and the resulting breakthrough: ‘I was dead tired. That evening when I tried to settle down to sleep, the instant I laid my head on the pillow, I saw: “Ah, this outbreath is Mu! Then: the in-breath too is Mu! Next breath, too: Mu! Next breath: Mu, Mu! Mu, a whole sequence of Mu! Croak, croak; meow, meow - these too are Mu! The bedding, the wall, the column, the sliding-door - these too are Mu! This, that and everything is Mu! Ha ha! Ha ha ha ha Ha! that roshi is a rascal! He’s always tricking people with his ‘Mu, Mu, Mu’!’”

Notice that the same cognitive steps are occurring as in Kierkegaard’s transition from Religiousness A to Religiousness B. The Zen monk is given a koan to think about, a logical contradiction for which there is no rational answer. Similarly, Kierkegaard ponders the chasm between man and God, a chasm for which no rational connection exists. Both the Zen monk and Kierkegaard continue to struggle with this logical contradiction, and this struggle builds Perceiver confidence in the lack of a connection. Finally, there is a breakthrough in which Perceiver thought steps out of the way and allows Teacher thought to overgeneralize. In the case of Kierkegaard the overgeneralization is a theory that bridges God and man. In the case of the Zen monk, the overgeneralization is a theory that covers breathing, bedding, walls, columns, and everything. This cognitive breakthrough leads to a positive Teacher emotion which Kierkegaard describes as a ‘happy passion’ and the Zen monk expresses as a series of ‘ha ha ha ha!’

This discovery of a ‘solution’ when Perceiver thought gives up is clearly portrayed in the following blog entry on the Zen koan of ‘the goose in the bottle’. Quoting from this blog, “Recently I was told about an old Zen koan which asks, ‘how do you get the goose out of the bottle?’. The teacher explained that I needed to think about how to get the goose out of the bottle without breaking the bottle, and without killing the goose. The contents and the container had to stay intact. Huh?...I was approaching the question logically from every angle and there didn’t seem to be an answer. The fact that there was no answer reminded me of other questions I have which don’t have satisfactory answers. Questions such as, Why am I here? Why do bad things happen to good people (and vice versa)? Is there a god?...I thought about a big issue, such as when a war is fought to protect or defend big ideals, and in the process innocent people are killed. The ideal is defended, and lives are lost; this would be similar to killing the goose to get it out of the bottle. Alternatively the ideal could be forgotten, and no-one is killed; so the bottle is broken and the goose is free. Either way, there is no clear victory, and the koan is not solved satisfactorily. Maybe the answer is that there is no answer. Maybe the contemplation is the answer. Perhaps the sense of stillness I arrived at when I came to this point of finding no solution was the answer. I felt something open up in me as I arrived at this point. All thought stopped for a few minutes, and I experienced a deep silence, a sense of non-duality and no-mind (sorry to steal these expressions from the Buddhist tradition - I have no original way to describe it). I had a glimpse of ‘the space between’. The goose was out.”

Loder distinguishes his approach from that of mysticism. “Human existence should not be conceived dualistically (as an idealism) or mystically (as in some Eastern thought) as a covert bearer of the universal, as if human nature were divided half-and-half and could be unified only by yielding up existence to some vague nether state of eternal wholeness. Rather, through the affirmation of human existence as transformed by the God-man, universality and particularity become definitive conjugate terms, positively correlated by means of the same model of complementarity characterizing the God-man” (p.105). In other words, mysticism blends together personal identity in Mercy thought with universality in Teacher thought whereas complementarity keeps these two distinct. Saying this symbolically, Eastern mysticism is ‘illusion of man ● ---’, while complementarity is ‘man ● ---’. This is a valid distinction, however I suggest that what really matters is that Perceiver thought is being disabled making it possible for Teacher thought to hold on to an overgeneralized theory, and personal identity is basking in the resulting emotional glow of Teacher ‘understanding’. I suggest that all forms of mysticism contain this cognitive combination. There are many ways to disable Perceiver thought. One way is to believe that all Perceiver facts about reality are ultimately illusion. Another way is to assign meanings to words that are sufficiently vague. One can also empty one’s mind of all factual content. One can fixate hypnotically upon some object such as a flickering flame. Or one can use the Zen koan method of complementarity. The point is that Perceiver thought is being disabled making it possible for Teacher thought to overgeneralize, leading to a Teacher feeling of transcendent universality.

Notice the connection the Loder makes between complementarity and incarnation. In the same way that complementarity ‘leaps’ the gap between universality and particularity, so incarnation ‘leaps’ the gap between God and man.

It is important to emphasize that Loder’s concept of incarnation does not bridge universality and particularity and does not unite God and man. As Loder says, “Universality, regardless of how well formulated as a principal, will prove to be only negatively and unredemptively related to the fragmentation of human particularity. Thus, the interplay of these key conjugate properties – the despairing fragmentation of the particular versus the impotent allness of the universal – serves to intensify the negation and renunciation by which the modality of A as a whole is characterized. The same conjugate properties pertain in the positive mode, religiousness B, but now they and their relationality are transformed into key constituents of the unity of faith through confrontation with the God-man. Complementarity continues to pertain between eternity and existence, but now the conjugate aspects of particularity and universality are constitutive of a positive condition” (p.104). Notice that ‘complementarity continues to pertain between eternity and existence’. There is still no connection between the two, but this lack of connection is now being viewed in a different light. That is why I am using the unfamiliar symbol ‘●’ to indicate incarnation rather than a normal ‘–’.

It is also important to emphasize that Loder’s concept of incarnation is not based in a general Teacher theory that contains order-within-complexity. This can be seen in the following quote. “Logically, the universal is not truly universal if it does not embrace particularity per se. This logical paradox, which appears in science as the problem of singularity, is resolvable at the human level only through faith and the transformative power of the God man. In faith one is freed from conceptual and cultural illusions of universality (universal laws of nature, ethics, society, etc.) in order to enter fully into God’s creation through the particularity of one’s own existence. The surprise is that precisely through the full appropriation of one’s own particularity, universality comes to light everywhere in all of creation. Thus Kierkegaard writes that the knight of faith ‘... Takes delight in everything, and whenever one sees him taking part in a particular pleasure, he does it with the persistence which is the mark of the earthly man whose soul is absorbed in such things... Yet he does not do the least thing except by virtue of the absurd [the God-man received in faith]’” (p.104). Loder says that true universality ties together particulars, by bringing order to complexity. In contrast, Loder says that ‘faith’ frees the mind from ‘cultural illusions of universality’. These cultural illusions include ‘universal laws of nature and ethics’. This needs to be repeated. Loder’s faith has nothing to do with either universal natural law or ethics. This tells us that he is not constructing a universal theory. Similarly, when the ‘knight of faith’ ‘does not do the least thing except by virtue of the absurd’, this tells us that we are dealing with the illusion of a universal theory. That is why I refer to ‘man ● ---’ rather than man-God.

If Loder’s view of incarnation does not bridge the gap between God and man and if his universal theory is absurd, then why would he embrace such a position? Loder’s solution may not make logical sense, but I suggest that it does make cognitive sense. Mentally speaking, mysticism works.

As I have mentioned, mental symmetry suggests that a mental concept of God emerges when a universal theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity in Mercy thought. Mental symmetry also suggests that both Teacher thought and Mercy thought function emotionally. If Teacher thought feels that it has a universal theory, and if this feeling of a universal theory impinges upon personal identity, then a person will feel that he has an encounter with God, and he will feel that God is with him wherever he goes. This works, and it feels good to feel good, and it feels even better to feel that God is with you all the time. If one is satisfied with the feeling of ‘eternal blessedness’, if that is the extent of personal salvation that one wishes, then the illusion of a universal theory suffices.

Compare this with the biblical definition of faith given in Hebrews 11. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible...All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”

Let us look at how this classic biblical passage defines faith. Faith is an assurance, in Greek, a hypostasis or solid foundation. In contrast, Loder’s faith is a leap away from a solid foundation. Faith is a conviction of things, an elegchos of pragma, or proof of facts. Loder’s faith, in contrast, is an absurdity not based in fact. Faith understands that the worlds were framed or constructed (katartizo) by the word of God. Loder’s faith, in contrast, embraces an unbridgeable gap between God and any constructed universe. Abraham looked by faith for ‘the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God’ (v.10). Loder says that faith encounters God by going beyond all concepts of foundation, architecture, or building. Faith confesses that it is a stranger and exile on the earth. Loder’s knight, in contrast, has ‘the persistence which is the mark of the earthly man whose soul is absorbed in such things’. Faith looks for a better, heavenly country. Loder, in contrast, appears to be satisfied with the feeling of God on the current earth.

Switching Mental Modes

Let us look further at these two forms of faith, guided by Loder’s analysis. “Polanyi views personal knowledge as a differential integration of tacit (informal) knowledge and explicit (formal) knowledge with the latter depending upon, and in turn being molded by, the former; the latter as explicit knowledge controlling what is or is not to be known by others. The common experience of recognizing one’s person’s face in a thousand random pictures of faces draws upon the tacit dimension of knowing. We can’t say explicitly how we do it – exactly what we are looking for or what it is we recognize – yet we are certain. ‘The fact that we know more than we can tell’, as Polanyi puts it, and that the level of tacit awareness makes explicit claims through, but is meaningfully focused by, the explicit or formal level, sums up the interplay between the two levels of personal knowledge...Polanyi showed that this bipolar, asymmetrical process supplies a post-critical foundation for knowledge.” (p.41). In more general terms, this relates to what is known as dual process theory, which suggests that there is a form of fast, intuitive thinking based primarily in experience that jumps to conclusions, and there is also a slower, rule-based, more abstract, language-connected form of thought that works its way carefully to conclusions.

Mental symmetry suggests that the mind can use three different kinds of thinking (both in abstract thought and concrete thought), referred to as technical thought, normal thought, and mental networks. The more deliberate form of thinking described in dual process theory would correspond to the technical thought that was discussed earlier, while mental networks allow the mind to jump to conclusions in an intuitive manner. Mental networks are discussed in other essays and we will not be examining them here. One can think of a mental network as a collection of emotional memories that has formed into a network and is now functioning as a unit. A habit illustrates the behavior of a mental network. Whenever a mental network is triggered, then it will exert emotional pressure to impose its pattern upon thought or behavior. For instance, if I repeatedly view my face in a mirror, then these emotional experiences will form a mental network within my mind. Seeing my face in a set of random pictures will trigger this mental network, which will then bring to mind the various aspects of personal identity.

Now let us apply this distinction to The Knight’s Move. As a scholarly work, this book uses rule-based, abstract language to convey its message. As I mentioned before, Loder is very careful not to jump to conclusions but rather to back up each statement with quotes from established sources. However, when discussing Kierkegaard’s leap of faith, his style of writing changes and he writes confidently in the first person. Notice the confidence in the following quote. “This can be recognized as far less a mystical extrapolation and far more a descriptive account of the true nature of human existence of the analogy to particle physics is invoked. That is, the two random electrons do not and cannot ‘work on’ their relationship; they simply are thus constituted. But notice that this is not a physical ‘law’ in the 19th century sense, or a ‘force’ in the Newtonian sense, that constitutes their unity. It is simply a statement about how it actually is in the quantum world. If we balk at the impersonal nature of the analogy, we should see that it is designed to correct the distortion persons bring to relationships precisely because they are persons distorted in structurally egocentric ways. To see it like it is, is to let God be God and find that, lo and behold, a ‘transparent’ relationship to God’s Spirit does put things together in an astonishing way” (p.207). [the italics are all in the original] What exactly is Loder so confident about? The ‘leap of faith’ which he previously described as absurd. Which ‘God’ is Loder allowing to ‘be God’? Kierkegaard’s God of complementarity. But what type of ‘transparent relationship’ does Loder have? It is difficult to see how a gap that remains unbridgeable and can only be connected through absurdity can be described as either transparent or a relationship.

Looking at this from a cognitive perspective, we see that Loder is switching mental modes when he discusses Kierkegaard’s God of complementarity. In the rest of his book, he uses careful logic, defines terms, and quotes sources. Here, he jumps to conclusions, redefines terminology, and ignores sources. Using the language of dual process theory, Loder is switching from System 2 reasoning to System 1 intuition. Using the language of mental symmetry, he is shifting from technical thought to mental networks. What is the source of Loder’s mental networks? Personal experience. This is quite apparent in the following quote, in which one gains the impression that Loder is baring his soul and that he himself has experienced the agony and guilt that he describes. “When the depth of the pain reaches the intensification of religiousness A, the stage of infinite resignation, then it is the pain of guilt. One who bears the responsibility for evil in the world out of the love of God is guilty, but in no merely functional sense. Such a person is not guilty for this or that deed, attitude, or omission; rather, the sort of guilt is existential, pervading all one’s life and giving fault to every function whether it is deemed ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by any functional standards such as social conscience, legal standards, or ethical norms. This guilt is deeper than any psychoanalytic argument that traces it to an introjected father image and consequent feeling of Oedipal guilt. This would be functional as well since it derives from social interaction; even this explanation of guilt partakes of the guilt about which Kierkegaard is speaking. The guilt with which he is concerned is in itself ultimately unspeakable – it reduces the existing individual to silence because it cannot be mentioned without being belied and therefore intensified. Recognition of one’s unspeakable distance from God is honored – and so God is honored – by one’s not speaking of it directly” (p.262).

Loder is talking here about core mental networks being ripped apart, of fragmentation touching the very essence of personal identity. We see here the real reason why Loder is so certain about his theory of complementarity. When a person endures such personal agony, then this experience will lead to the formation of very potent mental networks, and these mental networks will impose their structure upon the rest of thought. Loder may use the careful logic of technical thought when discussing the implications of his theory, but he knows that his theory is right not because of technical thought but rather because of mental networks, because of intuitive knowing. Unfortunately, this intuitive knowing is causing Loder to violate his advice, ignore his data, disregard his explanations, abandon his methodology, and redefine his theology. But that is what a core mental network does. It imposes its structure upon the rest of thought regardless of whether this structure is warranted or not.

But Loder does not remain within this emotional state of experiencing core mental networks being fragmented. Instead, he then uses technical thought to describe this emotional process as rigorously as possible. Thus, Loder switches from technical thought to mental networks when dealing with incarnation, but he then switches back from mental networks to technical thought when describing how he deals with incarnation.

Compare this with how Scripture treats the topic of incarnation. The name ‘Jesus’ means salvation. Quoting from the first chapter of Matthew, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” Several factors are apparent from this quote. First, Joseph is being told to give his son the name Jesus because ‘He will save his people from their sins’. Second, this passage is dealing specifically with incarnation, because it talks about ‘God with us’. Third, when speaking about Jesus, salvation, and incarnation, then words are being assigned meanings. This passage gives specific meanings to the words ‘Jesus’ and ‘Immanuel’. Fourth, incarnation is being described as a fulfillment of earlier rational description. In other words, the Bible appears to maintain academic rigor when discussing the topic of incarnation. It does not switch mental modes in order to embrace the absurd and then switch modes again in order to discuss embracing the absurd.

