Thanks, But No Thanks, From A Happy Atheist

Q:What makes the best ‘case for God’ to a skeptic or non-believer, an open-minded seeker, and to a person of … Continued

Q:What makes the best ‘case for God’ to a skeptic or non-believer, an open-minded seeker, and to a person of faith and Why?

1) The message of scripture?
2) The scientific evidence for an Intelligent Designer?
3) The ‘words’ that God has ‘spoken’ – Torah, Jesus, the Qur’an?
4) A compassionate lifestyle?
5) Personal, subjective experience?

— Karen Armstrong

None of the above. There is no “scientific evidence” of the existence of an intelligent designer. And the fact that there are many Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, and atheists whose lives are models of concern for their fellow humans–and many whose lives are sinkholes of selfishness–suggests that religious belief, or the lack of it, has little to do with our daily decisions on behalf of good, evil, or apathy.

One might as well try to cut one’s way through fog with a sword as attempt to engage Karen Armstrong’s “case for God” with rational discourse. In the end, her arguments for the divine always boils down to “it’s a mystery.” She tells atheists that they are wasting their time by “magisterially weighing up the teachings of religion to judge their truth or falsehood before embarking on a religious way of life.” Only if atheists “translate these doctrines into ritual or ethical action” will they discover “the truth or falsehood of religion.”

In other words, even if religion makes no sense to you, just go ahead and act as if you were religious and you’ll see what I mean. Or: try it, you’ll like it. I could say the same thing about atheism, and my statement would be as meaningless as Armstrong’s dictum. What is it about this “religious way of life,” anyway, that necessarily differs from the ethical precepts of a nonreligious person? What there is to learn from the golden rule is no mystery, and one need not believe in any any transcendent power to understand that doing unto others as you would have them do unto you it is a better way of living than “do unto others before they do unto you.”

Armstrong’s ideas about “fundamentalist atheism” are as strange as some of her ideas about religion itself. First, atheists don’t “magisterially” evaluate the teachings of religion–and most of us did not became atheists from reading the arguments of Bertrand Russell or Richard Dawkins. Many of us rejected religion because we (especially Americans) were brought up in some faith and what we were taught simply did not make sense to us. We became atheists through the same process that Armstrong hopes people will become religious–by firsthand exposure to the rituals and practices of faith communities. Some religious dropouts (like Armstrong, who was once a Catholic nun) feel too lonely in a world unmoored from religion and eventually work their way back to a form of faith–call it liberal religion, whether in eastern or western forms–that seems more compatible with reason than they faith of their youth.

And some of us are content to experience “the transcendent” (a term Armstrong uses with irritating frequency) through the greatness of human art, the power of human love, and the glories of the human mind at its best without any nudge from the divine. One of Armstrong’s chief arguments is that there is something extra-natural about “the transcendent”–that awe and insight are best and most fully experienced through religion. She visits the stunning Lascaux caves, first decorated during the Stone Age, and thinks about the relationship between art and religion. I too had the privilege of visiting those caves in the days when they were still open to the public, and I was awed not only by the beauty and liveliness of the frescoes of animals who seemed ready to leap off the ancient walls but by the evidence of human aspiration at a time when our species knew so little.

For Armstrong, such feelings are “ephemeral” if they are not embedded in some sacred myth. The caves were probably places for sacred rituals and therefore show that “religion and art were inseparable from the very beginning.” Armstrong goes on to say that myth, like art, “will make no sense unless we know it wholeheartedly and allow it to change us. If we hold ourselves aloof, it will remain opaque, incomprehensible, even ridiculous.”

Of course religion and art were inseparable from the beginning. One need not accept or even understand what Stone Age people believed about the animals they painted to see the magnificence of human endeavor, any more than one needs to believe in the Garden of Eden to appreciate Masaccio’s frescoes on the walls of the Brancacci Chapel. If art and religion were inseparable, no atheist or freethinker should ever have become a painter or sculptor. Art would have come to a dead end with secularism: one would experience nothing of “the transcendent” in the paintings of Monet, Matisse and Picasso or, for that matter, in any paintings of secular subjects since the Renaissance. Art, like religion, is a human invention.

Armstrong’s version of both religious and secular history is skewed by her need to make a case for a form of religion that does not directly assault reason. “The best theology,” she writes, “is a spiritual exercise, akin to poetry. “Religion is not an exact science but a kind of art form that, like music or painting, introduces us to a mode of knowledge that is different from the purely rational and which cannot easily be put into words.” What a narrow definition of rationality!

Rationality and emotion are not necessarily opposed (although they can be, when either is placed in service to anti-rational premises). Thomas Aquinas, for example, placed logic in service to the idea of the Roman Catholic church as the arbiter of revealed truth. But Armstrong presents a completely ahistorical portrait of Aquinas, whom she sees as a thinker who understood religion not as “something that people thought but something they did.” This was a man who believed, absolutely, in the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church, and his life’s work was the reconciliation of church doctrine with classical Greek philosophy. The very idea of absolute truth as the property of a church claiming to represent the “one, true faith” is in as incompatible with rationality as modern biblical literalism is. Aquinas would certainly be surprised to find himself transformed into, well, a Unitarian or a Sufi by Armstrong’s amorphous notion of religion.

Armstrong’s book really ought to be titled, “The Case For A God Who Is Anything You Want Him To Be–As Long As You Have Faith.” To this end, she sets up religious fundamentalism and “atheist fundamentalism” as straw opponents. The concept of “atheist fundamentalism” is necessary to believers who wish to place themselves and their form of faith as superior to both atheism and orthodox religion. In this scenario, it is possible to define atheists as people who don’t believe in God because they mistakenly confuse all religion with ridiculous biblical literalism.

I do not regard “moderate religion” as a threat to freedom of thought, but that does not make moderate religion rational. The fundamental mistake Armstrong makes is her insistence on distinguishing between emotional experiences of “transcendence” and rational thought and description. Emotion, awe, and rationality all flow from the human brain. The awe we feel when experiencing a great work of art or the most transcendent forms of love is a function of the human mind, as it has evolved for eons. If believers need to believe that their experience of transcendence is superior to my experience of transcendence because it is a mystery, I have no desire to convince them otherwise. And I have no desire to change the views of religious believers–as long as they do claim that their beliefs should set the standard for society. I will confess that I do not understand why so many believers devote so much energy to denigrating atheism. It’s a mystery.

Susan Jacoby
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  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    “Fundamental” believers such as Armstrong are not susceptible to argument. Frankly, no believers are, until they are ready to evaluate the nature of “belief.” This by the way is not synonymous in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Armstrong’s taking it to task is attributable to her conversion. Had she converted to Judaism, she would have had an even greater problem with “belief.”A fine essay, Susan. Here is an interesting observation by Slavoj Zizek:”Atheism is a European legacy worth fighting for, not least because it creates a safe public space for believers”

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    I do not regard “moderate religion” as a threat to freedom of thought, but that does not make moderate religion rational. The fundamental mistake Armstrong makes is her insistence on distinguishing between emotional experiences of “transcendence” and rational thought and description. Emotion, awe, and rationality all flow from the human brain. The awe we feel when experiencing a great work of art or the most transcendent forms of love is a function of the human mind, as it has evolved for eons. If believers need to believe that their experience of transcendence is superior to my experience of transcendence because it is a mystery, I have no desire to convince them otherwise. And I have no desire to change the views of religious believers–as long as they do claim that their beliefs should set the standard for society. I will confess that I do not understand why so many believers devote so much energy to denigrating atheism. It’s a mystery.As for their theories on the origin of “transcendence,” a simple category error.I remember standing in the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del fiore, seriously in danger of remaining there forever. Human aspirations, human dreams, human desires. H

  • SecularHuman

    Well stated, Susan. I could not have said it better myself. There is hope that one day more American children can be raised without religion. We need not raise them as atheists either but simply teach them to think for themselves and allow them to reach their own conclusions.

  • bpai_99

    “You cannot disprove the existence of God. You just have to take it on faith.” – Woody Allen

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    walter, go away, please.

  • colinnicholas

    Interesting essay Susan. Yeah I thought it was just me who couldn’t figure out what Armstrong actually means by God. He’s the very definition of the God who isn’t there. In her book “A Short History of Myth” he seems to be just a mind-set.The odd thing is in her earlier books she writes of her rejection of God and religion, and quitting the nun-life and going to Oxford and enlightenment. I assumed she no longer believed in gods. Now she believes in a God but one who’s hard to nail down or describe. I find it easier not to believe in such a God.

  • Climacus

    “Atheism is a European legacy worth fighting for, not least because it creates a safe public space for believers.”‘Cause, you know, that worked out so well for the Russian Orthodox Church.

  • jimmyminder

    I thank my religious upbringing for my conversion and belief that there is no god. It was because of the ridiculous precepts, that it was so easy to believe, and have faith, that there is no god, and that there never was a god.Time and space are a funny concepts. People who believe in god (and many who don’t) believe there was a beginning to both space and time. Maybe there was. But maybe there wasn’t. I know… an erie and spooky thought for those who believe in god. But, when you submit to that possibility, it is easy to believe that there is no god.

  • daniel12

    Part seven.Instead, at best, we prefer religion if we are right wing and socialistic practices if we are left wing–and are not religious practices at best–concerning politics I mean–and socialistic practices virtually identical? Both try to save man, make all men equal–whether before God or equal in a society which has as its specific project to leave none behind.So we can see it is useless to make a case for religion because we cannot make the case against religion even if we have overwhelming evidence at hand. All of us balk before the biological view of the world–the basic science which virtually every educated person knows. And this should be a comfort to all Americans fed up with the battles between political parties. The political parties can agree. Both agree in rejecting the inevitable–by fossil record–future of man. Both prefer the short view, to not have a wide, biological view of history. Both prefer to remain in typical history, which is the history of civilizations rising and falling. Apparently keeping civilization from falling in the typical historical view is challenge enough. Or perhaps our political parties are incapable of being effective in even this limited view. What a shame! Man cannot even learn from history let alone the fossil record! So I suppose we had better believe in God. How else to be saved?

  • daniel12

    Part six.So we can see at once that virtually nobody has the courage to act on the scientific evidence at hand. Man has not the courage to recognize the biological record shows him developing in the direction of intelligence and that he must take up from natural selection and select himself toward intelligence–breed himself toward intelligence. And ideally, fulfill Lamarck’s view by altering himself by science so that he can pass on acquired characteristics to young. To spell it out, virtually everyone will say concerning the argument I have made here that it is immoral, in fact evil, that it leads to totalitarianism, tyranny, bias, and to simplify, a world in which the more intelligent people are clearly chosen over everybody else…And here we get to the heart of the matter: Precisely because the human race cannot step forward in such fashion–no matter the fossil record showing that for millions of years man has evolved in the direction of intelligence–man cannot be considered beyond the belief in God, religion, no matter how atheistic he tries to tell himself he is. We are at default religion. There is no need to make a case for religion, for man cannot even act on the basic evidence of biology at hand. Man can breed dogs, horses, flowers, etc. but has no gumption concerning breeding himself toward intelligence.When faced with the biological record concerning man–the fossil record–man no matter his assertions to the contrary views this record as having been a gigantic and natural piece of totalitarianism and far removed from morality. Man inexorably having evolved to today, in the direction of intelligence? Totalitarian to the core! A natural totalitarianism imposed by nature on man, a more thorough and intelligent totalitarianism than any man has imposed on man. Quite simply for all our politics so far over history, we are not equal to taking up from nature and evolving ourselves toward intelligence. We balk at such a project. Apparently intelligence can be created to where we can have such an understanding of ourselves that we can see we have evolved toward intelligence, but this intelligence cannot–and our wills cannot–take up the project from nature and evolve toward even greater intelligence. We can look back and observe we have evolved from largely ape to man, but we cannot state we will bring politics in line with this evidence and continue our evolution.

  • daniel12

    Part five.This is not to say the Republican party does not have the Lamarckian tendency concerning man of being able to pass on culture which animals cannot do, but that the Republican party chooses rudimentary culture which cannot help but bring man closer to the animals, and of course, closer to acting in line with pure natural selection. This explains why for all religion, all morality and willingness to put questionable impulses at bay, the Republican party is perfectly compatible with a Laissez Faire view of the world–the struggle of economics, in other words. Or what the Democratic party would observe as “Social Darwinism”. So we can see the Republican party is utterly remote from understanding the very words written here–utterly remote from the simple observation that the fossil record concerning man demonstrates that all future politics will either be in line with the attempt of man to continue his evolution toward intelligence or really be obsolescent. But the Democratic party is no better.The Democratic party in America is the party supposedly beyond religion, the champion of the secular view, the scientific view, and atheists typically prefer to be considered left wing. But appallingly for all this “advancement”, “progress” , the Democratic party demonstrates that it is farther from the views of Darwin and Lamarck–the biological view in general–than the Republican party! The Democratic party says yes to the evidence of the evolutionary view–meaning Darwin–but separates the biological view completely from the social sphere. The Democratic party far from respecting the Lamarckian tendency of man to pass on culture–and to recognize the evidence of the fossil record which asks that we continue to evolve man toward intelligence–cannot even stand the concept of natural selection it pits so often against religion! The Democratic party has of course the socialistic leaning, which means it must disrupt natural selection concerning man completely and elevate all people equally–not discriminate at all concerning anything, and of course not discriminate concerning intelligence no matter that the fossil record shows man inexorably moving in one direction: Toward intelligence. For all the belief of the Democratic party concerning biology, it has society moving in a circular direction, the intelligent serving the less so and the less so empowered to be on equal footing with the intelligent.

  • daniel12

    Part four.But now to get to the root of the matter, and the disturbing understanding of how especially our politics is far removed from acting on scientific understanding. And for convenience sake I will address myself to only the politics of the United States, for that should be enough for a replacement of these views by other political views supposing one wants to compare other political views with the gist of the argument being laid out. The big question then, is how do our two major political parties stack up with respect to Darwin and Lamarck, the fossil record concerning man, the biological view in general?–And supposing we are honest we will find, first, and concerning the Republican party, that it is all too likely to be removed from the biological view by keeping elevated the religious view of man. Furthermore, for all its attempt to keep the religious view alive it shows clear evidence of being in thrall to Darwin’s natural selection, to be for all culture and difference from animals, stuck in the quandary of the “struggle for existence”, to give another aspect of what natural selection means. And all this is perfectly understandable, because in being conservative, elevating religion–which is a quite old view of the world–the Republican party cannot help but find itself reduced toward the biological link between man and animal, the link of both under the influence of natural selection.

  • daniel12

    Part two.And no doubt probably the best evidence for determining whether one can live without a belief in God is the evidence concerning whether species of flora and fauna are static, do not evolve,–do not change–or whether they do undergo transformations, evolve. The former position of course is often allied with a belief in God, the creationist belief. And the latter is the belief which became most famous with first Lamarck and then Darwin. And needless to say, the evidence that species evolve has been demolishing the “static” belief, and of course creationism. Now, to set ourselves up for discussion it would be best to briefly state the theories of Lamarck and Darwin.Lamarck truly put the evolutionary view as opposed to the static on the map with his belief in acquired characteristics by species being passed on to young. To be clearer, Lamarck theorized that species change by say,–and to give one of the most famous examples–the giraffe as it grows up and in adulthood stretching its neck out a bit longer than the previous generation and then passing this longer neck to young which in turn stretch their necks out a bit longer and pass this characteristic to young. This of course is simplified as the theory of acquired characteristics. Now Darwin of course is famous for the alternative and widely considered correct theory of natural selection–which briefly stated is the belief that a species is always producing variants of itself–characteristically different from each other young–and depending on various circumstances (change in climate, competition with other and/or one’s own species, etc.) certain of the young will enjoy an advantage which lets them reproduce more than the other young and pass on the advantageous characteristics. And of course slowly but surely the species changes in the direction of the advantageous characteristics.

  • daniel12

    Part three.Now with these preliminaries in mind it really only demands to be asked whether we are living up to the evolutionary view over the static, non-changing species view (the creationist view if one prefers to reduce it to religion). And my view is clearly no. And the proof for this nay answer is startlingly obvious. All one has to do is examine the fossil record concerning man and point out the evident which virtually every educated person knows: The fossil record concerning man opens up a deeper timewise history than the typical history of civilizations rising and falling and reveals that although typical history does not demonstrate an irrefutable path forward, the fossil record clearly does–and the path forward demonstrated by the fossil record is the path toward intelligence by the constant alteration of what is a species which was more primate than modern man. The fossil record clearly shows that whatever our culture, politics, religion, if such is not falling in line with the project of continuing this alteration of man toward increased intelligence–and there is no reason to suppose we cannot change toward greater intelligence to the degree we have already changed from a millions of years old ancestor–we are living an obsolete view. Politics clearly over the next thousand years will revolve around whether we are taking our further evolution in hand or not.Now a few comments on how man differs from the animals when we apply the evolutionary views of Lamarck and Darwin. Darwin of course has been considered correct and Lamarck has been discredited, but actually while Darwin is more correct with virtually every other animal than man, Lamarck has a challenge concerning man. For all natural selection which applies to all flora and fauna and of course man, man is distinguished from the animals by a rudimentary Lamarckian tendency in being able to pass culture–the acquired characteristic of culture–to young. All we know as our culture, religion, politics, etc. is a rudimentary Lamarckism, and this difference from the animals in the first place is what has allowed us to become scientific beings contemplating the fossil record, our origins, and describing how we have become what we are. And we can see at once that there is some truth in religion saying man is a special creature–one to be distinguished from the animals–because of course of the rudimentary Lamarckian tendency. This is not to say in our being special we inevitably must lord it over the animals and consider ourselves as having had a divine origin and that we can be saved by God who loves us over everything, but that no matter the discounting of religion man cannot help but wonder how special he is, what differences he possesses over all other life.

  • daniel12

    Part one.The case for the existence of God? The case for the existence of God cannot be made, cannot be considered reliable and not merely a default position until the case can be made that man can act on the scientific evidence he has at hand not so much to discredit the belief in God but demonstrate that he can live without a belief in God. And the evidence so far concerning the ability of man to live without God is very little, meaning really that man has not demonstrated he can live without God, therefore all suggestions as to whether God exists or not are irrelevant because the naysayers are really not at all distinguishable from the believers. This can easily be demonstrated by really marshalling the scientific evidence before one and asking if one can live with this evidence as opposed to a belief in God.

  • justillthennow

    Hello Walter IFC, It is fascinating the need to have physical provability of something before believing in it’s potential existence, or that “proof” requires “evidence”, again physically tangible. I am not much of a believer in personification of “God”, that being the Ultimate Unknown, (or any other such Title). In versions of God, faces of Diety, etc, yes, masks and personification. But the idea that God could “reveal” himself easily and, not doing so, is shy and suspect is floppy reasoning.The ideal of God, perhaps, like the ideal of our own spiritual essence beyond physical manifestation, is it’s very ‘ethereal-ness’. I am more a follower of ‘Eastern’ thought around Cause and Creation. Shukla’s essay this week is a nice description of the essence of those philosophies and is worth a read.Best.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    justillthennow,i was not specific enough. i was talking about the god of judeochrislam – the cartoonish, father-in-the-sky-with-a-beard god who supposedly repeatedly boldly revealed himself to the ancients (in the form of flooding planets, parting waters, chariots of fire, resurrecting people, flying horses etc…).of course there are other more sophisticated conceptions of god.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,RE: FinnsI’m not sure the Nazis are always presented as demonic others. We know a great deal more about them now. While some surely were other, many, in fact, the majority of Jew torturers, killers were “Ordinary.” Ditto the majority of gay, killers, Roma killers, pagan killers, etc.The bigger problem is that the murderers are generally viewed to have been exclusively German Christian/Catholics. They were not of course. Ukranian Catholics, Polish, Hungarian, Catholics, Rushian Orthodox, Baltic Catholics, etc., were all among those engaged in the carnage.They were even more “ordinary” than the Germans. In anticipation of occupation normal church-going citizens would go out and have free-for-alls. We have photographic evidence of this.My own students, at first, refuse to believe it. Only when they read about it, do research, do they accept it. It is traumatic for them.It helps to get the message across if one makes clear that this was not the only genocide. Sometimes, I start a course with journal notes from Spaniards, Puritans, etc., on their murdering American Indians.It’s vital that students understand that the Holocaust was a historical event, part of human history, German history, Russian history, etc. Neither hating the Other in general nor hating Jews in specific developed in the 1930s.Knowing history will never prevent us from repeating it, as Nietzsche wrote. I’ve had survivors come to my class and literally weep about Darfur, just one among many genocides that followed ours.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,RE: AuschwitzThere was an international labor movement at the time of the Shoah, communist. Culturally Christian communist internees did, at times, have ways of learning that Jewish communists were en route. When the Christian communists had clout, as was the case with the mysterious Orly, they would do all they could to keep the Jewish communists alive.These cases were few and far between, since clout was a rarity, and the Christian communists could not always know who was coming.There were also escapes from Auschwitz, uprisings, the famous beautiful Jewish girl episode, etc. These, I’m sure you’re familiar with.

  • compchiro

    A correction is in order.I wrote:”Do not fall into the typical mindlessness of some (not the majority) right wing Christians that the issue is solely about Christianty.”I was trying to say that mostly right wing Christians hold this idiotic viewpoint that atheists are trying to denby them the right to believe in their version of Christianity or are try to stop parents from teaching their children about thier religion. The majority of christains are intelligent enough to know that that viewpoint is garbage.

  • colinnicholas

    Hi Farnaz;It’s a pity that Armstrong found god again after losing him when she was a nun. I really enjoyed her early books which described all this. It’s as if she would agree now that there is no actual God, but claim that that is not the point, He’s not supposed to be actual. He’s mythos. If you think He exists then He exists. So if you don’t think He exists then He doesn’t, right?Yes I remember Zia. Exploding mangoes eh!

  • cyber-man

    1 of 2:Dear “Automatic-Borneth [Sin/Curseth-FREE] Citizenz/Denizens, aka APOCALYPTARYAN’s Nationals Of S.pace-S.hip Earth(s) of many: BEHOLD; There is EVIL lurking here to discredit US “SECULAR” Lovers & Frienfly’s!Interesting: Before i [WE] begin, note: “TORAH (not Moses) + GOSPEL (not Jesus) pluse QURAN (not Muhammad).”To Christians The word “JESUS” Means interchangibly 3-Entitys or 4: 1)Mr. Jesus, or 2) Father Jesus, 3)Ghost Jesus & or the 4) Mother Jesus. Note: goSPELL means TORAH & Torah means goSPEL, not JESUS as factor!— Important Atheist/Ex-Atheits, agnostic/Ex-agnostics, believers today, non-believers, Secularists, ex-Secularists tomorrow….This past week , around Oct.8th.09, at a Speech in George Town University; Ex-PM Tony Blair, friend Of Islamis Eboo Patel; freudiantly Slippeth’d and sayth, That “SECULARIST are Anti-JUDEO-abe-Catholic/Chrisrian” and Anti-JUDEO-abe-Muslom/Islamic [Similar inmplied or said].Oooopps here’s the excerpt: ““We face an aggressive secular attack from without. We face the threat of extremism from within.” … there “no hope” from atheists who scorn God, the best way to confront the secularist agenda was for all faiths to unite against it. [Thanks he did not say “IT”: Us Seculars New-Name for “G-D”, not a “HE” nor a “SHE”]…. Those who scorn God and those who do violence in God’s name, both represent views of religion. But both offer no hope for faith in the twenty first century….”But the Give-away [Satans advocate does talk too much ya know?!] was when he Bigtime-FREUDIANTLY slipped saying, “Judeo-abe-Islamic + us Judeo-abe-Christo’s are or make-up 1/2 the Worlds (man-Made) Religions…” [Similar].What the Satanic Versus Lovers [Eboo Patel & Tony Blair are saying] is , “Lets Unite and Convert the Rest to either Christian or Islamic with “Divide & Conquor” Rules.! continued: to 2 of 2

  • cyber-man

    continued: to 2 of 2Please see:Wow: MALARIA-DAY set for the Christo/Islamic Pow-Wow April 2010., wow, what a way to Win-Over Poor sickened Afrikans, selling them False hopes, yet Enriching themselves & their “god Players” at home. iMPORTANT: This/These EVIL/JINNS/SATANS/GURGA/KALI/KAKA’s JESUSIAN & MUHAMIDIAN FINATICS/LOVERS Of forgot that “SECULARISM” in Sweet Sweet U.S. of A is a “FEDERALY” Recognised “REligion” not only Judeo-Abes nor Judeo-Vedics & Competotos!Now i [WE] know where some of U.S. SECULAR’s Tax Payers [Stolen] $2.Billion Dollars is going to! Hello Desmond TUTU? Dali LAMA? Rick Warren? BOBO & CO., too?NOTICE: The United States Of America’s “SECULAR” Ploritariat Must demand that EBOO PATEL + TONY BLAIR be considered Anti-Humanity & abrought to Justice Here as “ENEMY COMBATANTS! No Exception! Or there will be a CIVIL WAr Here! Or is it “The WAR of the Right Religion(s)”?? O’ Holyi-NO-MAN/Womb; Do-not Forgive these Idiot Savants {aka Dangerous People} for they know’eth what they are Conspiring with [for Profit in disquise of for Prophets]. OYE VAY!PS: Time to have Congress or Grass-Roots or Street Protests against the UNCONSTITUTIONAL stealing (w/out Permission by US, ‘THE-[Secular folk]PEOPLE’ $2 Billion Dollars U.S., via Presidential Executive-Abuse of the Seperation of CHURCH’s/Mosques/Temples/Sinogogues.. in America NOW! VOTE: Or HOLLER; “DOWN W/Borak Husein OBAMA’s White-House Faith Based Community [USURPATION] Initiative [NOT OURs]right NOW! Not Tomorrow! Or else be WARNED:DOWN w/OBAMA! DOWN w/OBAMA! DOWN w/OBAMA! DOWN w/OBAMA! DOWN w/OBAMA! DOWN w/OBAMA!DOWN w/THEOCRACY & MONARCHY on S.pace-S.hip Earth (OUR HEAVEN)!DOWN w/THEOCRACY & MONARCHY on S.pace-S.hip Earth (OUR HEAVEN)!Blair & Patel & Conspirators will have a great big DOWN FALL! And not the Biblical/Koranic one!Amazing. NO GRACE ()!

