Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Terrible Simplicity of the Terrible Darwinian Simplifiers (2.14.09)

I'm going spend one more post wrapping things up with Before the Dawn before moving in. When I say "moving in," I mean that literally, for one of the interesting things about reading a book such as this is the exteriorizing effect it has on one's consciousness. Immersion in this kind of infrahuman ideology really can destroy a soul. I do not mean that in the way that a spluttering creationist might mean it, but in a much more subtle way.

However, I am sympathetic to the person of faith who objects to being bullied by this kind of ham-handed, totalitarian scientistic ideology. The uncorrupted soul naturally recoils. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I can well understand how a religious person might read just a few paragraphs of this book and dismiss it as "satanic," because in a very real sense, it is. It's very creepy to immerse oneself in this desolate, simplistic, and one-dimensional world that is so disproportionate to the dignity and majesty of the human soul. I will try to explain what I mean, even though I am not sure I will be able to successfully do so.

You needn't believe in the literal existence of satan in order to know that satan is a deceiver, and that the most dangerous deceivers are the terrible simplifiers -- i.e., Hitler, Stalin, and less radical but still extraordinarily dangerous demagogues such as Barack Obama (relax, troll, I am not comparing Obama to Hitler, even though his simplistically appealing radical agenda would destroy the United States as we know it). I forget who coined the term "terrible simplifiers," but I just googled it and came up with this relevant passage (on an unrelated topic) that gives a sense of what I'm talking about:

"The lack of a correspondence between abstraction and reality is all the more significant, since the real world is profoundly complex and contingent and an abstraction is inevitably simple. The terrible simplifiers who love abstractions cannot stand conditions and conventions muddling their perfect, clear theory. If life does not fit the theory, then it is life that has gone awry and must be made to fit. The terrible simplifiers are always perfectly willing, then, to embrace ideological crusades, violence and upheaval to better realise their 'principles'...."

The promise of violence always follows in the wake of the terrible simplifiers, but the violence to the soul actually occurs at the outset. The physical violence is a consequence of the rebarbarization that goes hand in hand with the simplification which sanctions the violence by encouraging man to be less than he is.

I am not accustomed to reading a book this simple and "mechanical." Although I breezed through hundreds of them in the course of writing my own, it's been awhile. Naturally, in order to complete chapters 1, 2, and 3 of One Cosmos, I had to familiarize myself with the latest findings in cosmology, theoretical biology, paleoanthropology, etc. My specific concern in writing those chapters, now that I think about it, was mainly one thing: origins. What is the origin of the cosmos? Of life? Of the human subject? If we could know these things, then there would be nothing we didn't know: existence, life and mind; or being, will, and interiority. What is the nature of these things? What do they imply about the cosmos?

In posing these questions, my view was much wider than the scientist, for I didn't just want to know how life arose, but what it means that a supposedly dead cosmos can spontaneously come to life. What does this say about the kind of cosmos we inhabit? Is it just a meaningless and trivial fact, or does it cause us to rethink what sort of cosmos this is from the ground up?

Irrespective of whether humans became human 45,000 years ago or 15,000 years ago or 6,000 years ago, what does it mean that our cosmos has an interior horizon -- this calm, reflective center in the midst of swirling creation -- in which it may contemplate its deepest truths? For I can understand how humans could change as a result of becoming better adapted to their changing environment. What I do not understand is what this has to do with our miraculous capacity for transcendence of everything, including ourselves.

Only man is built for transcendence. A man who fails to transcend himself sinks beneath himself. He is not a proper man, but a beast among beasts. What can it mean that the cosmos has produced a being who hangs halfway suspended between what he is and what he is to become, between is and ought, between our genetic blueprints and our transcendent blue prince? (Sorry -- couldn't resist the pun.) For there is no humanness in the absence of the ought. But here again, subverting this reality is behind the agenda of the materialists, for there can be no "ought" in a purely material world. Rather, there is only is. With this brutal reduction, man, whose roots are aloft, is severed from himself and condemned to a narrow ideological prison of his own making.

It is instructive that I can rapidly skim a book such as Before the Dawn in my spare time in a day or two, and fully understand it. There is nothing remotely difficult about it.