Mental symmetry agrees that it is important to integrate technical thought with mental networks. However, mental symmetry suggests that the solution lies in placing both technical thought and mental networks within a grid of Perceiver facts and Server sequences provided by normal thought. This is consistent with the approach advocated by Einstein. “In 1936, believing philosophy was too important to be left to the philosophers, particularly where the foundations of physics were at stake, Einstein set out to describe the foundations of reality upon which modern physics had been and should be based. He began with the premise, ‘the whole of science is nothing more than the refinements of everyday thinking,’ and elaborated this premise by analyzing the nature of everyday thinking” (p.173).

Similarly, mental symmetry suggests that the technical thought and rigorous logic favored by philosophy may be unexcelled for exploring the details of some limited realm, but that technical thought is not the best form of thinking to use when dealing with the universal questions that philosophy typically considers. In other words, ‘philosophy is too important to be left to the philosophers’. Similarly, like Einstein, mental symmetry suggests that technical thought is a refined version of normal thought. And we have seen that Einstein’s self-analysis describes normal thought—as viewed from the perspective of a Teacher person.

Newtonian Thinking

I have suggested that normal thought uses analogy. Therefore, I would like to describe what it means to use normal thought to integrate technical thought with mental networks by using an analogy which Loder uses, which is the analogy between cognitive development, religious knowledge, and the theoretical stages of scientific theory.

Loder describes this correspondence in the following passage which was partially quoted previously. The first stage is that of Newtonian physics. “Characteristic of this phase is the uncritical appropriation of the Euclidean view of conjunction with the Euclidean view of space where classic mechanics was played out, there was an absolute view of time – clock-time. Within essentially this frame of reference, Euclidean space and clock-time, the fundamental laws of Newton’s universe were formulated” (p.179). Stating this more simply, Newton viewed the universe as a collection of objects that attract or repel each other, all residing within the same general environment.

I suggest that this corresponds to the classic Christian view of revealed truth. In this stage, there will be a belief in absolute truth. We have seen how emotional experiences within Mercy thought can combine to form mental networks. The mind uses these mental networks to represent people. For instance, experiences with mother and father will cause mental networks to form within the mind of the child that represent mother and father, and these mental networks will attempt to impose their content upon the rest of the mind when they are triggered. Perceiver truth will then be evaluated depending upon the mental network that is the source of this truth. For instance, for the Bible-believing fundamentalist Christian, if the Bible says something, then it must be true, because the Bible is internally represented by a mental network composed of good experiences. Similarly, the fundamentalist Christian will also conclude that if the Quran says something, then this must be false, because the Quran is also represented internally by mental network—composed of bad experiences. Stated simply, what comes from important good sources will be regarded as true, while what comes from important bad sources will be regarded as false. What comes from unimportant sources will be disregarded as having no bearing upon the definition of truth. The underlying assumption is that all society should be governed by the same source of truth. Thus, the fundamentalist Christian will believe that everyone should submit to the Bible and reject the Quran, while the Muslim will believe that everyone should submit to the Quran rather than the Bible.

Similarly, the theory of mental symmetry began as a study of cognitive styles. The focus was upon studying the behavior of each cognitive style and how different cognitive styles interact. One of the major areas of application for this initial stage was an emphasis on marriage compatibilities and conflicts. For instance, the Perceiver person usually marries either a Mercy person or a Facilitator person. The Perceiver person almost never marries a Server person. At this stage, the understanding of each cognitive style was also fairly one dimensional, because each description described how the typical individual of that cognitive style functions within average Western society. One can see this type of mindset in Don and Katie Fortune’s description of Spiritual gifts. Most of the character traits that the Fortunes have uncovered correspond quite well with the research of mental symmetry. However, these character traits generally describe the thinking and behavior of the typical cognitive style within the fundamentalist Christian culture. This is especially apparent in the Fortune’s description of the Perceiver person, which portrays an individual who believes strongly in absolute truth and is continually attempting to impose his perception of absolute truth upon others.

Summarizing, one will notice the following characteristics when Newtonian type thinking is used. Truth will be viewed as absolute, revealed by approved sources. The focus will be upon cognitive styles and how they interact. People will be mentally represented as independent mental networks that jockey for position and attempt to impose their viewpoints upon other mental networks and other individuals. Within each person’s mind, disconnected mental networks representing people and habits will also interact and jockey for position. Finally, God will also be represented as a sort of superhuman being, a person who is more important than any other person and who uses his supreme status to impose truth upon the rest of creation. In other words, the various human ‘planets’ will exert a pull upon each other and will all orbit the ‘sun’ of revealed truth.

Maxwellian Thinking

Moving on, “In the second historical phase, the definitive new concept was introduced by Faraday and Clerk Maxwell.. Newton’s view of force, action at a distance, meant that electricity and magnetism were to be conceived as separate phenomena related by forces acting at a distance. Clerk Maxwell’s creative conceptualization, based in part on Faraday’s intuitive insight, yielded four basic equations which combined electricity and magnetism in the electromagnetic field. Furthermore, Clerk Maxwell’s theory predicted that the electric and magnetic fields together (the electromagnetic field) propagate through empty space as a wave traveling at a finite speed; and the theoretically predicted value of this finite speed corresponds to the experimentally observed speed of visible light in a vacuum. Thus, a symmetric theoretical unity comprising a parsimony of concepts was able to explain a far wider range of physical complexity than before” (p.179). Summarizing in simple terms, Newton’s theory explained the movement of objects, whereas Maxwell’s equations described the behavior of waves. Maxwell’s breakthrough in the understanding of electromagnetic waves made it possible to build motors, generate electricity, and build radios to communicate using electromagnetic waves.

Notice the relationship between the particle/wave dichotomy and the development of scientific theory. Humans live in a world of concrete objects. We cannot see electromagnetic waves. (This is an interesting statement because the eye detects visible light, which is an electromagnetic wave. However, the brain interprets these electromagnetic waves as objects. Thus, even though seeing means being bombarded by electromagnetic waves of light, we think that we are seeing objects.) Therefore, scientific understanding about the universe began with an understanding about objects and then one and a half centuries later, science learned about waves.

Looking at this cognitively, abstract thought first formed theories about concrete thought, and then abstract thought formed theories about abstract thought. Using the language of Piaget, during the concrete operational stage, a child can only form theories about concrete objects. Only in the next formal operational stage is the teenager able to form theories about abstract thought. Quoting from the Wikipedia article, “Concrete operational stage: from ages seven to eleven (children begin to think logically but are very concrete in their thinking). Children can now conserve and think logically but only with practical aids. They are no longer egocentric. Formal operational stage: from age eleven to sixteen and onwards (development of abstract reasoning). Children develop abstract thought and can easily conserve and think logically in their mind.”

I have mentioned that emotional experiences can form mental networks in Mercy thought. But we have also seen that a theory generates an emotion within Teacher thought. If a theory continues to be used, then it will turn into a mental network and a person will experience an emotional drive to use this theory to explain a situation whenever this theory is triggered. Notice the precise distinction. It feels good to have a theory, but it is when a theory turns into a mental network then there is a mental drive to continue using this theory. Teacher thought will naturally overgeneralize, but if this overgeneralized theory turns into a mental network, then a person will emotionally cling to this overgeneralization and will resist any Perceiver facts that act as counterexamples.

This distinction between Mercy mental networks and Teacher mental networks makes it possible to define Christianity in terms of cognitive stages of development. The childish mind is governed by Mercy mental networks, formed as a result of living in a concrete world of emotional experiences and people. Cognitive development uses rational thought to construct general theories which turn into Teacher mental networks. This makes it possible to wean the childish mind from its attachment to Mercy mental networks by integrating the mind around the Teacher mental networks of rational understanding. This happens to some extent in education as the student goes from childish ignorance through rote learning to critical thinking. However, if a Teacher mental network of rational understanding is to transform the Mercy mental networks of personal identity, then this Teacher theory must apply to personal identity. But when a Teacher theory applies to personal identity, then a mental concept of God will emerge, which will cause the process of cognitive development to be viewed in religious terms as a relationship between God and man. This is when the concept of incarnation becomes critical, because incarnation bridges God and man.

I have mentioned that the theory of mental symmetry began with a study of cognitive styles and how they interact. In terms of mental networks, it started as a study of Mercy mental networks. However, at this point my brother and I did not realize that we were studying mental networks. Instead, we thought that we were studying people. As this research continued, I gradually realized that there is more to the story. I started to study how people change and began to understand underlying cognitive mechanisms. As I continued to examine the process of personal transformation, theological concepts started to appear. This gradually changed my concept of God. Instead of viewing God as a Very Important Person who is the source of absolute truth, I started to view God as a universal person whose character is reflected in universal truth. In other words, instead of using a Mercy mental network to represent God, I begin to represent God mentally using a Teacher mental network. Curiously, when I read the Bible in the light of this new concept of God, it made more sense rather than less.

Summarizing, the following changes occurred. Perceiver truth was viewed as universal instead of absolute. Cognitive styles and the Mercy mental networks were placed within the theoretical framework of a general understanding of how the mind functions and how it acquires the ability to function in an integrated manner. And a Teacher mental network was used to represent God rather than a Mercy mental network. In general terms, theory about personality and religion was extended to include the abstract, invisible realm of process, cognitive mechanism, and cognitive development.

It may be possible to take this analogy further. Technically speaking, a wave or oscillation can only occur if energy is continually being transferred between two possible ways of storing energy. For instance, when a pendulum swings back and forth, then there is a transfer between kinetic and potential energy. At the top of the pendulum swing, the pendulum has no kinetic energy because it is not moving but it has the most gravitational potential energy because it is at its highest point. In contrast, at the bottom of the pendulum swing, the pendulum is moving the fastest but it also has the least gravitational potential energy. Similarly, in an oscillating spring, energy transfers between the kinetic energy of the moving spring and the potential energy of the compressed or stretched spring. Likewise, in an electromagnetic wave, energy transfers between an electric field and a magnetic field, which is why it is called an electro-magnetic wave. Maxwell’s equations apply to electromagnetic waves; they describe how electric fields interact with magnetic fields and how these are generated by electric charges and currents.

Applying this to the mind, I have mentioned that Exhorter thought provides energy for the mind. Exhorter thought can acquire its energy either from Teacher thought with its Teacher mental networks or from Mercy thought with its Mercy mental networks. Mental symmetry suggests that personal transformation is only possible because the mind can alternate between using Mercy mental networks as a source of energy and using Teacher mental networks as a source of energy. This fundamental interaction between Mercy mental networks and Teacher mental networks became apparent when the theory of mental symmetry went beyond a study of personality styles to a study of cognitive mechanisms.

Taking this yet further, there are two kinds of waves, mechanical waves and electromagnetic waves. A mechanical wave, such as sound, travels through a physical medium. In contrast, an electromagnetic wave, such as light, does not require a medium. Applying this analogically to the mind, both abstract thought and concrete thought are driven by an oscillation between Mercy mental networks and Teacher mental networks. Concrete thought uses actions to reach goals. A Mercy mental network adds emotional intensity to the goal, whereas a Teacher mental network adds pleasure to the actions. Thus there is an emotion associated both with the destination and with the journey. Similarly, in a mechanical wave the energy oscillates between some form of potential energy, in which matter experiences a force to reach some ‘goal’, and kinetic energy, in which matter is moving with some velocity. For instance, as was already mentioned, a pendulum has the most potential energy at the top of its swing while it has the most kinetic energy at the bottom of its swing.

An electromagnetic wave does not require physical matter. Similarly, abstract thought produces an oscillation between Teacher thought and Perceiver thought that occurs independently of the concrete world of Mercy experiences and Server actions. I know from personal experience what this feels like, because I am a Perceiver person and I originally started working on mental symmetry by assisting my older brother who is a Teacher person. Whenever he got an idea I would feel frustrated, and whenever I explored some concept, it would frustrate his thinking. This happened so predictably that I remember formulating it as a ‘general law’: The product of our frustration is a constant. In other words, when one of us thought, this produced a state of tension in the mind of the other who then used thought to remove this tension in order to restore a sense of equilibrium—which then created a new sense of tension, and so on. That describes a form of mental oscillation.

There may also be something analogous to the direction of electromagnetic force. When electric current interacts with magnetic field, the resulting mechanical force is perpendicular to both the current and the magnetic field, as illustrated by the right-hand rule. Similarly, when my brother came up with a new theory, it would typically be in a direction that was unrelated both to Perceiver facts and to existing Teacher understanding. The cognitive reason for this is based in Teacher emotion, Perceiver facts, and Exhorter drive. I have already mentioned that Teacher thought has a natural tendency to overgeneralize. I have also mentioned that Perceiver facts limit Teacher overgeneralization. Therefore, the Teacher person will naturally come up with new theories in an area of thought where Perceiver facts are the weakest, because this is where Teacher thought can overgeneralize the most. (This is what originally drove me to become knowledgeable in many different fields, because my Teacher brother was continually coming up with new theories in areas where I lacked knowledge, and so I was forced to go through the disorientation of exploring new fields in order to evaluate theory.) But Exhorter thought requires novelty, causing a person to prefer a new theory over an existing theory. Therefore, instead of continuing to explore the current theory, there is a natural tendency to come up with new theories. The resulting mental force is in a direction that is ‘perpendicular’ to both existing Perceiver facts and existing Teacher understanding.

Now let us compare this with Loder’s theory about incarnation. As far as methodology is concerned, Loder’s approach goes beyond Newtonian thinking, but Loder’s theory of incarnation does not go beyond Newtonian thought. As we have seen, the dichotomy in physics is between particle and wave. In contrast, Loder’s dichotomy is between man and ---. Only the concrete side of ‘man’ is defined. Not only is the abstract side of ‘God’ undefined, but Loder states that it is not possible to define this side. Consistent with this, Loder ignores the abstract realm of theology and focuses upon the concrete spiritual experience of having a transcendental encounter with God (which we will discuss later). Thus, we conclude that Loder’s theory of incarnation has not progressed to the level of Maxwell.

Einsteinian Thinking

Moving on, “This led to the third phase, the theory of relativity. As discussed in the introduction to this section, the premise of the speed of light as a universal constant enabled Einstein to interpret the field concept as inclusive of space and time, both relative to the speed of light; likewise, mass and energy... The general theory of relativity then removes the extraneous ‘force’ of gravity by reinterpreting space according to Riemannian geometry or curved space, and makes all gravitational attraction between objects a function of their relative location in the space-time continuum” (p.179).

My view of human thought and behavior is currently undergoing a transition that corresponds to the final sentence of this quote. Initially, the focus was upon people and how they interact. This changed to an understanding of mental networks, how they interact, and how they are transformed. But at this stage one still senses internally that Mercy mental networks are using their ‘mass’ of emotional experiences to exert a ‘gravitational force’ that pulls thought and behavior in various directions. The mental transition to Einsteinian thinking occurs when one recognizes that all mental networks exist within a mental ‘space-time’ grid of Perceiver facts and Server sequences. (Perceiver thought is the cognitive module that interprets space and Server thought is the cognitive module that interprets time.) Saying this another way, in the first and second stages, mental networks are continually fighting for dominance in the mind of the average person, each attempting to impose its structure upon other mental networks. As a result, people feel as if they are being pulled in different directions by people, institutions, and other sources of authority. In the third stage, mental networks no longer struggle with each other directly. Instead, this interaction is buffered by a knowledge of Perceiver facts and Server sequences. Saying this yet another way, in the third stage all mental networks exist within a mental framework of normal thought. Instead of jumping between technical thought to mental networks, both technical thought and mental networks are held together by normal thought. Saying this still another way, in the first two stages one continually feels the desire to fix problems and enlighten people. In the third stage, one implicitly accepts where everyone is in the grid of mental maturity, and one attempts to use a knowledge of human personality to lead individuals from where they are to some place better. Using a physical analogy, one no longer asks ‘are we there yet’ but one accepts one’s current location in the journey and one does what is necessary to get one step closer to the goal.