  • edbyronadams

    “I will confess that I do not understand why so many believers devote so much energy to denigrating atheism. It’s a mystery.”It is because a society of atheists is poorer than one of believers. Atheists claim moral action by invoking the Golden Rule, recognizing that if we lived in a world in which selfishness ran rampant, everyone would suffer. However, if you believe there is no transcendent price to pay for transgressions of the rule, rationality would argue that you advocate for that behavior in public and cheat on it to your own advantage at every point in private. Atheism is on the march. So is legalism and immorality.

  • Counterww

    So how would you attempt to get American children not to be taught or raised without religion, humanist?Would you take away the rights of parents to teach their children about Christ? Would you indoctrinate them in YOUR truth in the public schools? I would really be interested in this.And to Walter- I guess that only scientific evidence is your barometer or metric to truth. Is all truth provable? I think not. This is why God imparts to us faith so we believe without having to prove out every single thing in our lives.

  • Schaum

    HAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE DEATHCAMPSPart OneI’m not moving to Germany for ten more months. But I have a large and complicated household, which I am beginning to catalog, box, and distribute among friends, deciding what I will give away and what I will sell. I’m taking nothing with me but my clothes, camera, music and a harpsichord. And my dog.This week, with a guest in the house who is visiting from Berlin, and who shares my fascination/obsession with the Holocaust in general and Auschwitz/Birkenau in particular, I have been sorting through the nearly-100 books I have collected dealing with that subject, and looking through the countless photographs I made there on my two trips to visit the deathcamps , again in general and Auschwitz/Birkenau in particular.My cardiologist, who spotted me reading a book on Nuremberg in his waiting-room, said “When I read about the Holocaust, I become clinically depressed.” He is right. Holocaust literature and places must be sampled, interspersed with other readings and experiences. If you dive into it for several months at a time, you wind up wanting to kill yourself.In his novel “Jurgen”, J.B. Cabell relates how Merlin sent Jurgen to a Druid who had promised to reveal the truth about life. Merlin apparently was afraid to accept the invitation himself. Jurgen, after having received the revelation, remarked that it was rather unpleasant. To which the Druid replied: “If Merlin had seen what you have seen, Merlin would have died, and Merlin would have died without regret, for Merlin receives facts reasonably.”Nevertheless, while at Auschwitz, I learned a few things. I’ve been thinking about those things this week, and discussing them with my German visitor, and my feelings/ideas are legion. Writing them out is my attempt to make sense of them.I have learned that there is no God.

  • Schaum

    WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE DEATHCAMPSPart TwoThe most important lesson I learned from Auschwitz is that God does not exist. “Occam’s Razor” tells us not to search for a complicated explanation when a simple one is available. Ever since Auschwitz, theologians have had to go through major contortions to hold onto an image of God. There are only two possibilities: either God caused (or at least permitted) the destruction of homosexuals, intellectuals, political dissidents, Jehovah’s witnesses, Jews, the Gypsies, the physically and mentally infirm, and the other victims — or God just does not care. The first approach is unacceptable for two reasons. It means that entire groups of people may be indicted based on identity or race, which is contrary to everything I believe. And it makes God out to be a mass murderer. On the other hand, if God does not care, why believe in Him? An uncaring God is either a cruel and negligent one, or, even worse, a God who is unaware of humans and their plight. This latter–the God of Spinoza and of Freud’s psychotic Dr. Schreber–is really just a metaphysical formulation bearing little or no relationship to the popular idea of God as a being who plans/controls/intervenes in human history.Although there are only two possibilities, there is a third approach to retaining belief in God: shut up and stop asking questions. Interestingly, this is the message not of God but the devil to the knight in Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal.” Probably, the majority of those who believe in a Jewish or Christian God today– at least I hope it is the majority–simply do not confront God with the question of how He could let the Holocaust happen. But this approach is not acceptable to those who believe that there is no area off-limits to human questioning.By far the simplest explanation for the Holocaust is that there is no God to intervene in human affairs. No deity exists to care what we do to each other. All compassion and all hatred in the human universe is ours. We are on our own.Surviving the Holocaust was not an ennobling experienceI hesitate to say this, because it is a sidelight rather than a major issue. Also, this insight could indirectly be used to fuel anti-Semitism/anti-anything really. Since it is an insight I had in researching Auschwitz, I do not want to leave it out. But I do not want to make too much of it either.

  • Schaum

    WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE DEATHCAMPSPart ThreeIt would be very easy to believe that anyone who survived the Holocaust must be a saint. This does not bear examination. Auschwitz was an extermination camp. A saint in Auschwitz likely died on the day of arrival. A saint who survived did so in spite of sainthood, not because of it. Those who survived did so because they had and exploited some advantage over the others. Doctors survived because early on the Nazis made a decision to spare them and enlist them in the administrative life of the camp, including human experimentation. Skilled workmen survived because their skills were needed. Polish prostitutes were spared for the brothel block. Hustlers, who made themselves indispensable to the camp authorities, survived. Art Spiegelman in “Maus” tells the story of how his father, an enterpreneur, survived in Auschwitz. He persuaded the man in charge of his block that he was a shoemaker. He taught himself how to make simple repairs. When handed a pair of boots far beyond his skills to fix, Mr. Spiegelman found a shoemaker in one of the other blocks and subcontracted the work. Mr. Spiegelman survived in part because of this man’s labor, but the shoemaker’s fate is not recorded.I do not remember the source of another story. Every morning, the inhabitants of each block turned out for roll call. Despite the chaos of the camp, the daily murders and deaths from disease and overwork, the neat German penchant for bureaucracy meant that the numbers must be monitored and that roll call would take place every day. Anyone found at roll call without his shoes would be sent to the gas chamber–but a moment of inattention and any personal effects could be stolen. A teenager who survived Auschwitz related how he was raped in his bunk one night by another inmate. The next morning, he realized the rapist had stolen his shoes, to ensure his elimination. So he simply took a pair from someone who was still sleeping, assuring the other’s destruction instead of his own.Primo Levi survived because he was young, relatively strong, and a chemist. Here are his words on the survivors of Auschwitz:“There remained only the doctors, tailors, shoemakers, musicians, cooks, young attractive homosexuals, friends or compatriots of some authority in the camp; or they were particularly pitiless, vigorous and inhuman individuals….or, finally, those who, without fulfilling particular functions, had always succeeded through their astuteness and energy in successfully organizing, gaining in this way, besides material advantages and reputation, the indulgence and esteem of the powerful people in the camp….[All others] followed the slope down to the bottom, like streams that run down to the sea.”

  • Schaum

    WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE DEATHCAMPSPart FourThe Holocaust is not a credit cardIn high school, I had a friend who was Lebanese. We had a very full friendship; we could talk to each other about almost anything. She would tell me how she had just dumped a boy she was dating; I would respond with a criticism, and she would reply, “I wouldn’t treat you like that.” We were very highly attracted to each other, but nothing could ever happen because of the Arab-Jewish thing, which was the one topic on which communication always broke down. Some of our teachers were Jewish. She did not deny that the Holocaust had happened, but she believed that our teachers, when they taught it every year, used it as a kind of blank check for present-day Jewish interests– an accusation that made me crazy with anger at the time but which I take more seriously today. Later, I met another woman, part American Indian, who added her own theory: only those things have happened to you which have actually happened to you personally. If you have experienced any kind of prejudice in your life, you have experienced it and possibly learned something from it and evolved because of it. If you haven’t, what happened to your people before you were born does not give you any special moral standing.One of our teachers was fond of writing on the board the quote from Santayana that says if we do not remember the past, we will be condemned to repeat it. This is the most important reason to remember from the Holocaust–a message which frequently is lost in the way it is delivered, for example, when the Nazis are presented as demonic “others” entirely dissimilar to us. They were not. The point here is that, whenever someone speaks about the Holocaust, it is worth asking what the subtext is of the speech. If it is ever in aid of an agenda like support of a particular country or the betterment of a single group, those who died there are being insulted. If the speech is in support of self-examination, an end to hatred and becoming better human beings, it should be heard.There are different types of rememberingIt is not enough merely to remember the past; one must remember the truth, analyze it, derive rules from it and desire to act. But this is not what we usually do. Most of our remembering, in fact, does the opposite: it is a preparatory step for the final ejection of the truth from public consciousness. This style of remembering is similar to the process by which an oyster creates a pearl by coating an impurity. The movie Schindler’s List is an example of this kind of remembering; it sends you from the theater hopeful and relieved, feeling that the Holocaust has been handled: a hero has arisen to handle the Holocaust. In so doing, it tells the wrong story. The main themes of the Holocaust were not rescue or hope but despair and murder.

  • Schaum

    FinisOf all the books I have read on Auschwitz, none mention Oskar Schindler or relate the episode shown in the movie of his rescue of the “Schindlerjuden” from Auschwitz. Instead, most agree that there was no rescue from Auschwitz. According to Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem, Adolf Eichmann testified that even he could not rescue a “favorite” Jew from Auschwitz.How do you remember a truth that will cause clinical depression? A truth that will cause a man or woman who “receives facts reasonably” to want to die? You steel yourself and remember it, that’s all. The only hope you can derive from such a truth, clearly seen, is the resolve to act differently and to do your small part to make the world different than it is. The Nazis were not so different from us. They just accepted the fact that there is no god.

  • Pamsm

    “… an erie and spooky thought for those who believe in god.”Shouldn’t be – they have no trouble believing that God has always existed. A much bigger leap for me.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:”to a person of faith?Which is precisely why the law distinguishes between “evidence” and “proof”.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Counterww,well, when you say “truth” i presume you’re talking about the truth of the existence of god. i think it is only because there we don’t have such loose standards of proof for mundane things. i mean, if someone said they saw a person with three heads, no one would believe that “on faith”. any sane person would require evidence before believing something like that. why should it be any different for believing in god?

  • colinnicholas

    Walter IFC;Loved your common sense response to Counterww.Reducing choice of beliefs to a choice of ice-cream flavours was inspired; I say this as a confirmed chocolatist.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    colinnicholas,

  • AmusedMuse

    So what if art and religion (and dance and religion, and theatre and religion, and, er, barbequed lamb and religion) were inseparable in the past? SEX and religion were also inseparable in the past! Whooo-hooo, tally ho, atheists! Let’s practice our religion – public orgies! Wine-sodden bacchanals! I’m sure Armstrong, the ex-nun, would approve of

  • aredant

    “…I have no desire to change the views of religious believers–as long as they do claim that their beliefs should set the standard for society.”Excellent point. Moderate religionists often take an “I’m OK, You’re OK” tact with respect to tolerance – forgetting that there is an intrinsic conflict between non-belief and say, the one true faith. Is it so unreasonable for so-called “militant Atheists” to rail against those who espouse the notion that Atheists are lost, bitter, selfish etc – in effect saying that they are better than them?

  • justillthennow

    ” cahooch “1.) a hut or temporary shelter, built or addressed somewhere in California. 2.) slang, derivative term for a soft and overstuffed sofa, if located in someones “caribe”, a hang out house in the Caribbean Islands.3.) vulgar slang, expression of approval of a female body, private parts in particular, possibly also conceptualized in a ca ribe. Doubtless the conceived in the brain of a man under an overload of chemical love cocktail.

  • justillthennow

    Schaum, Love is doubtless viewed by scientific types and the atheist viewpoint as purely a chemical process in the brain. Likewise thought is also the result of chemical and neurological/physiological processes and interactions in and of the body, and consciousness is only the result of these processes while the body lives, ceasing when the physiology that supports these processes fails.This perception is only appropriate, as viewed by those that are looking at the physical world in which we live and seeking rational explanation for it’s existence, causes and effects, function. Lacking data of other ’causes’, unaware and unconvinced of there being other spheres of influence that affect their observations and postulations, causality of consciousness is ascribed to physical function.I am of another school of thought, one that conceives of consciousness as predating physical form, and of existing beyond it and outside of it, as well as inside of it. Not being constrained by the form, but creating the form, and continuing beyond the form.Much of reason has no choice but to assume that form creates consciousness, (and love, in your example, via cocktails). There is not proof of another cause and the physical processes are what are available to study and draw conclusions from. It is a logical conclusion.I believe, (call me IR rational here, if you like, though I don’t feel irrational), that consciousness creates form, and is the life that invigorates and animates form, and as consciousness departs a decaying form, life in that body ends, though the consciousness does not.When we get to the point that science is able to track and study consciousness on it’s own terms we, (I expect!), will have a major transformation of science, and a huge leap forward.

  • colinnicholas

    Justill;Here’s a page from Pinker’s “How The Mind Works”:”The most common of all follies,” wrote H.L.Mencken, “is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints, fairies, angels, demons, cherubims, djinns, devils and gods.The common answer – that people take comfort in the thought of a benevolent shepherd, a universal plan, or an afterlife — is unsatisfying, because it only raises the question of why a mind would evolve to find comfort in beliefs it can plainly see are false. A freezing person finds no comfort in believing he is warm; a person face-to-face with a lion is not put at ease by the conviction that it is a rabbit. What is religion? Like the psychology of the arts, the psychology of religion has been muddied by scholars’ attempts to exalt it while understanding it. Religion cannot be equated with our higher, spiritual, humane, ethical yearnings ( though it sometimes overlaps with them).As Blaise Pascal wrote;”Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” from “How The Mind Works” by Steven Pinker. pub.WWNorton & Co. 1997. p554-555.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    justillthennow wrote,and colinnicholas asked,there are really no observations involved. i suspect he thinks that because he you raise interesting questions about where souls “go” when bodies die. and obviously, “logically” speaking, souls are being created somewhere along the line – human population has exploded recently. one scenerio would be that souls gather somewhere (pretty much like heaven) after their 80 or so years in our bodies. maybe they don’t gather anywhere, but just kind of freely roam the universe.or, maybe they go to sort of a waiting-room type place to be reassigned to a new body (maybe at conception?). this would work for some, but as i mentioned the number of souls is growing so some souls are on their first go-round, but others are more experienced. this sounds kind of like some forms of buddhism or hinduism i’ve read about.anyway, not being constrained by evidence, justillthennow is entitled to his views. there’s just as much evidence for his soul-survival-system (religion) as there is for any other system.justillthennow, are you the same person as “justillthen” from a little while back?

  • Pamsm

    Justillthennow,All who find human evolution interesting: Discovery channel is airing a special on Ardi, the new Ardipithecus fossil, at 9:00 PM Eastern.

  • colinnicholas

    Hi Pam. Nice to see you up and about (so to speak).

  • Counterww

    That is the ironic thing, Walter- where do you think the source of our choices come from? People can reject god or allah even in Iran, they just can’t share it very much without the threat of jail or death.It has nothing to do with sep clause. Ironically, the very God you reject gave you the choice to reject him. He puts no guns to anyone’s heads at all. My point about teaching children was to the other nutty atheist on this particular forum that he would like to see the day when kids have a choice of what is taught to them at a young age. The only way to do this is to FORCE parents to listen to some other point of view , and that is the only way it can happen.

  • Counterww

    Also, what can be known about the unknown-aka – God- can be found in the scriptures, which the lot of you reject.Just because you don’t accept the Bible does not make its truth untrue.It’s plain before your eyes man’s sin and the solution to it in Christ’s redemption. You are either too selfish, elitist, or “intelligent” to accept the words that were written down , especially in the NT.Amazing how people want all truth to be “provable” …pretty immature too.

  • colinnicholas

    Daniel12;Science thrives on mystery…is motivated by mystery and the curiosity aroused by such mysteries. Science reveals mysteries to blow our minds. Have you bothered to look at the latest pictures from outer space taken by the Hubble Telescope, or the more recent shots pf the rings around Jupiter?

  • blasmaic

    I don’t understand her belief that religion contrains freedom of thought. In America, and Europe too, religion is the strongest balance to an oppressive state. Remember that in 1980-1 Poland’s Solidarity coalition between workers and Roman Catholics nearly forced an invasion by the Soviet Union or an acceptance of worker freedoms. In 2002-3 here in America, when the Catholic Church should have been opposing an ill-fated war plan, leaders were instead answering in the media for child sex abuse cases that were sometimes decades old. By contrast, in Turkey, the Church and state worked together to block American troops from entering Iraq through southern Turkey, which may well have delayed World War 3 and the establishment of Kurdistan in the northern Iraq no-fly zone.In every instance (except the Spanish Civil War), the stronger the churches are, the more difficult it is for government to harm the people.She’s always a dingbat so that makes fun to read. Kind of like Anne Applebaum.

  • AmusedMuse

    Daniel12:Where are you getting your information about science “destroying” love? What scholarly article or journal did you read to conclude that science destroys love? Or rather, aren’t you at fault for setting up the assumption that love must be otherworldly? Aren’t You are guilty of the same thing, justillthennow. What do you mean by “purely a chemical process in the brain”? Don’t you find any mystery at all in a chemical process of the brain? Does the brain not intrigue you? Does chemistry, with its periodic table and interactions, not inspire you? I

  • Schaum

    Anti_Bad:” cahooch “This is a fascinating word, a possible addition to our vocabulary. Obviously you meant ‘cahoots’, but the word ‘cahooch’ has a nice feel in the mouth.I propose a contest amongst the bloggers, to define this new word: cahooch. Might it mean a blend of California wines? A pleasing combination of red and white zinfandels, perhaps? Or could it describe a simple, collapsible tent-like structure, convenient for use on camping trips?What do you say?

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”RE: FinnsI’m not sure the Nazis are always presented as demonic others. “Finns? What are you talking about?Of course: nothing is ever ALWAYS a given. There are exceptions.But I think you would agree that, by and large, Nazis are demonized as monsters. This is a serious mistake: the Nazis, including Hitler, were all human beings. They did monstrous things. They were not monsters; we expect monsters to do monstrous things, and thereby their behavior is not extraordinary. But human beings are “not supposed” to do monstrous things…and when they do, they illuminate a potential in human behavior that must not be glossed over or marginalized by calling it “monstrous”. It isn’t. It is human behavior, however gruesome/rare it may be. It should be embraced, studied, learned from: it is evil, and should be studied as such and acknowledged as a potential force in all of us.Every man should look in a mirror…and carefully look at the face of a potential murderer.

  • colinnicholas

    Hi Farnaz;Yes I would recommend “The Reluctant Mr Darwin”. It’s a wonderful little book and shows how the implications of his discoveries really bothered Charles. He so wanted to believe in God, but he valued truth too much. And then there was the Mrs.

  • Counterww

    Yes I know Walter, YOUR standards for how to know God are the only ones that matter. I get it. But you go to church and come home seething that others don’t agree with you, right? That is pretty sad.As for the other poster that called my post garbage, I just can’t fathom any way to stop people from believing in God other than to make it illegal. It is our Christian duty to teach our kids that the love of the gospel and that is real, that it changes lives for the better, and that loving God first and our neighbor 2nd is the top two actions we should strive for in this life. Those that reject it can do so, and they have the luxury of doing so due to free will.

  • tarded2much

    Hey Susan, do you believe in love? Have you ever told someone you loved them?If so, then you have beliefs not based on scientific evidence.There is no such thing as love according to your system; only chemical reactions.Any atheist who believes in love is lying to herself.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Counterww, you said,no, no, no. i don’t require everyone to believe what i believe. i think religion is just a matter of opinion – like chocolate or vanilla. some people firmly believe chocolate, and others are just as sure it’s vanilla. you can’t make laws about matters of opinion.i am a chocolatist. my evidence is…well…it just tastes better to me. i just KNOW it’s better. that’s my faith, and in america that’s my right. you said,even though i’m a chocolatist, i don’t want to make vanilla (or even strawberry) illegal. and i don’t know of any atheist who wants to “stop people from believing in god”. and certainly not by force of law.you said,that’s great if you want to teach your kids your opinions about vanilla at home or even in church, but keep it out of my kid’s school, and keep it out of the courts.you said,well, actually they have that freedom because of separation of church and state.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Schaum,

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Amazing how people want all truth to be “provable” …pretty immature too.

  • rubytues63

    Only a narrow mind equates science with truth. Knowing how the sun works does not change how I live my life. Knowing how many electrons silver has does not make this metal more or less valuable. The Truth is transformational. If you are not changed after experiencing the Truth, then you have never experienced it. Perhaps the best description of the role of truth came from a movie and no, ‘the speech’ did not specifically mention God.“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honor, courage and virtue mean everything; that power and money mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this…. that love….true love never dies! Remember that boy … remember that. Doesn’t matter if it is true or not, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.” — Secondhand Lions.How sad that some people will only accept a truth that comes from a beaker or tape measure, for they have never experienced the Truth.

  • justillthennow

    Hello Rubytues63, “How sad that some people will only accept a truth that comes from a beaker or tape measure, for they have never experienced the Truth.”I am not so quick to judge that those that love, (if it is love, chemistry is involved!), science and justifications and proofs have never experienced “the Truth”. We, none of us, really know what “the Truth” is. We all live in assumptions and suppositions and a great deal of ignorance about the greater whole. Hell, (so to speak), virtually everyone lives in some (great deal) of ignorance about themselves, let alone the greater whole. Science is, like life, an evolutionary process. If you are against ‘evolution’, please forgive, and exchange the term ‘changeable’ or ‘mutable’ process. Fact is, it is knowledge that is built upon the work of those before and will change based on what comes in the future.Much like us. Anyone that thinks they know the Truth is either aware or not of their own ignorance in the assertion. ‘Tis better, and more honest, to recognize we do not Know, so stay available to what Is.

  • justillthennow

    RubyTues63, That last bit said, I agree with this statement of yours, as well as others:”Only a narrow mind equates science with truth.”

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi ColinNicholas,Glad the Scientific American article interested you! Awhile ago, I posted a link to a site containing numerous articles on the Zen brain connection, even videos, put up by a research team comprising neurologists, Zen monks. Among the Zen monks was a scientist, among the scientists Zen practitioners.What is, perhaps, among the more interesting and important aspects of the work this University team is doing is that the Zen monks have played an equal role in designing the investigations. The findings have been very impressive.For the life of me, I cannot find the link. Perhaps, Schaum or Persiflage, to whom I posted it, has it bookmarked.Also, you might be interested in Persiflage’s link. A theological aspect has been introduced into this work, not theological in the Western sense….Very interesting!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    SchaumColinnicholas wrote:”I want to be there when this happens – so when exactly will he return?”And how should we dress? If its after Labor Day we can’t wear white.

  • Schaum

    “Only a narrow mind equates science with truth.”Indeed. “Truth” is a philosophical concept; “fact” is a scientific concept. Truth and fact are two entirely different things.Many thoughtless people confuse the two.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”I recommend a decisive, unapologetic tan, with perhaps, a light brown belt, and a brighter color or subtle print scarf. Not too much green though–too obvious.”Personally, I think we should all be nude. Might as well have SOME fun…

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,- Ustasha-like – for the good of their souls. Wouldn’t want them to grow up and risk not being *chosen* by Jesus’ predestinating, faux-freewill-peddling DAD.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    When the war ended and the rightful governments regained control of their countries, they took those same Nazi’s and put them on trial.They were judged individually for every act they had committed based on the laws that had already been established in that country. Among those who were tried (a comparatively miniscule number) were the many who were found innocent (LOL) despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt, those who were sentenced, but never served a day, those whose sentence was commuted to the ridiculous, etc.Now, we are only talking about Germany, I presume. What about the ordinary church-going Christian murderers of LIthuania, Latvia, Russia, Poland, Croatia, Hungary, Ukaraine, Greece, etc., etc., etc.?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    ColinNicholasThe Bible contains instructions for genocide, rape, and the destruction of families, and even the Ten Commandments, read in context, prohibit murder, lying, and theft only within the tribe, not against outsiders.The Bible contains a God who incarnates himself as a man-god to reintroduce human sacrifice, which should have ended with the binding of Isaac. (Evidently, God changed his mind.)The New murdering essentialist God, indicts humankind for the “sins” of Adam and Eve, then holds them hostage for all time for the torture/slaying He arranged. But it all works out in the End. That God is also the God of do what you will but believe in me at the eleventh hour and yuh gets to go to Heaven. (But NB:Do good, commit to justice, but doubt, disbelieve and yer damned….) (Nothing to worry about: cheap grace)Nice.

  • justillthennow

    Pamsm,Hello old friend! ;-)”Where does this consciousness go when someone smacks you in the head with a baseball bat?”:-0 !!!Now that is the Pamsm I know and love. Underneath all that scientific certainty and rational clarity is a more fundamentalist nature, a base woman swinging a baseball bat! Perhaps you should just put down that logic and grab your bat, girl! Power is in violence! Hey, you can just blame some kind of dirty cocktail or other for your infraction against standard cultural moralities. Say the Devil made me do it, or better yet an aberration of signals from your neurotransmitters, telling you it was a Message from God to pick up that bat.Have you noticed this tendency of yours to swing into violence?My best to you as well!