On the other hand, not only can one not skim, say, Meditations the Tarot or casually enter the spiritual cathedral of Meister Eckhart, but it takes a lifetime of preparation and "interior work" in order to appreciate them at all. They will be entirely opaque to the uninitiated, regardless of what they think they understand. Furthermore, any work of a true spiritual master is infused with a light and a force that facilitates a direct transformation and mysteriously keeps their words both fresh and inexhaustible, so that one may return to them time and again for new insights. At different times in your life and at different levels of spiritual maturity, they will speak to different parts of you. This is axiomatic: "When I was a child, I understood as a child."

Back to the terrible simplification of the modern Darwinian synthesis. This is it: Everything = Random Error + Environmental Feedback (E = RE + EF). Got it? That is all you need to know because that is all you can know -- although just how you can know it is a bit of a mystery, since it too must be reducible to RE + EF.

Nevertheless, it easily answers all questions. Religion? E = RE + EF. Human groups that engaged in it had more reproductive fitness, that's all. Language? E = RE + EF. Apes that spoke had more babies. Love? E = RE + EF. A trick of the genes. Just a way to get you to reproduce. Beauty? E = RE + EF. The creation of illusion in order to make the pursuit worthwhile. Intelligence? E = RE + EF. Intelligence implies progress, something which is strictly forbidden in the Darwinian view. Nothing is any more or less intelligent, only better adapted to its environment. Wisdom? Don't even go there. No, can't even go there.

E = RE + EF. Got it? Now that you've got it, please bear in mind that you are not permitted to have any other thoughts about reality, because this is the answer that exhausts all questions. It is the graveyard of curiosity, which is now rendered a pointless hindrance to your reproductive fitness. E = RE + EF! E = RE + EF! Are you deaf?! E = RE + EF!

Ironically, this satanic reductionism cannot avoid carrying a sacred ought of its own, as reflected in the anti-religious jihad of the obligatory atheists -- the simple Dennetts and simpler Harrises. Yes, The Gospel According to Darwin (Tail wiggle: Walt) insists that the good news of E = RE + EF should be celebrated on Darwin Day, February 12, the day our savior was born. For this is the day that the word -- the only word there actually is, E = RE + EF -- became flesh. Naturally, before that, the word existed -- it cannot not exist -- but no one knew it.

But why a celebration, unless it is a funeral, since E = RE + EF spells the end of our humanness?

Because it's built into our genes, silly. Celebration increases social solidarity and therefore reproductive fitness. In short, how else are these unappealing losers supposed to get a date on a Saturday night?

UPDATE:

Tom Sowell notes that for the terrible environmental simplifiers of the left, their favorite argument is that there is no argument. Furthermore, you're a nazi if you don't accept the illogic.

UPDATE:

How do atheists get dates, anyway?

The Love Song of Daniel Dennett:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
No, that would be stupid,
Even though Little Danny
As he is unfairly called by some
Because I had just gotten out of the water
I swear
Does find thee as hot as July,
At risk of sounding needlessly "poetic."
But in reality
Thou art neither lovely nor temperate
Nor anything else, really,
Since I am only attracted to thee because my genes
Hath created the beguiling illusion of thy beauty,
Making thee look worthwhile enough
That I might more ardently pursue thee
Until I get into thy bloomers,
Thus ensuring that my genes survive.
And when the illusion of thy beauty hath faded,
Which it inevitably will,
You know how that works,
I shall move onto a younger coed
With a more appealing hip-to-waste ratio,
Thus signifying her reproductive fitness
And reviving Little Danny's flagging spirits,
To put it delicately.

Happy Valentine's Day, my precious Darwin machine!

SLAP!

61 Comments:

Blogger Bryan said...

Hey man, this is some good stuff, bookmarking this. Have a good day.

2/13/2007 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

"Nevertheless, it easily answers all questions. Religion? E = RE + EF. Human groups that engaged in it had more reproductive fitness, that's all."

Me: Honey? I'm gonna need another keyboard.

Honey: Were you drinking and reading Bob...again?!

Me: I'm sorry. I thought he was finished with the funny stuff.
How funny can Darweenies be anyway?

Honey: You need help.

2/13/2007 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous goy said...

"Immersion in this kind of infrahuman ideology really can destroy a soul."

Is that the cause of the "icky" sensation I'm left with after spending time reading and commenting at blogs like Pandagon and Shakespeare's Sister?

2/13/2007 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Goy:

Most definitely. It is a literal descent into a kind of infrahuman hell.