Popular thought typically views Einstein’s theory of relativity as disproving the concept of absolute truth. ‘Truth is relative’, ‘every person has his own perspective’, ‘no person can impose his version of truth upon another person’. Thus, Einsteinian thinking is seen as a way of deconstructing the rigid morality of Newtonian thinking. This may be true, but I suggest that it is only part of the picture.

If one looks at the two basic postulates of Einstein’s theory of special relativity, then a different picture emerges. Quoting from Wikipedia, the first postulate says that “The laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames of reference.” The second postulate says that “The speed of light in free space has the same value c in all inertial frames of reference.” Looking at the first postulate, if I I am in a box sitting in the middle of space, and if someone else is in another box that is traveling through space at some enormous velocity, then as long as both boxes remain at a constant velocity and do not accelerate, all of the laws of physics apply totally without exception in both boxes. The problem of relativity arises when people attempt to look out of their boxes in order to observe what is happening in other boxes. The cognitive parallel is obvious. If I attempt to use my sense of morality to look outside of the ‘box’ of my mind in order to tell another person what he should do within the ‘box’ of his mind, then the resulting message will always be distorted, and the greater the difference between our velocities—the greater the difference between my mental networks and the mental networks of the other individual—the greater will be the distortion that occurs when I try to tell that person what to believe or how to behave.

For the average postmodern individual, that is the end of the story, and the moral that is taken away is ‘live and let live’, ‘that may work for you but it does not work for me’, or ‘do not tell me what to do’. But the other half of the story is that each individual is subject to precisely the same cognitive mechanisms within his own mental box. There is a universality, but it is a universality of cognitive mechanisms rather than a set of absolute truths revealed from some central authority in Newtonian fashion.

The second postulate is that the speed of light is a universal constant. For instance, if I am traveling in a car at 20 km/h and I throw a ball forward at 50 km/h, then the ball will travel forward at 70 km/h relative to the ground. However, if I am traveling in a spaceship at half the speed of light and I shine a flashlight forward, the light from this flashlight will not travel at 1 1/2 times the speed of light but rather at the speed of light. No matter how fast I am traveling, and no matter what direction I point my flashlight, I will always measure light as traveling at the speed of light. Let me repeat this. Using human measurements and human scales and human clocks, every person in every frame of reference will always measure light as traveling (within the limits of measurement accuracy) at 299,792,458 meters per second. That summarizes the second postulate.

Again I suggest that there is an obvious cognitive parallel. Light has no mass. Only light (and other electromagnetic waves) travels at the speed of light. We know that Mercy thought interacts with the physical world of objects while Teacher thought uses the waves of speech and sequence. Light is pure wave without mass. Cognitively speaking, it is rooted solely in Teacher thought. If the speed of light is the same for every frame of reference then this implies that there is some absolute in Teacher thought that remains the same for every individual, regardless of the ‘direction’ or ‘movement’ of his life. If a mental concept of God is based in a universal Teacher understanding, then the religious analogy is that everyone ultimately is subject to the same concept of God, a concept of God that can be ‘measured’ by human measurements. Einstein stated that all rulers and clocks shrink or stretch in a manner that ensures that the speed of light remains a constant, which implies that all Perceiver facts and all Server sequences are subject to the same universal Teacher theory.

Looking at Loder’s theory of incarnation in the light of these two postulates, it appears to be incapable of being Einsteinian. Mental symmetry views the interaction between the universality of God and the specific realm of human existence as a grid composed of Perceiver truth and Server sequences, within which personal identity can live. Loder, in contrast, views incarnation as a point, a singularity that is not part of space-time. Mental symmetry suggests that the mind of every individual is subject to the same cognitive mechanisms. Loder describes many of these cognitive mechanisms within his book, but instead of using his theory to explain these cognitive mechanisms, he looks for some singularity where a transition is occurring and he builds his theory upon the singularity. In the words of Loder, “Transformation is the inner logic of human development through wide range of experience, we can now go on to say that it is no accident that this pattern is the one that also shapes Kierkegaard’s description of transformation when he speaks of the personality itself, as a whole, undergoing transformation. When transformation is no longer merely the dynamic pattern of development working as human spirit within the horizon of adaptation and ego formation but, instead, becomes a pattern of Spiritus Creator, according to which the ego itself and its horizons are radically transformed, then this same pattern prevails, but now on a far more profound scale of being. This is transformation (as in the human spirit) transformed (as by the Holy Spirit)” (p.255). Finally, instead of viewing God as a universal who can be ‘measured’ by humans to be the same in every frame of reference, Loder states that God is not subject to human measurement, and instead of using a concept of God to tie together all Perceiver facts and all Server sequences, Loder’s concept of God is divorced from both Perceiver facts and Server sequences.

Looking more generally at abstract thought, as I have continued to study cognitive mechanisms, I have found myself examining the thinking behind science, philosophy, and theology, three fields which have traditionally been regarded as the source of abstract truth and understanding. However, I have also found that my approach is different than the approach taken by most who work in these fields. Instead of building upon empirical evidence as science does, I use a cognitive model to examine the thinking behind science, using the empirical evidence of neurology to check my conclusions. Instead of using technical thought to construct self-consistent systems as philosophy tends to do, I look for the cognitive mechanisms that are revealed when the mind probes the limits of human thought, while attempting to state these findings as rigorously as possible. Instead of building theology upon the words of Scripture, the writings of church fathers, and the statements of respected theologians as theology does, I examine what happens cognitively when one follows various religious paths, while using the Bible as a reference to check my conclusions, and theologians as a reference to check my thinking. In each case, I am using normal thought based in a cognitive model to think about thinking and my goal is to discover the cognitive mechanisms that guide these various forms of thinking as well as the assumptions upon which they are based.

Loder says that this type of analysis is characteristic of third level Einsteinian thinking. Second level thinking “moves well beyond the intuitive and experiential and its parsimony of concepts and its logical and sequential account of things, but it does not examine the fundamental axioms of its own position. Thus it embodies a level of historical ‘egocentrism’ at a fairly high level of conceptuality” (p.200).

In contrast, third level thinking is able to think about thinking. “In Piagetian terms, the formal operations of mature intelligence gain an expression only as the underlying structures of intelligence emerge. This emergent potential eventually makes it possible to think about thinking in a way that allows all basic axioms to be questioned and the most intellectually elegant formulation to be made” (p.200). Again, I suggest that this is good advice which mental symmetry attempts to follow. However, the very next paragraph contains the passage quoted earlier in which Loder says that he will not be following his own advice and that he will not be questioning his own basic axioms. Repeating a quote made earlier “At this point, however, an important difference emerges. In Einstein’s investigation of the natural order, the aim as he sought was to exhaust all cases and eliminate mystery. In the case of the conciliar development of the nature of God, the aim was to preserve the true mystery of God, but to eliminate false interpretations – especially those that would eliminate all mystery, such as Arianism. This difference is behind Torrance’s assertion that in the final analysis it is almost sacrilegious to examine the inner nature of God when we might far better worship the God we would know” (p.200).

Cultural Transformation

We have looked at the abstract realm of Teacher thought and how it relates to mental networks. I have suggested that the Teacher mental network of a general understanding makes it possible to transform the Mercy mental networks of personal identity and culture. I would like to examine how personal identity and culture becomes transformed in the absence of a general understanding. As before, The Knight’s Move contains an excellent description of this process, quoting an author that is new to me.

Let us look first at Wallace’s analysis of cultural transformation, as described by Loder. Loder introduces the topic by saying that “Each person in the society must maintain a mental image of that society and its culture, as well as of his or her own body and its behavioral regularities, if the person is to manage stress effectively and maintain an equilibrilated relation to the environment. This mental image Wallace calls a ‘mazeway’, since it is the person’s endopsychic guide to the maze of interactions among nature, society, culture, personality, and body-image, and how those interactions may be negotiated to reduce stress and maintain established patterns” (p.268). This description corresponds precisely to the behavior of what mental symmetry calls Mercy mental networks. Loder is describing the emotional hierarchy that results when there is a mental collection of semi-integrated mental networks. Each situation triggers one or more mental networks, and behavior in that situation will be guided by the structure of the triggered mental network that has the strongest emotional content.

Loder adds that “When the whole of one’s socio-cultural milieu is in a state of upheaval – or perceived to be so – then one’s mazeway must be re-envisioned in order to bring about stress reduction. If need be, one may even change ‘reality’ to fit the new mazeway or vision. Thus a new gestalt means a transformed mazeway, which may in turn mean a transformation of the socio-cultural milieu itself” (p.268). In other words, what happens when triggered mental networks produce behavior that is no longer appropriate? One must then come up with a new set of mental networks to guide behavior. Wallace describes how this typically occurs and separates the process of transformation into five stages.

The process begins with “steady-state, in which mazeway and reality correspond with sufficient congruence and effectiveness so that equilibrium can be maintained even in the face of distressing influences and deviant behavior” (p.269). In other words, everyone behaves in a way that is consistent with existing mental networks. The status quo maybe not be perfect, but it works well enough.

Next, there is “a period of individual stress in which a number of individuals experience unrelieved stress due to the failure of known tension reducing techniques and procedures. Interventions such as climatic change, military defeat, political subordination, epidemics, and economic distress may all generate such undue and sustained stress of individual mazeways” (p.269). Using the language of mental symmetry, people have emotional experiences that create new mental networks whose structure is inconsistent with existing mental networks. These new mental networks are usually the direct or indirect result of painful experiences that result from natural cause and effect. Climatic change alters the physical environment, epidemics attack the physical body, economic distress limits physical well-being, and military defeat uses physical means to threaten societal structure.

Stated more generally, mental symmetry suggests that there is often a conflict between mental networks that are based in important people and mental networks that are based in physical experiences. For instance, suppose that a political leader tells me to fight in a war. If I disobey the leader, then the leader will trigger mental networks within my mind that represent societal approval in an attempt to control my behavior. However, if I obey the leader, then mental networks within my mind that represent painful physical experiences, such as being wounded, maimed, or killed, will also attempt to control my behavior. (Obviously, death is not a mental network. But the fear of death is a potent mental network that is based upon the emotional experiences of watching other people die.) Therefore, I will have to choose which mental networks will guide my behavior.

This second stage will put pressure upon society, but there will be no fundamental societal change. The core mental networks of individuals may be threatened, but the core mental networks of society remain intact.

Next, there is “a period of cultural distortion in which reactions to prolonged unresolved stress emerge. These reactions are often regressive, as defined by the society, and a cycle of ineffective reaction, guilt, and counteraction drives the stress level to increasingly higher intensity” (p.269). Here we see that core mental networks of society are being threatened and they are fighting back. Before, social pressure was sufficient to enforce compliance. In order to get a person to behave ‘properly’, one simply had to trigger the appropriate mental networks within his mind, and these would internally impose their structure upon the individual. This internal pressure is no longer working because individuals no longer share the same core mental networks. That is because many individuals acquired new core mental networks during the previous stage. Therefore, societal leaders now have to use more direct forms of pressure to ensure that the mental networks of society are obeyed.

Next, “as anxiety arises and meaningful solutions fail, disillusionment with existing mazeways sets in and apathy toward solving problems begins to prevail. Thus, as death rates rise, birth rates decline, and the society is overrun by others, the society deteriorates toward an anomic condition and ultimate dissolution” (p.269). At this point, the core mental networks that drive society start to fall apart. One of the major symptoms is a loss of energy. Remember that Exhorter thought, which provides energy for the mind, finds its primary source in the strong emotions that are present within mental networks. When core mental networks fragment, then there will be a loss of motivation. For instance, this is illustrated by the scene in the Lord of the Rings in which the One Ring is about to be thrown into Mount Doom. Until then, there has been a ferocious battle. But when the eye of Sauron realizes that its existence is threatened by the impending destruction of the One Ring, then the army of Sauron stops attacking and starts milling around aimlessly. In other words, since culture emerges when a group of people share a set of similar mental networks, culture will break down when these people no longer share the same mental networks.

That brings us to the final stage of societal renewal, which Wallace describes in greater detail. “First, a single individual has a powerful vision, often in a trance-like state, wherein he is visited by a supernatural being who declares what violations have taken place, what interdictions must now be followed, and what new social order should prevail” (p. 269). Notice that one is dealing here entirely with Mercy mental networks. Mercy thought contains mental networks composed of experiences that represent people, and these mental networks are used to guide behavior. Similarly, in Wallace’s description, an individual has a vision of a supernatural being, and the result is a new set of taboos that state which experiences and objects must now be avoided and which rituals must now be performed. In contrast, if one were dealing with Teacher thought, then there would be a new understanding of a universal principle that applies to many people and situations.

Wallace adds that “The prophet experiences profound inner change after the vision experience: a remission of old chronic physical complaints, more active and purposeful life, greater confidence in interpersonal relations, dropping of deep-seated habits such as alcoholism” (p.269). In the language of mental symmetry, there is a radical reordering of Mercy mental networks within the mind of the prophet—including mental networks that represent the physical body, mental networks that represent other people, and mental networks based in physical habits.

“There follows the urge on the part of the prophet to communicate his revelations...converts are made and organization follows. The organization characteristically puts the supernatural being at the head, then the prophet, then the disciples, and finally the followers” (p.269). Notice that mental networks that represent people are being formed into an emotional hierarchy, in which greater mental networks impose their structure upon lesser mental networks. Notice also that the disciples and followers have no way of independently verifying the message of the prophet. That is because the prophet gets his message from a Mercy mental network that resides only within his mind, while everyone else gets the message indirectly from the person of the prophet. In contrast, universal truth by definition is universal, which makes it possible for followers to observe universal truth in many different situations. For instance, I do not have to take a physicist’s word that the law of gravity is true. Instead, I can observe it at work myself by letting go of an object and watching it fall to the ground.

“As new organization encounters opposition, adaptational modifications must be made on all the issues of the mazeway reconstruction, but the basic effect is cultural transformation, in which the whole society comes to accept the new realization” (p.269). This new collection of Mercy mental networks then comes into contact with existing Mercy mental networks and there is a jockeying for emotional position. I have mentioned that a mental network responds with a negative emotion when it experiences inconsistent input. A mental network will generate a much stronger negative emotion when it is falling apart or is threatened with fragmentation. Therefore, the new set of core Mercy mental networks will impose their structure upon lesser mental networks, except in areas where this threatens the integrity of lesser mental networks. For instance, in Islam there is a taboo against eating during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. This is a core Mercy mental network of Islam. However, an exception is made for people who are sick or on a journey.

Finally, “modification and changes inspired by the new mazeway shape all aspects of the society – economic, political, educational” and “revitalization is attained; a new steady state is established as the new cultural system proves to be viable for the equilibration of the society as a whole” (p.269). Culture is now guided by a new collection of Mercy mental networks that govern all aspects of personal existence.