  • gimpi

    “…I just can’t fathom any way to stop people from believing in God other than to make it illegal.”Perhaps I can reassure you, Counterww. I can state for a fact that I know of no one that wants to pass any laws to control religious beliefs in the U.S., even if it were possible without suspending the constitution. And even if belief was subject to control by laws, no one is even remotely interested in trying. The only thing the atheists, Pagans, Budhists, Taoists, Jains and such that I know (and I know quite a few) want is to have their beliefs respected, just as you do. They want to be able to pass their beliefs along to their children, just as you do. They want to be treated with civility in conversation, and as equals before the law, as I’m sure you do. They don’t want the government to appear to endorse your beliefs over theirs, any more than you would be comfortable having the government appear to endorse theirs over yours. The best way to prevent that is with official neutrality, don’t you think?Mutual respect, civility and official neutrality. It just does not seem that complicated to me. What about you?

  • justillthennow

    Hello Walter in Fallschurch,”there are really no observations involved. i suspect he thinks that because he wants to. it’s much more “romantic” than “when you’re dead, you’re dead.” this kind of belief allows for that thing we each call “I” to cheat death.”You make plenty of assumptions in this post, that I have no observations at all that have led my to my beliefs being one of them. Then your bit on souls, where they come from, where they go, waiting rooms, and all etcs. As you say, there is no evidence for any of the previous. Even your diving into the Department of Souls, of course, is without back up proofs. Fantasy all!I made clear in my post to Schaum my awareness that there is no proofs for the spiritual realms, ( fantasy all!), and I was not suggesting any. I stated some of my beliefs around the transcendence of consciousness beyond the boundaries of the physical form as one part, and forwarded my belief that science, as it evolves toward greater understanding of the ‘measurable and observable world’, may come to greater understandings than it currently holds…I do not have my beliefs for fear of death, or the loss of the “I am” identity. Indeed, there are times I expect it to be a relief. I do believe that “I” will be dead, and the body burned or buried. Burned is my personal choice, but then I will have little hope of being on a future Discovery Channel special. There will be plenty enough bones for that by then, particularly with explosive population, all requiring souls… I do have my own “observations”, though. None are verifiable by external observation for the ‘proofs minded’. So sorry.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,Thee to Counterww “Indeed. No doubt it explains the unconscionable dismissal of Marduk.”Splendid!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,”After the first death, there is no other.”Thank nongodIn truth, he frequently drew on religious imagery, iconography, Pagan belief systems included.

  • colinnicholas

    I posted this earlier on another site, and as I have it handy will now post it here, because it’s good. This is Richard Dawkins comparing science with theology.”Science is responsible for the following knowledge about our origins. We know approximately when the universe began and why it is largely hydrogen. We know why stars form and what happens in their interiors to convert hydrogen to the other elements and hence give birth to chemistry in a world of physics. We know the fundamental principals of how a world of chemistry can become biology through the arising of self replicating molecules. We know how the principal of self-replication gives rise, through Darwinian selection, to all life, including humans.It is science and science alone that has given us this knowledge and given it, moreover, in fascinating, over-whelming, mutually confirming detail. On every one of these questions theology has held a view that has been conclusively proved wrong. Science has eradicated smallpox, can immunize against most previously deadly viruses, can kill most previously deadly bacteria. Theology has done nothing but talk of pestilence as the wages of sin.Science can predict when a particular comet will reappear and, to the second, when the next eclipse will appear. Science has put men on the moon and hurtled reconnaisance rockets around Saturn and Jupiter.What has theology ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has theology ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? I have listened to theologians, read them, debated against them. I have never heard any of them say anything of the smallest use, anything that was not either platitudinously obvious or downright false. If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witch-doctors, no transport faster than horses, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference? The achievements of theologians don’t do anything, don’t affect anything, What makes anyone think that ‘theology’ is a subject at all? “Richard Dawkins. from “Free Enquiry” Spring 1998.vol18 n2.p6(1)

  • justillthennow

    Colinnicholas, cont.,”How do they survive being separated from brains and blood and chemistry systems?” “It’s much simpler to accept what reality teaches us; consciousness is a function of living brains.” Again, you make the assumption that they are dependent on these systems, as that is the extent of verifiable evidence. Yet consciousness is not measurable or observable ‘as itself’, but from the platform of the living and functioning brain and body. We do not see ‘awareness’ per se, but it’s trail through the function and firing of the brains processes. The observation is limited to this ‘petri dish’. Without extra-corporal observation, the assumption is understandable that consciousness exists only in the body, but that is an assumption. We used to think that the smallest particle was what was observable by the eye. Then the basis of life was molecular and atomic. We are still wanting much that is unobserved, or yet lack the tools to perceive. Consciousness, awareness, and the cause of animated life is yet to be understood, in any kind of full and holistic way. How do you dismiss, even chide, those that hold that consciousness is extra-corporal? The term transcendence is not, to me, ridicule-ous. Yet it is for many here, at the ready to gnash away at the deluded. Call me IR rational, as well, if you like. But then rationality is not limited to believing only in the verifiable, is it now, if one is considering the possible? Lest we discredit the processes of some of the great thinkers and scientists.

  • justillthennow

    Hello again Colinnicholas,On your first post to me:The observations that led me to my belief on the transcendence of consciousness beyond the physical form, and it’s independence from it, is not something that I will go into at this time. Done it before to varying degrees, and found that the environment for discussion was mostly acidic, particularly as “received” by the atheists in the room. Now, granted, this is a thread by the atheist of the panel, but everyone travels about freely in this shared house, yes?’Have you ever considered, or observed, that ‘rationalists’ can be as irritatingly annoying and arrogant as those vile ‘religionists’, when it comes to defending their beliefs?Suffice it to say that I am aware that my experiences and observations are personal and subjective, (for the purposes discussed here), and non-verifiable. Now, as science has yet to truly understand consciousness, (though many will say, even scream, their own Knowledge that it is Understood by Science), or the process of realized awareness, yea, verily, nary to plumb the essence of Life, well… Sorry, I went off a bit there. There is arrogance enough to go around. “What was it about the real world that persuaded you that such a conception had any merit, or was in any way deserving of serious consideration?”What is not worthy of consideration? What do you exclude from consideration if it does not currently hew to your commonly held beliefs and assumptions? If it does not fit your model, do you toss it as worthless, or do you keep it in the realm of possible, since it is not excludable? What makes you feel that you know the true parameters of “the real world”?

  • onofrio

    The *NT* ChristoGod has shrugged off his elementary Sinai thundering, and matriculated to the higher degree of master torturer. Included in the coursework is a short-term victim placement, just to get a feel for it. Now he’s fully qualified to demand that we buy or fry, turn or burn, knowing full well the outcome in every case, but maintaining the charade anyway…something about freewill… All those who abhor Joshua’s *OT*(T) Bronze Age annihilation of Canaanite citadels should be seven times mortified at the implications of “NT”-derived dogma. According to mild, merciful Christmongery, those who die outside Christ can expect everlasting worm-and-burn for the crime of being born. No exceptions made, apparently out of respect for our *freewill*, which manages mysteriously to coexist with the sovereign God who is absolutely *in control* – regretfully LETTING hell-prequel-horrors howl all over the shop, just to edify, shock, and awe the faithful rump of: Jesus, as I’ve often read/been told, is quite clear about the nature, duration, and inevitability of Hell. I’ve also read/been told this is a *solemn* and *sober* truth. Apparently ChristoGod is so holy he simply MUST torment the 98% of humanity (possibly more) not in his select coterie, to make sure all his other damned, dim, disgusting little muppets *get it*, gnash teeth for all the right reasons. His holiness DEMANDS this utterly perfect, pure, washed-clean-in-the-blood *solution*. Some of the more inconsistent and compassionate Christians become strategically agnostic on the whole Hell thing, go all figurative and Armstrongish, conjuring purgatory, limbo, kindly annihilation, universalism, so they can feel better about the megamonster they worship. We even see the most convinced and rigid monsterists like Peter Huff quite unaccountably allowing infant dead into heaven (without clear warrant from Scripture!). Seems that atrocious “OT” Joshua was very ahead of his time, in terms of “NT” Hell: he was sending all those little Canaanites straight to glory. Don’t mess with the tracts; just smite ’em hip and thigh. Perhaps a few gutsy saints ought to start massacring babies – Ustasha-like – for the good of their souls. Wouldn’t want them to grow up and risk not being *chosen* by Jesus’ predestinating, faux-freewill-peddling DAD. Shh! Dad’s home. Don’t make him angry…

  • onofrio

    “After the first death, there is no other.”Thank nongod

  • colinnicholas

    JusttillYou – and those who think like you – have had thousands – perhaps millions of years to make the point that superstitious and spooky magical thinking makes good sense in a real world. You never made it. That boat floated away long ago – along with astrology and alchemy and phrenology. Science is here to stay. Surrender to it. Reality is beautiful.

  • justillthennow

    Hello Walter ifc,”i only made up all that “dept. of souls” stuff to illustrate the freedom one has when supposing about the spiritual realm. the fact that your “observations” about the spiritual realm are “not verifiable by external observations” further illustrates my point. one can say just about anything one wants about the spiritual realm, then say, “it’s not verifiable”. oh, well.”I actually like your posts quite a bit, and enjoy how you make fun of what you do. You certainly love to ride at the mono-theists of the world, and for good reason. There is plenty in Sac. Text that twists the eye.Rationalists and atheists, when confronted by some hopelessly dreamy and irrational metaphysician tend to take joy in discrediting any claimed spiritual experience as chemistry and an aberration of the mental process, so proof of lacking a ‘grasp on reality’. Doesn’t fit into scientific dogma, so is immediately negated and discredited. A bit harsh, don’t you think, in that these ‘mysteries’ are still being worked out? Though I think it is harsh, I don’t think it is uncommon. Human nature loves to justify it’s correctness and cut from the fold the ‘ill complying”.”…the freedom one has when supposing about the spiritual realm.”Well, one COULD say anything. That does not mean one does. Have you considered that some MAY have ‘spiritual’ experiences without them being CAUSED by a chemical process? If not, don’t worry the least about this exchange.Science has not uncovered the answers to all things, or we would not be having this dialogue. Do you believe all it’s postulations, or is it just convenient to believe this delusion of a “spiritual realm” is settled?Not meant to be callous, but I wonder. I do not wonder, however, why there is such a majority of ‘rationalists’ here, spouting, and fewer curious seekers, spouting.

  • justillthennow

    Walter, ifc,Yes, I am justillthen from previous postings. Posts using that name kept getting spit back at me, though I know of nothing that caused it. If there were a complaint I am unaware of it and surprised. I may go back and see if the name functions again.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz, Thee, re Thomas,I can see how they could take it that way: no further death = heaven.I always took it as a refutation of the Lake of Fire, NT’s “second death” – particularly apposite given the child’s fiery demise.Further, I don’t see how being “robed in the long friends, the grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother” can be Christianised. Reads very pagan to me.If dead infants are heavenbound, then their slaughter is the most effective evangelistic strategy ever implemented.Would that the pneumonia had taken me away at two. Thanks to antibiotics, I must now face Hell.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Onofrio,I should have been clearer re “A Refusal.” I do understand the “heaven” reading of the last line. What I fail to see is that although the man endlessly railed against Christianity, denied God at every opportunity, critics confidently proclaim the heaven allusion in that last line. Ambiguity, anyone? For another thing, close reading alone reveals the entire poem to be a Refusal of conventional pieties.

  • colinnicholas

    Justtillthennow;I’m sure you’re a good guy just trying to make sense of everything like the rest of us.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,Re: Last line of my previous postShould have written “a Refusal of all conventional pieties” brought to bear on such horrific occasions, of course.

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:Re “last death”If I am not mistaken, some christers regard baptism as the last death.

  • katavo

    Do the believers ever wonder about the other gods other people believe in? I don’t mean just today, I mean all the different gods throughout known and unknown history which were worshiped, sacrificed to, killed for and died for, and feared – just as believers today feel about their god.Do the believers feel their god is real, while all others are false, are in fact created by humans? Are they atheistic about these other gods?Do they understand that these other believers claimed just as much absolute truth as any other believer?Do the believers ever wonder why christians beget christians, muslims beget muslims, etc? Why is it that someone in Florida is likely to be christian, while someone in Yemen is likely to be muslim? How about the story that one has to believe in the right set of gods or one will burn in hell. Christians in Florida will go to heaven, muslims in Yemen will go to hell. But what chance did the Yemeni have to believe in the right god? Or the Hindu in Mumbay, or the Buddhist in Taiwan, or the animist in New Guinea?I never see believers asking these questions. Why is that?

  • Schaum

    Katavo:”Why is it that someone in Florida is likely to be christian”You’re kidding, right? When was the last time you were in Florida?

  • justillthennow

    Hello Katavo, “I never see believers asking these questions. Why is that?”I’d be surprised if you haven’t, but it would not surprise if they had already passed judgment on the answers to those questions.The term “believers” is awfully broad so I offer to cut it back slightly. Tribally based religions are specific religious identities with specific, culturally based assumptions, presumptions and dogmas that are often organic to the tribe, and so it’s pool of genetic knowledge. They are developed and evolve from the knowledge, experiences and myths of the tribe.Believers that are unmoored from tribal religious loyalty, or ‘wandering seekers’, (some call this a spiritual affliction and are common in the metaphysical world), that bee-bop on their skiffs between religious philosophies are usually not so vested in the idea that ones God is the right one, and another is an invalid ticket to Hell.There are others that are believers in an essential spiritual nature to life that may or may not ascribe a personalized Deity to that view. These often ask your list of questions.

  • justillthennow

    Hello again Colinnicholas,Yes, thank you. I did read it, did not miss it. If that is the general drift of Dawkins I am not so much for it. Not because of the scientific slant, or the defense of science. He is right on those counts, for sure. Thank the bloody Apex of Scientific Discovery for the Blessings and Beautitudes that have come from Science. I am actually serious in that regard. I do not poo-poo science, (or I should say “pooh-pooh” for Pamsm’s pleasure), I am thankful for it an a True Believer. Rather I am a true believer, some of you others are the capitalized versions, Disciples of the Books… :-)Dawkins however is just a bit too charged up on theology. I don’t blame him. When some indoctrinated whack job tells me how I will land in Hell lest I follow his advice I get steamed too. But a theologist, or a religionist, does not a spiritualist make.Belief that there is a more ethereal or spiritual causality to Life is not a Blasphemy, even to the bloody Apex of Scientific Discovery. Though it is clear in these Hallowed Atheistic Halls that it sure irks the bejesus out of some of the True Believers here…Peace, shalom and santihom, colinnicholas!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    “If I am not mistaken, some christers regard baptism as the last death.”Interesting! That’s the unavoidable observation about religion. Mixed in with the sometimes concealed, more often denied moral abominations, are mythic sentiments of great beauty. That’s what worries Dennett about religion’s demise. However, one can atheistically pronounce endlessly as did Dylan Thomas (amply supported by Welsh weather!), and draw on religious myth. First, though, one must recognize religion as myth, and, of course, I mean this in no derogatory sense.Mordecai Kaplan is highly instructive on this.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum, last post was intended for you. A word of clarification on Dennett: what worries him about the demise of religion is the potential loss of imagery, etc., to the arts.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,”close reading alone reveals the entire poem to be a Refusal of conventional pieties.”Certes :^)Permit me to ramble a bit:Profoundly un-, pre-, and contra-Christian, to this punter.I guess that, even for sophisticated critics, Christianity has a long-lingering half-life in the veins.Sleeper virus.

  • daniel12

    Part one.I have no idea why everyone is getting all excited by my defending the notion that science in saying love is chemically induced destroys love. I clearly stated that science reduces the mystery of the type of love which most people consider love to be–which is to say science eliminates romantic love. If science supports the concept of love it is not the concept of romantic love that science is defending but a different type of love–love redefined toward a wider view than being obsessed about a person.–And I clearly stated that in the piece I wrote. I clearly distinguished between the type of love science destroys and the type of love it works toward giving a person. Science works toward reducing the obsession a person might have for another person. Anyone can observe we do not live in the age of chivalry and romantic poetry, the elevation of woman to the point of the divine as we see in less scientific ages. Science in general robs life of mystery–it does not want life to be a mystery. Science seeks to know. This is not to say new mysteries are not opened up by science, but that science takes mystery by mystery and seeks to reduce it to the understandable. Which is to say no tolerance for nebulous feelings such as love, transcendance, spirituality, etc. That is just basic common sense. Anyone can observe that science makes one detached, observant, matter of fact. No heaving breasts of romantic love. The virtues of the scientist are the opposite of romantic breast beating. Anyone can make a study of collecting musicians on one hand and scientists on the other and seeing which are more likely to feel romantic love–really feel such, be passionate. But of course such a study does not have to be made because anyone can turn on the radio and hear of love and more love–love engrossing the mind of the musician. Now go to the laboratory. Heaving breasts there? Of course not. The entire scientific way depends on detachment, not on obsessing about a person. Scientists would not be able to do science if thinking about a person to the degree romantic love puts on a person.

  • daniel12

    Part two.And if I may add, here we have a perfect case of atheists trying to have things both ways. Atheists are perfectly happy to eliminate religious feeling, say there is no God, no grand being which inspires awe, but they are perfectly happy saying atheism, science is compatible with elevating a person–the beloved–beyond all rationality. No God can exist for atheists, but they are perfectly happy saying love is compatible with atheism and science–meaning it is perfectly understandable to elevate a person to the point of “soulmate”, declare such a person is “special”, that “one would not want to live life with any other person”. No God but the beloved something of God or Goddess. Sorry atheists and scientists, one cannot have it both ways. If being a scientist and good atheist, everything calculated according to its true worth. Evaluations made. No falling on one’s knees before this or that person–although of course in evaluating we come across people we feel are more valuable than others. But romantic love? Each person finding his or her love who is more special than anyone else? Everyone coming across such a person, meaning every person is really special in at least someone’s eyes? The very language used here: Every person is really special in at least someone’s eyes? That is not science. That is sentimentality. If science defends love, it is a love redefined. Love in the sense of working to help all people if possible. No special person. No heaving breasts. No poetry for that special someone. No soulmate (and the concept of soulmate is truly peculiar–as if everyone just happens to find his or her soulmate, and this soulmate is placed conveniently in one’s school or office or at the store). Yes, science in saying love is chemically induced destroys love–meaning romantic love, for that is what science is addressing here. Science is saying that the person one loves is not particularly special but that one is in thrall to chemicals in one’s own brain. That is the destruction of romantic love–the diminishment of the beloved. Anyone can observe that. Why it has to be explained here is beyond my understanding. Maybe someone can explain that to me.

  • onofrio

    Schaum,Thee:Perhaps that’s why there has been such a keenness in Christendom to douse wee babes, lest that on-the-cards early decease shut them out of eternal bliss, and proceed to the *default setting* of the second death. God’s a stickler for due process.Interesting that the earliest Christians baptised adults, and often deferred it till very late in life. Apparently they didn’t want to undo their “last death” with the (inevitable) sins of youth.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio, Thanks for your reading! Paganism, yes.There’s mystery, allusion, ambiguity abounding in “Refusal.” (Note the alliteration, unintended).What, for instance, does one make of this?And I must enter AGAIN the round

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,Re: My last postI meant beyond the literal, of course.

  • Pamsm

    “Have you noticed this tendency of yours to swing into violence?”Perish the thought, Justillthennow! I was not threatening you with annihilation, but asking a serious question about your “hypothesis.”If consciousness is external, then it shouldn’t be possible for a non-lethal blow to the head to deprive you of it. But deprive it does.Perhaps I can explain a bit about why you get dissed by the atheists and science fans: Scientists start with observations. These should be observations that are available to anyone who cares to look. Then they come up with a hypothesis that fits and explains the observations. Then they test it. Then, and only then, they form a conclusion.With gauzy, metaphysical ideas like universal consciousness, you’re starting with step two, and then leaping to four. Not convincing.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,Thee:Rest ye, Dennett. Metaphor endures sans pyx, pulpit, and preachers. Texts remain, though none still kill for them.Arts? There will always be goads to kick against, mysteries to plumb, and beauties to capture.How very faith-full of me.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,Ah, but you are faith-full! :}Then, too, there will always be new myths. Myth-making mammals are we.

  • Schaum

    JusTillThenNow wrote:”I am of another school of thought”When your school of thought is supported by science, I will embrace it.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage,Re: The first articleOn the link I posted for you awhile back an article with this sort of finding was posted. The random non-goal oriented thinking of ordinary folk was compared to that of Buddhist monks. The findings were as you would expect.Equally interesting were subsequent experiments in which some subjects were given minimal training.Another study by that same team examined the non-random thinking of persons skilled at a particular task vs. novices, both engaged in the same task. The former was engaged in more ruminating than the latter.Wish I could find that durned link.Teams are working on this everywhere, forgot to mention UC, Columbia, NYU.

  • Pamsm

    “Now that has a nice ring to it – very BIG sounding!!”Just sounds silly to me.

  • persiflage

    Farnaz,Agreed – I remember the article, and it seemed to me that the Emory study was not the same, but very similar. Pam, one could think of the Universal Mind as potential mind – in the same sense that the material universe actually emerges from a virtual matrix e.g. the quantum vacuum. As life appears here and there among the 300 billion or so galaxies that we calculate are out there, this sentient life manifests a kind of mind or awareness (possibly much more advanced than ours, of course). It’s really not any more complicated than that, from a prosaic perspective. You’ll agree that everything is always coming into being. Religion doesn’t need to enter in at all – and then of course there are all those possible parallel universes, but let’s not go there!

  • Schaum

    “Shh! Dad’s home. Don’t make him angry…”…and get him a beer, quick.

  • US-conscience

    In World War II The Nazi’s set up their own governments and made their own laws and did whatever they felt was right in their own eyes, and as we all know, they did some pretty heinous things. Their view of right and wrong was kind of skewed! When the war ended and the rightful governments regained control of their countries, they took those same Nazi’s and put them on trial. They were judged individually for every act they had committed based on the laws that had already been established in that country. Something very similar is about to happen. You see right now you are living according your own laws, your own created ideas of right and wrong, good and bad. But one day soon, a KING is going to return and He is going to judge each person individually, based on the Eternal Laws that He has already established. God has appointed a day in which He will Judge the world in Righteousness and has commanded each person to repent.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage,Neat astronomy link! Thorough! Have been meditating on anti-matter. Empirically verifiable, no (anti-)matter what scientists say. I see it in print, on the train, in the office, on television, etc. :Matter-matter (?)When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer–Walt Whitman

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Meter-matter :

  • Schaum

    Clearly the Ardi discovery and dating has put an end to the idiotic “creationist” controversy. Darwin was right: we were not created, separately and apart. We evolved. The proof is there. If there were a god, I’d thank him for science.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage,Was referring to a diff book: Walt Whitman. He wrote a book titled thus.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage, Thou art a man of the Renaissance, of the 21st century, for all seasons, je crois.

  • Schaum

    Daniel12:Whatever you do, DON’T read the two links supplied by Persiflage. They will only confuse and frighten you worse than the concept of chemical-induced love has done.

  • onofrio

    Pam Re Universal MindPersiflage:PamPam, mind your universe! ;^)*Just* sounds silly to me too, when applied to war and Hell, and when pronounced after dentistry has been wrought.On big issues like these, I find the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to be most trusty:And, to any presuppositionalist posturers who may be reading this:”The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.” Case closed.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Counterww, you said,i know you want me to say our choices come from god’s gift of free will, but well, according to NT “theory”, it’s not much of a choice really, now it it? the “choice” amounts to “believe in (this particular) god or go to hell”.you said,so that’s not freedom of religious choice either is it? it’s certainly not moral.you said,of course it does. it has i suspect your “problem” with iran is not that they are a theocracy, but that they chose the you said,well, like i said, in the NT paradigm it’s not really a choice, is it? he doesn’t literally “put a gun to anyone’s head”, but he promises eternal damnation to those who make the wrong “choice”.