2/13/2007 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

Rut roh! Is it too late to change my self descriptor from simple to spartan?;~)



psginfinity,
Excuse the faux paux. Was thinking of robinstarfish' pics. Will check yours. Dearth of activity, Infini? No need to Google Earth, you're down the Haggerstown Road, past the point where the asphalt ends, due East?

2/13/2007 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

E = RE +EF = end of humanness, but boy will the fishes be happy!

I usually don't get cryptic word combos in the verification box but my ipod was playing Zappa's Goblin Girl as I read this post, moving next to Norwegian Wood....draw your own conclusions...and yes, Obama scares me too. He has the same slickness/sliminess that B. Clinton has. Amazing how some people can say the absolutely wrong thing in such a dynamic attracting way!

2/13/2007 08:31:00 AM  
Anonymous juliec said...

Your point about Meditations on the Tarot is absolutely right. I read the first letter with no difficulty - it sang to me, almost as if I were reading a song of myself. The second letter is another matter; I find that I am having to read it a few pages at a time, and must wait for the seeds therein to germinate in mind before I can continue. It is frustrating - my thirst for knowledge is such that I want to greedily slurp it all in, but it is far too rich for that. It must instead be sampled, tasted, savored, and once swallowed allowed to spread its warmth throughout the body/ mind, before taking the next sip.

"Before the Dawn" sounds like cheap beer by comparison, the kind best chugged at a frat party kegger, and likely to be purged soon thereafter.

2/13/2007 09:07:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

I guess I would expect fascists/totalitarians to wield a simple agenda - they are "apes of god", after all, and genuine spirituality itself is a rather simple proposition. The bad guys are, as usual, putting their own evil spin on the real deal.

One thing that I think the bad guys definitely have in common at the end of the day - they want to "speed up evolution" to whatever end they see evolution tending to. Souls, ready or not, are to be "quickened", made to conform to the agenda.

And if unwilling or unable to conform - well, ultimately the materialists tend to regard humankind as a material Whole, a material Oneness. The individual, being a meat robot, doesn't really matter. The materialists can only conclude that the Whole would benefit from some calibrated pruning.

2/13/2007 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"...should be celebrated on Darwin Day, February 12, the day our savior was born. For this is the day that the word -- the only word there actually is, E = RE + EF -- became flesh..."

Fortunately the Cosmos has a singular sense of complementarity, having someone else born on that same day, "...But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract..."

And I don't think that "E = RE + EF" is what he had in mind at Gettysberg.

2/13/2007 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Love the poem. LOL!!

2/13/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous walt said...

We were reading YOUR book some weeks ago when a commenter suggested Before the Dawn , and I thought it might be interesting background to what you were stating in the Coonifesto. I bookmarked it, but there was something that put me off about the overall description of the contents, and even the background of the author, and I recall thinking, "I wonder what GB would say about the approach of such a book?" (As a loyal cult-member, of course I read NOTHING until you give the "okay.") Now I have the "book review" as well as a great discussion of the relevant angles. Thanks so much!

And, typical of what occurs daily at OC, there's MORE: your reduction of the essence of the message to E=RE+EF is very exact, and applicable to so many subjects. I often try to reduce concepts and ideas to simple formulas, to tighten up my own thinking (such as it is) and to help me remember.

Finally, the article you linked about Darwin Day shows how deadly serious certain folks are about "adjusting" the world we live in. Deadly to the soul, indeed.

2/13/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous interlocutor said...

Well, if I may be so impertinent--

The formula E= RE + EF does in fact explain most everything, if you think about it.

It does include God-- in the EF part of the formulation-- because God is an "environmental factor." (THE environmental factor?)

Randomness exists but is mitigated by God in the small unseen nudgings and string-pullings that go on behind the scenes at His (Its?) behest.

An APPEARANCE of randomness is an important part of our cosmos; this is undeniable.

Therefore, the only shortcoming of the Darwinist is that she does not percieve ALL of the environmental factors.

Natural selection? Yes, this is valid.

Random mutations? Valid.

Non-random events controlled by an environing super-consciousness? Valid.

The "satanic" feeling you get from the text you are reading is your understanding of a perception deficit in the writer. Ignorace is the original sin and is always the root of all evil.

The Darwinist doesn't see everything.

And neither does the God-lover, for that matter. There is plenty more left to discover for all of us.

The forumula stands as written, with caveats.

2/13/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous brian said...