After describing Wallace’s stages of societal transformation, Loder ignores most of this data in order to focus upon the discontinuity that occurs in the middle of the sequence. “The pattern operative here is a strange loop of socio-cultural proportions in which the twist is accomplished by the prophet’s vision. It is a socio-cultural version of the transformational structure discussed in the previous chapters, and it is a clear-cut demonstration of the power of the structure of transformation to work in corporate context as well as in individual experience... The most striking aspect of Wallace’s studies is the emergence of these powerful new gestalts. They erupt and flourish much the same way as creative insights appear in scientific, philosophical, and personal settings, and, like these insights, they may have the power to revolutionize the context which they are addressing. Since the pattern qua pattern of transformation was discussed at length in the foregoing chapter, attention here will focus in depth on the mediating gestalt vision or insight itself” (p.270).

Loder then discusses vision in the light of a simple neurological model proposed by Barbara Lex. Unfortunately, this neurological model only distinguishes between left hemisphere, right hemisphere, central nervous system, and autonomic nervous system. With the help of brain imaging, neurological research has now advanced far beyond a simple distinction between left and right hemisphere. Mental symmetry agrees that it is important to connect a cognitive model with neurological findings, but suggests that it is possible to go much further.

Paradigm Driven Transformation

Wallace describes the transformation of a society in the absence of Teacher understanding. Let us look briefly at how this progression is modified by the presence of a rational understanding of universal law. This understanding may be based in the universal physical laws of nature, or it may be based in the universality of cognitive mechanisms. Instead of being driven by prophets who reveal truth and proclaim truth, change will be driven by researchers who uncover truth and share truth. We have already seen that this makes it possible for followers to verify the truth of the prophet without having to accept it blindly. Like the prophet, the researcher also experiences a vision that reshapes his internal Mercy landscape. But this vision is provided by Platonic forms, rather than some ‘supernatural being’.3 Platonic forms are analyzed in other essays. Stated briefly, a Platonic form is an imaginary image in Mercy thought that emerges as Teacher understanding idealizes Perceiver categories of real experiences. For instance, the Platonic form of a circle is an idealized, imaginary picture that represents the essence of all real circles. Because a Platonic form emerges as universal understanding modifies real experiences, it is possible for many people to have similar Platonic forms. This explains why new inventions are often developed simultaneously by several individuals in different locations. Even though each inventor is driven by a Platonic form that exists only within his head, this Platonic form is being created by an understanding that is based in universal law which modifies experiences that are common to many people.

When there are only Mercy mental networks, then major change will only occur when core mental networks fall apart. As Wallace mentions, this transition usually involves major personal and societal pain. When Teacher understanding is added, then growth can be driven by an ‘oscillation’ between Teacher mental networks and Mercy mental networks, which makes it possible for transformation to be driven by the ‘carrot’ of growth rather than the ‘stick’ of fragmentation. For instance, suppose that I buy a new computer. After using this computer for several years, it may still work just as well as it did the day I bought it, but it is no longer desirable. That is because it is now possible to purchase computers that are better and faster. This technological progress is driven by an interaction between Teacher understanding and Mercy experiences. Science gains understanding, and this new understanding makes new technology possible. New technology provides the context for further understanding which leads in turn to newer technology.

In order to enable this type of growth that oscillates between Teacher mental networks and Mercy mental networks, one must free the mind and society from the mindset described by Wallace. The first stage is to build a Teacher understanding that accurately describes childish Mercy mental networks. The challenge here is to move beyond rationalization to rational thought. Rationalization occurs when childish Mercy mental networks impose their structure upon Teacher understanding. Rational thought emerges when Teacher understanding accepts Perceiver facts even when this brings discomfort to existing Mercy mental networks. Mental symmetry suggests that the Christian prayer of salvation based in the atonement of incarnation makes it mentally possible for the mind to practice personal honesty and go beyond rationalization to rational thought.

The first stage of personal honesty is followed by a second stage of righteousness, in which a person repeatedly chooses to allow his actions to be guided by rational Teacher understanding. The first stage acquires Perceiver facts that are consistent with rational Teacher understanding. The second stage adds Server sequences to these Perceiver facts. The end result is an internal space-time grid composed of the warp and woof of Perceiver facts and Server sequences that is consistent with rational Teacher understanding.

In the third stage, childish Mercy mental networks fall apart and a new personal identity emerges that lives within the grid of truth and righteousness that was constructed during the first two stages. It is now possible for the mind to oscillate between Teacher driven growth and Mercy driven growth because both Teacher mental networks and Mercy mental networks now exist within a common space-time grid.

I have compared the mental grid of Perceiver facts and Server sequences with the physical grid of space and time. I suggest that this is a valid comparison because Perceiver thought is the cognitive module that interpret space and Server thought is the cognitive module that interprets time. However, Loder mentions that Einsteinian thinking goes beyond a clock-based conception of time. Quoting from Loder, “Piaget’s notion of logic and the stages, in Prigogine’s view, chops up the flow of real-time. That is, the construction of time, as Piaget documented in the developing child, is the development of chronological or clock time, which follows the pattern of the development of intelligence in children. In response to Einstein’s suggestion, he found that, before children are able to learn clock time, they have a sense of duration more in keeping with that required by relativity than with the ‘commonsense’ Newtonian view. However, Piaget’s view that an advance in the development of the structures of intelligence, which enable the child to master clock time, means an advance toward the true comprehension of the structures of the universe prevents him from coming to terms not only with Prigogine’s view of time but also with existential or biblical views of time” (p.167). In other words, Piaget discovered that little children do not think in terms of clock time: “We will be visiting grandma in two days”. Instead, they think in terms of duration: “After you have gone to sleep for two more times, then we will go to visit grandma.” As children develop cognitively, they acquire the ability to think in terms of clock time. Loder then points out that Einstein’s theory of relativity messes up clock time because everyone’s clocks will tick at a different rate. He then concludes that something must exist beyond Piaget’s final stage, because Piaget says that the highest form of thinking uses clock time, whereas Einstein says that one should go beyond using clock time.

Mental symmetry suggests that this confusion results from regarding technical thought as the highest level of human thought. Technical thought requires clocks to measure time and rulers to measure space. A clock is simply a regular oscillation against which other durations are compared. For instance, the pendulum of a mechanical clock repeatedly swings back and forth once every second. This regularity makes it possible to compare the duration of other events. For instance, it may take 195 seconds, or 195 oscillations of a clock pendulum, for me to brush my teeth, while it takes 131 oscillations of the clock pendulum for me to wash my hands. I can then conclude that washing my hands takes about 2/3 the time of brushing my teeth. Clock time messes up in relativity not because time ceases to exist, but rather because using your clock to measure how long it takes me to brush my teeth will give a different number than using my clock to measure how long it takes me to brush my teeth. This discrepancy in clock time only shows up when one is dealing with very accurate time or major differences in speed. For instance, GPS is based upon a very accurate measure of the time it takes signals to travel from orbiting satellites to a GPS receiver. Because of the accuracy of the time measurement and the speed of the satellite, GPS only works if relativity is taken into account.

A similar logic applies to rulers and space. When I say that something is 3 m long, I am saying that it is three times as long as a reference length known as a meter. For many years, all meters were compared to the length of a reference meter made out of platinum and iridium, located in Sèvres, France, known as the ‘mètre des Archives’. When the meter was first established as an official measurement during the French Revolution, thousands of meter sticks were handed out to the shopkeepers of Paris, so that they could compare lengths with the standard meter. Again, relativity does not say that rulers do not exist. Instead, it says that using my ruler to measure my length will give me a different answer then using your ruler to measure my length.

I have suggested that technical thought is the best strategy for learning more about a limited field. Relativity reinforces this statement, because it says that the rulers and clocks which technical thought demands will only produce accurate results—which technical thought also demands—within a limited field. Outside of this limited field, the shrinking and stretching of space-time becomes sufficiently great to make accurate measurement meaningless. For instance, one can see this type of distortion in central planning. It may be possible to work out exactly what crops need to be grown in what fashion in a certain region of land. But if one attempts to apply this plan in a uniform fashion to all regions of a country, then it will fail, because technical thought with its precise measurements only applies to a limited region.

If one wishes to formulate a plan that can work in many regions, then one must replace clock time and ruler space with events. For instance, instead of telling the farmer to fertilize the crops nine days after planting, one might instruct the farmer to fertilize the crops when the plants are at a certain stage of growth. In other words, the plan is based upon event markers within the space-time grid. This distinction can be seen when comparing an undergraduate degree with a graduate degree. The undergraduate is driven by clock time. Each course takes a certain amount of weeks, and the student who finishes all courses will graduate after four years. In contrast, the graduate student is driven by event time. He graduates when he finishes his thesis, and writing a thesis may take several months or several years.

Saying this another way, Einsteinian comparison appears to be guided by analogy rather than measurement. Even though time and space may become warped, the underlying grid of cause-and-effect remains unaltered. If event A caused event B in one frame of reference, then A will precede B in all frames of reference. 4

I have suggested that the process of personal transformation goes through three stages. The first stage of personal honesty uses Perceiver facts to build a general Teacher understanding, leading to the mental concept of a rational God. The second stage of righteousness allows Server actions to be guided by this Teacher understanding by ‘following God rather than man’. In the third stage of personal rebirth, the Mercy mental networks of childish identity fall apart and a new personal identity forms within the grid of rational understanding that was constructed during the first two stages.

Comparing this with Loder’s theory, one concludes that Loder is incapable of following the first stage because his basic assumption is that God is unknowable and that it is impossible to construct a mental concept of a rational God. This also makes it impossible to follow the second stage of righteousness because there is no way of telling if one is acting in a manner that is consistent with an unknown standard.

Compare this with what Jesus says about incarnation and righteousness. “Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life’” (John 5).

This passage refers specifically to the relationship between incarnation and God the Father, which mental symmetry suggests corresponds to the cognitive relationship between abstract Contributor thought and general Teacher understanding. This is the aspect of incarnation that is being constructed during the second stage of righteousness. Notice that the Father is ‘doing’ and the son is ‘doing’ in like manner. The two are connected by a pattern that is related to human action, and not just by a point. Notice also that Jesus says that another stage will follow that is characterized by personal rebirth.

Personal Rebirth and the Holy Spirit

While Loder assumes that the first two stages are not possible, he does describe the third stage of personal rebirth. One can see this in the following quote. “To come under conviction by the transforming power of Spiritus Creator is not merely to be given one more option in life; it is to be grasped, shaking, and changed at the very core of one’s selfhood. It may happen suddenly or gradually, but the intensity and extremities are intrinsic to a convictional knowledge of God” (p.236).

What happens when one skips (or denies) the first two stages and goes straight to the third stage? Remember that the process of personal transformation uses a Teacher mental network to transform existing Mercy mental networks. First, one constructs a Teacher mental network. Then one uses this Teacher mental network to rebuild Mercy mental networks. It follows logically that the amount of rebuilding that one can do in Mercy thought depends upon the nature and extent of the Teacher understanding that was previously constructed. Saying this in religious language, the extent of personal salvation that one experiences will depend upon the nature and universality of the concept of God that one has constructed.

Let us begin by looking at the Holy Spirit. Mental symmetry suggests that a concept of God the Father emerges as a general theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity. Mental symmetry would associate the Holy Spirit with a concept of universality within Mercy thought. Mental symmetry suggests that personal interaction with the Holy Spirit becomes most apparent during the third stage of personal salvation. Using the language of Plato, constructing a mental concept of God in Teacher thought leads indirectly to the formation of Platonic forms within Mercy thought. If a universal theory is constructed in Teacher thought, then this will indirectly integrate the various Platonic forms within Mercy thought, leading to Plato’s Form of the Good, which mental symmetry would associate with the mental concept of the Holy Spirit. It is interesting that Plato was never able to define the Form of the Good adequately, implying that he had an inadequate universal Teacher theory.

That leads us to a question which Loder poses. What is the relationship between personal identity and the Holy Spirit? “Although some theologians... want to dissolve the human spirit into the divine spirit, it seems inappropriate for several reasons. For example, this dissolution would reduce human freedom to an expression of the divine life, but such a reduction would have two alternative negative consequences. The first is that human freedom could not move outside of the divine will, since, by this view, human freedom is divine. The second alternative consequence is that human existence would have no spirit of its own; hence no relationality with God would be established from the human standpoint. The first alternative patently contradicts both the biblical and historical evidence, and the second contradicts the biblical accounts of the two spirits working together” (p.49). I have complained (several times) that Loder bases his analysis of God the Father and Jesus the incarnation in the philosophy of Kierkegaard rather than the content of Scripture. It is interesting to note that Loder does quote the Bible several times when discussing the Holy Spirit.

Mental symmetry would agree with Loder’s conclusion that human personal identity operates as an independent entity within a general ‘atmosphere’ provided by the Holy Spirit. What keeps these two separate and prevents personal identity from being swallowed up by divine spirit? Mental symmetry suggests that these two will naturally remain distinct if personal identity exists within a mental grid that is held together by Teacher understanding. Using a physical analogy, why does a person occupy a specific physical location? Because the physical body exists within a grid of space-time that is held together by the universal laws of nature. In other words, if God is rational, and if the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, then there will be no danger of personal identity being swallowed up by the Holy Spirit. However, if God is regarded as unknowable and if a concept of God has no structure, then keeping a mental concept of personal identity distinct from a mental concept of divine spirit is a real problem.

Loder talks about personal identity existing within some sort of mental grid that holds together all experiences. “The compelling quality of the image that makes one feel grasped or seized by it and from which, in more emotionally intense situations, inspiration comes with convicting force, depends upon its conveyance of a sense of totality: one is taken by the power of the whole. More than that it is a highly vulnerable, impressionable sense of the whole into which perceptual structures, external stimuli from all senses, memories, and conceptual patterns are composed into a gestalt. The effect of the gestalt is to put one’s sense of oneself into some sort of livable world; one is located in the space where events unfold the way that is governed by inner needs, memories, or desires” (p.245).

Loder mentions that the human spirit “finds its true home only when it is in one accord with the Spirit of Christ. There its integrity is preserved and it becomes a human analogy for how the Holy Spirit, who never loses relational integrity, searches the depths of God so as to disclose to us the wisdom hidden for us in the mind of Christ. Thus, left to itself, the dynamic relationality of the human spirit will eventually actualize its inclination toward death by collapsing into some form of idolatry or dissipating into some form of anarchy, but transformed by the Holy Spirit of Christ it becomes a human figure for the divine reality. As such it can receive the gifts of the spirit which Paul describes later, chief among which is love, and it can understand or grasp the conquest of death in and for itself” (p.48).

Loder says in this quote that the ‘relationality of the human spirit will eventually actualize its inclination toward death by collapsing to some form of idolatry or dissipating into some form of anarchy’. I suggest that this is an insightful statement. What happens if an internal grid does not exist that can separate personal spirit from divine spirit? One possibility is that the relation between personal spirit in divine spirit turns into idolatry. This is because the relationship between personal spirit and divine spirit will be guided by an external grid of content, leading to a spirit of the world, rather than a Holy Spirit of God. For instance, the tribal idolater is immersed within a physical jungle of plants and animals, while the modern idolator is immersed within a concrete jungle of buildings and infrastructure. In both cases, the external environment provides a grid of content that places the finite individual within a universal environment. Loder also talks about ‘dissipating into some form of anarchy’. This is what happens when the Mercy mental networks of personal identity exist outside of a grid of content. There is anarchy and ‘tribal warfare’ in which mental networks express themselves without constraint and struggle for dominance.