  • onofrio

    “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.From the preface to ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’

  • persiflage

    Farnaz,You’re much too kind! But I do have a weird penchant for obscure works that eventually find the light of day. Mysticism has long been an interest, but the simplicity and immediacy of Zen is beginning to prevail as old age approaches. I recall that I purchased the Bucke book in paperback around 1980 – and it’s still in excellent shape. I imagine my ‘Varieties of Religious Experience’ is of the same vintage. This was right about the time that I decided to amass all of Jung’s collected works – but then stopped after about half a dozen (although the best of the lot, in my opinion). Ah well, all ancient history now…but the past never quite leaves us be.Gravity’s rainbow…… Will catch up tommorrow.Persiflage

  • usa-proletariat-movement

    Dear John Esposito & CO.,, C/O: A Message from ANTi.BAD , Anti-Plutocrat Proletariates Party of AMERiK et al:Ye hath Freudiantly Slippeth’d and Pre-Apocalyptically saith,”Questiion: How much of This Theoligical POW-WOW [of Imprted Religions in Amerik, Not MADE in America] was ‘Subsidized’ by OUR tax-Payers money via the OBAMA’s ‘Faith Based Initiative” ??After-All Last Week or two Britisher’s Low-Lifes via “BONO” {Oprah Winfreys & Co, “SECRET” pals] built a Stage as if a Spac-Ship [Ummmm?] and The PLUTOCRATS [Government Run by the Rich/Wealthy] Of Washington, D.C. America; Like Nancy Polosi et al….WHO PAID for THIS [ALL]! The VATican? BOBO? BLAIR? George Town? or did WE [i] The [SIPP] aka Question again: WHERE is the [unconstitutional] $2,000,0000 of Stolen Tax-Payers [un-Godly] money , w/out THE-PEOPLES Consent/Approval/Voter, is going; who?, where, Why…??? Rise-Up! Rise-Up “SIPP”s Time to Take-Back Our Nation, as Promised US!Dear Fellow Americans; To Hell with the Friendly’s! Beacuse the TRUTH (opposite MYTH) is Question Mr. OBAMA, Polosi, & CO; POPE & CO. LaLaLa… WHERE is Osama Bin Laden???? You know He is Dead! So Why? Why? Lie to The-People?? SELF Agrandizement?A REVOLUTION; not only a REVELATION is comming!VOTE: Down with THEOCRAY & DOWN with MONARCHY, in America via ENGLAND et all!Get Out of AMERIK England! Get Out! Or WE will Force You Out and Take-Over ALL Your Assets/Investments HERE!Hary! ARise PROLETARIATES: Vote: ENGLISH MONARCH w/THEOCRACY in Cahooch with THEOCRATIC VATICAN’s & CO must be Destroyed or Dulky Stopped Today, not Morrow!O’ APOCALYPTARIAN’s! Beware the Jealous/Evil?Satanic PRE-APOCALYPTARYAN’s!May god cuese the QUEEN! Curse Opra WINFREY & Friends et al!!A NEW BOSTON TEA PARTY is Comming Soon Soon Very Soon!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    “Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space…”Cudos to Doug! Right as always. The universe, one hypothesizes, is just universal.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,”Cudos to Doug! Right as always. The universe, one hypothesizes, is just universal.”More on that score from the late great DA:”Anything that happens, happens.From the preface to ‘Mostly Harmless’

  • Pamsm

    Persiflage,I’m wondering how they came by this calculation, because surely the speed of the stars near the center is

  • persiflage

    Pam, That’s a fair question, and I was quite taken with the MPH myself! On the other hand, galaxies at the edge of the known universe are estimated to be moving away from each other at velocities approaching the speed of light…and these are entire galaxies! And yet, we know that matter can’t maintain it’s solid configuration at these velocities. Go figure….The mantra for all quantum physicists is this – waves or particles, waves or particles, waves or particles – will there be waves or particles…. amen.

  • Schaum

    Colinnicholas wrote:”I want to be there when this happens – so when exactly will he return?”And how should we dress? If its after Labor Day we can’t wear white.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    US-conscience, you hope,colinnicholas, you asked,well, he very clearly did promise to be back “soon” – in their lifetimes. and maybe he DID show up…and we just missed it.maybe it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. maybe jesus was exaggerating when he said the “sun will be darkened,” the “stars will fall” and the “heavens will be shaken.” maybe he DID “return in glory” “on a cloud” with “angels” and “trumpets” in “judgment” to “redeem” the faithful, but we were too busy doing something to notice.

  • Pamsm

    ” He puts no guns to anyone’s heads at all.”Believe it, or spend eternity in a lake of fire.

  • Pamsm

    Knowing what goes on in the brain to chemically produce certain feelings, doesn’t prevent the feelings.Nearly everyone knows that hormones produce sex drive, but I don’t think we’re seeing any less sex as a result of that knowledge.

  • Pamsm

    “When were you last in Sydney?”I’ve been there often, but not lately – it’s been about 20 years since the last time, I think. I used to fly for Pan Am.

  • onofrio

    Pam,20 years ago, while you were living it up at the Woolshed between flights, I was just finishing my undergrad degree in another Austral W – Wollongong, my home turf (I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Norman Gunston, “the little Aussie bleeder”, but he was *from* my neck of the woods).On the weekend I went back there, and for the first time in 20 years hiked up the local bluff above my childhood home, and afterwards caught up with some old friends I’ve barely seen since then…20 years is emerging as a bit of theme of late.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Pam,WEre you born in the US, then? For some reason, I’d thought you were still working for the airlines.Onofrio,I recall your writing about that bluff awhile ago. There was an enchanted hill (enchanted by me) in my childhood that disappeared while I was still very young. Enchantments must last.Was climg companioned by boy’s sight?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    climg s/be climbing. (I’m thinking of another use for climg.)

  • Pamsm

    I’m not personally familiar with Norman Gunston, but isn’t he a character in a comedy show? I have an Aussie friend who talks about that show. Pretty funny, from the sound of it.

  • Pamsm

    “WEre you born in the US, then? For some reason, I’d thought you were still working for the airlines.”Yes, a Virginian, born and bred, ‘though I’ve lived in various parts of the US. Have I mentioned flying before? I didn’t recall that. I flew for 22 years, until Pan Am went belly-up. Great education. Now I sit in an office (at least it’s an office, and not a cube) and stare at a computer screen, like all the other workaday drones. 🙂

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Yes, you had mentioned working for an airline before, but I (enviously) imagined you as still jetting all over the world.Do you live in Virginia now? Do you still travel? You’re now a technical writer, am I correct?

  • Pamsm

    Yes, I live in Virginia, now. And am a technical writer. Good memory, Farnaz. :)I travel occasionally, but nothing like before, of course. At first it felt good not to spend half my life living out of a suitcase, but I do miss it sometimes. Not the work, so much, but the places.

  • gibsonpolk

    Great discussion by Susan Jacoby – as always. She says what I had been trying to clarify in my own mind about Karen Armstrong. One practical thing I could say in Armstrong’s defense is that she seems to suggest that religionists are not going away any time soon, and they could behave themselves better. If they realign their impulses with some better form of religion, then that would be a good thing, at least in the short term – and I might agree with that. Fewer people flying planes into buildings, etc.As for the rest of us, I like Sam Harris’s suggestion that “atheism” (as a philosophy) has no content. Atheists are not fundamentalists except in response to religious craziness, and as long as this craziness persists, we atheists won’t go away either.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,”Enchantments must last.I know that youth-myths revisited can disappoint, but not in this case. Happily, I appreciated the place even more. My gaze was more enchanted and more observant than the “boy’s sight” had been. I didn’t just reminisce, but discovered also – beautiful patterns in the rocks and fig roots, a fresh sense of the shape of the land. The ascent was the same mildly perilous fun. On the bluff itself, I gazed down on the panoramic miniscule below like *old* times, picking out the places I knew. I explored ledges that used to spook me back in the day, though I am still too timid to attempt the scarifying cliff-crawl to a lofty cave known as *The Eye*. Perhaps next time; my brother and I are planning another visit before year’s end.

  • Schaum

    Daniel12:”Well, when science tells us that our love for a woman is induced by chemicals in the brain, that is exactly saying that we are as if on alcohol”No, it isn’t. Chemicals necessary for the operation of the brain are in the brain and are there naturally. The chemical process to/involving the brain are natural, involuntary. The consumption of alcohol is a personal choice, not a natural condition, and such consumption is made in the knowledge that natural brain chemistry is deliberately altered. Therefore, you are making a conscious, external choice/behavior to alter your natural brain response.Shut up.

  • onofrio

    Pam,”I’m not personally familiar with Norman Gunston, but isn’t he a character in a comedy show?”Yes, back in the 70s. He was the comic invention of the actor Garry McDonald, who played him as a painfully parochial Wollongong klutz cum Tonight Show host. As Gunston, he managed to obtain interviews with famous celebrities who thought he was for real, and then made an idiot of himself (and them) by asking gauche, dumbass questions. The shtick was similar to Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G and Borat.

  • justillthennow

    Pamsm,”If consciousness is external, then it shouldn’t be possible for a non-lethal blow to the head to deprive you of it. But deprive it does.”I did not say that it was external, at least not exclusively. I believe that it not caused by the body or brain function. That does not mean that it is not affected by, or at the effect of, the state of the body or brain. Indeed it is clear that the brain and body have a clear affect on consciousness, state of awareness, and perception. If I get sick, depressed, joyous, traumatized, these have effects on state of consciousness. Yet state of body does not necessarily rule state of consciousness. Your baseball into head scenario will have a clear, (foggy) affect on consciousness in the body, and a state of trauma will as well. These are viewed, and experienced, from body senses, after all. But the continuity of consciousness, or the quality of it when experienced divorced from sensory input, is not limited to and dependent on body/brain processes. In my experiences. You need not help me in understanding why rationalists find these concepts lacking in credibility. I am aware of the issue, but the same has been true for ever. I am not seeking to be “convincing”. Most humans, and this is particularly true for reason and logic focused people, rarely have experiences that are outside of ‘identity friendly’ realms. Far too frightening. Lack of control and loss of normal points of reference can be terrifying. Not desired, they are avoided at all costs, by most. We live in controlled worlds, are protected by them, feel secure in them, and don’t look to go outside and into the real unknown.It is easy, from the tower, to say there is little of worth in the hinterland. It is all just undesirable and remote gobble-de-goop. Poo-poo on it all.:-)

  • katavo

    justillthennow, I used the term “believers” to be general. I more specifically meant American Christians, of the more … uh, intense type.These questions I suggested are not being asked: I asked these questions when I was 10 years old. I never did believe in any of the gods people believe in, I have never had to recover from such belief. At the age of 10, I knew why I didn’t believe.Let’s use a term here: absolute geography.Pick any human on the planet, since most religions are patriarchal, let’s pick a man.You can predict with great accuracy what his religion will be by knowing where he was born, in which culture he was raised.There is no absolute truth which attracted him to his religion, this man didn’t pick what he believed in, it was picked for him based on where he lives. In one case, being born in Yemen, he is no more likely to choose christianity than would an American raised in christian country choose islam. Absolute Geography. I have to see the Christian claims that you are going to hell if you don’t believe in what they believe in as insensible. If this god they believe in really loves this man we described, but allows him to be born in Yemen, he’s going to hell because of the arbitrary accident of the location of his birth.

  • onofrio

    Justillthen,Thee:Ah, the tower is ripe for lightning then, like no.16. (A further dollop of arcane goop for the brew) ;^)You know me, Justillthen: mumbo’s quite my jumble.As for De Goop, he was convinced there was nothing of value to be found in all New Holland. He said it was just red dust, thorny scrub, and a few black savages hard to catch and useless for work. They say he went down with his VOC merchantman, somewhere in the Gulf of Carpentaria. One of his crew was found 20 years later among the blacks of Groote Eylandt. In halting Frisian, he recounted how, out of a clear sky, a bright bolt struck de Goop’s crows nest, throwing down Dirck and young Abel – but 16 years old – and setting the sails on fire…

  • justillthennow

    Hello Onofrio, Ah, just like being struck by a bolt out of the blue. Or a de Goop out at de Groote.If your dollop of arcane gooble de brew is that No. 16 is a young , long passed DirCkable falling from the illuminated tower, (Crows, I hear, portend majickal breweries), then it it yet another example of odd, quite quirky and fully enjoyable way that your neurotransmitters fire. Consciousness does exist in the arcane….brain!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    And it’s been all downhill ever since. Leave it to the Dutch. :O

  • Schaum

    GIBSONPOLK:”As for the rest of us, I like Sam Harris’s suggestion that “atheism” (as a philosophy) has no content. Atheists are not fundamentalists except in response to religious craziness, and as long as this craziness persists, we atheists won’t go away either.”Nor, one hopes, will atheists permit theists to succeed in demanding that atheists explain the universe and existence.

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:”tribal ‘instinct’ is ultimately based on learned responses.”Whats your take on the possibility/advisability of unlearning, or relearning, tribal instinct? Does this way lie madness?

  • persiflage

    Walt,A more interesting question might pertain to psychopathologies and inadequate socialization – what forces produce the anti-social personality types that fill our prisons and houses of detention? For example, the breakdown among racial/ethnic types and gang alliances are pretty much along the lines of the way you describe the natural ‘tribal’ response. Like attracting like, and so forth. On the other hand, these membership affiliations usually existed prior to incarceration. Nature, nurture, social acceptance needs, or just pure survival?? We certainly know the justice system is anything but fair, but in many ways folks do reap what they sow (especially without good legal representation). Anyway, a lot of fertile ground for discussion in the future!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum writes:KATAVO:”I have to see the Christian claims that you are going to hell if you don’t believe in what they believe in as insensible.”What monotheistic religions do not make this claim? Christianity is grossly offensive for far more serious reasons than this, not the least of which is that it has almost nothing to do with the teachings of christ.To answer your question: Judaism. Judaism holds that the lord (Hashem=Name) has a covenant with all peoples. This position is held by every branch of the religion.As for Christianity and Christ (if he existed), I believe Onofrio and yours truly suggest that as represented, Christianity does have something to do with him, not that which we might wish, but something.I think Katavo’s questions are good ones, regardless of the stage in life in which they are raised. They continue to have vast implications, tribally speaking. Having blogged here for two years, I can say that one can take the Christian out of the church, but the converse is not always the case. There is more to say on Katavo’s thinking. My point here is not to argue. However, I must add that there is always an element of mystery, call it spirituality, if you’d like, once one ventures into religion, and Buddhism is religion.When I first started providing links on brain-mind research, I couldn’t get takers. The air, atmosphere, has changed, with the popularity of theoneurology, giving the brain-mind research that added dimension we all so yearn for. Pam, perhaps our most staunch rationalist, eschews the word “spiritual.”Atheism may be a tricky word.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Katavo’s questions go to the essentialist base of “tribalism.” They are not trivial.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Persiflage,I have studied Milgram’s life and works in depth. Few know what a gifted, Renaissance man he was, and how his experiment was used to destroy him.Among the things I find most interesting is the many pains social psychology has taken to point out the ethical problems in his work. Some of these criticisms are quite valid, as a code ethics in social science experiments had yet to be worked out. However, Milgram did all he could to safeguard the welfare of his subjects, thoroughly debriefing them, etc. (Zimbardo’s work, arguably more ethically problematic, perhaps somewhat fudged in the reporting, has yet to be adequately investigated, inferior to Milgram’s by far.)What is ironic is that the critique notwithstanding, the experiment is summarized in all social psychology textbooks, many introductory texts, some texts in other disciplines, with the ethical dimensions given short shrift, often ignored.Now, add this. The experiment has been repeatedly conducted throughout the world.THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: Comparatively, which nation has demonstrated the lowest level of obedience in obedience experiments?

  • justillthennow

    Hello Persiflage, Thank you for the links that you posted. I have been roaming around seeking an education. The hope is that sooner or later I get smarts, and I hear that research and study are practices towards that end. I want to catch up with all the brainiacs in these e-steamed and Godless Halls. Any help is a Beauty.I did not know that I would be ‘working the Halls’. My one Blessing is the Delusion, (cognition problems, I suspect), that I am not vested in changing anyones Ideal, (particularly in such a Vaulted Place!). My Delusion is aided by having no hard problem evidence of the Truth.But then, by the look of things in the research dept., none do. Grazie mille.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:No, Buddhism is not religion (Buddha specifically evaded “religious” topics such as heaven and hell, and stated that he was not to be worshiped) except in a handful of countries which have defied tradition and made it a religion.As for Judaism: I believe there is a Jewish hell called gehinom, to which one is sent to undo certain things….

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”I have read your claim before.”It is not “my” claim, as you would know if you had read much about Buddha’s teachings.

  • Schaum

    1.According to the Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of religion is as follows, “An organized system of beliefs, rites, and celebrations centered on a supernatural being power; belief pursued with devotion.” Buddhism is not a religion because: First, the Buddha is not a ‘supernatural being power’. The Buddha is simply a person who has reached complete understanding of the reality of life and the universe. Life refers to ourselves, and universe refers to our living environment. The Buddha taught that all beings possess the same ability within to reach complete understanding of themselves and their environment, and free themselves from all sufferings to attain utmost happiness. All beings can become Buddhas, and all beings and the Buddha are equal by nature. The Buddha is not a god, but a teacher, who teaches us the way to restore Wisdom and Understanding by conquering the greed, hatred, and ignorance which blind us at the present moment. The word ‘Buddha’ is a Sanskrit word, when translated it means, “Wisdom, Awareness/Understanding”. We call the founder of Buddhism Shakyamuni ‘Buddha’ because He has attained Complete Understanding and Wisdom of life and the universe. Buddhism is His education to us, it is His teaching which shines the way to Buddhahood.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,When I say “your claim,” I mean THE claim. I have not read as much of Buddha’s teachings as you have, by far. What I’ve seen is that Buddhism is frequently described as a religion, evidently due to its “spiritual” dimension, an odd word for an anti-dualist system.Why do you think it should not be classed as religion? How would you classify it?

  • Schaum

    2.Second, Buddhism is not a religion because ‘belief’ in the Buddha’s teachings is not blind belief, blind faith, and far from superstition. Shakyamuni Buddha taught us not to blindly believe what he tells us, he wants us to try the teachings and prove them for ourselves. The Buddha wants us to know, not merely believe. The Buddha’s teachings flow from his own experience of the way to understand the true face of life and the univ`rse, and show us a path of our own to taste the truth for ourselves. This is much like a good friend telling us of his trip to Europe, the sights he has seen, and the way to go there and see for ourselves. The Buddha uses a perfectly scientific way of showing us reality in its true form.  Third, Buddhism is not a religion because all the ‘rites and celebrations’ are not centered on a supernatural being, but rather the people attending the assemblies. The ceremonies and celebrations in Buddhism all serve an educational purpose, a reminder of the Buddha’s teachings and encouragement to all students who practice it. For example, the Thousand Buddhas Repentance Ceremony practiced during Chinese New Year is to help the participants cultivate a humble heart and respect for others. The point of all ‘ceremonies’ is to help others awaken from delusion and return to Wisdom and Understanding.  Finally, Buddhism is not a religion because the ‘devotion’ used in Buddhism is not one based on emotion, but one based on reason. Students of the Buddha are devoted to their practice of maintaining Purity of Mind because this practice brings true happiness. We are devoted to help others and the Society attain Complete Understanding and Wisdom. Only through Complete Understanding and Wisdom can we realize our true selves and living environment. The Buddha’s education is truly not a religion but an education, teaching us the way to break through ignorance and arrive at a perfect understanding of ourselves and everything around us.The goal of Buddhism is true happiness.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum:I think we crossed posts! But here is a definition from Wikipedia:A religion is a system of human thought which usually includes a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices that give meaning to the practitioner’s experiences of life through reference to a higher power, deity or deities, or ultimate truth.[1]

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”I’ve seen is that Buddhism is frequently described as a religion, “Thats very true…it is often described as a religion by people who have made a conscious decision to MAKE it their religion (in contravention of the Buddha’s specific teachings, instructions and wishes) and by non-Buddhists who want to think it is a religion and claim it as such for their own purposes and ends.Those people are, as we all are, free to think what they wish and practice ANY religion in any way they wish. But CLEARLY Buddha was not establishing or teaching a religion. He said that point blank. So I don’t see what people who decide to make it their religion base their thinking on.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum:Thanks for your posts. Have you seen the two I posted? But I’d add this. Judaism also wants us to “know.” Once as a child, one has read the Tanakh, one begins Talmud study. One is provided with a set of reasoning tools, taught them, assigned passages to debate with a partner until some rational conclusion is reached.The end goal of Judaism is “happiness,” but on a societal scale. Therefore, it teaches various behaviors, etc.The belief in a man in the sky holds for very few. Actually, Jews do not hold with an anthropomorphic God. It’s very complex. God is a set of principles, a mover, etc., communicated with through action, good behavior. Mysticism is another matter.At any rate, just mixing things up a bit. I’f one thinks in terms of ultimate truth, then Wikipedia’s definition applies to Buddhism and it is a religion.How would you classify it? As a practice?

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”give meaning to the practitioner’s experiences of life through reference to a higher power, deity or deities,”Thanks. You make my case. In Buddhism, there is no higher power, deity, or deities. There is only the goal of absolute peace.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:Most Buddhists (at least of the Zen variety) do refer to their …well, practice…of Buddhism as a practice.Yes, I think there is much that is very attractive about Judaism. I think I could have been happy as a Jew.I’m begging off for an hour…gotta walk the dog and go buy some insulin.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,But I am not trying to make a case, neither for you or for me. I’m troubled by the nomenclature. Reconstructionist Judaism is uninterested in a deity. It is interested in “ultimate truth,” reletavistically understood. According to the Wikipedia definition, it is a religion. According to yours, it is not.Have you read my postings in this chat? How would you classify Buddhism? As a spiritual practice? How do we explain spirituality in a nondualist system? Theoneurology is an attempt at that….Does it not speak to religious yearnings?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,Say hello to puppy for me! Happy walking!

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Part I (from the other Daniel)There is no scientifc proof for God. If a person believes in God, then it must be for some other reason. In discerning intelligent design in the universe, many of our observatons of order in the universe are illusory, and are really reflecdtions of the order that is in our own minds. Maybe this also is what may be meant by “intellignet design.” But the mere arugument that God must “be” because how could God not “be” is no argument at all.People can believe in God, but is by no sscientific evidence, nor by any signs of intlleigent design. And if a person does believe in God, it is impossilbe to prove this belief to anyone else, so why try? What is the point? As long as one has ones own belief, there can be no reason to insist on others adopting the same belief, except to reinforce ones own belief, and dismiss ones own doubts, or else, to asset or maintain political dominance.I believe in Providence, which is another word for God. I like this word because it is not the meaningless word “God.” In Providence, there is “providing.” There is a providing influence that enable us to be. There is the providence of matter which composes our bodies, and providence of energy which motivates our spirits, and providemce of space where we find ourselves located, and a providence of time, which give us balance and rythm to our lives. These are interesting discussion, which are speculative in nature, but I know that I cannot prove this sense of belief to others. It is only meaningful to me, and to me alone.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Part 1 from the other DanielThe word “God” means little To believe in God is to believe in what?No one can say; or else, each person says differently. An atheist is someone who does not believe in God, PERIOD. An atheist is not automatically inferior to a Christian. Many “Christian” posers are very bad people, indeed, and some of the very best people in the world are atheists. Belief or non-belief has nothing to do with the goodness of a person’s heart.Disbelief in God is different than a “rejection of God,” for that would indicagte a belief in God, which is not what an atheist believes. This is a simple point. What does it mean. when people do not get it?In the West, some people model their belief in God after a pre-scientific Medeival paradigm of the world which the heritage of the Catholic Church and its Protestant progeny. For these people, a serious discussion about God from a modern perspective is pointless, and in fact, not possible.Others model their religios belief within a modern and scientific paradigm of the world.Which brings us to science. Science is not philosophy and it is not religion. They do not compare or relate at all, but are separate pursuits of thought. Scientific “thought” is not the thought of any individual scientist or person; it is the compilation and convergence of many opinions, forged with varying degrees of certainty.Scientists are just people, like you and me, who have physical bodies, and emotional lives, who love and hate, who plot and plan, and seek to advance their own interests and careets, who have families, and all sorts of emotional entaglements, like afternoon soap operas, like Shakeperian plays, like any real person in the real world. Aside from the job title “scientist” they are exactly and the same as anyone else.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Farnaz queried:’THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: Comparatively, which nation has demonstrated the lowest level of obedience in obedience experiments?’Norway?? They currently rank as the world’s happiest people. Nope, I think it’s Iceland :^)Ego, btw., strikes back, harder than empire.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,I don’t want to disrupt your current conversations; just wanted to say that I warm to the notion of Hashem, and that covenant with all peoples, and that taciturnity about here/there After.The Name: synchronous with my reading on the Nile’s imn-rn=f “the One whose Name is Hidden”…Covenant with all peoples…Nongodly nonnonsense.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    thanks for the replies persiflage. your post are always well-reasoned.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Onofrio,Thanks for the post. The question Schaum and I were discussing is whether Buddhism should be considered a religion. What do you think?Re my post to Persiflage…Did you know that Milgram experiments had been conducted in the land down under? They’ve been run in many, many countries, but the Ozzies always scored lowest for obedience. Congratulations to Australia! The next logical questions are why, and what can we learn from their nay-saying?

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:One walked dog and 10units of insulin later…”me. I’m troubled by the nomenclature.”Likewise. The biggest problem with language is words. “Reconstructionist Judaism is uninterested in a deity. It is interested in “ultimate truth,” reletavistically understood. According to the Wikipedia definition, it is a religion. According to yours, it is not.”I am not a student of Judaism of any flavor; my most intense exposure to it was to be organist for Friday services at Temple Beth Israel on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo NY YEARS ago. (Loved the people, loved the Reb, detested Mrs. Reb. On my only visit to their home, she made me sit in the only chair in the L/R that was covered in plastic. I assume it was reserved for the goyem.) Therefore, I cannot discuss any of its branches or their whether they have/recognize/utilize/pray to deities. I will admit I’ve never heard of any form of Judaism that did not recognize G-d. Live and learn.My ‘definition’ of religion was what I perceive most people to mean by religion, and I was pitting my argument against Buddhism as a religion against that definition, and against Buddha’s own teaching that he was NOT a deity, that he was NOT to be worshipped, and his steadfast refusal to endorse (or deny) the existence of a heaven or hell.I would not presume to define religion for anybody but myself. I am not ABOUT to deny that ANYTHING is a religion, except Buddhism, evolution, atheism, and science. Those I will argue are not religions until I pass out.”Have you read my postings in this chat? How would you classify Buddhism?”I would classify Buddhism as a philosophy, a discipline for discovering truth (and therefore peace) within, an art (perhaps), and certainly a vehicle for ‘connectedness’ with the universe. I do think all things are connected. I would like not to answer this just yet — I’d like to think about it, and I’d like you to define ‘religious yearnings’.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:I will say this about religion/god (as I have said on another thread):I worked for a while in the funeral industry. I closely observed grief and the way people grieve, their appeals to god for relief from grief, for the welfare of the souls of their loved ones, for relief of their own senses of guilt.I came away from that experience with the feeling that most people do not have, and really have no burning interest in, a close relationship with god. What most people really want from religion is some assurance, some proof, that death is a survivable incident.