I decided to repeat Bob's search for "terrible simplifier" and ran across a real gem of a post (unrelated to the search itself)

(Warning to Ben: Drinking hazard ahead)

http://curmudgeonjoy.blogspot.com/2006/01/international-journal-of-boundless.html

Now, in case you are wondering if this is real and not a second reprise of the Sokal hoax, I did some more checking and found the brilliant professor's web page. So he is a real living being (though I hesitate to pronounce him human).

http://www.arts.usyd.edu.au/departs/arthistory/staff/acholodenko.shtml

And the "academic journal" and article referred to are here...

http://www.ubishops.ca/BaudrillardStudies/vol3_1/cholodenko.htm

Naturally enough the "International Journal of Baudrillard Studies" can be abbreviated as the Int'l Journal of B.S.

2/13/2007 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Juliec said "... It is frustrating - my thirst for knowledge is such that I want to greedily slurp it all in, but it is far too rich for that..."

I feel your pain, there's the story of the Zen master replying to an eager initiate's asking "How long until Satori?"

The master eyes him, "Study, Practice meditation diligently... 10 years"

The shocked student says "What if I study and practice twice as hard?"

"hmm... twice as hard? Twenty years"

2/13/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous young un' said...

"An APPEARANCE of randomness is an important part of our cosmos; this is undeniable."


Why?

2/13/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous jbw said...

The scales have fallen from my eyes. All my life I've wanted to change things, I believed we could do it better. We could take control of our own evolution. Not to perfection, but to something better. Now I see that humans haven't been very good at getting it better. History is littered with the wreckage of pogroms to make it better. Most of them have failed through horrible unintended consequences. I am a terrible simplifier, and I have a problem. Make me King for a day I think I know just enough to cause serious problems.
I'm having one of those ' I need to take a few days off, because the central pillars of my life have been shattered.' days. Bob I have a question. Clearly there has been progress in society. Science has given us profoundly good things. What is the difference between good progress and bad progress? I keep thinking back to what our dear friend talked about in Mediations on the Tarot. The difference between general growth and construction. It was talked about in the chapter of the Tower. I admit I don't quite understand it yet.

2/13/2007 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous brian said...

Oh, and if you are further interested in what the Curmudgeon has to say about terrible simplifiers, the post that appeared in my search is here...

http://curmudgeonjoy.blogspot.com/2006/01/faith-and-false-scepticism.html

Not as much risk to the keyboard, but more on topic.

2/13/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Jbw,

We are all terrible simplifiers - just add unconstrained power and 99.99% of us would fall as hard as a Lenin or Stalin. What makes us so susceptible? Hubris, hubris as the Greeks knew it, an unconstrained and monstrous pride, shaking one's fist at God or the gods despite full knowledge of the damage such acts bringing. The cure is always the same, humility before a higher power. And that is the path real progress always seems to follow, whether in science, technology, or life.

But first we have to get beyond our tendency toward "terrible simplicity" to recognize any power beyond ourselves. That usually requires a shocking revelation, an encounter with reality by and through which all the prior discontinuities of our thought snap into a new configuration. At least that has been my experience.

Best wishes on your search for the True, the Beautiful, and the Good.

2/13/2007 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous ms. e said...

Interesting new science on what causes global warming
(and cooling) here.

2/13/2007 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Bob,

In a modest and probably inadequate way, I want to come to the defense of Mr. Wade, and Mr. Darwin. (As if the latter needed my help!)

The more humble evolutionists, even the more humble proponents of the "modern synthesis," would probably aver that it's not so much that "RE + EF" is an absolute limit to knowledge, or should define the absolute boundaries of our human possibilities; rather, I think they would claim that by confining oneself to these limits for the purposes of "doing science," which all scientists know has its limitations, one can nonetheless learn rather a lot. Just to take an example almost at random from Wade's book, it turns out one can pin down with surprising exactness when human beings (or perhaps the ancestors of those who were fully human) first started to wear clothing!

I started out my adult life as a molecular biologist and physical chemist at one of the east coast prestige institutions, and got to know a fair number of prominent "hard" scientists, all of whom seemed all too acutely aware of the limitations of their methods; some were agnostic, but others were religious, often in the Deist fashion of our Founding Fathers.

FWIW


By the way, loved the poem!

Jamie Irons

2/13/2007 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

Interruptor,

Wow. Point A to Point B in 100 words or less...

Fess up. Bob hires you to prove his point, doesn't he?

(got'cher impertinence right here...)