I should mention in passing that I have been referring to personal identity while Loder has been talking about personal spirit. What is the relationship between these two? Mental symmetry suggests that there is a spiritual realm that interacts with the mind through mental networks. If one examines the Biblical description of spirits (ruach in the Old Testament and pneuma in the New Testament) it is consistent with the idea that spirits want to possess human minds by ‘living’ within their mental networks, and that spirits give power to mental networks when they do ‘live’ within them. Mental symmetry suggests that personal identity is composed of mental networks within Mercy thought. Thus, there would be a strong relationship between the human spirit and the mental networks of personal identity.

Notice how Loder is describing personal interaction with the Holy Spirit as something that follows earlier stages. The Holy Spirit is ‘searching the depths of God’ which implies that the Holy Spirit is accessing content that already exists in God. The Holy Spirit is ‘disclosing to us the wisdom hidden for us in the mind of Christ’ which implies that this wisdom already exists within the mind of Christ. However, how can the Holy Spirit ‘search the depths’ of an unknowable God? How can the Holy Spirit ‘disclose the wisdom in the mind of Christ’ if incarnation is simply a point with no content? This suggests that Loder is cheating, because he says that the Holy Spirit reveals content from God the Father and God the Son while simultaneously stating that both God the Father and God the Son are contentless.

The Centrality of Singularity?

Let us look at Loder’s description of this third stage of personal transformation in which human spirit encounters divine spirit. As far as emotions are concerned, the intensity of the experience is literally off the scale. Loder describes the transcendent experience of Kierkegaard with a description that overflows with emotional superlatives. “Thus joy expresses the ‘glow’ of light... The apostle Paul provides him with a personal analogy to a place in the light, as the joy and the light seem to pulsate back and forth through his soul, ‘over, of, in, by, at, on, through, with’ – each new preposition catching some new facet of the ineffable source; and then, as if each preposition were more but still not enough, it is immediately superseded by a new surge of illumination. Then glowing shifts to singing, and song gives way to a breeze that cools and refreshes. From the glow that burst with joy to the breeze that cools, a full range of ecstatic experience is covered by the One who comes to Kierkegaard the way He came to Abraham in Genesis...This experience transformed Kierkegaard’s whole outlook; particularly, his relation to Christianity changed” (p.250).

I suggested earlier that Loder switches from technical thought to mental networks when discussing the core of religious experience. This mental switch is evident in this quote. Loder is not discussing theology or science in technical terms. Instead he is waxing poetical. This tells us that his thinking is ultimately being guided by mental networks and not by technical thought. The ecstatic experience ‘proves’ to Loder that his theory of incarnation is universal, and he then uses this theory to explain cognition and science in technical terms. When rational thought is a servant of emotional experience, then a person is not being rational but rather is rationalizing. (Mental symmetry suggests that excessive emotion can overwhelm Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ what is ‘true’, and that this is the mental foundation behind blind faith and rote learning.) Saying this another way, because Loder’s mind is composed of technical thought centered around the emotional singularity of ecstatic experience, he concludes that the physical world is also guided by technical thought centered around the ‘singularity of incarnation’. Repeating an earlier quote, “For Kierkegaard this seemed to be a necessary way to think about the God-man, the uncreated light of the world, whose redemption and recreation of the created order was the singular event par excellence. Faith in the existing individual and the individual existing in faith is participation in his uniqueness, and this raises each individual into a knowledge of the uniqueness of his own particularity through the singularity of Jesus Christ. Thus the nonrational resides not on the periphery but at the very heart of rational scientific and theological discourse” (p.221). Notice the last phrase: ‘the nonrational resides not on the periphery of the very heart of rational scientific and theological discourse’. This appears to be an accurate description of Loder’s mind, but is it an accurate description of science and theology?

Loder gives three examples of singularities in physics. “In modern physics, singularity has entered theoretical thinking about the universe in two or three major ways. The first and most significant is the idea that there was a situation the past in which all the matter of the universe was concentrated into a single point. This is the point of singularity, the point at which the Big Bang occurred and the universe came into being. Here space and time had their beginning. The second outstanding example is something like the reverse of the Big Bang; it is the point at which space and time simply disappear. This is the black hole... The third possible example of singularity is the speed of light – to which space and time, mass and energy, are relative. The unique nature of light in the universe, with its speed being the limiting speed of all energy-signal transmissions, together with the dependency of the entire universe upon it, gives light the basic qualities of singularity. The main point here is that singularities in human existence or in our examination of the universe are not rational bearers of recognizable truth. Rational truth as Piaget and Einstein have described it needs to be able to replicate its findings, test and retest, in order to verify any claim; but by definition a singularity is non-replicable” (p.221).

Let us look at these three examples, beginning with black holes. A black hole is a mass in space that is so dense that even light cannot escape. It is a singularity where the laws of physics cease to apply. However, unlike what Loder says about singularities, a black hole is replicable. There are many black holes and a black hole will form whenever mass is sufficiently dense. In addition, a black hole is—by definition—not a source of anything, because nothing escapes a black hole; that is what makes it a black hole (except possibly a small amount of material through the quantum mechanism of Hawking radiation ).

Loder suggests that the concept of the singularity can ‘throw light’ on scientific understanding. “I would like to stress, primarily, that in the modern scientific world singularity is now central and is increasingly revolutionizing our whole thinking. Therefore, people are now, or should be, freer to consider the singularity of Christ, the uniqueness of the incarnation made flesh” (p.222). However, why would one use singularities to throw metaphysical light upon science when black holes do not throw physical light upon anything? Why choose the darkest objects in the entire universe as the epitome of a person that Scripture refers to as ‘the light of the world’?

The second singularity is that of the Big Bang. Ronald Reagan used to tell the following Soviet joke: “It’s hard to get an automobile in the Soviet Union. They are owned mainly by elite bureaucrats. It takes an average of 10 years to get a car. 1 out of 7 families owned automobiles. You have to go through a major process and put the money out in advance. So this man did this and the dealer said ‘Okay in 10 years come get your car.’ ‘Morning or afternoon?’ The man replied. ‘Well what difference does it make?’ Said the dealer. ‘The plumber is coming in the morning.’” The Big Bang theory reminds me of this joke. The Soviet car purchaser was worried about a period of a few hours 10 years in the future, while physicists studying the Big Bang are trying to figure out what happened during some fraction of a second almost 14,000,000,000 years ago. Whether the Big Bang theory is true or not, one thing can be stated for certain. A fraction of a second 14 billion years ago is not at the ‘very heart’ of history but rather at the extreme periphery.

Finally, I looked on the Internet for any other references to light as a singularity, and the only one I found was in another book on science and theology by a professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University. Thus, I am not convinced that it is accurate to describe light as a singularity, because a singularity implies that the laws of physics break down and that it is no longer possible to calculate meaningful values. In contrast, the laws of physics appear to be organized around the speed of light and everyone will always measure the speed of light as the same value. In simple terms, not being able to calculate something is not the same as always being able to calculate something. Thus one finds in light not an example of singularity but rather an example of universality.

Summarizing, the singularities of black holes are part of current existence, but they are repeatable and they cannot act as a source of light. The singularity of the Big Bang may have been the source of the universe, but it was a unique event that occurred incomprehensibly long ago. Finally, the supposed singularity of light is not a singularity but rather its exact opposite. Thus, I suggest that the evidence for regarding singularities as the center of the universe is somewhat weak.

Why is Loder making the assertion that physical singularities are at the center of the universe? I suggest that there is a cognitive reason. Physical singularities may not be the center of the physical universe, but Loder’s mind has an emotional singularity which lies at the center of his mental universe. This emotional singularity has turned into a core mental network, and like any mental network, it is attempting to impose its structure upon the rest of thought. Therefore, Loder is emotionally driven to state that physical singularities lie at the center of the universe, and he is emotionally driven to state that incarnation is a theological singularity that lies at the center of Christianity.

Incarnation and Science

Loder defines incarnation in terms of singularity and then he compares this with the singularities in physics. As we have just seen in the previous section, I suggest that the case for regarding singularities as central to physics is rather weak. In addition, one can see from Loder’s book that focusing upon singularities causes him to present information and then disregard it. In contrast, we have seen that the theory of mental symmetry is capable of addressing the information that Loder presents.

Going further, I suggest that if one uses the theory of mental symmetry to define incarnation, then one will discovers that there is a deep analogy between incarnation and the underlying structure of physics. This point needs to be restated. Loder suggests that God and man are juxtaposed in a single point through complementarity. In contrast, mental symmetry suggests that incarnation bridges God and man through an entire grid of content. This section will first describe how mental symmetry approaches incarnation and then we will look at three different ways in which this interpretation corresponds to the fundamental structure of physics.

Let us begin by looking at mental symmetry. I have suggested that a mental concept of incarnation emerges as Contributor thought integrates general theory in abstract thought with personal identity in concrete thought. Let us now add some detail to this general description. As I have mentioned before, the mind enters technical thought when thinking is limited to a specific set of carefully formulated Server sequences and carefully defined Perceiver facts. Saying this another way, technical thought emerges when Contributor thought takes control of the mind. That is because Contributor ties together Perceiver and Server, Contributor thought requires facts and sequences that are sufficiently solid, Contributor thought can concentrate upon some specific plan, Contributor thought is guided by some bottom line, and Contributor thought rearranges items in order to optimize. Consistent with this, if one examines the behavior of the Contributor person, one notices that he is prone to using technical thought and that he is naturally gifted at using technical thought.

In concrete thought, Contributor thought connects Server actions with Perceiver facts. As I pointed out in a previous footnote, this leads to a feeling for cause-and-effect or sowing-and-reaping. For instance, suppose that I sow some seed in the ground and reap some grain. This can be viewed as a Perceiver fact, Because the Mercy experience of ‘sowing seed’ is repeatably connected with the Mercy experience of ‘reaping grain’. But it can also be viewed as a Server sequence of ‘growing grain’ that occurs over time. Concrete technical thought rearranges these various Perceiver-Server connections of cause-and-effect in order to maximize some Mercy bottom line, which in this case would be harvesting the most grain.

In abstract thought, Contributor thought connects Server phrases with Perceiver meanings. Server thought arranges the Teacher raw materials of speech into sequences that are repeated. For instance, words are composed of repeatable sequences of phonemes, sentences are composed of repeatable sequences of words, paragraphs are composed of repeatable sequences of sentences, and so on. In each case, Server thought provides a general sequence into which specific Teacher elements are placed. Contributor thought then connects these Server sequences with Perceiver facts in order to assign meanings to words, phrases, and sentences.

Contributor thought does this connecting between Perceiver and Server for both normal and technical thought. In normal thought, this Contributor linking of Perceiver and Server occurs within a larger context. When the mind enters technical thought, then Contributor thought goes beyond merely passively connecting Perceiver and Server to actively imposing the various aspects of technical thought upon the rest of the mind.

We can see how this occurs in abstract technical thought by comparing algebra, a simple form of math, with normal speech. Normal speech uses many words and symbols, while algebra limits vocabulary to a restricted number of mathematical symbols, such as ‘+, -, =, /’, as well as the words of variables, such as ‘x, y, or t’. Normal speech assigns vague and multiple meanings to words. For instance, think of the various meanings for the word ‘trip’. Algebra, in contrast, assigns a precise meaning to each symbol and variable. Finally, normal speech talks about a range of subjects and is driven by many different motivations. Algebra, in contrast is guided by the Teacher ‘bottom line’ of order-within-complexity. ‘How can this expression be stated more simply?’ ‘what is the answer to this problem?’ ‘Transform this math expression into another math expression.’ A similar principle applies to all forms of math and not just algebra. Higher forms of math simply add to the vocabulary of algebra and increase the number of allowable operations.

Looking now at concrete technical thought, think of the typical game, such as the game of chess. Unlike normal life, one is no longer permitted to use any facts, but rather one is limited to carefully defined facts based upon the objects of chess pieces. ‘This is a rook; Perceiver thought can place absolute confidence in the fact that all rooks are the same as all other rooks.’ Similarly, one is no longer permitted to do any actions, but rather one is limited to the carefully defined actions of the chess pieces. ‘This is a bishop; all bishops move diagonally in precisely the same manner.’ Objects and actions are then limited to the playing field. ‘This is the chessboard. All play occurs on the chessboard. Nothing occurs outside of the chessboard.’ Finally, everything is guided by a measurable bottom line. ‘A pawn is worth one point, bishops and knights are worth three points; the game is over if the king cannot escape capture.’ Contributor thought will then arrange and rearrange facts and actions in order to achieve the best bottom line. ‘If I capture his bishop with my pawn then I will be ahead by two points.’

I have suggested that incarnation connects concrete thought with abstract thought using a grid of common content. We have just seen that concrete technical thought looks for connections of cause-and-effect. Normally, this concrete knowledge is used to come up with a better Server path to reach some Mercy goal. Science starts by taking concrete knowledge about sequences and using it as raw material for abstract thought. Think, for instance, of Newton’s law of gravity. Normally when one drops an object, then what matters is the Mercy result. ‘I am so sorry. I dropped your beautiful vase and it broke.’ Or, ‘I just dropped a big stone on his tower and destroyed it’. Newton ignored the vase, the tower, and their owners, and compared one Server sequence of a falling object with another Server sequence in order to look for common patterns. Notice how the same content is being approached in a different way. Everyone is dropping objects, but the scientist is dropping objects for a different reason. The average person drops an object and focuses on the Mercy result of having dropped some object. The scientist drops an object, ignores the Mercy result, and focuses upon the Server sequence of dropping an object.

This is where the first aspect of incarnation comes into play. We know that technical concrete thought works with cause-and-effect, and we have seen how scientific observation focuses upon this cause-and-effect. We also know that technical abstract thought assigns precise definitions to words, and we looked at mathematics as an example of technical abstract thought. For some reason, the natural world is constructed in such a way that the language of mathematics can be used to describe natural cause-and-effect. This is taken so much for granted today that we no longer think of it as special. But why should there be any correspondence between the scribbling of a person on paper and the movement of some object in the real world? One could refer to this correspondence as the bridging of a complementarity. On the one side of the gap lies the concrete world with its physical movement and cause-and-effect. On the other side of the gap lies words and their meanings. The student of physics bridges this complementarity through a detailed grid of content which is mentally constructed by solving a vast range and number of problems, in each problem using abstract math to predict concrete movement. Having taught high school physics for several years, I know the key role that solving problems plays in the study of physics.

The second aspect of incarnation travels in the opposite direction using a complementarity that is equally strange, known in physics as the principle of least action. It is best to introduce this through the use of an example. Snell’s law describes how light refracts when it passes from one medium to another, such as air to water, or air to glass. For instance, we have all seen how a straw or spoon appears to bend when it is placed in a glass of water. Similarly, anyone who wears a pair of glasses with corrective lenses is taking advantage of Snell’s law. As with all laws of physics, Snell’s law can be described as a general principle using a simple math equation: sinθ1/sinθ2 = v1/v2, illustrating the first aspect of incarnation.