  • onofrio

    Schaum,”Write more about Thomas, please. One of my favorites!”I’d love to, Schaum, though I daresay the thread is too substantial at this point to be disdecorated with further lumpen lensing from me. Had I but world and time (and wit)…May it suffice to say that Thomas is up there with Yeats in my pantheon. I’ve committed to memory A Refusal to Mourn, The Hand That Signed the Paper, and The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower. A Winter’s Tale and Do Not Go Gentle are next. ” “Do Not Go Gentle…” still makes me quiver.”Ach so. Would be good to live up to such rage, in the end. Hope so.While I’ve got you; I’ve been struck by both dumbness and awe at your posts herealong. Very nourishing fare.Staying tuned.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz, you said,it’s because they’re all descendents of criminals… plus, they’re “down under” – used to being isolated and on their own…

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:”awe at your posts herealong. Very nourishing fare.”Praise from you is praise indeed! I will remember this for a long time.And I look forward to yours re: Thomas. Educate me!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,”The Hand That Signed the Paper”Should be on the desk of every head of state all over the world. Framed.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Walter,farnaz, you said,it’s because they’re all descendents of criminals… plus, they’re “down under” – used to being isolated and on their own…Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | October 13, 2009 7:48 PM

  • daniel12

    On whether Buddhism is a religion and how it stands with respect to atheism, the answer is that it is a religion and no better from an atheistic perspective than a monotheistic religion.Read the following from Wikipedia:”Buddhism, as traditionally conceived, is a path of salvation attained through insight into the ultimate nature of reality.[2] It encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pali/Sanskrit “one who is awake”). Adherents recognize the Buddha as an awakened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end suffering, achieve nirvana, and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth.”Salvation by insight into ultimate reality? Where is this ultimate reality? Show proof of such. Show proof of such superior to attempts to prove the existence of God. Scientific proof.The Buddha not worshipped? He supposedly arrived at ultimate reality, is called the “awakened one”. How exactly is that different from the elevation of say, Christ?–Which is to say how less than the elevation of Christ when he is called the “awakened one”?The task of the Buddha is to help to achieve Nirvana. Nirvana? What is that? Proof of such please. This is identical to the problem of “ultimate reality”. In fact ultimate reality and Nirvana are the same. So please show such–scientific evidence please.The Buddha is supposed to help one escape the cycle of rebirth. Cycle of rebirth? Please show proof that such exists. Scientific proof. Furthermore, supposing Buddhism to be correct, all the centuries upon centuries of meditating with this goal in mind should have brought forth by now a clearly more enlightened East than West. But of course it was the West that brought forth the scientific revolution which the East is following above all things today.Buddhism definitely a religion and with the same problem as monotheistic religions: Claims without proof that they exist.

  • Schaum

    Somewhere there is a village missing its idiot.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    D12,We passed Wikipedia awhile ago. I think Schaum’s point about the absence of deity worship is the best he’s raised so par. Worth considering. I don’t know enough about Buddhism to take this discussion further with Schaum, all by my lonesome. Wonder what Persiflage and others think.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”Reconstructionist Judaism is uninterested in a deity.”Sorry, for some reason I assumed a diety is not incorporated into R/J. I’ll do some reading on same tonight or tomorrow. In what tradition were you raised? Do you continue to practice it?

  • Schaum

    Years ago, a female solitary was enlisted to come and lead a couple of meditative sessions in the Episcopal church I belonged to at the time. (To begin with, it is a mistake to ask a solitary to mix and mingle with others. It doesn’t work well.) She said something about discovering truth, as an introverted/introspective exercise, that I think is the essence of Buddhism, and probably to practices of spiritualism: “Do not try to learn it; everything you need is already inside you.” Certainly the exercise of meditation in Zen is not designed to ‘bring anything into’ you, but to bring out what is already there. The connectedness.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,In what tradition were you raised? Do you continue to practice it?At all events, much to my parents’ chagrin, I persisted with it, they had to get tutors, etc., attend synagogue. My mother was miserable since I was the most bookish of her bookish children, and her plans for me to study ancient Greek were being held in check by my “obsessive religiosity cum philosophy.” Sephardic services are different from Askenazic, which are, actually, becoming less dry. Even so, never was there a more miserable man in Tehran on Saturday mornings than my beloved pere. As for tradition, as a Sephardic Jew, I find it difficult to translate into Western terms. Fundamentally rationalist, drawn to Maimonides, and followers, at a very early age, I was, though.It all came to a screeching halt when one of my tutors, a charismatic teacher, insisted that we must become kosher. End of tutors, services, etc. Much protest from me.Deal struck: I could go on with Judaism provided I started studying with a tutor of ancient Greek. As well, if I wanted to attend services, I could go with my aunt (poor thing).The Greek lessons began, interest in Judaism continued, as did study of Islam, which is another story. Greek interrupted by Islamic Revolution. Everything interrupted….More, another time.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz, you said,might work…it’s always the “outliers” who advance the field.in a related thought, i’ve always thought that people who came to america were (are) self-selected. to pull yourself out of a familiar environment and set out for a new place requires a certain “spirit”.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:”pull yourself out of a familiar environment and set out for a new place requires a certain “spirit”.”It sure as hell requires something! I’m leaving the US to live in Germany, and I’m having a tough time with that, sick of the US as I am. Any insights you have would be greatly appreciated.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Walter IFC,”might work…it’s always the “outliers” who advance the field.”Often, this is the case, is it not? The “outliers,” the outsiders, marginal human.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”Everything interrupted…”Thats a fascinating story. Sephardic…is that the branch that requires women to sit, heads covered, separate from men in worship services? As I said, and as you can tell, I know practically nothing about Judaism.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”A word of clarification on Dennett: what worries him about the demise of religion is the potential loss of imagery, etc., to the arts”And this is no small concern!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Walter IFC,Don’t want to throw yet another discourse into this, but on the notion of religion, tribalism, nationalities, race, etc., I think much can be learned from Judith Butler’s work on gender.Discussions on gender/sex have been healthily disrupted by transgendered and transexual identities. If, however, monistically speaking, identity notions become fixed to the brain, physicalized, then it will take generations to overcome identity boundaries.In the meantime, we brandish bombs at our future, bound up as we are with primal thoughts and terrors, thinking that only plutonium can save us.

  • Schaum

    Daniel12″I have no idea why everyone is getting all excited by my defending the notion that science in saying love is chemically induced destroys love. I clearly stated that science reduces the mystery of the type of love which most people consider love to be–which is to say science eliminates romantic love.”You flatter yourself unduly. You are not “defending” the notion that science destroys love. You are promulgating it. It is another of your gross presuppositions, and as stupid as all the others. And I don’t see anyone getting “excited” by anything you write. To the contrary, I’d say the word you want is “dismayed.” I shouldn’t bother going to the trouble of having my “essays” copyrighted, if I were you. I doubt that you are in danger of being plagiarized.

  • rick22407

    Hi Susan…Please pardon the interruption but we all know that we have discussed this topic to death. Those of us who believe dogmatically in the existence of god because the bible tells me so can not be convinced otherwise. And those of us who insist on proof will never receive it until possibly after death.Let’s talk for a moment about the far more interesting speech given yesterday by Bibi Netanyahu furiously denouncing a U.N. report in a keynote address to parliament. Netanyahu’s fiery rhetoric – and his decision to open the high-profile speech with remarks on the report – reflected the deep distress felt among Israeli leaders after a U.N. commission accused Israel of intentionally harming civilians when it launched a massive attack in Gaza to stop years of rocket fire.”This distorted report, written by this distorted committee, undermines Israel’s right to defend itself. [What a joke…Israel would not have to defend itself if it were not illegally occupying Palestinian land.] “For 62 years, the Palestinians have been saying ‘No’ to the [racist] Jewish state. I am once again calling upon our Palestinian neighbors; say ‘Yes’ to the [racist] Jewish state.” he said. “Without recognition of Israel as the [racist] state of the Jews we shall not be able to attain peace.”Forgetaboutit…

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:Write more about Thomas, please. One of my favorites!And one of my clearest memories as an adolescent is the regular Christmas-eve playing (until the record was irreparably damaged) of a recording of Thomas reading his own “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” “Do Not Go Gentle…” still makes me quiver.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,Thats a fascinating story. Sephardic…is that the branch that requires women to sit, heads covered, separate from men in worship services? As I said, and as you can tell, I know practically nothing about Judaism.Women sit separately from men in all Orthodox synagogues, to the best of my knowledge, in some Conservative synagogues. In Conservative, Reformed, and Reconstructionist synagogues, women may be ordained as rabbis.Now, there has developed a role for women in Orthodox synagogues allowing them to study for the rabbinate, but they may not lead congregations.The various ways in which Orthodoxy situates women are complicated, problematic. On the one hand, there is much that seems to me to be fall into a division wherein the women care for the home and children, the men earn livings and deal with matters of mind. Yet, even among the most traditional Orthodox, there are female Phds, computer programmers, etc., and no one seems to notice the contradictions I do.Sephardic Judaism is pretty close to Askenazic Judaism, but it doesn’t break down into organized movements. We all word scarves, did sit separately from men, except for me, who sat with my grandfather.

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:”Her take is that out-of-body experiences fall under the rubric of cognitive or perceptual illusions – if true, even that says something extraordinary about consciousness.”Says a lot about brain chemistry too!

  • Schaum

    And by the way, Persiflage: thanks for the astronomy links. I’m an amateur astronomer, and I eat that stuff up. I think the only time I have ever suffered clinical depression was when the Hubble was first launched — and didn’t work! I was inconsolable. When they repaired it, and we got the first images of deep space, it was like being reborn.

  • Schaum

    President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize has been justified by some because it draws attention to the goal he endorses of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. I share that goal, but not because nuclear weapons are uniquely horrible — if you’re a victim, it makes little difference whether you’re killed or maimed by nuclear weapons or conventional weapons, which sometimes can create lingering illnesses and poison the landscape, too. I support the abolition of nuclear weapons because, if it were successful, it would lock in the advantages of the small number of great powers like the U.S. that are capable of building and maintaining first-class conventional militaries.The goal of American liberal internationalism, since the days of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, has been what Wilson called “a community of power” — a great power concert whose members collaborate to keep the peace. This is different from the conservative vision of unilateral U.S. hegemony. But whether you think the law should be enforced by a posse or a single sheriff, you want the law officers to be better armed than the law-breakers.As for Obama’s Nobel prize: I think he deserves it simply for not being George W. Bush.

  • Schaum

    KATAVO:”I have to see the Christian claims that you are going to hell if you don’t believe in what they believe in as insensible.”What monotheistic religions do not make this claim? Christianity is grossly offensive for far more serious reasons than this, not the least of which is that it has almost nothing to do with the teachings of christ.Perhaps these questions, which you asked when you were 10 years old, are not being asked here because those posting (with a couple of exceptions) are more than 10 years old, have already asked those questions, have found answers for some of them, and have re-formed the remainder into better (and perhaps different, perhaps more introverted) questions, which they are attempting to answer for themselves as part of the progression of their lives.

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:Thanks for the link. Pity that the article is incomplete.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Many thanks, Persiflage. Found him on the web. Have been reading….

  • Schaum

    Yes, BRAVO, Persiflage.

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:You mean “Disappearance of plasma melatonin after removal of a neoplastic pineal gland?”For some reason I can’t pull it up.

  • onofrio

    Persiflage,’If you consider the Mind to be outside yourself, it is the same as mistaking a thief for your own son.’ Another gem for the trove! Thanks for transmitting this venerable Huang, Persiflage.

  • Schaum

    Oh, the “Chemistry and consciousness/Neurochemistry”Just read it.

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,Thanks too for sharing more of your story, Farnaz. Have you ever thought of autobio? There’s matter for a beaut one, methinks.Wish my mum had been ambitious for me the way yours was for you. Did you ever un-interrupt the Greek?

  • daniel12

    On the subject of whether the scientific observation that love is chemically induced–that the lover is in thrall to chemicals in the brain–is negative for romantic love–in fact destructive of romantic love–we can arrive at an answer by an easily determined observation. We all are familiar with the saying “have a few drinks and even the ugliest woman is beautiful”. Well, obviously by this saying we mean that the woman is nothing special, we have merely had a few too many and nothing more. We have had our brains addled by alcohol.Well, when science tells us that our love for a woman is induced by chemicals in the brain, that is exactly saying that we are as if on alcohol, except that for centuries upon centuries this was unknown until science came along.And what is the result? Obviously that a person can no longer trust himself when in love. The person comes to think that he is just addled as if by alcohol and once it wears off he will see the special someone is really nothing much. And that is what happens every day. After a few years couples come to see they are really nothing special in each other’s eyes. The couples capable of the long haul are capable of being honest about this and being willing to work at a relationship–because knowing that constantly trying to take up with another person is no answer, for one will just have to go through the same thing all over again.Well, science observing that love is merely chemicals in the brain hastens the process of realizing the beloved is nothing really special. Strong people will be able to handle it because willing to work at a relationship, but for many others love is just plain ruined, for by science love becomes nothing more than a type of alcoholic binge. A binge no more to be trusted than alcohol. A binge more than ever susceptible to a friend saying “wise up, you’re letting her get too much to your head”. We all follow a friend’s words when drunk and hanging on an ugly woman, but we would never trust a friend’s words when in actual love–until now, by the grace of science telling us our love is nothing but chemicals in the brain, not something which exists in the other person and which attracts us.This means woman and man no longer unrealistically elevated in the mind. This means no more romantic love. All chemicals in the brain and nothing more. A habit as bad as alcohol and drugs. Better to be realistic. And embrace…more science. Then one might be moved to care more for others in general rather than being in thrall to that one person.

  • Pamsm

    Speak for yourself, Onofrio,

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Gauzy Gaulish gazelles gallop, justly jump joyous. uni due trei verso.Met a physical in the forest, oh, it was eons ago.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Monty PythonNow there is a topic we need not quarrel about. But coreligionists will jeer. Surely, they will sneer, God had a hand in MP. (Briefly, they will jeer and sneer.)

  • onofrio

    Speaking of MP,On his recent lecture tour of Sydney, Christopher Hitchens was persuaded by his interviewer to recite the entire Philosopher’s Song. It was particularly appropriate, since the original singers of the song were the Bruces, all from the Philosophical Department of the University of Woolloomooloo:Immanuel Kant was a real pissantHeidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggarDavid Hume could out-consumeAnd Wittgenstein was a beery swineThere’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach yaJohn Stuart Mill, of his own free will,Plato, they say, could stick it away–Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.And René Descartes was a drunken fart.Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed,(The event was televised on our ABC, so I’m sure it’s retrievable somewhere).

  • Pamsm

    Ah, Onofrio, Woolloomooloo!Brings back memories. I used to go out to eat, when in Sydney, at the Woolloomooloo Woolshed. Great little restaurant – excellent deviled oysters. Is it still there?

  • onofrio

    Persiflage,I think it’s fair to say that in Dawkins’ touching eulogy for DNA, the ouroboros is quantumly circumscribing itself particulate, nibbling its tail-tip, and uncircling (or recircling) its immortal coil into a trilling wave – an agonised worm flushed from the soil; a writhing Angkor apsara…Or not.

  • onofrio

    Pam,The Woolloomooloo Woolshed is heritage listed, I believe. Still there as the Woolshed Inn. I’ve never eaten there, but I’ll take your word on the diabolised molluscs :^)When were you last in Sydney?

  • Schaum

    LETTER FROM A MALE SOPRANOI read “Sexual Personae” several years ago, right at the beginning of my career as a male soprano. I found it a fascinating and helpful companion to the odd, quasi-castrated role in which I found myself — in the eyes of the public and music administrators, at least — if not in the way I viewed myself.A male soprano, incidentally, is not to be confused with a countertenor — you might as well conflate baritones and tenors into the same voice category. We sing the roles of heroes and lovers, tyrants and freaks — and occasionally over-the-top women. However, the feminist movement that is now making itself felt in opera is replacing theatrical verisimilitude with the arguably easier-on-the-ears voices of women. Here is a brief intro to male soprano singing (running about four minutes)My primary goal is to interest you in this subset of artistic gender-bending. The piece I am performing is by Giacomo Carissimi, from the Roman Church around 1650. The popes had forbidden both opera and female singers in the Papal States, and that verbot gave rise to this form of operatic church music, sung almost exclusively by soprano castrati.I may not need to say this, but I am not a castrato, merely a man who can, for some reason or other, still sing soprano. Robert Crowe Berlin, Germany

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,Yes, something on the order of that “Unreliable,” very funny, at times, I thought. The only one of his books I’ve read.One day, maybe you will tell us something of your history. I find it difficult to believe that you don’t write professionally. (Have you considered writing de Goop’s definitive bio.? Just kidding, but loved that piece. As part of an extended satire, it would work very well, indeed.) Yours is a magical voice, verdad. Did you ever make up stories for your children?

  • Pamsm

    “Norway?? They currently rank as the world’s happiest people. Nope, I think it’s Iceland :^)”Actually, it’s Denmark – but you were in the right area. :)Sorry, Onofrio, not Aussie Land.

  • Pamsm

    “ARe these yearnings a matter of temperament? I don’t think everyone has them. I doubt Pam does.”Definitely not.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Paglia, the divine, a goddess sure. Power’s withering, say some. Iconicity’s slow poison. She’ll be back….

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,Not infrequently, my two girls ask me to “tell those funny stories from when you were a kid…pleeeeeeease.”Glad you liked my drowned Dutchman.:^)

  • onofrio

    PS,I was delighted to read your Gaulish gazelles and uni…verso.

  • onofrio

    Pam,What? Are the Danes more disobedient than Australians?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Separate matter. Hope you know Milgram…Findings about Australia say fascism would not find fertile ground there. Persiflage, in his great wisdom, figured joy and NO must go together, in the West, at least.Oriana the great’s favorite word: NO.

  • Pamsm

    “What? Are the Danes more disobedient than Australians?”No, Just happier. They have Tivoli Gardens, after all. And that little mermaid in the harbor. Who wouldn’t be happy?

  • onofrio

    Kierkegaard?

  • Pamsm

    “He discharges debtors”Oh, good! Can he take care of my American Express bill, please?

  • Athena4

    What? Are the Danes more disobedient than Australians? No, Just happier. They have Tivoli Gardens, after all. And that little mermaid in the harbor. Who wouldn’t be happy?”I’ve never been to Denmark, but I was in Australia last year. The people there seemed to be pretty happy, even with the Recession hitting them hard. Of course, with cute animals like koalas, great beer and world-class wineries, who wouldn’t be happy?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz,and you said,yes. i should have siad “often”.

  • Schaum

    Pamsm:”Discussion?”You bet.Both science and religion have thought about (or have been told about) the last 2500 years of human thought. Both groups have some recognition of the importance of philosophic, scientific and epistemologic presupposition. Both groups are difficult to teach because they attach such great importance to “right” premises and presuppositions that heresy becomes for them a threat – of excommunication from their respective communities..Naturally anybody who feels heresy to be a danger will devote some care to being conscious of his or her own presuppositions and will develop a sort of connoisseurship (is this a real word?) in these matters.My interest in scientific, and philosophic, presupposition is close to the core of religion and to the core of scientific orthodoxy. Your presuppositions – and most people need some instruction in what a presupposition looks like -are almost identical to ones I made and discovered when I was deciding that there is no god. I found that very interestingThere is a problem which is almost peculiar to the American scene. Americans are, no doubt, as rigid in their presuppositions as any other people but they have a strange response to any articulate statement of presupposition. Such statements are often assumed to be hostile or mocking or – and this is probably the toughest- are heard as authoritarian.In this land founded for the freedom of (and therefore from) religion, the teaching of religion is outlawed in the state educational system. Members of religiously weak families, get, of course, no religious training from any source outside the family; i.e., what they get is from parents who went through the state system. Presuppositions made about science (especially evolution) are threatening to them.So, to make any statement of premise or presupposition in a formal and articulate way is to challenge the rather subtle counter-attack, not of contradiction because the hearers do not know the contradictory premises nor how to state them, but of the cultivated deafness which children use to keep out the pronouncements of their parents.This is as it may be; I personally believe in the importance of scientific presuppositions, in the idea that there are better and worse ways of constructing scientific theories, and in insisting on the articulate statement of presuppositions so that they may be improved. Their authority will always,increase as the premises gather more and more appearance of being true.I would, however have said (referring to your second presupposition): “That EXTERNAL reality is objective…”

  • Schaum

    Pamsm:”You agree with the others? Can you think of any more?”Yes, I agree heartily, and offer two more:6) That there is “truth” and that it can be discovered.7) That scientific development occurs, without benefit of a set goal, a permanent fixed scientific truth.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    pam, schaum,your presupposition #4 (

  • Schaum

    Pamsm:Please post your five scientific presuppositions here. Good food for thought.

  • US-conscience

    My King is a Sovereign King,He’s the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world,He blesses the young,He’s the key to knowledge,

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:” rules out the possibility of god influencing anything right from the beginning,”That in itself is a presupposition. How do you support it? Or do you? Science is not a religion. Does that mean that it is Atheistic, or Agnostic?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,maybe it’s not possible. if the red sea parted today (in the bold manner of the 10 commandments movie), and it were captured on video cameras and so forth, would “science”

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    US-conscience, you wrote,there is no “firmament” (a rigid dome, hard as metal, job37:18). the “firmament is part of the ancients’ conception of a “snowglobe earth” that modern science has disproved to the satisfaction of most.

  • onofrio

    Walter, Schaum, PamWalter wrote re Pam’s presuppositions:Here’s tuppence:eg. Deus sive natura.Science vs God seems based on rather traditional absolutising formulas of what God must be. Theo-sceptical science often dances to the tune of classical theism, because it implicitly credits the claims of the latter to have arrived at a definitive articulation of God (which is then easily dismissed). But perhaps there is a God that science can comprehend, that is not entirely bound by the old *scriptural* strictures and the still-raw rivalries of the sects.God = the intricate Givens of our existence, called Thou (thank you Buber), rather than It; the All by which one is awestruck, and to which one is humbly grateful for what good there is; all that has led to Now, all the mystery behind and before us, the vast silence that has arrived at a simple human hope-for-the-best in extremis. Such does not require subscription to a religion, or abandonment of scientific rigour, or obligatory assent. Perhaps it amounts to trust in the universe, that all-fathering all-humbling darkness, that all-mothering ground of our being.God = heads; Nature = tails?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    References to God as “Lord” is based on the feudal order of Medeial Europe. In those days, your Lord was your personal protector to whom you owed personal allegiance, in return. Today, there is barely a concept of this “feudal Lord.” Perhaps the closest we can come to it is your “boss” at work.But you see, why would I frame a concept of God in human institutions that no longer exist, and that have been in fact, completely forgotten by most people? Is it just the “wisdom of the ages?” No, it is just a habit that continues, mindlessly, without reason or purpose.Referring to God as “my King” is also archaic, just a habit, that apparently is difficult to resist. Today, we do not have kings; we have Presidents, Prime Ministers, Strong Men, Dictators, but not Kings, except either as traditional figure heads, or else pretentious buffoons. Basing religious beliefs on an antiquatede paradigm which is universally forgotten undermines religious credibility on almost every other point.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    onofrio said,that’s probably what “regular” scientists who happen to be theists of some sort do. and that’s a really lovely version of god (one an atheist could almost embrace), but it’s not the one who is personally interested in me and my personal salvation. is that god “presupposed away” in science?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    I recall meeting someone who had achieved renown for having synthesized a gemstone. Someone mentioned something about his “creation,” at which point he interrupted with alarm, “I didn’t CREATE it–I DISCOVERED it.”

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:”What if God is understood not as super-natural but natural?”A natural god? Do we even begin to know what would constitute a SUPERNATURAL god? Its an interesting idea, though, and I’m going to give it some thought. I’m going to think about the practicality of a supernatural god who is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. I am not, as I think most atheists are not, inclined to say there is *no* creator. I deny the god of the bible. I deny the creation story of the bible. I suspect the existence of a creator, since creation implies a creator–at least to me. I do not think the recently-proved evolution of man is in any way inconsistent with the possible existence of a possible creator. Why not worship electricity? We have all been amazed about the great and wonderful things that electricity does for us on a daily basis. It does everything for us, while we do nothing for it. Certainly it could continue to exist without us. I couldn’t be typing this message to you without the beautiful wonders of electricity and associated electrical gadgets that make it all possible. We know that electricity loves us because it does almost unlimited things for us all the time, right? Need I comment on what electricity can do unto you if you disobey the manufacturer’s warning label? It can taze you, dead, in no time if you operate on your computer hardware without first unplugging it from the all powerful 120/208 Vrms AC 20 ampere rated wall socket. The same humans who concocted the bible might well have worshiped such an impressive display of technological achievement.

  • Schaum

    DITD:”References to God as “Lord” is based on the feudal order of Medeial Europe”Actually the reference to god as lord is biblical, substantially predating the feudal constructs of the Medieval world. By that time, lord had come simply to mean “owner”.