2/13/2007 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ah, but WHY do we wear clothes?

Since E = RE + EF, my festive Cinco de Mayo bull fighter outfit means NOTHING to them.

2/13/2007 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Hmm, it makes sense to me that a Creator who desired children who were genuinely autonomous and separate from Him - this so as to insure a genuine loving Partnership, given from free-will - would employ the tactic of randomness in His creation. That is, the Creator insured that He would be *surprised* at what sprang up. Another can't truly be "an other" - ie., a potential partner - unless they have the capacity to surprise us.

This is to be understood, however, as a divinely "programmed" randomness - hardly the same as the cold, dead Darwinian perspective.

2/13/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous juliec said...

Young 'un,
I would go so far as to say that more than an appearance, but a rather a vital element of randomness is an important part of our cosmos. The reasons for this are many, but I would hazard a guess that the biggest one is free will. Randomness is what keeps things interesting, for better and worse. If there was no randomness, if everything was planned (or even just most things), we would be little more than meat puppets (as opposed to Darwinian meat robots). Which would you prefer - people who like and appreciate what you've created because they see it for themselves, or people who like and appreciate what you've created because they have no ability or possibility to feel otherwise?

Bob - loved the poem, it's a good thing I wasn't eating when I read it!

2/13/2007 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous juliec said...

"my festive Cinco de Mayo bull fighter outfit..."

Wow. Now there's an amusing mental picture. (Is the tri-corn hat made of coonskin?)

2/13/2007 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The creator obviously wanted the creation to be like jazz, i.e., "the sound of surprise." Otherwise, what's the point, daddy-O?

2/13/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous young un' said...

But once free will decides and the action is taken, rather than being random, things flow perfectly according to cosmic law. It only looks random to us mere mortals.

2/13/2007 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger ximeze said...

Hey, everyone should have a spiffy outfit for Cinco de Mayo.

That's Beaky's hatch-date!

A'porpoise of that, her dove-buddies returned this morning & boy, is she happy: calling to them, whistling like crazy & repeating "hey bird" & "hi baby girl."

Spring & Rebirth is in the air. Take heart my Coonish friends.

Again totally OT, repeated mentions of "Before the Dawn" reminds me of the film "Before the Rain", which involves Coonish interweaving/spiralling of Time. Dug out my copy & will try to view it again today & will report back (know you're all just dying for my rec.

Also found a copy of "Mifune" (Danish film) which celebrates growth & life, in a Springcoon manner.

Has anybody seen these films? They both date about 10yrs ago.

2/13/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Van - I agree that the concept of God being surprised is attractive and intriguing, but by definition, omniscience precludes surprise. Does that mean everything is predetermined? Yes, but only in the sense that God is omniscient. As I may have said here before, we still have free will even though God is omniscient -- because we're not.

For what its worth

2/13/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

The cat who thinks there's no point is strictly L-sevensville.

Beat me, nobodaddy, eight to the bar.

2/13/2007 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Nomo - I think the Godhead can "see through" to the ends of time, "knows" all that will happen, but God - Who was born with creation, in a sense - cannot.

God may be omniscient, but I don't think He can tell what man is going to do. I think that's part of the point in being God.

2/13/2007 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

here's a zen something you don't see every day - Paul McCartney giving a lesson on how to properly make mashed potatoes.

Oh, but I AM serious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyyEc-GNDfQ

2/13/2007 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, interestingly, I personally believe that randomness (as a principle, and not as a function of the adversary as 'chaos') is an undeniably important component in generalized evolution. I recall reading Order out of Chaos, which is really a reasoning-intellection book, and recognizing something interesting.

There is an unusual interplay between order and chaos, the random and the determined, I used to think of chaos as an illusion, simply because chaotic things on one level may be overlaying an order on a lower level.

And this is just speaking empirically.

The Christian way of thinking this is, "I know what he's going to do, but I've got no idea how he's going to do it."

The randomness almost implies an inherent flexibility to the Cosmos.

Also, about the abstraction thing, I think one of the major issues is trying to fuse two things that don't go together; and doing so with an empty abstraction; that abstraction truly being 'abstract' makes it basically meaningless and unreal, and trying to reverse the process and make decisions from that abstraction most often has the effect of 'Making nonsense out of what we are taught.'

I say this from experience as a person who thinks and abstracts a lot. One of the reasons God has a certain capriciousness is that he is uncontainable. Otherwise he could be made into a simple principle, written down... the process which would probably create a vertical black hole (placing the void in such an inappropriate place...)