Fermat’s principle says that it is also possible to view refraction in a completely different manner. Suppose that light is traveling from water to air, as in the case of looking at a straw in a glass of water. If one compares the time that it would take for light to travel this distance if it were to take various paths, one discovers that the path that light actually takes is the path that takes the least time. That is bizarre. It is like knowing ahead of time what will be the fastest route from home to work when one is traveling during rush hour. One can try to predict what the fastest route will be, but one never knows ahead of time what will be the fastest route. And yet, for some reason light knows.

This principle of least action appears to occur in all of physics. As the Wikipedia article says, “The principle of least action – or, more accurately, the principle of stationary action – is a variational principle that, when applied to the action of a mechanical system, can be used to obtain the equations of motion for that system. The principle led to the development of the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of classical mechanics. The principle remains central in modern physics and mathematics, being applied in the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, and a focus of modern mathematical investigation in Morse theory.”

Notice what the principle of least action says using the language of incarnation. Physics uses mathematical formulae to describe physical action, using abstract technical thought to integrate the fundamental elements of concrete technical thought. That describes the first aspect of incarnation, going from concrete technical thought to abstract technical thought via a grid of content. Concrete technical thought uses optimization to improve some Mercy bottom line. The principle of least action says that all mathematical laws of nature can be reformulated using the mindset of concrete technical thought. For instance, the ray of light traveling from the water is acting as if it is trying to get to its destination in the shortest time possible.

The bottom line is not always the same when using concrete technical thought. For instance, I may be trying to get to work as fast as possible, I may be trying to get to work as cheaply as possible, or I may want to travel along the most interesting route. Similarly, in order to apply the principle of least action to some specific set of mathematical laws, one must find the bottom line that is appropriate for that context. This is known as finding the Lagrangian. For instance, when an object is thrown into the air, then what is minimized is Kinetic energy – Potential energy. In other words, the object is ‘trying’ to go as high as possible while traveling as slow as possible. One can find a reasonably comprehensible description of the Lagrangian here.

There is a third aspect of incarnation that can be found in quantum physics that is even more bizarre. How does the photon of light traveling from water to air, or the object thrown through the air know which is the optimal path to follow? Quoting from the article on the Lagrangian, “As we have seen, the principle of least action gives a very different way of looking at things: In the Newtonian approach, the intuition for how particles move goes something like this: at each moment in time, the particle thinks “where do I go now?”. It looks around, sees the potential, differentiates it and says “ah-ha, I go this way.” Then, an infinitesimal moment later, it does it all again. The Lagrangian approach suggests a rather different viewpoint: Now the particle is taking the path which minimizes the action. How does it know this is the minimal path? It is sniffing around, checking out all paths, before it decides: ‘I think I’ll go this way’. On some level, this philosophical pondering is meaningless. After all, we proved that the two ways of doing things are completely equivalent. This changes when we go beyond classical mechanics and discuss quantum mechanics. There we find that the particle really does sniff out every possible path!”

In other words, a particle knows the best path to take because it takes all possible paths. That may sound bizarre, but that was the conclusion formulated by Feynman the famous physicist, which is now accepted as a fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics. If a particle takes all possible paths, then why does appear is if it is only taking the best path? The answer to this question uses math to assign a probability and a phase to each possible path. Here we are getting into really heavy math, and so we will have to be satisfied with a simple illustration. Suppose that I drop two pebbles into the water. Each pebble will cause a series of waves to spread out from the point of impact. What will happen when the waves from the two pebbles interact? Where the two waves are in phase, they will reinforce each other, leading to a larger wave. Where the two waves are out of phase, they will cancel each other, resulting in no wave. The Wikipedia article has some pretty pictures illustrating constructive and destructive wave interference. Using the language of wave interference, quantum mechanics says that all the paths that are near the best path are in phase with each other, leading to constructive interference, while all the paths that are far away from the best path are out of phase with one other, leading to destructive interference.

Now let us look at the cognitive analogy. We started with a single particle taking the best path from one location to another, an illustration of concrete thought involving specific objects. We then found ourselves looking at an infinite number of waves interacting and interfering with one another. Cognitively speaking, we have just jumped from the human Mercy realm of finite particles to the divine Teacher realm of infinite waves. But it is not just one object in the universe that behaves this way. Instead, every particle in the entire universe exhibits this type of behavior. In other words, the complementarity between finite particle and infinite paths occurs within an entire grid of content.

Going one step further, this might provide a possible way of explaining how Jesus the infinite God could interact with Jesus the finite man. The following is a speculative suggestion. Suppose that Jesus the God is manipulating all the various possible paths from the vantage point of universal abstract thought. What finite humans would see is the optimal path where these various possible paths interfere constructively. To humans, this would look like a finite person living a finite life, but to an infinite God it would ‘look’ like the manipulation of an infinite number of paths. Because Jesus the man is an expression of all possible paths, Jesus the man could legitimately say that everything he does is an expression of what God the Father does. Quantum mechanics works with probability, and observation leads to a wave function collapse in which probability turns into certainty. Thus, by interacting with real humans as an incarnation, the wave function of Jesus the God would turn into the specific path of Jesus the man. In other words, there would be some probability associated with optimal path of Jesus the man, and this probability would turn into certainty by interacting specific people in specific situations. Saying this another way, while the general aspects of Jesus' earthly existence would have been preordained, the specific expression of many of these aspects would still depend upon how Jesus the man interacted with his physical and social environment. This concept appears to be portrayed in Matthew 24. "Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. As they were eating, He said, 'Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.' Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, 'Surely not I, Lord?' And He answered, 'He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.' And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?' Jesus *said to him, 'You have said it yourself.'” Notice that the general principle of being betrayed is foreordained but the specific person who does this betraying is not foreordained. (Wave function collapse has me somewhat confused and my understanding is that it has several interpretations depending upon one's school of thought. So I think that I am stating this last point correctly.)

Let us summarize. Mental symmetry suggests that it is correct to regard incarnation as the central focus of science, and that it makes sense to view incarnation as a bridging of elements that do not naturally go together. However, this bridging is not just limited to some set of singularities but rather occurs universally throughout the entire realm of physics. First, there is the bridging of physical cause-and-effect with the technical abstract thought of mathematical equations. The fundamental premise of physics is that all physical cause-and-effect can be described using mathematical equations. Second, there is the principle of least action, which bridges the equations of natural law with the technical concrete thought of following a path that optimizes some bottom line. Again it appears that all physics can be described using the principle of least action. Finally, there is the Feyman path integral which views following the optimal path as the interaction between an infinite number of waves, going from the human perspective of finite objects to the divine perspective of infinite waves.

Now let us briefly revisit John chapter 1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This sounds like the first aspect of incarnation, in which the words of technical abstract thought can be used to describe universal natural law. The incarnation is being called the word, the word is dwelling with the universal God and is an aspect of the universal God, and the word is the vehicle for making all of creation. Notice also that this first stage leads to a Teacher understanding of the universal law which brings Teacher light to the human realm of Mercy experiences. And, in the same way that the mathematical laws of physics teach a verbal message of universality, so the general consensus among theologians is that the angel of the Lord (angel means messenger) refers to the pre-incarnate form of Jesus.

John then talks about the natural human blindness to universal Teacher understanding. “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Science has now discovered that nature is governed by universal Teacher laws, and technology shows that it is possible to live an existence that is guided by the TMNs of universal Teacher understanding rather than the MMNs of tribalism and childish mentality. In the words of John, those who receive Jesus as the light of the world and believe in his name (focus on the Teacher aspect) can become children of God (personally guided by Teacher understanding). Unfortunately, even though the natural world is governed by universal law, this fundamental relationship was unknown to humankind before the birth of science. Thus, ‘though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.’ Going further, there is a natural tendency for the Mercy mental networks of childish identity to suppress the Teacher mental networks of general understanding. In other words, ‘he came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.’

Looking at this from a historical perspective, is very interesting to look at the city of Alexandria just before the time of Christ. The famous library of Alexandria was here, and Greeks and Jews interacted in a cross-cultural manner. Science could have emerged in that location at that time, but it did not. Alexandria is discussed further in a previous essay.

John then talks about the word made flesh, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth... No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the father, He has explained him.” This corresponds to the principle of least action. One can use the words of mathematics to describe natural law. But as we saw with Fermat’s principle, one can also view universal law as a specific object acting in the most efficient way possible. Saying this in religious language, one can also view the ‘living word through whom the universe was created’ as a specific person living a perfect life. As Hebrews 4 states, Christian doctrine says that Jesus was tempted as a human but lived a sinless life.

‘The word dwelling among us’ was followed by the ascension, in which Jesus the man returned to God the Father. Jesus talks about this in John 14. Similarly, quantum mechanics goes beyond the Lagrangian by saying that the object with its least action is actually an expression of an infinite number of waves.

Summarizing, one notices the same three aspects of incarnation being revealed in the same order both in physics and in the biblical description of the second person of the Trinity. Thus, it appears that Loder’s idea that incarnation is at the center of physics may be correct. But this idea does not work if one regards incarnation as a singularity. In contrast, it works very well if one views incarnation as an integrating of abstract Contributor thought with concrete Contributor thought.

I should mention for completeness the this section has been suggesting a possible way in which incarnation plays a central role in physics and natural law. The central role that a mental concept of incarnation plays in reaching mental wholeness is discussed in other essays.

The Emotional Singularity

I would like to finish this essay by looking more closely at the nature of this emotional singularity. Loder describes and analyzes the experience of Kierkegaard in the chapter entitled ‘Spirit in the Context of Experience’. Loder says that “Kierkegaard’s conversion is recorded only in his journal and does not appear anywhere else in his writings. It is in some respect the experiential premise of them all” (p.250).

We have already seen that this ‘conversion’ is characterized by extreme positive emotions. “Joy expresses the ‘glow’ of light... The apostle Paul provides him with a personal analogy to a place in the light, as the joy and the light seem to pulsate back and forth through his soul, ‘over, of, in, by, at, on, through, with’ – each new preposition catching some new facet of the ineffable source; and then, as if each preposition were more but still not enough, it is immediately superseded by a new surge of illumination. Then glowing shifts to singing, and song gives way to a breeze that cools and refreshes. From the glow that burst with joy to the breeze that cools, a full range of ecstatic experience is covered by the One who comes to Kierkegaard the way He came to Abraham in Genesis” (p.250).

Loder emphasizes that this emotional experience is not based in mental content but rather that the path is from this emotional experience to content and that mind struggles to add content to a transcendent experience that lacks content. “The event Kierkegaard described here is not a product of his imagination; rather, it is an ineffable experience to which his imagination is trying to bring appropriate meaning that will unite conscious and unconscious in a re-envisioning of the horizon of entire existence, so that awakening will not be awakening to a shapeless world – however glowing with new life” (p.251). “It is crucial to note that the imagery follows the joy, and the joy itself is inexpressible. There can be little doubt that Kierkegaard felt himself to be visited by the transparent presence of God’s Spirit” (p.252).

Mental symmetry suggests that it is possible to explain this combination from a cognitive perspective. I have suggested that both Mercy thought and Teacher thought generates emotions. Mercy thought adds emotional labels to experiences, and personal identity is composed of emotional experiences that have combined to form mental networks within Mercy thought. However, a general theory in Teacher thought will also generate positive emotions.

We saw previously that Teacher thought has a natural tendency to overgeneralize which is limited by Perceiver facts. However, if Perceiver thought steps out of the way, then this will give Teacher thought the freedom to overgeneralize without constraint. This will result in a theory that feels universal but lacks any specific content, which is precisely what is being described in these quotes. When Teacher thought breaks free of Perceiver restrictions and discovers overgeneralization, then this will generate substantial positive emotion within Teacher thought, and this emotion will be felt by personal identity in Mercy thought. It will not have any content, because it is based in over-generalization, but it will extend to many areas of experience, because it is a general theory. Loder describes this universality: ‘each new preposition catching some new facet of the ineffable source; and then, as if each preposition were more but still not enough, it is immediately superseded by a new surge of illumination’. That is why it will feel like ‘an ineffable experience to which imagination is trying to bring appropriate meaning’.

Loder adds that Kierkegaard’s experience had a major impact upon his approach to Christianity. “This experience transformed Kierkegaard’s whole outlook; particularly, his relation to Christianity changed, as several journal entries before and after this episode seem to indicate” (p.251).

It is at this point that Teacher thought will try to understand what is happened, and theologians such as Kierkegaard and Loder will use abstract technical thought to analyze the transcendental experience that has occurred, leading to the concept of complementarity discussed earlier in the essay.

Notice the sequence. Teacher thought wants to come up with a general theory, but Perceiver facts are limiting Teacher overgeneralization. If Perceiver thought becomes disabled, then Teacher thought will be free to overgeneralize, leading to a transcendental experience—an emotional singularity—for Mercy thought. Technical thought will then be used to provide a theoretical explanation for the transcendental experience, which will then lead to a theory of complementarity that is used to analyze the rest of existence. In other words, technical thought will be used to analyze mental networks that emerged when technical thought failed, and Perceiver thought will be used to acquire facts about an experience that occurred because Perceiver thought was unable to acquire facts.

As I have suggested before, this process is based upon inherent logical contradictions. Technical thought is being used to analyze the breakdown of technical thought; Perceiver thought is both functioning and not functioning. However, from a cognitive perspective it all makes sense. If the human ‘computer’ is programmed in a certain manner, then it will follow this path and come up with these conclusions. There is nothing magical or irrational about the process. Even though the process may feel irrational to the person experiencing it, every stage can be described and analyzed rationally in terms of cognitive mechanisms. This does not mean that the process is only cognitive. Instead, as I have mentioned earlier, mental symmetry suggests that a spiritual realm exists that interacts with human mental networks and that the mental networks of personal identity interact with the human spirit. However, I suggest that the spiritual dimension functions in a way that is consistent with the cognitive, in the same way that the mind appears to function in a manner that is consistent with the structure of the physical world.

The problem is that analyzing this process from a cognitive perspective will end up explaining it away, because it is based upon a quirk in the architecture of the mind. Instead of constructing a theory upon using the mind, one is constructing a theory upon abusing the mind. Suggesting that there is a spiritual reality behind this cognitive mechanism actually makes things worse, because now one is dealing with a spirit of mental abuse, and the gospels contain several accounts of Jesus casting out spirits that abused their human hosts.

I too experienced a major shift in my approach to Christianity that resulted from a Teacher breakthrough. In about 2005 I realized that it is possible to use the theory of mental symmetry to explain core Christian doctrines in terms of cognitive mechanisms. Since then, I have been working full-time to construct an adequate, rational concept of a universal God by extending the theory of mental symmetry to other fields. This growing Teacher understanding has caused Platonic forms to emerge within my mind in Mercy thought, and these Mercy images of mental and spiritual wholeness motivate me to continue upon my path.

In other words, while Loder and Kierkegaard began with Teacher overgeneralization and then used rational thought to analyze the resulting irrational experience, I have attempted to pursue Teacher generalization that is based in rational thought. The resulting general Teacher theory is not a theory of mental abuse but rather a theory of mental wholeness. If the spiritual realm adds intensity to mental networks, then adding a spiritual dimension to a theory of mental wholeness is good, because it motivates a person to become mentally whole.