  • onofrio

    Walter,Thee:The God I’m proposing/supposing is not the Christian(ish) God *personal salvation* tends to imply. Such salvation (salivation for slave-ation) implies a realised beyond-this, a sequel, which demotes precious Now into *this present darkness*. The natural God I’ve grasped at is this-worldly, revealed not in special rescue forecasts for the plucked few/many, but in Life in all its fullness. A sense of salvific providence can be part of that experience, and it’s human to wish devoutly, irrationally, for its increase. But its realisation can’t be deferred dogmatically to an otherworld, of which we can, at best, only speculate. Nor can it be activated by a thaumaturgy that stops at fervent words.The God I have in mind is not interestable in ego-derived anxieties about immortality. The remedy for these is simply – more of the All, cessation included. I did not bring myself into existence; I am from that All. What do I have to fear in returning to it, since it was not my ego-consciousness that knit me together? Nature made me, and Nature will unmake me, as is “truly meet” – Άξιον εστίν.Sorry, that’s a long maeander around your direct question. What I’m saying is that *salvation* too must be this-worldly. Its miracle is in the “achieve of the thing” within nature/space-time. Science doesn’t rule this out, any more than it rules out poetry or music. But, yes, science militates against exit-clause saviour set-ups, certes.

  • onofrio

    Schaum,Thee:Why stop there, Schaum? We have learned (via science, which is simply the discipline of *looking carefully*) that we are all star-stuff. Why not revere and meditate upon our near star the sun, truly our *maker* – visible to all, felt by all, on which all that we know as Life depends, proximate source of all our energies, image of completion…I’m not suggesting the sun itself IS God, but what better image could there be for what God might entail? Not a new idea…Nature’s *angel*; God’s *eye*; the great Thou drawn near.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Speaking of Beats, found this, the epitaph Gregory Corso wrote for himself:Spir’t is Life It flows thru the death of me endlessly like a river unafraid of becoming the sea.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Onofrio,Depressingly, no more ancient Greek for me, couldn’t be managed.As for self-writing, sometimes, I toy musially, with a swatch of this, a thread of that, a pastime. None of the more dramatic elements of my life figure in them. They tend to be quiet bits and pieces, sometimes meditations.Do you ever toy with memoirs?

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,I would that Greek were not Greek to me. I envy those who know it. Ditto Hebrew. Yet maybe, one decade…I have sometimes considered writing a sort of loosely autobio fiction. I’d be aiming for laughs, along the lines of Clive James’ ‘Unreliable Memoirs’.You should weave those reflections and dramas together…

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,…who thinks she’s found king david’s palace…

  • Pamsm

    Reverence for knowledge, yes.I don’t think there is a natural god – if there were, someone would have found some evidence for him by now.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    from wiki:take out the silly “four elements” part and it sounds great!as far as Laslo’s application of “Akashic Field Theory”, i don’t know, could be right. interesting way of looking at it. obviously specualtion on the moment of and the first few moments after the big bang are in their infancy (and way over my head…).

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    persiflage,”The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State differentiates the intermediate state between lives into three bardos:1.The chikhai bardo or “bardo of the moment of death,” which features the experience of the “clear light of reality,” or at least the nearest approximation of which one is spiritually capable.2.The chonyid bardo or “bardo of the experiencing of reality,” which features the experience of visions of various Buddha forms (or, again, the nearest approximations of which one is capable).3.The sidpa bardo or “bardo of rebirth,” which features karmically impelled hallucinations which eventually result in rebirth. (Typically imagery of men and women passionately entwined.)i “get” chikhai bardo. the others seem like convoluted efforts to avoid the obvious: when you’re dead, you’re dead. i admit, sidpa bardo sounds pretty fun, though.nonetheless, seriously, thanks for the link.many buddhist practices, i freely admit, seem to lead to a “better” experience with this reality here on earth. when in college i took “TM” classes and was given my very own secret meditation word by the teacher. as i’m sure you know, the idea is to try (well, not “try” because that’s “conscious”) to clear your mind of thoughts, dismissing them as they arise and plunging deeper into pure “being” or “awareness”. i meditated three times a day for a while, but got away from it. it was pretty fun though.i remember a funny thing where they showed pictures of “really advanced meditators”

  • onofrio

    Pam:Thee:By *natural god*, I don’t mean some personality inhabiting or hiding behind Nature, but the All of Nature itself. Thus the evidence is patently *there*; we’re in it. Through scientific enquiry, we know this All ever more closely. Calling it God and Thou, out of a sense of profound respect, doesn’t so much anthropomorphise it as naturalise us.Thee:The knowledge you rightly revere refers to the All of Nature, which is the *natural God* I meant. By saying there is no “evidence” for “him”, you’re slipping into Christian theistic terms of reference, whereby knowing Nature is knowing *about* a visible construct some invisible (masculine) God manufactured. Like some work of complicated sculpture (or a pocket watch ;^) ), it’s supposed to express something of this God’s otherwise hidden, transcendent character. The seen as evidence for things unseen… I’m suggesting something quite different – that your reverent knowledge of Nature is direct knowledge of God, since deus sive natura (Spinoza). You actually apprehend God (or an aspect of God) in what you study.To equate God and Nature is not a matter of finding evidence for something hidden, but of having a certain attitude – i.e. reverence, awe, respect – towards what you can see, study, and understand, in all its many splendoured intricacy. According to the view of God I am exploring here, you know God better than many, since you comprehend Nature via science, i.e. *looking carefully*.I’m not wishing to be doctrinaire; just trying out a different view of what God might mean. I’m not fully sold on it myself, realising that in the US the term *God* has been so monopolised by Christian discourse that deploying it in any positive sense implies a default submission to Christian categories.

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:The NDE link was fascinating. Thank you.No desire to levitate.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    persiflage, the most interesting thing there for me was that last table showing the”Life-change inventory” of Religious attitudeand this research shows the world would be a better place if we all had NDEs.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    JUSTICE SCALIA: i’m sure scalia scores extremely high on intelligence tests and all. he has always been the “star” student, lawyer, etc… wherever he goes, but what an IDIOTIC statement that is.he also has no problem with 10 commandment displays, but i’m sure would have a heart attack (maybe an NDE – might be good for his “sensitivity”) at the suggestion of a non-christian religious display.

  • Schaum

    Well, its time for NPR/All Things Considered, and a large scotch and soda. Later…

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    SchaumFarnaz:Correct me if I am wrong. Don’t the several Jewish ‘denominations’ acknowledge the Psalms?Don’t the Psalms make unnumbered personal appeals for help, protection, survival, guidance, etc., from god? Don’t the Psalms make frequent reassurances that god is “on the petitioner’s side?” Sounds like a personal relationship with a personal god to me…Posted by: Schaum | October 15, 2009 12:36 PMThey are not personal. Duh. Not for Jews. Absalom was never a problem for me, just as an example. No offense, but this is remedial Judaism. Neither Islam nor Judaism has a “personal” god. Thank nonGod. Hashem does not “have a plan for me.” I mean ain’t no fan of religion in general but yuck. Double yuck: What would Jesus do?

  • onofrio

    Schaum,I’ve just read your 0-5 points with all those terrifying numbers – cogent, potent disevangelism, alright! Zesta!It seems that a nonGod entente has been established here. I see Spinoza on a lotus.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Persiflage,Thanks for the post. Lurianic Quabbalah has syncretic elements, was influenced by Sufism.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage,Also, I was not referring to mystical interpretations in my post to him, but rather to normative Judaism.

  • onofrio

    Persiflage,”Onofrio would of course call it just another example of the Ouroborus swallowing it’s own tail…… :^)”I shall have to work another metaphor. I’m waxing shopworn. (:^UAkashic field theory has a Nilotic foretaste = both Nun (the abyssal depths) and Amun (hidden soul permeating/enlivening all things).Re those bardos Walter highlighted from your links – 1) and 2) seem to resemble phenomena I’ve experienced/tasted, though not in a dying context.Can these phases arise during non-deathly contemplative sessions?

  • persiflage

    Farnaz,Realized after the post that perhaps modern/secular Judasim was more to the point in the scheme of things. God is well masked, according to Campbell …..I become tipsy whenever I’m around the Pleroma – can’t be helped ;^)Persiflage

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:”I see Spinoza on a lotus.”Swear to god you are a magician with words!

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:”You’ve been posting lots of pretty high power stuff here of late :)”I’ll back off. I’m bored. I got Rosetta Stone and spend my days trying to learn basic German. The thread is running in the background and keeps distracting my attention.

  • onofrio

    You’re not *taking the piss* again are you Schaum?:^)(*…* – Austral slang)

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,Re ChrisEgyptian and ChrisGreek at 11:40 am.Good point, and still way under-appreciated.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:From Wikipedia:”Human interrelation with GodMost of classical Judaism views God as personal, meaning that humans have a relationship with God and vice versa. Much of the midrash, and many prayers in the siddur portrays God as caring about humanity in much the same way that humans care about God.”Whatever was I thinking of. Remedial, did you say?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,Woe is to me, but in matters Judaic, I cannot bow down to Wikipedia. Hashem=Name, that which cannot be named, in other words, because to name is to limit. Hashem is wholly other, dates back to Rabbinic Judaism, i.e., Judaism, apologies to Wikipedia. Mea maxima culpa, and delighted with my culpitude.:)

  • persiflage

    Hail Onofrio!Hate to sound Romanesque, but I do see you as either a Roman philosopher (Seneca), or maybe a thoughtful military general (Marcus Aurelius) – or perhaps a gladiator of note (Spartacus)…….’Can these phases arise during non-deathly contemplative sessions?’Not only is this possible, but a number of my own experiences lead me to be at least semi-convinced of the existence of actual parallel realities – bizarre I know…but a currently valid concept of quantum physics. Hypnogogic phasing between awake and sleep states can instantly take one to alternate imaginal realities that truly seem real, and make one wonder…..At the risk of appearing magical – what would life be without magic?! best, Persiflage

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    I become tipsy whenever I’m around the Pleroma – can’t be helped ;^)

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:”You’re not *taking the piss* again are you Schaum?My Austral slang is even more remedial than my understanding of Judaism. Can you explain? Then I’ll answer.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Farnaz,Re ChrisEgyptian and ChrisGreek at 11:40 am.Good point, and still way under-appreciated.

  • onofrio

    Schaum,It can range from a good natured tease to sly scoffing. Irony aplenty.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage,Re NDEs,It is interesting how many people report out of body experiences, very similar ones.Schaum,Re ScaliaThe part I never get is why so many think him “brilliant.” Never can get that part.

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:Scoffing, definitely. Sly? I think slyness requires a subtlety of which I am totally incapable!

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”Re Scalia”I don’t like him personally. I distrust him almost completely. Almost.But I must say that even some of his reasoning that I disagree with is still ‘brilliant’. He has a good mind. I just don’t agree with its bent.

  • persiflage

    ‘That’s the thing with the Pleroma. Hard to commune and blog at the same time. :)’Ouch!! I just noticed the pooling blood :^)

  • persiflage

    ‘That’s the thing with the Pleroma. Hard to commune and blog at the same time. :)’Ouch!! I just noticed the pooling blood :^)

  • Schaum

    Walter:Yes, I agree: science does deny the Judeochrislamic god.Onofrio: I was being sarcastic about worshiping electricity. My way of saying one mystery is no more/less deserving of worship than another.Pamsm: Again, my sarcasm. I think the idea of worship is void and pointless.

  • onofrio

    Schaum,”I think slyness requires a subtlety of which I am totally incapable!”This callow gingerbread man has his doubts about that, O thou cosmophilic, astromusical fox.

  • Schaum

    Pamsm:”I don’t see any “created” thing that makes me feel the need to invoke anything supernatural “I agree, again.

  • Schaum

    An aside:Wharton School analysts have released a study that says that, while American men show the same or higher level of happiness, American women are less happy now than they were 20 years ago. They offer no explanations for this.I’ll bet the fundies will have plenty of explanation!!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage,Re: Your postsThen felt I like some watcher of the skies–Keats

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    i kind of like the idea of “star worship” – stars being the higher-element “factories” of the universe. our sun, being the closest star, while not responsible for creating the atoms in us, currently sustains us. it seems worthy. the pagan egyptians had it right all along…

  • Schaum

    I am an amateur astronomer; I am not a cosmologist, by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t propose to speak for cosmology/cosmologists. But it seems to me that it is not just biological evolution that poses challenges to traditional christer views. Scientific understanding of cosmological evolution also raises issues for “people of faith.” According Genesis (and I’m no theologian either, so feel free to correct me there as well, if I err), God created the universe and all the heavenly bodies — the sun, the moon, and the stars — in six days. But according to contemporary cosmologists the universe began with a great matter-antimatter explosion known as the Big Bang, after which the stars and galaxies slowly formed over billions of years. Just as Darwin proposed (and has recently been proven!) that the evolution of life was a long, slow, and gradual process, so cosmology now teaches that our universe has evolved, and continues to evolve, by long slow processes.Yet if the biblical account and the scientific account don’t match up in all their details, there are many parallels. For instance, both suggest that the universe came into being out of nothing a finite amount of time ago. Indeed, many contemporary religious believers see the Big Bang as providing confirmation for the christers notion of creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing). Interestingly, when evidence of the Big Bang was first discovered in the late 1920’s (with Edwin Hubble’s finding that the universe was expanding), many scientists rejected the idea because they thought it smacked of religion. If the universe had a beginning they felt, then it must have had a creator. But that would be unscientific. At the time, the prevailing view was that the universe had existed in much the same state forever and that it therefore had no beginning.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,i’m honored. don’t let farnaz see that word, she hates it.:-)

  • Schaum

    Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding ended the static vision of the universe and suggested that the cosmos had a definite starting moment. Moreover, this view was supported by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which provided a beautiful set of equations to describe how a universe could arise out of nothing. Ironically, the tables have now been turned –some scientists today argue that the Big Bang demonstrates that the universe came into being by purely natural processes needing no supernatural power. (I suspect that it is from this argument that the idea of a ‘natural god’ arose.)This view has been famously expressed by the physicist Stephen Hawking. In his best-selling book “A Brief History of Time” (which I’ve read about 97 times and still find something new with each reading!), Hawking suggests that if current cosmological theories turn out to be true then the creation of the universe can be, and will have been, completely explained by the laws of physics. In that case, what role would there be for a creator?

  • Schaum

    3.But again, where Hawking sees science as writing God out of the picture, others take a different view. Physicist Paul Davies, for example, has written that the beauty and order of the laws of physics themselves suggests there must be something behind those laws, something driving the mathematical beauty and order in the universe. Other physicists suggest that the incredibly finely balanced mathematical order of the universe suggests there must be some kind of intelligent force responsible. Stephen Hawking himself has associated god with the laws of physics. In particular, he and Davies have associated god with a so-called “theory of everything” – a single theory that physicists hope will one day unite general relativity with quantum mechanics, thereby bringing the entire universe under one grand mathematical umbrella. This theory is a major goal of contemporary theoretical physics, and it is this which Hawking has linked to “the mind of God”. Perhaps more than any other science, cosmology is an instance in which one can either see god reflected in the picture, or not. Ultimately, science will neither prove nor disproves the existence of god. More often than not, the scientific evidence can be read either way. For my money, however, science has clearly ruled out the god that is described in the bible, to say nothing of the creation story.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:”i’m honored. don’t let farnaz see that word, she hates it.”I love the word. It is a wonderful addition to the vocabulary, and thank you for it. Farnaz will just have to put a curse on me.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:”interestingly, big bang theory does not rule out the hindu “cosmic egg” cosmology (except that they got the dates wrong).”Actually, Walter, I don’t see that the BigBang, per se, rules out much of anything.That three-part musing (I forgot to number the parts) is the beginning of my thinking about the idea of a natural god. I tend to put my thinking on paper because that is the easiest way for me to review my thoughts and use critical thinking evaluations about what I think/say.Right now, I’m trying to figure out what a supernatural god would be. And whether it/he/them are necessary…

  • Schaum

    Anton banterI agree that he is not the most whole-hearted supporter of democracy, as we think we know it.But neither was Thomas Jefferson, who openly advocated a change in *type* of government (not party) every ten years or so. Though possibly it was his intention that government should always return to its democratic form in this country…

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”Not at all, only dislike bluster.”Good morning, sweetness. Yes, I dislike bluster as well. Speaking of YourAffectionateUncleModerate, whatever has happened to that old gasbag.Listen, feel free to rip apart any of my written thoughts. I like a good controversy.

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:”O thou cosmophilic, astromusical fox.”Cosmophilic fox? Me? A student once called me “Medusa without the snakes”…not enough hair I guess.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:”At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation.”Yes, well, according to Nosferatu and the Incas, the end begins on December 21, 2012. And if they were wrong, Newton said sometime in 2060. Either way…

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz,genesis creation story, noah’s ark, abraham’s exploits, a personal god interested in us. come on farnaz, you’ve got to admit there is a connection.granted, there are differences, but for the purposes of our conversation above/below (i wish posts on this blog were posted with newest at the bottom!), “judeochrislam” is a good substitute for “the big three monotheistic religions with their personal, anthropomorphised(!?) conceptions of god”.

  • onofrio

    Schaum,I too lack locks. I make the best of it by making the least of it. A bit Scipio…

  • onofrio

    With the gorgon, gaze is all. The snakes are just garnish. Did you petrify that student, Schaum?

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:”Did you petrify that student, Schaum?”Petrify? No. I’m afraid that in a moment of great exasperation with her failure to grasp computers in general and data structures in particular, I suggested she consider the possibility that computer science was not for everyone. She asked what I would suggest.I suggested sorcery. It was a cruel comment, and she responded with the Medusa comment. I don’t blame her.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,”I suggested sorcery.”Did she pursue it?

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”Did she pursue it?”I doubt it. I have very little influence on people.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,I have very little influence on peopleOne never knows. (Perhaps, the Shadow knows. I would like to hear a tape of that show, one day.)

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Good morning, Schaum, you old charmer, must be off, but will check in later. :}

  • onofrio

    Schaum,”I suggested sorcery.”Worked for me, having a grasp of computing even weaker than your student’s. It is said that those who can’t, teach. I have a different view: those who can’t, conjure.The pay is lousy, but the time flies…

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:ACB (American Council of the Blind) has a station that plays old radio shows, 24/7. They program 4 hours of old shows each day, and change them each day. I’ve heard several SHADOW programs there…I’m an old radio show buff.www.acbradio.org/You can also download thousands of old shows from internet sites, usually for free.www.acbradio.org/

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”let you and partner know that great rewards awaited you in Germany”Interesting you should say that!We’d settled on Stolberg as a place to live. About 20 minutes east of Aachen and 30 minutes west of Cologne. Medieval town, rebuilt in original style after being bombed out in the war, more granite than Florence. Charming place, even has a haunted castle.Then we get an email yesterday from a friend in Cologne who says a major scandal is brewing there: three members of the town council have been exposed as neonazis, and that there is an entire subculture of them there. Thats just what two gay men need, to be in a small town in Germany, full of gay hating neonazis.BTW, there is a gay neonazi movement in Germany and in the US as well. They get into nasty fights, evidently, with the straight ones, who don’t tolerate gays for any reason, ideology not withstanding.So we’re town shopping again. Actually, Aachen is a beautiful town too, and close to Cologne.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,there was an old scientist, sorry, can’t quote/reference exactly, who said, “it works without that assumption.”

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:Are you a practitioner of the dark arts? What exactly do you conjure? Do you have a pricelist?

  • Schaum

    5. Another question: suppose we can toss aside the howling absurdity of Sg’s scope and energy requirements, what in the universe would lead me to believe that a Sg with that much knowledge would WANT to predict the action of a single ape out of six and a half billion, on one of trillions and trillions of planets in this immense universe, where it is almost certain that there are also other planets with their own life? No, the concept of a supernatural omniscient Judeochrislamic deity is absurd beyond all comprehension. We do not need any specific knowledge of the cosmos to discard the idea entirely. If there is a “natural god,” — and it certainly wouldn’t resemble the Judeochrislamic god, and certainly doesn’t have intimate knowledge of each of us, and certainly wouldn’t have any reason to try to learn — what would such a god be, and why would we call it a god?

  • Schaum

    4.My point has been sufficiently made, I think. In order to have knowledge complete enough to predict something as simple as my next action after finishing this post, Sg would have to process more information than could be processed by an earth-sized supercomputer. Now, if we multiply that astronomically large amount of data times six and a half billion, we can predict with accuracy what all the humans on earth will do in the same INSTANT.And that’s just humans. Remember, Sg knows all and has all power over all his creation. There are approximately 1*10^17 ants in the world. Bacteria are far more numerous than ants. There are estimated to be between 5 and 100 million types of organisms on the planet. That’s just the life on the planet. The earth is made up of a staggering number of nonliving “things.” Earth is but one planet in a tiny solar system in a tiny galaxy, one of perhaps 500 billion galaxies.Clearly, all the energy in the universe would be woefully insufficient to process even a fraction of the data necessary to predict the universe with certainty, even if such a thing is possible. From whence does this energy come? Even if we suppose a multiverse, doesn’t each universe in the multiverse need its own energy? We’re talking about the energy of multiple universes devoted to predicting one universe.

  • Schaum

    3.My point has been sufficiently made, I think. In order to have knowledge complete enough to predict something as simple as my next action after finishing this post, Sg would have to process more information than could be processed by an earth-sized supercomputer. Now, if we multiply that astronomically large amount of data times six and a half billion, we can predict with accuracy what all the humans on earth will do in the same INSTANT.And that’s just humans. Remember, Sg knows all and has all power over all his creation. There are approximately 1*10^17 ants in the world. Bacteria are far more numerous than ants. There are estimated to be between 5 and 100 million types of organisms on the planet. That’s just the life on the planet. The earth is made up of a staggering number of nonliving “things.” Earth is but one planet in a tiny solar system in a tiny galaxy, one of perhaps 500 billion galaxies.Clearly, all the energy in the universe would be woefully insufficient to process even a fraction of the data necessary to predict the universe with certainty, even if such a thing is possible. From whence does this energy come? Even if we suppose a multiverse, doesn’t each universe in the multiverse need its own energy? We’re talking about the energy of multiple universes devoted to predicting one universe.

  • Schaum

    2.In order to predict my behavior from birth to death, Sg must also have compete dynamic and instantaneous knowledge of the exact state of 6 Gb of data — in each of my thirty trillion cells. To complicate that requirement, solar radiation, transcription errors, and other factors sometimes cause changes in the DNA in my individual cells. To keep it simple, I’ll assume that SG is working with thousandths of a second intervals (I know it’s not a small enough interval, but it will do for this argument.) At this instant, I have lived for approximately 1.1 * 10^12 thousandths of seconds. In order to have complete knowledge of my genome since conception, our being would have to process (1.1*10^12) x 6Gb of information, in addition to having to process 4 x (10.4*10^10) x (3.0*10^13) x (1.1*10^12) bits of information detailing my exact physical location since conception. I’ll ignore, for the moment, the small fact that my DNA is only a tiny tiny bit of each of my cells, and Sg would need to know completely accurate dynamic information for each individual part of each individual cell. For the hell of it, I’ll say that we can at least raise our last number by another ten or twelve powers to accommodate a detailed account of each cell at each thousandth of a second.My environment since birth must also be completely known. Since I first opened my eyes, photons have been hitting them constantly. In my waking hours (all two hundred and two thousand of them) I have been perceiving millions of photons per second.

  • onofrio

    Schaum”there is a gay neonazi movement in Germany and in the US as well.” Must be masters of compartMENTALisation. Is there also schismatic blacks-only chapter of the KKK?Mondo bizarro!I hope you find a naziless zone that’s even nicer than Stolberg.

  • Schaum

    0.Some theists would like to avoid the incoherence of a “supernatural” god and suggest that modern cosmology allows for the *possibility* of a natural entity that would qualify as a god. I preface my thinking on the matter by repeating that I am not qualified to definitively discuss cosmology, but I think it is possible to think about this *possibility* adequately without the need to dive deeply into physics. As always, if someone is genuinely qualified to correct me on a point of cosmology, I’m happy to learn.My beginning point, in thinking about a “natural god” is with that entity identified as the Judeochrislamic god — that is, a supernatural god who literally knows everything, and is responsible for creating our universe – and, where christers are concerned, has an individual “plan” for each individual life. Obviously, such a god must predate our universe in order to have created it, so in thinking about him I am forced to acknowledge that there must be more to reality than just our universe. So I’ll go with that, and presuppose some kind of multiverse. What kind really doesn’t matter too much, except that this hypothetical supernatural god must inhabit some existing part of the multiverse prior to the Big Bang. Examining the concept of “knowing everything”: it is not infrequently suggested that perhaps there is no such thing as a random event. If this is true, then it is possible that at a fundamental level every movement of every particle can be accurately predicted, given that supernatural god must have/does have complete knowledge of the Big Bang and all that therein lies. In other words, perhaps the universe really is completely pre-deterministic, in the sense that even the most apparently random actions are necessary consequences of previous actions, all the way to the Big Bang. A sufficiently knowledgeable entity (certainly supernatural god should qualify!) could, in fact, predict each and every particle’s motion from the Big Bang to total heat death. If this is true, what , then can be said of an entity who would do such a thing.

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:”Must be masters of compartMENTALisation.”Undoubtedly. They are just skinheads, so far as I can tell. They tried to march in the Gay Pride parade in New York last year, and got the he** beaten out of them! Imagine GAY neonazi skinheads in NYC. Suicidal.I’m suspicious of people who are voluntarily bald.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    genesis creation story, noah’s ark, abraham’s exploits, a personal god interested in us. come on farnaz, you’ve got to admit there is a connection.Walter, neither Judaism nor Islam has a “personal god” interested in vous et moi. You would do better with something like ChrisAncientEgyptian, as the ancient religions did have mangods who interacted with humans, great floods, creation stories, etc.ChrisEgyptian for short, then. I could make an argument for ChrisGreek, but that’ll have to wait.