But God's void is like a white hole, a quickening, vertical gate into the infinite. (The black hole being the dragging gate into the super-finite, I suppose.)

Reading this stuff, I'm starting to see the structures some good writers built their ideas on, beneath their writing.

Anyway, isn't that the effect of these little black holes, these 'terrible simplifiers'? They reduce everything to 0 dimensions...

2/13/2007 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Sorry, addressed my comment to Van -- meant Will.

Will - Just curious. With what religion would you say your beliefs most closely align? Not looking for boxes here, just genuinely curious.

2/13/2007 12:39:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

JWM strikes a chord for me, as often happens. I too have been thinking about "culture" and "progress," since I am susceptible to being convinced that there is something extraordinarily hospitable toward basic decent human life (based on the life of the spirit) in certain patterns of the Anglosphere (perhaps being frittered away before our eyes); compare&contrast with various Eastern emphases... I'm still thinking, especially stimulated by The Big Red Train Ride,
a sympathetic travelogue about the Trans-Siberian express. Russian life sounds pretty dreary
before industrialization (high death rates of forced manual labor) and
after (immense death tolls of murderous execution in pursuit of
incoherent but compelling theory).

Maybe not blind faith in progress (harvesting human organs in most circumstances as exponential cannibalism). Yet ruthless resistance to the built-in mutability of things, hatred of desire for creative experiment and problem-solving in the name of a theory, is pretty awful too. Living-out loving God and loving the neighbor is a fine line to walk in the world of change, especially in abstract discussion. As it happens, most of us only have opinions and a vote, not ultimate policy responsibility for actually carrying out complex policy calculations in an imperfect world.

And, regarding "terrible simplifiers," another plug for The Elements of Justice, which conditions true justice on refusing the cheap totalistic thrills of a Theory of Everything. Beware of complete explanations, with graphs and formulae.

2/13/2007 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Oh, I had a thought about this too.

Scripture- people often accept a 'interpretation' of a scripture, right? This is like an abstraction, in a sense, because often people accept only -one- idea from that scripture. Like those ten commandments for instance.

What happens is they abstract all of scripture into a particular sort of Ariel Prisom, tied to the sky by a bunch of airy assumptions.

A door for me was to realize that you could have more than one interpretation that did not destroy the meaning of the other(s). When ever someone says, "This scripture means..." I try to correct them and say something like, "You can interpret this to mean," or "One of the things that this means is..."

It prevents you from 'crystallizing' or saturating the scriptures in your head.

Also I've noticed that denominations, cults etc tend to be locked into a particular interpretation of certain scriptures. It is very telling that they cannot accept another interpretation that does not defy God or destroy the others.

2/13/2007 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Nomo - I think the Christian doctrine is definitive as far as spiritual revelation and wisdom go.

If there's a higher, more revelatory doctrine out there, I haven't seen it.

2/13/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

terribly simple
pick a card yes any card
it's all in the wrist

2/13/2007 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Not to be argumentative, Will, but have you looked at the Torah and Kabbalah!?

Rhetorical question, I know....coca-cola classic vs. new coke....

2/13/2007 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

NoMo said... "Sorry, addressed my comment to Van -- meant Will."

Not a problem, I've said it before too.

While omniscience may be aware of all there is and ever has been, even what will become of planets, solar systems and galaxies in the future, I don't think that it requires the ability to know what an individual person will do next, in fact I think part of the point of having creatures endowed with free will to begin with, is that what they'll choose to do next would be unknown.

If you want to know all, you make a universe on the horizontal level only, hang it up like a wind chime, sit back and enjoy.

If you want something that can engage you, interact with you, even surprise you - then you add a bit of yourself, consciousness, free will, into the ingredients lean forward and partake of the show.

Course I'm not a Deity, I just play one with teens.

2/13/2007 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Lisa - yes, ma'am, I have looked at the kabbalah (shoutout to Madonna! and why has she not yet been consumed in the fires of her own vileness?) AND! . . . I have looked at the Torah.

And they were deep and abiding looks, too. Honest.

And I come to the conclusion I did and do. (diddly diddly diddly-do!).

Now, if you want to know WHY, then you will just have to ask.