Of course, saying that one should construct a rational concept of God is quite different than actually constructing a rational concept of God. Theories do not construct themselves. Therefore, once I realized that the theory of mental symmetry might form the basis for a rational concept of God and Christianity, I felt that it was my duty to develop this theory to the best of my ability, so that both I and others would have the opportunity of having a rational concept of God.

This path of theoretical exploration also has a personal Mercy side. On the one hand, it is very dangerous to study emotional topics such as God, religion, and personal identity, because the possibility for self-deception is very great. Thus, it is imperative that Teacher understanding is always applied to personal identity, no matter what the personal cost. On the other hand, when one does apply understanding personally, then the resulting Platonic forms provide a very strong personal motivation that makes it possible to transcend a feeling of duty to God and man. Stated simply, the internal image of how wonderful society would be if people pursued mental wholeness becomes so blindingly bright that one is no longer drawn to the flickering lights that mesmerize the average individual.

Notice the difference between this ‘blinding light’ and the ‘glow of light’ mentioned by Kierkegaard. In both cases, one is dealing with strong Teacher emotions that result in transformative Mercy experiences. However, instead of waxing poetic by abandoning rational thought, the emotion in mental symmetry comes from realizing the implications of rational thought.

The Extent of Personal Salvation

I suggested earlier that the extent of salvation that personal identity experiences in Mercy thought depends upon the extent of the concept of God that has been constructed in Teacher thought. When dealing with the subject of personal salvation, the two primary concerns are salvation now in this present life and salvation later after death. The first relates to the problem of evil and suffering, the second addresses the question of life after death. Loder mentions both of these topics in connection with Kierkegaard’s religiousness A.

Let us look first at the question of evil. Loder describes the following moral dilemma. “To take the stand that God is at fault for the presence of evil is implicitly to lose one’s relation to God since one now becomes God’s judge, which is the very position of evil. Thus, to lose one’s relationship to God is to lose one’s self to evil; to remain agnostic where God and evil are concerned is to lose one’s own soul by refusing to choose and implicitly to admit to having a love of God that can be qualified or negated by that which is not God – and thus to confess one neither loves nor even knows God. To simply ignore or deny evil is to attempt to overcome it by not looking at it, as if anything were controlled in its being by her unwillingness to perceive it. No, Kierkegaard’s argument is that the reality of evil and the reality of God constitute a situation that can only be existed in but not resolved, except by the love that takes upon itself the burden for the evil. Thus the edification of being always in the wrong hinges upon the love of the believer for a God whose infinite and holy difference from the beloved makes anything more or less than silence a profound misunderstanding. This, then, is the final pre-Christian state: the state of infinite resignation in a relation that posits infinite love. This is the state that Kierkegaard, in an appropriately self-effacing way, called Religiousness A” (p.261).

In other words, Loder suggests that there are three ways of looking at the relationship between evil and God. The first is to blame God for evil. Loder rejects this because it sets man up as the judge of God. The second is to ignore the connection between evil and God. Loder rejects this because this turns the question of evil into ‘an elephant in the room’ that will cloud the relationship between man and God. The third is to ignore the connection between evil and man. Loder rejects this because evil cannot be dismissed by merely pretending that it does not exist. Looking at these three possibilities, one notices that there is a fourth logical alternative that Loder has not considered, which is blaming man for evil. We will examine this possibility in a few paragraphs.

Loder also discusses the problem of impending death. “Death is an essential part of life, since we begin to die the moment we are born. Social forms of life, families, governments, and religions also die, as do symbols, symbol systems and indeed, all cultural forms and forms of culture. Death haunts life with the quality of Nothingness that Kierkegaard described quite vividly before it became standard fare for French and German extensionalism” (p.257). Loder adds that “To confront and engage the existential double-bind which aesthetic existence perpetually conceals is immediately to be confronted with the need to choose – but choice in the face of a double-bind may itself be doubly bound, unless we turn the tables. Instead of making a choice in terms of the bind – i.e. to affirm life and deny death; or to affirm death-denying life; or to attempt to escape the bind by choosing some illusory or imaginary possibilities which will not in the least disturb the bind – instead of these alternatives, we can choose to affirm the bind itself. We can choose for the existential reality, for the absurdity imposed by the double-blind. Implicit in this is the solution that the human spirit proposes, for herein lies Kierkegaard’s concept of ‘the leap’ – an independent category, a reality not intrinsically caught in the double-bind of human existence” (p.258).

I have suggested that personal growth involves an ‘oscillation’ between Teacher mental networks and Mercy mental networks. If only the human realm of Mercy mental networks has content, then it is not possible to conceive of any existence apart from the human realm of Mercy mental networks, because no other grid exists within which a person could exist.

Compare this with what Jesus says in John 14. “‘Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.’ Thomas *said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’ Jesus *said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.’ Philip *said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus *said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.’”

Notice that Jesus is associating God with houses and dwelling places—a grid of content in which personal identity can live. Jesus is preparing this content so that his followers have a place in which to live after death. When his followers say that they do not understand how they could live in a non-physical realm, Jesus responds in a famous verse that he personifies the Server way, the Perceiver truth, and the mental networks of life. This is not an incarnation based in a singularity, but rather one that personifies a grid of content. When his followers answer that they cannot grasp how God could be associated with content, Jesus answers that they can learn about the nature of God by observing the nature of Jesus the man. This is not a God that is incomprehensible to human thought but rather a God whose nature is revealed through analogy with the human thought and behavior of Jesus the man.

Moving on, as was mentioned before, it needs to be re-emphasized that Kierkegaard’s religiousness B does not solve any of the problems revealed in Religiousness A. The unbridgeable gap between finite man and infinite God remains unbridgeable. However, Religiousness B uses ‘faith’ to view this unbridgeable gap from a positive perspective. As Loder says, “In what follows we will work with the elementary complementarity of eternity and existence, we will recognize that these complementary concepts coexist in two different modes: Religiousness A, which is despair, and religiousness B, which is faith. Moreover, it is argued that Religiousness A is an inverse prefiguring of Religiousness B.” (p.97). Loder adds that “In the negative modality, Religiousness A, the ultimate human despair, is coexhaustively accounted for by the existential and the eternal in their mutually intensifying insufficiency. This condition is totally despairing because there is absolutely no other alternative” (p.100). “In the negative A, the mutual exclusiveness aspect of complementarity emphasized the fact that all efforts to compensate for the inadequacy of the eternal or the existential taken separately, by mixing them and creating hybrid forms, are in fact not an advance upon their separate insufficiencies but an exacerbation of their inadequacy in a deepening of despair...Radical mutual exclusiveness between the eternal and the existential is the fundamental condition of human nature in Religiousness A” (p.101).

In contrast, “in the positive modality of faith, Religiousness B, coexhaustiveness means that the eternal and the existential are united in a bipolar unity which Kierkegaard called transparency” (p.100). “In the positive B, mutual exclusiveness stresses both the logical and the actual distinction between the external and existential even as they are united in the person who, through faith, becomes fully human... The range and magnitude of the distinction between the existential and the eternal is an index of the power of the Spirit that transparently unites without any dissolution or diminution of the two polarities of a fully human being” (p.102).

“In sum, on the theme of faith and despair, the first couplet develops two contrasting aspects of the eternal-existential complementarity in two modes: negative (as despair) and positive (as faith)” (p.102).

According to Loder, this positive viewpoint is personalized in the incarnation of Jesus. “Once the ultimate abyss is negated by grace, it can be profoundly affirmed by the individual in faith... It is precisely the preservation of the antithesis between the eternal and existence that is implied in and preserves the positive affirmation of grace as God’s eternal grace in Jesus Christ, and of faith as the existential human act by which grace is appropriated” (p.103). However, as we have just seen, John 14 paints a rather different picture of incarnation.

Summarizing, as we saw earlier when examining concept of complementarity, Loder says that there is an unbridgeable gap between infinite God and finite man. The ‘solution’ lies not in bridging the gap but rather in using ‘faith’ to embrace the gap. The gap remains. According to Loder, Jesus the God-man did not bridge this gap. Instead, incarnation embodies the gap: ‘It is precisely the preservation of the antithesis between the eternal and existence that is implied in and preserves the positive affirmation of grace is God’s eternal grace in Jesus Christ’.

Loader talks about using ‘faith’, but remember that Loder’s faith does not bridge the gap in any rational manner. Rather, it is a ‘leap of faith’ that abandons rational thought in order to embrace the gap. Repeating an earlier quote, “The simultaneous affirmation fully God and fully human in the description of Christ’s nature is fully rational to the point of stating all that can be stated, but then finally we have to make a choice, the leap of faith, which repeats the existential origin of the statement of faith; the leap establishes our contemporaneity with all those for whom the Chalcedonian formula is the most rational account of Christ’s nature that can be given. One does not simply believe this because it is absurd; one believes it because one is compelled to by the limits of rationality by the conjunction of distinct realms, human and divine, in one nature” (p.142).

But how does one know that taking a leap of faith is the right thing to do? One cannot use Perceiver thought to know, because Perceiver thought has been disabled. One cannot use Teacher thought to evaluate, because Teacher thought is overgeneralizing. What is left is a good feeling. “In the context of this complementarity, the fundamental motivation driving and empowering human life is a search for salighed (an eternal happiness) means opening oneself to eternity so that it might permeate the blood and bones of our daily activities and regulate one’s life, an activity which no one else can perform for another. Notice that in Kahn’s comment on how one comes into this complex sacred wholeness, salighed, there is a profound interplay between eternity and existence” (p.91).

But we have seen that it is possible to explain this entire process in terms of cognitive mechanisms. When Perceiver thought gives up, then Teacher thought will be free to overgeneralize, which will give a person the feeling that Teacher thought now has a universal theory that transcends the unbridgeable gap. Remember the description of the goose in the bottle. “Maybe the answer is that there is no answer. Maybe the contemplation is the answer. Perhaps the sense of stillness I arrived at when I came to this point of finding no solution was the answer. I felt something open up in me as I arrived at this point. All thought stopped for a few minutes, and I experienced a deep silence, a sense of non-duality and no-mind (sorry to steal these expressions from the Buddhist tradition - I have no original way to describe it). I had a glimpse of ‘the space between’. The goose was out.”

It feels good to feel good. It is wonderful to have a sense of transcendent peace. But is this an adequate basis for constructing an entire religion? Is religion nothing more than a sense of transcendent peace? I sincerely hope not, because my physical body is starting to get old, and I need more than just a good feeling.

Teacher Thought versus Mercy Thought

Mental symmetry agrees that there is a stupendous gap between man and God but suggests that this gap appears unbridgeable because of a fundamental difference in the character of man and God. The childish mind is integrated around Mercy mental networks while a mental concept of a universal God is based in a Teacher mental network. Teacher thought wants universal laws that always apply without exception, whereas the childish mind is always driven by Mercy mental networks to seek personal gain regardless of the general rule. Using the language of Kant, childish identity is governed by radical evil.

Saying this another way, a person can choose to approach God and religion from either a Mercy or a Teacher perspective. A Mercy viewpoint will focus upon experiences and states, whereas Teacher thought will look for process and sequence. For instance, Ravi Zacharias makes the following observation in Beyond Opinion. “Natural disasters, tragedies, and cataclysmic events are ironically called ‘acts of God.’ Oddly enough, a bumper crop, a beautiful day, a close brush with what should have been death but wasn’t, the wonderful joys and pleasures of life are given no such benevolent source” (p.182). Notice the Mercy viewpoint. Bad experiences are being blamed on God, whereas good experiences are being separated from God.

I have suggested that when mental networks collide, then each will attempt to impose its structure upon the other. If a mental concept of God emerges when Teacher understanding applies to personal identity, then a concept of God implicitly involves a conflict between the Mercy mental networks of personal identity and the Teacher mental networks of a general understanding. This faces a person with the choice. Will personal identity impose its structure upon understanding, leading to a God in my own image, or will Teacher understanding be permitted to impose its structure upon personal identity, leading to the concept of personal identity is a sinner who falls short of the standards of a holy and pure God? When childish Mercy mental networks impose their structure upon Teacher understanding, then a person will not consider the possibility that man is to blame for evil.

This puts a different interpretation upon the nature of God. Loder, along with many other theologians, claims that man cannot understand God because God is incomprehensible. Mental symmetry, in contrast, suggests that man cannot understand God because the childish mind is incapable of using rational thought when dealing with personal identity. Loder suggests that man is using as much rational thought as possible, but then has to embrace irrational thought in order to encounter God. Mental symmetry, in contrast, suggests that man is not using as much rational thought as possible, and that man needs God’s help to gain the ability to use rational thought in order to encounter God.

What does it mean to use rational thought to understand God? I suggest that we already know the answer. When examining humanity, one should use Mercy thought to examine specific experiences and emotions. However, if one wishes to understand the nature of God, then one should use Teacher thought to look for general sequences.

I suggest that this distinction makes it possible to understand the relationship between divine sovereignty and free will. Let us begin this discussion with a quote from Loder. “In the freedom from the double-bind which choice provides lives and breathes the irreducible core of the individual, and no form of existence or threat of nonexistence can reach or even touch this vital nerve of the self. One may give up, one may deliberately choose some form of self-destruction, but choosing qua choosing, the central definitive act of ‘the leap’, can never be seen, touched, crushed, snuffed out, or cut off. Even every form of capitulation is, in the final analysis, a choice not to choose. Victor Frankl’s experience in the extremist possible external oppression of a Nazi concentration camp, and Sartre’s famous dictum ‘we are condemned to freedom,’ both make the point quite apart from any theistic predisposition that what Kierkegaard described here is a phenomenological necessity” (p.259).

Victor Frankl relates choice to personal meaning. As Loder mentions, he came to this conclusion based upon his experience of living in a Nazi concentration camp. Thus, Frankl’s statements are not merely abstract words, but rather the conclusions of someone who was forced to face the core of what it means to be human. He says that no matter how horrible the experiences were in the Nazi camp, a prisoner could still choose how he would respond to these circumstances. Even the most meaningless inhumane treatment acquired personal meaning if the prisoner chose to respond to this experience in a positive manner. Quoting from Man’s Search for Meaning, “Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp. Dostoevski said once, ‘There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.’ These words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom – which cannot be taken away – that makes life meaningful and purposeful” (p.66).

If personal choices are really real, then this means that each person lives with consequences of his choices. But this will only happen if each person has a personal world that is constructed by personal choice, which is separate from the physical world. This is what one finds, because each person ‘lives’ inescapably within the ‘internal world’ of his mind. While a person cannot choose the initial content that goes into his mind, he can choose how he will respond to this content. This needs to be restated. Everyone has his own internal world. Everyone can make choices within this internal world. Everyone is forced to live with the consequences of the choices that he makes within his internal world. When my choices really make a difference, then I have meaning.