  • onofrio

    Schaum,”They tried to march in the Gay Pride parade in New York last year, and got the he** beaten out of them!” Zesta! Instant karma.”I’m suspicious of people who are voluntarily bald.”And rightly so. When I still had hair, I grew it long. Have been substantially grey since late teenage.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,when you take away all the 6-day creation and noah’s ark stuff and start dwindling god down (or up!) to things like “the All of Nature itself” and “the intricate Givens of our existence” (thanks, onofrio), i can pare it up to “energy”, pardon me, “Energy” (or “Matter” – same thing, right?)that way god is literally all around us, everywhere. every daily activity, including “mere” thinking, involves Energy/Matter – every volcanic eruption, every earth rotation, everything.well, i suppose you’d have to add “Time”. cosmologists talk about “time” “not existing” prior to, or time “starting with” the big bang. so, that’s all it takes…god = Time and Energy…

  • Rex_Feral

    So what makes you think a supernatural God would need energy in order to function?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    part 2:24After about 14,499,500,000 years, it came to pass that there was one among the evolving animals that became self-aware. 25He called himself man. 26He had become so efficient at surviving and reproducing that he could think of greater things.27Man saw the glorious creation around him – the mountains and oceans, the plants and animals, the Sun and Moon, the stars and heavens – these things he did not understand. 28He felt small, and afraid, like a child.29The Spirit of God came to His children and comforted them. 30They felt assured that they were important. 31In His name, they created all manner of rules to curb their selfish animal instincts that had served them well in their life as hunters and gatherers.32They learned to cultivate plants and domesticate other animals, and men came together to dwell in great communities. 33They learned to share knowledge across the generations. 34They sought to discern all of God’s Laws of Matter and Energy. 35And they began to understand.36It came to pass that they found other peoples upon the Earth who had also been comforted by God. 37At first, they thought that the Gods of others were different, and lesser, than their own. 38So they fought, like children. 39God saw this, and that it was bad.40He reminded them of the glory of the Earth and the tenuous nature of their existence – for they had acquired the knowledge to destroy their little clump of Matter.41He gave men wisdom: to grow up, to understand each other, and their common origin and destiny. 42With wisdom, they gained the compassion and empathy to Love one another. 43And they lived happily ever after. NOTE: verses 40-43 may be a later “scribal edit”.

  • onofrio

    Schaum,”I deny the creation story of the bible.” As a *creation story*, methinks, it works just fine. Indeed it has a mythic grandeur.It’s the abuse of it as a scientific tract that I deny and deplore. Those who perpetuate this abuse reduce truth to fact, failing to realise that truth doesn’t at all mind dressing up in myth, as occasion requires…

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    recently found by eilat mazar below the temple in jerusalem is the original creation story as revealed to moses. obviously, the stroy we’re all familiar with was heavily edited. here’s the translation:In the beginning, God created Energy and Matter. 2The Energy was unified, and the Matter was without form.3God put the Energy into the Matter and it spread across the heavens. 4It clumped and burned and exploded, according to His Laws, creating different, more elaborate, kinds of Matter that clumped and burned and exploded. 5God called the bright burning clumps stars. 6Thus were the evenings and mornings of the first 5,000,000,000 years.7All across the growing Universe, the stars swirled and crashed together and exploded to form galaxies, nebulae, black holes, quasars, pulsars, and all manner of other heavenly creations. 8Around some of the stars, lesser clumps of Matter came together. 9God called these clumps planets. 10Some stars had many planets, and some stars had none. 11Even around some of the planets, lesser clumps formed, that God called moons. 12And thus were the evenings and mornings of the first 10,000,000,000 years.13God thought that some of the planets and moons would be good for Life. 14Some were too hot, and some were too cold, but some were juuust right.15God said, “Let the waters on these gather together into one place and let the oceans appear.” 16Now complex clumps of Matter were in the hot puddles near the edges of the waters, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the deep.17Then God said, “Let there be Life,” and there was Life. 18He saw that it was good.19Near a star that God called the Sun, on one of its planets, that God called Earth, the Life came together and divided, and brought forth new kinds of life in great variety: bacteria, blue-greens, protozoans, jellyfish, corals, sponges, mollusks, crustaceans and fish, – each generally according to its kind, but slightly different in each generation – and the oceans were filled with Life.20Life also ventured onto the dry parts, the land, and began to survive there. 21Continuing to come together and divide to create new kinds, Life brought forth algae, liverworts, mosses, worms, horsetails, ferns, insects, amphibians, cycads, conifers, flowers, fruit-bearing plants, reptiles, birds and mammals – again, each generally according to its kind, but slightly different in each generation. 22Thus the Earth was filled with Life. 23And God was well-pleased.

  • Pamsm

    Walter, et al.,Yeah, I almost didn’t include this one because I could see how someone like Peter would pounce on it, but I think that to do science, you have to have this assumption. If you leave the door open to supernatural intervention and the arbitrary overturning of natural law at a whim, then you really have nothing to work with. It’s like the famous Sidney Harris cartoon:However, while science itself may be a-theistic, in that supernatural beings aren’t considered by it, because they can’t be, I don’t think it closes the door to a Religionists always exempt God from nature, saying that he is “outside of time and space” (blithely ignoring the fact that such a being could not then act temporally or locally), because they can’t find a way to fit him in without providing evidence.But a natural god would be one that science could study, so I don’t think that such a one would be automatically ruled out.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Rex_Feral,i guess i’m saying Energy is god, or god is Energy. or if it helps, Energy is how god does it.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:Thanks for that! It was a very good read.

  • Schaum

    RexFeral:”So what makes you think…”Rex Feral? “King of Beasts”??? Please!Read WalterIFC’s answer.Have you met Daniel12? You two may have a lot in common.

  • onofrio

    Pam,”But a natural god would be one that science could study, so I don’t think that such a one would be automatically ruled out.”See Pam, we can be on the same page :^)

  • Pamsm

    Schaum,Here is where you lose me completely – why does any of it require “worship”??And while creation may require a creator in the loosest possible sense of that term (a branch rubbing against a window in the wind creates a squeaking sound – is the branch the “creator”, or is it the wind?), I don’t see any “created” thing that makes me feel the need to invoke anything supernatural or anthropomorphic.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    darn it. verse 3 should be:

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:”i guess i’m saying Energy is god”That is my guess, after seven years of practicing Buddhism. In that we are all a combination of matter and energy, my idea of surviving death is that my energy, at death, returns to the Energy from which I came. Which means we all “survive” death, if you see death as ultimate anhilation. Which obviates the need for an angry, vengful and judgmental god so dear to the fundies. Which means everything is connected. Which means all is as it should be.

  • Schaum

    “Which means all is as it should be”Should read:”Which means all is as it should be. Which means there is no hell.”

  • Pamsm

    “See Pam, we can be on the same page :^)”I never doubted it, Onofrio. 🙂

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:Correct me if I am wrong. Don’t the several Jewish ‘denominations’ acknowledge the Psalms?Don’t the Psalms make unnumbered personal appeals for help, protection, survival, guidance, etc., from god? Don’t the Psalms make frequent reassurances that god is “on the petitioner’s side?” Sounds like a personal relationship with a personal god to me…

  • onofrio

    PamThee to Schaum:In relation to a *natural* God, I would say that your own study of science is real *worship*. It’s not about thinking “I’m doing divine service now,” or anthropomorphising the object of enquiry, but about exerting yourself to understand, to look as carefully as you can.To my mind, that is a form of genuine reverence. No genuflection required.

  • Schaum

    Great link, Walter. Thanks.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Schaum,Thanks so much for the old radio show info.! Sorry about the nazis in Stozberg. I hate to be critical but this nazi shortsightedness with respect to gays is quite typical of that broad-based exclusivity that keeps nazis low in numbers. Hope you find something much nicer! Maybe Onofrio will conjure for you!

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    i addressed this to rabbi wolpe, but would appreciate anyone’s views on the question.what would you say to the notion that “there is NO concept of a ‘personal god’ in judaism”?to clarify, i’m speaking of judaism

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:Frankly, I consider that god’s instruction to Abraham to kill his son, and his later instruction not to do it, to be very personal interrelations indeed.And I’m sticking with “Judeochrislamic”.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Abraham is the “patriarch,” Schaum. So the next time Hashem lets you know he has a “plan for you,” or you hear a Jew ask, “What would Hashem do?” kindly post here.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    I’m sticking with ChrisEgyptoGreek. (Might add Indian later on.)

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    If there are any Jews reading this, please understand I’m not asking for myself. But would you please let us know Hashem’s policy on personal slavation, heaven, hell, relation of both to good deeds? I’m asking just in case Walter IFC or Schaum don’t know the answer. (It should come from a source different from yours truly, J person, moi.)

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Also, J people, if you have a moment, might you explain to the gentiles here the differences between say Abraham, Moses, David, and them (just for starters). You could add Jacob (I would).

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Change of mind on nomenclature: the Egyptians came first, so for now, EgytoChristeric.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    i don’t understand farnaz. because he’s a “patriarch”, abraham can have personal relations with god, but it doesn’t count?how ’bout jephthah (judges11:30-40)? jephthah makes a deal with god: if god will help him defeat the ammonites, then when jephthah returns from battle he will sacrifice as a “burnt offering” “whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me.” god does his part and jephthah slaughters the ammonites.when he gets home his that is a personal relationship. god helped jephthah, jephthah said, “thanks”.in fact, what is the point of any sacrifice if god’s not watching? why would god issue all those sacrifice/ritual rules to everyday jews? why would he issue penalties for breaking them if he didn’t care? why is he so “jealous” when we worhip other gods? these are characteristics of a personal relationship.how can jews be the “chosen people” if there are no personal relationships?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Walter, Judaism is different from EgyptoChristeric. Abraham was a singular figure in history, unique. You and he are not the same. He and no one are the same. He was selected because he was unique, theologically speaking, assuming he existed, doubtful, like J.C. (Seth, Osiris, Marduk, et al).

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    but how ’bout all the “regular” people? like jephthah? how bout when “the people” complained during the exodus they wanted meat? god listened, and responded (in kind of a smart **s way, but he responded).

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz,if there’s no personal god in judaism, what are we to make of abraham’s “covenant”? moses went and talked to him. he delivered all those rules to moses. he f—ed with poor old job? there are several covenants where god promised jews something if they did something. that all sounds personal.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:”should a gay nazi be forced to participate in anti-gay hate crimes? or could he conscientiously object?”Got me! This is a brand new phenomenon to me…I just recently found out about it. Reading as much as I can find on the internet. I don’t understand what possible logic can be behind it!

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC…When I first read about it, I could picture a Monty Python skit…gay nazis marching, hands on hips, giving the nazi salute with bent wrists…the whole nine yards.

  • Pamsm

    “Not dark, Schaum, just a dappled shade.”LOL!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Christ also was resurrected, got symbolically eaten, very near Eastern, Greek to. EgyptoChristeric from the beginning.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz,absolutely agreed. in fact, his divine status was what he used to get people to listen to his ranting about the impending apocalypse – at least as recorded by those who deified him…

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    gotta go:

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:The “point” I was trying to make, sarcastically, which is usually my downfall:If we are all an equal part of the S/B (which I believe), that means there is no S/B.

  • Rex_Feral

    Jesus and His followers made the truth very clear, as we’ve seen in the pages of the earliest records, concerning who He was and is — and how imperative it is that we understand and embrace that truth. Look at His sobering words about the vital importance of His identity. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. . . .“But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. . .You do not know me or my Father. . .I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”“. . .Even as He spoke, put their faith in him. To [them] Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”If you died today, would you go to heaven? Have you put your faith in Jesus?You need to get right with God now.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum, the delight of Phoebus and each muse, I have missed you, am bereft.Farnaz 🙁

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Walter, Jepthah is not a “regular person.” You are dealing with an ancient text. There are no “regular people” in it. Offhand, I could not tell you the number of midrashim on Jeptha. JEPTHAH and YOU are categorically different. Ditto Jepthah and me, Jepthah and Schaum, Onofrio, and all other humans.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Jepthah and Persiflage are also different.

  • Schaum

    Let me guess: “Rex Feral” is from the deep south.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Attention, EgyptoChristerics:“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. . . .“But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. . .You do not know me or my Father. . .I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”

  • Schaum

    I think “Rex Feral” is a very strange name for a christer.

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”Schaum, the delight of Phoebus and each muse, I have missed you, am bereft.”Filthy cold. In bed, listening to old radio shows.Maybe tomorrow.

  • Schaum

    Jesus Christ was a fake.I am the true Messiah.I am the light of the world.Believe in me, or you will spend eternity reading postings by Daniel12.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Although I trusted I need not say more EgyptoChristerically speaking, pending the arrival of the much feared D12, we might peruse this from Shukla’s thread:An EgyptoChristerical specimen:”As the Holy Bible points out, there is only ONE who can lead us into Truth, Light and Immortality. And it isn’t Hinduism, Buddhism, neither Islam, nor the myriad ofJohn 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.John 8:23,24 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.John 5:38-40 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”Posted by: nikosd99 | October 17, 2009 1:40 PM

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:”we need a word that starts with jewish goes to egyptian to greek to christian.”What amazes me about the religiosity of the ancient Greeks is the enormous abundance of gratitude it exudes: it is a very noble type of man that confronts nature by affirming life as a great boon, in spite of all its terrors. This shows great strength and remarkable and noble freedom from resentment.Unfortunately, when the rabble gained the upper hand in Greece, fear became rampant in religion, too…and the ground was prepared for christianity.

  • justillthennow

    Walter IFC and Persiflage, “‘i see possible parallels. maybe jesus didn’t want to be deified either, but was by some followers. they were so steeped in the idea of divine revelation that jesus couldn’t be “worth following” unless he were divine. i dunno.'”Cogent observation Walter – any individual that offers to deliver a way to salvation (as understood/misunderstood by followers) is probably subject to a kind of deification process by the devoted masses – due most probably a distortion of the original message.”Another aspect of this I think is that the mind of the followers of the day were prepped for deity worship, and that common man could (and did, in mythological and archetypal terms) interact and interface with the pantheon of deity of Grecian and Roman Gods. That many were Hebrew, (is that true? do we know? or were they also the lower chaste of Roman society?), and so were not only likely to shape Jesus into a deity but may have insisted on it.

  • justillthennow

    Schaum,”Or that, if there is a S/B, all sentient beings are equal parts of it.””f we are all an equal part of the S/B (which I believe), that means there is no S/B.”Or both, perhaps. In the beginning there was the One. Then, boom, there were the quadrillions. I do not know that logical deduction would apply to the “S/B”, assuming said exists, if for no other reason than (logically speaking) S/He doesn’t live here, as we have yet to find the address of All That Is in the manifest world, (lest it is IN all that is…). So in the multi-verse we cannot presume that the Laws that govern this corner of this verse would apply to another facet of the prismatic splitting of light…Yet it is my bet that a great deal of “God” split and scattered into the near infinite manifestations of Diversity, (was God the original Suicide Bomber?) and is now in all of that Diversity. Does it take long to remember who you art after blowing thyself ap-art? Perhaps We are S/He, and have not yet recovered from the Concussion.;

  • Rex_Feral

    Hey Schaum did your mother make you a homosexual? If I send her the yarn will she make one for me?

  • Pamsm

    How old are you, Rex Feral? Ten?

  • Schaum

    Rex Feral:1) If your objective was to be amusing, I hate to tell you this, but that one originated about the time of George III.2) If your objective was to be insulting, about the only thing that insults me is deliberate, self-inflicted stupidity (see anything written by Daniel12).3) If your objective was even half-hearted inquiry, the answer is no, she let me move in the direction nature pointed me, and would no doubt encourage you to do the same.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Rex Feral suffers from a rare form of inbreeding resulting in a condition commonly known as Cranio-Rectal disorder. Those suffering from the disease, known in the medical journals as Assus Holess, may turn up at any time, at any place. All those unafflicted have been advised to carry air fresheners with them to avoid any ill effects.

  • onofrio

    Re Farnaz’ EgyptoChristeric observations,Christ = neoPharaoh in several ways:Son of the Creator God: expressed (from Dyn.4 onward) as “Son of Re (i.e. the sun)”. From the Middle Kingdom (c.2000-1750 BC) this supreme deity was construed as Amun-Re, i.e. transcendent hiddenness expressing itself in the reigning principle of nature, singular source of all light.The fullness of the godhead: from pre-dynastic times, the Nilotic king was understood to be THE earthly manifestation of the cosmic lord Horus (whose name conveys something like “distant” and “above”). Incarnate Son of God: the epithet used to express this relation was “his (i.e. the creator god’s) bodily son”. When the king was referred to as incarnate god, the term used was “His (i.e. the god’s) Person”.Beloved Son of God: the previous could be further qualified thus: “his bodily son, whom he loves”.Great high priest: in Egypt, the King was theoretically the ONLY ONE qualified to represent humanity to the divine, and the divine to humanity. In local temple cult, the king’s role was delegated to priests, who were thus his proxies (like Roman Catholic priests are stand-ins for Christ in the Mass). Begotten on a mortal mother by the creator god (cf. conception of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, Amenophis III at Luxor).Baptised: Ritually lustrated with “living” water (a nice example at Karnak shows Ramesses II being baptised with ankh signs by Horus – principle of rule – and Thoth – principle of records). Crowned with many crowns: a common introductory epithet before cartouches is “lord (i.e. owner) of diadems”.Killed by the machinations of his demonic enemy (Osiris, the king-as-mortal, representing all kings in their death, murdered by the uncanny chaotic Seth.)Mourned by faithful women who attend his burial (the dead king Osiris lamented by Isis and Nephthys).Placed in a tomb and resurrected, emerging from the tomb to ascend to the sky (Pyramid Texts, Amduat, Book of Gates, Book of Caverns…etc.).One part of a divine triad: Osiris (static ground of Being) + Re (perpetual Becoming) + the king (mediator between earth and heaven, who, in life and death, represents god to humanity, and humanity to god) (see Amduat, Book of Gates, Litany of Re, Book of Caverns).Becoming joined to him leads to immortality: Every person, even the poorest, could be identified in death with Osiris, the paradigm deceased king, and thereby could overcome death, emerging from the tomb/grave just like he did (see Book of the Dead).If there is an “OT” for the divinity of Christ, it is not the Tanakh, but the funerary texts of ancient Egypt. Now, didn’t Moses and Pharaoh have something of a falling out?Christianity didn’t really take off among Jews, but was particularly popular in Roman Egypt. The way had been prepared…

  • onofrio

    Further, a discontinuity:According to the resurrection narratives in the NT, Christ became a dead-man-walking, leaving the tomb vacant. Egyptian tombs were meant to be a permanent repository for the corpse. Egyptian resurrection involved a sort of projection of the deceased’s personality and life force – within the tomb as ka, outside it as ba and akh – not the reanimation of the corpse itself. Yet these post-mortem entities were not vaporous ghosts; they were corporeal, could eat just like Luke claims of the risen Christ. They differed from mortal bodies in being able to change shape. The corpse was a sort of anchor – removing it from the tomb could disrupt the proper operation of someone’s afterlife.Then, as always, empty tombs do not imply dead-men-walking, but living-men-removing…

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz,hey, congrats! you won your “christianity was influenced by egyptian/greek myths” argument with no one. no one was arguing that point, to my knowledge. but again, congrats, nonetheless.on the “no personal god in judaism” argument, you’re having less success.

  • onofrio

    Not that I’m claiming Jesus was actually placed in a tomb. *Mark* was doing some literary stage setting for the primitive kerygma: “He is not here” (i.e. his burial place is unknown, unfound) taken to imply that “He is risen” (i.e. vindicated, imagined seated at God’s *right hand*).What to make of that Markan mystery boy? An anonymous young man (neaniskos), erstwhile in pure white, flees NAKED from the scene of Jesus’ *arrest*; an anonymous young man (neaniskos) now FULLY CLOTHED in pure white meets the grieving women searching for Jesus’ *burial*. He is not here. Subsequently *Luke*, pseudo-Matthew, and pseudo-John piously bedecked strange, taciturn Mark with hey presto Christophanies, wound-exhibitions, fish-nibblings, and even an ascending guru.At least Matthew included “some doubted”…

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    JuPharaohChristian?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Egyptochristerism, pharochristeria, necrochristerism, necrophilia, corpsophilia, corspcrhysteria.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    chrystophilia, deadchristophilia & c

  • Rex_Feral

    You are all going to die and go to hell.There is only one Christ, and he is the true living SON OF GOD.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    personaldeadegyptochrystergodcorpseonstickism

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    personaldeadegyptochrystergodlikesnakedyoungmencorpseonstickism

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Example of –“You are all going to die and go to hell.There is only one Christ, and he is the true living SON OF GOD.Posted by: Rex_Feral | October 17, 2009 10:28 PM

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Rex,Is that you Spidey? If so, welcome back. Schaum, this isn’t you, is it? Otherwise, it’s the genuine -isT, maybe.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    onofrio,christians love to talk about how the gospels are “eyewitness evidence”….first that’s doubtful, and eyewitness testimony is the WORST kind. you guys probably know the exact dates of who thinks what was written when, but ALL of it was written generations after the events. (this caused matthew’s/luke’s herod/quirinius discrepancy – bad memory…). and who “witnessed” the parts where jesus was off by himself?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    sorry persiflage…i don’t get it. are you saying there IS or there ISN’T the concept of a personal relationship with god in judaism?i want to get it, especially because it’s from you. as far as i can see the distinction is between “thanking” and “praising” – both of which are indicative of a personal relationship with god.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    christopods, God-eaters Anonymous, Waferheads…

  • Schaum

    Farnaz:”Is that you Spidey? If so, welcome back. Schaum, this isn’t you, is it?”No, sweetness, this one is not me. Its either a real newby, or someone else. I’m in bed dying.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    i said,…like when the devil took him to “a high mountain” where he saw “all the kingdoms of the world.”they thought the earth was flat! they don’t come right out and say it, but they didn’t have to – everyone knew it was flat. (except eratothenes who in 220 b.c., using shadows down wells, discovered the earths surface is curved and calculated the circumference of the Earth to 95% accuracy.)

  • onofrio

    Walter,It seems to me that in Judaism, God’s (Hashem’s) covenants are with whole peoples, and are mediated through a given Torah, which is then debated exhaustively. Individual cogitations about God are not the mainstay of the core tradition. Do Jews of any stripe agonise about their “prayer lives”? In contrast, evangelical Christians valorise a highly “personal relationship with God” as their special prerogative. It’s essential to them, a raison d’etre. In their own eyes, it’s what distinguishes them from you and me and all the other “lost”. Maintaining “intimacy with God” and a vibrant “prayer life”, and discerning God’s “plan” are pervasive concerns of much of their current literature. There are/have been warmly pious mystical strains in both Judaism and Islam, but as far as I can tell, they are more about the individual losing themselves in the divine fullness; not about realising God’s personalised, tailor-made, inspired-hunch-mediated *plan for my life*, i.e. God as Micromanager. To be fair, the more serious evangelicals also decry this individualising trajectory, really just a Christed-up anointing of North American aspirationalism.Given the widely different ways the *biblical* corpus is interpreted, both within Christianity and outside it in Judaism, proof-texting it doesn’t reveal much about how members of the various traditions actually view/relate to God. For example, Catholicism holds *OT* and *NT* to be God’s inspired word, but the texts don’t figure nearly as much in Catholic piety as they do in, say, that of Southern Baptists. For the Catholic, sacraments and church are definitive; biblical texts, in practice, are subordinate. But a Southern Baptist is inconceivable without a Holy Baable to brandish.In short, will an assessment of *personal piety* reveal more about the religions’ view of God than the texts they call *scripture*?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,”I’m in bed dying.”You poor thing. Colds are awful, I know. So, drink lots of fluids, tea, etc., because I’m just getting started. A new name is needed for EgytoChristeria. Love,

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Ghostlyinseminarians, virginbirthers, holywaterwalkersofthefirstcenturythatlikenaked-

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz seems to be trying to wiggle the tanakh out of consideration for jewish god concepts. is that valid? as if every person in scripture is a character in a story (believable), but that jews are not supposed to follow their examples (not believable).even if true, this would only apply to jews today.when the jews were exiled to babylon, (according to scripture) they felt god had done that to them. they made prayers to him to help them. they felt darius/cyrus? had been part of god’s plan to end their captivity. my question about “a personal relationship with god in judaism” also (mostly, actually) goes to the original god concepts of the earliest jews.remember, my question is

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Holywaterers, Baptismos, Dunkingdeists, FoolsforPharoah….

  • persiflage

    Hey Walter,I think the link demonstrates that the meaning/understanding of myth differs between the attributions of ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’.I don’t think there’s any doubt as to the personal nature/relationship to God in designated ‘theistic’ religions, but there are considerable variations as to what/who God may be, and also the meanings that ‘sacred’ information conveys. As you know, I’m firmly in the ‘religion as myth’ camp, but it’s important to understand how religious symbology is interpreted by holders of a particular faith. I believe Farnaz has a point – that confusion is inevitable when we assume that we understand from a ‘neutral’ or objective perspective, when in actuality any perspective we have is highly personalized, a fact impossible to avoid. That was the intent of my post :^)Also, my last post before this one was intended for Susan’s newer thread….. regards, Persiflage

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Christolinenians, anti-Polyesterites, etc.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    JuPharaohChristeria? (and i LOVE “virginbirthers” – good one.)