(of course, you have to be interested enough in my answer to get around to asking, and I realize that there's every possibiblity you are not the least bit interested, that in fact, you find my beliefs to be the single most deadly-dull boring thing you have as yet in your young life encountered)

2/13/2007 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

River - OK, here goes. I don't believe anyone has the exact, correct interpretation of all scripture (speaking Bible here), but I believe there is one correct interpretation. That said, I believe there are numerous applications that can flow from the interpretation. Are we saying the same thing?

Doesn't every consciously created thing have a specific intended purpose -- or interpretation -- regardless of how it is actually used or applied?

(Now stand back and prepare to duck.)

2/13/2007 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Vanopolis -

>>While omniscience may be aware of all there is and ever has been, even what will become of planets, solar systems and galaxies in the future, I don't think that it requires the ability to know what an individual person will do next, in fact I think part of the point of having creatures endowed with free will to begin with, is that what they'll choose to do next would be unknown<<

I am like SO in agreement. You know, it sometimes pays to "humanize" God a bit, and of course I mean "humanize" with respect to what it means to be really human, ie., our capacity to comprehend and manifest the sacred.

And I don't mean taking an anthropomorphic view. I mean comprehending God as *needing* us for His fulfillment, as even being lonely without us, without our allowing Him to manifest through us. Now, since I am, we all are, necessarily are made out of "God-stuff", I think we can indeed conclude certain things about the nature of God's Being. In short: we humans have the capacity to feel lonely thus God also has this capacity - although we must admit that God's loneliness is that of a shape unimaginable to us.

So, I think in a sense God is limited, albeit it was a self-limitation necessary for creation to occur. His limitation is His incompleteness - God can only be complete with us serving as His fully conscious children. And that is a matter of our free-will, our choice. We are God's limitation and His fulfillment.

2/13/2007 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I think that is one of the mysteries, God had to create something that he knew (being omniscient) was unknowable...

Are there things truly and inherently unknowable?

Anyway... Nomo: I think I understand what you mean. What I'm saying is, when the apostles say to Christ:
"But what are five loaves and two small fishes among so many?" There is obviously the literal 'interpretation', but then there is an odd significance to what they are saying, a symbolic interpretation (intentional by John? Or by God?)

In that sense there is ONE interpretation that has many layers. This is, I think how it can be 'many' but not contradict itself. Well, you could also say 'aspects' or 'facets' that pertain to the creation, whether it be to archetypes, domains, or individuals, etc.

Locking yourself into seeing only one layer/aspect/facet is an easy way to get taken advantage of.

2/13/2007 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Paul and Timothy, in a letter to the believers in Philippi, said, "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things." (Phil 4:8) A lot of that kind of thinking goes on here at OC.

Of course Paul then goes on to say, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me - or seen in me - put it into practice."
(Phil 4:9). Good stuff.

2/13/2007 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

River - Agreed.

2/13/2007 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Dilys,
I need to say first that I know nothing about the author David Schmidtz, and what I know of his book is only the contents and the first two pages of his introduction, so this is based soley on the lightest of impressions. That said, here is what strikes me as Trouble with a capital "T".

First, he says "Part 6 pays homage to John Rawls..." and instantly my hackles go up, Rawls' egalitarian theory of Justice is, in my opinion, so profoundly wrong and unjust, I am instantly prejudiced against someone paying him homage in their book on Justice; he seems to back off from supporting Rawls, but from the contents, "Equality", What is equality for", seems to put him in the same egalitarian vein.

Second, form the introduction he's comparing justice to a neighborhood "... then a theory of justice is a map of that neighborhood. The best theory will be incomplete... "and he goes on to qualify that it will be incomplete, but exists all the same. His analogy of it not being necessary to define 'dog' to know what it is, doesn't strike me as encouraging either.

Justice is not a thing, not something to be distributed, to be used for distributing or mapping, or anything else; and it's not something to be defined and tacked to the wall - laws? yes, Justice? No.

Justice, IMHO, is a process, a process of applying objective laws based on the nature of man, on individual rights, to concrete situations in such a way to best serve the upholding of those rights, or in acknowledging and responding to their violation in a proportionate, balanced way. It seems to me that a good Judge needs to be that oddest of ducks that has a wise grasp of hard facts and poetic understanding, and the ability to articulate judgements that synthesize both in a clear, explainable manner. Not a job I'd want. Am I way off the mark on my unsubstantiated gleanings?

2/13/2007 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous carl said...

Why is a guy like Dennet so famous while Bob labors in relative obscurity? Where is the justice in that?