That brings us to the relationship between human free will and divine sovereignty. Open Theism emphasizes the free will of man, while Calvinism emphasizes the sovereignty of God. The goal of Calvinism is to respect the sovereignty of God, just as I suspect that Loder feels that his approach is being respectful to God. Calvin lived just before Galileo and well before Newton. Calvin’s society did not yet know that the physical natural world is governed by universal laws that can be described as general Teacher theories, therefore Calvin concluded that God can only have total sovereignty by controlling every specific decision made by man, the way a supreme dictator in Mercy thought would function. However, if one understands cognitive mechanisms, then one can see that the overall direction of a society is heavily governed by the mental networks that reside within people’s minds. Stated bluntly, both people and societies are highly predictable. This does not mean that people have no free will, but rather that free will is limited. For instance, if I am walking and I reach a wall, then I can choose to turn left or right. This is a real choice. However, because my body has physical limitations, I cannot choose to walk over the wall. Thus, my choices are real but limited. The theory of mental symmetry suggests that it is possible for God to have complete sovereignty over the overall path of history while simultaneously giving almost total freedom to specific individuals. Saying this another way, I suggest that one can understand the nature of God primarily by using Teacher thought to analyze the general processes of history, whereas one will encounter man primarily in the specific choices and experiences of history. Restating this in theological language, I suggest that Calvinism is correct in asserting that God has total sovereignty, while Open Theism is accurate in insisting that man has real choice. It is possible to combine these two perspectives if one has a knowledge of cognitive mechanisms.

This does not mean that a person can continue to choose. If a mental network becomes sufficiently strong, then a person will lose the ability to choose whether to follow this mental network or not. For instance, at this point I strongly suspect that I am no longer capable of choosing to reject the theory of mental symmetry. Similarly, I suspect that when Loder wrote The Knight’s Move, he was no longer capable of choosing to reject his theory of complementarity. However, there was a period in my life when I could choose whether to accept or reject mental symmetry. Saying this more generally, free will appears to be real, but it is limited to a window of possible choices, and this window shifts over time as one makes choices. Applying this to divine sovereignty, it appears that before using a person to carry out some element of the divine plan, God first tests that person to determine the nature of his core mental networks. If a person is driven by a sufficiently strong mental network, then that individual can be used as a partner (or pawn) in the divine plan with the knowledge that that individual no longer possesses the free will to free himself from the domination of this mental network. One can find many scriptural examples that are consistent with this interpretation.

Because the window of free will is continually shifting, and because people are divided into different cognitive styles, each person faces his own set of choices. Frankl says that both guards and prisoners faced moral choices. “It is apparent that the mere knowledge that a man was either a guard or prisoner tells us almost nothing. Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn. The boundaries between groups overlapped and we must not try to simplify matters by saying that these men were angels and those were devils. Certainly, it was a considerable achievement for a guard or foreman to be kind to the prisoners in spite of all the camp’s influences, and, on the other hand, the baseness of a prisoner who treated his own companions badly was exceptionally contemptible. Obviously the prisoners found the lack of character in such men especially upsetting, while they were profoundly moved by the smallest kindness received from any of the guards... From all this we learn that there are two races of man in this world, but only these two – the ‘race’ of the decent man and the ‘race’ of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of ‘pure race’ – and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards” (p.86). In other words, we are dealing with an Einsteinian world in which each individual makes choices within the frame of reference of his own mind. Each person faces his own choices, and the choices that one person faces are not the same as the choices of another person. However, the cognitive mechanisms guiding these choices are universal.

I am not suggesting that meaning is only internal. When the mind constructs mental networks, then there is a strong motivation to experience or create an external environment that is consistent with these mental networks. However, I do suggest that meaning is ultimately rooted in internal content that is a result of personal choice. If this internal content is not present, then life will feel meaningless. One can see this illustrated by today’s world. For the average Westerner, external content is there in abundance, however there is still a feeling of meaningless because this external structure is not combined with internal content that I have chosen. I suggest that it is easy to confuse internal meaning with the external expression of meaning. This happens when a person tries to ‘leave a legacy’. A legacy expresses meaning, but it is not meaning. There is also a danger of building the mind around internal structure that cannot be realized. That is what Loder is doing when he uses overgeneralization to create the feeling of a universal theory that is not based in reality. Internal content that is not based in reality cannot be expressed in reality. The only option then is to attempt to express internal content by writing words. This leads to the strange juxtaposition of authors who write numerous words in order to express something ‘that is beyond words’, use technical thought to analyze in detail something that ‘is incomprehensible’, or state in carefully crafted language that they do not know anything.

Let us turn now to the question of suffering. Why does there have to be suffering? Why cannot every situation be pleasant? Evidence strongly suggests that most people will only learn if they have to. The natural tendency is for Mercy thought to respond in a Pavlovian stimulus-response manner by focusing upon good experiences and ignoring bad experiences. The mind will naturally continue this practice unless faced—inescapably—with bad experiences. But an inescapable bad experience is by definition evil. I have suggested that if man is to have meaning, then man must have an internal world which he is ultimately responsible for developing and where he experiences the consequences of his choices. Suffering forces a person to construct an internal world and search for meaning—as long as a person does not get bitter and cling to his existing childish Mercy mental networks.

This puts suffering in a different light. In simple terms, it forces a person to develop internal content. This is emphasized in Hebrews 11. “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

Does this mean that God is responsible for specific experiences of suffering? I suggest that this question makes the category mistake of approaching God from a human Mercy perspective. Instead, one needs to approach God from a Teacher perspective while applying the Mercy perspective to humanity.

This distinction is brought out by the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 10. “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness...Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved...No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10).

Notice that everyone has the same experiences, but some are choosing to learn from these experiences while others are not. God is leading everyone along a similar path. That is why Paul tells us to learn from the examples of others, and why he says that ‘no temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man’. In addition, Paul says that God has provided a path out of the temptation—a ‘way of escape’. However, human choice is still responsible for individual experiences. Humans must still choose to follow this path, and humans must also choose how they will follow this path.

One could compare this to the educational program of a school. God sets up the school, but man must choose to enroll in the school. God sets up the courses, but man must choose to enroll in a course. God teaches the material in a course, but man must choose to learn this material. If man passes a course, then this makes it possible to take a higher level course, in which one finds the same relationship between divine sovereignty and human choice recurring at a higher level.

Applying this to the topic of suffering, I have suggested that suffering is a ‘course’ that forcibly enrolls an individual in God’s school of personal character. Mental symmetry suggests that a better alternative exists. Instead of being forced to learn by the stick of suffering, it is possible to be coaxed into learning by the carrot of patience. Suffering prompts a person to learn in order to escape painful Mercy experiences. Patience motivates a person to learn in order to make reality more like Platonic forms. However, it appears that the school of patience has a prerequisite. In order to enter the school of patience, one must view God and reality from a Teacher perspective. First, a Teacher theory is needed to produce the Platonic forms that motivate patience. Second, in order to make reality more like Platonic forms, one must choose to act in a way that is consistent with general Teacher understanding. For instance, I have suggested that consumer electronics are driven by the Platonic form of electronic devices that are better, faster, and smaller. In order to produce these devices, multi-billion-dollarultra-clean factories must be constructed, and the raw material for constructing a chip is asingle crystal of silicon that is 99.9999999% pure. Thus, there is extreme Teacher order-within-complexity combined with almost zero exceptions to the universal rule. Without this fastidiousness, the resulting impurities and imperfections would prevent chips from functioning.

Thus, we again see the combination of divine Teacher generality combined with human Mercy specifics. This began with the divine choice of providing every individual with an internal world, with each individual responsible for the specific content that is placed within this world. Next, we saw that suffering forces a person to place content within their internal world, while a person can still choose what type of content is placed within their internal world. Now, we see that there is a path of patience that leads out of the realm of suffering, but in order to learn through patience, a person must choose to gain and apply understanding.

I suggest that one finds a similar combination in the interaction between people. Suffering forces a person to acquire internal content. However, parenting makes it possible to learn from the wisdom and mistakes of the previous generation. I have mentioned that the mind of the child is initially programmed by Mercy mental networks based in parents and other authority figures. In other words, children are given content by their parents as they program childish minds with information backed up by Mercy mental networks. Obviously, I had no control over the content that I acquired from my parents. However, I do have control over how I will respond to this parenting and how I will parent my children. If I treat my children in a different manner, then this will reprogram the mental networks that I acquired as a child. In contrast, if my parents mistreated me and I mistreat my children in the same manner, then my behavior as a parent will reinforce the unhealthy Mercy mental networks that I acquired in childhood.

I have suggested that unpleasant feedback from the physical body forces me to acquire internal content. For instance, if I am hungry, then I am strongly motivated to find some food. Social organization provides a way out. By banding together, we can meet our physical needs more effectively. In other words, it is possible to minimize Mercy pain by submitting personal identity to a Teacher structure of social order. Unfortunately, the same social organization that makes it easier to meet physical needs also makes it easier to organize armies that make physical existence worse for others rather than better. Thus we see the possibility for social order combined with the human choice over what type of society will be created. A similar principle applies to education in general. By setting up the Teacher order-within-complexity of a school system, it is possible to bring internal content to the next generation. However, a school system can also be used to reinforce a dictatorship rather than build individual freedom.

So far, we have looked at thinking that is dominated by Mercy mental networks. I have mentioned that it is possible to go beyond suffering to patience. Suppose that society breaks free of Mercy thought and discovers Teacher understanding, as Western society did in the Renaissance. Teacher understanding makes it possible to escape Mercy-driven suffering, but it does not remove human choice. One can use technology either to improve the quality of living or to build better weapons that make life on earth more hellish. Notice exactly what is happening. Gaining a Teacher understanding of science makes it possible for people to escape most suffering. The average person today lives far longer and has a far better quality life than the typical individual from several hundred years ago. However, technology can be used either for good or for evil. God, in Teacher thought, makes science and technology possible. Man, in Mercy thought, chooses how this technology will be used.

Going further, suppose that one grows up in a modern world that has been transformed by technology. I have suggested that meaning comes from building internal content, and I have also suggested that inescapable physical consequences force people to gain internal content. Today, most painful situations can be solved by going to some expert who will solve the problem. When one lives in a relative paradise from which most painful experiences have been removed, then it is easy to avoid building internal content. I suggest that this is why modern man struggles so much with personal meaning. When one looks externally in Western society, one sees wealth. But when one looks internally, then one typically sees poverty. Here too there is a way out of the predicament, because one can choose to extend the lessons learned from transforming the physical world to the internal world.

Today, the need for internal content is becoming increasingly apparent. That is because technology has removed most external barriers. For instance, it is now possible for humans to use atomic weapons to destroy the world. So far, humans have chosen not to do this, guided by internal content rather than external capability. Similarly, the revelations by Edward Snowden on the NSA have made it obvious that the NSA (along with the other four of the five eyes) is trying to spy on all electronic communication not for any specific reason, but rather because it can be done. In other words, behavior is being regulated solely by physical capability. We are now being faced with the choice of what we will do with this capability. Will the Internet and international communications be used to increase personal freedom or to impose a dictatorship?

Thus, we keep returning to the fourth alternative which Loder did not consider, which is that man is responsible for evil. This does not mean that man is responsible for all evil. That is because human choice may be real but it is also limited. I cannot choose to remove all the evil from my life, but I can choose whether I will follow a path that leads to more evil or less evil, and I can also choose to a large extent how much evil I impose upon other humans. And if enough people follow a path that leads to less evil for long enough, then this will lead to a breakthrough in which it is possible to create a new form of human existence that inherently contains less evil.

Where does Christianity fit into this picture? The Bible is a story of man continually finding himself in an unpleasant situation, God providing a possible way out, and man deciding to accept, reject, or misuse this divine path. Looking specifically at the evangelical prayer of salvation, mental symmetry suggests that this prayer makes it possible for a person to practice personal honesty. Again we see God, in Teacher thought, providing a way for man to escape a mindset that is driven by childish Mercy mental networks. But the temptation is to misuse this path and to view those who have said the prayer of salvation as a superior class of human beings: “I am a Christian. You are not.” This type of response completely misses the point, because an attitude of us-versus-them indicates that one is still being guided by Mercy mental networks and has not submitted personal identity to Teacher understanding. In other words, I suggest that the focus should be upon reaching mental wholeness, and that the Christian prayer of salvation should be viewed as a doorway to a path that leads to a new form of human existence that inherently contains less evil.

What about ‘God sending people to hell’? Is this not a form of extreme personal suffering instituted by God? Jesus says in Luke 12 that in the final judgment, people will be judged by what they did with the knowledge that they had. “You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect...Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” Notice that the one who chooses to create evil experiences because he can get away with it will be punished, while the one who is guided by internal content will be rewarded. Notice also that we are looking here at a sort of Einsteinian judgment, in which each person is judged by his own frame of reference.

Looking at this from the viewpoint of mental networks, Swedenborg has suggested that people judge themselves based upon what he calls their ‘ruling loves’. In other words, when a person dies, then what holds his mind together is his core mental networks, including the Mercy mental networks of personal identity as well as the Teacher mental network (or mental concept of God) that holds these various Mercy mental networks together. A person then becomes irresistibly attracted to an environment that resonates with his core mental networks. This is discussed further in another essay. (Swedenborg’s theology is not biblical, but his concept of heaven is very interesting.)

I suggest that this viewpoint does not diminish the Christian message but rather focuses upon the content behind the words. Thus, what matters is not whether one claims to believe in the Christian God, the rather whether one has constructed the mental concept of a Christian God. Similarly what matters is not saying that ‘Jesus is my Lord’ but rather constructing a mental concept of incarnation and then submitting personal identity to this mental concept.

Notice that we are back to the question of meaning. I have suggested that each person can ultimately choose the content of his internal world. A Swedenborgian view of heaven and hell merely states that a person eventually lives in environment that is consistent with the content of his internal world and that God will not overrule this personal choice.


1 Mental symmetry suggests that the core of Teacher thought is located within the left orbitofrontal and the core of Mercy thought within the right orbitofrontal. The brain region that is activated by beauty is in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, where the left and right hemispheres are literally touching each other. According to this paper, the brain region that was activated was located more within the left medial orbitofrontal cortex than the right, suggesting that the relationship is primarily with Teacher thought. While beauty focuses primarily upon the left hemisphere emotion generated by Teacher thought, it also has components that relate to the right hemisphere emotion produced by Mercy thought.

2 There are two main topics in Loder’s book which this essay does not analyze. The first is ‘now’. In other words, what does it mean to live in the present? The second is the matter of quantum entanglement.

3 As we shall see later, mental symmetry relates a mental concept of the Holy Spirit with Plato’s Form of the Good. It is possible that a real Holy Spirit could influence a mental concept of the Holy Spirit. Similarly, mental symmetry hypothesizes that real spirits may affect mental networks. However, mental symmetry suggests that a real spiritual interaction can be analyzed as an extension of cognitive mechanisms rather than some magical influence that operates apart from cognitive mechanisms.

4 In concrete thought, Perceiver thought interprets space and Server thought interprets time. When Perceiver facts become mentally combined with Server sequences, this leads to the mental concept of cause-and-effect, in which one experience is linked to another experience through a connection that occurs over time. One can see from the diagram of mental symmetry that Contributor combines Perceiver and Server. Cause and effect, or sowing and reaping, or investment and dividend, or pain and gain is the basic unit of thought for the Contributor person who emphasizes concrete thinking. It is interesting to note that the order of events is not necessarily preserved in relativity. Event A may precede B in one frame of reference while event B precedes A in another frame of reference. However, the combined Perceiver/Server grid of cause-and-effect is preserved. Similarly, it appears that it is possible for a person in one personal frame of reference to accurately analyze the cognitive mechanisms of mental cause-and-effect in individuals with different personal frames of reference.