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Persiflage,Judaism holds that the deity has an interest in humanity, humanity writ large. Judaism does not entail personal saviors. Hashem does not have a plan for you, and if you were Jewish you would not ask WWHD.Hashem has no sons, daughters, nephews, aunts uncles, is not a ghostly inseminater, etc. Judaism does not contain rituals whereby one eats Hashem, figuratively, or not so figuratively, and becomes part of his “body.” However the ancient near eastern religions contain all of the foregoing as does EgyptoChristeric. Mangods abound.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Cruciphiles, Crufishettes, Crossluggers, Manyouthlovers….Cruciphiles, I think.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Lakeofirefighters, Resurrectivos, Eucharistics….

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    EgyptoRomanResurrectites?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Incarnationalists, Transconsubstantialists, Deadmenlovers, Knightsofthelivingdead…..

  • onofrio

    GethsemaniacsGethseminatorsNeaniskonudiansArimatheoristsSanscorpsiansHolyholeproddersNodoubticalsNolimetangerenesLinenstripicals

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    persiflage,i see possible parallels. maybe jesus didn’t want to be deified either, but was by some followers. they were so steeped in the idea of divine revelation that jesus couldn’t be “worth following” unless he were divine. i dunno.

  • Schaum

    Persiflage:”I believe that Buddhists/Buddhism would not agree with the view that manifestations of a Supreme Being are part of their mythology”Or that, if there is a S/B, all sentient beings are equal parts of it.

  • persiflage

    ‘i see possible parallels. maybe jesus didn’t want to be deified either, but was by some followers. they were so steeped in the idea of divine revelation that jesus couldn’t be “worth following” unless he were divine. i dunno.’Cogent observation Walter – any individual that offers to deliver a way to salvation (as understood/misunderstood by followers) is probably subject to a kind of deification process by the devoted masses – due most probably a distortion of the original message. Buddhism talks about Nirvana, but what exactly is that? Zen says it’s nothing more or less than the ordinary mind, the tangible here and now – but with a different and non-ordinary perspective.And maybe this idealization of saviors/avatars is coupled with the unfortunate human tendency to ‘worship’ idols of the human kind. I respect Judaism mightily for avoiding this particularly unappealing proclivity. Islam proclaims against false idols as well, but all the while worshipping the idea of the Prophet Mohammed – how else to explain the completely irrational response to the ‘desecration’ of Mohammed’s image, etc? Does religion have no sense of humor?? If so, it’s a belly laugh that carries serious consequences…….Persiflage

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    If you’re a “son” of God, as in EgyptoChristeric, then you are a deity. Christ never denied his divine status. That’s the way it is with EgyptoChristerics worldwide.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Btw, Persiflage, I seem to recall myths involving an “incarnated” Siddartha Gauthama, not dissimilar from some AmerIndian myths. Can you say anything about this?

  • justillthennow

    “But a Southern Baptist is inconceivable without a Holy Baable to brandish.”Towering.

  • justillthennow

    Hello Rex_Feral.Thank you for your passionate posturing for a return to the old ways. I am sure that they are important to you, and that you believe it is the Only Way that we can turn this hellbound society around. And I am sure there is value in that approach to life, especially to those that are so drawn, in their path of life, by the grace of god and their own hearts.You will not find here, or anywhere in the world for that matter, validation for the idea that there is only one way to realize ones life goals. Further you will find greater receptivity, (across the board, I do believe), if you present possibilities as opposed to preach requirements. Just a thought.You give yourself away, (the biased aspect), in a number of ways, perhaps none more obvious than the requirement to read the “Authorized King James Bible”. One would have thought reading any Bible would bring to one the Word. Nay, nay!

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Schaum,Pe: sepulchrenariansMaybe, SepulChrysterians? I’m getting fonder of KnightsoftheLivingDead.Walter,PharoahChristerics?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    “Actually Judaism as a religion, at its core, DOES encompass an individual relationship with deity. And individual interpretations and understandings are part of that process.”No. Judaism requires interpretaion by individuals following strict methods. Judaism is about ethics, justice, morality. Not Mangods, god-eating, etc. Prayers are ritualized. You are free, like the Christians, to pray personally, but observant Jews generally do not. The prayers concern the deliverance of humanity, following its deliverance of itself.Ethics, that which the “NT” lacks. “New Testifiers” present abundant evidence of the failings of PharoahniChristeria.

  • Schaum

    sepulchrenarians

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Worth repeating:Christ = neoPharaoh in several ways:Son of the Creator God: expressed (from Dyn.4 onward) as “Son of Re (i.e. the sun)”. From the Middle Kingdom (c.2000-1750 BC) this supreme deity was construed as Amun-Re, i.e. transcendent hiddenness expressing itself in the reigning principle of nature, singular source of all light.The fullness of the godhead: from pre-dynastic times, the Nilotic king was understood to be THE earthly manifestation of the cosmic lord Horus (whose name conveys something like “distant” and “above”).Incarnate Son of God: the epithet used to express this relation was “his (i.e. the creator god’s) bodily son”. When the king was referred to as incarnate god, the term used was “His (i.e. the god’s) Person”.Beloved Son of God: the previous could be further qualified thus: “his bodily son, whom he loves”.Great high priest: in Egypt, the King was theoretically the ONLY ONE qualified to represent humanity to the divine, and the divine to humanity. In local temple cult, the king’s role was delegated to priests, who were thus his proxies (like Roman Catholic priests are stand-ins for Christ in the Mass).Begotten on a mortal mother by the creator god (cf. conception of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, Amenophis III at Luxor).Baptised: Ritually lustrated with “living” water (a nice example at Karnak shows Ramesses II being baptised with ankh signs by Horus – principle of rule – and Thoth – principle of records).Crowned with many crowns: a common introductory epithet before cartouches is “lord (i.e. owner) of diadems”.Killed by the machinations of his demonic enemy (Osiris, the king-as-mortal, representing all kings in their death, murdered by the uncanny chaotic Seth.)Mourned by faithful women who attend his burial (the dead king Osiris lamented by Isis and Nephthys).Placed in a tomb and resurrected, emerging from the tomb to ascend to the sky (Pyramid Texts, Amduat, Book of Gates, Book of Caverns…etc.).One part of a divine triad: Osiris (static ground of Being) + Re (perpetual Becoming) + the king (mediator between earth and heaven, who, in life and death, represents god to humanity, and humanity to god) (see Amduat, Book of Gates, Litany of Re, Book of Caverns).Becoming joined to him leads to immortality: Every person, even the poorest, could be identified in death with Osiris, the paradigm deceased king, and thereby could overcome death, emerging from the tomb/grave just like he did (see Book of the Dead).If there is an “OT” for the divinity of Christ, it is not the Tanakh, but the funerary texts of ancient Egypt. Now, didn’t Moses and Pharaoh have something of a falling out?Christianity didn’t really take off among Jews, but was particularly popular in Roman Egypt. The way had been prepared…

  • Schaum

    Rex Ferel and the good old ways:EKET, Nigeria – The 9-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall.His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him — Mount Zion Lighthouse.A month later, he died.Nwanaokwo Edet was one of an increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files.Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.””It is an outrage what they are allowing to take place in the name of Christianity,” said Gary Foxcroft, head of nonprofit Stepping Stones Nigeria.

  • Pamsm

    “persiflage, onofrio, arminius, farnaz, schaum, pam, (but this seems kind of too “fluffy” for you…), others”Not too fluffy, but I suspect that others here are way ahead of me on some of this.I’d propose Sumeria as the first, since they’re the first civilizatin, and first to write down their ideas of religion (‘though not far ahead of the Egyptians).Found this: “Sumerians believed that the universe consisted of a flat disk enclosed by a tin dome. The Sumerian afterlife involved a descent into a gloomy netherworld to spend eternity in a wretched existence as a Gidim (ghost).”Sound familiar?

  • Schaum

    “The Sumerian afterlife involved a descent into a gloomy netherworld to spend eternity in a wretched existence as a Gidim (ghost).”Pretty much my description of teaching.And I agree….I am certainly not competent to answer this question. I’d have guessed Sumarians first, Egyptians second. And that is only a guess.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    sumer-egypti-baby-ju-greco-romo-christianity?

  • Schaum

    Just finished reading The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley. Great book, builds on a lot of my prior reading. I almost never re-read, at least until lately now that I’m disposing of my library, but I think I’m going to go back to it after a couple of weeks and read it again. On first reading I’m not sure I agree with some of Ridley’s more extreme ideas about the relationship between violence, pornography and men but it remains debatable. I really like the perspectives presented on intra-specific aggression and competition, even if in and of themselves these things are a weak theory for driving the development of human intelligence.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,uh…i think the main reason is to reproduce. (or, now, in humans, for fun!)of course way back when the advent of sexual reproduction was a quantum leap “forward” in terms of being able to “evolve” quickly by mixing of genes (vs cloning) every generation.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    i don’t think we should underestimate the influence of roman (vs greek) god concepts on christian doctrine. it seems like many of the authors’ “target audience” must have been roman. though it appears the romans just renamed many greek gods, they must have had some distinctly “roman” twists or additions to the ideas about god.it seems like the greek and roman gods pretty much ignored us, but we lived with the consequences of their rivalries and squabbles etc…is there an egyptian flood story a la ziasudra, atra-hasis, gilgamesh, noah?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,also, i diseases evolve much faster than we do.

  • onofrio

    Walter,”is there an egyptian flood story a la ziasudra, atra-hasis, gilgamesh, noah?”The “flood” the Egyptians knew was the annual inundation of the Nile, on which their entire culture depended. The flooding and its subsidence was predictable and usually non-destructive – overall *a good thing*, not a manifestation of divine judgement.These were people who were used to their entire world dissolving annually. They understood this as a return to the primordial state of undifferentiated watery chaos, like the tohu wa bohu of Genesis 1. They called it “like in the first time”. Yet out of this erasure came fertility, the potential for new life. The world was actually recreated by an infusion of chaos. Civilisation not only survived it, but depended on it.In this environment the only permanent features were the desert escarpment either side of the Nile valley, where the dead were buried, plus the mounds on which temples stood, with their mud-brick towns clustered around them. In the valley itself, time turned in cycles; in the desert, it was enduringly linear. Eternity was a fusion of these two aspects of time.Thus, no “flood story”, no god-appointed ark.HOWEVER, certain creation stories (par excellence, that of Hermopolis/Ashumein) hypostatised the primeval watery chaos as 8 divine beings – 4 male and 4 female – headed by Nun or Nu, the name of the waters themselves. Eight is also the number of humans travelling on the ark: Noah, Mrs Noah, their three sons with wives. Conjectural leap: Noah = Nu/Nun “the watery one”, and the Hermopolitan Ogdoad = the ark’s crew of 8. Both represent the elements from which the world was created/recreated. In Egypt, the story remained myth, its characters gods; in Genesis, the story is somewhat historicised, with human characters.

  • onofrio

    Walter,Of course, the Peter Huffs of this world will just say that the Egyptians mythicised the utterly factual Noah.Just to follow that up: the earliest references to the 8 deities of this primordial Ogdoad are in Coffin Text 76 (A. deBuck, text; R.O.Faulkner, translation), dated to around 2000-1800 BC. Hermopolis is attested as “Eight-Town” (ancient Khmunu = Arabic Al-Shmunein) from the Old Kingdom, indicating that the tradition of the 8 beings goes back at least to the “Pyramid Age”, i.e. BEFORE the literally derived YEC date of the Flood around 2300 BC.So it would seem Nu and the primeval waters predated Noah and the Deluge. Of course, all of this shows that I’m just choosing to believe presuppositionally flawed *experts* with a vested interest in suppressing the facticity of *God’s word*…

  • onofrio

    Walter,”i don’t think we should underestimate the influence of roman (vs greek) god concepts on christian doctrine. it seems like many of the authors’ “target audience” must have been roman.”Good point, Walter. Few have taken much interest in the political dimensions of the title “son of god” from a Roman perspective. In the burgeoning ideology of the principate, the reigning Caeasr – in this case Tiberius – was “divi filius” or divine son of the “divus pater” Augustus. Numismatic proof is easy to come by. After his death, Augustus was officially deified by senatorial decree. Coins (assaria – small change) were minted showing the radiate-solar-crowned Augustus on the obverse (affinity with Nilotic monarchical/solar imagery), surrounded by the inscription “DIVUS PATER”. Tiberius’ denarii (popularly believed to be Jesus’ “tribute penny”), had the “divi filius” epithet on the obverse, among Tiberius’ titles.So according to Roman imperial ideology of the time of Christ – propagated to all and sundry in the popular medium of coinage – the “father in heaven” was Augustus; the “son of god” on earth was Tiberius.If Jesus did actually claim the title “son of god” in such a context, it may have been less about ontological affirmation of his “divine” nature, and more to do with subverting Roman imperium with his viral “reign of theos/ouranos”. The latter is, of course, the enduring theme of Jesus’ parables.Jesus Christ = alternaCaesar.

  • onofrio

    Further,The early Christian movement was very quick to align itself with Roman imperium. Look at the portrayal of “centurions” in the Gospels and Acts. These are clearly *the good guys*. Compare the portrayal of rabbinic “teachers of the law (Torah)” – definitely *the bad guys*. Goodbye Zion; here we come Rome!Paul makes full use of his privileges as a Roman citizen (not lightly bestowed on provincials at this time) and appeals to Caesar; uses Roman military panoply as the basis for his “armour of God” analogy in Ephesians; implicitly endorses Roman authority by affirming that the “sword” of rule is God-appointed.The author of Luke-Acts is very clearly focused on a trajectory of Jerusalem-to-Rome for the gospel message. Even at this early stage, Christianity had its sights set on world domination. The Romans knew a power play, if anyone did. And they were used to killing-and-deifying their princeps. Few care to consider the parallels between Julius Caesar and the gospels’ portrayal of Christ. Both were killed by their *own* principal men (Senate for Caesar; Sanhedrin for Jesus) out of *jealousy* and fear of kingship. Both rose visibly to heaven: Caesar as a comet; Jesus – according to Rome-focused Luke – from Bethany. Is it any wonder that, in the end, the centurions came around…Constantine = destiny.

  • onofrio

    latinohellenilomesopotamicism?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Onofrio,Hmmm…I overlooked your post on said connections, just emailed it to pal.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:uh…i think the main reason is to reproduce. (or, now, in humans, for fun!)”Clever, Walter. What that meant, of course, was “…main biological reasons we have sex(ual, as opposed to asexual reproduction such as fission, fragmentation, and regeneration) is to combat disease.”That would also preclude the seasonally popular parthenogenesis.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    onofrio,nice. thanks.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Zeus = Ieus = Jesus?

  • onofrio

    Jezeus Crisis, Farnaz, what’s all this Baal-yhoo?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    JeZeusCrisisticals?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    jewish, pagan, christian:

  • onofrio

    I like this one – brings together all the essential elements: skylord, itinerant thaumaturge, and sh*t happening…ensuing…gathering to an ungreatness, not at all like lightning from shook foil (sorry, GMH).

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    persiflage, onofrio, arminius, farnaz, schaum, pam, (but this seems kind of too “fluffy” for you…), others,you guys are so widely-read and knowledgable about this stuff, so can you, without too much detail, tell me when you think each of these cultures had the most “influence” in the time leading up to christianity?sumeria, babylon, egypt, israel, greece, rome.i mean specifically with regard to “god concepts”. for instance we know the flood story came from sumeria to babylon to israel. i guess i’m not so much concerned about dates as much as chronological order. i realize egypt and babylon may have to be in there twice…sumeribabygyptojugrecoromochristianity.

  • Rex_Feral

    God has the last word, and His last word is glorious for you and for your people. 1 The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”’” 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. 9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. 11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.’”

  • Rex_Feral

    May you find Christ and leave the internet and television alone. Read your Authorized King James Bible diligently and obey it. Ask God to show you the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16)–the old way of living and worshipping God. Look for the old ways–Father working, Mother cooking, cleaning and caring for the children. You will find rest for your soul and a whole new world will be opened to you. You will be changed at your root. We have almost lost our manhood and womanhood–our deceptions are great but the word of God will deliver us if carefully applied to our lives. God made man to rule the world. Man was destined for greatness. May the men reading this understand that they are the image and glory of God. Repent of your sins, hide the word of God in your heart and rise to who you were made to be. Get out of debt (including your house note) for the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). Woman, clean your house and teach your children at home from the Authorized King James Version of the holy scriptures. That book will give you the foundations/rudiments of everything in all of creation and every subject to be studied–Language Arts, Geography, Counting/Mathematics (e.g., Geometry), History, Botany, Law, Economics, Science (e.g., Chemistry)–everything. Embrace Genesis 1:1 – 2:7 as your outline–read it to your child regularly. By God’s grace and almighty power, babies can read while they are still in diapers. Two year olds can praise God and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Three year olds can read the Authorized Version of the scriptures. Four year olds can learn cursive writing. Five year olds can expound the word of God. Little children can exercise Biblical discernment and be wise. They can choose righteousness because they can see and feel its excellencies for themselves…On this website, there were times that I knowingly did not use proper English grammar. Please forgive me for this transgression. If you have a problem accessing any of the files resident on our server, try capitalizing the file name, e.g.,

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    “Nodoubticals”Hmmm…!

  • compchiro

    onofrio,”It seems to me that in Judaism, God’s (Hashem’s) covenants are with whole peoples, and are mediated through a given Torah, which is then debated exhaustively. Individual cogitations about God are not the mainstay of the core tradition. Do Jews of any stripe agonise about their “prayer lives”? “Actually Judaism as a religion, at its core, DOES encompass an individual relationship with deity. And individual interpretations and understandings are part of that process. But to “agonise” about that process is not what Judaism teaches.

  • justillthennow

    Hello Persiflage, The best of them were in the forests of northern Sweden, mountains of Switzerland, and in the inaccessable areas of Hawaii. Oh, and the deserts, (though a very different little person there!), like Joshua Tree. Yes, the Joshua Tree that U2 made famous.God, I love those guys.

  • justillthennow

    Onofrio, ” Do Jews of any stripe agonise about their “prayer lives”?””In contrast, evangelical Christians valorise a highly “personal relationship with God” as their special prerogative.”Brilliant! Nothing better to say, time for a Guinness!

  • Schaum

    Mine is INTJ.

  • onofrio

    I just had a look around online, and it jogged my memory – I’m an INTP.

  • Pamsm

    Hmmmm… I am also INTJ.

  • onofrio

    Gad! A colloquy of INTroverts.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    omg,

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    anybody have any idea of which personality type is most/least common among atheists? and most/least common among believers?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    schaum,i figured that’s what you meant, but given that bacteria and viruses are so much simpler and reproduce so much faster and in greater numbers than humans, i don’t think we could evolve fast enough to keep up.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstonio,in there, you challenged,the problem for literalists is that their god is

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC:I created a poll in a group for intjs. About 80 percent of the respondents were atheists or agnostics, with 45 percent being atheists. Did this on an INTJ “list” to which I belong.

  • Carstonio

    Thanks for your praise, Walter.”the problem for literalists is that their god is well-defined. “True, but what about nonliteralism, or beliefs in types of gods outside of any scripture or organized religion?

  • Carstonio

    Also, I’ve tested as INTJ and ISTJ at different times in my life. I’m not sure what you would call my stance. I’m not an atheist because to me, atheism is the belief that gods don’t exist. I’m not an agnostic because to me, agnosticism is the belief that both the existence and non-existence of gods are equally likely. I see a huge difference between not believing that gods exist (or don’t exist) and believing that gods don’t exist (or exist). Maybe my stance is skepticism – I take the same approach with UFOs, conspiracy theories and paranormal phenomena, where I don’t reject the possibility but also see no reason to believe in them since evidence is lacking.

  • Schaum

    WalterIFC”i figured that’s what you meant, but given that bacteria and viruses are so much simpler and reproduce so much faster and in greater numbers than humans, i don’t think we could evolve fast enough to keep up.”And yet, we not only keep up, we thrive. Or are you just trying to pick a fight???

  • Schaum

    Carstonio:”beliefs in types of gods outside of any scripture or organized religion?”Indeed!

  • Carstonio

    More about Myers-Briggs…From conversations I’ve had with non-extremist believers, they seem to focus on the intuitive over the empirical, as if knowledge comes from within and not from without.

  • Schaum

    Carstonio:Your implied suggestion that there is no set definition for atheism is one I agree with and find the fact a trouble-maker in attempts at conversations with other people who claim to be atheists.For me, my atheism is a denial IN THE GOD OF THE OT/NT. I am aware that evidence of the eyes is not good evidence, but with my eyes I observe creation, and from that observation I infer some kind of creator (at the moment, I “define” creator as energy) from which comes all sentient beings, as well as all creation. Thats as far as I can go. I perceive that I am part of that energy, and that all sentient beings are as well. I do not see a creator as a god, either by disposition or by intent. To me the need for worship/worshipping is moot…perhaps idiotic. I do not see a creator as necessarily required to be perfect or all knowing.My guess, from various conversations, is that most atheists believe in some kind of creative entity.

  • Schaum

    Carstonio:”More about Myers-Briggs…From conversations I’ve had with non-extremist believers, they seem to focus on the intuitive over the empirical, as if knowledge comes from within and not from without.”I have read, somewhere on the net, that among those christers who opt for intuitive thinking, the general perception is that knowledged does come from within. This seems to be particularly true of christian mystics, hermits, solitaries, etc.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstonio,well, i think those are the “fuzzy” gods, like the ones you described as having characteristics that make the undetectable by science. there can be no evidence for against these gods so what’s the point? how can you “pick” one undetectable god over another?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Schaum,me?! of course not! 😉

  • Carstonio

    “with my eyes I observe creation, and from that observation I infer some kind of creator (at the moment, I ‘define’ creator as energy) from which comes all sentient beings, as well as all creation.”What specific observations led you to that inference? Is your hypothesis testable or falsifiable? And why would the existence of sentient beings be a factor? The last sounds too much like the argument from incredulity used by many believers, who insist that there has to be a reason or purpose why humans have the capability to ponder these questions. We cannot and should not assume a reason or purpose for anything.”My guess, from various conversations, is that most atheists believe in some kind of creative entity.”That doesn’t jibe with my own conversations. With only one or two exceptions, all the atheists I’ve encountered point to the Big Bang as the best explanation currently available for the origin of the universe. My point is that any proposed hypothesis that isn’t testable or falsifiable is indistinguishable from speculation. We should resist the temptation to fill the gaps in our knowledge with belief.

  • Carstonio

    “how can you ‘pick’ one undetectable god over another?”Exactly. There’s no way to determine which claims about gods or miracles are more or less likely than others. Many religions treat only their own claims about gods and miracles as factual and all others as not factual. In some cases, the religions say that their competitors are partially right and partially wrong. We shouldn’t even assume that things exist that can never be detected by humans. All we can say is that such things MAY exist. The real issue is separating knowledge from belief and speculation.

  • Schaum

    Onofrio:Excellent posts! Thank you.What is your Myers-Briggs profile?

  • Carstonio

    “As I said, merely the observation of what has been ‘created’, by whatever means or entity. I believe I also said this was the worst kind of ‘evidence’.”Thanks for the clarification. I’ll clarify my own question – if it’s not really evidence, then why make the inference in the first place?”Of course not!”Again, if it cannot be falsified, then why believe in it?”Why would it not?”I wasn’t assuming that the existence of sentient life wouldn’t be a factor in the origin of the universe, I was questioning the opposite assumption. “Nor have I done.”I was making a general point about reason and purpose. Your post came close to implying that there is a reason or purpose behind the existence of human sentience, although that may have not been your intention.”It is in no way inconsistent with what I have said about observing creation and inferring a creator.”There are many people who accept the Big Bang but still believe that an intelligence caused the event. They insist that the two positions are compatible, but this is incorrect. A cause is a cause, and what these people are doing has the effect of modifying the hypothesis. In this case, “why” is simply a corruption of the concept of “how.””Can you offer more than speculation? If you have proof of anything, if you KNOW anything, I’d greatly appreciate your sharing.”I apologize in advance if this sounds rude – why should I offer more than speculation? If none of us knows the answer, then all we can do is accept that lack of knowledge.

  • Schaum

    Carstonio:”I apologize in advance if this sounds rude – why should I offer more than speculation? If none of us knows the answer, then all we can do is accept that lack of knowledge.”Not rude at all! I agree with you.

  • onofrio

    Why thank you, Schaum. Glad to have engaged you :^)”What is your Myers-Briggs profile?”I did one once, but I’ve forgotten the result. Do you know yours?

  • Pamsm

    “I suggest we, who post on Jacoby’s thread, designate ourselves “secular saboteurs” henceforth.Works for me. Let’s have T-shirts made. 🙂

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    arminius,here: there are two posts from “armenius” followed by…well…check it out. sheesh.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Walter,This is your post. I pointed out the “trick,” which was also played on me, btw. Yer, you’re accusing me?? What, precisely, is your problem? That I’m quicker than you?You owe me an apology.Pronto.——————————————i’m sure farnaz and schaum hadn’t noticed the different spelling before commenting…Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | October 20, 2009 3:16 PM

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz,who would do that?and, really farnaz, what’s with all the insults to my intelligence?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    i said,and you often reminisce about how great it used to be here…ever wonder why? reminds me of my mom’s unpleasant friend of who wonders why her kids never visit anymore.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz,whoever it is is despicable. i will never comment on it again. ugh…

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Pamsm,Wow, some article, indeed! I suggest we, who post on Jacoby’s thread, designate ourselves “secular saboteurs” henceforth.What say?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    saboteurs!can’t you just see bill donohue “standing athwart history yelling, ‘Stop!'”?