2/13/2007 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

glasr,

No sweat, I figured it was something like that...

Yes, I've had no activity on my website, or blog, in well over a year. Got discouraged by the effort, and may go so far as to shut one/more down. Don't want to imply support when the spirit hasn't been sufficient.

How Bob, Glenn, Michelle, Wretchard, and other regular scribblers do a quality bloviation is a joy and wonder to me.

I see you've read my profile. I used to drive on Brighton Dam when going to a friend's house, years ago. I used it as my "city" on a 'tude board I haunted in bygone days. Actually, I live in Bethesda these days, inside (below?) the Beltway...

2/13/2007 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

carl,

As I understand it, there's an inherent tension between popularizers and trailblazers. The former are forever misintangling the meaning, the latter are too weird to bother with. Were both properly functional, we'd likely be farther along. But we're only human, we have a statistical sample of one species, with no older sibling species to emulate.

As far as I'm concerned, I seem to relish the popularizers, but need to learn from the 'blazers. Makes fitting in tough. But I'm starting to get used to being the oddly - shaped peg in the hole-board of life.

This comment written in loving memory of Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr...

2/13/2007 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Psginfinity,
John Denver? Did I miss something?

2/13/2007 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

Van,

Naah, you didn't miss anything, I was just being a little taciturn. John was firmly in the "popularizer" camp, and a particular favorite of mine. His death hurt, a lot. As I wsa composing my reply to carl, John's music filled my soul and on a whim, I threw in the very long-distance dedication.

2/13/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can believe in God and you can believe in free will it mist follow that there is a Satan as surely as there is a God.

It also strikes me that for all their literalism, fundamentalists (of which I am not one) are closer to the answer (i.e. God created the heavens and the earth) than all the scientists.

In fact when I read you Bob, the 13.8 billion years hardly seems to matter. Creation can be dated from consciousness and that doesn't seem all that long ago -- another bend in the direction of the fundies.

I won't go on with the argument. The universe sure likes to me like it is many billions of years old.

2/13/2007 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Will, how dare you say I am uninterested in your opinions! I could go on but it would drip with double entendres that we would both blush about! Where are the Dame and Col when you need them? I always want to know why, it's my nature...but I do love it when you are a mysterious tease!

2/13/2007 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Annonymous,
Does belief in God and Free Will necessitate the existence of satan?

I don't think so. Through Free Will, Man is able to integrate seemingly unrelated items into larger truths, bringing us nearer to the One Truth, and while that does necessitate the possibility of error and disintegration, I don't see that that implies an animated manichean-like opposite to God, anymore than the existence of erosion upon a mountain implies the existence of an anti-mountain.

People can imbue themselves with the urge to disintegrate, but that's not quite the same.

2/13/2007 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous debass said...

Why is Sting so famous and Edgar Meyer is not? Who knows.
Just when I was getting used to E=MC squared. Now I have to learn a whole new equation. I think I'll just read my copy of Coonde Nast Traveler and relax. Later, Gagdaddyos.

2/13/2007 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous the adversary said...

Rest assured I am here, my pretties.

2/13/2007 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Flash Gordon said...

You are interested in the origin of life and intelligence. Darwin was interested in those things also. He made a valuable contribution to our understanding of those things.

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

How can you say intelligence is strictly forbidden in "Darwinian view?" Your equation E=RE+EF is ridiculous.

2/13/2007 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Carl:

Why is a guy like Dennet so famous while Bob labors in relative obscurity?

I thought the answer to that would be self-evident.

Why do raw paparazzi photos of Britney's flashed crotch draw millions, while barely one in a million would even recognize--let alone appreciate--Rembrandt's Young Woman in Bed?

2/14/2007 05:28:00 AM  
Anonymous ms. e said...

A writer once wrote a novel about a loving marriage.  He put an epigraph from John Donne on the title page:  “To enter in these bonds, is to be free.”  People still occasionally ask the writer what it means.  He always gives the same reply:  “If you don’t know, I only hope that one day you will learn.” 

Amor vincit omnia.

2/14/2007 06:57:00 AM  
Anonymous bubba said...

Hey, debass,

Have you heard Meyer's album 'Edgar Meyer' in which he plays every instrument? Lots of really interesting stuff going on. I love the fact that he multi-tracks in his living room/studio. How many folks do you know who play the vihuela da gamba?

2/14/2007 08:38:00 AM  

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